Remarks by the Honorable Walter B. Slocombe on European Security
Honorable Walter B. Slocombe
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Remarks to the Atlantic Council on European Security
June 14, 1996
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the security
situation in the world generally, and Europe in particular,
although far from perfect, is vastly better, and much safer for
the people both of Europe and the United States. But if the end
of the Cold War means that European security is on better footing
than for generations before, the crisis in Bosnia shows that it
is far from assured. And it is certainly more complex.
The challenge we face is to build a security system for
Europe that will:
Maintain U.S. engagement;
Respond to growing European integration;
Make the newly free nations part of the European security
Ensure that Russia will play a constructive role
commensurate with its importance and weight in European
In all these aspects, NATO takes a central part.
1. U.S. Engagement
To achieve the goal of a secure, free world, the US must
stay engaged -- and it must stay strong. Nowhere is this clearer
than in the case of Europe.
The United States commitment to the trans-Atlantic alliance
is bedrock US security policy. We maintain about 100,000 troops
in Europe. We make continued heavy investment in lift, power
projection, forward presence and technology, and in the forces
and capabilities that enable us both to meet our present
responsibilities and to hedge against the possibility of a
revived first-class threat. There is also a political dimension
to this engagement. We stay fully involved in European security
We maintain this commitment to Europe not as an act of
altruism, but because the security of Europe is vital to the
security of the United States. We learned, painfully, in Bosnia
that serious threats to peace and security in Europe threaten our
own interests, not just Europe's. Our common adversary has
vanished, but we know that our common dangers have not -- and
surely our common interests survive.
2. NATO Adaptation
The key instrument for our security engagement in Europe is
NATO. NATO is the only effective, continuing multilateral
military alliance in the world. It has risen to the challenge of
providing a critical instrument to promote peace in Bosnia. The
best evidence of NATO's continuing relevance is the eagerness of
many countries to join it -- and the determination of its current
members to keep it strong.
But because the world has changed, NATO must change as well.
That process has long since begun. NATO has a new post-Cold War
strategic concept. NATO nuclear forces are a small fraction of
their former size. Troop levels are down. Increasingly, forces
are oriented toward new missions. And, of course, NATO has, in
Bosnia, taken on its first ever real military operation.
Important new opportunities for NATO to carry this process
forward exist now because France has opened the door to a
fundamental change in its relationship to the Alliance. France's
new approach is based on a recognition -- that we all share --
that there can be no stable or workable system of European
security separate from the transatlantic NATO Alliance. After
the Berlin NAC, President Chirac said that "France is ready to
take its full place in this new Alliance, once the Berlin NAC
decisions have been implemented."
But the need for change in NATO arises from broader causes
than just France's highly welcome new approach. NATO must grow
and develop so as to be able to allow North American and European
allies -- a group that will increase in number in the coming
years -- to work together on challenges that will be different
from the traditional Cold War defense mission of meeting direct
military attack on the territory of member states. Of course,
NATO must retain its ability to meet that core task. But meeting
the new kinds of challenge -- all 16 North American and European
members together, and indeed, enlisting other European and non-
European states, as we have done in Bosnia -- is the task on
which NATO adaptation must chiefly focus.
We do, however, need NATO command structures, forces, and
communication and mobility support for more flexible employment
of NATO assets. The time has come to streamline and modernize
NATO, recognizing that our challenge is no longer simply to
execute a known plan with already designated forces, as it was
during the Cold War.
In response to this need, the US came up with the concept --
actually originated by General Shalikashvili when he was SACEUR -
- of the Combined Joint Task Force. CJTFs will allow NATO assets
to be used more flexibly, and especially in operations outside
traditional patterns involving different mixes of contributors.
CJTFs will likely provide the mechanism for the most probable
NATO contingency operations.
CJTF is by no means only a device for distinctively European-
led operations. The U.S. would expect to be fully involved in
such CJTF operations--and these may well include non-members of
NATO. The CJTF device would, for example, be particularly useful
for future operations similar to the Bosnia IFOR -- indeed in a
sense the IFOR operation has many of the characteristics of a
It bears emphasis that the goal of NATO adaptation is to
allow all allies to work together more effectively, not to find a
way for Europe to manage without the US. The US will remain
fully engaged in European security issues, so neither politically
nor militarily is there any question of Europe needing to prepare
for a U.S. withdrawal from Europe. Indeed, it is overwhelming
likely that in any situation where involvement of military forces
is justified and where NATO is prepared to authorize a military
operation, the U.S. will be part of the operation. That is one
of the lessons of Bosnia.
That said, the U.S. recognizes -- and indeed welcomes --
that with greater European integration generally, there will
increasingly be a common European foreign and defense policy and
a desire for a European defense identity within NATO.
The message of the Berlin foreign ministers meetings and the
Brussels NAC-D meetings just completed is that NATO will adjust
its military structure to accommodate the possibility of WEU-led
operations using NATO assets. These adjustments should be in
accordance with the following principles:
WEU-led operations are possible, so they, and the forces,
support, command arrangements and operational concepts
they would require, must be planned for by NATO.
Such operations would be under distinctively European
command, and would normally look to the WEU for general
NATO assets (including equipment, planning, training,
experience, and staffs) should be able to be made
available for such operations, with NAC approval and
appropriate continuing oversight of the use of those
It follows that in the future, part of NATO's peacetime
responsibilities must include preparing for such
assistance, in planning, exercises, training and
staffing, for WEU-led operations.
All of this should be done within the Alliance and within
its military command structure, not as a separate (including de
facto separate), parallel structure, or by elements that are
European only, American clean. It is essential from the U.S.
point of view not to foster a bifurcated NATO, in which, de facto
if not explicitly, there are two systems, one for the U.S. and
Article 5, and one for Europe and non-Article 5 operations. This
implies double-hatting of personnel and structures, i.e., that
certain NATO personnel and structures will have additional
responsibilities and functions related to WEU-led operations, as
well as related to NATO-led operations.
On all these points there is broad consensus within the
Alliance, emphatically including France. The work on
operationalizing these principles will be completed for further
action at the next set of ministerial meetings at the end of
We are embarked on a major effort -- the output of which
will be nothing less that a new NATO, geared to meet tomorrow's
challenges, on a unified basis, respecting both European and US
concerns and strengthening, not weakening, the transatlantic
3. Newly Free European Countries
A further key parameter of NATO adaptation is the need for
the modified structure to be prepared for the job of
accommodating new members.
NATO enlargement will happen because it is a necessary part
of projecting stability to the new democracies of Europe. It is
important to note that NATO enlargement should not be seen merely
in relation to Russia. For there are other fundamental reasons
Furthering European integration;
Promoting a multilateral (not a nationalistic) defense
Providing a context to resolve intra-CEE problems; and
Solidifying democratic and economic reforms in a trans-
The impulse for the desire of the nations of Central and
Eastern Europe to join NATO comes from their desire for thorough,
permanent inclusion in the broad Atlantic community and for the
sense of living in a secure neighborhood that NATO has brought to
its current members. They want to be irreversibly part of the
West, and we want to help them in this endeavor. The conflict in
the Balkans vividly reminded us all of the dangers of not having
a stable structure for security in Europe outside NATO's
As we continue to move carefully and gradually toward
enlargement, we need to continue to adhere to the four principles
that have made NATO the strongest, most successful Alliance in
First, NATO is an effective military alliance, not a
system of paper guarantees. New members will be full
members, with full rights and responsibilities. They
must be prepared to defend other members of the Alliance,
and NATO must be prepared to come to the defense of any
Second, NATO is an alliance of free nations. New members
must uphold democracy and market principles, protect
freedom and human rights inside their borders, and
respect the sovereignty of their neighbors. And their
military forces must be under effective civilian and
Third, NATO works by consensus. New NATO members will not
be expected, any more than current members are, to agree
on everything. But they must respect the history, culture
and traditions of all members. It would serve no-one's
interest to import instability or border disputes into
the Alliance. And they must be willing to hammer out a
consensus on security matters in a spirit of cooperation.
And fourth, NATO is a military organization. New
members' military forces must be capable of operating
effectively with the military forces of current members.
This does not mean unsustainable investment in forces and
technology, but it does mean being open about defense
budgets and plans, accepting NATO military doctrine, and
working toward commonality in critical elements, such as
NATO enlargement must avoid the risk that taking in some
countries will imply the permanent exclusion of others, thereby
either inviting a new division of the Continent or undercutting
those who are working for reform in places like Russia, Ukraine
and elsewhere. The first new members will not be the last, and
security for all, not just NATO members, must be preserved.
Therefore, NATO enlargement must not only be inclusive, rather
than exclusive; it must be accomplished in tandem with developing
the broad range of European security institutions, including the
EU, WEU and OSCE. It will necessarily be a steady, deliberate,
and gradual process.
The process is underway. Last fall, a major Alliance study
and analysis of NATO enlargement was released in Brussels. It is
a study not of "who" would join and "when," but of more basic
issues of "how" and "why" -- the necessary preconditions for
Let me summarize some key conclusions.
NATO will expect of new members:
That they commit themselves to and follow the basic
values and principles of the Alliance: democracy, the
rule of law, and peaceful resolution of disputes.
They must not close the door behind them. The first new
member will not be the last. Enlargement will be a long
process, whose scope cannot be determined in advance.
- New members must contribute to the common defense.
They must be producers, and not merely consumers, of
security for the Alliance as a whole.
- They must accept NATO military doctrine.
- For the United States, it is a principle that new
members must agree to participate fully in the NATO
integrated military structure.
The study also sets forth two very important points about
the adjustments in NATO military posture.
First, while it is important for NATO's force structure
that the Allies' forces could be deployed, when and if
appropriate, on the territory of new members, the
peacetime stationing of other allies' forces on a new
member's territory should neither be a precondition of
membership nor foreclosed as an option. As with current
members, decisions on this would be taken by the Alliance
and the nation concerned in light of all relevant facts.
The Alliance would, of course, reserve the right to
dispose forces as necessary in the event of crisis or
war. We would certainly expect that troops from other
members would frequently be on the territory of any new
member for exercises, training and the like.
Second, the security provided by the NATO agreement,
including its nuclear component, will apply fully to new
members. There is no a priori requirement for the
stationing of nuclear weapons on the territory of new
members, and for the foreseeable future, NATO's current
nuclear posture will meet the requirements of an enlarged
Alliance and there would be no need to modify NATO's
nuclear posture or policy. However, NATO would, of
course, retain the right to modify this posture in the
future as circumstances warrant.
Proceeding from these principles, NATO will now go forward
with the enlargement process. This year NATO has entered the
second phase of the process by intensive consultations with
interested partners to determine what they must do, and what NATO
must do, to prepare for enlargement. Based on the results, NATO
will decide on next steps in December.
NATO has made a commitment to take in new members and it
must not and will not keep new democracies in the waiting room
forever. We will move forward steadily; NATO enlargement will
happen -- indeed it is already happening.
Partnership for Peace
As part of this process, we are taking steps to strengthen
the Partnership for Peace as a permanent part of a broad,
inclusive security framework for Europe as a whole.
The 27 Partnership for Peace nations are working and
training together in military joint exercises. Secretary Perry
was recently in Ukraine to open the multilateral exercise Peace
Shield '96, in which troops from 11 countries -- Ukraine, the
U.S., Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Poland, the Czech Republic,
Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria -- participated. But
the Partnership for Peace is more than just joint exercises. The
strongest proof of the practical reality of PFP is the
participation by many of its members in the Bosnia operation.
PFP is echoing beyond the security realm, and into the political
and economic realms as well, using security cooperation as a
catalyst for political and economic reform.
At Berlin and at the NAC Defense Ministerial, we have
outlined steps to make PFP more concrete and effective, such as
expanding its areas of emphasis beyond peacekeeping.
For those Partner countries that are embracing PFP as a
passage to NATO membership, these actions are a key to opening
that door. For these countries, the Partnership for Peace is
becoming a passage to democracy and market reform, and a secure
and stable place in the European security system, as well as a
passage to membership in the Alliance.
But even those countries that do not aspire to NATO
membership are realizing many of the same political and security
gains from active participation in the PFP. Moreover, PFP is
providing them the tools and the opportunities to develop closer
ties to NATO, and learn from NATO -- even as they choose to
remain outside the Alliance. In short, by creating the
Partnership For Peace, NATO has done more than just building the
basis for enlargement. It, is in fact, creating a new zone of
security and stability throughout Europe.
For even as some countries join NATO, it will be important
to keep the door open for others down the road. We will ensure
that PFP continues to provide a place in the security
architecture of Europe for those nations that do not aspire to
become NATO members, and that it remain a viable preparation
station for those about to. Far from fading, it will assume even
greater importance as the enlargement process goes forward.
4. NATO-Russia Relationship
Central to the subject of NATO's evolution is Russia.
Russia's development, both internal and external, is a critical
factor to the future of European security. We all -- and I
include the Central and Eastern European countries -- have an
enormous stake in the success of Russia's transition, and we must
continue to support Russian reform. We have an unchanged vision
of an undivided Europe that includes a free, stable, prosperous
and democratic Russia playing a constructive role in European
It follows that one of the most important elements of NATO's
evolution, and one of the tests of its success, will be the
successful definition of NATO's future relations with Russia.
NATO and Russia disagree on NATO enlargement. But Russia
must understand that NATO will enlarge on its own terms, on a
schedule now broadly agreed within the Alliance. But to say that
is not to imply that NATO enlargement threatens -- or sees a
threat in -- Russia, or is insensitive to Russia's interests or
concerns. NATO's basic principles -- collective defense;
democracy; consensus; and cooperative security -- are no threat
to the Russia of today, nor, we trust, of tomorrow. As in the
past, NATO will be a threat to no country -- Russia or any other
-- unless that country by its actions chooses to make itself a
threat to NATO or its members.
The United States, under President Clinton's leadership, has
made building a strong and stable relationship with Russia our
highest security priority. As part of that effort, we seek to
develop with Russia what Sec. Perry calls a Pragmatic
Partnership. What we mean by that is that we work cooperatively
with the Russian government. Recently, we saw a signal success
of that effort as the last of some 4000 Soviet nuclear warheads
left a now-denuclearized Ukraine, to be dismantled in Russia
pursuant to a tripartite agreement among Ukraine, Russia and the
United States. Russia itself has made major cuts in its nuclear
forces, helped by the Nunn-Lugar CTR program.
We also cooperate with the Russian military on a wide range
of defense and military contacts, such as joint exercises and
frequent exchanges in which our militaries learn from each other
-- and, even more important, learn to know each other. We held
four bilateral exercises last year, each a great success, and
each conducted in a spirit of trust and goodwill. U.S. and
Russian personnel plan to exercise together in at least half a
dozen important exercises this year, both in NATO's Partnership
for Peace and in bilateral channels.
As part of this effort, we have, with our allies, begun a
dialogue with Russia about its role in European security, and its
relationship with NATO. So far as NATO enlargement is concerned,
that means there will be no surprises and Russia will not be
isolated. If Russia is willing to join in, NATO will build a
relationship with Russia based on mutual respect and on enhanced,
Ultimately, this would mean a formal relationship of some
kind between NATO and Russia, perhaps through a standing
consultative group, which Secretary Perry has mentioned.
Naturally this relationship will be reciprocal. It will
recognize that both NATO and Russia should -- and can -- consult
and consider each other's views and interests, without giving the
other a veto, or a vote, in their independent decisions and
Russian participation in IFOR is a positive example of the
NATO-Russia relationship. Today, a Russian brigade is operating
as part of an American-led NATO multilateral division in northern
Bosnia. Its commander, General Shevtsov, is operating under an
agreed command relationship with General Joulwan, Supreme Allied
Commander Europe. Secretary Perry devoted great effort to
bringing Russia into IFOR not just because of the additional
troops Russia brings to Bosnia, but because Russia's
participation in Bosnia casts a very long shadow that will have
an impact on the security of Europe for years to come. When we
deal with the most important security problem which Europe has
faced since the Cold War was over, we want to have Russia inside
the circle, working with us, not outside the circle. NATO and
Russia have a special relationship today in Bosnia, and Russia is
demonstrating its capacity to participate in the future security
architecture of Europe -- as NATO is demonstrating its will to
secure that cooperation.
Of course, Russians are skeptical about NATO enlargement.
Secretary Perry -- who has worked as hard as anyone on improving
NATO-Russia relations -- has said that the opinions of Russians
he has talked to about NATO enlargement range from bitter
opposition to profound apprehension. But -- objectively, as they
might once have said -- there are reasons Russian interests are
served by cooperation on a process that will:
Keep the United States firmly and fully engaged in
Ensure that the nations of Europe -- including Germany --
continue to cooperate as part of an integrated security
structure, not pursue independent national security
Build stability and confidence in Central and Eastern
Europe, not the reverse.
And, most important, rather than isolating Russia, allow
her to participate fully, on a scale and in a manner
commensurate with Russian's inherent might and power in
To be sure, even Russians who agree with the premise that
these are Russia's interests do not often yet agree with the
conclusion that NATO's enlargement will advance them. Our task
is to work with Russia to gain confidence and recognition of
these propositions -- but the fact remains that Russia has no
veto and NATO will enlarge on its own terms.
This course that we are seeking for Russia foresees an
optimistic outcome, and maintains an optimistic outlook. But we
are not naive about Russia, and we are acutely conscious of the
dangers, of the hard lessons of history. Should Russia turn away
from its new path, we can re-evaluate our approach and indeed we
would have to do so. An integral part of our Pragmatic
Partnership policy for Russia is that we continue to remain
strong, so that we have a military hedge against whatever might
In any case, we must be realistic about what Russian foreign
policy will be under any government. Russia is a great power.
It will always have its own unique interests. A partnership
between nations--a pragmatic partnership of the kind that
Secretary Perry has spoken about--does not mean an identity of
views, but a recognition that mutual interests in secure
relationships provides a basis for working out concrete problems.
Nor does our support for Russian reform mean we are
uncritical of Russian actions inconsistent with our interests.
We have made clear our view that when Russian forces operate
beyond Russia's borders--or indeed within them--they must do so
in accord with international norms. We have also made clear that
when Russian actions affect our interests, we will be clear about
our objections to them. This is why we have objected in the
strongest possible ways to Russia's plans to provide Iran with
Obviously, there are great uncertainties about Russia --
including the result of the imminent elections. But however the
elections turn out, it would be deeply premature to let our real
concerns about Russia's future make us abandon our hopes for a
fundamentally new Russia, a fundamentally new Europe, and a
fundamentally new relationship between the transatlantic alliance
and Russia. This is why, for example, in the United States we
are pursuing funding for the Cooperative Threat Reduction program
-- the Nunn-Lugar program -- and why we all need to continue
economic aid for reform in Russia. That is why we are willing to
adjust the CFE Treaty flanks provisions to meet legitimate
Russian concerns, while preserving the Treaty's basic principles.
It is also why we need to develop our policy on NATO enlargement
conscious of, though not subservient to, Russia's concerns.
In all this effort at building a new NATO, the crucible of
real action is not the wordsmiths at Brussels or even the
planners at Mons. It is in the implementation force in Bosnia.
Just as the NATO-Russia relationship is being forged in Bosnia,
so too is the future of NATO itself. It is in Bosnia where all
16 members of NATO, each one making a contribution, are sending
the message that NATO is the bedrock on which the future security
and stability of Europe will be built. It is in Bosnia that we
are demonstrating that NATO can meet new challenges. It is in
Bosnia where NATO is first reaping the benefits of joint
peacekeeping training with our new Peace Partners. It is in
Bosnia where future NATO members are showing themselves ready and
able to shoulder the burdens of membership. And it is in Bosnia
where we are showing that we can work together as partners with
Russian forces. It is in Bosnia that NATO is working also with
neutral and other non-European states in an enterprise that
affects global security. Bosnia is not an exercise. It is the
There are many pitfalls to come in Bosnia -- and many more
in NATO's internal adaptation, its reach to the East, and its
construction of a stable and positive relationship to Russia.
But both in Bosnia and more generally, the task is well begun,
and we mean to carry it through.