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Center for Strategic Decision Research


Allied Command Europe's Priorities

General Joseph Ralston
Supreme Allied Commander, Europe


I would like to give you a very brief outline of those things that I believe are important to Allied Command Europe. Readiness on the part of our forces is my number-one priority, first and foremost. And when I say readiness, I am not only referring to the role nations play in being accountable for the readiness of their forces; there is also a role for Allied Command Europe to play, because if I am going to provide proper military advice to Admiral Venturoni and to the North Atlantic Council, we have got to have some feel for that.

When I talk about readiness, I am talking about three different parts: the people aspect, the training aspect, and the equipment aspect. And each of these aspects has several sub-elements. As part of the people aspect, we have got to make sure that we have sufficient people to do whatever tasks we might receive from the North Atlantic Council. As far as training goes, I have already spent a lot of time going to the exercises, talking to the troops, and making sure that we are getting good training. A lot of exercises have significant political aspects to them, but the primary purpose of exercises is the training of the troops and for command-and-control to exercise those troops. Regarding equipment readiness, certainly it plays into the Defense Capabilities Initiative and how we proceed on that. So when I talk about readiness, I refer to all three of its elements.


Another important point is that we need to spend a lot of time shaping the security environment of the future. I think the best way to do that is to have very strong military-to-military relationships with our partners, and everything that goes along with that: the Membership Action Plans and the Partnership for Peace exercises are critically important to where we are trying to go in the future.

As a subset of the importance of our security environment, let me say that Russia, as a partner, is a country that we need to have a better relationship with. We need to have a stronger military-to-military relationship with Russia. How can we be expected to serve with the troops of all nations in the Balkans today if we do not have a strong military-to-military relationship with Russia? We have got to be able to have trust at the senior military level all the way down to the soldiers on the ground. So that is something that we need to spend time on.


Finally, something that I know this audience has spent a lot of time on, and something that General Smith will talk about, is the relationship between the European Union and NATO. I for one, both personally and professionally, am strongly supportive of what we are trying to do regarding the European Union. My only request is that we do it in such a way that we preserve the decision-making processes and so that we can have an effective military alliance. Therefore, my advice to the military committee and to the North Atlantic Council would be to try to make sure that we do have an effective way to employ military power.


I would also like to talk a little bit about the team that I have got, and that I am extremely pleased with. I do not believe any SACEUR has been blessed with a better team at the senior leadership levels than I have, starting with Deputy SACEUR Rupert Smith. I also have two commanders with me here today, Admiral Jim Ellis and General Joachim Spiering, and the other member of the team—somebody had to stay home and work—is my Chief of Staff, General Dieter Stöckmann, and I am very, very pleased with Dieter as well. So I just want to let you know how happy I am with the senior leadership that I have got within Allied Command Europe to work on the problems that we all face.











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