Center for Strategic Decision Research


Crisis Management and the New NATO

His Excellency Hans Haekkerup
Minister of Defense of Denmark

Crisis Management and the New NATO seems a very appropriate topic to address because it has been such a short time since the successful end to NATO’s air campaign in support of a political solution in Kosovo. We can rightly be proud of our achievements, and I would like to pay tribute to the Alliance’s personnel for their outstanding performance. The striving for decency, stability, and security in the Balkans have not yet been reached, but we have given the people in and around Kosovo new hope for lasting peace and a better future. The April 1999 Washington Summit backed up this hope with its message that NATO is united and ready to continue to play an active role in securing peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region.

Let me point out the striking political cohesion NATO has demonstrated over Kosovo. We made a decision, we persevered, and we succeeded. Mr. Milosevic hoped he could split the Alliance, that he could wait us out. He was wrong. Despite some internal national debates, the Alliance stood united, held together by a unique political cohesion.

Now, at the turn of the century, we have sent an unmistakable message to Mr. Milosevic, and to others of his kind, that we will not tolerate barbaric, nationalistic behavior. Our cohesive response will have profound consequences for the region, for Europe, and for the world.


The peace process now underway in Kosovo will also be the start of a move towards democratization in Serbia. The dark and misguided policies of Mr. Milosevic over the last eight years have taken Yugoslavia and Serbia on a negative, downward spiral. I welcome signs that the Yugoslavs have had enough. Their future has never lain with the intolerant and power-seeking policies of Mr. Milosevic, an indicted war criminal.

We will also watch carefully the developments in Montenegro. And I expect the developments in Kosovo will influence the situation in Bosnia in a positive way. What we have achieved will also have deep implications for Europe, the European Security and Defense Identity, and NATO.

But we must not become complacent despite our successes. Our performances must be critically assessed. For example, we have seen that only the U.S. had the air assets we needed for the air campaign over Kosovo. Eighty percent of the air power and an even higher percentage of the sophisticated technology were American. But on the ground, in KFOR, Europe will play the major role, as we already demonstrated. And in the equally important civilian efforts, Europe will be at the center. However, as we assess and recognize the need for greater European defense capabilities, we must not overlook the big picture. The air campaign, the ensuing peace operation, and the peace-building efforts are all integral parts of a successful mission, and cannot be separated.


What are our lessons learned?

First, we must improve the capabilities of the Alliance to ensure the effectiveness of future multinational operations. Our forces must be mobile, flexible, and effective. They must also be able to deploy for extended periods and over long distances. And they must be able to survive and to meet the challenges of the operations—including the potential use of chemical and biological weapons.

Our forces must be able to operate efficiently in a multinational environment. As we saw in Bosnia and now in Kosovo, multinational formations are the model for future non-Article 5 operations. We must prepare for these operations through training, exercises, and doctrines, and by improving interoperability. We must look at joint solutions to logistics and supply.

Multinationality will be a key feature in future operations, both among Allies and with Partners. We will go in together, in solidarity, and in support of peaceful solutions. For smaller nations, joining multinational formations is often the only way to contribute.

Some believe that military effectiveness is in reverse proportion to the number of nations participating. First of all, this need not be the case. And second, multinationality is a reality, not a choice.  We should, therefore:

  • Focus our attention on enhancing the military effectiveness of multinational formations
  • Take account of the special challenges of multinationality and
  • Make multinationality part of our standards and procedures

This will be good for Europe, for NATO, and for Partnership.


A second lesson we have learned is that civil-military cooperation must remain a priority. Peace-support operations are, in many ways, infinitely more complicated than fighting a war. They involve a variety of civilian actors whom we must take into account and with whom our military forces need to work closely. While unity of command is essential for the military force, unity of effort is absolutely essential for the overall mission. And, as we have learned in Bosnia, we cannot claim military success on its own. The military component is part of an overall political process and will be judged against this background. This is a learning process that works both ways. Often humanitarian organizations avoid being too close to people in uniform. We must work at getting around the misconceptions and bridging the cultural differences that exist between military and civilian organizations.

We have seen in Bosnia how NATO forces can act as a force multiplier for the U.N. police force (IPTF).  he close and confident working relationship between IPTF and SFOR has allowed the IPTF to pursue its mandate much more forcefully than it would otherwise have done.

But of course we can do better. The process leading up to NATO’s taking decisive action on Kosovo was long. Now, however, we have come a long way in improving that internal process. But are we good enough at developing accurate political analysis as a basis for our decision making? And how do we improve the Alliance’s capacity for preventive action?

Cooperation is one way. PFP’s cooperation with Albania and Macedonia has been effective, as has the Southeast European Security Initiative. The longstanding cooperation among states of the Baltic Sea area is also a good example of how regional stability can be enhanced through bilateral and multilateral assistance, extensive cooperation programs, and internal cooperation.

We can also do better in our public statements. We live in a global community. The internationalization of the media means that what was stated to a remote, local constituency yesterday can be the news of the world today. Once we have agreed on a policy we need to stick to the press line. And we should also give thought to how predictable we want to be in certain situations. By reading the news carefully, Mr. Milosevic knew what we were going to do, and what we would not do.

Our experience with KFOR and SFOR also has implications for the structures of our armed forces. We need a change of emphasis regarding reaction forces. Notwithstanding the very high number of European ground forces on paper, we have seen the difficulties of mounting two simultaneous peace-support operations—SFOR and KFOR.


In both the Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI) and the strengthening of multinational formations there is a clear European dimension. DCI is a challenge especially for Europe. But if we take this challenge seriously, we must provide a much more decisive and efficient European contribution to operations and to decision making. This effort will expand Europe’s capacity and role in crisis management, and will give the Alliance’s crisis-management instrument increased flexibility. Europe is ready to take on a greater share of the burden. The message from Washington and from Cologne is that Europe must be able to play an active and more autonomous role when it comes to all aspects of crisis management, but without duplicating NATO.

There is agreement that Europe should build its European Security and Defense Initiative within the Alliance. Doing so will allow Europeans to use NATO assets to implement the decisions made within the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union. The formula of “separable but not separate” assets and capabilities remains the cornerstone. The European Council gave the green light in Cologne. Now we are moving on to discuss the practicalities, both in EU and in NATO.

Our approach should be inclusive and transparent. And with Javier Solana as General Secretary for the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy I am confident that NATO and the EU will develop their partnership successfully. Europe will and must take on a greater role while remaining the cohesion of the transatlantic Alliance.


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