NATOs New Strategic Concept and the Importance of Military Capability
His Excellency Vladimír Vetchý
Minister of Defense of the Czech Republic
Today, NATO is perceived as the most cohesive international political organization. Consultations among NATO Allies concerning risks and threats as well as the deterrent effect of collective defense have made and continue to make the Alliances geographic region one of the safest and most stable areas. This will continue to be one of the Alliances essential objectives, but the end of bipolarity has unleashed hitherto hidden disputes both between countries and within them. Adverse security situations have developed, including the situation in the Balkans and especially that in Kosovo.
The Alliance has responded to the new, difficult situations by accepting a new strategic concept at the Washington Summit, a concept that includes specific requirements concerning the capabilities of the armed forces of NATO member-nations. These forces must be able to react to the new threats and risks through interoperability, in command and control, communication and information systems, and logistic support; through mobility, at strategic, operational, and tactical levels; through the ability to mount an efficient combat operation while minimizing risks and losses; through survivability and sustainability; and through support to combat forces, including the provision of information, logistics, and transport assets.
To make all of this possible, technology must be developed and utilized, and this is tied to the economic sphere, where the different interests and possibilities of individual nations cannot be ignored. Efforts to bridge the technological gap between the armed forces of different member-nations, in an effort to aid military cohesion, could actually result in weakened political cohesion if the interests of only some countries are considered.
THE WORK OF PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE
The Partnership for Peace program is continuing to play a specific and important role in bringing countries together. Its potential has not been realized, however, nor have all of its objectives been reached. Consequently, PFPs political and economic dimensions should be strengthened. The fact that soldiers have, in a way, outrun politicians also does not mean that the programs military component should be weakened. As one step toward strengthening it, the Czech Republic plans to organize a meeting of the Chiefs of Staff of Slovenia, Slovakia, the Baltic States, Romania, Bulgaria, FYROM, Moldova, Georgia, and the Ukraine, with in addition attendants from Poland and Hungary. This event will be a tangible outcome of the implementation of our Membership Action Plan approved at the Washington Summit.
As a final note, I would like to say that, in addition to political and military integration, we should also concern ourselves with the integration of the new member-nations defense industries. We should also not think about these issues only in European terms, but in transatlantic terms as well. Our political will as well as our solutions must be acceptable to us all.