Center for Strategic Decision Research


The North Atlantic Alliance: A Vector of Peace, Stability, and Security

General Harald Kujat
Chairman of the NATO Military Committee

General Harald Kujat
"...WMDs and the growing capabilities gap between actors are causing a shift toward asymmetric threats."


I am very happy to be part of this year’s International Workshop and to have it take place in my country’s capital. I am also happy to speak as a representative of the 26 members of the Alliance and to offer my views as the chairman of the NATO Military Committee. The theme of this year’s Workshop—“Global Security: A Broader Concept for the twenty-first century—particularly appeals to me because it is at the heart of what we do at NATO, not only in Brussels but throughout the command structure, from Norfolk to Kabul, from Stavenger, Norway, to the Straits of Gibralter. So I would like to share my thoughts on this topic, particularly on three important points: 

  • The transformation of NATO’s military capabilities—what we’ve been doing for the last few years, where we’re going, and, most importantly, the purpose of the transformation
  • The United States and the transatlantic link 
  • Expanding peace and security beyond Europe as a primary means to achieve security in Europe 


It is important to realize that there is no single risk that is the most dangerous to our societies; what is most dangerous is a combination of risks, both those linked within a short time frame and those that have a common purpose though they are posed by different actors. With this understanding, I believe that the ability to engage in armed conflict will remain the ultimate instrument of state power. Though interstate conflict is likely to become less frequent, it will be more risky and more dangerous when it does occur. It will also have increased consequences for international security. For example, very recently we saw a degradation of the overall security situation in the Philippines. 

By virtue of their fusion with the societies that harbor them, terrorist groups claiming an affiliation with Islam continue to elude eradication and remain able to acquire weapons and ammunition. Because information and technology continue to flow across borders at an accelerated pace, and because technological advances make manufacturing processes more efficient than ever before, many countries and many non-state actors with limited resources have access to the material and expertise necessary to develop weapons of mass destruction.  

This trend will continue to accelerate over time, because no developing nation will want to compete militarily with developed countries in the traditional way when WMDs are inexpensive force equalizers and can mitigate the relative huge technological edge potential adversaries have. Simply put, possessing WMDs allows nations to project greater national power than they could in any other way.  

However, while the proliferation of WMDs and the growing capabilities gap between actors are causing a shift toward asymmetric threats, such threats are not caused only by WMDs. Some traditional threats are also asymmetric and also facilitated by advances in technology. Actually, asymmetry relates more to a method of action than to use of unconventional weapons. The September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., which had devastating effects on American lives and the economy, were the first successful large-scale international terrorist strikes against the continental United States. The series of deadly explosions in commuter trains that rocked Madrid in March 2004, leaving scores of dead, was also way beyond what European countries have experienced in contemporary times short of total war.  

To meet the increasing threat posed by terrorist organizations using asymmetric methods, all levels of intelligence and security agencies must share information as well as have unity of thought and unity of action. Operations will become increasingly complex and no action will be exclusively military or civilian.  


Whatever the threats and challenges, we must keep insecurity from being imported into our societies. At NATO, we believe that the only way to predict the future is to have the power to shape the future, and it is in that spirit that we tackle all our challenges. 

NATO has been and continues to be a defensive alliance, an expression of transatlantic cooperation and of the common values of freedom, democracy, and free enterprise. At the Washington Summit of 1999, the Alliance adopted a new Strategic Concept in order to adapt to the new challenges of the post–Cold War period, but in doing so confirmed its enduring ability to adopt a transformational attitude in order to remain the security organization of choice for dealing with out-of-area challenges.  

To support the new Strategic Concept, to position ourselves for success in the 21st century, and to give real force to the need to transform our capabilities, we created, on June 19, 2003, the Allied Command for Transformation. The mission of this command and its Supreme Commander is to be NATO’s force for change. The Supreme Commander has been tasked to find innovative and more effective ways to conduct operations and to create a culture that continually seeks better ways of working. His most important task, however, is to find strategies for adapting NATO’s military culture and for the way we think operationally and strategically. 

The Supreme Commander’s mission is being accomplished. Since its inauguration, the Allied Command for Transformation has worked diligently analyzing lessons learned from both NATO and non-NATO operations and drawing conclusions for force planning and force structures. These lessons and conclusions are being applied in turn to planning future operations. 

The command has also sponsored numerous seminars and exercises at the highest military and political levels, one of which was held in January 2004 in Norfolk, Virginia; 93 operational commanders from the NATO Response Force met for three days of war games centering on the deployment of an NRF in a crisis-response operation. 

The establishment of the NRF, which resulted from discussions held by NATO chiefs of defense in September 2002 in Berlin, was one of the key decisions of the Prague Summit. This high-technology combined force is rapidly deployable and will integrate air, land, and maritime components, and is being trained, equipped, and certified to meet common NATO standards. 

But the NRF is more than that. It is a catalyst for transformation. Because contributing to the NRF is a source of pride among the nations, they are encouraged to subscribe more fully to meeting expeditionary capabilities. And through the NRF, which includes U.S. forces, non-U.S. NATO members will be able to deploy more rapidly and fight more effectively, a very important requirement if we are to continue fulfilling our mission to provide collective defense. 

However, the NRF is not a mere toolbox from which you can extract specific capabilities. It is an entity that will be tailored to a specific mission but will always be engaged as the NRF, which needs collective capabilities to do its job properly. This collective approach to capabilities is the only reasonable one for an intergovernmental organization to take for several reasons: 

  • Because it makes it easier for nations to call upon them when needed. There are no national flags attached to collective capabilities, minimizing political considerations and enabling every nation, big or small, to benefit. 
  • Because collective capabilities are easier for nations to contribute to financially. 
  • Because it is easier to maintain a technological edge than when separate nations provide capabilities or a few nations provide them multilaterally.  


NATO’s engagement in Afghanistan is the most important operation it is involved in. It is the first engagement the Alliance has undertaken out of its area, and, as such, the eyes of the international community are fixed on it, with expectations running very high. Therefore we must match our political ambitions with the military capabilities required to do the job. Currently there are 6,500 NATO troops deployed in ISAF, which is less than a third of what is deployed in Kosovo, a country five times smaller. 

While we can never afford to fail in any crisis-response operation, this is especially true in Afghanistan, particularly as the country prepares for fair and free elections. But stability is not a given in Afghanistan. The risk of failure there is very real if the international community does not more proactively support the electoral process, the single most important strategic event of 2004 in that country. We must seize the opportunity. 


A major security risk that is now painfully visible on our streets—in New York, Paris, and Berlin—is one that has sprung from failed states such as Afghanistan: the proliferation of hard drugs. Our countries pay a huge price for drug trafficking that emanates from countries where there is little or no rule of law. First, our economic output declines when our young become addicted. Second, our societies must spend large sums to develop treatment and repression programs. And third, we pay to deploy troops in these failed states when the situation requires it. Drug trafficking is a very expensive business that has a very negative impact on our security environment. 


On April 2, 2004, seven new flags were raised at NATO headquarters. And as soon as accession was effective, four Belgian F-16s were deployed in Lithuania to patrol Baltic skies, under the control of NATO air traffic controllers. This is what NATO is all about: solidarity, interoperability, and effectiveness, and these are the characteristics that will come in handy when our heads of state and governments discuss the Alliance’s place in the current security environment and our role in future missions.    


The works we have discussed so far will require new weapons, more and new forms of intelligence gathering, and increases in Special Forces. Longstanding as well as new allies of the United States will need to make similar changes to become more agile, more lethal, and more expeditionary. 

Since the collapse of the Soviet threat, the Alliance has become a victim of its own success, but it has not fallen into the trap of trying to reinvent itself. Rather, it has adapted in order to continue to serve its mission—the indivisible security of its member-states. 

Alliances are means for serving ends; they are not ends in themselves. That is why we are transforming, in order to keep the transatlantic link alive. European allies will continue to depend on NATO as well as the United States’ commitment to guard against strategic threats to Europe. The United States, for her part, will continue to rely on the benefits of belonging to NATO: legitimacy, multilateralism, and a powerful economy. Complementarity, therefore, must be viewed as an asset, not as a liability. 


The question here is whether European Union NATO members will put their money in NATO or in the EU. Choosing the latter will be fine as long as members engage in cooperation rather than competition with NATO. The Berlin Plus arrangements, in which access to NATO planning capabilities is guaranteed, should answer this question.  


I believe we will never be in a position to close the U.S.-Europe technology gap. However, we must prevent its further widening and preferably reverse the trend before it leads to a gap in how we conduct warfare, which would be much more damaging. In the end, if we have to send our young men and women into harm’s way, we must give them every advantage for coming out alive as well as being successful, and that means investing in technology. But rationalizing our defense industries can be done only by strengthening our multilateral government institutions. We must find ways to save money and energy by combining efforts, including planning and cooperatively procuring armaments. 

Within NATO we can already see that multinational efforts are the right answer—we see it in such initiatives as the strategic airlift and the Alliance Ground Surveillance system. I am very pleased with the progress thus far on a NATO-owned and -operated AGS core, based on the TIPS mixed solution; while 2008 was my personal wish for the year of initial operating capability, I hope there will be no further delays beyond 2010. There has been much transatlantic cooperation in this area.  

NATO nations also recently held discussions at the ambassadorial level to address this issue. Four proposals are now being discussed at NATO headquarters: 

The first of these proposal concerns the ongoing U.S. interagency review of defense trade export policy and national security. The U.S. has offered to keep NATO appraised of progress through regular briefings to the council, and it might also be helpful if European nations shared information on their defense trade export policies, either within the framework of the Alliance or within the European Union’s, in order to include their experience with the United States’. 

The second proposal relates to export licensing problems that are affecting NATO agencies. The United States must understand the needs of the NATO agencies and they, in turn, must understand the requirements of U.S. legislation. Meetings on this issue have been held with officials of the American administration and dialogue is ongoing. European nations may also wish to review their export-related dealings with NATO agencies and NATO should assume a coordinating role when working with Allied governments regarding export-licensing problems that affect NATO. 

The third proposal has to do with establishing a high-level forum for addressing transatlantic export-control and technology-transfer problems. Dr. Solana first put this idea forward in 1997 when he was NATO Secretary General, but no consensus was reached and the initiative never took off. However, it is surprising that no real forum is yet in existence for collective international discussions on key issues such as defense export licensing and technology transfer. But given the fusion of security and economic interests involved in these processes, I believe they are uniquely suited to NATO–EU cooperation. NATO plans to carry forward conferences on industrial cooperation on an annual basis. Perhaps these conferences should be a co-sponsored NATO-EU venture. 

The fourth and final proposal deals with releasing a high-level political declaration in which NATO agrees that enhanced transatlantic defense-industrial cooperation is one of the Alliance’s critical strategic security objectives. 

With these proposals in mind, I have asked Admiral Giambastiani, the Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation, to organize a European Industry Day, which will be held in Berlin in mid-September. The intent of the day is to demonstrate how industry can best fit in with the Alliance’s transformation efforts. I encourage everyone linked with the industry to mark your calendars and make every effort to attend—it will be well worth your time. 

As far as the European Union is concerned, I believe a European way of thinking and carrying out transformation must be developed to fit European technology and resource levels. The recent creation of the European Armaments Agency is an excellent example of how we can meet this need. The EAA will be able to evaluate capabilities, coordinate research and development, harmonize military requirements, achieve multinational solutions where needed, make procurement much more efficient, and strengthen a Europe-wide internationally competitive defense industrial and technological base. 


The transatlantic relationship cannot be isolated from the larger international system of which it is a part. At the Prague Summit, Alliance heads of state and government placed significant emphasis on outreach activities, recognizing that security is largely dependent on stability in the regions bordering Alliance territory, be it in the Mediterranean basin or in the Caucasus. We anticipate that demand for NATO is likely to increase, not diminish. The Alliance will continue to be called upon on the international stage as peacemaker, peacekeeper, and provider of security and stability. At the moment, these are roles that no other organization can undertake as successfully. The speech by UN Secretary General Annan inviting NATO to play a more active role in Africa, and UN interests in closer cooperation with NATO, are acknowledgements of this fact. 


Regarding the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, which provides a framework for discussion for 46 countries, Allies have increased the involvement of partners in the planning, operation, and oversight of political and military activities that contribute to security. The Council adds value to the Alliance, providing a superior institutionalized forum for progress. 

On the military side, Allies’ forces contribute to promoting stability throughout the Euro-Atlantic area by regularly participating in military-to-military contacts and in other cooperative activities and exercises under the Partnership for Peace program as well as those that deepen NATO’s relationships with Russia, Ukraine, and the Mediterranean Dialogue countries. These partner countries also participate in NATO-led operations, notably in Afghanistan and the Balkans, showing again that our outreach program provides a strong framework for interoperability and integration. 

NATO will always need to act in close cooperation with other organizations that have key political and economic responsibilities, starting with the United Nations. The UN has already inquired if NATO is in a position to provide it with military planning and a reserve force for UN missions. But to do our work we need contributions from partners and non-NATO countries. We are currently looking at ways to improve the arrangements and mechanisms for encouraging even more effective contributions to NATO-led operations. 


In order to continue to strengthen PFP, it is important for Allies to develop relationships with partners in the Caucasus and Central Asia, because these partners hold the key for providing a stable security environment around conflict areas such as Afghanistan, where terrorism was born and flourished. Since the Prague Summit, partners have been invited to participate in training opportunities and exercises related to terrorism, and we will continue to share with them the lessons learned from fighting against this plague. 


The Mediterranean Dialogue is also a very important pillar of the Alliance strategy for expanding peace and stability. At their December 2003 meeting in Brussels, NATO foreign ministers looked for additional progress in expanding the dialogue beyond what was achieved at the Prague Summit. We are now considering ways to further enhance NATO’s relationship with all Mediterranean partners before the Istanbul Summit by generating, in consultation with them, options for developing a more ambitious and an expanded Mediterranean Dialogue framework. 

Different types of relationships have been established with nations that have no affiliation with the Alliance, either through EAPC or the Mediterranean Dialogue; stronger links have been forged with countries that have contributed troops to NATO-led operations, including Argentina, Australia, Chile, and New Zealand. Significant relationships are also being developed with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Japan, and, more recently, China. All of this has been done to improve cooperation throughout a number of areas, including defense reform and interoperability, and to open more Partnership activities to Mediterranean Dialogue countries on a case-by-case basis. Interoperability is a key word here. NATO has a good deal of experience integrating forces from various countries, including Islamic ones, into a coherent military structure, and we will continue to do so. 


Discussions concerning the expansion of peace and stability cannot take place without discussing relations with Russia and Ukraine. The NATO-Russia Council, or NRC, was established by the Rome Declaration of May 22, 2002, and given the task of exploring new areas for cooperation. From this beginning, the NRC Work Program was agreed to on June 10, 2002, which included the establishment of the NRC Theater Missile Defense Ad Hoc Working Group. Theater missile defense, or TMD, is one of several areas identified by NATO and the Russian Federation as highly promising for rapidly developing cooperative efforts based on the outcomes of the Rome conference. As part of the development of a joint TMD concept, a plan for an interoperability study, and future training and exercise events, we are working to complete an operational concept for providing strategic military guidance for future combined NATO-Russia TMD operations. 

NATO and Ukraine have also had considerable success participating in practical cooperative efforts in support of common political goals. Ukraine has been active in Partnership for Peace since 1994, and the NATO-Ukraine Charter that was signed in 1997 gives Ukraine a privileged position in relation to NATO. To date Ukraine has participated in 200 exercises and hosts the Partnership for Peace Training Center.  


I would like to end by underlining that the security risks we now face and will continue to face will be multidimensional and so we cannot construct our security operation to fight a single threat. NATO is a multifaceted organization, the premier forum for transatlantic political consultations on security issues. But it is also a collective-defense organization. With a fluid strategic situation, we must, in order to defend ourselves, look to territorial defense, but also be prepared to go wherever the threats are. 

As NATO matures in the new security environment, it will remain the intergovernmental security organization of choice. It is the organization most able to harmonize and integrate multinational capabilities (including those of Islamic states) into a coherent and effective structure. Coalitions of the willing cannot do that. But while much has been achieved since Prague as far as transforming our capabilities and structure, much more remains to be done, especially in the development of collective capabilities.


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