Center for Strategic Decision Research


NATO's Role in the New Security Architecture

His Excellency Jørgen Kosmo
Minister of Defense of Norway

Over the last few years, the European continent has witnessed historic and dramatic change. Not only have we seen fundamental changes in the political and strategic landscape, but the very substance of our security policies has also been altered.

More than ever before, we realize that our security rests on several pillars. This broad approach to security reflects our increased awareness of the significance of political, economic, social, and environmental factors. European security is no longer only a question of territorial integrity and national independence; it requires a peaceful, just, and secure social order for all. But in order to gain that security it will be necessary for civilian and military elements to work together. We must also look for solutions across the old dividing lines in Europe. Only by cooperative effort will we succeed in securing peace and stability in our part of the world.

A number of organizations have a role to play in shaping this new European security architecture. It will be a constant challenge to ensure openness and transparency among all of these interlocking institutions.


The fact that NATO is playing a central role in Europe's quest for peace and stability has been confirmed over the last few years. Not surprisingly, the Alliance has been able to adapt to the new political and strategic landscape in Europe, continuing in its ability to adapt to new situations. But transformation of NATO has yet to reach its final form. While it stands ready for the challenges of the next century, NATO still must restructure, plan for new missions, embrace new democracies, ensure the success of enlargement, and develop its relationship with Russia. And all of these tasks need to be accomplished while preserving the elements that have made it so successful.

NATO's political strength has been built on military credibility and on a strong sense of solidarity among its members. These critical factors should continue to be NATO's backbone in the future as it maintains its core functions, the very key to stability in Europe. NATO's core functions are the bedrock on which its new missions must be based.

New Operations and Concerns

Crisis management, including peace-support operations, has increasingly become a central part of NATO's activities. The success of IFOR and SFOR operations in Bosnia confirms NATO's ability to undertake these new kinds of missions, which are possible only because we have retained our hard-defense capabilities; it is my strong conviction that only forces that have been trained for high-intensity warfare can take on other, less demanding military tasks. Hard-defense capabilities remain vital in meeting the post-Cold War security needs of Europe.

Since the end of the Cold War, we have been faced with numerous and diverse risks and challenges. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is an increasingly serious problem, which we must do our utmost to halt. The prospect of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons in the hands of so-called rogue nations on NATO's periphery also gives us reason to worry. While these regimes do not pose a massive threat to NATO, their behavior is unpredictable because traditional forms of deterrence do not apply. I am also concerned about the large number of substrategic nuclear weapons remaining in Russia and the country's reluctance to ratify the START II Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Despite these concerns, conflict is less likely to arise from deliberate aggression than from instability that could spread to NATO territory or threaten our lines of communication or other vital interests. The dangers associated with such risks will vary over time, and social as well as political developments in regions close to NATO borders will determine their gravity. However, they remain factors that we must take into account when assessing the security needs of Europe.

The Need for Continued Commitment and Resources

To meet the various challenges, each of us must maintain our national commitment and invest in the highly trained forces and equipment necessary for undertaking the full range of missions. Unfortunately, however, there is a growing imbalance between the tasks assigned to NATO and the resources available for them. In the long term, this may weaken the Alliance. The reluctance to allocate resources to NATO could result in the fragmentation and renationalization of NATO's integrated military structure. This in turn could weaken solidarity within NATO and eventually reduce NATO's ability to handle the whole spectrum of missions--a situation that must be avoided. Shared values and assessments, backed by firm solidarity, will ensure NATO's continued relevance as well as its military credibility and political strength.

The Need for Continued Transatlantic Cooperation

The transatlantic bonds must also be preserved. Our Alliance is built on the premise that Europe's and North America's interests and destinies are closely linked. The active involvement of our North American friends remains crucial to European security and stability, and is a necessary condition for any sizable peace-support operation on the European continent. This fact has been pointed out in Bosnia over the last years.

But it is equally important for Europeans to be willing to carry a fair share of the burdens and to assume a fair share of the responsibility for peace and security. The decision made in Berlin in June 1996 to develop the European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI) within the Alliance was of historic importance. With this decision WEU is able to develop its operational capacity without duplicating existing structures. This has opened a window of opportunity for Europe and for European crisis management.

Now we have to make certain that our ambition to develop the ESDI is matched by a readiness to allocate the necessary resources. Today, most European Allies spend a smaller proportion of their GDP on defense than does the United States. In addition, European Allies have been more reluctant to allocate resources to research and development than our North American ally. This has resulted in a growing gap between the United States and Europe regarding defense-related technological know-how. If such a gap is allowed to widen, it could weaken Europe's crisis-management capacity and eventually NATO interoperability as a whole.


A comprehensive, cooperative approach to security must remain the basis for the Alliance's security policy. With the establishment of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act, NATO has entered into new relationships with countries outside the NATO family.

I believe that the EAPC will be a cornerstone of Europe's new security structure. This organization provides a permanent joint forum that will allow Partner countries to establish a direct political link to the Alliance on a wide range of political and military issues, following up NATO Ministerial decisions to enhance both political and military cooperation between NATO and PFP Partner countries. Regional cooperation will be an important part of the EAPC framework and should contribute to the overall stability of Europe. Cooperation on a regional level, however, must remain open-ended and firmly embedded in a wider NATO-PFP context.

The enhanced PFP-NATO relationship will ensure stronger Partner involvement in the planning and decision making necessary for joint activities, in particular peace-support operations. There is also a need to further develop the current Planning and Review Process in order to make it more like NATO force planning. This process should play a significant role in enhancing interoperability and cooperation between the armed forces of the Alliance and those of Partner countries.

The signing of the Founding Act between NATO and Russia is another cornerstone in the new European security architecture. I expect its newly established Permanent Joint Council to be a forum of consultation and cooperation that will benefit all of Europe. Within this framework, NATO and Russia will discuss all security policy issues of common interest, including potential crises, crisis prevention, joint operations, arms control, and nuclear safety. The Permanent Joint Council will also provide the basis for an enhanced dialogue between Allied and Russian military authorities and act as an important instrument for broadening NATO-Russian cooperation related to military and defense policies.

While this formal cooperation framework is a good beginning, it is not sufficient to ensure Russia's integration into the new European security structure. The extent to which Russia will participate in a strategic partnership cannot be assessed yet. But if Russia chooses to play an active and constructive part in its dealings with NATO, we will enter an entirely new era in European security.


At the Summit in Madrid, NATO is expected to formally invite a number of countries to start negotiating for membership. When this occurs, it will be the fourth enlargement in NATO history. Enlargement is not a new phenomenon. The Alliance always has been--and should continue to be--open to those European democracies that are willing and able to share the responsibilities of membership.

Successfully integrating new member-states will be a major challenge in the years to come. Considerable costs will be incurred, and all of us will have to bear our share of the burden to maintain NATO's credibility in its core mission of collective defense. New member-states will need to modernize their armed forces to ensure their ability to operate with forces from other NATO countries. They will also need to develop the necessary infrastructure, particularly in command and control, communication, air defense, and host nation support for reinforcement.


As we work toward adapting the Alliance to the new world order, we must remember to keep in mind what has made NATO so successful. We must remember that its political strength is built on transatlantic solidarity and military credibility. I strongly believe that continuing to maintain its core functions is the key to enabling the Alliance to meet the new challenges that lay ahead.


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