Speech/statement | Date: 03/04/2009
Some might argue that NATO must choose between remaining an organisation for collective defence and becoming a crisis management organisation with global reach, but in my view this is more a question of achieving the right balance between the Alliance’s “in area” and “out of area” focus, says Minister of Defence Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen.
By the Norwegian Minister of Defence Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen
The NATO’s 60th anniversary Summit provides an excellent opportunity to reaffirm the strong ties between Europe and North America. NATO remains the principal forum for security dialogue between the US and Europe. I also welcome the French debate on a possible full participation in NATO’s integrated military structures. Both politically and militarily this is very important, and in my view this will further strengthen the cohesion of the Alliance.
Rising NATO’s profile among allies
Norway has initiated the need for renewing the Alliance’ focus on security challenges both on its own territory and in its neighbourhood. By responding to these concerns, support for operations also outside NATO territories will increase.
Some might argue that NATO must choose between remaining an organisation for collective defence and becoming a crisis management organisation with global reach, but in my view this is more a question of achieving the right balance between the Alliance’s “in area” and “out of area” focus. Norway believes that NATO should raise its profile in relation to the Alliance’s core functions. For that reason we have proposed to improve the geographical expertise and situational awareness of NATO’s command structure, to increase intelligence analysis and planning, to strengthen the co-operation between NATO and national headquarters, and enhance the NATO involvement in training and exercises. Capability improvement must continue to support the Alliance’s ability to execute its core functions, as well as our ability to engage militarily in more distant areas.
Building a secure and stable Afghanistan is a challenging and long-term undertaking. The Norwegian approach is to underline the need for continued strong military presence, while at the same time increasing the political, developmental and humanitarian efforts and organising our collective endeavours in a more strategically coherent manner.
I am pleased that there is now a strong consensus for a comprehensive approach. We must ensure implementation of UNAMA’s mandate. We must continue our joint exertions to enhance Afghan ownership and responsibility across all sectors. Capacity-building of Afghan Security Forces (ANSF) is essential, and NATO plays a prominent role in this effort.
The Afghan National Army is showing significant progress. We must now ensure that the capacity of the Afghan police forces is significantly enhanced as well. The development of good governance and the rule of law depend on a robust and effective Afghan police force. Avoiding civilian casualties must remain a priority. Partnering and conducting combined operations with ANSF is crucial in this regard.
NATO needs to continuously develop and adapt its structures and capabilities. Bilateral or multinational cooperation will become increasingly important if the European allies – and particularly the smaller ones – are to acquire the assets needed for the most demanding operations. Deployable forces and capabilities are the way to go. They are needed for both Article 5 and non–Article 5 operations. With this in mind, it will be important that a realistic and lasting concept for the NATO Response Force is identified and put in place. In addition, we should carefully consider the need for a fundamental review of how both the NATO headquarters and the NATO command structure are organized and functioning in order to meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.
For the Alliance to succeed in its endeavours, it is necessary to take into account all aspects influencing today’s security environment; civilian as well as military, political as well as operational. With this in mind we especially need to ensure that NATO develops a good working relationship with the UN, the EU, and the AU. This will more effectively enable the comprehensive application of our combined military, political, developmental and humanitarian instruments thorough integrated and holistic strategies. Only then can the international community be truly effective in responding and solving crisis and conflicts that may occur.
The Russian leadership has declared that Russia’s strategic interests are best served in cooperating with the West, and it is in the interest of both NATO and Russia that we are able to address common concerns in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation, but also with a firm commitment to our core values. At the Summit, we warmly welcome Croatia and Albania as new members of the Alliance. We stand by the decisions regarding Ukraine and Georgia taken by our Heads of State and Government in Bucharest. Both countries have made progress, yet both still have significant work to do.
It is my firm belief that NATO will remain the principal forum for security dialogue between the US and Europe. The Alliance is continuously adapting, and in so doing will remain the primary organisation for dealing with the full range of security issues of its member states. It is important that NATO maintain its focus on the challenges facing us at strategic distances as well as those confronting us closer to home.
Published in Military Technology, 03.04.2009