14 June 2003
NATO Approves Changes in Force and Command Structure
(Briefing by senior U.S. official on June 12 NATO meetings in
Operations of the NATO Response Force, greater investments in new
capabilities, and approval of a streamlined command structure were the
focus of a set of meetings at NATO's Brussels headquarters on June 12,
according to a background briefing by a senior U.S. defense official.
"The ministers approved a concept of operations for the NATO Response
Force," the U.S. defense official said. "The NATO Response Force would
really be a focal point for developing new capabilities for the
Alliance -- the capabilities needed to create the NATO Response Force
are the high priority capabilities that nations need to invest in."
The U.S. official stressed the need for more investment "in the right
kinds of capabilities by the Alliance," as called for by the Prague
"On the command structure," the official said, "the ministers approved
the new NATO command structure, which will result in a major reduction
and streamlining in the size of the command structure, taking it down
from roughly twenty elements down to eleven elements.
The U.S. defense official noted that the command restructuring will
include a Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger, Norway, as well as a
joint training area established in Poland.
The official applauded NATO's support for the decision by Poland and
Spain to contribute troops for security and stabilization in Iraq.
"What we have today is an Alliance that has come together to say that
NATO should play a role in the reconstruction of Iraq; NATO should
play a major role out of its traditional geographic areas, including
as far away as Afghanistan," the U.S. official said.
Following is a transcript of a June 12 press backgrounder from NATO
headquarters in Brussels by a senior U.S. defense official:
United States Department of Defense
June 12, 2003
Press Backgrounder from NATO Headquarters
(Press backgrounder from NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium. Also
participating was Victoria Clarke, assistant secretary of defense for
Senior Defense Official: Thank you. We've had a very productive set of
meetings this morning. Obviously Secretary Rumsfeld has arrived here
in Brussels. Is that better? Okay good.
Secretary Rumsfeld has arrived here in Brussels after trips to Lisbon,
Portugal, to Tirana, Albania, and to the Marshall Center in
Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany. And we've had morning sessions of
the Nuclear Planning Group, the Defense Planning Committee and the
first session of the North Atlantic Council, Defense [Ministers
A wide range of topics were discussed today, but the focus really this
morning was on fulfillment of the Prague capability packages, which
came out of the meeting of the Heads of State. In particular, the NATO
Response Force, the capabilities commitments and the command
Let me start with the first and the third of those. The ministers
approved today a concept, essentially a concept of operations, for the
NATO Response Force. And there was really a strong sense of enthusiasm
around the table not only for the creation of this force but also for
the acceleration of its development. We're looking at an early
capability by this fall, and then follow on with what would be
considered an initial operating capability in the next fall. The
Chairman of the Military Committee, General Kujat, and General Jones
and others engaged in this dialogue with ministers on setting up the
NATO Response Force. And this has been completely agreed and I think
is a very, very positive step forward.
In addition to the need for the NATO Response Force as a capability
that the Alliance can use to address the full spectrum of threats that
it might have to deal with, the other thing that ministers agreed on
was that the NATO Response Force would really be a focal point for
developing new capabilities for the Alliance -- that the capabilities
needed to create the NATO Response Force are the high priority
capabilities that nations need to invest in. And that those things
which are not needed will no longer be invested in.
On the second point about the Prague Capabilities Commitment, there is
a review of this by ministers. I think the general view was that while
some progress has been made, there is still quite a bit more to be
done. And that there needs to be more concrete and more tangible
commitments. Some of those commitments will come later on this
afternoon when, I believe there will be MOUs [memoranda of
understanding] signed on airlift and sealift projects. But I think the
general consensus -- and certainly one from the United States point of
view -- is that investment and more investment in the right kinds of
capabilities by the Alliance as a whole is still needed.
Finally on the command structure, the ministers approved the new NATO
command structure, which will result in a major reduction and
streamlining in the size of the command structure, taking it down from
roughly twenty elements down to eleven elements. The number of
combined air operations centers will go down from ten to four, plus
two deployable centers. And this streamlining really represents, I
think, an important potential resource saver for the Alliance. It also
means now that we're better organized, I think, to conduct joint
And I think maybe the most exciting element of this is that there are
two new strategic commands. The Allied Command Europe is no longer. It
has now been replaced by Allied Command Operations, which has
operational responsibility for the entire geographic responsibilities
of the Alliance. And the second strategic command, Allied Command
Atlantic, is also no longer. And it has been replaced by a functional
command, Allied Command Transformation. And in his hat today as Joint
Force Commander, but within the next couple of weeks we hope, Admiral
Edmund Giambastiani will become the new Supreme Allied Commander
Transformation, which is really a direct link between the between the
Joint Forces Command in the United States, which is responsible for
U.S. transformation, and the Alliance. He will function in a
dual-hatted role, as both the head of Joint Forces Command on the U.S.
side and also as the Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation, with a
In addition to that, this new Allied Command Transformation will have
a significant European footprint. There will be a Joint Warfare Center
established in Stavanger in Norway. There will also be a joint
training area established in Poland for this Allied Command
Transformation, and there's the prospects for other countries to
develop what we call Centers of Excellence in the area, in areas such
as maritime capabilities, CBW, defense capabilities and the like that
would be brought in underneath this Allied Command Transformation.
So with that as a general backdrop, I'd like to turn it over for some
Q: I have a very simple one just to start with. This is a really
simple question. So, what we've been calling SACEUR is going to become
SAC-OPs? Is that correct?
Senior Defense Official: No.
Q: It will still be SACEUR?
Senior Defense Official: The names SACEUR and SHAPE will continue, but
SACEUR will now be the head of Allied Command Operations.
Q: (Inaudible.) General Jones, as he's double-hatted, is now
responsible for the whole of the world operations, not just Europe?
Senior Defense Official: The whole of what?
Q: Geographic area, outside Europe.
Senior Defense Official: Yes, correct. Well, when I say outside Europe
(what I mean is) the North Atlantic area. So his responsibilities as
Supreme Allied Commander Europe at the head of Allied Command
Operations means he has operational responsibilities for that entire
geographic area. Whereas before, remember there were two strategic
commanders. One was responsible for the Atlantic and this was
established at a time when it was envisioned to be a major Atlantic
battle that would be going on -- surge of U.S. forces -- and that
Atlantic battle, of course, would be going on with the Soviet Union,
Soviet submarines, Soviet surface ships, aircraft and the like. This
obviously is a thing of the past, and so it seemed to make more sense
for the Alliance to put its operations under one commander, and then
to provide for sort of the functional transformational aspects of the
Alliance in another commander.
The real -- one of the real other advantages of Allied Command
Transformation is that it also establishes a major strategic command
on U.S. territory in Norfolk, Virginia, and establishes, therefore, a
transatlantic link. There will be a lot of, large number of allied
officers staying in the Norfolk area, although the character of the
officers that will be sent there will be changing very dramatically
over time because it's very much a maritime focus now, and it will now
become a joint focus.
Q: (Inaudible.) Just a couple of Iraq-related questions. Could you
first talk a little bit about the significance of NATO agreeing to
help the whole set-up there in Iraq. Second of all, you talk a little
bit about how the U.S. feels about NATO, about what else NATO might be
able to do in Iraq, and whether you were satisfied thus far with the
kinds of offers of assistance --
Senior Defense Official: We are very enthusiastic about NATO's
decision to help the Poles. I think it's a big step for NATO. It's a
strong commitment to a new ally who is stepping up to very important
responsibilities. And it will be viewed as very helpful to the
coalition in Iraq. So it's a winner all around as far as we're
And you know, we're at the nascent stages of this. NATO has just made
the decision. There is going to be a force generation conference going
on, I believe, over the next few weeks to try to figure out what
particular areas will be able to support the Poles. At the same time,
I would add, NATO is also doing force generation for ISAF IV in
Afghanistan. So, there is really an amazing amount of activity going
on, all of it out of the European theater and all requiring the kinds
of capabilities that we're trying to build in this capabilities
commitment and through the NRF. So I think all of these pieces, the
action, the sort of tangible action that NATO is taking to improve its
capabilities are also a reflection of the new responsibilities that
the members of the Alliance see that they need to step up to.
Q: (Inaudible.) The letter of intent to be signed on airlift -- any
guarantee that the C-17 will actually be used in the mix? Are the
Europeans willing to pay?
Senior Defense Official: I don't think that -- my understanding of the
letter of intent is that it doesn't make those decisions. It doesn't
get down to that level of granularity. But as I understand it, there
is a prospect for C-17 leasing, as well as leasing of other types of
heavy lift aircraft, Ukrainian aircraft. So I think those are still
open, but the letter of intent is just that, it's a letter of intent.
It's not, at this point, a commitment to specific projects or specific
leasing deals; that will be worked out in time.
Can we go back to the back row here maybe?
Q: (Inaudible.) -- with the Spanish decision to assist in Polish
sector -- is it now a Polish sector? Or a Polish-Spanish sector --
Senior Defense Official: I am -- I think we are -- well pleased with
the fact that Poland is attracting strong support for its commitment
to stand up a divisional headquarters and I think that the decision by
Spain to join shows the confidence that all parties have in Poland,
and certainly including -- I would especially include -- the United
States in that. And I think that this is a coalition effort that we
are embarking on. There are Poles, there are Americans, there are
British, there are Spanish, there are Australians and there are many,
many other countries that will be involved. And I think that's the
best way to characterize it.
Q: (Inaudible.) -- what do you mean by early initial capabilities?
Senior Defense Official: I think the early capability is to begin, is
first of all to stand up, the training regiment; to get the NRF into a
position where it could be used. And it will also be smaller in size
than the full capability that we would propose to have committed
eventually when the NRF reaches full operational capability, which, as
you may remember, was about a brigade-sized element plus its a similar
commitment no the air side and the maritime side. So, you won't see
that full brigade capability in this early capability. But a smaller
capability built on what we call third-tier special operations-type
forces could be then built onto over time to provide that full
brigade-type capability. So smaller, a little bit different in
composition and with an emphasis early on, I think, in developing
operational concepts, standardization and the like. And the training
regiment and certification necessary to be able to make the force able
to carry out its tasks. And Allied Command Transformation actually
will play a role in that, in helping to certify the NATO Response
Clarke: Okay, we have about two more.
Senior Defense Official: Okay, you pick them.
Clarke: No, you pick them.
Senior Defense Official: Okay, how about this gentleman here?
Q: (Inaudible.) How do you see the division of responsibilities
between the NRF and the European rapid reaction force?
Senior Defense Official: Well, as you know the NRF is designed to deal
with a broad spectrum of potential contingencies, all the way up to
forced entry-type situations, high intensity combat. The European
Rapid Reaction Force, as I understand it, is based on the so-called
Petersburg principles. It's designed to focus more on peacekeeping and
peace-enforcement type operations. So I don't know that there is a
strict division of labor here.
I think that one of the things that we in the Alliance and I think in
the EU are cognizant of is that there's one set of capabilities --
that the Alliance members -- there's such a broad overlap. We don't
have separate militaries for the European Union and for NATO. We have
a grouping of national militaries. And so we're going to have to make
judgments, I think, down the road in where the particular emphases out
to be. The EU has just sent a force into Macedonia. They are, I think,
contemplating sending a force into Africa. And NATO is helping by
supporting ISAF. So I think that these things will be worked out
practically and I don't know that there will be a strict division of
labor but to the extent that there's a difference, I think it's really
based on the fact that the Petersburg principles kind of outline the
EU's set of objectives for that force, and the NRF, on the other hand,
is a full-spectrum force.
Q: (Inaudible.) -- the Alliance moving beyond the divisions over the
war in Iraq -- (Inaudible.)
Senior Defense Official: I think that there was obviously broad
support in the Alliance for our position on Iraq. It was maybe not
unanimous. But what we have today is an Alliance that has come
together to say that NATO should play a role in the reconstruction of
Iraq; NATO should play a major role out of its traditional geographic
areas, including as far away as Afghanistan. And that we have been
able to work out concepts of operations for a NATO Response Force in a
way that is, I think, fully compatible with Berlin-Plus and the
NATO-EU arrangements. We have a new command structure that is going to
be able to be supportive of those activities. And every country around
the table is more strongly supportive of increased capabilities. So I
think, yes, that the Alliance is in a much better position today than
it was in February when we had some serious divisions.
But, as is usual, I think, of NATO, warnings of its death are always
premature. And we have a very strong and vibrant Alliance and nineteen
come twenty-six members who are really committed to seeing this
Alliance maintain itself as the most important security institution in
the transatlantic area.
Clarke: Great place to stop. Thank you.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)