NATO: A 21st Century Alliance That Is Delivering

Published: Mon 6 Nov 2006 01:38 PM
NATO: A 21st Century Alliance That Is Delivering
Ambassador Victoria Nuland, U.S. Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Remarks at the Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS)
Brussels, Belgium
October 30, 2006
AMBASSADOR NULAND: Thanks. It's great to be back at CEPS. I'm a long-time admirer of this organization and I particularly appreciate what CEPS is doing today to try to bring the two sides of Brussels together -- NATO and the EU. It sometimes seems harder to do that here in Brussels than it is in places like Afghanistan.
I'm also delighted to see so many colleagues and friends here including a number of NATO partner Ambassadors as we look to expand NATO partnerships at our Riga Summit in November.
I thought I would start today with a little quiz. This is a quiz for all of you. It's a geography quiz. What do the following places have in common? Panjwai, Ar-Rustamiyah, Bagh, Leposavic, El Fashir, and Little Rock, Arkansas. Anybody know? I don't see any hands. All of these places are places where NATO has deployed within the last 18 months. Fifty thousand soldiers operating in the last 18 months on four continents around the world. This is NATO delivering 21st century security in defense of our members' values, in our operations, in our training missions, in our humanitarian relief operations. We do it on the basis of the political unity that the 26 allies bring to the table and based on our common understanding that if you want to be safe at home, you better be ready to deliver security and security training out there, and make an investment in it.
Not every ally is doing everything, but all allies are doing a lot, and doing it together makes it possible for every one of us to do more than any of us would be able to do individually. That's why we entitled today's talk, "NATO, a 21st Century Alliance That Is Delivering."
It's no secret that ever since President Bush came here in February '05, the U.S. has had a very, very ambitious agenda here in Brussels. As President Bush made clear then, we want the strongest possible NATO, we want the strongest possible EU, and we want the strongest possible NATO-EU relationship.
I'm going to leave it to my colleague Boyden Gray down at USEU to talk about how we are working on our U.S.-EU relationship, but today I wanted to talk to you about our ambitions for NATO.
Let's start with a little walk down memory lane. Just remember three years ago today that most of the pundits in this room would have said of NATO "Out of area, or Out of business." There were other folks in this town and elsewhere saying things like, "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus." [Laughter]. Who could that guy possibly have been? And I hope he made a lot of money on that comment. [Laughter].
And in some quarters Americans were perceived as Martians when a year ago we started rolling out an extremely ambitious agenda for NATO's Summit in Riga that will take place in just four weeks. We wanted, and we still want, NATO to be able to demonstrate, when our Heads [of State] meet four weeks from now, that we have an alliance that is taking on global responsibilities, that it increasingly has the global capabilities to meet those challenges, and that is doing it in concert with global partners. We wanted to demonstrate an alliance that was stronger politically, stronger operationally, and stronger as a global trainer.
Very, very quickly, just to recap, in political terms we wanted to expand the strategic dialogue among Allies. We wanted to get back to a time where at that round table where Allies meet, the conversation isn't only about Afghanistan or Kosovo where we are deployed, it is about all of the challenges that our leaders face in security terms. Allies should use the NATO table to strengthen our political approach and to talk about the tools that we had to bring to today's challenges.
We've done that, I think, over the last year where at NATO Headquarters we've talked about Iran at the Foreign Minister level; we've talked about energy security with experts; we've had Africa experts in to talk about the broader challenges we face there. We've recently released statements on the North Korean nuclear threat. So the dialogue is getting broader.
We also wanted to strengthen our relationship with partners. NATO has for more than a decade had good relations with our partners in the Euro-Atlantic space, but increasingly today's missions require that we work well with nations around the world, particularly countries who share our values and are willing to commit and to work with us in our missions and in our efforts to combat today's threats.
Third, on the political side we wanted to reaffirm NATO's open door. At a time when many Europeans are questioning the limits of Europe, from an American perspective, NATO's role as a mentor and magnet for change and positive democratic reform throughout the transatlantic space has been one of its greatest exports. It is absolutely essential that we keep that door open, and that we continue to work with those countries who aspire to meet NATO's performance-based standards for membership.
On the operational side, what have we wanted? We have wanted since Prague to be able to meet that declaration that Heads made that we would be able to go wherever and whenever the threat confronted us, and that we would have the capability to do it when allies agreed that NATO was the instrument. We wanted to be funded and enabled and ready to go.
From a US perspective, we also wanted to strengthen NATO's role as a security trainer. We have always done well training our own, but increasingly in today's world it's important to be able to export security training to those countries who are willing but fragile in their effort to meet their internal security challenges.
So as you look around the Alliance today, in addition to our operations, we are also training the next generation of military officers in Iraq. We are training the Afghan National Army in Afghanistan. Our operation in Darfur is essentially a training mission for African Union forces.
So where are we today as we head towards Riga? For the next four weeks, Allies are going to spend a lot of time arm and mud wrestling about the words that we use in our NATO documents, our communiques – many of you have been there on the EU side; I see heads nodding – to reflect today's reality. It's going to be an intense conversation as we head towards Riga.
But today, I would argue that the reality of what's going on in NATO is outstripping our ability to encapsulate it in NATO doctrine, in theory, here at NATO Headquarters. It's outstripping theory, most importantly, where it counts in Afghanistan, NATO's most challenging and most important undertaking.
I wanted to spend a couple of minutes before we go to questions talking about Afghanistan and what it means for NATO, what it means for transformation of the Alliance's approach to 21st century security and what it means about our ability to work together as 26 – and as 26 with partners – in defense of our common security and values.
First of all, as I said, if three years ago we were talking about NATO "Out of area or out of business," today 26 Allies and 11 Partners are bringing stability to nearly 30 million Afghans all across that country. Who would have thought that we would have made this long term commitment? Who would have thought we would be working throughout Afghanistan? And equally importantly, who would have thought that countries like Australia, New Zealand, Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia, would be NATO troop contributing countries today?
So as we struggle at NATO Headquarters to reflect in communique language our new, more flexible partnership concept, remember that global partnership is a reality and "out of area" is a reality today in Afghanistan.
Similarly, we've had a lot of doctrinal debates and discussion at NATO Headquarters about our ability as a political-military organization to work effectively with the other great international organizations – the UN, the EU, and the African Union as well, and to work well with development providers in common effort on the ground where we're operational.
As we struggle at NATO Headquarters to reflect the importance of what we call "concerted planning and action" – military and civilians working well together in theater – remember that in Afghanistan all of us know that there is no security without development and no development without security. And it is a reality that NATO is working increasingly effectively with the EU and with the UN there.
So as you watch us struggle with the words, remember that we are now doing it on the ground in Afghanistan – we're also doing it in Kosovo – and that is far more important.
The next thing is military capabilities. For years if not decades, Americans have stressed to Europeans the importance of being ready for the high-end of military engagement, that Europeans needed to invest more in strategic enablers. But all of our hectoring did not have as much success with Europeans as the reality of their service in Afghanistan has had. What do I mean by that?
At Riga, 14 Allies and Sweden will buy three or more C-17 aircraft together, because all of us have realized that if you want to get to Afghanistan, if you want to sustain your troops, you need strategic lift. How many times in Brussels, whether it's down in Evere or whether it's here closer to the EU, have we all said we need strategic lift, and how hard has it been to get it? Today we are buying it because we need it for Afghanistan, and if we have it for Afghanistan, ladies and gentlemen, we will also have it for the EU missions of the future, for the UN missions of the future, for national needs and for coalition operations.
That is what your Alliance can do today. It can provide a platform for Allies to work together to meet common needs, and in the process, strengthen all of us.
Similarly, we have talked for a long time about Special Forces and the particular role that they play in 21st century operations. Today at NATO, we're working on a Special Forces initiative. It would have been impossible five years ago, but because of the reality of working in Afghanistan, because so many of our Special Forces are working together there, we have proven the point that we need to be able to do it more seamlessly. We need to train together. We need to be able to communicate with each other. We need common operating procedures.
So today, again, Afghanistan has ensured that we are doing better in reality than we are doing in theory.
Similarly training: Today in Afghanistan we are embedding trainers with the Afghan National Army. We're doing it not simply because it is our exit strategy. We are doing it because we need partners in today's fight. When we embed with the ANA, we ensure that they work seamlessly with us as they did in NATO's recent combat operation in Panjwai where you had eight Allies working together with two battalions of Afghan National Army. That's 21st Century NATO working together and working well with partners and with the countries where we are deployed.
But there's also some bad news that Afghanistan has exposed and highlighted. Number one here is the fact that all of us, all 26 Allies are stretched when you look at our security forces. There is not a single ally who is not working hard to maintain operational tempo out there in the world, my own country included.
What does this mean? What it means is that collectively we are not spending enough on defense and security and we're going to have to spend more if we're going to maintain the operational tempo and meet the security commitments that we have made to each other and made around the world, not just as allies, but as members of the international community.
Whether you're talking about meeting our NATO commitments in Afghanistan or Kosovo, whether you're talking about meeting EU commitments in Congo and Bosnia, whether you're talking about international commitments like Iraq for those of us who are there, or Lebanon for those of you who are there. Most Allies are stretched by all that we have to do in the world. When you look at defense spending, if you take the United States out of the equation – we spend some 3.7 percent of GDP on defense now, higher depending upon how you calculate – the rest of the Allies combined only spend 1.8 percent of GDP and only seven Allies today are meeting NATO's unofficial floor of 2 percent of GDP on defense spending.
Why? Because so many of us took a peace dividend at the end of the Cold War. There were good reasons for that. But today as we look around the world, and we look at all we are trying to do together as Allies and Partners who share values, who share a commitment to common security, and who understand that if we don't do it out there it's going to come here, we need to increase our investment.
We also need to ensure that we maintain our commitment and our solidarity to each other. That means in Afghanistan and elsewhere ensuring that when we agree to deploy troops, they are as flexible and open and caveat-free as possible so that we can help each other in extremis.
Ladies and gentlemen, we're living in complex times. As President Bush said on Friday in the Oval Office when he met with NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer, "The real challenge for the future is to help people of moderation and young democracies succeed in the face of threats and attacks by radicals and extremists."
I would argue that NATO today is delivering this kind of 21st century security. We're doing it in Afghanistan, we're doing it in Kosovo, we're doing it with our training mission in Iraq, with our support for the African Union in Darfur. Why are we doing it? Because it's in our own interest to strengthen those parts of the world and ensure that what's going on out there doesn't come here.
But this is hard, expensive work which requires a long-term, sustained commitment and resources. I'm confident that when NATO Heads of State and Government meet in Riga in just four weeks, they are going to highlight and salute how far NATO has come, how much it is delivering today, but also redouble their commitment to each other and to all of the folks out there who are counting on us to deliver security and peace, and ensure that we are sufficiently invested in the missions that we're engaged in.
Thanks very much.

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