NATO general secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen, addressing a press conference at the Chicago Summit
The members of the NATO alliance believe that the operation over Libya last year, showed once again the importance of cooperation between the alliance and its partners, in particularly with the EU such connections, especially in the areas of air-to-air refuelling, medical support, maritime surveillance and training.
In a declaration in Chicago, during the meeting of the North Atlantic Council the participating Heads of State and Government said that as (NATO) Alliance leaders, they are determined to ensure that NATO retains and develops the capabilities necessary to perform its essential core tasks collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security - and thereby to play an essential role promoting security in the world.
Referring to the mission in Libyan that helped the country rid itself of the former dictatorial regime, the declaration said that soon as the political decision was taken to initiate the NATO mission, Alliance pilots were flying wing to wing with each other, and with pilots from non-NATO European and Arab partner countries.
They said in the declaration that it was essential to the military and political success of the mission, as such, they will build on that success through the Connected Forces Initiative.
“We also welcome the national efforts in these and other areas by European Allies and Partners. The success of our efforts will continue to depend on mutual transparency and openness between the two organisations,” they said in the declaration.
They went on to say: “We must meet this responsibility while dealing with an acute financial crisis and responding to evolving geo-strategic challenges. NATO allows us to achieve greater security than any one Ally could attain acting alone. We confirm the continued importance of a strong transatlantic link and Alliance solidarity as well as the significance of sharing responsibilities, roles, and risks to meet the challenges North-American and European Allies face together.
“We recognise the importance of a stronger and more capable European defence and welcome the efforts of the European Union to strengthen its capacities to address common security challenges. These efforts are themselves an important contribution to the transatlantic link.
They went on to say in the declaration, that the strength of NATO has been Allies’ forces - their training, equipment, interoperability and experience – drawn together and directed by our integrated command structure.
“The success of our forces in Libya, Afghanistan, the Balkans and in fighting piracy is a vivid illustration that NATO remains unmatched in its ability to deploy and sustain military power to safeguard the security of our populations and to contribute to international peace and security,” they said in the declaration.
Then they go on to say that that success is the result of over six decades of close cooperation in defence. “By working together through NATO, we are better able to ensure the security to our citizens - and to do so far more effectively and efficiently - than would be possible by acting alone.
“We have already made concrete progress since our last Summit in Lisbon and the adoption there of the new Strategic Concept in ensuring NATO has the capabilities it needs to defend our citizens, conduct crisis management operations, and foster cooperative security. Among other important accomplishments:
“Today, we have declared an interim ballistic missile defence capability as an initial step to establish NATO's missile defence system, which will protect all NATO European territories, populations and forces against the increasing threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles, based on the principles of the indivisibility of Allied security and NATO solidarity, equitable sharing of risks and burdens, taking into account the level of threat, affordability and technical feasibility.
“We are deploying a highly sophisticated Alliance Ground Surveillance system, so that our forces can better, and more safely, carry out the missions we give them; in this regard, a number of Allies have launched an important initiative to improve Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance more broadly.
“We have extended our air policing mission in the Baltic states. This mission and other Alliance air policing arrangements in Europe, whereby Allies cooperate to provide security and reassurance, are visible signs of Alliance solidarity.
“We are putting in place a new, leaner and more effective command structure.
“We have made steady progress in developing a number of capabilities we identified in Lisbon as critical to the successful conduct of our operations, including: improving our defences against cyber attacks; extending NATO’s air command and control system; and augmenting our capabilities in Afghanistan for exchanging intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data and countering improvised explosive devices.
“In the light of this progress, we have confidently set ourselves the goal of NATO Forces 2020: modern, tightly connected forces equipped, trained, exercised and commanded so that they can operate together and with partners in any environment.”
Fundamental to achieving this goal will be improvements in the way they develop and deliver the capabilities their missions require, they said. In addition to essential national efforts and existing, proven forms of multinational cooperation such as in the areas of strategic airlift and airborne warning and control, they feel they must find new ways to cooperate more closely to acquire and maintain key capabilities, prioritise on what we need most and consult on changes to our defence plans.
“We should also deepen the connections among the Allies and between them and our partners on the basis of mutual benefit. Maintaining a strong defence industry in Europe and making the fullest possible use of the potential of defence industrial cooperation across the Alliance remain an essential condition for delivering the capabilities needed for 2020 and beyond,” the participants in the Chicago Summit said.
In their declaration they add that Smart Defence is at the heart of this new approach. The development and deployment of defence capabilities is first and foremost a national responsibility. But as technology grows more expensive, and defence budgets are under pressure, there are key capabilities which many Allies can only obtain if they work together to develop and acquire them.
“We therefore welcome the decisions of Allies to take forward specific multinational projects, including for better protection of our forces, better surveillance and better training. These projects will deliver improved operational effectiveness, economies of scale, and closer connections between our forces. They will also provide experience for more such Smart Defence projects in future.”
However, Smart Defence is more than this. It represents a changed outlook, the opportunity for a renewed culture of cooperation in which multinational collaboration is given new prominence as an effective and efficient option for developing critical capabilities.
They believe that developing greater European military capabilities will strengthen the transatlantic link, enhance the security of all Allies and foster an equitable sharing of the burdens, benefits and responsibilities of Alliance membership.
In this context, NATO said it will work closely with the European Union, as agreed, to ensure that their Smart Defence and the EU's Pooling and Sharing Initiative are complementary and mutually reinforcing; they welcome the efforts of the EU, in particular in the areas of air-to-air refuelling, medical support, maritime surveillance and training.
“We also welcome the national efforts in these and other areas by European Allies and Partners. The success of our efforts will continue to depend on mutual transparency and openness between the two organisations.”
They are also taking steps to enhance the linkages between their forces, and with partner countries as well, and will build on that success in Libya.
The declaration goes on to say: “We will expand education and training of our personnel, complementing in this way essential national efforts. We will enhance our exercises. We will link our networks together even more.
“We will strengthen the bonds between NATO Command Structure, the NATO Force Structure, and our national headquarters. We will also enhance cooperation among our Special Operations Forces including through NATO’s Special Operations Forces Headquarters.
“We will strengthen the use of the NATO Response Force, so that it can play a greater role in enhancing the ability of Alliance forces to operate together and to contribute to our deterrence and defence posture. As much as possible, we will also step up our connections with Partners, so that when we wish to act together, we can.”
Finally, they concede, that while much has been accomplished since the last Summit to strengthen the Alliance, and recognising an increased reliance on the part of many Allies on multinational cooperation and capabilities, much remains to be done.
As such, and to that end, they have adopted a Defence Package that will help them develop and deliver the capabilities our missions and operations require.
They are determined to continue to reform their structures and procedures in order to seek greater efficiencies, including from the better use of our budgets.
They wrap up the declaration by saying that NATO's greatest strength is its unity. “Through 2020 and beyond, stimulated by the requirement to use defence resources in the most efficient way, we will deepen that unity to maintain and upgrade NATO's military strength,” they said.