‘Looking towards the Wales Summit’: “NATO must be a full-spectrum Alliance”
Speech by NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Vershbow at the NATO Defence College in Rome on 13 June 2014
Edited by Nigel Chamberlain
The Summit will have three broad themes:
1. Afghanistan - We will formally launch our new mission, Resolute Support, provided that the necessary security agreements are signed. We are also aiming to finalize commitments by Allies and partners to continue funding the Afghan security forces. And we will outline the future of our political and practical relationship with Afghanistan through our Enduring Partnership.
2. The Transatlantic Bond - I hope to see a formal ‘Transatlantic Declaration’ in which North American and European Allies will reaffirm their mutual commitment to each other’s security and will agree to do more to share the burden of security more equitably. In particular, I hope that this commitment can be translated into an undertaking by European Allies to progressively increase their defence spending and moving towards the NATO benchmark of 2% of GDP.
3. ‘Future NATO’ - This is about making sure that NATO is ready to deal with any challenge, wherever it happens, and whenever it occurs. It is essentially about having the right capabilities, the right concepts and the right partnerships to enable us to deal with both the predictable and the unpredictable events that the future might bring. There are at least three preliminary lessons that will influence ‘Future NATO’ in our Summit preparations.
A. Maintaining strong defence and deterrence in Europe.
Russia’s aggression has prompted us to go ‘back to basics’ and to re-emphasize the Alliance’s original purpose of collective defence. We are reviewing our threat assessments, intelligence-sharing arrangements, early-warning procedures, and crisis response planning. We are looking to strengthen the ability of our NATO Response Force to respond quickly to any threat against any member of the Alliance, including where we have little warning. And we are reviewing our Connected Forces Initiative to make our exercises more frequent, more demanding, and more visible. These are some of the strands of a ‘Readiness Action Plan’ that we are now developing in preparation for the Summit in September.
B. Dealing with global risks and threats.
In order to deal with all the challenges from terrorism, piracy, proliferation, energy security and cyber warfare the Strategic Concept that we adopted four years ago identified three core tasks for NATO: collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. NATO cannot be a one-dimensional Alliance. It must be a full-spectrum Alliance. This means that we must have a full spectrum of capabilities, many of which are multifunctional. Assets like Special Forces, drones, and transport aircraft are relevant to all three tasks. We must be ready to deploy whenever and wherever required, and with the high level of interoperability that we have attained through nearly two decades of non-stop operations. This puts a premium on our military training, exercises, education and on our Smart Defence initiative, to encourage multinational solutions that can fill the capability gaps seen in recent operations more efficiently, and to ensure that the European members of the Alliance and Canada can shoulder greater responsibility relative to the United States.
C. Investing in relationships as well as in capabilities.
NATO has built a network of partnerships with more than 40 countries from all over the globe. Our partners have made a major contribution to the success of our missions and operations, helping to provide security well beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. By plugging into NATO operations, partners can multiply the effect of their own contributions, and strengthen the interoperability of their forces with those of NATO Allies. They can benefit from NATO’s expertise on a range of issues, from security sector reform to civil emergency planning.
Allies are now looking at various ways to deepen and broaden our partnerships. We could, for example, intensify our political consultations by making them more frequent and more focused. We could engage certain interested partners on specific subjects of common concern, by using both established fora like the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, as well as smaller, more flexible formats. We want to preserve and strengthen our interoperability, including through partner involvement in the NATO Response Force, as well as participation in joint military education, training and exercises. We also want to continue to involve interested partners in Smart Defence projects, to develop capabilities together that will strengthen the security of all our nations. We want to take further steps to explore and realize more of that potential at our Wales Summit in September.