NATO declares readiness initiative, while Secretary General plays down “serious differences” within the alliance

A review of the NATO Defence Ministers meeting, Brussels, 7-8 June 2018

By Dr. Ian Davis, NATO Watch

Key decisions taken:

  • A NATO Readiness Initiative was agreed, committing NATO to having 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 naval combat vessels, ready to use within 30 days by 2020.
  • It was confirmed that the new Joint Force Atlantic Command will be based at Norfolk in the United States, and the new Enabling Command in Ulm, Germany, (decisions to form these commands were taken at the February 2018 ministerial). The Command Structure will be enhanced by more than 1,200 personnel.
  • Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the creation of a Composite Special Operations Component Command (C-SOCC).

The two-day meeting agenda was focused on five main issues: further discussions on adapting NATO’s Command Structure and military readiness; burden-sharing within the alliance; NATO-EU cooperation; fighting terrorism and projecting stability, with further discussion on plans for a NATO training mission in Iraq; and a review of NATO’s Resolute Support training mission in Afghanistan.

The meeting was largely a continuation of work in progress from earlier ministerial and committee meetings (see, for example, the February 2018 NATO Defence ministerial and the May 2018 NATO Defence Committee meeting) in preparation for the NATO Summit in July.

The Secretary General spent much of his press conferences fielding questions about growing NATO disunity. Stoltenberg acknowledged that there are “serious differences” within the alliance “related to issues like trade, the Iran nuclear deal and climate change”, but he said, “we stand together in NATO when it comes to the core task of NATO ... to protect each other”. But even here, as noted in the attached briefing, tensions remain between the US and Turkey in Syria, and between Turkey and Greece, as well as differences over the nature of the threat from, and means to respond to, Russia.

Read the attached pdf briefing to find out more.

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