NATO Summit to Focus on Afghanistan, Missile Defense

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2012 — Afghanistan will top the agen­da items at the upcom­ing NATO Sum­mit in Chica­go as coali­tion mem­bers con­sid­er an agree­ment on a long-term strate­gic part­ner­ship that pro­motes secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty there, NATO’s supreme allied com­man­der for Europe report­ed.

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“What I am hop­ing to see is a com­mit­ment to resourc­ing the Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces post-2014,” Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis said of the May 20–21 sum­mit, which will include the 28 NATO heads of state and gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives from many of the 50 nations that make up the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force in Afghanistan.

“I am fair­ly con­fi­dent we will see that, and I think that will be the key to long-term suc­cess,” Stavridis said dur­ing an inter­view with the Pen­ta­gon Chan­nel and Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice.

NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen con­sid­ers a long-term strate­gic part­ner­ship with Afghanistan to be a high-lev­el goal, Stavridis told Con­gress in March.

“Every­thing I can see around the cir­cuit on the NATO side indi­cates a strong will­ing­ness to go for­ward,” he told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. “And I believe we will have an endur­ing part­ner­ship between NATO and the repub­lic of Afghanistan.”

Mis­sile defense will be anoth­er major sum­mit issue, the admi­ral said, with the announce­ment that the new mis­sile defense sys­tem has reached inter­im oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty. This inter­im sys­tem, the first phase of the new U.S.-based Euro­pean Phased Adap­tive Approach Mis­sile Defense Sys­tem, will be inte­grat­ed with the NATO com­mand-and-con­trol sys­tem to begin stand­ing up the NATO mis­sile defense sys­tem, he said.

Look­ing to the future, Stavridis said he antic­i­pates more dis­cus­sion of “smart defense” — essen­tial­ly pool­ing capa­bil­i­ties in light of shrink­ing defense bud­gets con­fronting all the NATO mem­bers.

“As we face these finan­cial pres­sures today, clear­ly we need to, in any alliance, come togeth­er in effi­cient ways so we can … gen­er­ate capa­bil­i­ty for rea­son­able amounts of mon­ey,” he said.

Stavridis, who also com­mands U.S. Euro­pean Com­mand, not­ed mis­sile defense as an exam­ple of finan­cial bur­den-shar­ing that pro­vides col­lec­tive defense. Anoth­er is the Baltic air polic­ing mis­sion, in which NATO mem­ber nations rotate their fight­er jets to defend the air­space over Lithua­nia, Esto­nia and Latvia.

Sum­mit par­tic­i­pants also will dis­cuss progress on a new alliance ground sur­veil­lance sys­tem that will give com­man­ders a com­pre­hen­sive pic­ture of the sit­u­a­tion on the ground. NATO’s oper­a­tion to pro­tect civil­ians in Libya drove home the impor­tance of such a sys­tem, Stavridis said. As a result, 13 allies plan to pro­cure a vari­ant of the Glob­al Hawk unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cle and the asso­ci­at­ed com­mand-and-con­trol base sta­tions and to oper­ate them on behalf of all NATO mem­bers, he report­ed.

Stavridis said he hopes the mem­bers will dis­cuss the pool­ing of resources in oth­er areas such as spe­cial oper­a­tions and cyber in which pooled arrange­ments would ben­e­fit the alliance.

While not nec­es­sar­i­ly a top agen­da item, the appar­ent inabil­i­ty of some NATO part­ners to spend 2 per­cent of their gross domes­tic prod­uct on defense as agreed is like­ly to come up dur­ing the sum­mit. Only six mem­bers, includ­ing the Unit­ed States, Great Britain and France, cur­rent­ly meet that goal.

Eco­nom­ic and fis­cal pres­sures have caused many Euro­pean states to reduce their bud­gets, and Stavridis expressed con­cern that the sit­u­a­tion could adverse­ly impact mil­i­tary readi­ness.

“We, the Unit­ed States and its part­ners who are spend­ing that amount of mon­ey, … need to keep pres­sure on those who are not, so they meet those min­i­mum lev­els of spend­ing,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)