Official: NATO Investment Critical Despite Fiscal Challenge

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2012 — Fis­cal aus­ter­i­ty adds to the chal­lenge of build­ing NATO capac­i­ty, but iden­ti­fy­ing pri­or­i­ties and insti­tut­ing new ini­tia­tives will help the alliance meet evolv­ing secu­ri­ty threats, the act­ing under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy said here today.

At a sem­i­nar held to pre­pare for the NATO sum­mit in Chica­go in May, James N. Miller shared the stage with NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen and Gen. Stephane Abr­i­al of the French air force, NATO’s supreme allied com­man­der for trans­for­ma­tion.

“What we seek is an alliance that can ful­fill its strate­gic con­cept with forces that are small­er and lean­er, while still agile, flex­i­ble, ready, tech­no­log­i­cal­ly advanced and high­ly inter­op­er­a­ble,” Miller said.

At the Novem­ber 2010 NATO sum­mit in Lis­bon, Por­tu­gal, the alliance agreed to a strate­gic con­cept that account­ed for a chang­ing secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment and com­mit­ted to enhanc­ing 10 crit­i­cal NATO capa­bil­i­ties. These includ­ed cyber defense, com­mand and con­trol, strate­gic lift, and Allied Ground Sur­veil­lance, or AGS, a sys­tem of unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cles that will give NATO an impor­tant intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance capa­bil­i­ty.

“We must have cut­ting-edge capa­bil­i­ties that exploit the allies’ tech­no­log­i­cal, joint and net­worked advan­tages,” Miller said. “These forces must be led by well-trained offi­cers, [non­com­mis­sioned offi­cers] and enlist­ed per­son­nel of the high­est qual­i­ty, and should reflect lessons learned from recent NATO oper­a­tions, includ­ing in Afghanistan and Libya.”

The force also should reflect an aware­ness that tomorrow’s needs may dif­fer sig­nif­i­cant­ly from those of today, he added.

Deci­sions have been made in allied cap­i­tals over the past two years to rad­i­cal­ly cut defense spend­ing and reduce force size and struc­ture, Miller said. Allies gen­er­al­ly have com­mu­ni­cat­ed changes in defense plans to NATO, but the infor­ma­tion “often fails to pro­vide a suit­able base for plan­ning,” he added.

“Once nation­al force struc­tures are known with greater reli­a­bil­i­ty and pre­ci­sion, we can work to defend our most vital capa­bil­i­ties,” the under­sec­re­tary said.

“Smart defense” — a con­cept that encour­ages allies to coop­er­ate to devel­op, acquire and main­tain mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties in accor­dance with the strate­gic con­cept — plays a fun­da­men­tal role, Miller said.

As part of its prepa­ra­tions for the sum­mit in Chica­go, the under­sec­re­tary rec­om­mend­ed that NATO take sev­er­al steps.

Allied Com­mand Trans­for­ma­tion offi­cials have iden­ti­fied 20 to 30 “Tier 1” multi­na­tion­al projects as can­di­dates for greater resource pool­ing, he said. The project list should be expand­ed and ranked by pri­or­i­ty, he added, based on how they con­tribute to the alliance’s min­i­mum-capa­bil­i­ty require­ments.

Along with these projects, between now and the sum­mit in Chica­go, NATO should pre­pare a short list of high-vis­i­bil­i­ty multi­na­tion­al pro­grams that could be devel­oped under the smart defense frame­work.

“These should be real­is­tic and afford­able, but under­score the alliance’s renewed com­mit­ment to deliv­er required capa­bil­i­ties over the next 10 years, even in times of pro­found aus­ter­i­ty,” Miller said.

An exam­ple of such a pro­gram is the NATO joint intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance hub, he said, adding that expand­ing joint ISR is an alliance pri­or­i­ty and one of the 10 crit­i­cal capa­bil­i­ties. NATO could take advan­tage of its recent adop­tion of AGS to devel­op a capa­bil­i­ty for joint ISR that acts as a plat­form to inte­grate and exer­cise nation­al capa­bil­i­ties, Miller said.

Anoth­er smart defense capa­bil­i­ty that could be advanced in Chica­go is bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense radar data shar­ing and inter­cep­tor pool­ing, he added.

NATO should explore con­cepts for inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion on sea-based BMD sen­sor and shoot­er capa­bil­i­ties, pos­si­bly form­ing the basis for a sea-based mis­sile-defense users group,” Miller said.

“Sev­er­al allies have naval capa­bil­i­ties that could be upgrad­ed and includ­ed in NATO mis­sile defense,” he added. “We should aspire to announce in Chica­go that a group of allies will be work­ing togeth­er to explore one or more shared BMD ini­tia­tives.”

Miller said sev­er­al oth­er ini­tia­tives could help the alliance work toward core secu­ri­ty objec­tives, includ­ing:

— Insti­tut­ing new orga­ni­za­tion­al, oper­a­tional and fund­ing prin­ci­ples that help rein­vig­o­rate the NATO Response Force, a high­ly ready and tech­no­log­i­cal­ly advanced multi­na­tion­al force made up of land, air, mar­itime and spe­cial-forces com­po­nents;

— Increas­ing multi­na­tion­al train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties using bat­tal­ion task-force rota­tions; and

— Expand­ing NATO’s spe­cial oper­a­tions capa­bil­i­ties through head­quar­ters liaisons, con­sol­i­dat­ed train­ing and cen­tral­ized lift capa­bil­i­ties.

“We know that com­mit­ting to new ini­tia­tives in the cur­rent fis­cal envi­ron­ment is dif­fi­cult,” Miller said. “But we also know that the deci­sions we make right now will enhance our abil­i­ty to meet secu­ri­ty chal­lenges five to 10 years from now, and that the cost of these ini­tia­tives, such as AGS, can be spread out over many years to make them more afford­able.”

NATO mis­sile defense, the under­sec­re­tary said, anoth­er of the 10 capa­bil­i­ties com­mit­ted to at Lis­bon, will be fea­tured at the Chica­go sum­mit.

“Despite rumors of U.S. cuts in this area,” Miller said, “we’re on track in deploy­ing the Euro­pean phased adap­tive approach. In fact, we expect to declare at the Chica­go sum­mit that NATO has an inter­im bal­lis­tic mis­sile-defense capa­bil­i­ty.”

By announc­ing an inter­im mis­sile-defense capa­bil­i­ty, the under­sec­re­tary added, “we can send a very pow­er­ful mes­sage at Chica­go -– [that] NATO is seri­ous about coun­ter­ing the grow­ing threats from the pro­lif­er­a­tion of weapons of mass destruc­tion and their deliv­ery sys­tems.”

Miller also urged all NATO mem­bers to recom­mit to main­tain­ing a 2 per­cent share of bud­get for defense fund­ing, call­ing that “a respon­si­ble, sus­tain­able invest­ment in our alliance and in our shared secu­ri­ty.”

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