Stavridis: NATO Summit Results ‘Excellent’

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2010 — The recent NATO sum­mit enhanced the organization’s inter­ac­tion with Rus­sia and the strate­gic part­ner­ship with Afghanistan as well as fur­ther­ing progress on Euro­pean mis­sile defense, the top U.S. mil­i­tary com­man­der in Europe said here today.
Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, com­man­der of U.S. Euro­pean com­mand and NATO supreme allied com­man­der, Europe, deliv­ered a brief­ing at the Wash­ing­ton For­eign Press Cen­ter and respond­ed to reporters’ ques­tions on the Nov. 19 and 20 NATO sum­mit held in Lis­bon, Por­tu­gal.

The summit’s three pri­ma­ry top­ics were the deliv­ery of the new strate­gic con­cept and its appli­ca­tions to cyberde­fense and mis­sile defense; NATO-Rus­sia inter­ac­tion at the NATO-Rus­sia Coun­cil; and the tran­si­tion of secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ty in Afghanistan, Stavridis said.

The gath­er­ing addressed Afghanistan “not just as NATO but as [the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force],” the admi­ral said, “which is a coali­tion of 48 coun­tries, the 28 NATO coun­tries and 20 addi­tion­al.”

The Afghanistan dis­cus­sion focused prin­ci­pal­ly on tran­si­tion, “which will begin 2011, con­tin­ue through 2014, Pres­i­dent [Hamid] Karzai’s stat­ed goal of com­ple­tion of tran­si­tion to Afghan-led oper­a­tions,” he said.

It also focused on longer-term strate­gic part­ner­ships between Afghanistan and NATO’s Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force, Stavridis said, in line with NATO’s new strate­gic con­cept com­mit­ting the alliance to become more agile, more capa­ble and more effec­tive.

The NATO-ISAF “com­pre­hen­sive approach” to oper­a­tions in Afghanistan aims to bring togeth­er eco­nom­ic, polit­i­cal, mil­i­tary and devel­op­men­tal capa­bil­i­ties dur­ing the tran­si­tion phase in that coun­try, he said.

“That [approach] is high­light­ed in the strate­gic con­cept,” the admi­ral said.

As the secu­ri­ty tran­si­tion unfolds, Stavridis said, ISAF forces will take an “in togeth­er, out togeth­er” approach as they have done and still do in Koso­vo.

“We have come down from a total of over 50,000 NATO troops in the Balka­ns at one time, down to … 10,000 last year, and I’ve just autho­rized a reduc­tion to 5,000 NATO troops in Koso­vo,” Stavridis said. “As we do that, the allies are leav­ing pro­por­tion­al to the size of the troop strength that is there.”

He said the same con­cept “will deter­mine how we begin with­draw­ing troops [from Afghanistan] as the tran­si­tion unfolds from 2011 for­ward to the com­ple­tion that we all look for in 2014.”

The supreme allied com­man­der said the NATO’s strate­gic con­cept also “put a strong mark­er down” on focus­ing addi­tion­al resources and work on cyberde­fense and on bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense.

“We talked a lit­tle bit about how the alliance will hook into the U.S. for [mis­sile defense] phased adap­tive approach in the time to come,” he said. “We made a com­mit­ment at Lis­bon that, as an alliance, we would move for­ward with that inte­gra­tion.”

The phased approach, Stavridis said, will over time inte­grate U.S. mis­sile defense capa­bil­i­ties with NATO com­mand and con­trol sys­tems, he said.

“I’m quite con­fi­dent we’ll be able to sur­mount the tech­ni­cal chal­lenges as we go for­ward,” the admi­ral said.

NATO’s strate­gic con­cept focus­es the alliance on part­ner­ships, Stavridis said.

“Here I would high­light … strate­gic part­ner­ship with Rus­sia,” he said. “Pres­i­dent [Dmit­ry] Medvedev’s par­tic­i­pa­tion was note­wor­thy, and we talked about work­ing togeth­er on ter­ror­ism, pira­cy, nar­cotics, Afghanistan, mis­sile defense. And I felt a very pos­i­tive atmos­phere in terms of NATO-Rus­sia strate­gic part­ner­ship.”

The NATO com­man­der clar­i­fied that Russ­ian sup­port to ISAF and Afghanistan would not include Russ­ian mil­i­tary oper­a­tions there.

“What we are talk­ing about is Russ­ian sup­port to ISAF, and I’ll give you some con­crete exam­ples: addi­tion­al sup­port on the logis­tics flow through our dis­tri­b­u­tion net­works; help­ing by sell­ing Mi-17 heli­copters to Afghanistan; per­haps doing some train­ing in Rus­sia for Afghans, if this is some­thing that would be of inter­est to the Afghan gov­ern­ment,” Stavridis said.

The sum­mit also addressed NATO reform, “try­ing to find more effi­cien­cies in the struc­ture for NATO oper­a­tional com­mand,” he said. The NATO com­mand struc­ture cur­rent­ly has “about 12 head­quar­ters and … about 13,000 total peo­ple,” Stavridis said, which the orga­ni­za­tion will trim to approx­i­mate­ly sev­en head­quar­ters and just under 9,000 peo­ple.

“As we do that, we’re going to reori­ent the num­ber of com­mands. No deci­sions have been made as yet as to which indi­vid­ual com­mands will be clos­ing,” he said. Over­all, Stavridis said, the sum­mit was very pro­duc­tive.

“It was per­fect. It was real­ly extreme­ly well orga­nized, extreme­ly well done,” he said. “An excel­lent sum­mit, from my view­point.”

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

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