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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Releases > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Remarks > 2004 > June

U.S. Initiatives At NATO's Istanbul Summit

Robert A. Bradtke, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
Testimony Before the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on Europe
Washington, DC
June 16, 2004

Chairman Bereuter, Representative Wexler, Members of the Subcommittee on Europe, thank you very much for this opportunity to speak with you about our goals for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's upcoming summit in Istanbul, Turkey on June 28-29.

Before I begin, I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and this Committee and its staff for the close cooperation we have had in promoting NATO's enlargement and transformation. As you prepare to leave the House, Mr. Chairman, I would particularly like to express my appreciation for your two years of service as President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Parliamentary and public support is key to the continued strength of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance. I know I speak for all my colleagues in the European Bureau of the State Department in saying that we will miss your leadership.

As we approach the Istanbul Summit, NATO is an Alliance in Action. Never before in NATO's history has it been so active in so many places. In Afghanistan, NATO commands the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). In Iraq, NATO supports the Polish-led multinational division. In the Mediterranean, NATO patrols the seas through Operation Active Endeavor, providing naval escorts and early warning on terrorist threats. In the Balkans, NATO continues its mission of ensuring peace and security in Bosnia and Kosovo. And in the Middle East, North Africa, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and with Russia and Ukraine, NATO's diplomats and soldiers are reaching out to strengthen security cooperation. The Alliance has just expanded by seven new members and more countries are knocking on its door, which remains open. Taken together, NATO's unprecedented activism is a far cry from the irrelevance many skeptics predicted for the Alliance following the end of the Cold War.

Since I assumed my current duties three years ago, NATO has weathered two historic events that have had a profound impact on trans-Atlantic relations. The first was, of course, the September 11 attack on the U.S. - which brought the Alliance together under Article 5 for the first time since NATO was founded in 1949. NATO Allies reacted by launching reforms to transform NATO to deal with new threats, such as terrorism, which could come from anywhere in the world. The second event was the Iraq War, which, to be frank, created fissures inside the Alliance in 2003. But NATO proved its value as a political forum where we could have frank discussions with our closest Allies on Iraq. As a result, NATO has emerged in a better position this year as a security organization with global reach.

The United States and all of its Allies can be proud of our 55-year alliance in NATO and its role in defending Allied countries during the Cold War. Times have changed, but NATO remains the essential security relationship for the United States. NATO remains a community of shared values with the fundamental mission of providing for the collective defense of its members. The task for NATO now is to confront terrorism and other threats of this new century, wherever they arise, and to promote our shared values with partners and friends beyond the Alliance. To accomplish these tasks, NATO will have to continue the political and military reforms that September 11 triggered within the Alliance. In that regard, we see the Istanbul Summit as the perfect opportunity to demonstrate Trans-Atlantic solidarity.

SINCE THE PRAGUE SUMMIT

Before looking ahead to the Istanbul Summit, I would like to review progress that NATO has made since its last summit gathering at Prague in 2002. In the intervening eighteen months, NATO has accomplished the most fundamental re-tooling of the Alliance since its creation in 1949. A transformed NATO is emerging to meet its post-9/11 mission, one with new members, new capabilities, and new relationships, different than the old Cold War NATO or even the NATO of the 1990s.

Since the Prague Summit, in the area of new members, seven new democracies -- Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia -- formally joined the Alliance this year on March 29. NATO enlargement has extended the Euro-Atlantic sphere of security and helped to consolidate the democratic revolution in the former Warsaw Pact countries. With this enlargement, forty percent of NATO's members are formerly communist countries. The new members add real value militarily and politically to our collective strength. The Alliance's newest members have brought with them experiences with communist tyranny and a deep appreciation for the need to act in defense of freedom. All have contributed to the War on Terror, and all are playing an active role within NATO.

Since Prague, the Alliance has also made progress in developing the new capabilities needed to win the War on Terror. The most impressive changes have been those to our military capability. NATO has been transforming itself from a defensive and static military alliance to deter a Soviet threat to Western Europe, into a more flexible, modern force to respond to threats from beyond Europe and to conduct stabilization operations. NATO is moving -- albeit more slowly than we would like -- toward more expeditionary militaries that can meet new challenges.

NATO took a major step in this direction last October when, ahead of schedule, it inaugurated the NATO Response Force or NRF. When fully operational, the NRF will number up to 22,000 personnel with joint, air, maritime, and land components able to deploy wherever it is needed within five days. The NRF will reach this capacity in two years, but it is already capable of taking on difficult missions. NATO has also adopted a leaner, more flexible 21st century military command structure. There is a new Alliance Transformation Command in Norfolk, Virginia. Another Prague Summit initiative was creation of a Chemical Biological Nuclear Defense (CBRN) battalion, which the Alliance accomplished last year. This battalion is now an operational force.

Finally NATO has also made important progress since the Prague Summit in deepening its relationships with Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. The two-year old NATO-Russia Council is redefining our relations with Moscow, promoting closer relations between our militaries. In NATO's partnership with Ukraine, we seek stronger initiatives for political and military reform. The war in Afghanistan proved the value of relations with the Caucasus and Central Asia. Ties forged with those countries through the Partnership for Peace (PfP) facilitated the establishment of a U.S. military presence in the region that has been one of the keys to success in Operation Enduring Freedom.

THE ISTANBUL AGENDA

As we approach the Istanbul Summit, NATO's future is to look beyond Europe to meet new challenges and to advance the strategic vision for the Alliance in the 21st century agreed to at Prague. Our agenda for Istanbul will reflect the milestones already reached and the way forward. It will focus on three key areas: NATO's operations, its engagement with partners, and the continuing transformation of its capabilities.

NATO's Operations

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, it is no exaggeration to say that the future of the Alliance is being decided. As NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has stated, NATO's first priority is Afghanistan, and its credibility is at stake. NATO has taken on command of the International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan and has responsibility for stabilizing Kabul and its environs. To be successful in helping the Afghan people rebuild their country, NATO will need to commit more troops and military resources in perhaps the most difficult collective mission the Allies have ever undertaken.

The Alliance has expanded its mandate beyond Kabul, starting with the Provincial Reconstruction Team led by Germany in the northern city of Konduz. By Istanbul, NATO aims to establish five more Provincial Reconstruction Teams to help the Afghan government extend its authority outside Kabul and to prepare for elections. Having undertaken these commitments, it is essential that Allies now provide the forces and resources to carry them out. As ISAF expands, the U.S. hopes that conditions over time will allow NATO to take command of all Provincial Reconstruction Teams. In the longer run, the U.S. would like to see OEF and ISAF under a unified NATO command, modeled on NATO's successful operations in the Balkans.

Iraq

In Iraq, NATO is already providing communications, force generation, and logistical support to the Polish-led Multinational Division in South-Central Iraq. With sixteen Allies having forces on the ground in Iraq, there have been many calls for NATO to do more collectively. The United States has made clear that we support a larger NATO role in Iraq. With the passage of UNSCR 1546, which calls for regional organizations to help meet the needs of the Iraqi people for security and stability, the time has come for NATO to look more closely at what role it might play. We recognize that with many Allies already committed in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, and elsewhere, greater NATO involvement in Iraq would not mean a significant increase in the number of troops from NATO countries in Iraq. However, NATO can help those Allies, who are in Iraq, to stay the course. Options for a collective NATO role in Iraq could include command of one or more multinational divisions, security for the United Nations, additional assistance to the Polish-led division, or training the Iraqi army.

The Balkans

In Bosnia, NATO can look back with a sense of accomplishment at the success of the mission it undertook in 1995 at Dayton. NATO brought peace and provided the security umbrella under which the Bosnian people, the UN, the EU and the OSCE could work to reconstruct the country and to address the underlying factors that led to conflict. At Istanbul, NATO will announce that its Stability Force (SFOR) has completed its mission and will terminate at the end of 2004. NATO forces went into Bosnia to stop a war, enforce a peace and separate two warring armies in the same state. That has been accomplished and the security situation has changed dramatically.

To meet the changed circumstances, a new international presence is needed. In 2005, the EU will mount a combined military/police mission in Bosnia, in order to maintain stability and to speed integration into Europe. This will be the most important security mission ever undertaken by the EU. Under the "Berlin-Plus" arrangements of NATO support for EU-led operations, NATO and the U.S. are committed to providing the support needed to ensure its success. At the same time, the commitment of the U.S. and NATO to the security and stability of Bosnia will continue. NATO will establish a small military headquarters, led by an American general officer, to take the lead in ongoing defense reform work, efforts to apprehend indicted war criminals and the fight against terrorism.

In Kosovo, NATO intervened in 1999 to stop a humanitarian disaster. The men and women of NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR) have provided a safe and secure environment for stabilization and reconstruction in Kosovo. NATO is committed to UN Security Council Resolution 1244, cooperation with the UN Mission in Kosovo, and the development of a peaceful, multi-ethnic Kosovo - no matter what its future status. As part of that process, NATO strongly supports the Contact Group's ongoing efforts to ensure progress on the eight UN standards for Kosovo, before it moves to a discussion of status. NATO is working jointly with the U.S. and the EU on an intensive dialogue between parties in Kosovo - and Belgrade - to focus on practical issues, such as confidence-building measures to improve the lives of all Kosovars.

The outbreak of interethnic violence in March, which claimed 19 lives, demonstrated the continued political fragility of Kosovo. NATO's 'lessons learned' study provided suggestions for improved performance that are being aggressively addressed, such as the need for better intelligence and for riot control equipment and training. NATO will maintain KFOR at is current strength of 17,500, and the U.S. will continue to provide 1,950 troops to the mission. NATO will continue to assess the size, structure, and mission of KFOR every six months in light of the situation on the ground.

The U.S. and NATO are committed to seeing the Balkans join a Europe whole, free and at peace. Nothing impedes progress toward that goal more than the continued freedom of individuals indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. Individuals such as Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic and Ante Gotovina are responsible for some of the worst crimes of the wars of the 1990's, and their links to criminal and nationalist groups retard progress in the region. We have repeatedly called on all states in the region to fulfill their international obligation to comply fully with the ICTY, especially on the arrest and transfer to The Hague of these indictees. Further progress on the cases of Mladic, Karadzic and Gotovina is needed before Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia-Montenegro can join the Partnership for Peace and before Croatia could join NATO.

Counter-Terrorism

NATO is also committed to continuing its efforts in the war against terrorism. Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer has proposed a promising package of counter-terrorist measures for approval at the Istanbul Summit. Among the new measures are improved intelligence sharing through a new NATO Terrorist Threat Intelligence Unit; strengthened military capabilities and exercises to address threats including cyber-terrorism; and enhanced cooperation with NATO's partner countries. NATO is also looking at ways to bolster its successful counter-terrorist naval interdiction mission in the Mediterranean, Operation Active Endeavor. Since the operation began, more than 47,000 vessels have been monitored, nearly 480 non-combatant ships have been escorted through the Strait of Gibraltar, and over 60 vessels have been boarded. In March, NATO expanded the operation to encompass the entire Mediterranean.

NATO's Engagement

Outreach to the Broader Middle East

The military operations that I have just outlined are important, but they only represent a part of NATO's mission. Outreach to friends and partners in Europe and Eurasia and beyond is equally important. NATO is undertaking an unprecedented effort to expand engagement with its neighbors to the South and to the East. At the Istanbul Summit, the Alliance will announce initiatives to reach out to the broader Middle East and North Africa. Through the G-8, the U.S. and its major European partners are exploring ways to promote indigenous reform in the broader Middle East and North Africa. NATO has a complementary role to play in promoting security and stability in the region. We believe that NATO's decade of experience with the Partnership for Peace program has much to offer.

At Istanbul, we hope that NATO will announce initiatives to offer security cooperation to interested countries in the broader Middle East and North Africa. Those initiatives would initially focus on practical cooperation in areas where we share common goals with countries of the region, such as fighting terrorism, stemming the flow of Weapons of Mass Destruction and improving border security.

Strengthened Partnership with Central Asia and the Caucasus

The front line states of Central Asia and the Caucasus are another region where we believe NATO should strengthen its relationships. All of these countries have made valuable contributions to the War on Terror. At Istanbul, we hope that NATO will intensify its efforts to engage these countries through the Partnership for Peace program. Specifically, we would like to see a modest NATO advisory presence established in Central Asia and the Caucasus to work with local governments on defense reform and security cooperation. Georgia, for example, has made impressive progress in defense reform since last December's Rose Revolution and could benefit from in-country assistance with next steps.

NATO-Ukraine Relations

At Istanbul, there will be a NATO-Ukraine Council meeting between President Kuchma and the NATO Heads of State and Government to discuss Ukraine's progress toward integration into the Alliance. The U.S. is supportive of each step that Ukraine takes to assume NATO's shared values and to move toward full integration. We want to work with Ukraine as a NATO partner to achieve concrete goals. Ukrainian troops on the ground with coalition forces in Iraq and with NATO forces in Kosovo vividly show Kiev's commitment to trans-Atlantic security.

For further progress toward NATO integration, the most important thing is fulfillment of Ukraine's commitment to democratic reform and the rule of law.

Ukraine's presidential elections this fall will be a defining moment in its drive toward NATO membership. At the Summit, NATO Heads of State and Government plan to raise the need to hold free and fair elections with President Kuchma.

NATO-Russia Relations

One other key partnership that we will highlight at Istanbul is NATO's relationship with Russia. The NATO-Russia Council has been one of the quiet success stories of the past two years. Since its creation in Rome in May of 2002, we have seen relations between NATO and Russia deepen and mature. NATO's interoperability program, for example, has led to a significant increase in Russian participation in Partnership for Peace activities. In April, NATO and Russia agreed to establish a permanent Russian military liaison mission at SHAPE, and to expand the access of NATO's mission in Moscow. This closer cooperation is in all our interests. The NATO-Russia Council is the vehicle to advance this. President Putin has declined his invitation to Istanbul, but we hope to see Foreign Minister Lavrov attend a NATO-Russia Council meeting with Secretary Powell and the other NATO Foreign Ministers to discuss next steps in practical cooperation between NATO and Russia. We will use the opportunity to reiterate the Alliance's position that Russia's remaining commitments to withdraw from Georgia and Moldova must be completed before NATO members are ready to move forward on ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty, which remains one of Russia's security goals.

NATO's Open Door

NATO also has key relationships with the three countries that are working to join the Alliance through the Membership Action Plan. Albania, Croatia and Macedonia all have made progress on their Membership Action Plans. Abroad, Albania and Macedonia are contributing troops to coalition efforts in Iraq; Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia are contributing troops to NATO operations in Afghanistan. At home, Albania has created new governmental institutions designed to step up the fight against organized crime and corruption. Croatia has been pursuing defense reforms to transform its military into a more deployable, flexible force. Macedonia successfully made a smooth electoral transition to a new head of state and new Prime Minister following the tragic death of its President. At last month's Partnership Commission meeting of Adriatic Charter, the three aspirants reaffirmed their commitment to deepening regional cooperation and strengthening their individual and joint efforts to accomplish the reforms necessary to bring them closer to NATO membership. At Istanbul, NATO will not issue new invitations or set a date for issuing invitations. However, the door to NATO membership remains open. The Alliance will recognize the accomplishments of all three countries, encourage them in their hard work of further reform, and reiterate our desire to see them succeed.

NATO's Transformation

Deputy Assistant Secretary Brzezinski will address in greater detail our expectations for continued work at Istanbul on the Alliance's efforts to transform its military capabilities. I want to stress one point: The continued transformation of NATO's military capabilities is essential if the Alliance is to ensure the collective defense of its members and its ability to carry out the full range of its missions.

NATO is making progress to transform its capabilities through the Prague Capabilities Commitment approved at the 2002 Prague Summit, but much work remains to be done. Consortia of interested Allies are addressing some of the more significant capabilities shortfalls. In April, NATO endorsed a decision to sign a long-term Alliance Ground Surveillance acquisition contract by next spring. Thirteen nations participate in an airlift consortium, which has agreed to lease Ukrainian aircraft to help address the strategic airlift shortfall.

This group hopes to sign an airlift memorandum of understanding in Istanbul. A consortium of eight nations is addressing strategic sealift through leased vessels. Nine nations are attempting to develop a solution to the air refueling tanker shortfall. Twelve nations plan to solve the shortfall in precision-guided munitions by combining individual national efforts to procure them. Allies have made progress in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) defense through development of NATO's first CBRN battalion. These and other efforts must be strengthened with both resources and political will if NATO is to realize the capabilities improvements envisioned at Prague.

And some of those resources and political will be needed to address the even more critical "usability gap." Of the more than two million men and women in the armed forces of our Canadian and European Allies, less than 100,000 can now be deployed in the field. Declining budgets, poor training and standards, and a continued reliance on conscription account for this situation. Our European Allies and Canada must do more to ensure the deployability of their forces if NATO is to succeed in its 21st century missions.

If NATO is to field long-term operations in places like Afghanistan, our European Allies will need to spend more wisely on defense and produce more effective militaries. The U.S. will spend $400 billion on defense this year; the 25 other Allies combined will spend less than half of that. The problem is not just the huge spending gap but the fact that the U.S., by devoting more to research and development, is receiving a greater return from its defense investments than our Allies, who still devote a considerable portion of their budgets to territorial defenses and personnel costs.

BEYOND ISTANBUL

We strongly believe that NATO's Istanbul Summit will be a milestone on the road to a transformed NATO capable of responding to security threats beyond Europe.

NATO's success is key to the fulfillment of U.S. foreign and security policy objectives; we simply cannot succeed without the active support of our Allies, partners and friends. "Partnership," in the words of Secretary Powell, "is the watchword of U.S. strategy in this administration." And NATO is vital to that strategy, especially in the fight against terrorism and the promotion of peace and freedom. Far from having passed into irrelevance, NATO's importance has grown since the end of the Cold War and September 11. NATO today can truly be described as an Alliance in Action with a global reach, working every day to protect us and our values from the Straits of Gibraltar to the mountains of Afghanistan.

Thank you.


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