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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2003 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

The Future of NATO

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee
Washington, DC
March 27, 2003

As Prepared

Senator Warner, Senator Levin, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. As always, it is an honor for me to be here.

I came before this committee eleven months ago and outlined a vision for the future of NATO.

Thanks to the strong support we received from you, Allied heads of state and government, meeting in Prague in November, 2002, adopted this vision and launched an historic transformation of the Alliance.

Speaking to students in Prague on the eve of that Summit, President Bush promised that the Alliance would "make the most significant reforms in NATO since 1949 -- reforms which will allow the Alliance to effectively confront new dangers.”

Let me answer the question in your letter of invitation, Mr. Chairman and Senator Levin, about NATO's continuing importance to U.S. security.

For fifty years NATO has been the anchor of western security.

The end of Soviet Communism did not diminish NATO's importance.

  • The democracies of NATO made and keep the peace in the Balkans.
  • In 1999, NATO stopped ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
  • NATO's just-completed mission in Macedonia has also brought order to that new democracy.

NATO responded to September 11 by invoking Article V; an attack on one member will be regarded as an attack on all. NATO sent AWACS to patrol U.S. airspace, logging 4300 hours; 360 sorties, with 800 crewmembers from 13 nations.

Thirteen Allies now contribute to Operation Enduring Freedom.

NATO Allies lead the International Stabilization force in Kabul.

German and Dutch troops replaced Turkish troops in ISAF, who replaced British forces. Lord Robertson and some of our Allies would like to see NATO take a larger role in ISAF. This makes sense to me.

NATO is the central organizing agent for Trans-Atlantic cooperation. It represents a community of common values and shared commitments to democracy, free markets and the rule of law.

NATO is key to the defense of the United States.

And so NATO must continue to lead and to adapt.

New Capabilities

Last year, we talked about the gap in military capabilities between the United States and Europe as the most serious long-term problem facing NATO.

At the Prague Summit in November, NATO’s leaders decided to close this gap.

The Prague Capabilities Commitment contains the ideas I presented to you last year. European Allies agreed to "spend smarter," pool their resources and pursue specialization. For example:

-- Germany is leading a 10-nation consortium on airlift.

-- Seven nations are participating in another consortium on sealift.

-- The Netherlands is taking the lead on precision guided missiles and has committed 84 million dollars to equip their F-16's with smart bombs.

This is a good start. Follow- through will be critical.

NATO’s leaders also created at Prague the NATO Response Force. We need NATO forces equipped with new capabilities and organized into highly ready land, air and sea forces able to carry out missions anywhere in the world.

NATO can and, in appropriate circumstances, should undertake military operations outside its traditional area of operations.

The NATO Response Force will be a force of approximately 25,000 troops, with land, sea and air capability, deployable worldwide on thirty days notice. NATO leaders agreed that the NATO Response Force should be ready for exercises by October 2004 and mission-ready by October 2006.

NATO also needs to streamline its command structure. When Allied Defense Ministers meet in June they will consider a leaner and more responsive, more modern command structure.

New Members

We also spoke last year of our determination to extend NATO membership to the new emerging democracies of Central and Eastern Europe.

At the Prague Summit, NATO leaders invited seven new democracies--Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia--to join NATO.

This invitation followed an intensive program of preparation under NATO’s Membership Action Plan. The Alliance worked with the aspirants to encourage political, economic and military reform.

Since Prague, the seven invitees have been working with NATO on preparing the accession protocols for joining the Alliance. In Brussels yesterday, NATO Ambassadors signed the protocols to begin the formal process of admitting the invitees into the Alliance. We will transmit the protocols to the Senate for its advice and consent. We hope you will support them.

The accession of these seven countries to NATO will directly benefit U.S. interests.

These are strong Atlanticists. They are Allies in the War on Terror. They have contributed to Operation Enduring Freedom and to the International Security and Stabilization Force in Kabul.

(Reference Military Contribution Charts)

At Burgas, Bulgaria provides basing for U.S. transport aircraft supplying Operation Enduring Freedom. Bulgaria also sent an Nuclear Biological and Chemical decontamination unit to Afghanistan.

Estonia sent a team of explosive experts to Afghanistan.

Latvia has contributed medical personnel to ISAF in Kabul.

Lithuania deployed special operations forces to Afghanistan last year, and this year provided a team of medical personnel.

Romania has an infantry battalion serving in Kandahar and military police unit and transport aircraft serving Kabul.

Slovakia deployed an engineering unit to Kabul.

Slovenia has provided assistance with demining in Afghanistan.

They support the position of the United States on Iraq.

All of the invitees have committed to spending at least two percent GDP on defense, and as you can see, all seven already spend a higher percentage of their GDP than almost a third of the current NATO membership.

(Reference Defense Spending Chart)

Their publics strongly support NATO.

On March 23, Slovenians went to the polls to support NATO membership. The Yes vote won with 66%. In Romania, Bulgaria and the three Baltic states, support for NATO stands at above 70%.

Together the invitees will also contribute as many as 200,000 new troops to the Alliance -- approximately equal to the number added by NATO's last enlargement in 1999.

What of future enlargements? The door to NATO should remain open. In his speech at Warsaw University in 2001, the President stated that, "all of Europe's democracies, from the Baltic to the Black Sea all that lie between should have the same chance for security and freedom and the same chance to join the institutions of Europe -- as Europe's old democracies have".

We welcome the continuing pursuit of membership by Albania, Croatia and Macedonia. We will continue to consult closely with these nations on their Membership Action Plan programs as well as with others who may seek membership in the future.

New Relationships

During my appearance here last February, I noted the agreement between NATO and Russia to establish the NATO-Russia Council.

Work on establishing the Council went on through the spring and culminated last May in a summit meeting in Rome attended by President Bush, President Putin and NATO heads of state and government to formally establish the NATO-Russia Council.

Over the past six months, NATO and Russia have been working on projects in key areas such as combating terrorism, peacekeeping, civil emergency planning and non-proliferation.

NATO is also engaged in developing a parallel partnership with Ukraine. Unfortunately, this relationship has faltered due to the authentication of a recording in which President Kuchma authorized the transfer to Iraq of the Kolchuga system.

NATO also continues to develop a broad web of partners throughout Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. When NATO inaugurated Partnership for Peace nearly a decade ago, we could not have imagined that we would one day rely on our Central Asian partners to help defeat an enemy of the Alliance.


Today we are at war in Iraq. Is there a role for NATO?

Last December, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz presented in Brussels ideas for possible NATO participation in Iraq. In addition to the defense of Turkey, he suggested that NATO play a role in post-conflict peacekeeping and stabilization. This could include WMD security and destruction. As I told NATO Ambassadors last month, these ideas are still on the table.

In February, the Alliance went through a bruising debate about defense support for Turkey under Article IV of the NATO Treaty.

The most important point is that the Alliance arrived at the outcome we sought. The Defense Policy Committee directed military assistance to Turkey to address a threat of attack from Iraq. That military assistance is now in place: NATO deployed AWACs planes, Patriot missiles, and Nuclear, Biological and Chemical defense teams.

This disagreement did damage the Alliance. It is my view, however, as Secretary General Robertson himself said afterwards, that this was a hit above the waterline and that NATO would recover.

It is essential that NATO continues to knit together the community of European and North American democracies as an Alliance of shared values and collective security.

It would wrong to draw the conclusion that we should stop pushing NATO to change to address these new threats. If anything, we need to redouble those efforts. And it would be wrong to conclude that the trans-Atlantic relationship has been destroyed or even permanently harmed.

At the end of the day, it is to NATO that we will all return to seek common ground and cooperation on the momentous issues facing the trans-Atlantic community.

Released on March 27, 2003

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