"NATO's Transformation Process and co-operation with EU in the future".


in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Supreme Allied Commander Europe (NATO / Shape) und Forum Europe


(englische Presseerklärung)


At the 16 October dinner hosted by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, General James L. Jones, stated that the alliance has gone from being a static defensive force to one that is now truly global and transformational. The General emphasised his point by naming NATO’s geo-political centre as being the Greater and Middle East. General Jones commented that the transformation process was happening at a time

when global threats were changing, from the static bipolar threats typified by the Cold War to the multiple asymmetric threats of today (WMD, terrorism, cyber attacks, etc.).

The General focussed on the NATO Response Force (NRF) and described it as “a clear path to what NATO’s defence capability will be in the 21 st Century”. Answering questions following his extensive remarks, General Jones said that the NRF was a test-bed for totally transforming NATO. Dismissing figures of 9,000 and 20,000 troops as being irrelevant, he argued that the NRF could have over one million men when

fully developed, as all land, sea and air forces are being transformed.

Looking at the progress of the transformation process, General Jones commented that the NRF had gone from concept to reality in the space of 12 months. However,

he focussed on resources as being the key to further development. NATO wants to be precise about its requirements – men and equipment – and must be able to have access to those resources when they are needed – “they must be credible and they must exist”.

The General also stressed the need for all alliance members to agree that NATO must be more efficient. National budgets cannot be diminished even if the types and

roles of national forces are changing – ”any reduction would be disastrous”. Touching on the numerous caveats (i.e. restraints) placed on national forces, the General

announced considerable progress with 50% being either rewritten or totally removed. Rejecting the idea that NATO was becoming a “toolbox” where allies could be

chosen at random, General Jones preferred to see the future NATO as a flexible alliance with the ability to “task organise” using air, land, sea and special operations forces, all of which had undergone joint training. On the subject of the EU, General Jones argued that Berlin Plus should be given a

chance to succeed. In his view, any creation of a second force or a separate European headquarters would be damaging to NATO at this exciting time of transformation. The General also touched on NATO’s partnership with industry,

stating that both trust and partnership were lacking. And on the subject of Iraq, NATO’s potential role was always under review – developments were being followed.


New Defence Agenda Board Member Hartmut Bühl welcomed General James L. Jones, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, saying that it was a great honour to have him accept the NDA’s invitation. Bühl also thanked the co-sponsors - Konrad-

Adenauer-Stiftung and TIPs. Peter Weilemann, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s European Office Director, introduced

General Jones, saying that the dinner came 24 hours after “an historic day” – the inauguration of the NATO Response Force 1 . Adding that both the Konrad-Adenauer-

Stiftung and the New Defence Agenda were on the right track in their support of both

NATO and the EU in the defence arena, he gave the floor to General Jones.


“Coming home” was the theme of the General’s opening remarks. Having spent part of his childhood in post-war Paris and been a frequent visitor to his parents’ home in Brussels in the seventies, General Jones said that he had felt totally at home since taking up his new post in January 2003.


That took him to his role in Europe, one described as being full of potential for the NATO alliance. The General stressed the necessity for importance of colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic to understand how the alliance was changing. He

underlined the point that transformation was happening at a time when NATO was at a crossroads – both of two centuries and of two types of threats: classic “static bipolar”2 and new “multiple asymmetric”3 . Referring to the NATO Response Force (NRF), the General came straight to the

point, arguing that “it is a clear path to what NATO’s defence capability will be in the 21 st Century”. Commenting that the NRF had gone from concept to reality in 12 months, General Jones saw it as the “overarching concept of the alliance”. He

described the alliance that has gone from being a static defensive force to one that is now truly global by noting, “that’s transformation”. He added that this conversion process is long-term and firmly underpinned by the

existence of Allied Command Transformation (ACT). As well as transforming NATO’s technology (operational concepts, equipment, etc.), the General emphasised the need to manage NATO’s resources, the so-called “ institutional reforms”. This is a key thrust for General Jones, as he likened “a vision without resources is an hallucination” – “you need to see where they are spent, see where they are going”.

The overall effect was described as a “complete transformation of the NATO command structure”, although he was quick to add that these were early days in the



General Jones stressed the need to define NATO’s military requirements in the 21 st century. He looked back to previous years, where NATO had accepted whatever nations had offered and they in turn had justified any expense by saying that NATO had given approval. General Jones made his point strongly – “this has to change”. The concept of graduated readiness 4 forces will allow alliance members to decide

what they want to have in national inventories. Any forces that are required – “must be credible, must exist”, he underlined. General Jones then described the process behind transformation

· Standards of acceptance would be developed by Allied Command Operations (ACO, also responsible for requirements)

· training forces to meet these standards would lie with Allied Command Transformation (ACT)

· Forces would then be certified for operation under the NATO umbrella by ACO

Given this process, the General foresaw a situation where NATO could be precise

(equipment, numbers of forces, etc.) in terms of defining requirements. He also envisaged a situation where a “significantly smaller force could prove to be immeasurably more useful”. It’s “reform from within – in order to get the right equipment, the right people”.


In this area of his responsibilities, General Jones referred to recommendations regarding the use of US forces in Europe – where they “need to be more strategicallyaligned”. He added that there must be a forward presence rather than a virtual one, as the latter really meant an absence of force. Describing the US / European footprint as flexible, he gave the example of the Balkans where the operational forces were

never actually based in Europe. Apart from Europe, General Jones emphasised that the geo-strategic centre of interest was the Greater/Middle East. NATO was also concerned about the ungoverned areas of Africa and the related asymmetric threats. In conclusion, General Jones added that the military portion of the alliance had never been stronger, despite recent political problems. Even so, NATO had not been

prohibited from using European facilities at any time. “It is an exciting period”, he added, “and the alliance is moving forward positively”.

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  • Senior Level Dinnerwith General James L. JonesNATO’s Supreme Allied Commander

    Dr. Peter R. Weilemann †

    _NATO's Transformation Process and co-operation with EU in the future_