Friday, 3 April 2009

Pre-Summit Briefing Analysis III - NATO Reform

One interesting point in the briefing was on NATO reform. Appathurai said:

They will be asked to endorse a reform package for NATO Headquarters. The Secretary General, after five and a half years as Secretary General is convinced that we could do things better in the Headquarters in terms of the flexibility in funding our various activities, flexibility in terms of how we use the staff in the Headquarters. Better coherence between the military and the civilian sides. Internal reform. But hopefully something that will be signed up to by the allies.

There have been a number of issues debated over the past year that fall into this category. In October last year NATO Monitor reported on a speech given by SACEUR, General Craddock, on transforming the Alliance. In particular, at the time, we noted that:

One proposal that General Craddock advanced would see a radical shift in the way that operations are funded and organized. He suggested that in future, rather than each troop providing nation paying the cost of their operations, NATO should at least explore the possibility of:.. the use of common funding. With a system of common funding – deployment costs can be shared – thereby reducing the strain on national defence budgets.He also proposed a major shift in NATO’s decision-making. One where political decision would continue to be taken by consensus, but operational decisions would not:More flexible and rapid decision-making processes are needed if we are to address the challenges we face today and tomorrow. Our alliance has long operated under the system of consensus – and at the political level – this system has proven powerful in garnering international support and legitimacy. But do we really need to achieve consensus at every level of committee within the NATO structure? In my judgement this policy stands squarely in the path of agile decision-making.

These proposals do make sense. NATO currently operates with a system that was designed for 16 members and the conditions of the Cold War. Fundamental reform of the control of operations, and of the incredibly laborious procedures of the HQ (which de Hoop Scheffer wants to change) will make the Alliance more effective. It will be much better equipped for today's missions, like the nation building in Afghanistan or peace support as in Kosovo.

We'll look for the reform programme that emerges from the Summit. NATO monitor will be particularly interested to see whether good rhetoric on arms control can be a basis for action. Will NATO work with neighbours to build common security, including through an end to NATO forward basing of nuclear forces? That would be a reform worth seeing.

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