Long Dormant Debate Brewing Again

Tensions are slowly building within the Atlantic Alliance about the future role of nuclear weapons in transatlantic security. New questions arise for NATO, the European Union and individual member States. All the pieces of the European strategic “mobile” have been set in motion in the past five years, and a major debate has started. NATO and EU members will have to find ways to maintain a modicum of consensus about this issue if they wish to avoid cracks in Alliance unity on global nuclear issues.

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The seminar focused on how France, Sweden, Finland and Austria envisage their future cooperation with NATO in the new strategic framework. Although not members, these countries have made significant contributions to NATO operations and have developed partnerships with the alliance; however, except for France, they do not plan to join NATO in the near future. Col. Jean-Baptiste Minjoulat-Rey, Military Attaché, Embassy of France outlined France’s position, saying that France plans to contribute both to EU defense and to NATO. Brig. Gen. Peter Resch, Defense, Military, Naval and Air Attaché, Embassy of Austria foresees NATO promoting common standards and procedures not only to NATO members but also to states prepared to deal with NATO. Capt. Jaakko Savisaari, Defense, Military, Naval and Air Attaché, Embassy of Finland, emphasized that Finland’s policy for the future will be to maintain an independent credible national defense; and to be as close to NATO as possible without being a member. Antonella Cerasino, Head of the Countries Section, noted that as NATO’s faces new challenges, partnerships will be central in the new strategic concept. There will be revisions on how NATO and its partners can work more closely together, how to involve in the decision-making process non-member countries that contribute to operations and need to have a say. The meeting concluded with presentations by H.E. Jonas Hafström, Ambassador of Sweden and Kurt Volker, U.S. Ambassador to NATO. Amb. Hafström outlined Swedish foreign and security policy, its relations with NATO, and its role in the EU. Amb. Volker discussed NATO’s current concerns and the top five tasks it must tackle over the next couple of years. These are: Rebuild a sense that the US and Europe form a single community, getting Afghanistan on track, agreeing about the issues of Russia and Eastern Europe, finishing the job in the Balkans, and getting NATO to focus on the challenges of the future. The meeting was chaired by Ambassador Robert Hunter, Senior Advisor, RAND Corporation and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO.


Amid the daily reports of deepening military problems in Afghanistan, NATO operations there are at risk not just because of the mounting tempo of the Taliban but also because allied capitals are papering over deep disagreements about the strategy and the conduct of the campaign. The command structure is afflicted by the simultaneous presence in the field of many three and four-star generals from different countries and their divergences have damaged morale among troops and officials on the ground and spread pessimism in the Western media, especially in Europe. The U.S. feeling of political concern has become acute now that Britain is showing signs of becoming lukewarm about its Afghan commitment. If Britain, the key U.S. ally in the campaign, were to pull its forces out of Afghanistan, it would be easy to see other European governments following the British lead to the exit.

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The evolution of European and U.S. defense procurement and industrial relations was at the heart of the discussion. Current moves to consolidate the European defense procurement sector may have a lasting impact on transatlantic industrial cooperation, and procurement rules are under examination in the U.S. as well. François Gayet, Secretary General of the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe presented the European industry’s perspective. Robert Bell, Chairman of the NATO Industrial Advisory Group (NIAG) Study Group on Trans-Atlantic Defense Industrial Cooperation and Senior Vice President for European Business Development at SAIC, presented the results of NIAG’s report to NATO. Brig. Gen. Olivier-Pierre Jacquotte, Defense Cooperation Attaché at the Embassy of France, discussed France’s initiatives and plans for the French Presidency of the EU Council. Robert Kovac, Managing Director of the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, U.S. Department of State, addressed progress made so far and challenges ahead for the licensing process. Amb. Robert E. Hunter, Senior Advisor, Rand Corporation and Former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, moderated the discussion.

John Richardson, Head of the Maritime Policy Task Force at the European Commission reviewed the EU’s efforts to integrate analysis and decision-making across a number of maritime sectors. Former White House Chief of Staff and Member of Congress Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Pew Oceans Commission offered his insights on current U.S. maritime policy and how EU-U.S. maritime cooperation can be enhanced. Sean Connaughton, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration; Arne Fuglvog, Legislative Assistant, Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK); and Chris Koch, President and CEO of the World Shipping Council discussed maritime surveillance, with particular emphasis on security matters. Duncan Smith, Principal at Blank Rome Government Relations LLC moderated the discussion. Rear Admiral Torben Ørting Jørgensen, Assistant Chief of Staff, Capabilities, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), NATO discussed the impact of increased law enforcement and surveillance of ocean activities on the maritime sector.