Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Standing Committee on National Defence, I would like first of all to thank you for this opportunity to contribute to your deliberations on the Atlantic alliance in terms of its vision for the future and specifically its strategic concepts. I am even more pleased to be making these remarks two days after James Appathurai. I feel that I can bring a perspective that will both correspond with and complement his.
By virtue of my position, I can speak to the military future of the Atlantic alliance. I was able to be closely involved in preparing the last concept, which was adopted at the Lisbon summit in November 2010. My staff is also specifically tasked with the role of strategic reflection, the military think tank, if you will. I am also involved in its implementation by virtue of my responsibility for NATO training and exercises, as well as my role in what we call capacity development.
It seems particularly timely to update you on the last strategic concept since, as you know, we are less than 15 days away from the summit of government leaders and heads of state to be held in Chicago.
So, in these opening remarks, allow me to bring together those two perspectives: the concept in the long term and the summit in the shorter term, because really they combine to form a larger issue. I will start with some comments about the previous summit in Lisbon, at which the Atlantic alliance agreed on a new strategic concept, a document that sets the course for the Atlantic alliance until 2020.
The time was right for agreement on a document of that nature. The previous concept was more than a decade old, dating from a time when the alliance had a third fewer members, and, of course, before the tragic and momentous events of September 11, 2001.
What are the main thrusts of the concept? I will identify three.
The first is the desire to come to grips with a new security environment that stresses cooperative security as part of the larger notion of collective defence. This specifically involves the major area of ballistic missile defence in response to the threat posed by the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. In Lisbon, this kind of defence was recognized as a new mission for NATO, or rather as a new way of fulfilling our ongoing and central mission of collective defence. It also involves other emerging threats such as the other new mission defined by the strategic concept in Lisbon, defending against cyber attacks.
The second major thrust is the desire for greater openness between partners. This is a response to a globalization of security matters, which encourages us to cooperate to an even greater extent with partner countries, such as the 22 countries working together in Afghanistan at this very moment. It is also a factor in implementing a truly global approach that is leading us to ever greater cooperation with other international bodies like the United Nations and the European Union, as well as with non-governmental organizations.
The third and final major thrust is, in the words of the preamble to the strategic concept, the desire to help allies “get the most security for the money they invest in defence”. In other words, the concept also called for reform and efficiency.
In all three of these areas the words of a strategic concept 18 months ago have already been followed by action. To take just one example among emerging threats, the cyber threat, NATO has now taken all the steps necessary to make its computer incident response capability fully operational by the end of 2012.
In its efforts at partnerships and outreach, the NATO headquarters is setting up a permanent interface with other stakeholders to implement a comprehensive approach to civilian and military cooperation in crisis management and cooperative security.
In the area of cost effectiveness, the NATO military structure is entering a major reform, the most important since its post-Cold War downsizing. Headquarters will be realigned, based on lessons learned from operations, to meet emerging threats, and manning will be reducing from 13,000 down to 9,000 servicemen and servicewomen.
Where does the Chicago summit now fit in respect to Lisbon and the last concept? It will be marked first by consistency with the major directions set out a year and a half ago. A notable example is the progress that has been made to turn NATO's ballistic missile defence program, based on an earlier theatre defence capability, into a reality. The basic work has now been accomplished to enable our leaders to declare in Chicago what we call an “interim operating capability” for a system that will protect the populations and territories across the alliance.
Another example is Afghanistan. After Lisbon made official the move to a transition phase, Chicago will manifest our enduring commitment to that country through a long-term strategic partnership after 2014.
But the Chicago summit will not only be about implementation of the historic decisions taken in 2010, it will also be about enabling NATO to respond to important events that have happened since, and especially two pivotal developments. The first one, which truly qualifies as a strategic surprise, is the string of political events that occurred in the Arab world, and their most direct consequence for NATO, our Operation Unified Protector. This operation highlighted, above all, the continued relevance and effectiveness of NATO. What other organization was ready to implement the Security Council resolutions on such short notice?
Like all our operations, we also reaped numerous lessons from OUP, Operation Unified Protector. Collecting them is an important component of SACT's mission. Many of them relate to capabilities, from assets to command and control to training. Others reinforced our awareness of the importance of involving partners, including those from within the region. During the operation, the original partners' involvement in either, or both, the political and military roles was critical to achieving the desired outcomes.
The second development is the impact on defence spending of the financial and economic crisis. By 2011, for example, 20 out of 28 member nations had already reduced their defence expenditures compared to the pre-2008 levels. Total defence budgets in Europe dropped by over $21 billion U.S. in that period in real terms, which as you know, is about the order of magnitude of the total Canadian defence budget. We all know there are more cuts to come.
This last development especially has made the issue of capabilities and, more specifically, the cost-to-capability ratio all the more prominent, which has led to perhaps the most important original outcome expected of the next summit, namely the smart defence initiative.
Smart defence is predicated on a simple observation. Our nations cannot afford to spend more on security, and many are forced to spend less. But at the same time, the challenges we face are not decreasing. Whether they are related to the vulnerabilities of globalization, to the spread of potentially disruptive technologies, or to other changes such as the new deal in the far north, there is no other choice than to increase the cost-effectiveness of the resources that nations dedicate to defence, notably by increasingly working together.
What we in NATO have done over the past year is to go to the allies and ask them for their own views on how to move in that direction. I'm happy to report that the response has been very supportive. A comprehensive vision has emerged, with three pillars standing out.
The first one is prioritization, an effort to better align national defence investment with identified collective priorities. This is, of course, above all a question of national will, but NATO can help by providing clarity in the picture of collective needs, including by enhancing established frameworks such as what we call our defence planning process.
The second pillar is specialization. Few member nations can maintain capabilities across the whole of the spectrum of the alliance's requirements, so national specialization is taking place, whether we like it or not. What is at stake is whether countries follow the current drift of specializing by default, notably through uncoordinated cuts, or whether a much preferred path can be taken, what we would call specialization by design, that is, one that fits into a thought-out, coherent whole.
A third pillar is multilateral capability cooperation. These past months I have been engaged in helping put together a package of multinational projects that could signal a new mindset in the development of capabilities. At the Secretary General's direction, I have gone to the nations and have collected thousands of new ideas for cooperation in areas ranging from intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to logistics and maintenance of force protection, and across all components, procurement, training, and support.
I'm grateful for the strong support of Canada, which has, for example, taken the lead on the project by committing to facilitate the interoperability of weapons on NATO aircraft, which like so many other proposals, is most relevant in light of recent operations. I should add that cooperation projects, by their very nature, all contribute to interoperability. It is always a key goal of NATO and is a notion that is at the heart of my command's work.
Actually, interoperability will be the specific focus of a connected forces initiative, which will be endorsed in Chicago, in synergy with smart defence . By means such as enhanced multinational training, reinforced by exercises, and an increased focus on technology, it aims to build on the gains and interoperability achieved in recent operations. In short, smart defence is about having the capabilities we need, and connected forces are about making sure that these capabilities can work together.
To summarize, the Chicago NATO summit—the first one since the 2010 strategic concept—is a great illustration of how such a document helps the alliance as it moves forward. Of course, a 10-year plan is not a straitjacket, but it does provide the alliance with a common, agreed upon vision around its three essential core tasks of collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security.
The next summit will forcefully confirm a course agreed upon in Lisbon on reform, missile defence, and partnerships, including in the context of our long-term relationship with Afghanistan. It will also open significant new perspectives, particularly with a small defence initiative, which will deeply affect our way of doing work in the years to come.
With all these points on its agenda, I'm sure that the Chicago summit, the first on this side of the Atlantic in over a decade, will send a strong message to our public that NATO will continue to fulfill its responsibility to the security of the Euro-Atlantic region and beyond. That is why this summit will be so important and is why I am looking forward to it so eagerly.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.