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Key U.S. Security Policy Issues

Developing NATO's Partnership For Peace Program
Managing the NATO Expansion Issue
Developing Combined Joint Task Forces
Modifying NATO Structures and Activities
Resolving or Containing Conflict in the Balkans


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Developing NATO's
Partnership For Peace Program

NATO began its outreach program to the East in July 1990 with a declaration issued at the NATO Summit in London, followed by the establishment of the NACC at the November 1991 Summit in Rome. While the NACC had laudable goals of establishing security contacts and providing technical assistance to Eastern states, its limitations immediately became apparent. The immense diversity among NACC partners (say, between Poland and Uzbekistan) led to calls for a more differentiated approach and to increasing demands for membership in NATO by the westernmost NACC members. At the same time, disagreements among the allies over how far NACC should go in satisfying operational requirements of the partner states (as opposed to serving mainly as a consultative body) further limited the scope of NACC activities.

NATO's most recent response came in January 1994 when NATO Summit leaders in Brussels adopted the PFP program, the goals of which are to: (1) enhance operational cooperation between NATO and the partner states; (2) develop defense transparency among partner states; (3) advance the development of democratic means of control over the military in the newly emerging democracies; and (4) provide a vehicle to help the partners realize that (unlike NACC, where NATO foots the bill) participation in NATO activities has obligations as well as benefits.

Since January, more than 20 states have become PFP partners, including the Central and East European states, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, Russia, Ukraine, and several other ex-Soviet Eurasian states. Offices have been constructed at both NATO Headquarters in Brussels and at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium, to accommodate representatives of these states. Exercises involving forces of NATO members and new PFP partners have been planned, and some have already been conducted.

Implementation of PFP, if not handled carefully, could, to one degree or another, have some unwanted, unintended consequences.

Sub-Regional Cooperation. Rather than encouraging forms of sub-regional cooperation and stability--such as that established by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia (the so-called "Vise-grad" states)--the PFP program could have an unintended, unfortunate effect of transforming the region's potential security partners into competitors, diverting attention from cooperation with neighbors and toward a race to see which nations are most willing and able to meet the West's standards and expectations.

NATO could minimize the potential negative consequences of its bilateral ("16 to 1") agreements with each PFP partner by encouraging partners to cooperate directly with their neighbors, ensuring that each agreement remains transparent to neighbors, and supporting Visegrad, Balkan, and Baltic common security activities.

Democratic Reformers. By deferring the NATO membership question in developing PFP, NATO leaders appear partly to have responded to a perceived need to placate Russia and support Yeltsin and reformers in that country. NATO must work now to ensure that PFP also supports democratic reformers in Central and Eastern Europe and does not have the unintended effect of undermining their political bases of support, thereby undermining the credibility of the U.S. and NATO in Central and Eastern Europe.

Russians and Central and East Europeans have traditionally seen security as a zero-sum game where one side wins and the other loses. To the extent that Central and East Europeans perceive the PFP as the West succumbing to Russian pressure in terms of PFP being used as a stalling device against NATO membership, the West will lose credibility and influence.

If the PFP does not soon generate highly visible programs that bolster support for the region's reform-oriented leaders, then the prestige, influence, and support that NATO presently enjoys may be lost on future Central and East European leaders and publics. For such projects to be successful and visible, financial resources will be necessary. President Clinton recognized this when he announced on a trip to Poland in July 1994 that he would request $100 million for Fiscal Year 1996 to support PFP programs, of which $25 million would go to Poland and $10 millon to the Baltic states. The challenge for the U.S. is to energize other NATO allies and partners to commit resources to PFP programs, and to work with those allies to initiate cooperative programs with PFP partners, as Great Britain and Denmark have done with the Baltic states.

Civil-Military Relations. Military rather than political forms of cooperation have been emphasized in PFP. As a result, PFP could have a number of unwanted and unintended consequences. First, states with stronger military traditions and institutions could have an advantage. Second, pushing the military to the forefront in the East-West partnership could work against efforts in Central and East European states to establish control over their militaries. Emphasizing the political dimension of PFP and working to ensure a civilian Ministry of Defense component would moderate this potential negative effect.

Security Perceptions--Ideals and Reality. By intentionally leaving vague any detailed criteria and timeframe for NATO admission in order not to exclude anyone, PFP suggests an undifferentiated Europe, which does not have much credibility in Central and Eastern Europe. Many Central and East Europeans believe that democratic reform has already failed in most of the former Soviet Union, and that some form of authoritarian rule there is likely for the foreseeable future. They also fear that Russia is moving toward an imperial foreign policy that threatens their security and their democratic governments.

PFP, if provided adequate resources and implemented properly, may reinvigorate NATO and herald a new European security architecture. If it is not provided adequate resources and is implemented carelessly, however, PFP could undermine European security and widen the gulf that separates East from West.

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Managing the NATO
Expansion Issue

Though NATO has resisted the Central and East European nations' desire for immediate membership in the Alliance, the PFP proposal has expressed NATO's long-term commitment to expand. Active participation in PFP is seen as a necessary--although not sufficient--condition for eventual NATO membership. NATO has left vague the time frame for possible expansion and has not provided any detailed criteria for determining qualification for membership beyond the NATO Treaty's Article 10 reference to a state being in a position to further the principles of the Treaty and contribute to security in the North Atlantic area.

As the Alliance moves forward with its study on implications of NATO expansion and what it takes for a state to join NATO, and as it eventually makes decisions on NATO expansion, it will face several key questions, such as: why NATO expansion is necessary when few perceive any immediate military threat to the East; whether NATO expansion will be counterproductive in terms of drawing new dividing lines in Europe and isolating states left out; whether expansion will cause adverse reactions against NATO and against reformers in those states not included; and, what demands expanding NATO defense commitments will place on Western forces and defense budgets, which are now being reduced.

NATO will want to proceed carefully, balancing the desires of Central and East European states to be fully reintegrated into Europe and the desire of NATO allies to project security eastward, with concerns about the seriousness of extending new security guarantees. NATO will also have to balance the view that NATO expansion can help keep NATO vibrant and alive, with the view that NATO expansion will be a divisive issue in an Alliance of 16 members already seriously troubled over Bosnia and in need of clarifying a new trans-Atlantic (West-West) relationship. NATO will need also to balance its intent to control its own destiny and not be subject to a veto by outside states such as Russia, with its concern not to undercut reformers and promising developments in countries that are not invited immediately or even eventually to join NATO. Russian President Yeltsin has warned of a "cold peace," and much will depend here on the nature and strength of relationships that NATO and others in the West establish with Russia and other Eastern states.

To balance these interests, NATO is taking careful and measured steps to strengthen PFP. NATO is also moving to address what internal steps are required in NATO to eventually expand membership and to assess the implications of expanded membership. NATO will also help prospective members understand what NATO membership entails. Consultations will be required to determine how to frame the expansion debate in NATO publics and parliaments, how eventually to decide which interested states should be admitted to NATO and when, and how to advance NATO relationships not only with those states that may initially join NATO but also with other PFP partners not expected to join NATO at the outset or even eventually.

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Developing Combined
Joint Task Forces

The CJTF initiative, approved at the January 1994 NATO summit, is intended to provide NATO a powerful, new organizational concept for responding to crises by rapid deployment of forces. This initiative is designed to: (1) satisfy the requirements of the NATO Strategic Concept for more flexible and mobile forces; (2) provide a vehicle for NATO participation in crisis management and peace support operations; (3) facilitate operations with non-NATO nations such as the PFP partners; and (4) permit the use of NATO infrastructure and forces to support the evolution of ESDI.

While no official definition of a CJTF has been adopted, NATO Summit language suggests that the term refers to a multinational, multi-service task force consisting of NATO--and possibly non-NATO--forces capable of rapid deployment to conduct crisis management and peace operations of limited duration under the control of either the NATO military structure or the WEU. There is a presumption in NATO that CJTF operations would be beyond NATO's borders. NATO CJTFs are expected to be a hybrid capability that combines the best attributes of coalition and alliance forces: rapid flexible crisis response and a trained, ready, multinational, multi-service force backed by an in-place infrastructure.

The WEU is also working on the CJTF concept and appears to envisage CJTFs that are smaller than what NATO has in mind but employed for similar missions. The WEU may want to address early on the possibility of working with NATO and seeking the use of NATO assets, such as the SHAPE Technical Center, for its own CJTF planning. NATO insistence on fully developing the CJTF concept would help guard against NATO's slipping into the role of "Europe's military hardware store." Fully developing the concept would require resolving the thorny issue of command and political control over operations involving NATO forces in operations beyond the direct defense of NATO territory addressed in Article 5 of the NATO Treaty or under WEU. Systematic cooperation between NATO and the WEU in assembling and deploying CJTFs will be crucial to preserving the trans-Atlantic nature of the Alliance.

While the geographical areas in which NATO would deploy a CJTF is first of all a political question, military capabilities and limitations will also shape the decision. In contemplating the regions where NATO CJTFs might be deployed, it can be assumed that any mission will aim to protect Alliance interests. Likely interests include preservation of peace in the lands and waters immediately adjacent to NATO territory. Similar security interests might extend to distant areas where conflict could threaten European security and stability.

CJTF logistical support will be a major challenge for an alliance that has known only interior lines of communication, fixed bases, and a wealth of host nation support. NATO will have to adjust to rapid deployments, long and potentially unsecured lines of supply and communication, and minimal base facilities.

Another major challenge will be the creation of requisite communications and information systems. A deployed CJTF headquarters must have not only the traditional rearward, lateral, and forward military linkages, but also links with local governments, non-government organizations, and international agencies. For the time being, CJTFs will be heavily dependent on U.S. national assets for strategic and operational support in communications and intelligence.

Many questions surrounding the implementation of the CJTF concept are virgin territory for NATO military planners, among them the division of labor among Major NATO Commands (MNC), Major Subordinate Commands (MSC), and a CJTF during operations; the degree of interoperability of on-hand communication; the availability of intelligence; training and exercise requirements and their costs; and the need for a detailed assessment of movement requirements of a CJTF. NATO military staffs have begun to tackle these issues.

A special aspect of adapting a rapid development capability to a consensus-based alliance is the case in which a nation assigns personnel to a CJTF headquarters in peacetime but withholds consent to deploy them to a certain out-of-area crisis. This and other issues will require time to resolve, among them the dearth of English-speaking commanders and staff officers in East European militaries.

Operations In and Around Former Yugoslavia

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Modifying NATO Structures
and Activities

Although from 1991 to 1994 NATO made a number of bold decisions at its summit meetings, many of those decisions have yet to be implemented, and more changes will be required as the security situation evolves.

One area for possible further change is the NATO integrated military structure. Although NATO staffs have already been streamlined, many have called for another review to ensure that the command structure is fully oriented toward the new missions. A number of questions arise. Are all the current headquarters still necessary? Have they been reduced in active strength to the minimum necessary? Are they mobile, flexible, and kept up-to-date by essential investment in modern command-and-control and information equipment?

A second issue is preparing for the new missions of the Alliance, such as peace operations and humanitarian relief. Forces such as the ACE Rapid Reaction Corps, the Standing Naval Forces, and the ACE Mobile Forces need to be trained and equipped to perform new tasks. Deploying and sustaining forces in out-of-area operations require significant planning and training.

Another area where further modification of NATO may be on the agenda is balancing burdens and responsibilities between the European and North American pillars of the Alliance. This requires the development of effective political and military ties with the WEU and the emergence of an ESDI that works in tandem with the U.S. and Canada. The task of crafting an ESDI that is a partner and not a competitor to NATO has fallen on the WEU. Transparency will be essential to building a trusting and productive relationship. It will not be enough for WEU and NATO representatives to hold occasional meetings; systematic coordination and information sharing is needed. The U.S. and Canada will be the only NATO allies not routinely seated at the WEU table to deliberate security issues. The WEU must take care that its positions are not presented in NATO fora as faits accompli. In turn, Washington must demonstrate trust in its European allies in order to allow the ESDI to develop.

Finally, NATO's increasing political role suggests a new approach that seeks to identify and resolve tensions that may affect the Alliance before they become crises, as well as to employ the Alliance's formidable infrastructure and resources to respond to unexpected contingencies. For example, NATO's Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee, Civil Emergency Planning Directorate, and Committee on Challenges of Modern Society might be chartered to plan for responses to natural and man-made disasters. While initial planning could concentrate on the NATO and NACC regions, the Alliance could eventually tackle similar issues in regions beyond Europe. The associated requirement to move from reactive to proactive planning would not be easy for a consensus-based organization like NATO.

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Resolving or Containing
Conflict in the Balkans

Precipitated by a lethal mixture of economic backwardness, historical animosity, exploitative leaders, and the suppression of human and minority rights, the conflict in the former Yugoslavia has become a case study of the local consequences of the breakdown of the Cold War international system and the pains associated with the emergence of another:

  • It has highlighted the complexity of ethno-national conflicts and the interconnections among the political, economic, social, cultural, and security problems associated with the end of communism.

  • It raises serious questions about the international ramifications of intra-state conflicts.

  • It presents challenges to a number of well-established principles of international order, such as non-intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states, the right of national self-determination, and the inviolability of borders.

  • It underscores the limitations of existing European institutions to deal with the international fall-out of such conflicts and the need to develop institutions for effective and timely conflict prevention and management.
  • It poses fundamental questions about the viability of a Euro-Atlantic community based upon a system of nation-states and dedicated to democratic values and open societies.

    The efforts of European institutions failed to avert conflict in former Yugoslavia. Indeed, early European diplomatic recognition of secessionist states may have exacerbated the situation. The efforts of other countries and international organizations similarly failed.

    Involvement of the U.S. and Others. The U.S. and other powers have been caught in a dilemma. They feel a moral obligation to assist victims and to help resolve the conflict. Yet they are well aware of the long history of bloody ethnic conflict in the Balkans and are leery of sending their military forces to the area, especially when warring factions doggedly continue to fight and do not appear interested in a peace arrangement.

    The U.S. and other states are thus cautious about their involvement. They have pursued four courses of action: humanitarian relief, containment of the conflict, diplomatic initiatives to resolve the conflict, and making plans to help maintain the peace with military forces once a peace agreement is reached. All of these measures aim to moderate the damage caused by the conflict while limiting exposure of U.S. or other foreign military forces to hostilities.

    The U.S., under Operation PROVIDE PROMISE, and some allies have flown humanitarian assistance to people in Bosnia. The U.S., NATO allies, and members of the WEU under Operation SHARP GUARD have been willing to commit maritime forces in the Adriatic to maintain U.N. sanctions, and these and other states have taken other measures to restrict trade with certain of the parties. In late November 1994, in response to Congressional interest in lifting the embargo on arms for the Bosnian government forces and Croatia, the U.S. ceased enforcing the arms embargo with regard to Bosnian government forces. Under Operation DENY FLIGHT, the U.S. and NATO allies have also been willing to commit air power to deny military flights to warring parties, to protect U.N. Protection Forces (UNPROFOR) on the ground in Bosnia, and to enforce U.N. exclusion zones. Coordination with the U.N. of the employment of these forces has had some difficulties. The naval forces are now operating under the NATO integrated military command structure, as are allied forces involved in the airpower operations, demonstrating the value and capability of the NATO command structure.

    Some states have committed ground force units to UNPROFOR in Bosnia, which have been used to help ensure humanitarian relief is delivered and to keep certain equipment from being used by warring parties. The U.S. has been leery of deploying American ground forces into the former Yugoslavia. Under Operation ABLE SENTRY, U.S. and Nordic ground forces have been deployed in Macedonia to help deter the spread of conflict. The U.S. has indicated it will deploy ground force units into Bosnia only when a peace agreement has been negotiated and put into place.

    Following earlier unsuccessful international efforts to negotiate a settlement in the former Yugoslavia, an International Contact Group, consisting of representatives from France, Germany, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S., has launched a diplomatic initiative to reach a peace settlement in Bosnia. This initiative proposes that the Muslim-Croat Federation in Bosnia be given control of 51 percent of Bosnia's territory, and the Bosnian Serbs--who now control about 70 percent of Bosnia--be given 49 percent. The Muslim-Croat Federation has reluctantly accepted this proposal, but the Bosnian Serbs have not.

    Lifting the Arms Embargo for Bosnia. Some have called for lifting the arms embargo on the Bosnian government, so that Muslims and Croats might better resist the Bosnian Serbs, who have dominated the conflict with support from Belgrade. Those who advocate lifting the embargo cite the right of a state to defend itself.

    Others point out that, while lifting the embargo on arms to Bosnian government forces could help these forces defend against attacks by Serbian forces, it could raise a number of problems. It is not clear whether the Bosnian Government would be better or worse off. The U.K. and France and perhaps others might pull their forces out of UNPROFOR, Serbia might feel less inclined to restrict its support for Bosnian Serbs, and the fighting could escalate and be prolonged. It could give the appearance of committing those who lift the embargo to supporting the Bosnian government, with all the implications that could have, including impact on efforts to negotiate a settlement, relations with allies and others such as Russia who now oppose lifting the arms embargo, and efforts in other areas of the world to provide unified international sanctions or embargoes.

    A strategy has been considered that would set a future date for a general lifting of the embargo for Bosnian government and Croat forces if Bosnian Serbs continue attacks and do not agree to a peace settlement, but, as mentioned, the U.S. has unilaterally ceased enforcing the arms embargo on Bosnian government forces.

    Kosovo and Macedonia. Developments in the Kosovo autonomous province of Serbia and in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia could trigger an escalation of conflict in the Balkans and even beyond. In Kosovo, Serbian repression continues, and an increasing number of people appear to believe that moderation in resisting Serbia is achieving few if any results. Conflict in Kosovo could lead to a scenario that involves massive refugee flows and a spillover of conflict to many states in the region, with implications far beyond. In Macedonia, the economic situation is disastrous, given disruption of trade with embargoed Serbia and the Greek economic blockade of Macedonia. Some 25 percent of wage earners in Skopje have not been paid for months, and labor troubles could lead to ethnic strife.

    The West has taken some steps such as the deployment of troops into northern Macedonia under Operation ABLE SENTRY. Efforts by the U.S. and the European community to provide greater assistance and help develop an east-west infrastructure for Macedonia, so it is not so dependent on north-south commerce and ties, would help alleviate the pressure on Macedonia; encouraging Greece to end its blockade would be even more immediately significant.

    The Future in Former Yugoslavia. If the International Contact Group's proposal succeeds in stopping the fighting and achieving a peace settlement, and if post-settlement the U.S. deploys 25,000 military personnel to the area as part of a peacekeeping force of 50,000, a question will then be whether peace can be sustained and the lives of peacekeepers protected. On the other hand, the failure of the Euro-Atlantic community to force a settlement in Yugoslavia's ethno-national conflicts and to help establish an arrangement through which the successor states may live in security would cast a shadow on the notion of building a collective security system to manage change and crises in Europe and beyond.

    At best, some form of collective security may be able to stop the conflict, or at least manage it and prevent expansion or escalation of the conflict. At worst, conflict in the former Yugoslavia could continue for a long time and spill over into the broader Balkan area and possibly beyond. NATO states are concerned that violence in one area of Europe can reduce inhibitions to violence elsewhere.

    Implications for U.S. Relations with Allies and Friends. Differences between the U.S. and allies, especially the U.K. and France, on such issues as deploying ground forces in Bosnia in current conditions and lifting or enforcing the arms embargo on the Bosnian government and Croatia have led to much speculation about the implications for U.S.-allied relations and even the future of NATO. These differences may add to other incentives European allies have to pursue close defense cooperation in Europe; the U.K. and France, for example, reportedly are creating a joint air command for peacekeeping missions. The U.S. appears to recognize the priority a strong NATO has in U.S. national security interests and the need to relate policy on the former Yugoslavia to this higher interest in maintaining a cohesive Alliance.


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