James G. Stavridis:
NATO Summit to Focus on Afghanistan, Missile Defense
May 14, 2012
Afghanistan will top the agenda items
at the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago as coalition members consider an
agreement on a long-term strategic partnership that promotes security
and stability there, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe
“What I am hoping to see is a commitment to resourcing the Afghan
national security forces post-2014,” Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis said
of the May 20-21 summit, which will include the 28 NATO heads of state
and government representatives from many of the 50 nations that make up
the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
“I am fairly confident we will see that, and I think that will be the
key to long-term success,” Stavridis said during an interview with the
Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen considers a long-term
strategic partnership with Afghanistan to be a high-level goal,
Stavridis told Congress in March.
“Everything I can see around the circuit on the NATO side indicates a
strong willingness to go forward,” he told the Senate Armed Services
Committee. “And I believe we will have an enduring partnership between
NATO and the republic of Afghanistan.”
Missile defense will be another major summit issue, the admiral said,
with the announcement that the new missile defense system has reached
interim operational capability. This interim system, the first phase of
the new U.S.-based European Phased Adaptive Approach Missile Defense
System, will be integrated with the NATO command-and-control system to
begin standing up the NATO missile defense system, he said.
Looking to the future, Stavridis said he anticipates more discussion of
“smart defense” -- essentially pooling capabilities in light of
shrinking defense budgets confronting all the NATO members.
“As we face these financial pressures today, clearly we need to, in any
alliance, come together in efficient ways so we can … generate
capability for reasonable amounts of money,” he said.
Stavridis, who also commands U.S. European Command, noted missile
defense as an example of financial burden-sharing that provides
collective defense. Another is the Baltic air policing mission, in which
NATO member nations rotate their fighter jets to defend the airspace
over Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.
Summit participants also will discuss progress on a new alliance ground
surveillance system that will give commanders a comprehensive picture of
the situation on the ground. NATO’s operation to protect civilians in
Libya drove home the importance of such a system, Stavridis said. As a
result, 13 allies plan to procure a variant of the Global Hawk unmanned
aerial vehicle and the associated command-and-control base stations and
to operate them on behalf of all NATO members, he reported.
said he hopes the members will discuss the pooling of resources in other
areas such as special operations and cyber in which pooled arrangements
would benefit the alliance.
While not necessarily a top agenda item, the apparent inability of some
NATO partners to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on
defense as agreed is likely to come up during the summit. Only six
members, including the United States, Great Britain and France,
currently meet that goal.
Economic and fiscal pressures have caused many European states to reduce
their budgets, and Stavridis expressed concern that the situation could
adversely impact military readiness.
“We, the United States and its partners who are spending that amount of
money, … need to keep pressure on those who are not, so they meet those
minimum levels of spending,” he said.