Center for Strategic Decision Research



A New Concept of Transformation

General Harald Kujat
Former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee

I have two messages to share with you. The first one is very much related to the place where the Workshop is being held, which is very close to the former East/West border, the Berlin Wall. The disappearance of the wall was an indication of the end of the East/West conflict, but though many people, in Germany and the United States and elsewhere, think we have left the post-Cold War transition period behind, my message is that we are still in it. The tectonic movements that were initiated by the end of the East/West conflict are still ongoing, and those of us from Georgia, from the Caucasus region, from Moldova, and elsewhere know exactly what I mean.

I think it is important to acknowledge that we still live in a continuously changing political and geostrategic world. NATO has so far managed to deal with the fundamental changes and the last four summits have been milestones on the way to shaping the international security architecture. Along the way, NATO has extended its spectrum of tasks beyond Article 5 and expanded its engagement well beyond the NATO Treaty area, and I believe it is important to understand that NATO must still control and manage ongoing major changes. To do so, NATO is expanding its cooperation with countries that already work with us, such as New Zealand, Australia, and Japan; and will cooperate more closely with the countries of the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Near East.

It is also important to understand what Dr. Linton Wells said—that we have to deal with the uncertainties of the future but also with those of today. We also have to deal with new environments and new concepts such as network-enabled capabilities and knowledge superiority. Forces will need to be able to acquire intelligence and carry out surveillance, reconnaissance, and target acquisition at all levels of command, from the sergeant leading a few soldiers to the general maneuvering force formations on the ground, on the sea, in the air, or in space. We need to have network readiness for interoperating Allied forces.


I think calling the Riga Summit a transformation summit is definitely the right thing to do. However, it is not a summit in which we should lean back and report our success on the NATO Response Force, the new command structure, the new force structure, and the new political-military decision-making processes. What heads of state and government need to do is to understand what transformation actually means. It is not just new technology, it is a new concept, a new way of operating our forces, a way of dealing with uncertainty—with the “fog of war,” as Americans say, or “friction,” as the German military thinker Clausewitz called it. My personal definition of transformation is a process with knowledge and information technology as its centerpiece at the end of which friction and its effects are reduced to the absolute minimum (all military leaders know you cannot eliminate it completely). That is what we need to achieve.

My hope is that the Riga Summit will spotlight the concept of transformation for everyone within and outside NATO and not just refer to what we have achieved so far. In NATO we have achieved quite a lot, but it is only the first step into the future. I believe that heads of state and government should use this opportunity to tie together the need to deal with this transition period and to transform the Alliance both militarily and politically.


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