Center for Strategic Decision Research

Paris '07 Workshop


Gen Rainer Schuwirth

General Rainer Schuwirth
Chief of Staff
Supreme Headquarters
Allied Powers Europe

General Rainer Schuwirth
Chief of Staff, SHAPE

" ...we must provide early crisis prevention in a better, more coherent way
by assisting countries in maintaining or achieving stability
before the situation deteriorates into fights and civil war."

In the previous few workshops participants had to endure presentations and go through question and answer periods with two generals who happened to come from Germany but were actually working in an international capacity. One was the Commander Joint Forces Command Brunssum, and the other one was me, at SHAPE. It has always been a pleasure to try to entertain you and we will try to do so again. Recently, I was joined on this panel by General Gerhard Back, and now by his successor, Egon Ramms, in office since the beginning of 2007. He will talk about Afghanistan and therefore I will refrain from providing comments on this operation.

            Those of you who attended this workshop in 2006 may remember that it was a workshop placed in front of the Riga Summit. It created some expectations about the Riga Summit, which have been accomplished, but we all live in the real world and know that things do not develop easily. 

            So, what I would like to do today is to give you a bit of flavor concerning certain areas that complement what Henri Bentegeat talked about: where we stand, and the continuing challenges that remain. I will do this discussing what we call established NATO priorities, namely, operations, cooperation, and, transformation and capabilities.


            You all know and hear almost every day that operations remain NATO’s number one priority. At the moment a few more than 50,000 soldiers are deployed on three continents, but when you take into account that these soldiers have to be rotated every four or six months depending on the national rotation rhythm, at any given time you need a force package of between 200,000 and 300,000 soldiers. This becomes more and more difficult for the nations and consequently becomes more and more difficult for us, the force generators, to obtain the required capabilities. 

            At the same time, annual costs are increasing. Just to give you two figures, and I am talking about the costs from the NATO budgets, in 2001 we spent 52 million euros on operations, money of course provided by the nations. In 2007 it is about 700 million. Again, this is almost peanuts compared to the sum of national contributions, but it becomes an increasing burden for the common NATO budgets because there is no willingness at all to increase them. If operation costs go up, all other costs must go down. 

            A third point is that, in principle, regardless of whether we talk about Afghanistan, the Balkans, or Africa, it is clear that we have to do more in order to develop indigenous capabilities. Developing national security structures in Afghanistan for the police and the forces, and doing the same in Africa and the Balkans, must be part of our success and exit strategy if we do not want to stay there forever and if we do not want to develop a culture of dependency or even perceived continuous occupation.


            In the Balkans the military situation is stable but the political situation is becoming more and more shaky, as understandably the Kosovars are waiting for political solutions.  As you know, the recent G8 summit was unable to unlock the difference of opinions concerning an independent Kosovo or the Ahtisaari proposal. NATO remains ready to do so to maintain a safe and secure environment and to support the implementation of the Ahtisaari proposal if so agreed.

            The European Union is also prepared to field a follow-on mission to UNMIK in the civilian-support area, including the police. But so far, even with all excellent staff to staff coordination and cooperation between the two organizations, the political side has been unable to decide that NATO could officially cooperate with the European Union and that the two would give each other mutual support. At the moment there is no chance for such a political approval.

            In Bosnia, Albania, Serbia, Croatia, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with advice from NATO headquarters or from advisory teams, we continue to assist in building indigenous capabilities and to help these nations on their way to integrating into Euro-Atlantic structures. Under the Berlin Plus framework, we continue to support the European Union and run the EU operation in Bosnia from SHAPE with the embedded EU operation headquarters.  From my point of view this is also the cheapest way for the European Union to have its own command and control capability.

The Mediterranean and Operation Active Endeavor

Turning to the Mediterranean, Operation Active Endeavor has kept this area free from terrorist use. It also has an additional very positive dimension because it has facilitated the development and deepening of contacts within the framework of the Mediterranean Dialogue and with countries along the Black Sea coast. And it has assisted more and more the understanding that threats do not only know any borders but use ungoverned spaces. Operation Active Endeavor also has become a facilitator for what I would call innovative transformational approaches: drawing on modern information technology and sharing information regardless of whether it is with a partner-nation or a member-nation of an organization. This kind of cooperation based on technical systems—the technical expression is Maritime Situation Awareness—has now extended well beyond the Mediterranean basin and certainly contributes to maintaining our security against the risks and threats from terrorists and other criminal groups.

Iraq and the NATO Training Mission (NTM-I

            The very modest NATO mission that is training Iraqi forces is now being expanded to include gendarmerie training. This is an example, as is our modest support for the African Union, how the development of indigenous forces can be supported with a rather small investment. What we should learn from that is, from my point of view, that rather than wait until fire breaks out we must provide early crisis prevention in a better, more coherent way by assisting countries in maintaining or achieving stability before the situation deteriorates into fights and civil war.

The NATO Response Force

            We have talked several times during the workshops about the NATO Response Force, and you heard at that it was declared fully operational at the Riga Summit. This certainly was a political declaration. Although significant improvements in meeting the requirements had been made, particularly through the efforts of Jim Jones, they were not fully achieved. I expect that we will be tasked to look into new methods for maintaining, sustaining, or modifying the NATO Response Force. Undoubtedly, while it may put a big strain on our nations` resources it must be fit for use as we know that the next crises is on the horizon or even closer.


            There is not much to report on progress in the area of capabilities. It all has to do with money, with industrial benefit sharing, and, in certain cases, with national egoism. We all know and have talked during the workshops about where the shortfalls are, so I don’t have to repeat that. But much has remained the same in that area, including, until to date, the inability of the NATO nations to decide to adapt the current NATO Command Structure in order to make it more deployable, which everyone knows is a requirement.

            On a positive note, between the 2006 and 2007 workshops a significant amount of work was done and we have made some progress. But we cannot be satisfied yet, as we are confronted more and more with complicated issues. Most of these issues have to do either with principal political points, some of which surfaced in earlier discussions, or with resources or national approaches instead of multinational ones, be it on the side of NATO or on the side of the European Union. No one can afford to develop capability for EU purposes only or for NATO purposes only. We are also faced with political home fronts, as I call it, that lead to restrictions on the usability of forces In NATO we call this caveats. And as of yet we have not experienced a real breakthrough within the NATO system for resource processes, which was already used during the Cold War but which is not at all fit to support today’s crisis response operations.

     Finally, people everywhere talk about the comprehensive approach—it is also part of a lot of political papers and declarations. So far, however, the NATO nations have been unable to agree on a definition. When you ask who is responsible for it, it is difficult to find an answer. But I think we all share the understanding that we need to properly coordinate and have proper cooperation between NATO, the EU, the U.N., the OSCE, the African Union, between nations, and so on. And I think we also need to improve our communication strategy.


            Just a final wish: When all the participants of  this workshop go back to their countries, after having listened to the variety of topics discussed here, I hope they will participate in important discussions and activities and contribute toward better  public understanding and awareness, including the media.

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