Chaired By: Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Witnesses: Dan Hamilton, Director of Center for Transatlantic Relations, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; Damon Wilson, Director of the International Security Program, the Atlantic Council of the United States (ACUS); Robert Hunter, Senior Advisor, Rand Corporation; Joseph Wood, Senior Resident Fellow, German Marshall Fund
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SEN. SHAHEEN: Good afternoon everyone. I apologize for the delay. That voting just keeps getting in the way. Thank you to all of our panelists for joining us. We're expecting some of the other senators to be here shortly, but I think in the interest of time, and I recognize that Ambassador Hunter has to leave shortly, so we will go ahead and begin.
I am Jeanne Shaheen; I'm the chair of the Subcommittee on European Affairs. And this subcommittee meets today to discuss the future of perhaps the most successful regional security alliance in history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
I want to welcome everyone here and expect ranking member of this subcommittee Senator DeMint to be here shortly. I'm going to submit my full statement for the record and just do an abbreviated opening here, but I think it's important to point out as I am sure everyone here knows that last month NATO members converged on France and Germany to celebrate the alliance's 60th anniversary.
The meeting was very much a celebration of NATO's past success, but I think it also provided an opportunity for us to take stock of NATO's long-term future and that's what we are here today to talk about. Our hearing will focus on the strategic institutional challenges facing NATO, our discussion is particularly timely as NATO members begin to rewrite its Strategic Concept document, which has not been updated since 1999.
Though Afghanistan is NATO's first out-of-the-area military commitment, and it remains the most pressing issue for the alliance, we're really here today to consider those institutional questions which will define NATO's composition, its scope, its relationships, and ultimately its success in the long term.
We have a very distinguished panel with us this afternoon. First is Dr. Daniel Hamilton, the director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Thank you, Dr. Hamilton, for joining us.
Next is Ambassador Robert Hunter, who is a former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, and currently a senior advisor at the RAND Corporation. Thank you, Ambassador Hunter. I also want to welcome Damon Wilson, who is the director of the International Security Program at the Atlantic Council, and was a deputy director to NATO under the NATO Secretary General. Thank you.
And finally, we have Joseph Wood, a senior resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund and retired Air Force colonel. Thank you all very much for being here. And I would, if the panelists do not object, ask if we could have Ambassador Hunter begin since he is, I am afraid, going to have to leave us to capture a flight.
So please, Ambassador Hunter.
MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Madame Chair, for your indulgence. And thank you very much for the opportunity and the honor to appear before you at such an important time and also to be on a panel with three very distinguished individuals.
One of the great virtues of NATO, which is reflected in what you do in leading your subcommittee and in what all these other folks do, is it's always been bipartisan. We don't divide on NATO; it's always been so important and in fact no administration, no Congress would ever succeed unless they had the backing of the two parties.
This is not just your normal father's NATO we're talking about. We're about to add our NATO Phase 3. We have reached the end of the post-Cold War transition in which, under U.S. leadership, NATO took those actions necessary to bring to an end the most troubled century in European history and perhaps world history, and to build a basis for a permanent European security based upon George H. W. Bush's very important geopolitical insight of trying to create a Europe, whole and free, and at peace.
Right now; however, everybody is looking again at whether NATO's with it. To revalidate the alliance and to determine whether there will be a 65th or a 70th anniversary other than a shell organization. The fact is that we and most of our allies -- and I am going to over- generalize -- are looking at our basic security interests in different ways.
We are very much focused upon the Middle East and Southwest Asia, following 9/11, with what's happening in Afghanistan, with Pakistan today, the end game in Iraq, our concerns with Iran; a whole host of matters. Very few of our allies see it that way.
In fact, most of the allies are with us, and all 28 allies are with us in Afghanistan, not because they share necessarily our perspective of what could happen to them if indeed there is no success against al Qaeda, against the Taliban, but essentially to please us, because of the importance they see in the relationship with us, and also so that NATO will continue and not fail.
In fact, if they had their preference, they would see much more effort being focused closer to home, including the work that still remains in Europe of which the future of Russia is perhaps the most important concern, reinforced by what happened last year with the Soviet Georgia or --
The allies also want the United States to do a number of things -- to have the capacity for leadership not just in what they care about; but in general, to keep the moral high ground, to be the one country because none of them were able to do it, it really can do an awful lot of the things that need to be done in the world. And as a result, they've been willing to do things beyond the European environment that they would not on their own have chosen to do.
We therefore have to come up with a new bargain in NATO, a new bargain in transatlantic relations, if we're going to see these institutions work for the future. In fact, when we talk about transatlantic, north Atlantic security, we're not just talking about NATO. In fact, I think we really need to start at the other end, which is what are the jobs that have to be done and what institutions are best able to do it.
In some cases that will be NATO, in other cases it will be other institutions of which, I believe, the European Union is most important, which is another reason your subcommittee is so important. You're going to have to help sort all this out and come up with ideas that can really revalidate a whole series of issues in regard to security in the transatlantic relationship in the broader sense.
Fortunately, this has already begun through the trip that President Obama paid to Europe last month that you alluded to which does among other things, underscore U.S. leadership, and regaining a moral high ground. It was not just one summit, it was four. I think the most important was that the G-20 because the world is looking to the United States to regain its reputation for being able to lead in preserving and extending, and revitalizing the global financial system, the global economic system.
And that is absolutely critical for them to pay attention to other things we want, and also to be willing to do things in security that we want. He also did some other things. He met with the president of Russia, Mr. Medvedev, and demonstrated that the United States and Russia are prepared to begin a new kind of relationship that's critically important to the allies.
For some who are worried about Russian encroachment on their security -- whether it's the Baltic States or Ukraine, or others who are worried about a new confrontation, Germany and Italy in that category -- the putting of the antimissile sites in the deep freeze for a time was a very good message by the president; it doesn't mean we changed things.
The renewal of efforts to try to deal with the Iranian question -- the allies are of course very worried about the future of Iran; they are also worried that the United States might be headed towards a confrontation, maybe conflict. The revitalization of building on what the last administration did of Arab-Israeli peacemaking -- for the allies, extremely important in part because of so many Muslims there are in Europe. In fact, their most important domestic concern is to integrate a lot of Muslims.
The president then went on to the European Union and unfortunately, I think a lot more could have been done there in Prague. And then he went to Turkey to try to repair that important relationship and to reach out to the Muslims. Now what do we do? I think there are some things the United States needs to do in order to encourage the allies to do what we want elsewhere by our doing things with them in Europe to make the North Atlantic Council again the center of strategic discussion for NATO.
Secondly, to keep a large number of American troops in Europe, reducing the American troop presence, unfortunately, would send a very bad signal. And third, to do something about the transfer of high technology weaponry and other things to Europe so we can have interoperability.
Now what do we need to do. I think within the Strategic Concept -- my allies will cover other aspects -- three things. Number one; don't commend NATO to a bridge too far. Do things that really have to be done together and people will agree to do together. And if need be the United States will have to look elsewhere for partners.
Secondly, get the NATO-Russia Council back up and running, to try to help complete the vision of George Bush on a Europe whole and free. And third, the comprehensive approach. The military, the nonmilitary; critical in Afghanistan -- for example, governance, reconstruction, development along with what's being done in the military, which the allies should do a tremendous amount about.
A new NATO-European Union relationship, break down those barriers, a new U.S.-European Union strategic partnership to help shape things in health, education and the like. These are the big security issues in which we and the Europeans can work together. And it's my belief if we can get the comprehensive approach; the military and the nonmilitary approach right, then we will find the Europeans more willing to do what we need them to do in places like Afghanistan.
Thank you very much.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you very much, Ambassador Hunter.
Dr. Hamilton, would you like to continue?
MR. HAMILTON: Thank you, Madame Chair. It's a pleasure to appear before you and Senator DeMint, and your colleagues to discuss the future of NATO and its strategic direction moving forward. Let me also congratulate you personally on assuming the duties at the helm of the subcommittee.
You asked for an assessment of the challenges facing NATO as it considers a new Strategic Concept. My testimony which I'd like to submit for the record, and I'll just do an abbreviated version here, draws on alliance reborn, a study that my center completed with three other U.S. think tanks, which we released recently. While I was the lead author, I do want to acknowledge of course all the contributions that those colleagues made. It really is a collective effort.
I believe that this Strasbourg-Kehl Summit gave us an open but fleeting moment to reposition our alliance; to confront the kinds of challenges we are lot more likely to face in the future than the ones we've been facing over the last number of years, and that the Strategic Concept can be a vehicle in which we can do that.
However, we have some immediate tasks as Ambassador Hunter said, particularly in Afghanistan, the Pakistan issue. I think there is a need to have greater Western cohesion, if you will, about how to deal with Russia. These are two immediate tasks if we cannot generate some Western cohesion there, our efforts to develop a Strategic Concept, I think, will be difficult. And so we must as we move forward strategically, we have to of course deal with the issues that we face day by day.
And as Ambassador Hunter said, if we think about the grand strategic challenges we face across the Atlantic, we should then think, do the institutions we have really do the job. My answer at the moment is no. I think we have to look across the institutions we have that we and our European allies work through and look at how to revamp them and revise them to the future, NATO being of course a central element.
During the Cold War, NATO's greatest success -- NATO never fought a day. And today, it's engaged in six different missions all at the same time. It's been -- it's busier now than it ever has been. And yet I think it's hard -- it's been hard for alliance leaders to convey what NATO is about these days to publics and parliaments, and to pundits.
That high operational tempo has exposed differences among allies in terms of strategic culture, in terms of resources, commitments, capabilities, just the sense of how we -- the kinds of challenges we have to face together.
So it's a problem right now. I think the use of the Strategic Concept can try to convey a simpler, but important message about what this alliance is about for the future, and not the notion that it's something of the past. But to do that, we have to do go back to some basics.
I believe NATO's purpose is threefold; it's the same purpose it's had for 60 years, and I think is fairly simple actually to explain. The first is collective defense of its members. That's the core mission of NATO. It's always been that, it remains important. The second is to be a preeminent security forum for, across-Atlantic, for discussion of security challenges. Together, it provides the transatlantic link that otherwise would not be there.
And third, a third purpose of NATO, which I think is often overlooked, is that it provides reassurance to European members that they can devote their security energy to common security challenges rather than to each other. The tragedy of European history in the 20th century was that Europeans were looking over their shoulder at each other, rather than trying to confront some common challenges.
And it was I think through NATO that that was reversed, and the participation in the United States and Canada is essential to that mission. And I believe, all of those three points are essential today, and all of them I think are under some question today as to their relevance. So if NATO is to be bigger and not just better, it has to think of a -- of its core mission set.
The last 15 years, we have been driven by the slogan "out of area" or "out of business. And NATO is now very much out of area in the Hindu Kush and is very much in business. But the core mission of NATO -- if you ask most people, I think, what it's for -- is it's to protect us. This mission of protecting the north Atlantic space has been actually the core mission of NATO.
And so while I've always supported NATO's out-of-area transformation, I believe we must also show that we're working in area, back in our basic space, to protect our own people.
And that we're out of area and in business, but if we're not in area, we'll be in trouble in terms of how we explain to publics and parliaments what this NATO is about.
So NATO, it seems to me, should be guided by a simple set of home missions and away missions. And I think each of those are simple and straightforward, but they do require some revision in terms of its NATO efforts. The home missions, again, very straightforward; deterrence and defense, the core mission of NATO that remains enshrined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, collective defense of its members; that remains important.
I believe there is a new area of security that we have to think harder about. It's not the traditional area of security. It has to do more with what one would call "societal security." "Resilience," in a British -- the way the British use that term. You know, what do cyber hackers, terrorists, energy cartels, maybe even pirates, have in common. Those are networks that prey on the networks of free societies.
They are not trying to take our territory; they are trying to disrupt society in many different ways. In fact, they use the instruments of free societies to disrupt them. These are important security challenges, and yet we're not equipped across the Atlantic to deal with those.
In our study, we argue that NATO is not probably the lead actor in that area, because much of this has to do with law enforcement and other kinds of issues.
But we have identified a number of specific areas in which NATO could play supporting role in terms of -- (audio break). The third area in home missions is Europe whole, free and at peace. If we think about the Europe that we see in front of us today -- core Europe if you will, alliance Europe is still secure. But wider Europe, the space between NATO and Russia, or between the EU and Russia, is unsettled territory.
Lots of unsettled conflicts, weak states, fragile states, things that can really do some severe damage; we have to deal with that, and I think the alliance still has a role. The away missions, I think are also three and simple. One is crisis prevention and response; that is if we do face threats to our security at strategic distance, we must be able to project and that is what the alliance should do.
The second is as we see in Afghanistan or the Balkans, after conflict ends, stability operations become quite important in reconstruction. The alliance has to have some capability there working with civilian authorities.
And third, we can stretch NATO so far -- and I believe we should, but if you stretch it too far we'll break it. And so NATO has to connect better with other partners, to the multipliers; the EU, the UN, frankly, the African Union, perhaps other types of partners that it can work with. And I think this balance of home missions and away missions is a fairly simple way to think about it that brings together and gives NATO a new balance in terms of what it's doing. And that is a clearly explained way to talk to our publics and parliaments about what it is we are about. And I'd be happy to ask -- answer more questions about that. Thank you.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you.
MR. WILSON: Thank you.
Madame Chair, Senator DeMint, Senator Kaufman, I'm honored to join my distinguished colleagues today to speak before your committee about the future of our Atlantic Alliance. I'm particularly pleased to be here as someone raised in Charleston, South Carolina and who summered on the Connecticut River Valley between New Hampshire and Vermont on a family farm.
On September 11, 2001 I was in the office of then NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson, watching in horror as America was attacked. At first, we felt helpless. But we quickly went to work on how NATO could help. The next day NATO invoked article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and endorsed a package of support to the United States. After a history of hair-trigger alert, it was terrorists rather than Soviets that triggers NATO's -- triggered NATO's collective defense guarantee.
This experience and its aftermath taught me three lessons. One, the tremendous goodwill of America's allies in times of crisis; second, the limited capability of NATO to respond to new threats, and third; the limited ability of the United States to integrate allied assistance into U.S. military planning.
Each of these lessons is relevant today. First, that reservoir of goodwill needs to be nurtured and turned into political will within the alliance. Allied leaders must advocate the alliance and partnership with the United States to their publics in order to sustain support, especially, for the fight in Afghanistan. Second, since 9/11, NATO has transformed its capabilities to face 20th -- 21st century threats, but the alliance lags behind the evolution of the threat.
Third, NATO is the United States' permanent coalition. Working with allies is cumbersome. But when American soldiers, sailors, and airmen enter the fight, it's a political imperative that they do so with allies by their side. We therefore shouldn't just lament the complexities of coalition operations, but rather focus in improving them. NATO often should be the organizing core around which broader coalitions are built, as the alliance offers an increasingly international standard of interoperability and command.
Stitching coalitions together is unwieldy for the Pentagon, but is what NATO's military headquarters at SHAPE is designed to do. Today, NATO faces questions both of common vision and political will as it struggles with how to develop the capabilities required to deter or win conflicts, how to integrate Europe's east and how to succeed in Afghanistan. Last month's 60th anniversary summit called for a new Strategic Concept to answer these questions and to serve as a road map for NATO in the coming years.
As this debate begins, I think, the alliance should focus on three key missions. First, to ensure the collective defense of its members from all forms of attack; to complete the vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace, and to serve as a leading vehicle through which North America and Europe act to promote security, prosperity and democracy around the world; these last two roles in partnership with the European Union.
I agree with Dr. Hamilton that NATO is first and foremost a collective defense alliance, and this solemn commitment should remain the bedrock. NATO is right to begin quiet and prudent contingency planning for responding to an attack on a member state, whether by conventional or unconventional means. This should be NATO's routine, private business.
But this also means developing the capabilities to defend security at home and at strategic distances. Expeditionary capabilities and sustainment are just as important for a crisis in Europe's east as they are for Afghanistan. The Alliance must do better developing defenses against new threats, like cyberwarfare, biowarfare, and missile strikes.
Furthermore, creative work is required to ensure a continued NATO nuclear deterrent without depending on the current antiquated force structure. NATO should continue to be an engine for reform in fragile European democracies by maintaining a credible open-door policy, and by being an active partner in assisting those reforms. Enlargement has neither burdened NATO with costs, nor complicated reaching consensus. Growth in membership does merit strengthening the authorities of the secretary general and streamlining the committee structure.
But the real challenge is keeping the open-door commitment credible. There is a common vision that as Balkan nations implement reforms, they will earn a place within the Euro-Atlantic institutions.
Yet there is no clear path to deliver on this vision and there needs to be one. Some believe it's time to put Georgia and Ukraine on the backburner. This approach risks backsliding in Tbilisi and Kiev and caters to Russia's temptation to pursue its sphere of influence. Given the caution in Europe, American leadership is required to ensure the NATO-Ukraine and NATO-Georgia Commissions do not languish.
This engagement need not be delayed by a false debate about membership, which is many years away in the best of circumstances; rather, our efforts should focus on using the commissions, bilateral efforts, the EU's Eastern Partnership to bolster democratic institutions, free markets and defense reform. But without the vision of where tough reforms lead, political support for such reforms may thin.
The key challenge to a Europe whole and free is Russia's place in it. The NATO-Russia Council itself is not a flawed institution meriting a new European security architecture; rather, Russia's trajectory has undermined the promise of that partnership.
But increasingly, the focus of the U.S. relationship with Europe is not Europe itself, but our global challenges. NATO, accordingly, should be a leading vehicle through which Europe and North America act globally. And this means ensuring we have an alliance prepared to lead new missions, whether supporting an African Union mission, humanitarian operation, or even an eventual peace deal in the Middle East.
NATO's track record with the Partnership for Peace is a good basis upon which to strengthen ties to other global partners, such as Australia, South Korea, Japan. We should even at some point consider alliances with the alliance, with those that share our values and interests and contribute to our security.
I would like to make just a brief word on European defense and France's return to the integrated military command. President Sarkozy's election represented the victory of a vision of a strong France in partnership with the United States, rather than a France defined in opposition to the United States.
But the challenge we face is to ensure that this French strategic perspective endures beyond the presidency of Sarkozy. (Audio break) -- benefits by helping France succeed within NATO and ensuring European defense reinforces NATO.
This means investing France in NATO's success so that Paris no longer limits NATO for ideological reasons. It means harnessing a serious French military in support of creating serious alliance capabilities and restoring as the default for cooperation between NATO and the EU the "Berlin Plus" arrangements to avoid the potential for future duplication.
President Obama's first NATO summit demonstrated that our allies will often not meet our expectations that NATO is the institution through which we and like-minded partners can organize our allies to do more. NATO has been repeatedly challenged by policymakers and pundits, and also tyrants and terrorists, and repeatedly, the alliance has overcome obstacles as it's gathered the political will to reinvent itself. It faces another such test over the coming year, and the United States should be a full partner with our allies in helping it pass that test.
Thank you, Madame Chair.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you.
COL. WOOD: Madame Chairwoman, distinguished members of the subcommittee, it's an honor to be here this afternoon to discuss NATO's strategic future and institutional challenges as we move beyond the alliance's 60th anniversary. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss a set of issues that matters greatly to our security. I want to note initially that the views I will present are my own, and not those of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S.
You've heard three, I think, excellent presentations from distinguished colleagues, and in particular Damon Wilson just gave you a concrete list of things that the alliance needs to do for institutional reform. As the wrap-up person, I think I'll try to broaden this back out a little bit and look at some of the more general issues that NATO faces that are less vulnerable, if you will, to concrete measures and a little more problematic going into the Strategic Concept review.
"Crisis in transatlantic relations" has always been good for a headline, and "Whither NATO?" has been a popular question for the alliance since its founding. Perhaps crisis and doubt have been the main features of continuity over NATO's 60 years of existence. The beginning of the 21st century witnessed the 9/11 attacks and, in response, NATO's first invocation of the article 5 mutual defense clause. Sidelined in Afghanistan at the outset of that war, the alliance is now trying to see a way forward in difficult, and some would say, deteriorating circumstances.
In this climate of contemporary problems, it's worth recalling a passage from the 1967 Harmel Report, written mainly by representatives of some of NATO's smaller members and undertaken in response to an existential crisis. That report concluded, quote, "The alliance is a dynamic and vigorous organization which is constantly adapting itself to changing conditions. It has also shown that its future tasks can be handled within the terms of the treaty by building on the methods and procedures which have proved their value over many years."
"Since the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in 1949, the international situation has changed significantly and the political tasks of the alliance have assumed a new dimension. Although the disparity between the power of the United States and that of Europe remains, Europe has recovered and is on its way towards unity," end quote, in 1967.
Four decades later, that assessment could be applied to NATO today. NATO's successes are truly historic. Institutionally, it established and maintained reasonably robust procedures and standards for military planning and operations, despite barriers ranging from language differences to long-standing animosities among its members. It developed effective, if sometimes inefficient, means of political coordination on security matters.
And measured by outcomes, NATO can count the successful defense and extension of freedom in Europe throughout and after the Cold War; the management of the security aspects of the 1990s Balkans wars; and the enlargement of the alliance in ways that preserved NATO's functions while encouraging reform in new members. That said, NATO does face some real difficulties which differ qualitatively and perhaps decisively, from its earlier anxieties.
NATO in Afghanistan is laboring in intrinsically difficult territory under several extrinsic burdens. Its overall strategy and objectives have been unclear and difficult to explain to allied publics. Differences on aid programs, methods for dealing with poppy production, lack of coordination, and other unresolved questions about political and economic development have all hindered the nonmilitary aspects of NATO's efforts, so critical in a campaign like this one.
But for those concerned about NATO's continued viability, the greatest internal problem has been the refusal of some allies to take on the same risks as others. The restrictions on operations imposed by such allies as Germany and Italy has, in effect, created a two-tier alliance, something military planners worked hard to avoid throughout the Cold War.
This division is especially damaging because some of the allies with the smallest potential to contribute have done so without restrictions, while some with the greatest potential have opted out of the most difficult and dangerous operations. The result has been not just resentment, but real questions about the very meaning of the term "alliance."
When some members accept greater risk than others, questions inevitably arise as to what it means that an "an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all."
Certainly, article 5 leaves latitude for each ally to determine its own appropriate response, and the war in Afghanistan was not undertaken as an article 5 operation under NATO command. But to have NATO's most significant military operation create ambiguity surrounding various allies' willingness to undertake dangerous missions, even against regimes as brutal as the Taliban, has a corrosive effect that may be lasting.
Some governments, for example, the Netherlands, at least until recently, Great Britain and Canada, as well as many of the Central European allies, have been able to sustain a commitment to the more dangerous work NATO has undertaken. Others, especially, Germany and Italy, have not done so, though they have lost lives and expended treasure in their Afghan missions.
The inability or unwillingness of those countries to commit to greater risk has transcended particular governments and operates even under avowedly pro-American leaders. That fact suggests that in those countries, at least, there are broad objections to taking on the more dangerous tasks of the war.
So Americans are entitled to wonder, if the Taliban regime and al Qaeda are not morally and practically worth opposing with military action, what enemy would qualify for united NATO action? Doubts on this score seem to suggest a basic divergence over what constitutes good and evil, and whether any regime is worth risking life to oppose.
Turning to NATO enlargement in April of 2008, the allies agreed that Ukraine and Georgia will at some point be members of NATO. But at the behest of German Chancellor Merkel, with support from French President Sarkozy, the alliance did not offer a Membership Action Plan to either country. Because MAP has, for the most recent candidates, been the standard path to eventual membership, the effect of this decision was clear to forestall any prospect of NATO membership for Ukraine or Georgia in the near future.
Berlin and Paris based their objections on the fact that neither Kiev nor Tbilisi was ready for NATO membership. But none of the countries admitted during the post-Cold War enlargement of NATO were ready for the responsibilities of membership when they entered the MAP process. Indeed, MAP presumes that the candidate has work to do, in some cases a great deal of work.
Moreover, as the candidate nation takes on that work, it does not participate in the article 5 commitment to mutual defense. There was thus no possibility that a different decision a year ago would have obliged Germany or any other allied country to defend another country that was not ready to be a member, militarily or politically.
The real concern for Germany and France seems to have been Russian objections to even the possibility that Georgia and Ukraine might eventually become NATO members. In taking such an approach, Chancellor Merkel declined a direct request by President George W. Bush, a historic rejection of American leadership on a key issue. Those who share this view seem more interested in taking a pragmatic approach to immediate interests than in extending the institutional success of NATO, and expanding the security of the beliefs that caused the allies to come together in 1949 extending those beliefs to nations farther east.
This division about basic values and interests, and the relationship between the two, reflects serious differences within the alliance. The United States and most of the allies, especially, the newer members in Central Europe, believe that the extension of NATO's defensive alliance is not complete, and that continued enlargement is not in conflict with Russia's legitimate security interests. Others have a different vision of the future geography of European security.
This fundamental dichotomy will sharpen divergences in the willingness to take risks, raising questions about which responsibilities are shared, and which are not, within an alliance built on common values and a willingness to take on dangers and burdens for a larger cause.
NATO's many successes have come in a sustained atmosphere of crisis, characterized by differences among members about means and methods. Accordingly, any forecast of the demise in NATO should be treated with more than a grain of historical salt.
But the key to NATO's future will be a recognition that the differences facing NATO on its 60th anniversary are real and they are about ends rather than simply about methods and means, and that surmounting those differences will be more difficult and require a greater sustained effort than in the past. Europe and North America should make that effort the center of NATO's attention in the coming months.
Again, Madame Chairwoman, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee today. Thank you.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you all very much.
Colonel Wood, and I would ask all of the panelists, I guess, but you specifically talked about the problem of creating a two-tiered alliance which were seen in some respects with Afghanistan. What could -- what should NATO be doing to address this differently so that we ensure more equitable burden-sharing among all of the members?
COL. WOOD: That's a wonderful question. The administration that Damon and I were a part of struggled with that, with not a lot of success. President Obama, I think, undertook his trip to Europe with the hope that he might be able to convince some of the allies to do more than they've done. The press reports were that there was some level of support for that among the European allies, and there was discussion of some 5,000 new troops although the reality of that is very, very hard to see. I think those troops already count and hard to actually find.
I don't have a good solution for you, because I think the problem is fundamentally political, and I think it has to do with the question of how some publics and some politicians, political leadership in Europe, gauges the reaction and the potential reaction of their publics to whom they're democratically accountable to the possibility of increasing the risk that they take. And so I think that we will be able to, at the edges, improve NATO's contribution, will be able to improve the chain of command and improve the effectiveness of how NATO performs in Afghanistan.
But unless there is a fundamental shift in the political commitment to the cause of fighting the Taliban, dealing with al Qaeda, with the problems in Afghanistan and separately in Pakistan, it's very difficult for me to see a profound or substantially different way forward despite the best efforts of the president. The only solution I can offer you is the bromide of American leadership that's tried and true, and I don't think without American leadership any improvement will be seen. But even with that leadership, I think it's going to be very difficult.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Anyone else want to tackle that?
MR. : Madame Chair, if I may? I think there -- this is a tough question that hits at the heart of the challenge with the alliance. And I think there are two ways to approach it. One is the politics. What we're lacking in Europe is a cadre of leaders, politicians, parliamentarians that are willing to regularly to speak out in favor of both partnership with the United States, with the alliance itself.
How often has a European head of state given a speech on Afghanistan? Not often. And I think that's a challenge that we need in various political channels, whether through the executive branch or many of your colleagues, to challenge our European partners that if they are not out making the case to their publics, then how do they expect to generate the public support to sustain difficult expensive operations?
And part of this is getting the politics right. I think that's why the choice of former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary general is a good choice to give someone with a strong clear voice, who has a track record of speaking out on these issues in his own election campaigns, and the kind of leader -- European leader we need making that case in Europe.
There are other smaller practical steps. "Caveats" used to be a very discreet military term, which were -- no one knew about them. When I worked for Lord Robertson, part of what we did was to shine a spotlight on this, and through a little bit of shaming trying to bring countries to terms with the constraints that they were putting on the use of their forces and making it a political issue so that we could generate momentum to reverse that.
That's only had a certain degree of impact, but it's the kind of practical step that can continue.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you.
MR. : Madame Chairwoman, if I may. I agree that the core of this is political and that much of what my colleagues say is true. We should, however, recall NATO has always been a sort of a multi- tiered alliance. We have a superpower, engaged with a lot of allies, were simply at different levels.
And we've always had to manage this imbalance within our capabilities.
We -- the United States, of course, has global concerns as well, and global reach. Many of our allies have a regional perspective and that's part of the NATO's transformation that's been so difficult.
So, while politics is at the core of it, I do believe that as we think about a strategy concept about the future of the alliance itself, there are other things to think about. One is that NATO is a consensus organization.
And so often on these types of missions, everyone has to agree, but not everyone then participates. And yet everyone can still block what is happening because of the nature of this consensus principle. So, we would argue to maybe think harder about modifying that rule in operations.
There should always be consensus at the level of the North Atlantic Council to agree or not on a mission. But once a mission is agreed at that level, shouldn't the nations then participating in the mission be the ones actually then to be making decisions about the nature of their conduct.
I think that allows those to move ahead, who are committed to move ahead, and maybe those who can't participate, there are reasons for that, but don't stop the mission from happening or make it worse.
Another element is that as we went through those lists of missions for NATO, whether at home or away, all of them required deployable forces. Even defense in Europe today you cannot do with static forces. If we think about the old line, the Fulda Gap, the Iron Curtain running through Germany, we asked the Germans to create static tank forces, land forces, heavy forces right there, they are protecting their own country.
Now, we've asked the Germans to deploy forces very far away. Germany today, it's interesting, has no borders and only one with Switzerland, all the others have been swept away by the Schengen Agreement it has. So if Germany is to defend itself, it has to project today at distance, somewhere else, even within Europe.
And here they had a trouble making that adjustment from the kinds of forces it had for the Cold War to the kinds it needs today. And I think you see that pattern among other allies.
So, it has to be strongly made, the point that every force now has to be a deployable force. And NATO forces many of them are just static. They sit in place, they don't do a lot, frankly, and that should be, I think, a very, very strong message.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you.
Senator DeMint, because you arrived a little late, I assume you may -- you might want to make an opening statement before you begin the questions.
SEN. JAMES DEMINT (R-SC): Thank you, Madame Chairwoman. I think just about everything in my opening statement has been addressed to some degree, and I'd like to jump mostly into some questions here to make the most of the time.
Clearly, NATO is very important to the United States. I mean, it's the only cohesive group on the side of freedom right now. And we're all concerned about a potential setback or failure in Afghanistan, what that might do to the alliance. I was in Brussels a few weeks ago and met with a number of European ambassadors to talk about NATO, the EU and the European Union security force idea that's developing.
And the -- if I could just kind of take the logic forward a little bit, we talk about the two-tier and it's more like a multiple- tier. As Mr. Hamilton said that we've got a superpower. We've got some million powers. We've got others who can do different things.
But the difficult thing, I think, for us as we look at this as a long-term commitment of the United States is that those countries now that seem to want a less and less be -- have a fighting role are those that seem to be most committed to developing the alternative European Union security force approach.
And as I see the commitment to NATO to exercises, that would lead to interoperability, the things that have to happen for NATO work, any less commitment than we have today in NATO from our European partners, particularly the larger ones, would seem to make it very difficult for it to operate and shift more and more of the responsibility to the United States.
I mean, the ones that the countries that are doing the fighting the U.S., Canada, Netherlands, others are -- I mean, it seems that this alternative idea is being developed. And I discussed that with some of the European ambassadors and it was usually, no that's not an alternative, but there's only so much resources to go around.
And I think, what it appears is whether it's Italy, France, Germany, that the countries that are balking somewhat at a fighting role with NATO, are more committed to developing this alternative, which creates a dilemma for us. And we need allies. But we need allies who are committed to some of the same principles.
And so, I just -- maybe like a lot of -- maybe the three of you that are here, just to address that thought on where the Europeans are really going. And you can't really discuss that without putting Russia in the middle of it, which is now meddling and pulling some of the former republics towards itself, and creating somewhat of a chaos with energy, using energy as a weapon and things like that.
So Mr. Wood, I'll start with you. And I don't know if I made enough sense to ask -- actually to ask a question here, but maybe you can pick up on some of that.
MR. WOOD: No, Senator, I understand what you are driving that at several different levels. This is, as you well know, not a new problem. We struggled with how to handle ESDP and the ESDI in 1990s, whether or not it was a threat to the core functions of the alliance.
You know, we -- it's been less of a ecological problem in recent years. It's been somewhat overshadowed, I think, by the addition of the new members from most recently Croatia and Albania, and before that the round of Central European allies who joined, who although I don't think, is slavishly pro-American, as some Europeans in western Europe view them, are fundamentally pro-American.
They have a fairly recent history of -- a memory of understanding what tyranny is like, and they are somewhat sympathetic to the idea of preventing tyranny, and they are very sensitive to what Russia is doing, as you just pointed out.
France has now rejoined the military system, the military -- integrated with the military command structure of the NATO. We never completely disintegrated with French Defense College and my French compatriots there had an excellent understanding -- this was in the late 1990s -- of NATO's military methods and operations, they'd kept up with that. We have -- (inaudible) -- from time to time.
But President Sarkozy took a difficult, in some ways a difficult political decision to reintegrate French military forces. The question for any French leader is whether or not he is doing that because of some sudden embrace of a Transatlantic view that really is radically different from previous French presidents.
And I think Sarkozy is very different in how he views the world than previous French presidents. Or whether he is doing this to, if you will, harness NATO and the rest of Europe to French foreign policy ambitions. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
If we can gain more unity as a result of doing that, there is a potentially great outcome from those, which is that it'll give France a new interest in the success of NATO. I personally always wanted the Quai d'Orsay, the French foreign ministry to have a real interest in the success of NATO. That's one of the best things that could happen for the United States in terms of real unity to have them pulling with NATO instead of walking against NATO and resisting American influence.
With that said, I believe that I detect at a, you know, variety of levels, the same thing which you may be driving at. I don't want to put words in your mouth.
But since that in some parts of Western Europe, in particular, there really is an ambivalence about a continuation of the same level of American leadership on security issues that there has been in the past.
I don't know whether that stems from the last eight years and the particular unpopularity of President Bush in Europe, or whether it's a longer term trend. I think we need to remember that when former French Foreign Minister Vedrine described the United States as a hyperpuissance a hyper-power, he did that under President Clinton.
And it was Secretary of State Albright who had to respond to charges about American unipolarity by noting that the United States was the indispensable country. So it's something that's been there for a long, long time, this kind of resistance.
And I don't know exactly where it's going but I think there is a division in the alliance right now between those allies who want a greater European autonomy and who are more resistant at this point, for a variety of reasons to American leadership than maybe they have been in past, given the urgencies
At the same time, there are a group of allies who are quite concerned about the reality of day-to-day security, whether it's in the Balts, or whether it's in Poland, or the Czech Republic countries that are closer to Russia, watch Moscow's actions both militarily in the Caucasus, and economically in energy security and other areas, and wonder what's ahead.
They are the ones who hear the threats of attack, when they agree to missile defense installations with the United States, coming from the Russian foreign ministry. So they have real Article 5 concerns that have, in a sense, reappeared in the last two or three years. And they very much, I think, still want American leadership and seek American leadership.
Again, I'm giving you a mixed answer when the Russians proposed -- President Medvedev proposed last year this new security architecture for Europe to be discussed in the context of OSCE, President Sarkozy was quite strong in saying we'll talk about security with Russia, but we'll do so with our partners, the United States.
And that's a very encouraging sign. That means that there is a certain commonality of end and purpose that's still in place, even if the means are different. I think it's natural and healthy for the Europeans to want those means, but we still have a ways to go in how we integrate them and what the foreign policy goals are, to which we would attach those military means.
So, I'm sorry to give you an ambiguous answer. I just think it is very, very unclear at this point.
SEN. DEMINT: It was an ambiguous question.
MR. WOODS: Well I think --
SEN. DEMINT: My concern is that if our NATO allies, particularly the older ones, know they have -- if there's a real threat, if there's any kind of attack, it will be there. That our resources, our soldiers, they are there. So they can keep us on the shelf, do their own thing until they need us and that -- because they want to be more autonomous.
And I know some of our allies do, and it may or may not be a good thing, but it seems like we are committed. Our resources are committed, while their commitment may not be as much to the NATO alliance, which includes us and Canada.
So I'm just concerned that we may be on the hook, but it may not be as reciprocal in the future as the way -- the way it's going.
MR. WOODS: Now I think, at the end of the day, I think the problem you are describing is that we are super power with global responsibilities --
SEN. DEMINT: Right.
MR. WOODS: -- and we tend to over time --
SEN. DEMINT: Anyway.
MR. WOODS: -- implement our commitments. I will say this, though, working against that is what I think is a long-term, an abiding fear on the part of most Europeans of becoming irrelevant to America. That's, I think, the greatest underlying and overlaying fear of most European leaders is the United States will forget about them.
If I put myself in the position of someone who is in this administration, right now, and think about just what the immediate dangers are the things that could really get dangerous tonight, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, the broader Middle East, North Korea, none of those are Europe.
If you look at the sort of the second-tier problems where you have China, a potential regional competitor in Asia as well as an economic partner; you have Russia, with what seems to me to be a fairly clear ambition to establish a sphere of influence or reestablish a sphere of influence, but an unknown final ambition towards Central and Western Europe.
That's a little farther down the line, and it's something that -- if I were in the administration, I will at least be tempted to say, Germany and France, you go deal with that.
SEN. DEMINT: Yeah.
MR. WOODS: In the long run, I think that's very dangerous for us to take that approach. And I don't want to imply this administration has taken that approach. But I think those in Europe who have, for a long time, feared being irrelevant or becoming irrelevant to the United States maybe have more reason to fear that now, and will want to cooperate with us more intensely and work the accommodations that you described as necessary.
SEN. DEMINT: I hope so.
Madame Chairwoman, since I did skip my opening statement, may I allow these two just to make a quick comment.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Absolutely.
SEN. DEMINT: Thank you.
MR. WILSON: Thank you, Senator. I would say, when I was in government, our concern -- our fear was not that Europe was too strong, but that Europe was too weak.
SEN. DEMINT: Right.
MR. WILSON: And so particularly, when I worked at the White House, part of what we orchestrated with elite there over the last 18 months of the Bush administration was a delicate dance in which United States wouldn't equivocally come out in support of a European defense to help the French get the politics right.
So that it would pave the way for France's return to NATO. Because we wanted the French to have a sense of ownership within the alliance, and to feel that they can achieve what they want to in the global stage working with us within the alliance, rather than without us and having to do it as a separate ESDP structure.
Today, the EU military staff, there's maybe a 100 people, just over 100 people. That's not a problem, that's not a duplication. The EU today doesn't have the capacity to manage a complex operation. And if it were to move in that direction, that's where we get concerned about whether some in Brussels would push for the development of a more permanent structure that would frankly duplicate.
And this is where, I think, with France's return to the alliance, we need to work this diligently with our partners so that we restore as the default for cooperation the structures that we have in place. But allow the European Union to use the structures that we have within the alliance to act for EU operations when the United States doesn't want to be involved.
This way you embed what the EU is doing with their activities at SHAPE at NATO's military headquarters, and you embed them in a way that it doesn't lead to a duplication. After all, these are the exact same forces that we're talking about. What we are being concerned about is that we not develop competing alternative structures to -- for command and control and to integrate those forces.
But again, I think part of this is why it's important for France having returned. We want them to have some sense of ownership. The United States gave France two four star commands within the alliance at Norfolk, and at Lisbon so that they will take some ownership of that, and increasingly work European issues with the alliance rather than outside in contrast to the alliance.
SEN. DEMINT: Mr. Hamilton?
MR. HAMILTON: I was going to start with the same point Damon just ended with. This is the -- these are the same set of forces. This is not an alternative army, these are the same armies, they would just be deployed for different purposes. And I think that gets to the heart of much of this.
I should also add, you know, a country that's been the main drive for this in the last number of years has been Great Britain, and certainly the British, I doubt, are engaged in the EU effort here to distance themselves from the United States. They've been engaged in fact to make sure this is aligned well.
So I think the questions come up in which, are there operations in which the United States might not participate, in which Europeans feel they have a security challenge and they don't either -- don't know if they can count on the United States, or in which the United States because of what Joe said might have other things going and might not be able to participate?
What then? And I think that's the kinds of capabilities and issues that they are trying to grapple with. And frankly, they've had some experience with this. I would argue in the first Bush administration and in the early Clinton administration, the United States was not there in the Balkans and Bosnia.
We failed, it was a bipartisan failure, I would argue, to stand together with European troops on the ground, who were facing a horrible situation. We did not engage. And I think the lesson many of those European allies took out of that was you have to build some hedge, unfortunately, if the U.S. isn't there for you.
Now, we could argue, you know, now we are there and that was an episode. But I think people have these memories. So I think, the best answer to that, fear of abandonment, if you will, is to be there and to be engaged and make that always a consistent message.
But there might be operations, say, for instance, in Africa in which the United States might not want to participate militarily, in which the Europeans might have some role to play with the African Union.
At the moment they can't get to Africa from Europe because we have to fly them there. And so our capabilities are being used to do that for them. So if there's any effort here that promotes European capabilities, which I think is our common concern in the United States, that should be a good thing for the United States, is to promote the types of European capabilities. So Europeans can take more control over their own security if we are not able to be there.
I've seen -- those are the kinds of very specific areas in which I think the Europeans are trying to develop this other set of capabilities, but their ambition is not to duplicate NATO, and they have shown no, you know, serious effort to try to develop forces that could project further that would be independent of any U.S. link.
In fact, as I said they are dependent on us providing that link for them. So I think the theology has disappeared, and now we're working on one of the practical arrangements where Europeans could develop some value added to our overall effort on that one part of the spectrum, which might be very minor in which the U.S. might not potentially engage.
SEN. DEMINT: Yeah, thank you. I yield back, thank you for all the time, Madame Chairwoman.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Senator Kaufman?
SEN. TED KAUFMAN (D-DE): Madame Chairwoman, thank you for holding this hearing. I want to follow up on your question and Senator DeMint's. And that is, you know, NATO is an incredible organization, an incredible concept America should be involved.
I'm all for all that, but I'm finding on my last trip to Afghanistan pretty much the same kind of thing I found when I went to Kosovo, went to the Balkans and that is complexity does not describe trying to operate this multi-headed monster in an actual battle field.
I mean, you mentioned complexity, we're talking about multi- tiered caveats, I mean, just to sit there with the folks in the ISAF there trying to run this for, it just -- it's just incredibly difficult. And the thing that concerns me is, I don't see any progress made since we're in the Balkans and we had everybody sign off, so -- and I know how difficult this is, and I know you've already covered them in this round.
But can any of you give any concrete suggestions on politically -- I understand this is a political problem -- but I think it's -- it could become -- I mean, it could just hinder the -- our ability to do this. At some point we're just going to say the game is not worth the candle. And I don't -- I'm totally opposed to that.
So politically, what should the president and the Congress do, to, in some way, begin to straighten this out, so the next time we go into a situation, wherever it is, whether it's in Africa or wherever that we have some way to deal. And we can actually go to war with a unified complaint without the complexity, without the caveats and without the rest of it or at least minimize them.
MR. : That's quite a question, Senator. As I said I think there are two levels. One is the overall strategic direction for the alliance and how to change things within the institution, which I think is at the core of the hearing here today. And then there are -- there is the politics of it, as you said, which if you don't get the politics right, it doesn't matter at all the tinkering you do with the bureaucracy, obviously.
I think we have a serious issue here, which comes to the core of this alliance and the core of our relationship. For 60 years -- 50 years, it was about stabilizing the European contact. You know, when we said transatlantic alliance, we meant stabilizing Europe that was where the dangers were. Today, I would argue a wider Europe is still a task for us, but it's no longer, you know, stabilizing Europe is not 90 percent of our agenda.
And so the real shift we have to make with our allies and it's -- that's the hard part -- is that this relationship today, is not about Europe, the continent, as much it is about, whether we together are going to address a whole range of third issues, either functional issues like climate change or regional issues like instability in Southwest Asia, together. Is that the type of relationship we need now to build?
That requires a serious and probably multi-year conversation with our allies about this type of partnership. It also means we have to change certain ways we would think about those allies. My colleague mentioned how listing all the challenges we face in this world and Europe, you know, doesn't seem to be on the list.
Well, Europe is not on the list, thank God, because of the success of this alliance and of what we have done. But now, we have to say can we have the Europe that's the capable partner to be the value added as we engage on all these other issues. That Europe is not yet there, but it is potentially there.
It's not a Europe that would be done only through NATO because many of the issues such as the financial crisis, climate change, migration, all these things are probably done either bilaterally or with European Union.
We need more bandwidth across the Atlantic to deal with some of these issues and not ask a military -- political alliance to deal with some of them.
But I do think there are still -- what distinguish this relationship among any other we have is this basic premise that if we do agree across the Atlantic on almost any issue of some global concern, we are almost always the core of the coalition that gets anything done. And if we disagree across Atlantic still today, we stop almost any global coalition from getting anything done.
So it's -- there is a two-edged sword to this. But it does highlight why this relationship is still highly relevant to the global challenges we face if we can get the kind of partnership that I think we would need to be effective.
MR. : If I may, Senator. You know, I believe that it is an imperative for us to fight with our allies. It's never going to be easy. It will always make things more complex, but I do think it's an imperative. Part of this is we've been learning some difficult lessons because of the experience in Afghanistan since 9/11.
SHAPE, NATO structures have been designed to figure out how to stitch together disparate national contributions into a force. In the aftermath of 9/11 we were trying to do that. In the Pentagon it was too complicated we didn't want too many to play in that game. Later politically, we understood the value of that.
We need to use some of the default NATO force generation and planning structures to figure out how 25 Estonians make sense in an overall military force and use some of those structures that exist within the alliance. We have been playing catch-up since day one in Afghanistan, where we began with the international presence being led by individual NATO countries, very disruptive as we went through rotations, then to a NATO led ISAF, which was divorced from the U.S., most of the U.S. force, which was also disruptive.
And now, we finally have a command structure that makes a little bit of sense, but only as of last year, where you have a U.S. commander double-hatted for both. So we, frankly, we don't -- we only have just got sort of the structure in a more -- in a sense, a way that makes more sense now, in Afghanistan. We need to lead with that rather than take years to come out with that. Let me end with that since out of time.
MR. : I think there are to two baskets of areas, where we have to work. The first is we have to keep in mind that our NATO allies are democracies. As a result, their leaders are accountable, and as a result they can get tossed out of office when their publics get tired of them.
With that in mind we have to be very clear of the alliance leader and our own strategy. And I think, in Afghanistan over the last seven years, we have not done that. We sometimes had a bumper sticker on a comprehensive strategy, but in my mind we've not done a good job of explaining a clearer strategy to our ends in Afghanistan that leaders in Europe could take to their publics and explain clearly and get the kind of support that -- it would make them confident, as political leaders, to join us and to follow us.
The second is that we need a better public diplomacy program, whatever you want to call it, to explain that kind of a strategy, to explain our mutual interests, our shared interests and to again in a sense mitigate the political risks that leaders in Europe are having to take when they support the United States in a war. That's very difficult for them to explain to their own publics. So that's one basket of issues, sort of understand that they are democracies and try to lead in that regard.
The second is to look to our own alliance structure and how we form coalitions and alliances. In the long-run what are the countries who are most likely to have similar interests with us that we can build coalitions with and work closely with in the future. That may not line up with NATO. It will line up partially with NATO.
So we need to make clear to our own minds and in the minds of others that in the future we may be working more closely with Japan than with others, more closely with South Korea, more closely with India, more closely with others around the world who have and see shared interests with us than some of the NATO allies might see in some particular circumstances and then within NATO work with those who will work with us.
The effect of that is potentially to raise this possibility of irrelevance for all -- a lot of the senior folks in Europe and the larger countries in Europe and then force them to make strategic decisions about where they need to be for their own interests.
SEN. KAUFMAN: Thank you. Thank you, all.
Thank you, Madame Chairman.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you. I think you've all talked about the other threats that NATO is facing, and Europe and the U.S. are facing, cyber security, energy security, others. And several of you pointed out that we have to look at what is the legitimate scope of NATO's mission as we're thinking about the future. Could each of you speak to what you think the scope of mission should be and what you think limits on that should be if there are any?
Okay, -- (inaudible) -- you want to go first?
MR. : Madame Chair, in our report, which I -- to which I referred we provide a matrix, if you will, of areas in which we think NATO should have the lead, areas in which we think it's -- a supporting actor, and then others in which it's more sort of part of the band, you know, as the international community has to deal with a challenge. So I think that breakdown starts to get us to discern more the appropriate rules for NATO.
Again, during the Cold War NATO was the institution, that's how we thought about it. Today, with this host of different and non- orthodox challenges it doesn't always need to be the institution and sometimes the capabilities are outside of NATO. So, distinguishing where NATO needs to take the lead and where not I think helps us.
It certainly should take the lead in collective defense of its members. That remains its core mission. It certainly should take the lead in terms of crisis response of this alliance to threats at distance. The crisis response, Afghanistan is an example of that, the Balkans at the time was another example. We don't have another mechanism with our European allies to do that. NATO is the instrument the EU effort wouldn't do that.
So, in those two areas, NATO is clearly the lead and should have then the capabilities and the funding priorities to make sure it matches that. There are other areas that were --a supporting role. What I mention is, what I would call, transatlantic resilience issues, societal security issues where -- some of its law enforcement issues, or other things, NATO really wouldn't have to lead, but it can play a support role.
Right now, in the Mediterranean, the only Article 5 mission NATO is engaged in, Operation Active Endeavour, which guards the approaches and keeps nasty things out of Europe is that type of mission. It's actually a mission in which the Russians have participated. So here we actually have an Article 5 mission, a core mission of NATO, collective defense with Russia. It's a different kind of security challenge, but I think one that can be played.
Europe whole and free is this issue of -- it's not just enlargement. It's enlargement of all of our institutions, increasing the space -- the play -- the space of stability in Europe, where war doesn't happen. NATO plays an important role in that, but so does European Union, so do other institutions. So, NATO is part of, I think, a western approach to the region if it could be done.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Well, when do you decide that those supporting roles in terms of its societal mission, as you called it, spill over into a collective defense mission? And how do you draw those lines in a way that address the challenges we're facing in the future?
MR. : That's where I believe now we should do some serious work as part of the strategic concept, to start to delineate some of those lines. For instance, the concept of military support to civilian authorities, which is a fairly standard way of thinking about it, starts to get you there. Cyber defense, there is a lot of discussion these days about cyber defense particularly, against military networks. But obviously, that spills over into the civilian realm as well and how -- what does one decide.
We also have -- as we are democracies and each of our nations has laws about the rule of the military in purely domestic types of issues, this is new territory in which we live, especially with different traditions in Europe. It seems to me we need to engage now in a new discussion about what I would call transatlantic resilience or transatlantic homeland security if you will, if you want to use U.S. terms, that starts to engage other agencies of government not just the military because as I said some of the other agencies are actually more appropriate.
When we had Hurricane Katrina here, our European allies helped us. And yet we were not equipped as a government to receive that aid very well. And it wasn't done just through the military, it was done in a whole host of ways. So, as we think through the kinds of, God forbid, catastrophic challenges we might face in the future, I think we need to think harder about how we confront those potentially with allies or prevent them. And that's a whole realm now that I think NATO is part of as a supporting player, but it certainly engages other agencies and other partners and civilian authorities as well.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Do either of the rest of -- either of you want to respond on that?
MR. : I do agree that collective defense and crisis response operations are the core, where NATO has a lead on this. But it's important to think about the next Article 5 attack on a country, no one expected it to be terrorists on New York. And I think that's where NATO's responsibilities in how to maintain the collective security guarantee demand that it develops new capabilities.
The next attack is likely to be a cyber attack, a bio-attack, or from a ballistic missile. Therefore, NATO needs to be in the forefront of helping to develop some of those capabilities. Where it does get more complicated is how does the alliance adapt to, how we've been adapting our own military, in terms of the Civil-Military Co- operation that Dan talked about is increasingly intellectual commonsense to us.
We don't have our instruments and our tools right in how to work that out. And in part of that -- part of the reason is because there is no real strategic partnership between NATO and the European Union today. We say that on paper, but it is -- it's stuck, it's a problem. And until we get the two institutions to be able to work together credibly we're going to have these creases, where some problems will fall.
There is a body that brings together NATO ambassadors and EU ambassadors. It doesn't do much today. That's a venue that needs to be something that becomes more credible if we are going to have our institutions prepared to face some of these real challenges. So because of the nature of the potential attacks on the members, NATO must have an important role in some of these. It's in recognition that it has to work in partnership with other organizations and that's where some of the weaknesses are right now in our plan.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you.
MR. : Just very briefly, Madame Chairman, I think the core is Article 5, those situations that constitute some kind of an attack on a NATO member. Beyond that, I'm a very broad constructionist on where I'd like to see NATO involved. The only criterion I really have is that there be some military component to it because it's a defense organization. Beyond that, if it is a mission for which we can generate political will for NATO involvement, I think NATO should be involved and that's for two reasons.
One is that will help us in the long-run avoid the re- nationalization of defense that NATO was originally set up to prevent. And secondly, it sustains the U.S. European defense link against modern threats whatever they are. That's why I think the missile defense sites in Europe are particularly important is because they maintain the link between European defense and the United States on what is a current and future threat as opposed to territorial defense, which is a past threat for the most part we hope we'll see.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you.
SEN. DEMINT: I may have missed this when I stepped out and I apologize. But Mr. Wilson, I think you mentioned in your testimony that a missile attack maybe one of the likely threats NATO would face in the future. Given Iran's growing missile capability, the states- sponsored support of terrorism what's happening in Pakistan, North Korea, how critical do you think a missile defense system is in Europe for NATO? And would you distinguish between a ground-based versus a sea-based, which is being debated right now. So, just some quick comments there.
MR. WILSON: Right. I do think it is a credible threat to a member of the NATO alliance of having a ballistic missile strike at some point in the future. Because of that I think it is prudent, and important, and imperative that the alliance think through how to deal with that threat. The alliance has a fairly long history of developing theater missile defenses. It has taken too long, but it's been deeply invested in that development.
The question is out there on European third sites and related to ballistic missile defense. And part of the challenge is how to link with the U.S. effort is doing with the NATO effort with potential cooperation with Russia on some of this. What we've tried to do over time is use the alliance to have as an incubator where you can have development of common threat perceptions, sharing of intelligence and data because that underpins the same perception of what's happening.
And part of what has happened is the debate on missile defense. The attention has moved away from Iran and on to a U.S./Russia dynamic. And that's the wrong place for it to be. And I think using the alliance to contain the strategic discussions on what the ballistic missile threat is, what capability is being developed around the world are taking place so that there is a common assessment underpinning common action.
And I do think it's an important element that the alliance incorporate in its future defense capabilities and it's very much on the table and in debate right now. Part of the challenge is can the Russians be brought on board to be partners in something on this line, in an architecture like this, which keeps it clearly focused on a threat emanating from the Middle East rather than caught in a political charade of this being a U.S. Russian problem. And that's something that has made our allies nervous. I think it's addressable, but I do think it's prudent and imperative that the alliance continue its work on this firm.
SEN. DEMINT: Any alternative opinions? Well, okay.
Madame Chairman, that's all I've got. It's been very helpful. Thanks.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Yes, I think we could probably continue this discussion for a long time, but we promised not to do that although I'm sure the ongoing discussion about NATO's long-term strategic mission will continue.
Thank you all very much for your willingness to engage with us this afternoon. And we look forward to continuing the debate.
SEN. : Madame Chairman, may I ask to put my opening statement in the record?
SEN. SHAHEEN: Absolutely.
SEN. : Thank you very much.
Thank you all very much.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you.
MR. : Thank you.
MR. : Thank you.