19/09/2008

UK Backs NATO Transformation Plans

NATO's Defence Ministers are meeting in London today to discuss how to deliver a more efficient and effective NATO.

Ministers will talk about how NATO can produce quicker response forces and more mobile capabilities. NATO Secretary-General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer then aims to set out a clear roadmap for how NATO goes about this, ahead of the Alliance's Sixtieth Anniversary Summit in Strasbourg and Kehl in April next year.

Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne is a strong advocate of renewed effort to deliver the capabilities needed for current and future operations.

Des Browne said: "NATO is the cornerstone of our Euro-Atlantic security, and it has bound North America and Europe in common purpose for nearly sixty years. That unity of purpose has been displayed in NATO's response to recent events in the Caucasus.

"However over time institutions build bad habits. There remains a mismatch between our aspirations and what we actually deliver. The NATO response force is not getting the forces or capabilities that it needs. We are lacking sufficient capabilities in key areas like intra-theatre air lift. Resources need to be switched from non-deployable capabilities. These capabilities require proper resourcing and investment. This meeting today is about transforming NATO to address all these points - and more - and to ensure that operations are central to NATO's purpose.

"Achieving this will allow us to focus better on the way we approach defence and security in the 21st Century."

Under the chairmanship of Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Des Browne will be calling on fellow NATO Ministers to join him in giving clear political leadership to NATO's transformation, committing to break down obstacles to faster progress and in ensuring that resources are better targeted on the forces we need.

(JM)

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