Tuesday, 10 December 2019
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NATO

Nick Watts, Deputy Director General of the U K Defence Forum recently sat down with General Sir Richard Shirreff lately Deputy Supreme Commander Europe, the senior British commander in NATO's military structure. The NATO biennial Summit in Wales in September 2014, was concerned with the subject of how best to respond to Russian actions in Ukraine and what this might mean for the way the Alliance protects its Member States who are adjacent to Russia in the Baltic.


"On the face of it, the summit said what needed to be said." By which Shirreff means a clear and coherent message from NATO; a strong position in the face of Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. This includes measures such as the formation of a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. But he wonders about the substance. "One area where it was not was the promise that within 10 years nations should aspire to be spending 2% on defence. That is a ten year rule which doesn't pass any hollow laughter test. The test will be the development of the Joint Deployment Force. The real nitty-gritty of readiness, sustainability, equipment and training. As an ex- NATO force generator, I would be pretty suspicious of whether the nations will sign up for that or not."

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NATO is coming to terms with the challenges represented by the cyber domain, according to Jamie Shea NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General charged with looking at emerging security challenges in the first of a new series of exclusive interviews of leading figures by Nick Watts for Defence Viewpoints. 

Shea who has over 30 years’ experience of working at NATO was recently involved in the working group which produced the Alliance’s Strategic Concept. He has seen how the Alliance has transformed itself from a Cold War organization, through the campaigns in the Balkans and the admission of former Warsaw Pact members, to its present state.

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The French are grabbing the headlines with up to 20 sorties, but despite appearing to hang back, the US is doing the heavy lifting in the enforcement of the UN no-fly zone over Libya.

Their Odyssey Dawn operation  launched 110-112 Tomahawk land attack missiles at over 20 air defence systems; communications and SA-5 surface to air missile sites. F-18s supported by C-17s and a C-130 arrived at Aviano in Italy.

 No bomb damage assessment will be possible until it is light over Libya. No Reaper or Predator unmanned planes are currently deployed.

The naval task force in the Mediterrranean consists of 11 US ships (of which 3 are submarines) 11 Italian, 3 UK (one submarine which also launched Tomahawks, HMS Cumberland and HMS Westminster), and one each from France and Canada. But the French carrier Charles de Gaulle isalso  reported to be on her way.

French aircraft - believed to be Rafales - were in the first wave. There is an unconfirmed Gaddafi regime claim to have shot down a French plane.  As part of Op Ellamy British Tornado GR4 bombers from RAF Marham flew overnight direct to lauch Storm Shadow stand off missiles and up to 18 Typhoon fighters from RAF Coningsby and RAF Leuchars. Antique 3 VC-10 refueling planes are being positioned at the sovereign base of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. 2 Nimrod R1s, destined for the scrap heap as recently as a fortnight ago, and 3 Sentry AWACS have also been deployed from there by the RAF.

Denmark and Norway are both sending six F-16 fighters, probably to the US base of Sigonella in Sicily, , and Spanish F-18 Hornets are also expected to be in operation, as are the Dutch. 6 Canadian CF-18s were refuelled in Scotland en route south. No info yet on the specifics of Arab involvement.

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In my statement to the House on 27 October, I said that the Government would update Parliament on developments in Afghanistan every month. This is part of our commitment to keep Parliament regularly informed. This first monthly report covers a range of issues: the Lisbon Summit, Afghanistan's Parliamentary Elections, governance and regional engagement. Future reports will update on progress in Afghanistan.

The Rt. Hon. William Hague MP
Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs

Lisbon Summit

Afghanistan was at the heart of the NATO Lisbon Summit on 19-20 November, demonstrating the high priority that NATO places on its efforts to build a secure and stable Afghanistan.

All 48 nations contributing to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) reaffirmed their enduring commitment to Afghanistan's security and stability. They also welcomed the participation and support of other international partners at the Summit, including the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank and Japan, with all of whom ISAF shares a common vision for a better Afghanistan.

The ISAF Commander, General David Petraeus, reported that progress had been made on several fronts: the momentum of the insurgency had been broadly arrested across Afghanistan –though not in all locations – and reversed in a number of key areas; the area under the Afghan Government's control continued to expand and the Afghanistan National Security Force (ANSF) was proving to be an increasingly effective force, having successfully provided security for two nationwide elections in 2009 and 2010.

ISAF partners agreed that they would work in partnership with the Afghan Government to deliver President Karzai's objective of transitioning lead security responsibility to the ANSF, in all provinces, by the end of 2014. Transition to Afghan lead security responsibility will be dependent on the conditions in each district and province. It will see ISAF's role evolve away from combat towards increased training, mentoring and support. The transition process is on track to begin in some provinces and districts in early 2011 following a joint Afghan and NATO/ISAF assessment and decision.

In advance of the Summit NATO asked ISAF partners to fill additional training positions that would help the NATO Training Mission to Afghanistan (NTM-A) continue to meet targets for expanding the Afghan National Army (ANA)and Afghan National Police (ANP). The Summit reported a strong response from partners. The UK had already announced a contribution of approximately 320 additional trainers. Canada confirmed that it would deploy a training mission with approximately 700 military trainers, 200 support troops and 45 police; Italy pledged an additional 200 trainers; Portugal 42; Croatia 30; and Bulgaria three additional mentoring and training teams. Other countries confirmed that they were considering new pledges, which would be discussed at a Force Generation Conference at the end of November.
Although the NTM-A priority shortfalls have therefore been met, the UK will continue to press our international partners to ensure that NTM-A continues to have the resources to fulfil its mission.

Looking beyond ISAF's current mission, NATO and Afghanistan agreed at the Summit the framework of a long-term partnership. NATO agreed to provide sustained practical support for Afghanistan, while the Afghan Government affirmed that it would be an enduring partner to NATO and committed itself to carry out its responsibilities in a manner consistent with the commitments made at the London Conference of January 2010 and the Kabul Conference of July 2010. These would include measures to combat terrorism, address corruption and support regional security. NATO and the Afghan Government will now agree the details of a co-operation programme to take forward this partnership.

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By Nick Watts, Defence Correspondent, Great North News Services

British military sources are confident that the Afghan National Army will be ready to take over operations from ISAF by 2014. At the Lisbon summit NATO committed itself to hand over counter insurgency operations to the Afghan National Army (ANA) by the end of 2014. Recently the British prime minister spoke of beginning to withdraw personnel as early as next year. British experience of partnering with 3215 Brigade ANA, which was raised in February this year, is cited as a good example of how this ambition is progressing. Much depends on this process succeeding.

NATO leaders recognize that the way to ensure that ISAF can hand over by 2014 is to step up the tempo of training of the ANA. The target for recruited and trained strength of the ANA is 171,600 by November 2011. Currently there are 144,000 trained soldiers in 28 Kandaks (Battalions). Following the transition of ISAF forces from Mentoring to partnering the emphasis has shifted to putting ANA forces in the lead on operations, with British and other ISAF forces in support. This has meant that the quality of soldiers needs to be raised.

The priority of the ANA is to concentrate on counter IED training (CIED), which Afghan soldiers take pride in doing well. Another priority is to improve medical training. In parallel with this is the need to improve absenteeism, which is addressed through better pay, and illiteracy which is being addressed by putting 34,000 soldiers through literacy training.

Putting the ANA into the front line more has had the effect of raising their self esteem, according to MOD commanders. The NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTMA) estimates that as of November 2010, of 28 ANA Kandaks, seven are capable of undertaking operations with minimal advice; ten remain reliant on ISAF for direct assistance; nine are at an early stage of development and a further two are still being assessed. British officers admit that the ANA is being fashioned from the bottom up and that future senior leaders will emerge from the current cadres of middle ranking officers. Technical training is increasing alongside tactical training, but this will take time.

British experience with 3215 ANA Brigade has been positive. A small operation OMID DO was undertaken earlier this year, which the ANA planned and lead. There were no major tactical engagements with insurgents but the new partnering system proved itself. A subsequent larger scale operation OMID CHAR was launched in support of the governor of Garesh district, again with ANA elements taking a leading role. British commanders are upbeat about progress, but admit that General Petreaus's ambition to increase the tempo of operations against the insurgents will require a close eye to be kept on how the ANA progresses.

 

Efforts to set up an EU naval strategy were a "mess" with no co-ordinated planning going on, a roundtable organised by the Security and Defence Agenda (SDA) on 16 March heard. Headline-grabbing reports of piracy off the coast of Somalia may have prompted calls for more EU action but the interests of individual member states take precedence while the presence of national industrial champions means defence procurement remains fragmented in Europe.

There have been piecemeal attempts to co-ordinate European efforts but none have so far added up to a comprehensive naval strategy. "The problem with all of these activities is that they are not part of a collective co-ordinated effort. To be frank, it is a mess," said Rear Admiral Stefan Engdahl, the Swedish Military Representative to the EU and NATO Euro-Atlantic Partnership Military Council.

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The outgoing Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, General Sir Richard Shirreff, addressed the U K Defence Forum on this topic last night. Although it was under the Chatham House Rule, so of his views have been previously published. They are reproduced on the next page. Nick watts, Deputy Director General, will be interviewing General Richard for Volume II of our Strategic Reflections series.

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International Security Assistance Force - Afghanistan have recently released the following statement:

Three months after the launch of Operation Moshtarak, clear signs of progress are evident throughout central Helmand.

"There are many positive indicators, especially in the areas of development and economic growth," said Major General Nick Carter, commander of ISAF Regional Command (South). "We have roads being built, district centres being reconstructed, and a lot of minor infrastructure projects underway."

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Together, the United Kingdom, the United States and our allies around the world, face a difficult security environment, where the outlook is sobering and the threats diverse, growing and unpredictable.

We live in a period in which direct military threats to our countries' territories are low.

But in this globalised world, the scourge of terrorism, the danger of nuclear proliferation, the ungoverned space created by fragile or failed states, and the competition for energy and resources, will test our ability to deter, contain and deal with risks to national security.

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As usual, the U.K. media has had a field day in running down this country's contribution to ISAF operations in Afghanistan. This short piece seeks to spoil their story with some facts.

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