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20 September 2002

U.S. Will Propose a New, Agile Military Response Force for NATO

(Defense Department Report, September 20) (660)
The United States will propose next week that NATO create a light,
agile brigade-sized military force, which would be available for brief
out-of-area contingency operations ranging from non-combatant
evacuations to crisis response.
A senior U.S. defense official said that Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld will submit the U.S. proposal to his counterparts during an
informal NATO defense ministerial meeting in Warsaw September 24. NATO
will review the proposal "to see if it has merit," he said, and decide
how its members might wish "to shape it." If quick action is taken and
the proposal is endorsed, it could be a subject for the NATO Summit in
Prague in November, which will also be used as a platform to invite
another round of new members to join the alliance. Other themes for
the November 21-22 Summit, he said, include continuing relationships
with Russia, relationships with members of the Euro-Atlantic
Partnership Council, NATO's relationship with Ukraine, and how to
develop new military capabilities.
The senior official, who briefed reporters at the Pentagon September
20, but declined to be identified, said NATO allies will have to build
the required military capabilities "to make this force a reality."
Asked to explain how this new force would differ from NATO's fledgling
rapid response force, he said the newer U.S.-proposed force would only
be used for short-term operations in the 7-to-30 day range as opposed
to the ARRC (ACE Rapid Reaction Corps), which might deploy for as many
as 90 days. It would be tailored according to the situation drawing on
pre-identified land, maritime, or air components that would be
deployed depending upon the nature of the mission. It could include as
many as 20,000 military personnel ready to deal with conflict "at the
high end of the spectrum." It would not compete with the rapid
reaction force, he said, which would more likely conduct peacekeeping
missions. They would conduct "complementary activities," he added.
The new force as envisaged would have secure deployable
communications; protection for nuclear, chemical and biological
emergencies; precision-strike capabilities and good airlift
Asked about the connection between the U.S. proposal, September 11th
and counterterrorism, the official said, "there's no question that
9-11 and the need for NATO to think about problems out of its
traditional area of operation is one of the things that sparked this."
While NATO has been reticent, traditionally, to embrace out-of-area
operations, he noted that there has been an evolution in the attitudes
among defense and foreign ministers "that they need this kind of
Asked about the possibility of using the new force for an Iraq-type
mission, the official noted that it would take a couple of years to
ready the force, but it could be used for initial entry missions in
the more distant future.
Asked if the U.S. planned to offer an intelligence briefing to the
NATO defense ministers about Iraq, he indicated that the general topic
of what to do about Iraq would likely arise and an intelligence review
would be offered to all.
Rumsfeld will arrive in Warsaw on September 23, the core NATO meeting
will be September 24, and he will depart on September 25. There will
be bilateral meetings scattered throughout all three days. A
NATO-Russia Council meeting also will be held.
Another major theme of the Warsaw meeting will be the new Defense
Capabilities Initiative, which will require NATO allies to spend more
money on equipment and other resources. NATO allies, he said, "still
need an enormous amount of encouragement to move forward" on this
issue. Another theme that will occupy the ministers will be the
forthcoming Command Structure Review.
Another subject of discussion will be possible NATO support for the
next country to follow Turkey in taking command of the International
Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. He said there is a need for
a stabilizing force in the Kabul area for at least 18 months. He also
said there is a realization that it is not productive, at this stage,
to continue to rotate the command every six months.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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