By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2013 – NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen praised efforts that are expanding and strengthening the partnerships he called fundamental to the alliance’s ability to deal with modern security challenges.
Partnerships “are key to our future success in a world where risks cross borders and we are all interconnected,” Rasmussen said during a news conference yesterday in Brussels.
“By working together, NATO and our partners are making a real contribution to dealing with today’s security threats, including outside the Euro-Atlantic area,” he said. “Partnerships produce real results — on operations, in training and exercises, and in the reform and management of democratic defense institutions.”
In addition to broad cooperation demonstrated by the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, NATO continues to expand its efforts with partners in other operational theaters, the secretary general said.
He recognized several new developments:
– A Ukrainian frigate joined Operation Ocean Shield yesterday, representing the first time any partner nation has taken part in NATO’s counter-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa;
– The Republic of Moldova will join the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, the first time that country has contributed to any NATO-led operation;
– NATO allies and partners in southeastern Europe came together last week to work on a NATO-led initiative aimed at improving governance and democratic oversight in the defense sector; and
– NATO partner Austria is co-leading a NATO project to support the defense education system of another partner country, Serbia.
“We have immense experience of working with partners,” Rasmussen said. “And looking ahead, our cooperation with partners continues to grow.”
A major NATO exercise to take place in Poland and the Baltic states next month will ensure the NATO Response Force “is ready to defend any ally, deploy anywhere and deal with any threat,” he said.
Ukraine and Finland will participate in the Steadfast Jazz exercise, and other NATO partners have expressed interest as well, he reported.
“So they will train alongside us — and will then have met the requirements to deploy with next year’s NATO Response Force,” he said.
Meanwhile, another NATO partner, Georgia, has been accepted to join the Response Force in the future, and Rasmussen said he expects Georgian troops to be available to the force in the 2015 timeframe.
“This, again, would be a first: the first time Georgia has joined NATO’s rapid-reaction team,” he said.
NATO’s diverse partnerships “are delivering,” he added.
Rasmussen recognized as examples milestones to be reached in the coming year: the 20th year of the Partnership for Peace initiative aimed at strengthening security and cooperation across the Euro-Atlantic, the 20th anniversary of the Mediterranean Dialogue that forges ties with countries around the Mediterranean, and the 10th year of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with Gulf region nations.
“All these initiatives have borne fruit, but there is more that they can do,” he said.
Exploring ways build on 20 years of operations experience and to take the alliance to that next step is expected to be a major agenda item at NATO’s 2014 Summit in Great Britain.
“The summit … will ensure that we continue to build on the lessons we have learned, to strengthen the alliance and keep it ready to deal with modern security challenges,” Rasmussen said. “It will reaffirm the vital transatlantic bond on which NATO was founded. And it will further enhance our partnerships, which are key to our future success.”
Defense Department News
1 (703) 571-3343