The Role of the Military in Combating Terrorism
The Role of
the Military in Combating Terrorism
against terrorism is one of the priority areas for cooperation in the
NATO-Russia Council, which brings together the now 26 NATO member countries and
Russia as equal partners. Keynote Address by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de
Hoop Scheffer, at the NATO Russia Council (NRC) conference on the role of
the military in combating terrorism, Norfolk, Virginia, USA, Monday, 5 April
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is the
third NATO-Russia conference on the role of the military in combating terrorism
– and yet again it takes place in the shadow of a great tragedy. The
first meeting took place just a few months after terrorists attacked New York
and Washington. The second not long after the hostage taking in Moscow’s
Dubrovka Street. And we are meeting today just weeks after the devastating bomb
attacks in the centre of Madrid.
In New York,
Washington, Moscow, Istanbul and Madrid – but also in Bali, Casablanca, Riyadh
or lately in Tashkent – a new breed of terrorism has shown its true face.
A breed of terrorism which harbours no clearly identifiable political grievance;
which tolerates no argument; which respects no national boundaries, political
systems, ideologies or religions; and which threatens all of us -- everywhere,
and every day.
Because this new breed of
terrorism sets itself no limitations, our response to it must be equally
determined and comprehensive -- or we are sure to fail. Fighting this menace
effectively requires the fullest possible international cooperation, especially
in sharing intelligence, law enforcement, border security and the tracking of
terrorist finances. But the military, too, has a role to play, for a variety of
First, because terrorist groups
like Al-Qaida operate at an ever-higher level in the spectrum of violence,
blurring the distinction between terrorism and warfare. Second, because the
difference between internal and external security is also fading, and the
military may have to deal with challenges that police forces are simply unable
to handle. And third, because it will sometimes be impossible to deal with
terrorist threats using defensive measures only.
If the military has a role to
play in fighting this new kind of terrorism, so must NATO as the world’s most
effective military alliance. And we have started to rise to this challenge.
At our Prague
Summit, in November 2002, NATO recognised terrorism, weapons of mass
destruction, and “failed states” as the defining security challenges of this new
century. And we decided to send our forces to wherever they are needed
to meet these challenges.
Last year, the Alliance acted
upon that decision by taking charge of the UN-mandated International Security
Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Today, we are fully engaged in spreading
security and stability in that war-torn country, helping the Government to
extend its authority, and assisting other international actors to contribute in
their own way.
Last month, in the Mediterranean,
NATO's successful maritime operation, Operation Active Endeavour, has been
expended to cover the entire Mediterranean sea.
But, in Prague, we also embarked
upon a comprehensive programme of military transformation to meet the new
threats, and to defeat them. Today, that transformation is well underway.
We are implementing a leaner
command structure, in which Alliance Command Transformation here in Norfolk
occupies a central role. Our NATO Response Force has been
stood up, and it is on course to achieve full operational capability by October
We have also
made major advances in protecting ourselves against Weapons of Mass Destruction,
including through the launch of a special CBRN defence battalion last year.
And both individual Alliance members and several groups of Allies are
developing the kind of modern capabilities we need to face the new threats
together. And as recently, as last Friday, Ministers of Foreign Affairs agreed
on the need to go even further and to develop an enhanced package of measures on
the fight against terrorism by Istanbul.
The new NATO is tackling today’s
threats head-on, well away from its traditional area of operations. It is an
Alliance determined to modernise its structures and capabilities – in order to
be able to make a meaningful and sustained contribution to what is bound to be a
long and difficult struggle.
Alliance also recognises that any effective response to the terrorist threat
needs to be broad-based and inclusive. As our geographic horizons have
broadened, we have deepened our relations with other major organisations like
the UN, the EU and the OSCE. We have reached out to our Partners in the Balkans,
the Caucasus and Central Asia; and intensified our dialogue with countries in
the Mediterranean region.
But none of
our partnerships is more vital than our “new quality” relationship with Russia.
We have developed a real spirit of trust and cooperation, which is
reflected in regular and frank political dialogue. We have also developed a
broad programme of practical cooperation in areas as diverse as theatre missile
defence, peacekeeping, and search and rescue at sea. And the expansion of our
military-to-military cooperation has been truly spectacular -- from 7 joint
exercises and events in 2002, to a planned 57 this year.
At the same
time, common cause in the fight against terrorism remains at the core of our new
relationship. The NATO-Russia Council has agreed on intelligence
assessments of various aspects of the problem. And we are examining closer
cooperation in airspace management to prevent terrorist threats to civil
scientists have pooled their efforts in areas such as explosives detection, the
secure decommissioning of nuclear submarines, cyber-security, and the
psychological and social causes, effects and responses to terrorism. We
have tested and enhanced our capabilities to manage the consequences of
terrorist attacks, with the large scale exercise that Russia hosted in Noginsk
in 2002, and another planned in Kaliningrad this coming June.
All this is
good progress -- and it is welcome progress. But I believe it is not
nearly enough -- given the seriousness of the challenge before us, and the
resources, skills and experience that we possess.
new breed of terrorism we face today calls for realism, and for concrete
action. At the moment, national sovereignty and security requirements
often complicate multinational responses to acute crisis situations, and that is
not going to change overnight. But surely there is scope for more effective
cooperation to prepare for and deal with problems that are longer-term and
larger-scale. We should explore that scope more urgently, including here today.
believe that we should be much more practical about cooperation in the fight
against terrorism. I used to be diplomat and then a politician – so you
would expect me to defend the merits of dialogue, and I will. But I also know
that, at the end of the day, what really matters are deeds, not words. And so
the focus of today’s meeting should be on enhancing cooperation where it really
matters – which is in the field.
about cooperation where it matters, Afghanistan and the wider region around it
must be a key concern to Russia as well as to NATO. In the NRC we have
conducted regular and detailed consultations on the situation in Afghanistan. I
hope that we can make progress soon on Russia’s offers of assistance to ISAF.
And I am heartened by Russia’s interest in engaging with the Alliance on the
challenges and opportunities in this broader geographic region, and what we in
the NATO-Russia Council can contribute to meet them.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
week, NATO – and the NATO-Russia Council – have seven new members. The
security coalition between NATO and Russia has been strengthened -- and so has
our ability to address common challenges, and to promote positive change. One
critical priority before us is to make our joint efforts in the fight against
terrorism as coherent and effective as they can be. We look to you to provide
fresh ideas and initiative in carrying this work forward.