Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence


Letter from the Secretary of State for Defence (4 April 2000)

  Following the evidence session held last week, it might be helpful to clarify a couple of issues that were raised, specifically, progress on the Defence Capabilities Initiative (DCI) in NATO and the role of DSACEUR with regard to European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).

  Firstly DCI. The DCI has been in existence for two years now and in that time the Alliance and the UK have made substantial progress in implementing the 58 DCI Decisions.

  Progress on individual DCI Decisions is measured with a traffic light system: green indicates that a Decision has been fully implemented or that clear guidelines and procedures have been established; amber shows that a Decision has some resource or procedural input still outstanding, but there has been progress and a way forward is being mapped out; red implies major resource allocation or technical difficulties. These traffic lights are allocated by NATO's International Staff. At the most recent meeting of the High Level Steering Group (the body overseeing the implementation of DCI), seven of the Decisions were classified as red, 30 were amber and 21 green. Two of the amber Decisions are due to be re-classified as green very shortly.

  These traffic light indicators are for implementation of Decisions across the Alliance as a whole. Progress at national level is measured through reference to NATO's force planning system, in which the Alliance sets a range of "Force Goals" which nations are expected to implement. Many of these Force Goals have a DCI dimension. As I mentioned at the recent Committee hearing, 44 per cent of these DCI-related Force Goals are being fully implemented across the Alliance; the UK, in contrast, is fully implementing some 60 per cent of DCI-related Force Goals, with partial implementation of a further 30 per cent.

  One reason why we are doing comparatively well on DCI implementation is that much of the DCI mirrors the outcome of the Strategic Defence Review. Hence we are making good progress on strategic lift, with the acquisition of C-17 large aircraft (and A400M in the longer term) and new roll-on, roll-off ferries, as well as the introduction of C130J transport aircraft. We have also made good progress in DCI's Effective Engagement category, with the introduction of Storm Shadow, Brimstone and Maverick missiles, submarine-launched Tomahawk and the ASTOR aerial ground surveillance system. In the category of Survivability of Forces and Infrastructure the UK is well-placed, with excellent personal Nuclear, Biological and Chemcial protection, especially after the establishment of the Joint NBC Regiment. The UK has been at the forefront of implementing Sustainability and Logisitics Decisions, pressing Allies to allocate sufficient resources and chairing meetings (including on co-operative procurement of logistics) to develop the best ways forward. Finally, the UK is heavily involved in the area of Command, Control and Information Systems, helping in particular to advance the various working groups on interoperability.

  On the other hand, we are not complacent. NATO is keen that the UK makes particular progress in the areas of: Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (where we are currently developing "twinning" arrangements with Italian and German squadrons); combat search and rescue (again we are exploring co-operation with other nations) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (where we are currently looking at next generation systems). While not strictly within the definition of DCI, but essential for the provision of effective capability, NATO has also cast the net wider and called attention to recruitment and retention where, as you know, we are on the case. In a similar vein, NATO is also keen that we continue the conversion of TA units to the support role, as we are doing. More generally, we are working hard to ensure that DCI and the European Headline Goal dovetail, as both initiatives are about enhancing capability to the benefit of the Alliance.

  All in all, we are pleased with the progress the UK has made within the DCI framework and, while recognise that we still have work to do, are concentrating our efforts on ensuring that there is a similar level of achievement Alliance-wide.

  Jimmy Hood asked about the role of DSACEUR and ESDP and in particular his attendance at meetings of the EU Military Committee. The NICE Presidency conclusions indicate that dialogue between EU and NATO staffs will be supplemented when necessary, and in particular where the capabilities and expertise of the Alliance are concerned, by inviting NATO representatives to meetings on a basis of reciprocity. This will apply to the Secretary-General of NATO for ministerial meetings and the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee for meetings of the EU Military Committee (EUMC). In view of his responsibilities for the European pillar of NATO and his potential role in EU-led operations, Nice also states that DSACEUR will be invited to attend meetings of the EUMC. But we expect that DSACEUR's role in ESDP will go well beyond attendance at the EUMC.

  Prior to any decision to launch an EU-led operation, DSACEUR will lead and co-ordinate any NATO planning that might be requested by the EU in support of its elaboration of military strategic options.

  DSACEUR is the primary choice of Operation Commander for EU operations with recourse to NATO assets and capabilities. In this capacity he will prepare, for approval by the EU, and keeping the NAC informed, a Concept of Operations and Operation Plan, which he will subsequently execute under the political control and strategic direction of the EU. He will also undertake force generation for the operation. Should another European NATO commander be selected as Operation Commander, DSACEUR will co-ordinate any NATO support that he may require in the preparation of planning documents, in force generation and the subsequent execution of the operation.

  Where an EU operation without recourse to NATO assets and capabilities is concerned, the designated Operation Commander will prepare the Concept of Operations and Operation Plan, and undertake force generation. DSACEUR will stand ready to co-ordinate NATO support and advice on request.

  Where force planning is concerned, DSACEUR will, in addition to his responsibilities for the NATO defence planning process, and in co-operation with the NATO International Staff and International Military Staff, oversee and co-ordinate any NATO military technical support and input to the EU capability development and review process, and to any capability development and review activities conducted jointly by the EU and NATO.

  DSACEUR will therefore have a crucial working relationship with the EU Military Committee and will attend their meetings on many occasions. There will be other occasions however, when the EUMC will meet to discuss purely EU matters and where DSACEUR will not need or want to attend.

Rt hon Geoffrey Hoon MP

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