NATO Defence Ministers took stock of progress in improving Allied defence capabilities and endorsed the first stage of planning for the post-2014 training and assistance mission in Afghanistan, in a two-day meeting in Brussels.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who chaired the talks at Alliance headquarters on Tuesday and Wednesday (9-10 October 2012), stressed the importance of closer cooperation in defence during the first day of talks. The Secretary General said that more sharing of resources and coordination on multinational projects was the best way to tackle reduced defence budgets.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said that the ministers made progress on the need for more cooperation between their nations and on the better use of NATO’s common funds to improve capabilities. The Secretary General said that the ministers had “kept up the momentum” on increased cooperation, notably on the implementation of some 20 Smart Defence projects which aim to improve capabilities covering areas such as clearing roadside bombs, sharing smart munitions and pooling maritime patrol aircraft.
The Ministers agreed on a broad framework which will now be forwarded to military planners who are to work on the details of the mission in the coming months.
The Secretary General said that he expected Allies and potential partners for the mission to complete the planning for the operation “well before the end of 2013.”
The Secretary General reiterated that insider attacks “will not change our strategy,” adding that Allies and their ISAF partners would “continue to hand over security responsibility to the Afghan security forces.”
The Defence Ministers also discussed the Alliance’s KFOR mission.
They agreed that the mission continues to play an “indispensable role in Kosovo,” Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said, adding that the ministers made clear that they remain committed to sustaining that role. He stressed that the Alliance would “remain vigilant and strong” to improve the security situation. He said that troops could be moved around with a stronger focus on northern Kosovo to take account of the volatile situation seen there recently.
The ministerial was also used to announce the approval of U.S. General John Allen, currently the Commander of the ISAF mission, as the new Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Allen’s final appointment still needs the confirmation of the United States Senate. If approved he will replace U.S. Admiral Jim Stavridis in the Spring of 2013.