Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers
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Speech

by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to the Inter-allied Confederation of Reserve Officers at NATO HQ
Colonel Verheyen, mesdames et messieurs les officiers de la CIOR,

Merci de vos aimables paroles. C’est pour moi un honneur d’avoir été invité à prendre la parole devant vous cet après‑midi, et je suis ravi d’avoir pu accepter cette invitation. La fin de mon mandat de Secrétaire général de l’OTAN étant proche, il s’agissait de la dernière possibilité qui s’offrait à moi de faire quelque chose que je considère comme extrêmement important : vous remercier toutes et tous de la contribution vitale que vous, les officiers de réserve, apportez à l’OTAN.

Tout au long de mon mandat, j’ai mis un point d’honneur à me rendre régulièrement sur les nombreux théâtres d'opérations de l’OTAN. Je parle aux soldats, aux marins et aux aviateurs, ainsi qu’aux nombreux civils, qui sont ainsi déployés au péril de leur vie. Et, de plus en plus souvent, parmi les militaires que j’ai en face de moi, il y a des réservistes. Je suis d’ailleurs certain que bon nombre des membres de cette assistance ont une expérience opérationnelle récente en tant que réservistes sous commandement de l'OTAN. J’ai également été surpris de constater que de nombreux agents du Secrétariat international ont un statut de réserviste, et qu’un certain nombre d’entre eux ont été déployés à vos côtés dans le cadre d’exercices et d’opérations de l’OTAN.

Votre Confédération représente plus d’un million de réservistes, issus non seulement des 28 pays alliés, mais aussi de cinq de nos pays partenaires et d’un pays invité. Et je crois savoir que ces 34 pays sont représentés ici aujourd’hui. Votre Confédération joue un rôle essentiel pour faire en sorte que tous les réservistes reçoivent le meilleur soutien possible et qu’ils puissent ainsi apporter la contribution la plus efficace à tous les aspects de la mission. Mais votre Confédération a aussi un autre rôle fondamental à jouer : tenir le grand public informé du rôle des forces de réserve et mettre en lumière la contribution significative que les réservistes apportent aux forces armées des pays.

Je crois même qu’aujourd’hui cet aspect de votre travail est encore plus important. Nous traversons une des pires crises financières que le monde ait connues. Et cette crise ne manquera pas d’avoir un effet sur les forces armées dans tous nos pays. À l’heure où les gouvernements cherchent à faire des économies, certains pourraient voir dans les forces de réserve une solution facile de réduction des coûts. D’autres, au contraire, pourraient choisir de réduire la taille des forces armées régulières et d’accorder une priorité plus grande à l’utilisation de réservistes. Dans les deux cas de figures, vous serez touchés par ces mesures.

Dans le même ordre d’idée, les entreprises qui emploient des réservistes et qui risquent dès lors de voir ce personnel mobilisé et déployé pour des opérations sur court préavis, pourraient bien être tentées de se servir des difficultés économiques comme prétexte pour mettre fin à leurs contrats de travail. Compte tenu de ces éventualités, j’estime que votre Confédération devrait en priorité monter au créneau pour défendre les réservistes et pour faire valoir leurs besoins et leurs compétence uniques. Une autre priorité doit consister à aller de l’avant en essayant de définir l’environnement dans lequel les réservistes seront susceptibles d’évoluer à l’avenir ainsi que les rôles qui pourraient être les leurs. Pour y parvenir, je crois qu’il serait bon de nous pencher quelques instants sur les dernières années, nous y trouverons des enseignements utiles pour l’avenir.

Let me give you some examples. NATO-led forces are now operating throughout Afghanistan; we have a Training Mission in Iraq; Partner nations have deployed alongside Allies on Operation Active Endeavour; air policing is being successfully conducted on behalf of several Allied nations; a massive humanitarian operation was conducted in support of Pakistan following the earthquake in 2005; our forces in Kosovo have continued to keep the peace through some very challenging times, including through the period of self-declared independence last year; we have trained and provided logistic and airlift support to the African Union; and we are now conducting counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa.

All of these are “firsts” for the Alliance and demonstrate NATO’s amazing flexibility and ability to adapt to the prevailing circumstances. But as I mentioned, they can also give us some important indicators for the future. And I should like to highlight four key areas.

First, our operations will continue to be not just increasingly varied, but also increasingly expeditionary in nature. Yet at the same time we shall need to retain the ability to conduct Article 5 collective territorial defence operations – both on our own territory, and on the territory of fellow Allies. Today, I don’t believe it is in any Ally’s interest, neither militarily nor economically, to keep armed forces solely for the territorial defence role. So it will be necessary to get the right balance between the two requirements and develop the forces and capabilities that have the flexibility and adaptability to operate across the full spectrum of military operations, from crisis management and peacekeeping through to war fighting. This will require forces, and capabilities, that are more useable, more deployable, and more sustainable – and reserve forces, both individuals and units, will also need to be more expeditionary in nature. I also believe we will need certain forces on a far higher state of readiness so they can deploy at the very first hint of a crisis. Again, for you as reservists, this is likely to have an impact on the amount of warning time you may receive before you are called up and expected to deploy.

Second, I believe we shall see an increased requirement for maritime operations. Operation Active Endeavour has been running for almost eight years now and it is most successful demonstration of the Alliance’s ability to conduct maritime monitoring and surveillance operations. For a short period, the operation also included providing protection to high value commercial shipping passing through the Straits of Gibraltar. This was to protect shipping from a potential sea-borne terrorist threat. Within the past six months, we have seen two major Allied maritime deployments to the Horn of Africa to protect commercial and humanitarian shipping from piracy. And as the Arctic ice cap melts, we see northern sea lanes becoming economically viable, and we need to consider the implications for search and rescue at sea in these remote and inhospitable artic waters. All these factors convince me of the need to focus more of our attention on the maritime security dimension, and this could well have implications for the relative balance of reserves across the three armed services.

Third, we have clearly seen that successfully dealing with today’s security challenges requires not just military force – we need to apply a coherent mix of political, diplomatic, economic measures alongside the military ones. NATO has some of these tools available, but not all. This means that NATO increasingly needs to act in concert with those organisations and institutions that can provide the missing elements – and this has led to what we call the “Comprehensive Approach”, where NATO prepares, plans and operates in a coordinated manner with other international actors. Although the primary organisations NATO works alongside on operations are the United Nations and the European Union, we also have increasing contacts with a broad variety of Non Government Organisations - the International Commission of the Red Cross is a good example, but there are many others. For NATO, this heralds a sea change in the way we think and organise ourselves. We have to get used to the fact that we are just one piece of a much broader puzzle. And we also have to get used to working with organisations that follow their own philosophy and abide by their own rules. All this makes a “Comprehensive Approach” much more difficult in practice than it may appear in theory. But here, I hope some of you might have a major role to play. I imagine that a number of you might well work for these other organisations and institutions on a day-to-day basis. In which case, I would encourage you to use every opportunity in your place of work to build the mutual understanding that will underpin the successful implementation of a true Comprehensive Approach. And this type of broader knowledge and understanding acquired during your “day job” – if I may use that term - is one of the many attributes that reservists offer. But for those of you who don’t work on a daily basis in such organisations and institutions, then you will need to be prepared to be working more and more closely with them on operations, and you need to know how they function, and how you can get the best out of them to complement the NATO contribution.

Finally, training and capacity building are two fields where NATO expertise is actively, and increasingly, being requested. We have been supporting the African Union for several years by providing specific training for their staff officers, and we have gained considerable experience in Iraq, where we have been training and educating their national security forces. In light of these successes, and looking to the current needs in Afghanistan, NATO Heads of State and Government agreed last month to establish a NATO Training Mission in that country. We are now busy here implementing that Summit decision. So whether it be in Afghanistan, or elsewhere, I predict that training and education will become an ever more important field of activity for NATO armed forces, including for you, the reservists.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have highlighted four examples for you where I believe the trends from the recent past can offer valuable pointers for the immediate future. There are many others I could have mentioned – but I do not wish to monopolise the talking this afternoon. Instead, I feel it would be far more valuable to give you the opportunity to ask me questions. So before I open up the floor to you, let me conclude by repeating what I said earlier. Quite simply, your dedication and commitment as reservists, make your countries’ armed forces more effective. And this in turn, makes NATO more successful.

Thank you very much for all that you do on behalf of the Alliance.


© 2012 Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers