12 October 2003
Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe Discusses NATO
General James L. Jones October 10 press conference
As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) prepares to expand
to 26 nations in 2004, the U.S. European Command is also looking
at "ways in which we can posture ourselves so as to be more strategically
effective and to better support our bilateral roles in the European
Command and ... the fundamental support that we bring to this very
important alliance," according to James L. Jones, the commander
of the United States European Command.
In a press briefing October 10, Jones noted that NATO is simultaneously
running three major operations -- one, a standing naval force exercise
in the Mediterranean known as Operation Active Endeavor that has
reduced illegal migration and increased security in the area; two,
the missions in the Balkans including Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kosovo,
and the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia; and three, the
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan.
NATO's ability to manage three ongoing major operations "speaks
well ... of NATO's future and NATO's capability," Jones said.
"Not only is NATO embracing these types of missions, but at the
same time, NATO has fully recognized the need to transform and
to lighten its footprint in terms of the number of people it has
in uniform; to change from being a 20th century linear bipolar
force still aimed too much at territorial defense."
"You can't turn it around in a day, it's going to take years," he
stressed. "But the ministerial [in Colorado Springs] that we just
came from clearly showed that there is a great appetite in both
the civilian leadership of the alliance and in the military leadership
to join this battle and do what must be done to make NATO even
more relevant in the 21st century."
Following is a transcript of the press briefing, as released by
the Department of Defense:
Department of Defense
DoD News Transcript
General James L. Jones
Commander, United States European Command
October 10, 2003
General Jones Briefs on European Command and NATO
STAFF: Good afternoon. As you know, when our senior commanders
from the field come to town, we like to bring them here and give
them a chance to talk to you and provide their perspective on their
areas of command. So today, we welcome the commander of the United
States European Command, General James L. Jones, who's agreed to
talk to you about EUCOM, NATO and other subjects of interest in
his purview. Today's briefing is on the record.
And with that, General Jones, I turn it over to you.
GEN. JONES: Thank you. Good afternoon. Nice to see some familiar
faces. Barbara, how are you? Good to see you.
QUESTION: You look much younger since you left the Pentagon. (Laughter.)
GEN. JONES: Yeah, you know, vacations do that for you. (Laughs;
laughter.) It's -- I guess I should say it's great to be back,
but then I'd be stretching the truth at the outset of the briefing.
(Laughter.) But it is great to see some old friends and to be here
and to talk a little bit, before we take your questions, on NATO
and the United States European Command.
As you know, an informal ministerial was just held in Colorado
Springs, and I would characterize that as being extremely successful.
Certainly, it was a very, very useful couple of days in which ministers
and chiefs of defense and members of NATO were focused on the subject
of transformation of NATO. Not only the military transformation,
but the processes themselves in NATO that might have to be required
-- that might require some reexamination in light of the very far-reaching
guidance that was given at the Prague summit, which essentially
directed a fundamental transformation of the NATO military capability
and the alliance for the -- to meet the threats of the 21st century.
I would say that in the first eight to nine months that I've been
in my assignment, I've been very, very pleasantly surprised at
the pace with which the alliance is moving. In the first six months,
we've literally transformed the NATO command structure, made it
much more leaner, much more effective and much more ready to face
the challenges that are very topical and current today.
We are embarked and fully intend to stand up on the 15th of this
month -- in other words, next week -- at the Allied Forces North
headquarters the first iteration of the NATO Response Force, which
will signal for the first time NATO's very, very impressive and
rapid move into the world of combined arms, in that the NATO Response
Force will be an integrated air, land and sea capability, composed
of very high-readiness forces and high-readiness forces able to
execute military missions on a global scale.
The first two rotations -- each rotation would be about six months,
and the first two rotations will be largely experimental, which
means that the NATO Response Force -- this version of it for the
first year will be a little bit smaller than the first permanent
iteration, which will come into effect in July of '04.
But it will nonetheless be a capability. It will be integrated.
It will have standards of measure that are clearly understood.
It will be certified. In other words, it's not an automatic process
by which nations offer forces and we say, "Thank you very much," and
slide them into the force structure. They will be trained and they
will be certified. And there will be new and more modern instruments
by which we measure the readiness of those forces and the readiness
reporting, which is currently absent in the NATO structure.
The Prague summit gave us those very clear military guidance as
a way in which to proceed. And from a commander's standpoint, that
was extremely good military guidance.
Side by side with -- along with NATO transformation, of course,
you're all aware that the United States European Command and other
combatant commanders have been looking at different ways in which
the forces that we have and the organizations that we have in our
U.S. role are also, in fact, proceeding apace with regard to transformation.
And as NATO itself expands to 26 nations in '04, the European Command
-- the U.S. European Command is also looking at ways in which we
can posture ourselves so as to be more strategically effective
and to better support our bilateral roles in the European Command
and also the fundamental support that we bring to this very important
Within the new structure of NATO, of course, you're all aware
that just recently we established the Allied Command for Transformation,
which replaced the SACLANT, and so all of the operations in NATO
are now within the Allied Command of Operations, which I'm privileged
to lead. And Admiral Edmund Giambastiani is the new Supreme Allied
Commander for Transformation.
I'd like to underscore that the relationships between Allied Command
for Operations and Transformation will be an extremely close one.
It must be. There should be no time in which we talk about operations
without talking about transformation. Fundamentally, the relationship
will essentially be that the Allied Command for Operations will
establish the military requirements, and Allied Command of Transformation
will provide the instruction and the training and the wherewithal
to get to where those forces can be certified. And so obviously,
it has to be a very close relationship.
Having said that, the forward headquarters of Allied Command Transformation
is intended to be embedded within the Supreme Allied Headquarters
in Europe in Mons, where my headquarters is, and Admiral Giambastiani
and I have talked on a very, very frequent basis about how to facilitate
this new and exciting relationship, because it's fundamentally
the engine that will drive the transformation throughout the alliance.
And so we're very excited about that new relationship as well.
I'll close my opening remarks by telling you that NATO, in addition
to undergoing a very fundamental transformation and establishing
its character for the 21st century and the very, very important
roles and missions that are coming our way, is also running simultaneously
three major operations. Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean,
which is a standing naval force exercise. As you know, the standing
naval forces in NATO have been training together now for over a
decade, and it is -- they're probably the most integrated forces
that we have in the alliance, certainly the most responsive. And
they have had, for the past six or seven months, the assignment
of making sure that transit through the Straits of Gibraltar, and
actually, through the Mediterranean itself, are done in accordance
with the wishes of the international community.
And having said that, we've seen about a 50 percent decrease in
illegal immigration in the Western Mediterranean. And because of
the security that is afforded by this wonderfully capable maritime
force, it's been reflected in about a 20 percent decrease in the
rates for commercial insurance for maritime shipping. I think that
the Mediterranean is probably as safe as its ever been from the
standpoint of shipping that can embark illegal immigration, weapons
of mass destruction, terrorists and the like, and I think that
it's well- recognized among the community that practices of those
kinds of art forms, so to speak -- that they're running a significant
risk if they're trying to transit the Mediterranean doing illegal
activities. And I think that's a very, very successful mission
and one that we're extremely proud of.
The second mission that's running concurrently, obviously, is
in the Balkans. We have seen some extraordinary shifts in the situation
in the Balkans in this year. In Bosnia, we've seen fundamental
changes towards rule of law and a transition to a common defense
position among the former belligerents, a belief that if they wish
to integrate into some of the structures in Europe like the European
Union or the Partnership for Peace Program or any of the NATO programs,
that they have to conform to the basic standards of acceptance
for admission under those rules. And we're seeing in Bosnia a real
potential for ending the military mission there and transitioning
to a more -- a presence that will be more based on establishing
police forces as a fundamental enforcer of the rule of law for
an emerging nation. And that is very, very exciting.
In Kosovo, we have just had a change of command, as we had in
SFOR in Bosnia, by the way. Major General Packett, the United States
Army, just took command a week ago in the SFOR. And Lieutenant
General Kammerhoff of the German Army took command of KFOR in Kosovo,
and he -- his job is still a little bit more challenging militarily.
We are seeing what I would call a spike of more violent activity.
But I'd characterize that as a spike, not as a new threshold. And
we believe that, militarily, we have the tools in which to execute
the NATO mission.
And lastly, in the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, at
the conclusion of the EU's mission, we fully intend by the end
of the year to see a withdrawal of all but a small token NATO presence
serving as an advisory role to the development of the Macedonian
armed forces, but essentially an end to that mission from the traditional
involvement that we've had in the Balkans.
The third operation, of course, as you know, that's ongoing is
ISAF in Kabul, the real -- the first ground operation outside of
the regional context of the 21st century's definition of what NATO
is involved in. The first out-of-area mission, as you know, was
in support of -- in response to the invocation of Article 5 on
September 12, 2001, when NATO AWACS was deployed to help guard
the skies over the continental United States. This represents the
first ground deployment in Afghanistan, again, under German command,
General Gliemeroth, who is doing a terrific job, and under the
overall operational command of Allied Forces North, which is also
responsible for the training and the development of the NRF concept.
So, three ongoing major operations, each at their own speed and
their own pace in terms of moving towards its -- the ultimate destination.
But it speaks well, I think, of NATO's future and NATO's capability,
which is not only -- not only is NATO embracing these types of
missions, but at the same time, NATO has fully recognized the need
to transform and to lighten its footprint in terms of the number
of people it has in uniform; to change from being a 20th century
linear bipolar force still aimed too much at territorial defense.
But you can't turn it around in a day, it's going to take years.
But the ministerial that we just came from clearly showed that
there is a great appetite in both the civilian leadership of the
alliance and in the military leadership to join this battle and
do what must be done to make NATO even more relevant in the 21st
So this is exciting work, and I'm privileged to be here. And I'm
happy to respond to any of your questions. Thank you. Sir?
Q: General, you mentioned the potential for wrapping up the military
mission in Bosnia. Can you amplify a little bit on that one, what
kind of timetable we'll be looking at? Under what circumstances
would that take place?
And also, there's been some talk of the possibility of all the
4,000 or so U.S. troops in the Balkans coming home and perhaps
a European force of some kind replacing them there. Could you talk
GEN. JONES: I think that I wouldn't want to be held to a particular
date. But I think the time is right to have those discussions,
both in a domestic sense and in an international sense. And that
discussion in the international sense is ongoing. But it is not
unreasonable to think that absent any sudden change to the contrary,
if the situation currently continues and we see the evolution of
the institutions of governance that are taking root and the positive
steps that are being demonstrated in Bosnia, that certainly during
'04 we could have a different footprint there than we currently
I would characterize Kosovo as somewhat different, because it's
at a different stage in terms of its maturity. The final status
of Kosovo is obviously the key issue.
But I think it's significant to note that in '04 that two out
of the three areas of our concentration over the last 10 years
-- former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia-Hercegovina
-- could undergo a major change in terms of the amount of forces
that are deployed there in the -- and in domestic terms, the amount
of U.S. forces that would have to be deployed to the region.
Q: General --
GEN. JONES: I'm sorry. You had a second -- the second part of
Q: Bringing home all 4,000 of the U.S. troops.
GEN. JONES: Of course, that would be a function of international
policy-making and decision-making. But I think -- in the context
of my answer, I think I provided the -- a sense that Kosovo still
requires a military presence, at least in '04, at least from what
I currently see. We've had not only a change of command, but we
have a new senior official who is getting his feet on the ground,
and it'll be interesting to work with him and get his sense of
where he thinks Kosovo is and how far we can go towards doing that.
GEN. JONES: George?
Q: I'd like to ask you a question about preemptive warfare from
two standpoints. One, what are you hearing from your European counterparts
about their qualms about the preemptive warfare doctrine as exhibited
in Iraq? Some of it came up during the United Nations debate.
And secondly, what is your personal view on preemptive warfare
driving the have-nots in the nuclear world to getting a nuclear
weapon so they can say, "Well, look, we can't match the United
States tank for tank or troop for troop, but if we get a nuke,
they won't dare invade us under preemptive doctrine, just as they're
not invading North Korea"?
So isn't preemptive doctrine a spur to proliferation of nuclear
weapons? What's your view on that?
GEN. JONES: Well, to answer the first part of your question is,
among my colleagues in the international community, that has not
been one of the top subjects that we've discussed, to be perfectly
What we have been focused on is what I -- what I discussed within
the alliance, and that's transforming the alliance. The military-to-military
relationships throughout the alliance are extremely strong and
very healthy within all 19 nations in the alliance, without exception.
We are working on building the bridges to expand to 26. And we
are really consumed with trying to define once and for all, in
a way that makes understandable sense, NATO's true military requirement
for the 21st century. And we believe that if we can define that,
then we can help nations in the alliance decide what, in addition
to that, they might wish to have in their own capabilities, quite
above what is dedicated to NATO.
So the specific question that you ask about to what extent have
we discussed those issues, frankly, we're not together enough for
long enough to have these esoteric conversations, so ours are pretty
sharply defined on military readiness and military missions. Building
the force, for example, force generation is a huge endeavor in
NATO if you try to generate a force to go to Kabul, to go to --
to keep the Balkans going in Active Endeavor takes an awful lot
And with regard to my own personal views with regard to other
nations, I can't -- I wouldn't want to speculate on what they might
be thinking, except to say that those merchants of terror and marketeers
of weapons of mass destruction will clearly not be encumbered by
those kinds of discussions. I honestly believe that if they get
those kinds of weapons, they will use them. And whether an individual
nation-state cause us to behave one way or the other is a matter
for political -- the political discourse. But --
Q: I'm thinking of like driving Syria or Iran into accelerating
their nuclear pursuit as a response to preemptive warfare. Does
that compute for you?
GEN. JONES: I think nothing should be ruled in or ruled out on
that score. I think nations will calculate what their actions are,
based on what they perceive their own self-interest to be in the
future. And -- but I think it is very important work for forces
of the United States and our allies to make sure that we get control
over the exportation of those technologies sand those
-- and that knowledge base. And we need to do -- we need to continue
to spend a lot of time thinking about that.
And that's one of the reasons that an operation like Active Endeavor
is extremely successful, because we do -- we have in fact created
a deterrent, at least in terms of the Mediterranean, towards the
marketing of those kinds of capabilities. Yes, ma'am?
Q: Sir, NATO's outlined its new requirements for MILSATCOM. Was
there any discussion at this ministerial, formally or informally,
about that? And also, could you just give us your thoughts on,
you know, what will happen if there is a European products supply
for EHF, SHF and UHF?
GEN. JONES: I don't think there was any grand discussion on that
at the broad level, but I'm sure there were probably some focused
side bars on that subject that I was not involved in.
NATO's transformation is not going to be achieved overnight, just
as our own transformation domestically here was not achieved overnight
as well. It took us over 10 years to get to where we are today,
and we're still not finished. And so I think that, on the one hand,
while the Prague summit delineated specifics with regard to capabilities
that it wished to have, virtually every one of those capabilities
have a high-end price tag associated with it.
And so if -- there's only a couple of things that can happen.
One is that if nations decide to significantly increase their budgets
for national security, then we will be able to close the gap a
little bit faster. The likelihood that those nations are going
to do that doesn't appear to me to be particularly convincing at
this time, so what we're trying to do is encourage nations to hold
their defense spending at 2 percent and, in the interim, trying
to make economies of scale by internal reform. You've, I'm sure,
no doubt heard the secretary-general say that there are over 2.1
million Europeans in uniform, active and reserve. What is the real
military requirement for NATO in terms of that kind of manpower?
And if you can reduce it -- and I believe you can significantly
-- can you make economies of scale that would then go into transforming
Similarly, we also have an abundance of what I would call legacy
equipment in NATO, equipment that is more for the defense of the
Fulda Gap than it is for projecting power globally. If the NRF
[NATO Reaction Force] is really going to be used as an NRF, how
big will it be, what will be its capability, eventually, in the
'05, '06 time frame, and what will the equipment base be?
You can generate economies of scale by reducing the inventory,
but that's hard work among a family of 26 nations. Some are further
along the trail than others, and some are more willing than others.
But every country is different. Ten countries in NATO spend over
60 percent of their defense budgets on manpower costs right now.
That is, without trying to be dictating to sovereign nations on
how they spend their money, which is not my business, but to suggest
that you might want to think that that's a little bit high and
you might want to reduce that.
If we can get the family of nations and the governments to agree
that if we can make economies of scale within the alliance and
the military -- current military capability and manpower, then
we can get into the business of transformation and looking at these
high-end items that were delineated as combat shortfalls for NATO
that we must correct, like AGS and other higher-end systems. But
you can't get there from here without one of those two things happening.
And so absent a clear indication that budgets are changing, we
are about transforming the alliance in such a way as to make it
more efficient and to make sure that we use our money more carefully
so that we can get to that point.
Q: So with regard to the actual MILSATCOM bids, do you have any
druthers as to whether you prefer seeing an American product or
a European product supplying SATCOM in that region?
GEN. JONES: I wouldn't want to speculate on that right now, to
be honest with you. I think -- I think as a NATO commander, you're
interested in capability, and I'm wearing my NATO badge, so I'm
going to give you a NATO answer. (Chuckles.) Yeah?
Q: Yeah, earlier this year, when you were wearing your American
hat, you were describing a possibility of bringing home a large
number of U.S. troops from Europe. And could you describe where
that stands? As well as there are some concerns among the troops
themselves that that could result in a larger number of deployments,
because they would to then constantly be away from their family
in order to meet their presence commitment in Europe.
GEN. JONES: First of all, I don't believe I ever indicated any
large number per se, and I stand behind the fact that I didn't
do that. What we are about -- what we are attempting to do is to,
first of all, establish the fact that strategic forward presence
is very important and will be important in the 21st century. And
so the cornerstone of anything that we do, any proposal that has
been made, is trying to take the forces that we have and make them
strategically more agile. This involves a -- this has involved
a close partnership with the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps and
the Air Force, and each of the parent services have been very closely
involved with what it is we have proposed to the secretary. This
is still a pre-decisional time that we're in in terms of what the
future European footprint might look like, what the future Pacific
footprint might look like. So it would -- I don't want to speculate
about numbers beyond that point, except to say just a couple of
One is, the center of gravity in Europe is still in Western Europe
-- that's where the structures are, that's where the majority of
our own U.S. bases are -- but the center of activity is clearly
shifting. The alliance is expanding. We're moving east. The geostrategic
center of interest for the alliance for the foreseeable future
is in the greater Middle East area writ large. And as I've said
publicly, we also see a family of threats emerging from the southern
region of the U.S. European Command, which is the southern rim
of the Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa, large, ungoverned
areas which are potential havens for the terrorists of the world
and the future merchants of all kinds of things that we're trying
to do battle with. It is a huge continent and there are many
places for this type of activity to go on. And so we are calling
-- we 're examining it, we're calling more attention to it, and
we think it's a source of future difficulty.
But the point of any type of readjustment of our forces is to
create more strategic effect. And we will maintain the nucleus
of our irreplaceable installations in Europe. I think that I've
used Ramstein Air Force Base as an example because it is inconceivable
to me, and anyone else, that you would close Ramstein and move
it 500 kilometers to the east and rebuild it. That's simply not
going to happen. So there will be strategically enduring installations,
and we need access to other types of lighter-access regions and
installations where we can go for our own national interest, for
our interest in support of the alliance, and to continue to make
sure that the requirements for interoperability within the alliance
are enhanced. Greater training -- greater access to training areas.
In Western Europe we have the same phenomenon we have right here
in the United States; urbanization has come to the gates of most
military installations, and with that are the predictable amount
of problems with regard to noise, training, pollution, environment,
and all of those concerns that face us right here at home.
So there is a combination of things that draw us to look elsewhere,
but how we get there is really the art form. The world is smaller.
It's easier to get around. All of the soldiers in the Balkans right
now are U.S. National Guard soldiers. Nobody particularly cares
that they're not based in Germany. What they care about is they're
doing a great job in Bosnia and Kosovo. And I can assure you that
they're doing a great job.
So we have a smaller world, and we have an opportunity to establish
a strategic presence, operational presence if required, much quicker
than ever before, and therefore, the basing modalities can reasonably
be expected to be examined to make sure that we're doing it right
in the future. And that's what
-- that's really what it's all about. Yes, ma'am?
Q: A follow-up on that, please. Can you then, saying that we're
in a pre-decisional stage in terms of EUCOM's next footprint, can
you stamp out the rumor once and for all that when the 1st Armored
Division comes home from Iraq next spring or summer, that they
will be returning to Germany rather than going straight to the
GEN. JONES: The clear military recommendation is that, in fact,
happen just that way. It is important that troops who are deployed,
particularly to Iraq, be reunited with their families, and that
we understand that that's the -- that quality of life and that
very important human dynamic is important. I believe that as we
proceed down the trail towards whatever the footprint looks like,
not only in Europe but anywhere else in the world, it will be artfully
and articulately drawn out and thought through. And it's certainly
not going to be a unilateral decision that is made without any
regard to the sensitivities of our families and the commitments
we've made to the force and also to our allies, because it must
be explained and characterized in a way that says we're trying
to become better -- we're trying to be better allies as a result
and we're trying to be able to do more, not less, in a strategic
sense. So, the answer to your question, to be clear, is that it
is -- the military recommendation, and I believe we have the support
of everyone on this, that we return the troops who are currently
deployed, whether it's a squadron or an individual or a unit, back
to their point of origin before we decide to make any kind of transfer
back to any other location. It has to do with changing the footprint.
Q: Operational question on a different subject --
Q: Could we just follow this for just a second. I'm sorry. Sir,
could you tell us what kind of timeline you're operating on, then,
for this sort of changing of footprint?
GEN. JONES: I think the timeline is not important. I mean, it
would be -- I know that it's important to know, but in the long
-- in the context of things, it should be characterized as evolutionary,
not revolutionary, and the timelines and the way in which we do
anything, large or small, has to not only be thought-out internationally,
but domestically. And there will be some puts and takes, and we'll
just have to wait and see what exactly the decision is to implement
a part, all, none of the proposals. This is -- but the military
advice and the military recommendation has been made with no political
considerations. I've not tried to put any political considerations
on top of my military judgment. So, that will have to be done elsewhere.
And then, when the decision's made, we'll find out, you know,
where we're going, and we'll implement the -- we'll implement the
plan. But I don't think anyone feels particularly pressured, whether
it's next week, next month or the month after. The important thing
is that we care about doing this right and we will get it right
in a very collegial way, in a very comprehensive way, not only
here in the United States, but also abroad.
Q: Can I stay on my -- I'm sorry, Barbara.
Q: Oh, still on this same subject?
Q: Yeah, same subject. In terms of the plan, and I know you don't
want to do the specifics of it, but in the out years, do you expect
the changes in Germany, wherever changes might occur, to be significant,
or do you expect them to be more limited?
GEN. JONES: I expect that whatever decision is made will enable
us to be better supportives -- better supporters and contributors
to the alliance and to be able to achieve greater strategic effect,
in the interests of the United States, in terms of how we use the
forces that are at our disposal, recognizing that the principle
of being engaged in a forward sense is an important aspect of what
we wish to do in the future.
Q: General, how and when did you learn that Israel would be or
had gone into Syria recently, in that recent raid?
GEN. JONES: After the fact.
Q: I mean, did you get a call from someone in Israel? Was it someone
in the U.S. government who --
GEN. JONES: No. No, and I'd rather not speculate on that. No.
Q: Actually, I want to follow up now on Brian's (sp) question.
(Soft laughter.) I wanted to ask you the same thing about Israel
You have said here that the Mediterranean and the Middle East
is an area of major interest -- military interest in both hats
that you wear. Given the fact that Israel has now in the Eastern
Med launched a strike against Syria, what military concerns does
this pose for the area that you have responsibility over? Why have
you gone ahead and stepped up reconnaissance over the Eastern Med
to keep an eye on all of this? And what are the implications, given
the Syrian-Iraqi border and the number of U.S. troops involved
in that situation?
GEN. JONES: We maintain a very robust level of activity in support
of our allies and in support of the alliance. And I wouldn't characterize
what the U.S. European Command is doing as significantly -- a significant
departure in terms of our normal operating procedures.
Q: But the question, sir, is, given the fact that there has been
this military operation that impacts your area of responsibility,
what are the implications, the military implications, for military
stability that you keep an eye on?
GEN. JONES: Well, I think any time that someone in the unified
command area of operations steps up to operational -- a new level
of operational decisions, obviously, we take that under advisement
and we report and we seek guidance from the National Command Authority
on how to react to it.
Q: Militarily, is that airstrike destabilizing to the Eastern
GEN. JONES: I think that any change in the level of activity is
something that the National Command Authority has to deal with
and make that kind of a judgment, which is more of a policy issue
than the pure military -- the obvious military response to that
kind of an event.
Q: General, since taking up your command, you're one of the few
people that has spoken out about the need to shift the attention
south towards sub-Saharan Africa, and you listed some of the threats
you see emerging.
Have you -- your deputy recently spoke about one particular location,
Sao Tome, as being perhaps the kind of Diego Garcia of the region.
Have you made any firm decisions yet, or recommendations, about
setting up forward-operating locations in sub-Saharan Africa? And
where does that stand?
GEN. JONES: Well, as part of the proposal for how the U.S. European
Command might wish to be postured in the future, we have proposed
some locations as examples of areas that we might wish to consider.
Now, that is subject to, obviously, the interagency process and
the State Department, the National Security Council and others
saying yes, we agree.
But in our plan, what we tried to do is explain the utility of
forward-operating bases and locations in this very, very dynamic
century that we're moving into as an example of how we can achieve
a strategic effect, greater engagement with the more focused use
of rotational type forces, which is a growing concept within the
Army, the Navy and the Air Force of the United States -- and the
Marines -- in order that we can react to those kinds of realities,
either unilaterally or as a member of a coalition, or as a member
of the alliance.
Q: General, what is the likelihood, short term or long term, and
under what conditions might NATO ever contribute troops to Iraq?
GEN. JONES: Well, I think that -- let me just give you an example
of my answer to this. When I arrived in Europe in January, I was
astounded to discover that the leadership, the civilian leadership
of the alliance was really intent on moving the alliance towards
Afghanistan. I must admit that in my own preparation going over
to Europe, that that was not something that I really spent a lot
of time thinking about, because I guess I was kind of captured
by the 20th-century thinking that NATO would always kind of be
-- NATO's definition of out-of-area was probably the Balkans. (Chuckles.)
But they were very serious about Afghanistan, and between January
and August the 11th, when we established the NATO footprint in
Afghanistan, that's -- that was a very rapid
-- for NATO, that's the speed of light to get there.
Now, we are seeing discussions in Brussels and other capitals
about NATO and what else it could do in the region. But regardless
of what NATO does, it will be a political decision made by -- starting,
perhaps, at the United Nations. Your guess is as good as mine.
But they will have to be at the political path to be found to basically
task that kind of an engagement. But NATO is a great alliance,
and a great alliance should always be prepared to do great things.
Whether this turns out to be one of them or not, I have no way
But I do -- I note with interest that the speed with which we
went from not talking about Afghanistan to actually being there
was a fairly short period of time. And as the one who would have
to submit a military plan for wherever NATO goes next, my intent
is fairly sensitive to these kind of discussions.
I will take some in the back row there, please.
Q: What would be -- what sort of U.S. military forces and resources
would be committed to the NATO Response Force?
GEN. JONES: Well, I think that that will depend on -- as we get
through this -- the first two rotations, which are largely prototypes,
there will be -- it will be interesting to see how that turns out.
And in the first two iterations, we, frankly, are going to try
to provide those things that are generally unique to our military
capability. I've been very encouraged with the enthusiasm that
our allies and friends have taken towards this concept of the NATO
Response Force. It is the transformational path of the future.
If the NATO Response Force works, NATO will be transformed. If
it doesn't work, we've got major difficulties. People -- the alliance
understands this, and they are committed to it.
And so, as we go down the first two iterations, and as we get
into some serious force packaging for the future, you obviously
come up against the traditional well-known gaps of strategic airlift
and things like that. And it may be that for the interim between
the time that NATO develops its own packages of the short -- of
the areas in which we're critically short, that the United States
will have to step up or will be asked to step up to bolster those
gaps. But in the early days of this concept, I'm very, very encouraged
at not only the quality and the quantity of the offerings in the
force-generation process, and the fact that at least initially,
people are recognizing the United States is actively involved in
many, many different operations, and so they are stepping forward
to make sure that they offer whatever they can to make the NRF
a success, and I take that as an encouraging -- an encouraging
Q: Sir, the U.S. provided some intelligence support to Israel
in the recent military operations in Syria?
GEN. JONES: I'm not going to speculate on operations or intelligence
Q: General, two things. First of all, you said you've made some
recommendations for possible foreign operating bases and locations
in Africa. Can you state what those recommendations are? And secondly,
a question about -- this is only technically a CENTCOM AOR, but
it involves the Russians, so I wondered if you may be able to talk
about it. They expressed some concern yesterday about the bases
is Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, that when the mission is over in
Afghanistan, that the United States pull out of those. How important
is it that the United States maintains those, given what you talked
about, our security situation?
GEN. JONES: I don't want to get into the specifics of locations
and future footprints. But the intent of the EUCOM product is not
to be so specific that says it's got to be here or it's got to
be there, because the intent is to develop a capability for a very
agile footprint that can actually go from one place to the other
in very rapid ways. So that's why we really do want to get into
kind of a rotational type forces that can go to several places
when it is required, when it's needed, where there's a crisis or
a training opportunity or what have you. So the exact locations
that happen to be proposed are really emblematic of the types of
locations that we could choose to visit.
If you look at the landscape of Eastern Europe and the presence
of former Warsaw Pact countries, you see literally a number of
airfields and bases that are not being used, that are just out
there. So we're not talking about major infrastructure, we're talking
about using things in large part that are already there. And we're
talking about develop relationships with particularly our emerging
Eastern European friends and allies who want a very close association
with the United States from the standpoint of developing their
own militaries as they transition from the Warsaw Pact to a Western-type
We recently established, as an example, a program to train noncommissioned
officers in the Eastern -- in the alliance, I mean, not just the
East. But obviously there's an appetite for that in the East, because
in the Warsaw Pact there was no experience with the role of NCOs
and staff NCOs. And we're going to do that. And there's a lot of
enthusiasm about that. That's part of the transformation that is
With regard to the Russian question that you raised, I mean, that's
a matter of a political decision. And I don't have any insights
in particular, except that I would say to you that on the military-to-military
basis, the relationship between Russia and NATO and EUCOM and Russia
is really going extremely well. And it's a two- way street. Greater
-- much greater interest in interoperability and in contact, and
much greater transparency in the relationship, open discussions
with regard to what you're reading in the newspapers about the
alliance shift to the east and what that means in terms of the
U.S. And we're laying that out exactly as I've done here today,
so that it is not misunderstood, it is not threatening, and they
understand that we're not talking about large, permanent headquarters
shifting from Central Europe to Eastern Europe, because that is
not what we're proposing.
Q: General, may I follow up on that just a little bit?
GEN. JONES: Please.
Q: Because there's been a of speculation that basically because
Poland has been so helpful and Germany and France have not, that
there will be a shift toward Poland, basically.
GEN. JONES: Well, quite apart from the political disagreements
or discussions that are ongoing, the -- it must be said that the
-- at no time during Operation Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom
have -- has the United States been denied anything in Europe that
materially changed our footprint for -- our goals. For instance,
access to German airspace and German bases have been critical to
the success of OEF and OIF.
Probably the major setback, of course, was the parliamentary vote
in Turkey, which denied the trans-land plan that we had for the
4th Infantry Division. But even with that, we found work-arounds
to protect a force by air, with Turkish acquiescence and permission,
from Germany to northern Iraq, which contributed significant military
capability to bring about the end of the conventional fighting,
at least in northern Iraq.
So the military access through our traditional bases, whether
it was ports or airfields, have never really been seriously denied
to the point that we would have to reevaluate our footprint based
on those decisions, because that's
-- the evidence is not there.
Q: But nonetheless, you say that your center of attention is shifting
eastward, so it would be --
GEN. JONES: Well, I mean, it's just clearly evident that the alliance
has gone from 16 to 19 to 26 and everything has been to the East.
So, obviously, that's the growth and that's the area of interest.
And that's just a fact.
Q: Can I ask you a real quick question on Iraq? You were in on
the planning, as commandant of the Marine Corps. Has the aftermath
surprised you, namely, the looting and the shooting of our troops?
GEN. JONES: I think -- I think that there was -- in the aftermath
of any major conflict like that there is always a period where,
even in post-World War II, where you have to -- you have to go
and establish the governmental authority that is going to bring
lasting peace and internal peace to the region.
So, personally, no, I don't think that's -- I don't think that's
a big surprise. But I think that -- I think that we must also recognize
the fact that in the overwhelming majority of the country, things
are going reasonably well -- in the north and the south. And so
the violence is confined to a fairly knowable and predictable geographic
location. And I think, ultimately, we will certainly be able to
deal with that. Yes?
Q: General, why does it still make sense to have Israel, Lebanon
and Syria under EUCOM's AOR? Why does that still make sense?
GEN. JONES: Well, the nice thing about the Unified Command Plan
is it's always up for review. And I think that it wouldn't surprise
me at all if other people ask those kinds of questions at the next
review of the Unified Command Plan. This is -- these are things
that should be discussed, and I will be prepared to discuss that
at the -- if it comes up as an issue. But nothing should ever be
so set in stone that it doesn't change.
Q: Does it distract from the rest of the AOR? I mean, it just
seems to be that one part that doesn't belong, it just doesn't
really fit into everything else that you're doing.
GEN. JONES: I don't know, to be honest with you. I haven't really
sat down with John Abizaid and reviewed that. I think it's something
that I'm sure will be reviewed in time.
But right now, between CENTCOM and EUCOM, we are working so well
and so closely together that the seams between where CENTCOM ends
and EUCOM starts, or vice versa, are really very flexible. EUCOM
was the supporting command for CENTCOM during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Fifty percent of all of the cargo that went to prosecute the Iraqi
campaign went through Europe; 80 percent of the passengers went
through Europe to get there. And Turkey is one of EUCOM's responsibilities,
and we are really the agent for CENTCOM in discussing the military
questions and the relationships that we wish to have with Turkey
with regard to Iraq.
And so there is a -- there is more and more of a blend of where
one unified commander begins and the other one ends. And that's
the way it really should be. I see the future with less sharp divisions
in terms of the Unified Command Plan because it is -- functionally,
that's the way it has to be in order to be successful. Now, how
that plays over into your question I think will be looked at in
time. And you could look at places like the Horn of Africa and
ask the same questions. All along the seams of -- wherever there's
a line drawn, eventually you're going to be talking about it because
you're never going to get it just right.
Somebody who hasn't had a question, please.
Q: General, were there any discussions during the recent ministerial
about the development of a NATO missile defense system? And maybe
you could share your ideas on that, or what discussions you've
had with some of your counterparts?
GEN. JONES: Not as a part of the formal agenda. But those are
questions that have been discussed for quite a while within the
alliance. And I think it's probably one that is more intellectually
accepted than not these days. But what the future path of it is
is not completely defined at this point. But that question, the
question of air/ground surveillance, the question of how you get
NATO into the very high endgame in terms of future military capability,
and where you find the money to do that are really the fundamental
things. And what I'm spending most of my time on is the essentially
grassroots transformation at the operational level and trying to
define the precise military requirement for NATO in the 21st century.
Q: On the area of transformation, there's always talk and a lot
of agreement on the need for interoperability. Yet, when you talk
about interoperability, it tends to run afoul of technology transfer
issues and not allowing technology to transition to other countries.
Do you have any comment on that? How is that impacting the NATO
GEN. JONES: That's always a sensitive issue. It's -- particularly
-- that really gets into kind of national prerogatives in terms
of how you export technology and how much of it you export. The
-- my focus is on capability, and it has to be that way: What are
the essential tools of the trade that we need to make NATO relevant
in the 21st century, and how do we get there? And I suggested to
you that there's a more fundamental level of transformation that
we probably will have to go through before we get to the high-end
things, but those things have to be -- those things are and have
to be properly discussed at the national level. And those of us
in the military can only specify what is absolutely required and
hope that we can find the agreements and the -- in terms of our
relations with our friends and allies, is to get those technologies
that are necessary. And we'll just have to see how we do on that.
It is a big issue.
Q: General, can you talk a little bit more about the installations?
I know you don't want to put a timeline on it or --
GEN. JONES: I'm sorry?
Q: The installations -- the new -- (inaudible). But what has to
happen either politically or process-wise? What's the next step?
When would we begin to see some of these actually --
GEN. JONES: Well, I think that once the military recommendations
are in, that then it has to be decided by the president of the
United States, it has to -- in concert with the National Security
Council, the State Department and all instruments of national power,
and it has to be vetted both nationally and internationally, so
that people understand exactly what it is and what it isn't. And
I think that will take place in due course. And I don't think there's
a critical need that it be today or tomorrow or next week. It'll
just be done when the time is right. It's not -- that's not in
my -- that's not for me to suggest.
GEN. JONES: Well, there are quite a few people that are talking
about it. I mean, I think it's well-known that there are certain
people, certain mayors, elected representatives in Germany that
have made that a topic. They visited the Hill and said, "Please
don't take the troops home," and so on and so forth. I mean, it
really is something that's out there, but I don't think it's a
-- there's no operational necessity that it be done now or tomorrow
or next week. It can be done when the timing is right, and our
national command authorities have decided that the time is right,
and in concert with the nations that are affected, that we vet
this thing in the right way. So we'll just have to see what happens.
I can't give you a better answer.
STAFF: We have time for one more question.
GEN. JONES: Yes, ma'am?
Q: The NATO rapid response, is that going to be measured in weeks,
months? You mentioned Afghanistan; it took them eight months. Is
that going to be the standard?
GEN. JONES: Well, the Prague Capabilities Commitment was very
specific in that, and it said that the very high readiness elements
should be ready to go within from five to 30 days. And so we are
building a capability that will be able to, in fact, meet with
the Prague Capability Commitments.
Q: What more do you need to do that? What kinds of changes and
assets? What types of things will you need?
GEN. JONES: Well, the vision for the NATO Response Force is an
integrated air, land and sea capability that's under one commander.
That's new for NATO. The good news is that the maritime forces
are already integrated, they've been integrated for 10 or 12 years,
when you can sail the sea-based portion of the NATO Response Force
tomorrow and it will already be trained. For any of you that have
ever spent time in the Med aboard NATO Standing Naval Forces Mediterranean
or Atlantic, you know that's a fully multinational, operationally
highly trained, instantly usable force. The only other one that
is like that in the alliance is NATO AWACS -- again, another fully
integrated, fully trained, highly competent, immediately usable
force. And what we're trying to do is get the land forces of the
alliance and to a lesser extent the air force of the alliance to
have that same kind of integration.
And that's really what it takes. But all of the tools are there,
they are there, to create a force of significant capability that
may not be at the high end of things in the classic sense of major
theater conflict, if you will, but can certainly help -- can certainly
be of great help to the things the United States is interested
in at the Afghanistan level of input and where other crises might
call upon to have a rapidly deployable force to establish a presence.
And there are some interesting issues out there for NATO, and
it will be interesting to see how it goes. But, for instance, one
question would be, does NATO wish to be pre-decisional? In other
words, do they wish to deploy to an area before a crisis, or is
it always going to be after a crisis? Is it reactive or is it a
little bit more proactive in the 21st century?
I think this is a fascinating time to be in an alliance that's
changing, that is rediscovering its capability, that is rapidly
going into creating something that's new and something that will
be fundamentally important to the security of the democracies that
all 26 nations represent.
STAFF: I'm afraid that's all we have time --
GEN. JONES: You're all wonderful to be here at Friday afternoon.
I thank you very much. Thank you.
Q: Thanks for coming by.
GEN. JONES: Thank you.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs,
U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)