27 June 2004
De Hoop Scheffer Showcases NATO's New Military Capabilities
Rapid response programs, CBRN defense, state-of-art
By Rebecca Ford Mitchell
Washington File Staff Writer
Istanbul, Turkey -- With the NATO Summit set to begin the following
day, Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer spent June 27 showcasing
recent military transformation successes of the Alliance at a series
of pre-summit events.
He announced that NATO's new Chemical, Biological, Radiological,
and Nuclear (CBRN) Defense Battalion, to be led by the Czech Republic,
is now fully operational.
The battalion, he said, is a "superb example of how NATO is transforming
to deal with the new threats posed by weapons of mass destruction."
In addition, the NATO Response Force (NRF), launched last October,
will reach initial operational capability in only four more months,
de Hoop Scheffer said.
While presiding over the change of command ceremony for that high-readiness,
rapid-deployment force, the secretary general praised the outgoing
commander, U.S. Marine Corps General James Jones for turning "an
idea into a reality." The new commander is U.S. Navy Admiral Gregory
De Hoop Scheffer referred to the NRF as the flagship of the Alliance's
military transformation, and "a hothouse of ideas in which advanced
technologies and doctrines flourish."
The secretary general also announced the opening, two days ago,
of a state-of-the-art training center in Poland by the Allied Command
Transformation, which he called a "driving force behind NATO's
military adaptation." The command, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia,
is in charge of standardization, training, concept development,
Also noted was the Turkish High Readiness Force, one of NATO's
several new rapid-reaction headquarters, which emphasizes a military
structure based on speed, mobility, and flexibility.
All four programs are featured in an exhibition on display next
door to the summit site. In opening the exhibition, de Hoop Scheffer
said these demonstrations "of what we in NATO can achieve by working
together multinationally" filled him with great pride and great
confidence in the future.
The secretary general presented the NATO Summit Science Prize
to Bosporus Univerity, Istanbul Technical University, and Middle
East Technical University for achievements in research on the prevention
of the consequences of earthquakes and fostering cooperation between
NATO and partner countries; he also spoke to attendees of the Youth
Summit on the importance of protecting the values of freedom and