Future, Afghanistan on NATO's agenda

Sept. 14, 2010 at 5:23 PM   |   0 comments

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- NATO's course in the next century and its Afghanistan mission will be key issues when alliance leaders meet in Portugal, the U.S. Defense Department said.

Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, said the military alliance will discuss "revitalizing the alliance for the 21st century" and "succeeding as an alliance in Afghanistan."

In the run-up to NATO's annual summit in Lisbon in November, leaders were working on a new strategic concept to capture NATO's missions going forward, Flournoy said Tuesday in a release, adding that the United States would like to see some changes in the alliance's infrastructure and organization.

"We have a whole series of reform proposals looking at command structure, NATO agencies and institutions, NATO committees and NATO financial reform," she said.

Flournoy said the world economic situation likely is the impetus behind efforts to reform the alliance.

"There is a downward pressure to do things more efficiently," she said. "NATO has now had more than a decade of experience in the requirements to do expeditionary operations -- to actually have your command structure actually be able to deploy and employ forces in real-world contingencies."

For example, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has advanced an initiative to reduce the number of NATO committees from more than 400 to fewer than 200.

Among the changes the United State would like to see a revival of the NATO-Russia Council, Flournoy said, noting NATO and Russia have many areas in which they can work together, such as the effort in Afghanistan, fighting terrorism, ballistic missile defense and counter-piracy.

Concerning Afghanistan, Flournoy said NATO leaders will focus on assessing how the alliance is doing, identifying milestones for progress and keeping the cohesion of the International Security Assistance Force.

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