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“Our mission-oriented Defence – within a relevant Alliance”

Defence Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen Oslo Military Society, 7 January 2013

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Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen.

A Happy New Year!

It is a great pleasure for me to be back on this important platform.

As the saying goes, “It takes a strong back to carry good times”. Seldom, I believe, has this been more pertinent than at the present time.

Our defence is in a very favourable situation. Where other countries are cutting back, we are building up.

At the same time, however, we share the destiny of both Europe and the wider global community.

We must therefore maintain and develop what we have achieved. And we must understand and respond to changes in our strategic environment.

My main theme this evening relates to the changes taking place in our strategic environment. It is our mission-oriented Defence within a relevant Alliance.

I shall take as my starting point three observations and three messages.

Firstly there are the important lessons I have learnt from the restructuring of our defence forces. That has been a story of determination and hard choices. And choices matter.

We have achieved our aims. The new Long-Term Plan brings together the past and the future. But it does not absolve us from making more difficult decisions. Let that be my first message.

My second observation concerns the future labour market. The future gold standard lies in the ability of businesses to attract, retain, refine and apply their collective competence. This also applies to us.

It is today that we have to lay the foundations for ensuring that our sector remains competitive in a future labour market. That is my second message this evening.

A third observation concerns the major changes taking place in the field of politics and global security. We see antagonisms both old and new. We see a new potential for conflict. And we see new alliances and new possibilities for cooperation arising.

During the three weeks before Christmas I visited Kabul, Ankara and Washington. Not an arbitrary choice of three capitals, but three countries which, each in their own way, are important in the context of Norwegian security and defence policy.

Together they reflect many of the trends taking place around us.

We have to pursue a sensible security and defence policy that ensures our ability to meet the new challenges. This is my third and final message this evening.

Let me start by saying it is good to be back.

Important lessons, a happy re-acquaintance

Returning to the defence sector has been a good experience. I am coming back to a defence organisation with a rational structure and a high level of operational capability.

It is seven years since I was appointed defence minister for the first time. Those were indeed different times. And we had a very different defence organisation in the midst of a demanding process of restructuring.

I remember that as a very exciting but also difficult time. Exciting because the gains to be made from the choices that we made were both distant and unclear. Difficult because it involved unpopular decisions with downsides that were both immediate and all too substantial. Many personnel were also affected.

It is one thing to appreciate that it takes time to achieve real gains in the defence sector. Daring to do it is quite another.

Yes, I chose a tough line. We made some difficult decisions.

It was all about taking important and courageous steps with the goal of achieving modern, flexible and mission-oriented defence forces. A national defence organisation with a clear focus on tasks here at home but also having the capacity to undertake missions abroad where necessary.

The lessons learned were deeply engrained when we set out the Long-Term Plan for the period 2009-2012, putting long-term balance before short-term popularity.

Then, too, there were difficult priorities to weigh and hard choices to make. We had to suffer much pain. Some activities were closed down while others were built up. And we relocated, as Porsanger and Værnes will remember. And this will Bodø and Stavanger know as well.

There was a great deal of scepticism and many objections were raised.

This was particularly marked in relation to the establishment of Norwegian Joint Headquarters (FOH) in Bodø. It was said that our body of competence would suffer as a result and that the operational headquarters would take a long time to build up.

We simplified the Home Guard district structure and phased out the Home Guard’s own initial service arrangements. Within a short time the level of annual training in the regional structure was reduced to zero. This too had its difficulties as it gave rise to worry and uncertainty.

The Army’s endurance was severely tested in making force contributions to the NATO operations in Afghanistan over a long period. It looked like an impossibility to contribute substantial forces overseas while at the same time maintaining the ambition of keeping forces at brigade strength here at home.

Of course it was difficult but we managed it.

Over recent months I have been out visiting most of our serving units.

I have seen at first hand that things which were on the drawing board just four years ago are now in place. I have seen defence forces that are delivering an increased operational capability all day, every day almost as a matter of course. That is impressive.

I have encountered an army that has made itself strong on the training grounds at Rena and in Inner Troms. An army that trains and exercises more at brigade level. An army that has grown in manpower terms by over 50 %. And an army in which we are investing heavily.

A substantial achievement for land forces possessing increased mobility and a rapid response capability. An army that has met severe and decisive challenges in Afghanistan. An army that constitutes a resource highly sought after by our allies. Because the Army delivers.

The Royal Norwegian Navy of today is hardly recognisable. In my previous term as Minister of Defence we had just one frigate of the Frithjof Nansen class at sea. Our corvettes and MTBs were still under construction in Mandal.

Today they are here. Five new frigates and six corvettes. Which have recently carried out successful firings with Norwegian naval strike missiles, a technological quantum leap for a country responsible for large sea areas.

The Navy has achieved its aims. A maritime force with Haakonsvern as one of Europe’s most modern naval bases. Our naval vessels are now spending more time at sea and one of our new frigates will soon be returning to the Gulf of Aden. This time as Command Ship for Standing NATO Maritime Group 1. This is a considerable responsibility and a clear acknowledgement of our naval competence.

We have a Coast Guard with an integrated command based in Sortland with its ships carrying out important missions on a daily basis, safeguarding our sovereignty in these waters. A Coast Guard engaged in fishery patrols to prevent breaches of maritime law and helping to foster our economic growth by clamping down on illegal fishing activities.

Both the frigates and the Coast Guard vessels will be equipped with new helicopters that will increase their operational capabilities still further.

On my travels I have met a truly modern Home Guard. Now better equipped and better trained to take responsibility for safeguarding the infrastructure on which our society depends.

I have seen a Home Guard that exercises increasingly frequently in order to become still better. A Home Guard which is close to its local community in all 11 districts and which trains and exercises to sharpen its ability to operate locally when required.

We now have a Home Guard with a rational force structure and the ability to make an important contribution to the safety of society and the management of security crises.

And I have seen an Air Force in the midst of change. An Air Force going through a demanding restructuring in order to be ready to receive the F-35, the largest single investment ever made in the Norwegian Armed Forces. And what is more, an Air Force that has increased its flight hours and is delivering both here at home and in international operations abroad.

We have an Air Force with a place in the front rank. Its excellent rapid response capability was demonstrated in the Libyan campaign. It has contributed a life-saving helicopter service in Afghanistan and, more recently, transport aircraft in support of the ISAF operation. All this despite the tragic accident in March so cruelly suffered by this arm of our forces.

And I have seen at FOH a Joint Headquarters that has assumed its new role rapidly and without interruption. Securely located in the North, its focus is directly on our forces wherever in the world they may be operating.

But most of all, I have met people who have had to bear a heavy burden both at home and in the field. Such meetings have made me feel both humility and gratitude.

My return visit to the Veterans’ Centre at Bæreia speaks volumes. I was met by an enthusiastic staff with total belief in what they are doing and a burning conviction for the veterans’ cause. A staff who, together with their guests, were clearly delighted that we are renovating and strengthening the Centre.

My talks with the veterans convinced me that we are on the right track. That the efforts we are making for our veterans are yielding results. And that we can still do even better.

I have seen where we have come from and I have seen what it has cost. And this has only strengthened my respect for all who have taken part in making these changes.

Our defence personnel can take pride in what has been achieved. The Chief of Defence has led the way. He has been clear in his choices and he has realised his vision. My thanks go out to everyone who has contributed.

We shall continue to shift resources to activities with higher priority. And we shall continue the work of building a good defence.

Through renewal and improvement. Through continuous development and adaptation wherever we see the need and the possibility.

The course of developments in the world around us is seldom linear. As an organisation that must be ready to respond at all times we have to prepare for the unexpected.

So we need to think in the broadest possible terms where possible security crises are concerned.

The acts of terror inflicted on us on 22 July 2011 are a part of this. They moved the frontiers of our imagination.

It is true to say that the Armed Forces were never really tested on that occasion. Nevertheless we have much to learn from the 22 July Commission.

We need effective civil-military cooperation. Properly coordinated action between the armed services and the police is crucial. This is therefore one of the main priorities in the new Long-Term Plan.

We must improve our ability to acknowledge risk. As the 22 July Commission puts it: “The understanding of risk determines whether one exercises, what one exercises and the lessons one learns”.

What, then, is the greatest risk or threat to Norway’s security today? Let me put it this way:

I believe it is important to differentiate between what is the greatest threat and what is the most likely threat.

The greatest threat to Norway is a security crisis in our immediate area: that hostilities or conflict could break out here in the High North. But this is also improbable.

A lesser but more probable threat is that we could be the target of a comprehensive cyber attack which could have serious consequences.

Today the field of cyber warfare poses a strategic challenge to our security. It is for this reason that bringing together the defence sector’s collective expertise in security and operations in the digital space is a high priority for this government.

We have set up a Cyber Defence organisation and we are strengthening the capacity of the Intelligence Service in this area. We are making every effort to ensure that the National Security Authority is capable of countering threats in the digital space.

The 22 July Commission concludes that the lessons learned are more about leadership, coordination, culture and attitudes than about a lack of resources, organisation or fundamental value choices.

This can usefully be read across to the Armed Forces as an emergency preparedness organisation.

Culture, attitudes and leadership are the pillars on which every healthy and dynamic organisation must rest. This is not something that can be achieved by wishful thinking.

As the poet Arne Garborg puts it: “For money you can have everything, it is said. No, that is not true. (…) The shell of all things you can get for money, but not the kernel”.

Because today the people in our sector are the kernel. In a modern, technology-intensive defence, human resources are the key constituent.

This is, therefore, our next major strategic challenge.

We are now getting to grips with this. Through a competence reform.

Let me say a few words about this work.

Competence in a new age

The development of competence is the key to the creation of future value. Assertions that our national wealth lies in our oil or the pension fund are simply not right. Our labour force alone represents over 80 percent of our wealth as a nation.

Focusing on competence in the Armed Forces is nothing new. The development of competence has been a recurrent theme in our defence restructuring. Through recruiting, education and training. This permeates the whole of our organisation. We have an organisation based on learning.

The right knowledge, healthy attitudes and high skill levels. These are qualities central to our defence and they are guiding principles for our soldiers.

Yes, a defence organisation that delivers high quality day in day out is, for me, the ideal image of an organisation equipped with the right competence to operate modern weapon systems.

Having such an organisation behind us makes it a privilege to be a politician. But it brings with it a great responsibility. A responsibility that this government has assumed and will continue to assume.

Now is the time when we must lay the foundations to ensure that our sector will remain competitive in a future labour market.

If we fail to do this, I am afraid that we shall find ourselves with defence forces without the necessary degree of relevant competence. Even worse – we could end up having invested in high technology platforms the defensive potential of which cannot be fully realised.

The challenges facing the Royal Norwegian Navy have brought visibility to this problem. This is a serious matter and we are therefore taking appropriate action.

My greatest worry, however, is not what is happening today. It is what awaits us further in the future that should cause us real concern. The Armed Forces must be competitive in the labour market when today’s children are choosing who they will be working for.

What do we know, then, about the future jobs market apart from that fact that it will be harder? I suggest the following points:

  • We know that each potential employee will be fully conscious of his or her own value.
  • We know that the most attractive organisations will be those that invest in competence and the personal development of each individual employee.
  • We know that, for most people, it will be natural to change jobs several times.
  • We know that we must expect to remain in work for longer than at present.
  • And we know that most families will be dependent on both partners having careers.

These are just some of the development trends that we shall be putting before the Storting in a separate report. It will not give us all the answers but it will give an indication of how we should proceed.

There are many factors involved. It is about creating the best possible conditions for being able to carry out demanding tasks. And it is about how we can attract the brightest brains in the community.

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of women being granted the right to vote on equal terms with men. Strong women broke through that barrier.

An important matter coming up in 2013 will be the debate about more women in the Armed Forces.

The question of gender-neutral military service has been placed on the agenda through the Long-Term Plan.

The conscripts themselves want this. Top service officers support it. And the Storting has asked for a thorough assessment.

The tasks of the armed forces are changing in nature. They are highly demanding and call for a range of different qualities and skills. Therefore we need to attract the very best and the most highly motivated candidates. And we need more women in the Services.

The Storting has pointed out that this is first and foremost a political question. So we must indeed have a broad and fundamentally-based debate.

Mandatory military service is the foundation on which the Norwegian Armed Forces are based. And it will remain so.

I am absolutely convinced that the military profession, and its distinctive nature, must be preserved. We need military specialists and military leaders. And we need rank and file with a strong professional identity.

We need, therefore, to tailor our education and training according to our operational needs. We must allow other civil educational establishments to concentrate on what they do best. Our own establishments should focus on the needs of our mission-oriented forces.

In some areas we educate, train and employ personnel in an area which falls within a particular national business cluster. A good example is the maritime sector. Another is the domain of technology and ICT. More cooperation across sector boundaries is required.

We have to bring about a more smoothly functioning exchange between the Armed Forces and the civil labour market.

We will continue our efforts to ensure that the skills of our personnel can be of benefit to others. Our veterans and other ex-service men and women have a great deal of experience and knowledge to offer.

We must ensure that they can take part in the working life of the country in a way that benefits both society and the individual concerned. This will also be to the advantage of the Armed Forces themselves.

The Norwegian Reserve Officers’ Federation and the Norwegian Defence Association have made important suggestions as to how we can ‘translate’ our military competence into something that a civilian employer can understand and put to use. This is important for our veterans.

We must become better at importing competence from the civil area wherever this is needed. We already do this today and we need to do more still. In the future the Armed Forces will need more specialists and fewer generalists.

Competence will be the yardstick in deciding who we employ. Therefore we have to increase the flexibility of our recruiting and appointment systems and the kinds of engagement we offer, in short our personnel systems from cradle to grave.

Saying is one thing, doing is quite another. It takes the will and the ability to act as well as a clear choice of direction. And, I should add, good cooperation with all parties including the employees’ associations. This we have enjoyed to date and we have to make sure that this remains the case. Something to which I look forward with confidence.

From Kabul to Washington via Ankara

Ladies and Gentlemen,

“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world”. The words of the writer John Le Carré reminding us that we have to travel if we wish to understand the world.

In December I was back in Afghanistan. This was my eleventh visit but the first in three years. Returning to a place after a gap of some years helps one to appreciate the changes that have taken place in the intervening period.

The capital Kabul never fails to make an impression. Heavy traffic everywhere and numerous workshops built from containers and corrugated iron. A multitude of small shops clinging to existence. And behind the many walls we glimpse another life, Afghan everyday life.

There can be no doubt that several decades of conflict have left their mark. But even in a heavily fortified city there are encouraging signs. For they are there.

I saw an Afghanistan in the process of equipping itself to stand on its own feet but which, at the same time, does not want to be abandoned entirely. The major drawdown of NATO military forces is going ahead as planned. The Afghan security forces continue to take over more and more responsibility.

The further development of the Afghan Army and the police needs to proceed within the framework of robust civil institutions. Norway, too, must be prepared to continue the assistance it provides in the form of advice and training beyond 2014 in order to sustain what we have already built up.

I met Afghan men and women who spoke of standing at a crossroads and of their future expectations. Of their hope for an Afghan society in which trust and security were assured. They also spoke of the difficult problems that still lay ahead.

The widespread corruption that undermines trust in the authorities is one such area. Another is the fragility of the work of reconciliation.

I could see cautious optimism mixed with a serious worry about the gravity of the situation and the possibility that the Taliban could once more gain strength and influence.

Major General Khoshhal Sadat, who is in charge of the special police unit, the Crisis Response Unit (CRU) in Kabul, shared his thoughts with me. He was only a few years old when his father was killed during the Soviet occupation.

Sadat grew up with a mother who did everything she could to give her children an education. A widow and a mother who has experienced at first hand how the Taliban beat and mistreated women. A mother who never gave up.

“I love my soldiers, but my mother is my hero”, said Sadat. In his mother he had seen both suffering and pain, but also hope. Hope for the future of a hard-pressed people.

Khoshhal Sadat’s story is sadly not unique. The story of Afghan women is one of gross oppression, loss of dignity and disenfranchisement.

I was again reminded of the need to restore women to a position from which they could take part in the process of reconciliation. Women at all levels, in the parliament and in the home, in Kabul and in the outlying districts. This is just one of the challenges to be overcome in order to reach a lasting political solution.

But this road, too, is long and winding. Nevertheless there is cautious optimism. New initiatives, new talks with Pakistan that offer a ray of hope.

Hasina Safi, a campaigner for women’s rights, put it like this when I met her: “Fear of the Taliban is part of the mindset of every Afghan woman. But, as of today, no-one dares to admit this openly”.

In the north of the country I could see marked changes. For the first time I did not travel to Maimanah in order to meet Norwegian soldiers. This time the visit was to Mazar-e-Sharif. At Camp Maimanah it is 1 Brigade/209 of the Afghan National Army that is on duty.

There is much to reflect on. Our time in Faryab has shown how quickly unrest can flare up. Our soldiers have experienced hard fighting. Few here at home can begin to imagine the experiences they have undergone.

The local population and the governing powers in Faryab know that they will suffer new unrest. However, we are not leaving them empty handed. The local authorities now have a well trained and equipped army to take care of security in the area. A protective threshold against increased unrest and instability.

Nevertheless, the questions are being asked and will continue to be asked: Was it worth it? Have we achieved what we set out to achieve?

There is, I believe, no simple answer. The challenges in Afghanistan are complex. There are no quick solutions. The conflicts will remain after we have gone.

The essential point is that we went into Afghanistan because there was no other course of action that served the purpose. The country is no longer freely available to al-Qaida for the training of terrorists.

In reviewing our participation we must not forget this. Nor must we forget that Norway’s contribution has always had a clear purpose in both civil and military contexts.

We must therefore avoid a debate about what we have achieved becoming a discussion of the military aspects alone. It has never been envisaged that the full extent of the challenges that existed, and still exist, in Afghanistan could be overcome solely by military means. This has been just one of a number of instruments.

Norwegian soldiers can take pride in what they have achieved. They have made a magnificent contribution. They have stood shoulder to shoulder with our Afghan colleagues.

I therefore returned home in the certainty that our efforts have been right. Time will show whether Afghanistan and the international community has managed to create a robust and sustainable state.

My second visit in December was to Ankara. Standing beside the memorial to the founding father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, made a strong impression.

A meeting between past and present. A country in a state of far-reaching change. But with clear visions and ambitions regarding its role in the region and the wider world.

It is also a country on the very edge of the NATO area facing a region rife with unrest.

Turkey has Iraq and Syria as its neighbours as well as historic links with the entire Middle East, Central Asia and the Balkans.

The whole of Europe and the Middle East is affected by the war in Syria. And we cannot exclude the possibility that the conflict will spread further.

Developments in Turkey’s neighbours illustrate an important point:

That the global community has not been able to prevent a bloody conflict with tens of thousands of civilian casualties in Syria.

That the global community’s ability to provide protection against war and conflict is limited.

That conflicts on NATO’s borders have both military and civil repercussions. Turkey is currently providing a refuge for more than 200,000 refugees from Syria.

The situation in Syria is thus yet another reminder that we need an Alliance that is both effective and vigilant. We need a NATO that is truly capable of providing collective defence.

The NATO decision to strengthen Turkey’s air defences by the deployment of Patriot missiles is therefore an important one.

It is an expression of the NATO countries’ solidarity with Turkey. In this way we are able to send a very important message, namely that they can depend on NATO.

This should remind us that defence at home does not simply mean at home in the narrow sense, but it extends to the whole of the Alliance. This is what NATO, as a collective defence alliance, means.

This, therefore, is why we are delighted to see NATO’s reinforcement plans not only being put into practice but also working effectively. That does not surprise me, but it is not something that we should take for granted.

Faced with a new economic reality, the majority of our allies have been hard hit. At just such times as these it requires a strong back if the fundamental solidarity on which the Alliance is based is to be sustained.

Yes, we have to prevent solidarity becoming the first victim of the economic squeeze. This was clearly vindicated in the case of Turkey.

Air forces are among the best examples of how NATO has maintained its preparedness in its own core areas, even while the Alliance has been strongly engaged in international operations. The command and planning structure for air combat operations is designed to enable NATO to react swiftly in its own core areas. This is also reassuring here at home.

We need a NATO which has a good knowledge and understanding of developments in neighbouring areas. This applies in an unstable Middle East and it applies equally in our more stable northern regions.

These thoughts were on my mind when I visited Washington in the week before Christmas. The continuity of policy to be pursued by an administration recently re-elected and so freer to make important choices. An administration positioning itself for more lasting changes in its defence and security policy.

The meeting with the United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta strengthened this impression. Their perspective is global. The security challenges to be faced in the coming years are described as very demanding.

Disquiet over the investment in defence by European countries resurfaced. And this at the same time as the United States is being forced to reduce its own defence spending still further.

Leon Panetta was also clear on another point. The F-35 programme is on track. The United States administration will work within the nine-nation group for the integration of the Joint Strike Missile in the F-35. I also noted that there was considerable interest in the Norwegian naval strike missile.

This is good news for Kongsberg and for Norway.

There was also something else of great importance. The fact that the defence and security policy of the United States is to focus more on Asia and the Pacific region. This is allied to the fact that more and more Asian countries are turning towards the United States for their own security and stability.

On the other hand, however, the United States is not about to abandon Europe. Yes, the change of emphasis in the direction of Asia is perhaps exaggerated. It is not happening overnight. Planning has been in progress for a long time. Only now, with the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan nearing their close, has it been possible to begin the shift in emphasis.

Both the Defense Secretary and others we spoke to made a point of stressing that the links between Europe and NATO are strong. And that these links are of decisive importance to America’s own security and place in the world.

The United States will employ new means of cooperating closely with its allies, so allowing them to retain the capability of cross-operating with their European allies and, in this way, ensuring that the rapid reinforcement of Europe remains possible should the need arise.

Let it be quite clear; the transatlantic links are solid. The United States is not going to let go of what it has built up. NATO’s core tasks will be preserved. And they will ensure that Article V remains robust and credible.

This will not happen by itself. NATO must prove to the American decision-makers and voters that it remains relevant. The story of NATO as means of political unification in the days when Europe was split needs to be retold against the new and very different background that we see today.

For me this is about keeping our own house in order in such a way that the allies are equipped to meet new security challenges. About showing that we are capable of making the gradual transition from one security picture to a new one in the making, and ensuring that the budgetary cuts being made by European allies are both coordinated and sensible.

We have to remember that the share of NATO’s total defence costs borne by the United States has been increasing steadily. Just a few years ago Europe’s share amount to one third. Today it is approaching just one quarter. There is something else, however, that should cause us more concern. That is the fact that NATO’s overall defence spending is falling rapidly.

We are facing a more complex global security landscape. I have already mentioned the situation in the Middle East. We are seeing the emergence of new superpowers while established ones seek to consolidate their positions anew. And we see a sharpening of relations between major powers in the Pacific region. In addition we are seeing many countries outside NATO increasing their defence spending.

This is a development that we as a nation must follow closely and it is certainly something to be put on NATO’s agenda. Leon Panetta, with support from Norway, has already taken an important initiative. At the next meeting of NATO defence ministers we want to see a review of the shortcomings in the present structure. A start has also been made on the work of improving the force planning processes.

The impressions gained in Washington confirm that the United States and Norway are ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’. We share the same view of the changes in our strategic environment.

One other important point: Leon Panetta and other highly placed members of the United States administration were generous in their praise of our restructuring and the quality of the Norwegian Armed Forces. We have a defence organisation that is both relevant and up to date. And what is more, we enjoy exceptionally good cooperation with the United States on matters of security policy.

As I speak, according to the American media, we can expect the imminent announcement of the nomination of Chuck Hagel as the new Secretary of Defense. He is currently Chairman of the Atlantic Council and is a strong advocate of NATO cooperation.

I know Chuck Hagel as a politician with his feet on the ground and with a deep insight in the defence field, not least in his firm belief in the need for transatlantic cooperation. If he becomes the next Defense Secretary, this augurs well for our bilateral cooperation and for the work of ensuring that NATO remains a relevant Alliance.

Nearer to home global warming is giving us the prospect of a gradual transition to an ice-free Arctic. While this would open the way to new possibilities, it would also increase the strategic importance, and so perhaps the vulnerability, of our adjacent sea areas.

We must therefore continue the work of laying the foundations for cooperation in the High North. In this way we can ensure continuing stability in the area. This is the main focus of the Government’s policy for the High North.

We shall continue to work for good and constructive cooperation with Russia. We shall invest in military cooperation in northern Europe. With the Nordic countries when this is the right way to go. And with our allies, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Much is already being done in this area.

We must do things in a smarter and more cost-effective way and with higher quality as an aim. This is covered by the Smart Defence and Connected Forces Initiative which came out of the last NATO summit meeting.

Fundamentally, for me this is about taking care of the NATO of which we were a founder member in 1949. The tasks and perspectives of the Alliance have changed greatly. Nevertheless the fundamentals remain.

We must therefore continue the work of raising NATO’s profile in our adjacent areas. This also means being able to handle Article V situations.

Article V is not a big red button that you can press when the crisis arises. Like everything else, this is something one must train for on a regular basis.

New technology, new skills, new planning must be constantly updated, exercised and maintained. Otherwise they will wither.

Yes, here too we have to find the resources.

Following up the Core Area Initiative is one of a number of important areas of activity. When I first presented this initiative to my NATO colleagues in 2008, many were strongly sceptical. It gives me some satisfaction that everyone is now talking about it.

We have considerable economic muscle and the areas we are talking about are large. We must therefore bear substantial responsibility.

We are working for closer links between our own National Headquarters and NATO. And we are continuing to prepare for major allied exercises on our territory here at home.

Because we wish to build on the close cooperation established in Afghanistan. And because we want to have a relevant Alliance which is well prepared for the next crisis.

The will to set priorities – the will to make choices

Dear colleagues,

I spoke earlier this evening of lessons. Perhaps the most important of them all is that he who wants to keep up to date cannot stand still.

Even if we have done our job here at home, we cannot allow ourselves to leave it at that. We must never abdicate from our goal of creating a better defence. We are in good shape today because we made the right choices yesterday. That we must continue to do.

The new Long-Term Plan is about exactly this.

As we meet new strategic challenges we have to act today in order to stay in front. We must take good care of the gains we have made and build on them still further.

It is for this reason that I have put such emphasis on the need for competence in the future. And it is for the same reason that I have talked so much about the changes in the global security scene that we see taking place around us.

NATO has been generous with its praise. Not just because we have a large defence budget. But also because we have had the courage to make some difficult choices. Because we have dared to set priorities. And because to this day we are continuing to make important strategic choices.

For our mission-oriented Defence – within a relevant Alliance.