PUBLISHED: April 26, 2019
President Luciolli Lectio Magistralis delivered on occasion of the official inauguration of the NATO Security Force Assistance Center of Excellence . Cesano, Rome, March 26, 2019.
The Official Inauguration of the NATO Centre of Excellence takes place in a historical moment of the Alliance’s life and certifies the vitality and enduring strength of our shared values and commitments.
In fact, the Transatlantic link and the Collective Defense - which make the security of Europe and North America indivisible - generated the “strongest and most successful Alliance in history” (J. Stoltenberg).
For 70 years, the Atlantic Alliance has been able to prevent conflicts, preserve peace and defend the free democratic values and territories of nearly one billion citizens.
Historically, the average life of collective-defense alliances has been estimated in 15 years. In fact, during the last five centuries, just 10 of the 63 major military alliances survived beyond 40-year term (Brookings, Foreign Policy Paper, June 30, 2010).
NATO unmatched success relies on its adaptive DNA. Notwithstanding its complex political military structure, NATO has always been able to adapt itself according to the continuous transformation of the security landscape.
Moreover, the Open-Door policy has reinforced the Alliance which – from the original 12 States – is ready to welcome the Republic of North Macedonia as its thirtieth Member.
The opening of a new Centre of Excellence for Security Force Assistance testifies the continuous NATO’s effort to effectively cope with the security needs of the next 70 years.
To better understand the future challenges of the Centre, we can recall the Hegel suggestion telling that “You can understand the future as much you are able to understand the past.”
During its first four decades, NATO’s role has been summarized by the first Secretary General, Lord Ismay, statement of “keeping Americans in, Russia out, Germans down”.
During the Cold War, the Security concept relied in a mere military meaning of static territorial collective defense, based on the Art. 5 of the Treaty.
However, in the 1956 Report of the Three Wise Men Committee – chaired by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gaetano Martino, together with the Canadian and Norwegian colleagues Lester B. Pearson and Halvard Lange – it was already clear that “security is today far more than a military matter. The strengthening of political consultation and economic cooperation, the development of resources, progress in education and public understanding, all these can be as important, or even more important, for the protection of the security of a nation, or an alliance, as the building of a battleship or the equipping of an army. (Point 15)
These two aspects of security – civil and military – can no longer safely be considered in watertight compartments, either within or between nations (Point 16)”.
Moreover, “NATO should not forget that the influence and interests of its members are not confined to the area covered by the Treaty, and that common interests of the Atlantic Community can be seriously affected by developments outside the Treaty area. (Point 32)”.
Such a farsighted vision of the Three Wise Men anticipated the need for a Comprehensive Approach to effectively address the non-Art. 5 Crisis Response Operations (NA5CRO) that NATO was requested to launch in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In this context, the Security concept acquired new political, economic, and social dimensions and became a dynamic concept requiring the projection of forces and stability “out of area”.
During the post-Cold War era, NATO quickly adapted its Strategic Concept, whilst launching Crisis Response Operations, partnerships programs, training and assistance initiatives, in the Balkans and beyond.
The fall of the Twin Towers and the invocation for the first time of Art. 5, dramatically highlighted to the Atlantic community the danger of the modern global, asymmetric and hybrid threats, which need to be addressed where they originate.
While NATO promptly reacted with a robust expeditionary role, a new Strategic Concept outlined the paramount relevance “to develop the capability to train and develop local forces in crisis zones, so that local authorities are able, as quickly as possible, to maintain security without international assistance”.
From the Balkans to Afghanistan and Iraq, the NATO Training Mission became a key asset in the framework of a Comprehensive Approach Action Plan (CAAP) adopted in the aftermath of the 2010 Lisbon Summit.
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Therefore, the official inauguration of a new CoE for Security Force Assistance can afford on more than a quarter of a century’s NATO experience in advising, training and mentoring partner states to achieve sustainable defense reform and build capabilities.
However, the today security landscape in which the new NATO Security Force Assistance Centre of Excellence is requested to act and the tasks to be addressed, appears much more complex and challenging.
The 2011 Arab uprisings and the 2014 Russian illegal annexation of the Ukraine’s peninsula of Crimea obliged NATO to cope with both the Collective Defense and Crisis management tasks simultaneously, and to adopt a 360° approach able to Deter and Defend the Alliance in the East while Projecting Stability to the South.
Moreover, the Russian nuclear posture, the Skripal case and the risk of CBNR proliferation, together with the potential threat of new forms of terrorism of mass destruction, are also of major concern.
In addition, the new cyber operational domain, space, artificial intelligence, energy security, climate change and migrations, are testifying the different nature of the today threats and challenges, often originating with unprecedented speed, thus challenging the decision-making process of the Alliance.
Likewise, a new Hybrid Warfare is eluding the application of Art. 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty whilst the vicious use of disinformation and false news attempts to weaken the cohesion of the Western societies and their free democratic processes.
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In this unpredictable security scenario, “If NATO’s neighbors are more stable, NATO is more secure.” This statement is at the heart of NATO’s Concept on Projecting Stability adopted by Allied leaders at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in 2016.
In this respect, NATO Secretary General has often pointed out that investing in developing local institution and forces and capabilities is a cost-effective mean to prevent crisis and fight terrorism and destabilization.
By stating that NATO’s security is linked to the stability of the neighbors, Allied leaders made clear that while carrying out the most relevant Collective Defense reinforcement since the end of the Cold War, they were not looking to pull up the drawbridge of a NATO Fortress.
On the contrary, while NATO was enhancing its Deterrence and Defense posture towards the East, in 2014 an integrated package of Defense Capacity Building (DCB) was launched with Jordan, in 2017 the Allies and Kuwait inaugurated a regional Centre in Kuwait to conduct activities with the Gulf Cooperation Countries, and in 2018 a new DCB assistance measure has been approved on the request of Tunisia and a Training Mission has been planned in Iraq.
However, nowdays, cooperation with partners could prove much more challenging. In the past, partners in Central and Eastern Europe were more homogeneous and motivated to act due to their aspiration for NATO membership.
At present, just few nations among the over 40 NATO partners are official aspirant Countries.
Due to the increased diversity of the today partners, a more flexible approach should be considered by NATO. Moreover, the complexity of the today security scenario requires very-well tailored programs.
In the present highly demanding security scenario, a critical issue remains the financial sustainability in the long term of the Centre of Excellence training programs.
To this end, NATO’s political consultation is essential to maintain the Atlantic solidarity, which could be affected by different security perceptions among NATO member States and across the Atlantic, as the Alliance is called to act in three different continents, from the Baltic to Iraq and to Afghanistan.
However, Allied solidarity and the Transatlantic Bond need to be strengthened by a fairer burden sharing in line with the commitment adopted by the NATO Heads of State and Government participating in the 2014 Wales Summit, which requires to devote the 2% of the GDP to defense expenditures, with a significant portion on major new equipment and related Research and Development.
In this perspective, the strategic partnership with the European Union is key, also to ensure a coherent development of civilian and military capabilities and cutting-edge technologies.
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The aforementioned security landscape represents the field of action of the NATO Security Force Assistance CoE.
In this context, the Security Force Assistance Centre of Excellence can take advantage and will impact on several NATO concepts, doctrines, and policies, including: Non Article 5 Crisis Response Operations (NA5CRO), Security Sector Reform (SSR), Stabilization and Reconstruction (S&R), Military Assistance (MA), Counter-Insurgency (COIN), Connected Forces Initiative (CFI).
The CoE SFA activities are effectively summarized by the acronym GOTEAM: Generate, Organize, Train, Enable, Advise, Mentor.
Activities must be based on: the principle of a political and possibly financial commitment of the Hosting Nation (HN); Political Primacy of the local authorities; Legitimacy; Comprehensive Approach to the international community, especially European Union and United Nations; Local ownership and Empowerment of local forces; In-depth Understanding of the operational and Information environment; Sustainability in the long term; Force protection; Strategic Communication; Visible and controlled effectiveness.
Last but not least, NATO attaches a great relevance to the gender issue in security. According to the UN Global Review on Women, Peace and Security UNSCR 1325, the security of women is one of the most reliable indicators on how peaceful a state is. The participation of women in peace processes increases by 35% the probability that peace will last longer than 15 years.
In conclusion, let me to congratulate the creation of the NATO Center of Excellence for Security Force Assistance and to thank once again the Director for inviting me to address this distinguished audience.
Last year, at the Brussels Summit, NATO leaders declared the Full Operational Capability of the NATO Strategic Direction South-Hub, based at the Joint Force Command in Naples.
The today inauguration of the Security Force Assistance Centre of Excellence represents another milestone of the Italian contribution to the Alliance.
I am confident that under the leadership of Colonel Merlino (IT-Army), the Centre will soon become an internationally recognized focal point, able to provide NATO and partner countries with a unique capability to train and develop local forces in crisis zones while offering a comprehensive expertise and support in the area of the Security Force Assistance (SFA).
While the world is changing and NATO is continuously adapting to cope with the new security challenges, the core values of freedom, peace and security that the Centre is looking to serve remain the same which, 70 years ago, the Heads of State and Government of the Western community decided to defend by signing in Washington the Atlantic Treaty.