UK-NATO COORDINATION AND COMMAND
198 On the interface with NATO, we learned from both
the UK Ambassador to NATO and the UK Military Representative that
the NAC and Military Committee had functioned much as intended.
Vice-Admiral Haddacks, the UK's Military Representative to NATO,
commented that NATO was very quick and very responsive, particularly
with the UK. 
Both DSACEUR, General Sir Rupert Smith, and COMARRC, General Sir
Mike Jackson, were at pains to remind us that, as NATO officers,
their first responsibility was to NATO and that their credibility
amongst the allies was dependent upon being, and being seen to
be, impartial in their interventions. Both, however, recognised
their value as an 'informal' source of comment and as a conduit
on the interface between NATO and UK.
199 On the interaction of national and Alliance command
structures, the MoD told us that 'current arrangements appear
to work well overall', but it also admitted that 'there may be
scope for links between PJHQ and the appropriate NATO headquarters
to be strengthened."'
We expect the scope for better coordination between the Permanent
Joint Headquarters and NATO headquarters to be spelled out in
more detail in the response to this report.
200 There are also questions about the nature and
quality of the links between US and NATO command structures. General
Sir Rupert Smith reminded us that "something in the order
of 80 to 85% of the equity lay with the United States".
The US DoD reported to Congress that
NATO's command structure
worked well, but parallel US and NATO command-and-control structures
complicated operational planning and unity of command.
General Naumann commented, when challenged about
implicit claims of a chain of command over-dominated by the US,
It would be the wrong conclusion
to say that the United States of America waged a war within a
war, that is not true. They provided assets which we did not have.
SACEUR tried to harmonise the impact these assets may have as
well as it could into NATO's campaign plan. Under the given circumstances
we could not have achieved much more.
But he went on to say
Strictly speaking, from a
NATO point of view I think one has to make sure that a NATO Commander
is given the maximum unity of command and the right to really
see it through. Nations, I think, have to think throughI
should put it as cautiously as I canthey should prepare
to think through to which degree they are really willing to transfer
authority to NATO. At the moment the formulas which we have definitely
allow for improvements under difficult conditions, as we had.
201 There are claims made that the US effectively
ran a separate war during Operation Allied Force. The French Ministry
of Defence, in its November 1999 report, comments
Our partners noted the complex
decision-making and information process within the Atlantic Alliance.
The 19 allies indeed jointly decided on and conducted, on a political
level, NATO's engagement in the crisis. However, despite the universally
recognized need for a single command, it has to be admitted that
part of the military operations was conducted by the United States
outside the strict NATO framework and procedures. The Supreme
Allied Commander of the operationSACEURis accountable
not only to the Atlantic Council, but also to his own national
hierarchy at the very highest level.
The same report also criticises the determination
of the USA (as well as the UK) to keep their cruise missile launch
platforms under national control.
202 While a certain discount needs to be applied
to French views of American domination of the Alliance, these
complaints are too persistent and come from too many sources to
be dismissed as groundless. The efforts to blend the US Joint
Task Force Noble Anvil operation into the Allied campaign appear
to have been at times clumsy and inappropriate. This resulted
in dual tasking orders and caused frustration. In practice, to
those on the ground it often seemed that there were two separate
missions, the US and the NATO one, being undertaken at the same
time. It is unsurprising that the contributors of over 80% of
the firepower will take a dominant decision-making role. The UK
or France would expect to do the same in similar circumstances.
Two views of the US within NATO can be takenthat its
dominance pushes the Alliance in directions for which there is
less than full consensus; or that its willingness to work within
NATO acts as an almost self-imposed constraint on US military
might in which European views of the world carry more weight than
they otherwise would. We favour the latter view.
203 The NATO military command structure for Kosovo,
running from SACEUR to CINCSOUTH and on via his Component
Commanders and into theatre has been described by General Wesley
Clark as "about as complex a command structure as anyone
would ever fear to see. But we had it and we worked it."
The MoD's Policy Director commented
I think that is part of the
wider lessons NATO has learned, that it was not configured, optimised,
to fight that sort of operation.
On our visit to NATO HQ in February of this year,
we formed the distinct impression that the idealised wiring diagrams
and flow charts reflecting NATO's command and control arrangements,
and its associated staff procedures, had rapidly been thrown aside
under the pressures of a real operation, and that this was an
operation in which the element of political discretion was far
higher than had ever been envisaged within the mindset of the
Cold War in which NATO had grown up. We were also surprised
that greater focus was not placed upon the development and use
of more structured NATO Combined Joint Task Forces, a concept
introduced with many fanfares at the Brussels Summit in 1994.
Vice-Admiral Haddacks told us
We have learned lessons on
the whole operational planning process which in this crisis worked
okay, but were not necessarily completely coherent and joined
up. In the wake of the crisis we have taken a very hard look at
the whole operational planning structure and methodology and we
have decided that there are better ways of doing it. In fact,
NATO has now drawn on UK best practice to set in place the thought
process that starts with a political military estimate, moves
on from that to a planning directive, and then draws out of that
various military options. We practised that process in this year's
crisis exercise 2000 for the first time.
He also told us that
Modern technology makes it
[NATO] a much flatter kind of organisation than it looks in the
hierarchical diagram because daily, as we know, SACEUR had a video-tele
conference with his commanders ... They have a dialogue, decisions
are reached and direction is given. It is much more synthesised
perhaps than the stark diagram would indicate.
DSACEUR, General Sir Rupert Smith, also judged that
the physical dislocation of NATO senior commanders did not give
rise to any problems. He, too, emphasised that there were repeated
video television conferences (for example with the Combined Air
Operations Centre at Vincenza and AFSOUTH in Naples) and no shortage
of communications. Indeed, he told us
You could argue that there
was possibly too much of it ... I do not think he [SACEUR] lacked
for air advice.
204 General Jackson tended to be more critical. On
the NATO side he told us that his one difficulty was the ability
of the decision making machinery to deliver the decisions required
in the most timely way.
Viewed from his perspective, it no doubt seemed that way, although
we are mindful, too, of the inherent difficulties of getting quick
decisions within an Alliance of 19 nations. Vice-Admiral Haddacks
emphasised that NATO had digested some of these lessons, and that
changes were in hand, particularly to enable the NAC to authorise
the deployment of enabling forces in advance of any ACTORDs.
That, he told us, had been an important lesson. On matters of
NATO doctrine, he warned that
There is a lot of work to
be done in the overall area of doctrine ... Civil and military
co-operation ... The whole peace support operations doctrine ...
Doctrine on information operations ... There is a broad agenda
of work that is under way ... lead nations have been nominated
and the UK is a lead nation in a number of those areas, including
peace support operations as a single subject.
205 Overall, despite tensions, NATO appears to have
delivered an ultimately effective command structure, if incorporating
a good deal of improvisation. It worked, but the strains showed.
The French Ministry of Defence comments
NATO's procedures, essentially devised for scenarios
implementing Article 5 ... were again shown to be inappropriate
for the management of [a] non-Article 5 crisis. A highly reactive
decision-making process is necessary and, at the same time, there
needs to be a guaranteed consensus between the members of the
Alliance. Ad hoc procedures were therefore established.
It would, of course, help in achieving improved
procedures within the Alliance if France were to rejoin NATO's
integrated military structure. The MoD's
own report on the lessons learned is more upbeat, asserting that
NATO proved itself to be
a capable and effective crisis management organisation ... NATO's
integrated military structure proved its worth in the Kosovo operation.
The US DoD's report concludes that action is needed
- enhance NATO's contingency planning process for
operations outside the NATO area;
- develop an overarching command-and-control policy
and agree on procedures for the policy's implementation; and
- enhance procedures and conduct exercises strengthening
NATO's political-military interfaces.
206 If NATO is to meet the challenges of future
crisesparticularly in response to asymmetric threatsit
must improve its performance in a number of planning aspects.
First, it must streamline its own crisis management planning system.
NATO must develop the ability to become truly proactive in its
planning and crisis management techniques, outlining clearly a
set of political scenarios from which military contingencies can
be derived at an early stage. This requires an earlier input to
the NAC to help clarify NATO's political objectives. General Naumann
was clear that there should be no question of overriding the need
for NAC authorisation in planning, "but to start thinking",
as he pointed out, "I do not need a Council authorisation."
In particular, he said, "we do not exploit the possibilities
of modern technology in a sufficient way". NATO's Military
Committee needs at least a 'supranational facility' for communication,
simulation and planning, to offer the NAC better founded advice
and support to help it get ahead of events.
207 Second, the mechanisms of crisis management
will always be challenging for a multinational organisation, but
the Alliance must ensure that differences between the members
are not created by NATO processes themselves: the way information
is handled, the bureaucratic pace of dealing with events, or the
failure to gather the relevant information at the appropriate
time. As the Policy Director and the Chief of Defence Intelligence
told us, NATO is looking at this aspect of its operations as part
of a broader approach to lessons learned and the way in which
it handles information.
208 Third, NATO must address in particular the
relationship between political and military planning. Vice-Admiral
Haddacks described to us the way explicit political direction
was handed down from the ministerial level to the military planners
in NATO in May 1998 to draw up a range of contingency measures.
He believed that this had been done "soon enough" to
He also described how all 19 nations in the Alliance "share
ownership" of the planning as it passes from the North Atlantic
Council, through the International Military Staff, to the responsible
strategic commander, whose response back up the line is then shared
among the national capitals. The Military Committee then provides
an overall assessment which is offered to the Council in answer
to its original request. This process will go through several
iterations as the situation develops. As NATO planning becomes
more detailed, national capitals also are allowed to comment and
make their positions clear.
209 This is ponderous, but we accept that it is necessarily
part of managing an Alliance of 19 nations. We also accept that
as a contingency planning process it worked reasonably well in
the build up to this crisis. There is a distinction, however,
between the planning and the execution phase of an operation and
both General Smith and Sir John Goulden pointed to problems in
the implementation of policy where Allies were not all working
with the same information, and took different positions on the
execution of the strategy.
Once political planning moves to military execution it becomes
very difficult to maintain the transparent and consensual procedures
described by Vice-Admiral Haddacks. There may be no sensible alternative
to the politico-military interface he outlines. But NATO must
streamline the way in which its international (political) staff
work with the international military staff in the implementation
phase to minimise friction and misunderstanding.
210 Fourth, NATO needs a greater ability to undertake
its own coordination of intelligence information. As General
Smith put it
You are entirely reliant
upon the information that individual nations supply¼We
will state our requirements as NATO but we cannot answer them
ourselves. So the reliance, as a senior NATO commander, is entire.
This cannot but slow down the planning process and
build into it further discrepancies in the information available
to different allies once operations begin. General Naumann told
us that, "NATO intelligence is the collection of NATO nations'
This is unavoidable, but intelligence-sharing is fundamentally
a matter of trust, not just in the people handling it but also
in the communications and processes through which it goes. Unless
NATO has a better and trusted co-ordination system of its own,
so that it can analyse better what it is getting from member nations,
its efforts to streamline the political/military relationship
in the execution of policy will be badly flawed.
211 We suspect though, that some of these issues
will take a long while to resolve. We trust that the MoD will
monitor the speed of response and seek to maintain the pressure
for action where it is appropriate to do so. There are also
two areas where both the UK and NATO manifested particular shortcomingshumanitarian
co-operation and information operationswhich we discuss
now in more detail. These highlight most starkly the failure
of NATO to confront effectively the 'asymmetric' tactics used