Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-79)|
INGRAM, MP, MR
CBE AND MR
WEDNESDAY 19 DECEMBER 2001
60. We know what happens if NATO is involved.
I am clear that DSACEUR is responsible for force generation. What
I am trying to get at is who is the equivalent of DSACEUR under
the arrangements for ESDP? Is there one and, if so, who is it?
(Mr Lee) No, there is not. There is a choice.
(Mr Ingram) There is not a specific person appointed
and, depending on the circumstances, which countries are coming
in to deal with the particular event, a determination would be
made as to who would then take the lead in that. We have a capability
in PJHQ which would allow us to do it. The French could offer;
the Germans could offer. Clearly it would be the bigger nations
who would be contributing to that type of leadership role. There
is not a mirror structure or a parallel structure between NATO
and ESDP right down the line.
61. We do not want one.
(Mr Ingram) It is up to you to recommend what you
62. For the record I agree with Rachel Squire.
(Mr Ingram) There is great unanimity around the table
then. That has not been planned for, not been conceived. DSACEUR
would have an important role if called upon short of NATO involvement.
Given the scale of abilities and capabilities at rest in NATO
the likelihood would be that where NATO were not involved there
would be quite a high level of contact to move forward on this,
and in an advisory role DSACEUR could play a very important role.
It may well be that the lead nation of the group of nations may
say, "We want very close engagement here. Although NATO is
not playing a role we have got to find some point of advice."
We have then to consider with all the nations of NATO as to why
NATO is not so engaged, so there are some sensitivities around
all of that. DSACEUR is important; it fulfils a very vital role,
and the close NATO/EU relationship is something that has to be
63. One of my most vivid and worrying memories
of Kosovo was talking to the Green Howards and saying, "How
are you getting on?", and their reply was, "Now the
shooting has stopped it is extremely boring". Talking to
some German Panzer Grenadiers, I said, "How are you getting
on?", and they said, "Thank God the shooting has stopped.
We are not at all keen on this operation when it is dangerous.
Now that things have quietened down it is a lot easier."
Clearly some are regulars, some are conscripts. How are we going
to square the circle between regulars and conscripts?
(Mr Ingram) In the same way that it has got to be
squared within NATO. The same issue arises. A number of nations
are moving away from a conscript based army. Whether that is a
development that takes place over time is a matter for those individual
nations. The French, the Spanish and the Italians are hopefully
moving to the professionally based army and that may happen in
other countries. There is no difference in that if that is a problem
as so defined then it applies to NATO as much as it could apply
to Europe in the future. I am interested in the reference to the
Green Howards because I spent time with them during my Armed Forces
parliamentary scheme and understand the quality of that particular
group of men and women.
64. And any of our infantry.
(Mr Ingram) Yes, but you referred to one so I would
agree with your latter comment. I just want to put on record my
contact with the Green Howards.
65. Minister, what in your view are the most
significant gaps in the Helsinki Headline Goals and, more importantly,
what are the solutions to filling those gaps?
(Mr Ingram) Do you want the long answer or the short
66. I want the informed answer.
(Mr Ingram) Given the fact that we have gone from
94 a year ago to 104 areas that have now been defined, we are
still 40 short of the 144, 21 of which are deemed to be militarily
significant. We could give you some of the broad details as well
as specific details. The shortfalls which have not been fully
remedied but where initiatives have been identified, ie there
is a need for action to be taken, and this would not be all of
them, things such as carrier based air power, combat search and
rescue, Cruise missiles and precision guided munitions and the
roll-on roll-off shipping resource. There are also shortfalls
which have not been fully remedied but where there are new initiatives
required and that first category of those where the initiatives
have now been identified as taken forward but there are others
which go beyond that and that would be in recovery and maintenance,
transport units, light and medium armoured companies and military
intelligence units. That is not a comprehensive list but that
is just a flavour of some of the areas. The way in which this
has been quantified, and it is an important question, is that
it helps the argument that this is an important initiative that
we are involved in here because it is about identifying those
shortfalls in capabilities, some of which are also NATO shortfalls.
We do not want to get into too much of the detail but if there
are weaknesses we want to expose the extent of those weaknesses.
To define shortfalls in that way and get the nations which then
can deliver on those shortfalls, pushing them forward gets us
back to the question about how confident we are about achieving
the Headline Goals by 2003. The very fact that we are quantifying
it means that we leapt to it and are pushing forward which we
regard as helpful both to the European Union in the way in which
we would maybe be called upon to carry out tasks, but also NATO.
67. Could you enlighten us? You have given us
some idea of some areas where you say there are shortfalls. How
in a practical way are they to be addressed to decide how those
shortfalls are going to be dealt with? Who decides?
(Mr Ingram) Who then picks up which area?
68. Yes. Pick one of the areas you listed.
(Mr Ingram) I stand to be corrected on this but my
understanding is that that is now part of the action plan which
has been defined and which has been taken forward under the Spanish
Presidency. It is very much to the fore in terms of what the remit
of that Presidency will have to carry out during the time it has
that responsibility. The action plans will then look at the totality
of it and lead nations will then take on the elements that make
up that. That has not yet been defined but that becomes a function
for further definition by the Spanish Presidency. I cannot give
a specific answer, taking a subject and the UK will be the lead
nation or France or whatever, because that has not yet been defined.
69. So within that are we talking about, for
example, specialisation, that one nation does one thing or we
have the burden sharing or pooling between different nations?
(Mr Ingram) That then has to be the approach. It may
well be that one nation steps forward and says, "We will
deal with this capability shortfall", or the more likely
approach would be in terms of burden sharing or pooling. That
has to be examined through the action plan approach. If we have
a lead nation beginning to examine this and what type of bilateral
or multilateral relationships they have with countries and how
they can begin to look at some for the solutions which are there,
models which are already in existence between countries at present
, and can we then replicate that to deal with some of these shortfalls.
(Mr Lee) Could I just add to that? The principle that
is about to be followed although, as the Minister says, we have
not established the full detail of how this will work yet in the
action plan since the action itself was only agreed at the end
of November in the Capability Conference, is that groups of willing
nations come together, those who wish to focus on particular capability
areas, will bring their expertise, what current programmes they
have in their own national programmes, bring those together with
others who are trying to follow similar objectives, and see whether
there are ways that they can improve upon their programmes. Are
there ways which, if they do things together, they can do them
more efficiently than doing them separately by adjusting their
programmes, sharing ideas and so on? The initiative will come
from the countries themselves. At the end of the day this will
work on the will and the input that is made by the countries themselves.
There is not any other body or authority telling people what the
solutions are. We, along with the other countries, have to work
out for ourselves what the solutions are that we are willing to
go along with. In some areas we may be willing to enter into pooling
arrangements or reciprocal arrangements with other countries.
In other areas we would not, and the same would go for others.
70. So in the future could you actually see
that certain countries do specialist things, for example, there
are arrangements already between the Germans and the Dutch in
terms of heavy lift. Can we actually agree, for example, that
a nation takes a specialism and provides that into the pot?
(Mr Lee) If they are happy to do that then that is
up to them. If it increases the overall capability collectively
that is fine. That is a benefit.
(Mr Webb) That is certainly a process that we have
been encouraging. There has been some good work done between medical
units, for example, where you need to have them in the force structure
but it is not necessary for each country to provide their own,
and there are very good initiatives to try and co-operate on that.
I was just looking through the list for an example. Maritime medical
evacuation units, for example, are an area where Belgium, Luxembourg,
Portugal and the UK are working together on that.
71. Would there be any areas we would be willing
to forgo in order to rely on, say, Belgium or Germany to provide
that service or that capability?
(Mr Ingram) We would probably need to examine that
as it was discussed and developed because all nations would have
a national strategic interest as well. By forgoing it what do
we lose? We are gaining something in terms of overall capability
but if we step back from something we were doing that may not
be desirable. In a sense we have to be looking probably more towards
a sharing approach, a pooling approach, rather than stepping aside.
We have got to recognise that we cannot do everything. Even although
we cover the broad range of the tasks and the spectrum, we cannot
simply do everything. That is just not within our capabilities,
nor indeed can the US in terms of their current Afghanistan conflict.
That is the purpose, I suppose, of NATO and why we are saying
that is the purpose we are trying to achieve through this initiative.
72. Personally I think the more specialisation
that happens the better in terms of getting more value for money
across Europe. There is going to be a pressure whichever country
you are in in terms of trying to increase defence expenditures.
The more co-operation you can get surely it is better in terms
(Mr Ingram) I am not arguing against that; I am arguing
for that. I think the question was, what did we stand back from
doing. We have to decide what our national interest in that is
and what do we lose potentially by so doing. While we accept wholly
the principle, every nation will look at this. If they are being
asked not to do something how does the national posture then stand
thereafter? We have to make these strategic decisions.
73. You cannot see in the future, can you, a
situation whereby you would deploy large forces without, for example,
NATO or without European colleagues? Is there a scenario where
you could see that?
(Mr Ingram) Without having someone alongside us?
(Mr Ingram) I think all the experience tells us that
probably everywhere where we have been engaged results in a multinational
level of activity in varying degrees and in different shapes and
forms because we cannot deliver on every front as an individual
nation. There is nothing unusual in that and I cite again the
US, the biggest superpower around, which cannot deliver certain
parts of its mission in Afghanistan and that is why one of the
things that we contributed is that we made that effort so much
more productive and so much more effective.
75. You can rely upon the United States to infill
anything that we require. The idea of role specialisation was
thought of quite a lot in the 1970s but nothing much came of it
and there have been historical instances where, if you are left
with a capability to be filled and you cannot fill it yourself,
you have to rely therefore upon the goodwill or treaty obligations
of others. Whilst we cannot be a scaled down version of the US
we have to have some areas where we are not fully in command of
our own resources. There are some worrying elements which I would
not want to mention to indicate where some allies are not always
prepared to cough up to meet your requirements.
(Mr Ingram) That may be another debate. I am not sure
it is necessarily a debate on this occasion, but that is examining
other countries. In terms of the specific question about role
specialisation and would we go into this on the basis of that
being the principle, I am saying no in that sense. That does not
mean to say that you will not get role specialisation. We do not
have a script either that says that we are walking away from certain
areas. The whole drive it seems to me in terms of the multinational
approach is about co-operation, about sharing, about partnership,
about pooling of resources.
76. With regard to the feasibility certainly
with the new chapter of the SDR that has been written, the fact
of the matter is that we are not going to be able to spread the
jam as thinly as possible, are we, so to make the jam tasty you
are going to have to make sure you have co-operation with other
(Mr Ingram) Absolutely, and that is what this initiative
is seeking to achieve.
(Mr Lee) As a generalisation it is fair to say that
the larger the country the more it will have an interest in trying
to maintain as balanced a set of forces as possible, and that
is the position that we are in. We do not claim to have all the
capabilities in our inventory now, and neither does the US even.
Obviously, as you get down to the smaller countries, they are
more prepared to work with others in order to produce something
and where you stop on that spectrum is a decision you have to
take on the particular capability in a particular circumstance.
77. We have been talking about capability deficiency
and particularly here we have mentioned that NATO clearly has
some as well. What are the implications for us now while we are
waiting to build up that capability of those deficiencies?
(Mr Ingram) Could we deliver on every task?
78. Yes. Are we limited by those deficiencies
at the moment?
(Mr Ingram) By definition we must be limited, but
again I think it would be wrong to then define that in precise
terms because I come back to an earlier comment I made about if
there are weaknesses we do not want to publicly expose them for
79. But it is my job to ask you the question.
(Mr Ingram) It is my job to defend the best interests
of the situation. We have got some very powerful capabilities
and we have shown that in US and UK terms in Afghanistan, so we
keep coming back to that. Again, we could say what has been done
in Kosovo and Serbia and Macedonia is a very good example where
there were a lot of doubters about what was going to happen in
that particular countrydo not go in because there will
be mission creep and so on, but we refined that into a willing
coalition of interests coming together to find solutions to that
in advance of having much of the capabilities that we know we
need to do it. It is people putting into the pot "We will
do this" and moving that process forward. We were in the
lead again on that but then we were able to step back and transfer
the lead to another nation. There are quite considerable strengths
there and they do come together at points of international or
localised crisis and that is a lesson that politicians have to
learn. Someone made a comment about dealing with politicians.
That slows the process down. I am conscious of the role that I
played in a small part at the time of Macedonia with Lord Robertson,
what would the UK really put into this and be part of that process.
I was watching the close relationship between him and Solana and
in defining the NATO/EU dimension to the whole approach. Even
where there may be shortfalls or deficiencies, we can still meet
some very large crises and manage them to a very considerable