Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80-99)|
INGRAM, MP, MR
CBE AND MR
WEDNESDAY 19 DECEMBER 2001
80. Are there short term things that you can
do? I am thinking of strategic airlift, for example. The A400M
is going to be well past 2003; we have leased the C-17s as a way
of filling that gap. Is there other similar action that can be
taken across Europe in order to resolve some key deficiencies?
(Mr Webb) It is a good example. Obviously until the
A400M, the contract for which was signed last night, comes through
there will be limitations on reach in particular. I take your
point. An operation you might be able to do close in, yes, but
you will not be able to do far away for some time. As you say,
this is the sort of area where you can go round encouraging people
to look at either leasing or getting your name on some of the
aircraft which are up for charter in central Europe, for example.
It is all the sort of thing we try and encourage people to do.
It is terribly important to get the sense that 2002 is a way point,
a target that we are on course to get to, but beyond that the
capacity and particularly this question of scale and reach and
complexity will improve afterwards as these extra things come
through. We indeed go round plugging all that and saying, "Yes,
let us try and do some interim fixes in the meantime".
81. And people listen to you?
(Mr Webb) Yes.
(Mr Lee) There are limitations at the moment. You
can think of them in terms, as Simon says, of scale where the
larger the scale, the more complicated the command and control
arrangements, the more you would need to exercise those and obviously
things are in their infancy at the moment. There would be limitations
on scale for the time being for those reasons. There would be
limitations on readiness, the quickness of deployment, and the
reach at the moment because of strategic transport deficiencies,
so there are some issues there which need to be addressed. In
terms of the most complex, most demanding operations at the top
of the Petersberg range we were talking about before, then some
of the capability areas which are short on precision guided munitions,
carrier based air power, suppression of enemy air defences, those
kinds of things obviously limit your capacity at the top end of
the range. Those are the sorts of areas that need to be worked
on particularly vigorously before 2003 and beyond.
82. Just picking up in terms of the deficiencies
in the Helsinki Headline Goals, what more can be done to deliver
those goals? In terms of the approach, is there a need for a more
top-down approach in terms of control, who does what? How do we
get people who are not delivering or should be doing to deliver
more? Do you see any advantage in terms of having some central
pot in cash to help to plug certain goals? Do you see any advantages
in having some central finance in terms of you having some goals
that are clearly not being met at the moment?
(Mr Ingram) That is the whole process in which we
are engaged. First of all we have got the task that was set out.
These are the things that we are seeking to achieve. It is then
defined in terms of capabilities. It is then defined in terms
of shortfalls. It is then defined now in terms of the action plan
which I referred to, the way in which that will further refine
how this is to be taken forward and which country or countries
coming together can then push forward on that. In one sense it
is saying that everyone has signed up to this and it is down to
the leadership given through the Presidency and through the various
component parts of the action plan to pull this forward. Whether
it is about name callingI do not think it would get to
that. Diplomatic approaches never quite get to that, except criticism
of the United Kingdom on occasion, but it seems to me that the
totality of this approach is about dealing with those very key
issues that you have just alighted on apart from this question
of pooled resources where there are no plans, apart from at the
very top end in terms of what we define as the political and military
management structure of all of this, where there would be a pooling.
There are no plans to pool resources in this way at all either
through existing currencies or through the Euro.
83. Do you see any advantage in having pooled
(Mr Ingram) The answer must be yes because we have
decided to do so in terms of the top end of this, to look at how
to put it in. The way in which NATO operates is that you pay for
your own contribution. It is nice, clean, tidy. It is straightforward.
That does not mean to say you do not have occasions where pooling
can produce a benefit. At the top end of the management structure
and the decision making structure there are benefits in that specific
way. There may be other examples that may come along but certainly
not in terms of the individual capabilities or the totality of
capabilities. There are no plans, nor do I know of any plans.
Mr Howarth: That sounds very cagey, Minister,
but we have noted it.
84. Earlier we talked about groupings of forces
getting together such as Eurocorps and the Multinational Division,
and the interoperability and working together is very useful.
Is there scope for more of that? Is not the answer to the weaknesses
we have got the grouping together of bilateral countries or two
or three countries that are like-minded? Is that not the way to
(Mr Ingram) Again I would say that those are not exclusive
concepts, this ideal of groups of nations or bilateral relationships,
developing good working relationships, because that of itself
lifts the capability within the totality of what we are trying
to do in terms of the EU initiative. They can go along together
in this. Our view would be that we gain tremendous benefit from
the relationships that we have working with other countries.
85. I agree with that. What I am saying is,
is there scope to extend that? The UK and Netherlands forces,
with 3 Brigade Commandors working with the Dutch, is very effective
and it gets better and better every time you see them. There must
be more scope to try and concentrate on that grouping rather than
have the whole pot working together. I think we have to hone that
(Mr Ingram) The nodding heads tell me there is scope.
(Mr Webb) A good example of this has been an initiative
among Nordic countries to put together a peacekeeping brigade
called NORDCAPS. We have been associated with that because it
is built out of an arrangement which started up in Kosovo because
a lot of those countries came into the brigade which Britain had
the privilege of commanding in Kosovo, and they have now taken
that forward and are building it up as a peacekeeping brigade
which is very valuable because you can deploy it as a brigade.
As it happens this is an example of where Norway, not inside the
ESDP structure, is ready to offer something which could come within
that structure. We entirely agree with you. Mr Hoon after this
experience has been going round Europe encouraging the generation
of similar ventures. You mentioned earlier this arrangement between
the Netherlands and Germany on transport, on air lift, which is
very satisfactory. It is well worth encouraging. Perhaps I can
just make a point about how do you get the momentum for this.
I think there is a political process about this. I think I heard
the Spanish Presidency saying that they might invite the Chairmen
of the Select Committees on Europe and Defence to come and visit
them in Spain next. Perhaps I will not commit them to that, but
I am sure that if the Chairman went he would make clear his expectations
as other countries will be continuing to drive along with the
86. Thank you, yes, I heard.
(Mr Ingram) If it is held in Norway in the winter
it will not happen.
87. We have had a declaration that we can now
conduct operations although it is obviously bound to be limited
and as time goes on it gets better; we know that. Are there any
plans for any operations for the Rapid Reaction Force or any exercises
planned where they can all work together?
(Mr Ingram) The answer to that is no, not at this
88. The other thing about NATO is that there
is a common doctrine in NATO which moulds it together like a glue
and it works extremely well. Is that going to be transcribed into
the European force? Can that be done as well, the same way that
the doctrine and the approach are very similar in NATO?
(Mr Ingram) The answer to that would
be yes, for the very good reason that it would be wrong to have
different types of doctrine. It would be a common doctrine which
would then apply across the EU.
89. Is that coming together? That common doctrine
and attitude and approach in the European dimension seem to be
more difficult than in NATO although it has very similar players.
Can that common attitude come together better and more quickly
and satisfactorily for the future?
(Mr Webb) Yes, I think it is coming
through. In particular once armed forces have been trained up
to a particular doctrine, the art of war which underlines doctrine,
they tend to stick with it because you do not want to change,
so I think it is becoming a common currency without anybody quite
saying that it has to be mandated by NATO. Can I just make a point
about exercises? There are indeed no exercises planned for force
units but there is an exercise planned for the headquarters, the
top level Brussels crisis management machinery, not forces but
just the crisis management procedures we were talking about earlier.
One of the things which is now more of a determinant of capacity
than anything else is the crisis management machinery. You would
not want to do too much before you got the exercising done and
make sure that was working properly. If we had an emergency crisis
as the Minister mentioned in Mozambique, yes, but if it was something
on a more significant scale you would need to have an exercise
Syd Rapson: Chairman, presumably we will get
a report on that.
90. I just want to come in with a quick supplementary
about what you have just said about exercises. I know that there
has been this top level, senior level joint operational exercise
which I think is called CRISEX. As we have learned, both from
our experience in the Balkans and also, although we have still
to hear the lessons learned, seeing for ourselves our most recent
experience with Operation Saif Sareea, there is no substitute
for actually having forces from different countries on the ground
in a joint exercise. What I have also heard time and again from
forces of different countries, and particularly from our own armed
forces, is that the relationships you build up there in dealing
with both little things and big things are not ones that anybody
can substitute in some purely paper command centre type virtual
reality exercise. I am a little concerned therefore if there are
no plans to try and have a force on the ground type exercise at
least in 2003.
(Mr Lee) There are national exercises already. There
is a programme ahead of those. There are bilateral and various
multilateral exercises already planned, and there are already
NATO exercises planned. There is a full programme of exercises,
including exercising units together so that they work together.
What we are saying is that we are not attempting to add to that
a programme with the EU labelled "exercises of troops".
First, there is not any room in the exercise programme for another
set of exercises and secondly, there is not really a need because
the sort of co-operation on the ground that you are talking about
is already being exercised in NATO and there are other bilateral
and multilateral exercises that already exist. The benefits of
that can be fed into potential operations in the future.
(Mr Ingram) It may help, Chairman, if
we give you the list of all of these planning exercises. That
will allow you to see the type of interoperability there is between
nations across the reach of this, and that may help in the appreciation
of the scale and depth of this.
91. We are doing an exercise of the command
structure in the headquarters staff, which is the total package,
and yet we are exercising at the sharp end with different groupings.
I just wonder about fitting them together. You have got a very
honed command structure at the top, political and military, working
together in a European dimension, but it does not really fit in
with the different groupings. At the bottom level there seem to
be different groupings which are working extremely well and exercising
well and they are wonderful, and then you have this top level
and there seems to be a gap in between. Providing that is taken
note of I am quite happy.
(Mr Ingram) It is a very fair point
and it must be part of the future development. It is just the
way, as Mr Lee explained it, that in terms of the current training
template to fit something new in would not be deliverable in that
sense. We have to plan for that but in terms of the command and
control elements of it, let us get that defined, let us see what
the needs are and that in a sense would then dictate what is required
thereafter. Knowing that we have a lot of combined capabilities
that can be plugged into that and so the lessons can be learned
that we are currently doing. That is why we want to see the extent
of this and I want to put your mind at rest. There may be a specific
shortfall in the way in which you have defined it but it is pluggable
and will be plugged.
(Mr Webb) One of the points to make
is that both SHAPE and other headquarters like PJHQ get plenty
of practice. Perhaps I ought to say that behind this there is
actually a little bit of a broader inhibition which has been to
avoid creating a standing force or, as the Chairman referred to,
a Euro army, but I thought he was just trying to wind us up about
that. If you read the Laeken declaration you will see that is
specifically written out.
92. In all the versions, I ask? Was it in the
(Mr Lee) It has been in since Helsinki.
(Mr Webb) This was the last Laeken.
I think there is a little bit of that political inhibition behind
this to be perfectly truthful about it. If I may say so, you have
illuminated a little question here which is that I suspect you
might get a gain of effectiveness if you did exercise top to bottom.
On the other hand, is that a step we would want to do towards
making a feeling of more of a standing force? At the moment we
have decided not to. The honest answer is that there is a bit
of politics in this too.
93. Can we move to the implications of what
has happened since September 11 and how this course might take
account of that? The Helsinki Headline Goals, is it still relevant
as a result of the events of September 11?
(Mr Ingram) The answer to that is yes because it is
not seeking to address that issue of international terrorism.
Europe in any event is dealing with the threat of international
terrorism across a range of initiatives, as we know, in terms
of the way in which it is tackling these things and pursuing them
in so many different ways. There are a range of initiatives which
have been dealt with here but again we have to look at what the
Petersberg Tasks were and the specifics of that, but not unmindful
of the events of 11 September and the way in which that impacts
upon each of the countries individually and collectively across
Europe. It has an impact because it is part of the thought processes
which are out there. Under the Chapter work has been done in developing
the SDR and defines our capabilities in that enhanced way. Whether
those capabilities would then be plugged into something we are
doing in the ESDP, I would guess not but there is in many ways
a developing area of consideration.
94. Can the Headline Goals be adapted? Should
they be adapted to take in counter terrorism?
(Mr Ingram) I would say no to that because that is
not what it was specifically designed to do. Some of the examination
this morning has been about can we achieve the objectives which
have been set in the way in which they are very demanding. The
question has been raised, will we achieve that, and I am trying
to give you some confidence that there is a determination to do
so. To add a new dimension to this which is still in the process
of being defined I think will go beyond the reach of what we are
seeking to do in European terms because it is a much more global
issue that then has to be dealt with, but that is not to say that
Europe is not addressing this issue in a whole range of other
ways because undoubtedly we are.
95. Does the EU have a role to play in defending
itself against terrorism?
(Mr Webb) The EU certainly, in the sense that Pillar
3, the law and order side of it, is obviously very much engaged
and improvements have been made in that direction. NATO of course
has taken the decision that this was an attack on the Alliance
and so, if you like, the collective defence side of it has been
tackled by NATO. At the moment we, as the Minister said, have
quite enough to do to get the ESDP towards its targets. I suspect
some of the capability goals may need a little quick look because
there may be a higher risk to deployed forces than there was before
from NBC attack, and I think we ought to have a look at that and
we will be doing so. So some adjustment in that direction. Going
back to your original question, is it still relevant, the answer
is very much, I would say even more important, because the rest
of the security agenda is still there. We still have instability
on Europe's fringes; you could argue the Middle East situation
has created an increased risk of instability there; we have problems
in Africa. So all the rest of the agenda is still there. So I
think we are actually better off having, even at this stage, the
ability to undertake some, not many, operations at this stage.
It is a bonus and with everybody else in other organisations being
so busy it gives us another component to plan with. So to that
extent, I think it is more relevant.
96. Do you detect a shift in American opinion
towards the ESDP since 11 September? Have they changed their approach?
(Mr Ingram) I do not think there is anything specific
but the danger is that somebody then pops up with a quotation
from someone within the administration. There is no indication
at all that the very genuine commitment and welcome which has
been given to the ESDP by the Americans does not remain. That
is still very much the case, because of the very reasons which
we have set out here, that lifting European capabilities enhances
NATO's capabilities, and that must be welcomed. It is not seen
as a threat in any way to NATO's interests by the US. So I do
not think it has changed because of the events of 11 September
in any way at all.
97. Can I ask a supplementary? I wonder whether
the US perhaps see the European defence capability, with the ESDP,
as even more important as a result of 11 September, because of
their decision to focus on combatting international terrorism.
Do you gain that impression at all?
(Mr Ingram) Again, we are in the early rushes, the
very early stages, in the thinking of all of this, and every nation
is still examining the implications. We are examining them, we
have reacted to it in a very positive and, as I say, productive
way. We are tackling it in a very substantial way in international
terms. That does not mean to say we have understood the totality
of what the threat is or indeed know what we can do in every set
of circumstances. We have still a lot of work to do internationally
to define all of that. What we are doing in terms of the ESDP,
in terms of the Headline Goals, in terms of the Petersberg Tasks,
certainly improves the capability of important and powerful nations
to come together to deal with these other security crises which
could manifest themselves at any time. So that is why there is
no question at all that the USand it is not for me to speak
for the USrecognise the importance of this. Where there
has been a shift in their opinion on this, if anything, is the
question which would lead to the answer that there is probably
more of a welcome to this development than less.
98. We are going in February, so when we come
back we will tell you. Unfortunately, I am told the meeting you
invited me to in Toledo, Mr Webb, with the Spanish Presidency,
falls at the time we shall be in Washington. Maybe I can ask you
to go out and represent the Defence Committee!
(Mr Ingram) It is interesting, Mr Chairman, you have
problems with priorities as well.
Chairman: We are prioritising.
99. We have already talked about the pooling
of assets and resources between various nations but how many EU
countries, other than the UK, seek to retain national capabilities
right across the spectrum of possible Petersberg tasks?
(Mr Lee) The set of armed forces in Europe which is
most like our own is France's.