June 19, 1996
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
NATO Adapts for New Missions: The Berlin
Accord and Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF)
Senior Specialist in International Security Policy
Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division1
The NATO Foreign Ministers, meeting on June 3, 1996 in Berlin, Germany, agreed
in principle on significant new steps that, if implemented, would constitute a major
transformation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s missions and methods of
operation. In January 1994, NATO leaders had approved a U.S. proposal to create
Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) headquarters that would allow the allies to prepare
to use their forces for a wide variety of different military scenarios. The concept had not
been put into action largely because of political differences over how to create the option
for European-led CJTFs. At Berlin, the allies agreed that a European Security and
Defense Identity (ESDI) would be created within the framework of the transatlantic
alliance by opening the possibility for European officers in the NATO structure to wear
their NATO command “hat” and, if necessary, a Western European Union (WEU)
command hat. It was also agreed that the NATO structure and assets could, with the
agreement of all the allies, including the United States, be made available for future
military operations commanded by the WEU. The government of France has said that
if such “multiple-hatting” command arrangements and the asset sharing plan are
implemented, France will return to full participation in NATO’s military command
structure. Implementation of the Berlin accord now must be negotiated, and hard
bargaining can be expected in the months ahead.
The Berlin Meeting
The U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Robert Hunter, has called the Berlin outcome “the
first significant change in the way the alliance does business since 1966, when the French
Research assistance for this report was provided by Michelle Walensky.
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
left [NATO’s] military structure.”2 The result did not come easily, and French President
Jacques Chirac has noted that “[s]uccess in Berlin was not guaranteed in advance on a
subject where the temptation to resist was strong on both sides of the Atlantic.” Until the
final hours before the ministers convened, allied officials struggled to piece together an
agreement that had almost come unraveled. Press reports suggested that U.S. General
George Joulwan, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR), was reluctant
to accept the idea that European NATO commanders could wear WEU hats as well,
fearing that divided loyalties might weaken NATO’s command structure.3
The final compromise was crafted to protect the strengths of the current NATO
command structure while making sufficient changes to warrant the French conclusion that
they would be joining a new structure, not the one that President de Gaulle had left some
30 years ago. The communique said that adaptation and reform of the Alliance would be
guided by three fundamental objectives: to ensure the Alliance’s military effectiveness and
ability to perform its traditional mission of collective defense while undertaking new
military roles; to preserve the transatlantic link, by strengthening NATO as a forum for
political consultation and military cooperation; and, to support development of a European
Security and Defense Identity (ESDI) within the Alliance, in particular by creating the
possibility for NATO-supported task forces to perform missions under the direction of the
The Berlin accord, when implemented, would allow the Alliance to activate the CJTF
concept — an approach originally proposed by the United States in 1993.5 The intent was
to establish new command arrangements within which U.S. forces and those of allied and
other nations could be combined in variable formations to take on a wide variety of
missions beyond the borders of Alliance countries. The agreement in Berlin to create the
possibility for European-led CJTF’s is important in its own right, particularly because
implementation should bring France back into full military cooperation with the other
allies. But the importance of making the CJTF concept operational goes beyond this one
aspect. The CJTF concept, as originally conceived and as agreed in Berlin, has three
! to give NATO’s force and command structure sufficient flexibility to allow the
allies, including the United States, to respond effectively to Alliance security
requirements and new missions beyond Article 5 contingencies (in other words,
beyond defense of allied nations from direct attack). (The NATO-led
“NATO acquires a European identity,” The Economist, June 8, 1996, p. 51.
Craig R. Whitney, “After NATO Overtures, France Is Ready to Resume Military Role,”
The New York Times, June 9, 1996, p. 8.
The WEU is considered the defense arm of the European Union. The goal of developing a
European Security and Defense Identity through WEU was set in the EU’s 1991 Treaty of
Maastricht. For background see Paul E. Gallis, The Western European Union, CRS Report
95-758, June 28, 1995.
For background on CJTF, see (name redacted), Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF) and
New Missions for NATO, CRS Report 95-1176, December 7, 1995.
Implementation Force in Bosnia (IFOR) is a classic example of this aspect of
! to facilitate the dual use of NATO forces and command structures for Alliance
and/or Western European Union (WEU) operations, encouraging European nations
to undertake missions with forces that are “separable but not separate [from
NATO]” in the context of an emerging European Security and Defense Identity.
(The IFOR was not designed as this type of European-heavy CJTF because the
allies all judged that U.S. military capabilities and political involvement were
essential to the success of the mission.)
! to permit non-NATO partners to join NATO countries in operations, exercises and
training as envisioned in the “Partnership for Peace,” a U.S.-proposed program of
military cooperation open to all qualified non-NATO European states that was also
initiated at the January 1994 summit. (The Bosnia operation does demonstrate this
aspect of the CJTF concept by associating a wide variety of non-NATO troops,
including those of Russia, with the IFOR.)
The Berlin accord should allow the allies to construct future Combined Joint Task
Forces that range (in terms of participation) from operations like the IFOR (with major
contributions from the United States, European allies, and non-NATO countries) to
presumably less militarily-demanding operations planned and executed by the Western
European Union. In between these extremes, a wide range of permutations and
combinations of CJTF command, control, and participation options could be planned
under the agreed concept. It is widely agreed in NATO that, in the near future, CJTFs will
in most cases include rather than exclude the participation of U.S. forces and commanders.
The allies also agreed to create a “Policy Coordination Group” in NATO composed
of allied political and military representatives to facilitate coordination of the political goals
of a mission and its military implementation. The creation of the group responded to the
French belief that NATO’s new missions require closer oversight in the conduct of military
operations by political decisionmakers, particularly in rapidly changing and politically
complex scenarios like that in Bosnia.
Under the new arrangements, NATO remains the pre-eminent military security
organization in Europe, and the role of the United States in this system remains critically
important. But the focus of NATO’s mission has grown from the previous emphasis on
territorial defense and toward perceived new requirements of the post-Cold War world.
The European members of the Alliance have been given an organizational venue for
initiatives designed to defend their security interests, but in a way that encourages and
presupposes continuing political and military cooperation with their transatlantic allies.
For an assessment of the post-IFOR issue see: (name redacted), Bosnia After IFOR, CRS
Report 96-344, April 16, 1996.
The Road to Berlin
At the January 1994 Brussels Summit, the NATO heads of government gave broad
guidance to the North Atlantic Council (NAC), NATO’s senior intergovernmental
decisionmaking body, with the advice of NATO military authorities and in coordination
with the Western European Union, to “develop this [CJTF] concept and establish the
necessary capabilities.” But progress was painfully slow. The main problem was the
French concern that provisions be made for a greater European responsibility for CJTF
operations that largely depended on European forces for implementation. Under President
Mitterrand, Paris preferred that the NAC determine the political goals for and continually
monitor CJTF operations, wanting to de-emphasize the role of NATO’s military
decisionmaking bodies. (Since withdrawing from NATO’s integrated military command
structure in the mid-1960s, France had not taken its seat on the Military Committee and
other key NATO military bodies.)
The setting for the debate changed substantially, however, following the election of
Jacques Chirac as French President in May 1995. France under Mitterrand had favored
creating a European defense system that would parallel the NATO structure. But fiscal
constraints on defense spending and differences among France and its European partners
concerning the modalities of European defense cooperation led President Chirac to the
conclusion that effective European cooperation would be politically and financially
possible only in the framework of NATO. The European experience in Bosnia reinforced
the perceived need for closer collaboration with the United States. President Chirac
therefore decided that French interests called for an accommodation with NATO and,
hopefully, allied agreement to amend NATO’s military structure to allow France to join
a “new” structure taking into account French concerns.
On December 5, 1995, France announced that it would resume participation in the
Military Committee and in meetings of the NATO defense ministers. The French return
to active participation in NATO’s Military Committee served as an “invitation to bargain”
on the terms for France’s return to unqualified participation in NATO military cooperation.
The Chirac position was that the full return of France to NATO’s military structure would
require fundamental changes in that structure to give real meaning to the idea of a more
coherent and responsible European role in the Alliance.
In the second half of 1995, the British government began actively searching for ways
to create a European security and defense identity within the framework of the Alliance,
and in a fashion that would facilitate France’s return to full military integration. Early in
1996, both the French and British governments proposed what became known as the
“Deputies proposal.”7 They suggested that the Deputy SACEUR, traditionally a senior
European officer, and other European officers in the NATO command structure, wear
WEU command hats as well as their NATO and national command hats. This multiple
hatting procedure would, without duplication of resources and personnel, permit the
For a discussion of the concept see: (name redacted), NATO’s Future: Beyond Collective
Defense, CRS Report 95-979, September 15, 1995, p. 21-24, 30-32.
Western European Union countries to use the NATO command structure to organize and
command a military operation under largely European auspices.
The “Deputies proposal” reportedly raised serious issues for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of
Staff and SACEUR General George Joulwan. Senior U.S. military commanders were
concerned that the WEU hat might weaken the European commitment to the NATO
structure as well as lessen the American commitment to NATO. Other U.S. officials,
however, believed that a continued active U.S. role in the Alliance depended on being able
to demonstrate to the U.S. Congress and the American public that the European allies
were willing and able to take on greater responsibility for military missions both inside
Europe and beyond. The reinvolvement of France in the Alliance, with its willingness and
ability to participate in military interventions beyond national borders, was seen as the key
to the construction of a meaningful and coordinated European contribution to post-Cold
War security concerns.
The Berlin accord does not explicitly mention the Deputies proposal, and negotiating
the terms under which multiple-hatting arrangements may be implemented could be
contentious. The Berlin communique says that “separable but not separate HQs, HQ
elements and command positions that would be required to command and conduct WEUled operations...” should be identified in advance. It also says that the agreed principles
imply “double-hatting appropriate personnel within the NATO command structure to
perform these functions.” Following the meeting, when asked whether or not the results
mean that the Deputy SACEUR would become de facto the military head of the European
component of the Alliance, French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette responded “Yes,
that is a reasonable proposal you make.” The French government believes that the
language of the communique already adds to the nature of the potential responsibilities of
European officers in the NATO command structure. But the French interpretation may
not be shared by all allied governments or by the SACEUR, and some difficult negotiations
on this and other details may be expected in the months to come.
WEU Use of NATO “Assets and Capabilities”
Another difficult issue is the question of how NATO “assets and capabilities” could
be “loaned” to the Western European Union when the WEU conducts an operation under
the new concept. NATO assets are actually quite limited. They include command and
control structures and facilities, but very few weapons systems other than the NATO
Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). Most NATO “capabilities” not
controlled by the European allies are U.S. capabilities, such as intelligence systems and
heavy airlift. No ally, and the U.S. in particular, is willing to grant a carte blanche for
WEU control of capabilities that might be essential to the success of a WEU operation.
France and other European allies were concerned that NATO assets and [U.S.] capabilities
dedicated to a WEU mission not be withdrawn at some point during the mission, thereby
placing both their soldiers and the mission in jeopardy.
The Berlin compromise provided that, when NATO assets and capabilities are
dedicated to support a WEU mission, on a case-by-case basis, the North Atlantic Council
would monitor the use of those assets “with the advice of the NATO Military Authorities.”
During a WEU-run mission, NATO authorities would keep the use of NATO’s assets
“under review.” In fact, the final outcome makes extensive provisions for joint NATOWEU planning in peacetime as well as close cooperation during the conduct of an
operation. The communique noted that “...the Alliance will support the development of
the ESDI within NATO by conducting at the request of and in coordination with the
WEU, military planning and exercises for illustrative WEU missions identified by the
Implications for Congress
The Berlin accord was designed to help transform NATO’s role for the post-Cold
War world, respond to congressional calls for more effective sharing of international
security burdens, and accommodate a more cohesive European role in the Alliance.
France’s new relationship with the Alliance could add important military and political
resources for alliance missions, but will also mean greater influence for France in NATO
decisionmaking. This might require some difficult adjustments for the United States and
other allies. If the program is implemented, NATO could progressively develop military
capabilities available for use in a wide variety of contingencies, in and beyond Europe.
This would not guarantee that the United States or its allies would make the political
decisions to use such capabilities, but policymakers would have a wider variety of credible
options for multilateral military intervention than they do at present.
The NATO governments apparently hope to have made significant progress on
implementation of the Berlin accord by the time of their regular ministerial meetings in
December 1996. The Clinton Administration would then like the outcome to be celebrated
at a NATO summit meeting in the first half of 1997 at which time the allies would also
issue the initial invitation to certain Central and East European candidates for NATO
membership. Members of Congress might wish to consider how the changes agreed at
Berlin affect the utility and importance of NATO as an instrument of U.S. policy in the
post-Cold War world and what further steps might be needed to complete the
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