2. The situation in Afghanistan ranked high on the list of topics discussed during the meetings in Washington. Both official speakers and independent experts agreed that the country is in a difficult situation as the level of security has considerably deteriorated. David Sedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Central Asia, noted that the Taliban have achieved gains on the ground in the last years. Speakers ascribed the success of the Taliban to a number of factors, including “perennially under-resourced and badly managed efforts” in Afghanistan, as one briefer noted. This applied not only to the military but also to the civilian side, speakers underlined and Senator Jack Reed added that there were never a sufficient number of civilian experts deployed in Afghanistan.
3. One independent expert commented that the previous US administration tried to do the Afghan mission “on the cheap” and that a large part of available resources were used for the war in Iraq. Another important factor that contributed to the difficult situation in the country was the lack of a coherent strategy and the “constant reinvention of the plan”, others argued. Steve Bowman of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) reminded the delegation that the current review of the Afghanistan strategy is the sixth in the last two years.
4. While speakers generally shared the view that the number of troops deployed to Afghanistan fell short of what was necessary some commented that it would be unrealistic to assume that the Allies and the international community could ever muster approximately 600,000 troops which, according to some estimates, would be necessary to conduct a classical counterinsurgency strategy in the country. The most effective way to improve security is therefore to improve the capabilities of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) the delegation learned. In this context, Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow pointed out that the costs to deploy one American soldier to Afghanistan for one year add up to approximately 250,000$ annually, while the expenses for putting one Afghan soldier into service amounts to about 12,000$. Moreover, every Afghan soldier has three advantages over any NATO soldiers, as he “speaks the language, can eat the food, and can drink the water”. Riedel continued by saying that the Allies should “get away from the idea of building an Afghan army based on Afghan infrastructure”. Instead, the Allies and the international community have to build an Afghan army supplied by the West for an extended period of time.
5. Both official speakers and independent experts held the view that a purely military approach would not bring a lasting solution to Afghanistan . As one participant put it “development sustains security, but it does not create security” and it is therefore crucial to have a proper mix of development and security, the delegation learned. Participants also agreed that poverty continues to pose a serious problem in Afghanistan and one speaker said that unemployment is as high as 40%. A particular challenge is the high unemployment among better educated people, another speaker, added and pointed out that only 25% of those who enter high education find a job. He considered this to be a “time bomb” and explained that many of those who do not find a job leave the country, while a few others join the Taliban. One expert warned that the Taliban benefit from the uncertainty over the future of the country and that they dispose of considerable financial resources which help them to recruit young Afghans. He expressed concern that some Afghan prisons are no longer under the control of the authorities and have become a sanctuary and recruiting ground for insurgentsand referred to the leaked version of the report by General Stanley A. McChrystal on the situation in Afghanistan. Speakers agreed that the McChrystal report represents a “sober” assessment of the situation in Afghanistan.
6. The discussions revealed a broad consensus that it is important to generate hope among Afghans that the situation will improve. Therefore, improving human security and providing good government must be on top of the priority list for the Afghan government and the international community, the delegation was informed. However, participants also held the view that the current situation has become more complicated after the recent Afghan Presidential and Provincial Council elections which, speakers considered, were rigged in favour of the incumbents. Speakers expressed different opinions how serious flawed elections were for the future development of the country. Bruce Riedel considered the elections, which were supposed to produce a reliable partner with whom the international community could work, a “fiasco”. Another speaker, however, put a stronger emphasis on two positive aspects of the elections, namely that many people voted despite the testing security situation and that the election complaint commission, which is mandated by the UN, is looking into the conduct of the elections. He also underlined that the post-election discussion in Afghanistan is much less about election fraud but primarily about voter participation, as many people in the South of the country could not cast their votes, primarily due to the fragile security situation. Thus, perhaps the most serious problem after the elections are the different perceptions of the people in the North and in the South of Afghanistan, he said. In a similar vein, Steve Coll of the New America Foundation considered the project of ethnic reconciliation and reintegration to be “existential”.
7. All speakers on Afghanistan agreed that it is important to address the shortcomings of the elections and to form a government that includes and represents all ethnic groups of Afghanistan as soon as possible. Moreover, there was a strong consensus that the accountability of the Afghan government must be considerably improved. One added that it is important to purge the government of individuals who are involved in the drug business. However, this requires both political will as well as civilian capabilities, it was underlined. A complicating factor that might limit the influence of the international community on the Afghan authorities is ‘aprevailing perception among the supporters of President Karzai that “the West” would oust Karzai by whatever means’, one independent expert cautioned.
II. NATO’S FUTURE ENGAGEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN
8. From a perspective of the Alliance , Lieutenant General (ret.) David Barno, Director of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies (NESA) at the National Defense University identified four main tasks and challenges that NATO faces in Afghanistan.
9. First, the Allies must defeat the Taliban strategy by emphasising their enduring commitment to the region. The Taliban assume that they simply need to wait until the Allies disengage from Afghanistan , he explained. Others concurred with this view and one speaker suggested that the engagement of the United States in Afghanistan has been one of either “all in” or “all out” in the past 25 to 30 years. According to the speaker, most players in the region consider the chaos of the last years to be a result of the US “in” or “out” and regional actors do not have the confidence that the US will stay. Therefore, the regional powers pursue a “hedging strategy” and judge their national security strategies according to ‘how the situation will look like the day the Americans leave’. One briefer said the discussion over exiting from the country or over possible exit strategies was a disservice to the mission and would undercut the strategic aims of the US.
10. Second, the next Afghan government must rebuild the trust with the people of Afghanistan , General Barno stressed. One independent expert suggested that the Afghan people have grown distrustful of the way the international community has invested in Afghanistan. The exchanges revealed a broad agreement that the major problems remain corruption and the lack of legitimacy of the government in Kabul. Senator George Voinovich commented that the Allies need confidence in the government if they plan to build up the army and police. One member of the delegation said that the Afghan government must do ‘far more to justify that Western governments put their young soldiers' lives at risk’. Another speaker stated that the lack of trust has debilitating impact on the efforts of NATO and the international community.
11. Thirdly, the Allies need to achieve true unity of effort in Afghanistan , the General said. While there has been a lot of talk about the need to pursue a comprehensive approach in the last years, this was never really tried. Significant problems remain, particularly the lack of communication, on the local, district and regional level, and the military must be part of the civilian effort, the delegation learned. The General saw a crisis of confidence among NATO Allies, primarily as a result of the operations in Afghanistan. One speaker pointed out to the continuing existence of national caveats and other restrictions imposed on Allied military forces operating in Afghanistan. Another commented that European militaries have become de facto peace keeping forces and have only unnecessary limited war fighting capabilities. These shortcomings have led parts of the mid-level American officers to no longer regard their Allied comrades as equal and the acronym “ISAF” (International Security Assistance Force) is now dubbed “I saw Americans Fight”. The speaker considered this to be a troubling development and wondered what the effect for NATO as an Alliance could be.
12. Fourth, national capitals need to reframe the “narrative” of why the Alliance is in Afghanistan, Barno concluded and proposed that the rationale for the Allied presence in the country has been “muddled” in the last years. Congressman John Tanner, President of the NATO PA, stressed the critical importance of having sustained public support for the operations in Afghanistan. In this context he referred to the crumbling domestic support in the US for the war in Vietnam, but added that he believed that ‘we do not have the option to walk away from Afghanistan ’. Members of the delegation agreed that maintaining continued public support for Allied efforts in Afghanistan is a difficult task. A Canadian member of the delegation said that it is important to point out that the costs for leaving are much higher than staying.
13. General Barno and others acknowledged that there are no cheap and easy solutions. When pondering their future engagement in Afghanistan , the Allies have to consider possible consequences of failure of the mission. For example, would the Taliban and al-Qaeda be catalysed if NATO and the international community failed in Afghanistan? If the Allies would not succeed in Afghanistan what could this mean for the credibility of the United States and of NATO? Would NATO as an alliance survive if it failed in Afghanistan? Afghanistan is not “unwinnable”, speakers stressed. Riedel pointed out that there is no national uprising, but that the Allies face a Pashtun-based movement and that a majority of the population want to work with the Allies. The overwhelming majority of Afghans, including the Pashtuns in the South, do not want the return of the Taliban. Afghans follow the ongoing debate over the future Afghanistan strategy in the United States closely, one speaker suggested. He added that in the perception of Afghans the worst thing that can happen is that Afghanistan would be abandoned again.
14. Senator George Voinovichstressed that success in Afghanistan requires a robust strategy and increased contributions from NATO allies. He explained that the US administration is planning a sustained commitment to Afghanistan and asked what the Allies are willing to do in Afghanistan. He also raised the question of whether the European public understood the threat that emanates from a failed Afghanistan?
15. One member of the delegation stressed the importance of a truly collective approach – and decision making – towards the engagement of the Alliance in Afghanistan. Julianne Smith, Principal Director for NATO/Europe Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, stressed that the approach of the new US administration is also in reaction to earlier Allied demands which emphasise a regional strategy as well as a comprehensive approach and achievable objectives. Responding to a comment from a Canadian member of the delegation Smith and Senator Jack Reed conceded that many Americans are not aware of NATO’s contribution on the ground in Afghanistan. The US government will include the interests of the Allies, Smith reassured the delegation.
16. In the context of the comprehensive regional approach that the Allies, and indeed the international community, need to pursue Senator Jack Reed and others stressed the importance of Pakistan. Participants shared the view that the security of Afghanistan and Pakistan are closely intertwined and that the stability of Pakistan remains fragile. Paul W. Jones, Deputy to the Special Representative and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and others underlined that that the US administration recognises the centrality of Pakistan for Afghanistan. That Pakistan ’s importance goes even beyond the region was stressed by Bruce Riedel who pointed out that the country has one of the fastest growing nuclear arsenals of the world. One independent expert commented that “if Afghanistan is a difficult task, Pakistani is infinitely harder”. Several speakers suggested that Al Qaeda, which they considered as serious a threat as it was eight years ago, is mostly based in Pakistan now. They argued that Pakistani authorities have also been “patrons of various terrorist groups” in the past. One speaker said that the main headquarters of the Afghan Taliban is supposedly in Quetta and that there has been no action by Pakistani security forces to tackle the problem. However, the discussions revealed a general sentiment that Islamabad has meanwhile realised that Pakistan faces an existential threat by Islamic terrorist groups, particularly after the attacks against Pakistani security forces, Bruce Riedeland others noted.
17. Pakistani security forces are now fighting insurgents inside their country and the operations in the Swat valley, which regrettably also have forced a large number of the population to flee, have been quite successful. However, the Pakistani government does currently not have the resources to completely defeat the enemy. Pakistan has not the perspective nor the training or equipment for extended counterinsurgency operations, he noted. Therefore, offensives, such as the ongoing one in Waziristan, will be limited.
18. Although the security challenge that Pakistan is facing is serious, the most important problem facing the country is the economy, the delegation was told. Riedel and others explained that the difficult economic situation is the biggest reason for the success of the extremists. While the assistance, pledged at the donors’ conference in Japan, does alleviate some of the country’s difficulties, it is not sufficient, one independent expert commented. Steve Coll reminded participants that President Obama just signed a landmark bill which increased the bi-lateral assistance to Pakistan to approximately 1.5 billion US-dollars. Despite these improvements, bi-lateral US-Pakistan relations are not without complications, independent experts said. In this context Riedel explained that conditions that the Congress attached to the assistance programme devised by the Obama administration led to protests in Pakistan. While most conditions of the bill passed in the House of Representatives were removed in the negotiations with the Senate, the Pakistani National Assembly discussed a resolution condemning the bill. Therefore, the US pursues a communication towards Pakistan which is frank in private, but careful in public, Riedel suggested. David Sedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Central Asia, added that the discussions with Pakistani officials, which had been very difficult in the past, have become much more productive in the last six months. Mr Riedel reminded the delegation that Pakistan is in the midst of an important transition and that this is the fourth time that it tries to establish a democratic system.
19. The complexity of the security issues facing Afghanistan and Pakistan was further underlined by speakers who stressed the crucial importance of the Pakistan-India relationship. Steve Coll suggested that the normalisation between Pakistan and India is ultimately decisive for the progress in Pakistan, including a viable power sharing agreement between the army and the government. The delegation heard different views on the status of the bi-lateral relationship between Pakistan and India. One speaker argued that India feels that Pakistan has taken no serious steps to dismantle the terrorist network and that it has repeatedly been provoked over the last decade by Islamabad. However, India and Pakistan had very serious discussions on backchannels and Pakistani President Zardari has said that he wants to continue where former President Musharraf left off. Another speaker stressed that the bilateral negotiations between Pakistan and India are quite well advanced, adding that it appears that both sides want to improve their relationship. The critical contentious issue between the two remains Kashmir, Coll and Riedel stressed. Riedel suggested that a possible solution to overcome the impasse could be to make minor modifications to the “Line of Control” and recognise it as a border. However, it should be a “permeable border” which allowed the flow of people and goods, particularly as Kashmir ’s only hope for the future is tourism, he said. Riedel also emphasised the importance of involving the international community in solving the Kashmir issue. Once India and Pakistan will have reached an agreement, the international community should also get involved as this could provide confidence to both parties.
20. Riedel concluded that improving the situation in Afghanistan and in Pakistan requires a three pronged strategy which includes a) the development of a regional strategy (including Iran, Russia, China, Gulf States); b) a fundamental change of the US’ and the Allies’ relationships with Pakistan (in this context he explained that the policy pursued by President Barack Obama tries to put constancy and consistency in the US relationship with Pakistan); and c) compounding a consistent counter-insurgency policy.
21. Several speakers noted that Iran has, until now, been very productive with regard to its role in Afghanistan. In their view, this was due to the fact that the Allies and Iran share some common interests in Afghanistan. The discussions also touched upon Iran ’s nuclear activities and the ongoing negotiations between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (P5+1). All participants agreed that the nuclear programme raised serious concerns; there was also consensus that a negotiated settlement remains the preference. Moreover, there was a general view that a military option would not deal with the nuclear issue in any strategic way. Rather, it would only make it worse and would have huge regional repercussions, as Flynt Leverett of the New America Foundation noted. One independent expert expressed the hope that it will be possible to “keep the Iranians one screwdriver away from having a nuclear bomb”.
22. Mr Leverett commented that it would be impossible to deal with the nuclear issue in isolation from other, broader international issues. From an Iranian perspective, they have tried that in the past, but it has been unrewarding. He also said that the Islamic Republic has established itself as de facto leader of resistance against US policy in the region. He added that Iran 's regional role has become more important, which creates both challenges and opportunities for the US. Referring to the latest domestic problems in Iran he commented that the internal political developments are unlikely to affect country's hard core national security and foreign policy. He also considered the Islamic republic to be internally rather stable.
23. Cathy Addis of the CRS briefly explained the US approach towards the Iranian regime, pointing out the parallel policy of engagement and sanctions. She stressed that the policy pursued by the US administration is supported by the US Congress, particularly concerning the impositioning of possible additional sanctions. She summarised that the last meetings between the P5+1 were promising and that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA ) has scheduled inspections for 25 October. In contrast, Mr Leverett was skeptical of the dual track approach and argued that sanctions would be a waste of time as they would not make a difference. Moreover, to the extent they would be pursued, they would undercut the credibility of a diplomatic approach, he maintained. Rather, the West has to get serious about trying a strategic, comprehensive policy towards Iran. The speaker continued by saying that the United States needed to realign its policy towards Iran in a similar manner as Nixon had done vis-à-vis China. Iran would be able to conduct a rational foreign policy – and it had demonstrated this since the end of the Iran-Iraq war, he added. He reminded the delegation that Iran has 15 neighbours and, from their perspective, not one single is a natural ally. Iran has legitimate interests and a legitimate role in the region. Moreover, it would be impossible to solve Palestine, Lebanon, etc without Iranian co-operation. In this context he referred to the Palestinian question and Tehran ’s influence over Hamas, he said that Hamas will either be a part of the process, or there will be no progress at all. In contrast, Thomas H. Goldberger, director of the State Department's Israel and Palestinian Affairs Office stressed that the US still considered Hamas a terrorist organisation.
24. Relations with Russia have been on the agenda of the Political Committee and it was therefore only natural that the Sub-Committee on NATO Partnerships was also interested in hearing Washington views on Russia. Speakers who briefed the delegation generally welcomed that the Obama administration, as well as other Allies, wants to improve the relationship with Russia. In this context, the decision to revoke the plan of the previous administration to deploy parts of the US missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic were welcomed. Senator George Voinovich said he considered the decision on missile defence as correct. However, he criticised the public relations aspect of the decision and referred to the fact that it was announced on the day of the anniversary of the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union in 1940. Officials at the Department of State and Defense stressed that US has “not abandoned any part of Europe in its pursuit of having better relations with Russia ”. In this context Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tina Kaidanow mentioned that the US and Russia differed over Georgia. Referring to the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008 she said she considered the report by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia (the Tagliavini Report) as “balanced”. She added that NATO’s door to Georgia must remain open, but added that Georgia ’s participation in NATO’s Membership Action Plan is currently not at the top of the agenda.
25. Steve Hildreth of CRS added that the missile threat has changed insofar as the Iranian ICBM effort has developed more slowly, while the opposite is true for short- and medium term missiles from Iran.
26. Colonel Tim Shea, Director Eurasian/Black Sea Policy in the office of the Secretary of Defense, informed the delegation that the United States re-established military-to-military relations with Russia in July. He added that Russia ’s military is going through a serious reform at the moment. However, from an outside perspective, Russia ’s defence planning does not necessarily appear always consistent. In this context he pointed out that most of the Russian security risks are in the South and that Russia needs more flexible, lighter forces to deal with current and future challenges. However, this is not always necessarily reflected in the transformation of the Russian armed forces currently under way.
VI. NATO-EU RELATIONS
27. Leo Michel, Senior Researcher at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at NDU, provided a short overview of NATO-EU relations. He noted that, unlike in the past when the US appeared to be sceptical of a stronger role of the EU in security affairs, the US is now more concerned that the EU is doing too little in this regard. He described the overall picture of the NATO-EU relationship as mixed. While there is sometimes a good working relationship on the ground, the relationship on the top level needs to be improved, he said. In this context, he considered the NATO-EU relationship in Kosovo as “pretty good” on a practical basis, among others between the EULEX mission and KFOR. In contrast, the picture in Afghanistan is very different. There was a lot of hope when the EU launched a police training mission, but this dissipated rather quickly as progress has been very slow and the EU today is struggling to deploy 265 police officers. Michel also referred to other areas of co-operation between NATO and EU, among others the limited training missions in Iraq, where the EU has established a EULEX mission to train judicial officials and the NATO Training Mission – Iraq (NTM-I) assists in establishing an effective and enduring security sector.
28. However, on the general level, there has been no progress in establishing a deeper, more structured relationship between NATO headquarters and the EU. Moreover, there is still no formal EU-NATO agreement, either in Kosovo or in Afghanistan . Michel stressed that the real value of close NATO-EU relations is not in the purely military realm, but in civil-military operations, as the EU, and the EU member states, have a broad gamut of instruments which can be applied for post-conflict operations. To advance closer and more effective relations between the Alliance and the EU, he suggested creating joint Headquarters for civil-military co-operation. This would provide real value added, particularly as this kind of operation is likely to be higher on the agenda of the two organisations, he said. In response, Members of the delegation stressed that, although their core purposes, while sometimes overlapping, are fundamentally different from each other, a closer working relationship between NATO and the EU is long overdue. Michel also anticipated that the role of NATO-EU relationship will be a major issue in the discussions on the update of NATO’s Strategic Concept.
VII. UPDATE ON NATO’S STRATEGIC CONCEPT
29. Exchanges with Members of Congress as well as with experts of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), as well as with representatives of the Department of State and the Department of Defense, provided the delegation with an opportunity to discuss NATO’s Strategic Concept, which is currently under review. Julianne Smith, Principal Director for NATO/Europe Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, stressed the importance of the update of the Strategic Concept, as it will provide guidelines about NATO’s future missions, the capabilities necessary to implement these, as well as how the partnerships of the Alliance with countries or institutions will be developed. Chairman Rainer Stinner (DE) and Members of the House of Representatives emphasised the importance of having parliaments involved in the discussion on the update of NATO's Strategic Concept. Several members of the House of Representatives stressed that the NATO PA has been at the forefront of this debate.
30. Vince Morelli, Research Manager – Europeof the CRS, reminded the delegation that the update of the Strategic Concept is taking place in three phases, namely 1) a “reflection phase”, which includes a number of seminars, 2) a “consultation phase”, when the Group of Experts under chairwoman Madeleine Albright group will sit with heads of state and discuss the findings of the “reflection phase”, and 3) a ”drafting phase”, when the new Strategic Concept will be drafted.
31. There was agreement that the new Strategic Concept should re-confirm NATO's commitment to Article V, but should enable the Alliance to tackle new, emerging threats. From a US perspective, the updated Strategic Concept must empower NATO to fulfil its core task of addressing the main challenges of the 21st which derive from global security threats, e.g., terrorism, WMD proliferation. Members of the House of Representatives suggested that the new Strategic Concept should also address issues like cyber defence, energy security. Paul Belkin, CRS European Affairs Analyst, also informed the delegation that the United States supports unequivocally a European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) that complements, but does not substitute NATO. Members of Congress also said that the new Strategic Concept needs to embrace a relationship with the EU and the UN.
32. In the exchanges with Members of the House of Representatives participants noted that the new Strategic Concept must be consensual among all member states of the Alliance. However, it was noted that significant differences remain over the definition of threats as well as over the levels of risk sharing and burden sharing among Allies. Moreover, several host country speakers also pointed out that Allies hold different views on the further development of partnerships.
33. Finally, the discussions revealed a strong consensus that the new Strategic Concept needs to highlight public diplomacy, which has become increasingly important. The update could also help to increase NATO’s public’s profile. In this context, one CRS briefer raised the question ‘Can Europe justify – and will its publics accept – sufficient defence expenditures’? If this would not be the case, will the US accept this?
VIII. TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS
34. The exchanges in Washington also touched upon the transatlantic relationship. Chairman Stinner noted a dramatic change of US foreign policy under the Obama administration; changes with regard to MD, Russia, partnerships, etc. Congressman Ben Chandler, Vice Chairman of the Political Committee, and others emphasised the distinct difference in tone. Vince Morelli said that the tone between the US and the Allies and the international community as a whole, has changed significantly, which, in turn, has generated a lot of goodwill towards the US. The current US administration has clearly shown a willingness to deal with the Allies as partners. However, issues like Iran and Afghanistan, in particular how the Allies are willing to contribute to meeting these and other challenges, will still drive how seriously the US will take the Allies as partners.
35. One administration official said that the US is also looking for ideas and leadership from the Allies, but the latter not always step up to the task. The US will continue to have expectations of the Allies; partnership is a two-way street, the official explained, adding that the partners on the other side of the Atlantic and elsewhere also need to make necessary adaptations. If the Allies do not adapt to the new challenges as well, the Alliance will be in for interesting times, the official concluded. One possible point of contention could be NATO's nuclear defence posture which, according to Jeffrey Lewis, Director of non-proliferation initiative project at the New America Foundation, is in serious problem. He maintained that the modernisation of its nuclear weapons in Europe would currently not be one of the priorities of the US government. In contrast, some European member states prefer to have the deployed US systems withdrawn from their soils. Therefore, the Alliance could be in some nasty public debate over nuclear weapons similar to the one in early 1908. It is important to seriously think about how we can maintain NATO's nuclear posture, he concluded.
36. Julianne Smith, Principal Director for NATO/Europe Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said that US military officials consider that NATO is not operating as well as it could and as it should. Referring to the earlier commitment by NATO member countries to devote approximately 2% of GDP to defence she added that, particularly due to the global economic and financial crisis, it would be unrealistic to assume that all NATO member states will be able to meet this goal. However, the Allies could improve their performance by, for example, eliminating existing waste and duplication of efforts. A similar point was made by David Ochmanek, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Development, who said that the imbalance in military power, i.e. the military dominance of the US, is unlikely to last. He anticipated the post-post Cold War era to be more challenging in terms of security, as the threat by nuclear-armed regional adversaries is likely to increase. Moreover, the US and the Allies may have to make adaptations in the way they develop the forces they need in the future, he said. For example, while the US tended to develop high-end, high-tech weapons (designed primarily for a larger military confrontation) in the past, it will have to put a stronger emphasis on developing smaller, more specialised forces as the security challenges posed by irregular forces, including terrorist groups and non-state actors, will increase. The importance of partnerships will therefore increase and working with partner states is likely to become more advantageous, as US does not have the manpower and the resources to engage in counterinsurgency all over the world. Smith and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Nancy McEldowney at the Department of State stressed that NATO remains the most important alliance for the US.