31 January 2007 - NATO PARLIAMENTARIANS HOLD MEETINGS IN WASHINGTON D.C. AND US CENTCOM, FLORIDA
Thirty-three members of the NATO PA Defence and Security Committee visited the United States from 22-25 January. Led by Chairman Julio Miranda Calha (Portugal), the NATO legislators met with their colleagues from the US Senate and the House of Representatives as well as with government officials and independent political analysts. The Assembly delegation also visited US Central Command and Special Operations Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
The discussions focused on a number of key issues, including US “grand strategy”, anti-terrorism, combating proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the rise of China, energy security and homeland defense. Several speakers drew attention to what they saw as a growing appreciation among United States political and military leaders that the United States could not achieve its foreign policy goals without extensive co-operation with allies and partners.
At the same time, it was now acknowledged that while US military transformation had delivered excellent tools for winning modern wars - high-tech capabilities to increase strike precision, operational tempo, “net-centricity” etc – there was a need to enhance capabilities for countering insurgencies and establishing stability. The experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrated the need to enlarge the military's repertoire and to engage civilian resources in building post-conflict stability. These changes were reflected in the 2006 Quadrennial Defence Review which lays down United States military strategy.
Another theme which featured strongly in briefings and discussions was the need to enhance the US and NATO's public diplomacy efforts so that the public understand the rationale for – and achievements of - missions such as Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Various aspects of energy security also received a great deal attention, with several speakers echoing concerns expressed in President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address about the need to reduce dependency on foreign oil and gas supplies.
In Tampa, members were briefed on the missions and challenges faced by US Central Command (CENTCOM) which extends from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia. As well as being providing an overview of the many security concerns in the region, CENTCOM officers described the extensive representation of allies and partners in liaising with CENTCOM, and in providing advice through an integrated staff element, the Combined Planning Group.
The programme concluded with briefings from Special Operations Command (SOCOM) on the role of US Special Forces in the global war on terror. Briefings addressed matters such as counterterrorism, psychological operations, and programmes of assistance to help other nations build up their anti-terrorism capacities.