SSR Centre contributor Aly Verjee is attending the Young Leaders Summit running in parallel with the NATO Summit of Heads of State and Government in Lisbon. The Heads of State and Government meeting opens tomorrow, and is expected to endorse a new strategic security concept for NATO. He is blogging live from Parque Das Nações conference site.
This morning we heard from Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates, US Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Walter Gaskin, the Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee and Karl-Heinz Kamp, Director of the Research Division at the NATO Defense College in Rome. In his remarks, Sócrates told us (in translation): “we will definitely this weekend leave behind the Cold War…on Russia/NATO nobody is looking for hegemony anymore.” (Presumably Vladimir Putin didn’t get the memo).
“Partnership means cooperation and dialogue (but with who?)” “[In this Summit there will be] a strategic reorganization of the force [ISAF] in which Portugal participates…a new transition stage for progress in Afghanistan.”
Gen. Gaskin reminded us that while the Afghanistan mission, which includes in its coalition 48 troop contributing countries (20 of which are not members of NATO), receives the majority of attention, NATO continues its mission in Kosovo, 11 years after its establishment in June 1999. About 10,000 troops remain, but half of this force will depart by early 2011, as the GATE 2 transition stage begins.
Kamp, said that in his view, the “pendulum is swinging back to a core defense role [in NATO]“. On Afghanistan, “the results are sobering. We are pretty far away from what we intended. No one is keen on repeating this [a protracted, large overseas commitment] anytime soon.”