Give NATO a Combined Task
Force Against Terrorism
Stanley R. Sloan
Tuesday, November 13, 2001
Since Sept. 11 the Bush administration has sought help from allies mainly
through bilateral channels, not through NATO. Some Pentagon officials
complain privately that the alliance is not relevant to the new challenges
posed by the counterterror campaign.
To respond to the emerging critique in Washington, as well as to give more
substance to NATO's collective defense commitment, the allies need to take
NATO's involvement at least one step further by creating a NATO Counter
Terrorism Combined Joint Task Force.
A special task force would provide the organizational focus for a serious
NATO contribution to the counterterrorist campaign. It could be a reliable
framework for allied involvement, built on the foundation of NATO's
integrated command structure, for as long as such support is required. In
1994, NATO accepted the U.S. idea of setting up a Combined Joint Task Force
(CJTF) headquarters to make the alliance's command structure more flexible.
"Combined" means involving the forces of two or more countries, and
"joint" means including army, air force, navy and marine units.
The concept has been tested in exercises. Now the alliance has an opportunity
to put the concept into practice by setting up a counterterrorism CJTF.
In addition to military officers, the task force should involve participation
by representatives from the foreign and finance ministries of task force
countries to bring to bear the wide range of resources needed to wage the
campaign. One advantage of the CJTF structure is that non-NATO allies can be
invited to participate. All the countries that want to become NATO members as
well as other European democracies would likely join in. And such a task
force would provide a framework for enhanced NATO-Russia cooperation.
The first task of the task force should be to coordinate an intensified
intelligence sharing and analysis effort, building on cooperation already
The task force command should ask all participating countries to indicate
what forces and capabilities they could contribute to counterterrorist
operations. Creating such an inventory, like the one developed a year ago by
the members of the European Union for their fledgling common security and
defense policy, would be a way for allies and partners to pledge real
capabilities. NATO could, in effect, serve as a clearing house for existing and
future allied contributions to the war on terrorism.If the United States
comes to believe that NATO serves little practical purpose in the anti-terror
campaign, all the work of the past decade to make NATO relevant to
contemporary security requirements will have been for naught.
The writer is director of the Atlantic Community Initiative and author of
the forthcoming "NATO, the European Union and the Atlantic Community:
The Transatlantic Bargain Reconsidered." He contributed this comment to
the International Herald Tribune.
Copyright © 2001 The International Herald Tribune