Hand-over of all provinces to local security forces by the end of 2014, is the ISAF’s mission goal in Afghanistan: this was what was established at the NATO summit in Lisbon that launched the transition strategy to be put in place as of early 2011. After 2014 NATO troops will remain in Afghanistan with a support role. Italy, thanks to Premier Berlusconi, assured it would send in another 200 trainers for local security forces and was publicly thanked by US President Obama, becoming the nation with the highest number of trainers, 600, after the United States, as Minister Frattini explained, whom President Obama also thanked for Italy’s new contribution.
Lisbon also saw a change in relations between Russia and NATO, after the tensions provoked by the Georgia crisis in 2008: Russian President Medvedev accepted the invitation to begin cooperating on the missile defence system project approved at Lisbon. A provisory report on NATO-Russia contacts will be presented in June 2011. If there is consensus, the document will then constitute the basis for decisions, otherwise shared analysis will continue. Frattini called this an “essential step. Russia sat down at the table in the same spirit of Pratica di Mare. We plan to work together on fundamental themes such as the challenge of cyber terrorism and the involvement of Russia in the missile defence strategy”, the Minister pointed out.
And precisely in order to confront the new challenges to world security, the Lisbon Summit approved the Alliance’s new strategy, indicating the route for the coming decade. The document reaffirms NATO’s vocation to defend its members and their lands and the solidarity of allies in case of attack against any of them, as stated in article 5 of the founding treaty. What is new is the need to modernise military structures, adapting them to the new threats of international terrorism, ballistic missile systems, IT attacks and economic and energy supply blockades. The new NATO pledges to confront the goal of nuclear disarmament, but as long as nuclear weapons remain in the world, the organisation will continue to discourage their use.
The Alliance will also be more open to new partnerships. On this front Italy plays a “very important” role, particularly in the dialogue with the countries of the Mediterranean and the Istanbul initiative, Minister Frattini explained, adding that Italy would be the NATO contact point with Israel and Qatar in 2011 and 2012.
Finally, the new NATO will be more streamlined as a result of military and civilian reforms consisting of cuts of approximately 30%. The number of central headquarters employees will drop from 13,000 to 9,000, and agencies will be regrouped to number 3 instead of 14; general Commands will go from 11 to 6, and 400 committees will be reduced to 85. The cuts mainly concern excesses and overlappings, and not expertise: “after Lisbon”, Rasmussen assured, “we will be more efficient and effective”.