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4 minute read

Jirˇí Šedivý, Brussels

North Atlantic Treaty Organization After the redeployment of its forces from Afghanistan, NATO is expected to shift the emphasis from operational engagements to operational preparedness, with a view to remaining capable of performing its core tasks while maintaining its forces at a high level of readiness. The Connected Forces Initiative (CFI) will help to maintain operational readiness through expanded exercises, incuding common logistics, education and training and a better use of technology, e.g. in the area of alternative energies for forces.

Invisible yet indispensable Logistics transformation in the making

by Ambassador Jirˇí Šedivý, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to NATO

Military logistics is like oxygen. One fully realises its vital importance only in the moment of its absence. It may seem unfair that well-functioning logistical support is invisible and usually taken for granted by those whom it supports; visibility comes usually with failure. But logisticians are a modest lot, used to working hard behind the scenes of military operations, knowing well from the history of warfare that the success or failure of most of the major campaigns –from Alexander the Great to our times – has largely been defined if not decided by logistics.

Logistics are going joint Yet logistics became at the same time highly visible and successful during the recent NATO exercise Capable Logistician 2013 (CL 13). The exercise was organised in June 2013 jointly by the Praguebased Multinational Logistics Coordination Centre and the Slovak Ministry of Defence in the Slovak training ground Les˘t. It was the largest event of its kind since 2004, date of the last NATO logistics exercise, Collective Effort. However, CL 13 was three times bigger, involving some 1750 personnel and around 600 pieces of equipment committed by 24 NATO Allies and 3 Partner nations (Austria, BosniaHerzegovina and Georgia). All in all, representatives from 35 countries participated in the exercise as either players or observers. Moreover, a total of 14 elements from the NATO Command and Force Structure as well as Agencies were represented, together with several external organisations and agencies, such as the EU Military Staff, EDA, EUROCORPS and the African Union, as observers.

Test bed for collective and smart logistic solutions The main objective of the exercise was to test and develop collective and smart logistics solutions, to assess the level of interoperability

of logistic systems and equipment – such as ammunition, fuel, water (including drilling wells and purifying water on the spot), material handling, helicopter operations, movement and transportation – and to enhance the standardisation of procedures for current and future operations. All this is fully in line with our collective effort to use limited resources more efficiently through multinational cooperation. The Capable Logistician 2013 exercise provided a testing ground for several Smart Defence projects as well as the Connected Forces Initiative and interoperability principles. It also had Smart Energy sources in operation, including a solar energy installation. The redeployment phase of the exercise tested procedures relevant for the ISAF transfer from Afghanistan. And there was also a linkage to NATO post-2014 when we will seek to maintain and develop the connectivity of our forces through better and more intensive use of training and exercises.

Developing the connectivity of our forces Capable Logistician 2013 was a significant milestone in the field of logistics transformation and multinationalisation. Not too long ago the logistics domain was regarded as a purely national responsibility. Our operations over the past twenty years (Afghanistan in particular) have completely changed this perspective. Today logistics in multinational operations is a collective responsibility. What we have learned by trial and

Ambassador Jirˇí S ˘ edivy´, who has been Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to NATO in Brussels since 2011, is a graduate of Charles University, Prague (PhD in Political Science) and of King’s College, London (MA in War Studies). From 1999 to 2004 he was Director of the Institute of International Relations in Prague and Assistant Professor of International Relations at Charles University in Prague, and played an important role in the Czech Republic’s accession to NATO. During this period he also served as an external adviser to President Vaclav Havel. From 2004 to 2006 he was Professor at the George C. Marshall European Centre for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In 2006 he became Minister of Defence and was tasked in 2007, as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, with the preparation of the Czech EU Presidency. He joined the NATO International Staff as Assistant Secretary General (ASG) for Defence Policy and Planning in 2007.

error in the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa is now being translated into collective concepts and ready-to-use multinational solutions that were tested during the CL 13 exercise to be employed in future operations – be it under the NATO or EU flag. The fact that the multinational Joint Logistics Support Group (JLSG) HQ which co-ordinated the exercise will be used for the Visegrad Four EU Battlegroup in 2016 is a good case in point of using our limited resources in a smart and efficient way.