Nato chief invites Ireland to collaborate on operations

Anders Fogh Rasmussen: first Irish visit by a Nato chief

Anders Fogh Rasmussen: first Irish visit by a Nato chief

Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 00:00

Ireland should get involved in more Nato projects to develop its defence forces, Nato’s secretary general has said.

The economic crisis and rising cost of equipment meant military defence budgets were under pressure, said Anders Fogh Rasmussen during a visit to Dublin – the first by a Nato secretary general. “One way to overcome this challenge is through increased multinational co-operation,” he said.

“I would like to encourage Ireland to consider getting involved in more of these projects including Nato’s. Because that would allow you to enhance your own capabilities – and it would be warmly welcomed by the alliance,” he told the Irish Institute for European Affairs.

“Ireland’s participation in Nato-led operations and missions enhances the impact of your individual involvement,” Mr Rasmussen said.

Engaging with Nato meant other benefits for Ireland, including working with Nato allies and partners that “use the same procedures and practices”. It also meant Ireland got a “voice at the table where the decisions are made”.

“You get full political transparency and oversight. You get a military command and control centre that is tried, tested and trusted,” he said.

Ireland was not a Nato member but it was an important partner. “It shares Nato’s values and it shares Nato’s commitment to strengthening the role of the United Nations as the guarantor of international security and the rule of law,” he said.

Ireland should increase its co-operation on military training and exercises, he said. Expertise provided at the Irish Defence Forces Ordnance School in Kildare “has undoubtedly saved many lives” while Nato states had benefited from training at the United Nations Training School Ireland, he said.

Both schools showed how Ireland could support and improve the “quality  and readiness of other nations’ forces including Nato’s. Keeping close links in times of peace will help us work together better in times of crisis. We need to make sure that we sustain our ability to answer quickly, and effectively, when the United Nations calls for support,” he said.

Ireland was participating in two UN-mandated, Nato-led missions – in the Balkans and in Afghanistan, he said. “I want to thank the brave, dedicated and selfless Irish men and women who have participated in those missions,” he added.