From Ivo Daalder, the New York Times: The alliance made many critical decisions in Chicago; one of the most important was the declaration of an interim NATO ballistic missile-defense capability — the first concrete step to defending NATO European territory, its population and forces against the growing threat of ballistic missile attack. Today, NATO has the ability to defend parts of southern Europe against a limited attack, a capability that will gradually expand so that all of NATO Europe will be protected by the end of this decade. . . .
What does an interim BMD capability mean? It means that NATO will now have an operationally meaningful ballistic missile defense mission. The alliance agreed to a set of command-and-control procedures and rules of engagement for ballistic missile defense. It designated the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, Adm. James Stavridis, as the commander for the ballistic defense mission. The actual command and control capabilities have been tested and validated by all allies. NATO allies as a whole have made a commitment to invest over $1 billion in command and control and communications infrastructure needed to support the NATO ballistic missile defense system. . . .
Chicago was a critical step, but it is only the beginning. The NATO command and control system will reach full operational capacity by the end of this decade. And the U.S. will continue the phased deployment of EPAA — with additional Aegis cruisers in Rota, Spain, in 2014; interceptor sites deployed in Romania in the 2015 timeframe and Poland in the 2018 timeframe, and improved versions of the interceptor deployed over time to counter increasingly capable, longer range threats.
We also expect European allies to make national contributions. The Netherlands and Germany have offered their Patriots as part of the NATO missile-defense architecture, and the Netherlands is also upgrading radars on its frigates to serve as missile defense early warning and tracking sensors. France is interested in making early warning data from its satellites available. Various other allies have expressed an interest in contributing national capabilities as well. . . .
By the end of this decade, NATO will have an operational system that offers protection of all of NATO Europe against the threat of ballistic missile attack from outside of Europe.
Today, that commitment and capability underscores the true meaning of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty — to collectively defend alliance territory against armed attack.
Ivo Daalder is the permanent representative of the United States to NATO. (photo: Lynn Sweet/Chicago Sun-Times)