Hon. Paul Hellyer (Minister of National Defence):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to give a brief report of the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers held in Paris on Monday and Tuesday. You may recall that a decision was taken at the Council of Ministers held in Ottawa in May, 1963 to commence a study of strategy, force goals and the use of economic resources. A study has been undertaken by the Council in permanent session, constituted as a military committee and working in cooperation with the major NATO military commanders.
In considering the question of strategy a theoretical discussion arose which indicated a rather sharp divergence of views. A preliminary report was presented to the Council of Ministers in December last, for their consideration.
In the December discussion it seemed apparent to me that the divergence of opinion related more to the theoretical discussion than to the real contingencies with which the Alliance might be faced. With this thought in mind, I suggested holding a Defence Ministers Meeting with the object of examining the real situation in the hope that the wide areas of agreement would come into focus and the differences, if they exist, would prove to be largely irrelevant. The suggestion, which was supported by one or two other Ministers, included the recommendation that the meeting be as informal as possible to permit a full, frank exchange of views on vital issues.
The conference which concluded Tuesday afternoon was even more productive than I had hoped for. A consensus did emerge to the effect that the differences were largely theoretical and that the areas of agreement are in fact very great. Agreement was reached and decisions taken which provide the political direction for the Military Committee in the continuation of its studies in the months ahead. I think it is fair to say that the informality of the restricted session assisted
Ministers in reaching a consensus and taking the necessary action.
One of the most important decisions was in respect of force goals for the next planning period. It was the opinion of Ministers that force goals should not be unrealistic in calling for increases in manpower and expenditure obviously and demonstrably well beyond any possibility of implementation. The Ministers, therefore, directed the Military Committee to continue the study of realistic force goals, in co-operation with the military commanders, to the end that they be ready for consideration by the Council of Ministers in December.
[DOT] (2:40 p.m.)
The Military Committee was instructed to undertake studies on a number of other subjects, including certain specific contingencies. One area of particular interest to Canada is consideration of NATO's capability to respond to aggression on the northern or southeastern flanks. Last year Canada committed a battalion group to the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force for possible employment with the balance of the force on the flanks. As Canada has adopted a policy of developing a mobile force with a global capability, I indicated our willingness to consider to what extent our forces might co-operate with similar forces from other members of the alliance.
As has been reported in the press, the United States has proposed a committee of four or five Ministers of Defence to consider possible ways of improving and extending allied participation in nuclear planning, including improved communications. This is a very interesting suggestion and it was welcomed as deserving further consideration.
In summary, Mr. Speaker, I think the conference was very fruitful. It was in the nature of an experiment, and produced a most worthwhile discussion together with positive results. I would not wish to give the impression that there are no remaining problems, but I do want to emphasize the spirit of co-operation and good will which characterized the meeting. The decisions taken underline the broad areas of agreement in principle and will permit the alliance to continue its important work dedicated to the deterrence of aggres-
NATO Defence Ministers' Meeting sion and the maintenance of stability in the European theatre.
Subtopic: NATO-STATEMENT FOLLOWING PARIS MEETING OF DEFENCE MINISTERS