NATO Enlargement:

U.S. and International Efforts to Assist Potential New Members

NSIAD-97-164: Published: Jun 27, 1997. Publicly Released: Jun 27, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed how: (1) the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Partnership for Peace (PFP) program is helping aspiring members prepare for possible NATO membership; (2) U.S. assistance efforts are helping aspiring partner countries to prepare for possible NATO membership; (3) other NATO members' efforts are being coordinated with NATO and U.S. efforts; and (4) aspiring countries are preparing themselves for possible NATO membership. In addressing these objectives, GAO focused on efforts aimed at improving partners' ability to work militarily with NATO, but did not evaluate prospective members' political and economic efforts to prepare for membership.

GAO noted that: (1) NATO, the United States, and other NATO members are assisting prospective new members in areas relevant to NATO's principles for expansion; (2) GAO's analysis indicates the assistance provided under these programs is generally consistent with prospective members' needs, as those needs were identified to GAO by NATO, U.S., and prospective member officials; (3) through exercises, symposia, training, and other activities, NATO's $26.2 million PFP program is helping partner countries begin to improve their ability to work more closely with NATO in PFP-related activities; (4) the six countries that GAO reviewed are using PFP primarily to take part in hundreds of NATO-sponsored exercises, training sessions, communications efforts, and other activities; (5) these events are limited to peacekeeping, search and rescue, and similar missions; (6) while U.S. and NATO officials cannot quantitatively measure the extent to which such events would enhance a future member's ability to work closely with other NATO members on the full range of NATO activities, they believe that the events are improving the ability of partner forces to interoperate with NATO; (7) U.S. bilateral assistance efforts generally complement NATO's PFP program, fall within areas of cooperation designated by NATO and its PFP partners, and reflect an emphasis on helping PFP forces work with NATO forces; (8) while it has programmed $308.6 million in fiscal year 1995 to 1997 funds for such assistance to 23 PFP partners, the United States has focused 46 percent of this amount on efforts involving Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia; (9) about 60 percent of these funds for the six countries is for the purchase of nonlethal military hardware; (10) other NATO members are also assisting PFP partners, although GAO could not determine the overall value of such aid; (11) while NATO seeks to improve its mechanism for coordinating members' assistance efforts, the United States and other major donors are attempting to coordinate directly with one another by exchanging detailed information among themselves; (12) also, NATO's military command has set up a database of PFP and bilateral events; (13) each of the six countries that GAO reviewed has formally informed NATO of its interest in joining NATO and has identified various steps it believes are needed to address NATO's expectations for new members; (14) each is actively involved in PFP and all are participating in the NATO-led peacekeeping operation in Bosnia; and (15) some are seeking to meet NATO interoperability standards, develop new arrangements with neighbors, and streamline their militaries.

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