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Naval News & Reviews

10 March 2016
Author: Paul Ridgway


Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone, RN 225px
Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone. Picture: MARCOM

The re-emergence of the Russian Navy as a strategic challenge and how NATO would respond was at the centre of discussions at the recent Surface Warship Summit held in Bucharest, Romania.

Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone CB CBE, Commander of Allied Maritime Command said that the combination of adventurist Russian behaviour, their lack of openness and clarity and a very aggressive new Maritime Doctrine has changed the way NATO is thinking and behaving.

The war-driven immigration to Europe, the Daesh (ISIS) in Syria, a worsening economic picture and many other issues posed security threats that the Alliance has to look out for, the admiral said.

Johnstone said that the 2 percentage spending pledge, which is upheld by only 5 of the 28 member states according to the Wall Street Journal, would keep the Alliance upfront and give it the basic tools it needed to function.

Counting on the deterrence factor of an aircraft carrier, the Admiral noted that the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers would soon become available as they are expected to enter service by 2020.

Explaining what has, so far, been done in response to the issues, Johnstone said that the Standing Groups of the maritime forces were improving. "A few years ago the SNMGs were focused on constabulary duties and driven by a schedule that was very difficult to alter if needed. Today that has really changed -- the SNF is focused on core mandates, on effective and robust training, strategic signaling of Alliance resolve."

Concluding his speech, the Admiral called on the participants to consider numbers and capacity an essential value in the discussions and explained "that the spread of high end weapon systems to hostile state and non-state actors makes even the most benign area now potentially hostile."