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Modernising conventional arms control: An urgent imperative

Nicholas Williams is former Head of the Operations Section within the Operations Division of the International Staff at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. In November 2009, he completed two and a half years in Afghanistan working with ISAF, first as political adviser to ISAF forces in the south, based in Kandahar, and latterly as Deputy NATO Senior Representative in Kabul. He has worked extensively in conflict and post conflict countries, both Iraq and the Balkans. From 2000-03 he was attached to the policy directorate of the French Ministry of Defence where he was responsible for developing NATO-EU relations and Franco-British defence cooperation. From 1977-99 he was Assistant Director for Counter-terrorism in the British Ministry of Defence.

Before that, he had filled a series of policy and public communications posts in London and in NATO, including as speech writer to three NATO Secretary Generals. Mr. Williams is by profession a British career defence official. In 2005, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire for having negotiated the first post-Saddam provincial Council in Basra and, in 2007, he was awarded the Queen's Medal for his distinguished services in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Modernising conventional arms control: An urgent imperative (PDF)

The demise of the Intermediate- Range Nuclear (INF) Treaty has been a severe blow to already fragile relations between Russia 
and the West, posing a challenge 
to the maintenance of security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. It also represents a further setback for arms control. Although the Treaty’s focus
 was nuclear forces, its demise has inevitably served to
 draw attention to the unsatisfactory situation in conventional forces where the first spark of miscalculation and consequent conflict would most 
likely occur. Hopes of maintaining a degree of control and restraint in the continuing development of armed forces are rapidly fading, just as the Russia-NATO confrontation 
is intensifying. In such a volatile and ever-changing political and military environment, what measures can be taken to restore a degree of order, certainty and stability to the Europe-Atlantic area?

This paper is conceived as “food for thought”: a contribution to the ongoing debate on modernising conventional arms control which is being conducted in Vienna under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in
 Europe (OSCE). It proposes twelve innovative measures to reverse the negative trend of increased military confrontation, looking in detail at the most immediately worrying situation in the Baltic area. The paper argues that there is now an urgent imperative for both NATO and Russia to accept both increasingly restrictive measures on military flexibility and improvements in military transparency. It also addresses the question of implementation of the necessary measures. European Leadership Network


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