12 - The New NATO Strategy
While AFSOUTH was concentrating on its deterrence mission, the European transition towards a new security environment continued. By March 1991 all Cruise and Pershing II missiles were removed from Europe. In May, the Yugoslav Defence Minister declared that his country was in a state of civil war. Albania's communists decided to authorise political opposition. The Balkans gradually became the focus of international attention.
As a direct consequence of the experience from Southern Guard, more nations decided to be represented at AFSOUTH. First, The Netherlands, which opened a liaison office on 30 September 1991, eventually followed by Germany and Canada.
The AFSOUTH headquarters was at the time closely following the evolutions of the situation in Yugoslavia while it had launched a very ambitious co-operation program with Central and Eastern European non-NATO neighbours.
A new NATO strategy was formally adopted in Rome on 7-8 November 1991, where Heads of State or Government issued a formal Declaration on Peace and Co-operation. Later in the year the North Atlantic Co-operation Council was activated, with participation initially of nine non-NATO countries. Adm. Mike Boorda, as CINCSOUTH, visited Bulgaria on 1 February 1992. This was the first of a series of contacts which quickly moved from senior to intermediate level and involved other nations like Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Albania.
The new strategic concept called for stress to be put on multinational forces. The first concrete step was made in Naples on 30 April 1992, when the Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED) was activated, replacing the old on-call force, NAVOCFORMED. Comprised of eight frigates or destroyers (from Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States) this force is part of NATO's immediate reaction forces and operates mainly in the Mediterranean Sea.