Belarus – NATO
Cooperation of the Belarusian Armed Forces and NATO has a long history. In 1995, Belarus joined the Partnership for Peace programme. Since April 1998, Belarus has had its diplomatic mission at NATO.
At present, Belarus participates in the Planning and Review Process (PARP) of the Partnership for Peace programme, which is considered to be the programme’s key mechanism. PARP is based on the experience, which NATO has gained during the defence planning, and has two key objectives:
1) to introduce the NATO defence planning mechanism to allies;
2) to achieve interoperability between allies and NATO during combat training, exercises and operations together with the alliance’s forces.
The key PARP principles are: the programme’s partners have the right to define the scale and rates of cooperation with NATO and involvement in the Process deliberately; every state establishes its relations with the alliance separately, according to the “NATO plus 1” formula. Due to such approach, PARP enables the allies to consider the precise context relevant for each member state and its armed forces.
PARP member states define and assign forces for training and further joint activities with NATO deliberately. PARP enables the participants to identify the needs in reforms and additional training of troops and preparation of means assigned by allies for participation in the Partnership for Peace programme.
The key objective is to make the member states’ forces interoperable and able to act at the same level with NATO forces during joint peacekeeping, humanitarian and search and rescue operations.
Development of military cooperation with NATO as a main PARP task is achieved by joint military planning, various exercises and training of service members. PARP also offers a mechanism of wider data exchange between NATO countries and participants of the Partnership for Peace programme on defence and budget planning.
PARP state participants make up a programme aimed at achieving interoperability for a certain period (the PARP cycle). Analysis and data reporting are done through making up documents and holding consultations:
1. PARP Review. Participants prepare and submit to NATO a review of interoperability of their armed forces assigned for activities within the Partnership for Peace programme deliberately and according to an approved schedule. Then, the review is analysed and discussed by the NATO Political-Military Steering Committee within the “NATO plus 1” formula;
2. PARP Assessment Document, or NATO Consolidated Report. It is based on data submitted by allies in the PARP Review and joint consultations within the NATO Political-Military Steering Committee;
3. Consultations with separate allies within the NATO Political-Military Steering Committee under the “NATO plus 1” formula are held to discuss PARP Reviews and relevant sections of the PARP Assessment Document. The final information approved by NATO and Ally is then used for the Partnership Goal Summary Report for a previous cycle.
4. Partnership Goal Summary Report is a consolidated document prepared by NATO on the basis of consultations held with allies and approved at the ministerial level during a session of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. The document records results of allies’ activities on achieving interoperability of units and forces during a previous cycle. Apart from this, the report contains guidelines for the PARP new cycle.
At present, 18 of 22 participants of the Partnership for Peace programme take part in PARP. Belarus submitted an application for joining PARP on 19 January 2004 as a reply to the 2nd part of the review on interoperability within the Partnership for Peace programme sent to the NATO headquarters.
In January 2006, Belarus and NATO approved the first partnership goal set, which consisted of 21 goals (9 general, 7 Army and 5 air goals) and the PARP Assessment Report. This marked the end of the procedure of Belarus' joining PARP. In July 2012, a new partnership goal set was approved. It consists of 18 goals (6 general, 8 Army and 4 air goals).
To participate in PARP, Belarus has assigned the following forces:
- a peacekeeping company;
- a patrol platoon of military police;
- up to 15 officers for participation in multinational staffs;
- the Il-76MD airlifter;
- 7 health professionals (surgeons and traumatologists);
- a mobile hospital of the Role 1+ standard (for health support of national deployed units);
- a multifunctional NBC protection platoon;
- a group of specialists on civil-military cooperation.
The key body for coordinating the process of achieving the partnership goals is the Defence Ministry’s International Military Cooperation Directorate.
To achieve PARP partnership goals, declared personnel is regularly trained in Belarus: field training with permanent and non-permanent personnel of a peacekeeping company of the 103rd Guards Independent Mobile Brigade and English courses and courses on fundamentals of peacekeeping activities held at the Military Academy for Belarusian service members. Representatives of the Belarusian Armed Forces also attend language and specialised courses abroad, including those held during NATO/PARP multinational peacekeeping exercises.
Participation of Belarus in PARP proves the desire of the state to develop cooperation with NATO in order to maintain international peace and security and allows training national peacekeeping personnel for potential involvement in peacekeeping operations.