Chaired by Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, Chairman of the Military Committee (CMC), NATO’s highest-level military officers gathered in Brussels to discuss key security issues following the April 2011 NATO Foreign Ministerial meeting in Berlin, and in preparation for the June Ministerial meeting. NATO’s operations were also high on the agenda; specifically on Libya, and on Afghanistan.
NATO’s two Strategic Commanders, Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and General Stephane Abrial, Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation (SACT) also participated, together with the Chairman of the European Union’s Military Committee, General Hakan Syren.
In its first two sessions, devoted to Partnership, the Military Committee focused on NATO relations with Georgia and Ukraine, taking stock of the on-going transformation of their Armed Forces. They also provided feed-back to the Committee on their contribution to NATO operations. Both Ukraine and Georgia were commended for their respective and valuable contributions to NATO operations.
During the NATO Russia Council Military Representatives (NRC-MR) session, the CHODS assessed the progress of the 2011 Work Plan and provided direction and guidance for the 2012 Work Plan with a view to deepening and selectively widening the existing areas of cooperation. An important step in military cooperation was marked by the co-signing of the NATO-Russia Council Consolidated Glossary of Cooperation by Admiral Di Paola and General Makarov - the Russian Chief of Defence. This product represents over ten years of detailed research, compilation and translation and will further NATO-Russia cooperation for the future.
The first day ended with a session on Operation Unified Protector (OUP) in Libya. Admiral Stavridis, together with the Commander Joint Forces Command Naples (JFCN), Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, updated the CHODs on progress made since the beginning of the military action. Taking stock of the successful programmed degradation of the pro-Qadhafi forces ability to launch and sustain attacks on the civilian population, NATO and Partner Chiefs of Defence agreed on the need to keep up the pressure until the goals agreed upon in the Berlin Foreign Ministerial are achieved.
The second day focused principally on Afghanistan. SACEUR, COMISAF, General Petraeus, together with the Afghan Chief of Defence, General Karimi and Ambassador Simon Gass, NATO Senior Civilian Representative, briefed the NATO and NATO Partner CHODS on the achievements since the Lisbon Summit and on the progress of Transition. While there is clearly improvement – in quality and quantity – of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the effort by the Nations in supporting the NATO Training Mission needs to be increased and sustained in order for Afghans forces to take on a growing ownership in delivering security. The CHODS re-confirmed their full commitment the ISAF operation.
In the following session, the Military Committee discussed the ongoing strategic review of NATO’s counter-piracy operation, Ocean Shield; the Chairman of the EU MC, General Hakan Syren, was also present. Whilst the impact of the combined effort made by NATO and European Union (EU) operations were assessed as positive, the new tactics adopted by pirates and the expansion of the phenomenon in the high seas call for a broader international and comprehensive reassessment of the international community’ response.
In conclusion of the meeting, General Stephane Abrial, (SACT) gave a comprehensive overview of the studies and initiatives launched by Allied Command Transformation, with specific emphasis on Education and Training, the innovative approaches to building capacity through multi-national cooperation and ways to measure effectiveness. These initiatives are key and instrumental to NATO Smart Defence process and Reforms agenda.