NATO’s two Strategic Commanders, Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and General Stéphane Abrial, Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation (SACT) also participated, together with the Chairman of the European Union’s Military Committee, General Hakan Syren.
Partnership was the main theme of the first day, and the Military Committee gathered fifty CHODs to include Troop Contributing Nations to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Simon Gass and Adm. Stavridis (SACEUR), together with Gen. John Allen, Commander ISAF, gave a situational briefing that also covered progress of the transition process. The Afghan National Security Force is improving in quantity and quality, although an increased effort in supporting the NATO Training Mission, NTM-A is still required. CHODs were also updated on the development of the NATO Strategic Plan for Afghanistan and discussions centred around NATO’s support to Afghanistan post-2014. CHODs reaffirmed their commitment to the ISAF mission.
Together with the Mediterranean Dialogue countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia), the Military Committee discussed the implications of the recent political changes in the Mediterranean and Middle-East Region to military cooperation within the Mediterranean Dialogue framework. CHODs expressed their concerns regarding the threat of advanced weapon systems falling into the hands of non-state actors and emphasized the need for further strengthening of partnerships in the region.
During the NATO Russia Council Military Representatives (NRC-MR) meeting the twenty-nine NRC CHODs approved a series of documents related to NATO-Russia military-to-military cooperation. A Framework for NATO-Russia Military-to-Military Cooperation, the Military-to-Military Cooperation Road Map 2012-2014, and the NRC-MR Work Plan 2012 were all formally adopted. CHODs expressed a strong desire to proceed with NATO-Russia cooperation and to continue focusing on common threats and challenges. Following the meeting, Army Gen. Makarov awarded Lt.Gen. Bornemann, Director General of the International Military Staff (IMS) together with two IMS Staff Officers, Col. Hannevik and Lt.Col Van den Broeck, the medal For the Strengthening of Combat Cooperation, for their contribution to NATO-Russia cooperation.
The Euro Atlantic Partnership Council Military Representatives session concluded the first day’s meetings. It focused on Smart Defence and Partners in Operations. Finland presented the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) initiative which aims to enhance defence cooperation among the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) around five areas of cooperation: Strategic Development, Capabilities, Human Resources and Education, Training and exercises, and Operations. He was followed by Gen. Sverker Göranson, Swedish Chief of Defence, who shared his country’s experience in Operation Unified Protector, NATO’s operation in Libya. Sweden was one of the non-NATO countries participating in the enforcement of the No Fly Zone. Partners’ participation in OUP has been considered as an overall success, a validation of the investments and efforts made in interoperability, the use of NATO standards and command and control methods.
The second day started with the KFOR session. In the presence of Lt.Gen. Erhard Drews, Commander KFOR and Mr. Xavier Bout de Marnhac, Head of Eulex, CHODs were briefed by Adm. Stavridis (SACEUR) on the current situation in the region. SACEUR assesses the situation on the ground as calm, but still volatile. He emphasized the need for further political efforts to provide sustainable peace to the region. Further reductions of troops in Kosovo will be the result of a condition based assessment.
The rest of the day’s discussions were focused on Operational Challenges, Transformation and the implementation of the new NATO military Command Structure (NCS). In his opening remarks Gen. Bartels emphasized the link between Transformation, Contingency Planning and the new NCS as forming a vital part of the security for the Euro-Atlantic zone.
NATO’s two Strategic Commanders, Gen. Abrial and Adm. Stavridis briefed the Military Committee on lessons learned from Operation Unified Protector in Libya. While NATO’s Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC) in Lisbon is still working in detail on this important area, the CHODs already discussed the strategic lessons with a view to integrating them into the new NCS and planning processes.
Gen. Abrial briefed on the way forward with Smart Defence, emphasizing the need for enhanced cooperation among NATO and NATO Partners. He underlined that Smart Defence must be seen as a way to share knowledge, capabilities and resources, rather than as a way to realize national savings, and that it should become the heart of the Alliance.
In its concluding session, the CHODs discussed the implementation of the new NATO Command Structure (NCS). The stronger link between NATO’s Command Structure and member nations’ Force Structure will require close overview by the Military Committee in order to ensure timely implementation by June 2012.