Spain and NATO look to the future

  • 15 Mar. 2013
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  • Last updated: 15 Mar. 2013 14:17

Madrid - General Knud Bartels, Chairman of NATO's Military Committee, paid an official visit to Spain, where he discussed with the Spanish Chief of Defence, Admiral Fernando García Sánchez, NATO defence priorities post-2014, particularly Smart Defence, and the Connected Forces Initiative.

Last month, NATO Ministers of Defence recognized the importance to the Alliance of retaining a full range of capabilities and maintaining the ability to operate together. "Two ways ahead for us to accomplish this are Smart Defence and the Connected Forces Initiative," Gen. Bartels said during his meeting with Adm. García Sánchez, adding that: "The NATO Response Force is a flagship for NATO's responsiveness and, together with a revitalized Training and Exercise Concept, will serve as the main engine to connect forces. When we disengage our combat forces from Afghanistan they do not merely go home and remain passive. We need to train to maintain skills and that is done through efficient exercises.”

Addressing Flag Officers at the Spanish Higher Center for National Defence Studies, he stressed that "Alliance nations must give priority to those capabilities which NATO needs most, and looking for a multinational solution to common problems," explaining to his audience that "in times of austerity, opportunities for linking national and NATO exercises must be further explored and exploited in order to maximize efficiency against resources.” 

During his visit, the Chairman of the Military Committee thanked Spain for its contribution to NATO operations, and in particular for its continued support to NATO led mission in Afghanistan.  He also praised Spain's participation in NATO's maritime operations - Active Endeavour and Ocean Shield - and acknowledged its commitment to the development of expeditionary forces capable of conducting the full range of NATO missions. Moreover, Gen. Bartels welcomed Spain's contribution to the new NATO Command Structure, acknowledging the good work done by the Allied HQ Force Command Madrid and the new Combined Air Operations Centre Torrejón (CAOC TJ)¹.

"All these efforts combined are proof that Spain continues to be a solid NATO Ally,” concluded the General.

At the wreath-laying ceremony, Gen. Bartels paid tribute to the fallen soldiers, stressing that staying engaged and taking responsibility in the world has a price. “It was a special honour for me to pay tribute to the men and women that gave their lives for their country to preserve the values that we share. Their sacrifice matters because defence matters and we should never forget the ultimate price they paid.” During the visit, the General was also received in audience by Crown Prince Felipe of Spain.

  1. CAOC TJ is one of two Allied Combined Air Operations Centres responsible for the planning, direction, coordination and supervision of air operations in southern Europe, activated from January 2013.