Chairman Military Committee confirms NATO-Portugal close relationship

  • 28 Feb. 2013 - 01 Mar. 2013
  • |
  • Last updated: 01 Mar. 2013 12:20

Lisbon - General Knud Bartels paid an official visit to Portugal, where he confirmed the strong relationship between Portugal and NATO and engaged with the Chief of Portuguese General Staff, General Luís Araújo, and the Portuguese Minister of Defence, José Pedro Aguiar-Branco, to explore ways for enhancing NATO capabilities.

Last week, NATO defence ministers agreed goals for more ambitious training and exercises to preserve and further develop interoperability within the Alliance. They also agreed that this will be done under the Connected Forces Initiative, with the NATO Response Force at the core of the initiative. To this extent, Gen. Bartels welcomed the active role played by Portugal in the NATO Response Force, supporting the Alliance with deployable personnel all around the world and maintaining their international commitment, even in times of austerity.

Welcoming Bartels to Lisbon, General Luís Araújo said: "This is a work visit and a visit of friends." Expressing his great appreciation for the work done by Portugal within the Alliance, Gen. Bartels emphasized that "Portugal is one of the founding nations of NATO and has - throughout the years - lived up to the responsibilities that the membership of the Alliance requires."

During the visit, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee took the opportunity to encourage Portugal, as well as all NATO members, to strength their commitment to enhance capabilities in cooperation with Allies for the funds available. "I would like to encourage Portugal, like all NATO members, to seek opportunities to avoid duplications and explore the potential for joint approaches. We need to focus on making the most of the resources we do have, even more so in this time of austerity," Gen. Bartels said, adding that "Smart Defence can compensate for economic hard times."

Gen. Bartels went further and explained: "We need to push forward initiatives that make NATO leaner, more connected and smarter. The Connected Forces Initiative - through the NATO Response Force - will be pivotal to this end and I very much appreciate Portugal's sincere support for this. Only through training together we can improve common doctrine and interoperability, the key to develop truly connected forces."

During the visit, he also paid tribute to the fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen at the Veterans Monument. "It was an honor for me to lay a wreath at the memorial to respect the ones that gave their lives for their country. This is something that we must never forget - memorials serve as constant reminders of the seriousness of the decisions we are responsible for," he concluded.