NATO Defence Ministers move forward with Connected Forces agenda
Defence Ministers from allied countries met on Tuesday (22 October) in Brussels and agreed to ensure that the experience of 20 years of operations in Afghanistan, in the Balkans and elsewhere is retained through more training and exercises. Ministers agreed on key elements of the Connected Forces Initiative and that experts will now work on it as a matter of priority.
“An even more rigorous and systematic approach to our training and exercises is key in reaching our goal of NATO Forces 2020: modern, tightly connected forces, equipped, trained, exercised and commanded so that they can operate together, and with partners, in any environment”, the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen announced that the Alliance will hold a major live exercise in 2015 that will involve a significant number of deployed forces on land, sea and in the air. Spain, Portugal and Italy offered to host the exercise.
“From 2016 onwards, we will conduct such major live exercises on a regular basis, with a broader scope and covering the full range of Alliance missions”, the Secretary General said. And he added: “We have also agreed today to draw up a broader concept for training and exercises up to 2020 – to make sure that everything we do is coherent and connected, within the Alliance and with partner countries”.
NATO Ministers also discussed cyber defence and concluded that the Alliance is on track in upgrading its ability to protect NATO’s networks.
“Cyber defence is a national responsibility. But we all agree that NATO can, and should, play a useful role to facilitate the development of strong national cyber defence capabilities”, the Secretary General added.
NATO Ministers also discussed missile defence and NATO’s program to defend the Alliance’s populations, territory and forces against missile attacks from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.
“As a next step in our U.S.-led missile defence in Europe, a groundbreaking for the land-based Aegis system will take place in Romania by the end of October. This is complex work, and we are making steady progress”, the Secretary General noted.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen concluded that the issues addressed today by Defence Ministers are vital to NATO’s mission to provide security for the future.