The NATO Chiefs of Defence hold first virtual meeting in NATO Military Committee history
On 14 May 2020, for the first time in history, the NATO Military Committee including the most recent NATO Ally the Republic of North Macedonia, held a virtual meeting in Chiefs of Defence format. They discussed the Alliance’s ongoing missions and operations, future planning and requirements as well as the current global Covid-19 crisis, its impact on allied activities and NATO’s support to the response efforts.
After meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the 30 Chiefs of Defence reviewed NATO’s ongoing operational commitments, particularly the NATO Resolute Support Mission and the NATO Mission Iraq. The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Air Chief Marshal Peach condemned the recent attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar, “Afghanistan has been brought, tragically, into focus this week and the security situation in the country remains fragile. Although, we have seen, with guarded optimism some encouraging signs in the intra-afghan negotiations that could lead to a political solution for the people of Afghanistan”. NATO supports the peace efforts by training, assisting and advising the Afghan security forces, through the Resolute Support Mission.
The Chiefs of Defence received an update on the ongoing NATO Mission Iraq which has been temporarily reduced for security reasons. Nonetheless, the mission is continuing to provide support to the Iraqi security forces and helping them deal with the COVID-19 crisis. “When the conditions permit, and working with the government of Iraq, we will resume our training efforts as well as increase our activities on the ground as we take responsibility for some of the training activities of the Global Coalition”, added Air Chief Marshal Peach. The Allied Chiefs of Defence also discussed new avenues to contribute more to the security in the Middle-East and North Africa Region while remaining complimentary to existing efforts and with the support of local governments.
Since approving the new NATO Military Strategy last May, the NATO Military Authorities have been working to refine and operationalize the Alliance’s military goals, intended approaches, and resource requirements through the Concept for Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area (DDA) and the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC). The Chiefs of Defence further refined the DDA which will be presented to Defence Ministers for their consideration at their meeting in June. The Allied Chiefs then reviewed the latest draft of the NWCC which provides the necessary recommendations to ensure NATO exploits opportunities and innovative approaches, including the use of emerging and disruptive technologies, to maintain its military advantage.
The final session of the day was dedicated to NATO’s Response to Covid-19. The Chairman of the EU Military Committee General Claudio Graziano briefed the NATO Chiefs of Defence on the EU’s support and relief efforts in this pandemic. Subsequently, the Allied Chiefs of Defence discussed existing NATO measures and support mechanisms as well as the medium term effects of this pandemic, including resilience and the lessons that could be implemented to better prepare for any future health crisis.