The Director General of the NATO International Military Staff addresses the National Reserve Forces Committee Winter Meeting
On 2nd February 2021, the Director of the NATO International Military Staff, Lieutenant General Hans-Werner Wiermann addressed the virtual winter meeting of the National Reserve Forces.
In its advisory capacity to the NATO Military Committee, the National Reserves Forces Committee (NRFC) has been tasked to explore more avenues for the use of reserve forces, including in the fields of crisis response, cyber, and the enablement of SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility (AOR). The Chairman of the NRFC, Rear Admiral Michael H. Busse opened the meeting by presenting the day’s agenda and introducing Lieutenant General Wiermann.
The Director General started his address by acknowledging the role reserve forces have been playing in the fight against the ongoing pandemic. A number of NATO and Partner Nations have called up some of their reservists to reinforce this effort. “National armed forces, including reservists, have been working side by side with medical professionals to stem the flow of this pandemic – providing medical care, airlifting medical supplies, transporting patients, and constructing field hospitals”, stressed General Wiermann. He also highlighted the importance of gathering the right lessons-learned from this crisis, “NATO Centres of Excellence – the NATO Military Medicine, the NATO Crisis Management and Disaster Response, the NATO Military Police and the NATO Strategic Communications COEs – will collate and analyse these lessons on behalf of the Alliance to ensure NATO and Nations are better prepared should another health crisis emerge”.
While discussing the opportunities in the field of cyber, Lieutenant General Wiermann acknowledged the important contribution specialised reservists already bring to the Alliance and how NATO could further take advantage of these specialised skills in the cyber domain. “Cyber is a particular challenge for NATO and we take the threat of cyber-attacks very seriously, which is why we are constantly stepping up our cyber defences. Nations must be encouraged to tap into their reserves forces and create specialised cyber units that could be made available to NATO as and when required”, he clarified.
The final agenda item was focused on the ongoing work to enable SACEUR’s AOR, which will ensure large-scale, rapid movement of troops and equipment in response to any crisis. “NATO Nations have undertaken a wide range of measures, including legislative measures and diplomatic clearances to enable rapid crossing of borders, on land, in the air, and at sea; effective command, control and communication; transportation capacity; and infrastructure. Making enablement a strong tool for deterrence”, added the Director General.
Lieutenant General Wiermann concluded his address by acknowledging the inherent potential of reserve forces and their growing role within our Alliance. “NATO must continue to grow and learn to use all available resources, including reservists. Integrated, appropriately purposed, motivated and ready Reserve Forces provide an extraordinary strategic expandability for current military capability at a very low cost. Reserve forces are not only bringing critical experiences and expertise to NATO but they provide a critical working-level link between NATO’s military and its political elements. While NATO has adapted to respond to the security challenges, so too has the role of Reserve Forces in NATO. Reserves are no longer considered the forces of the last resort; rather, they are now recognized as indispensable”, he surmised.
Officially recognised by NATO in 1996, the NRFC has been advising the NATO Military Committee on all reserve forces matters ever since as well as diligently promoting the role and experience of these forces within NATO and their national armed forces.