NATO military delegation visits partners Australia and New Zealand to discuss engagement in the Indo-Pacific region
From 20 to 24 March 2023, a military delegation from NATO’s Cooperative Security Division (CS), led by its Director, Lieutenant General Francesco Diella travelled to Australia and New Zealand to meet with senior military and political representatives to discuss current partnerships and opportunities to foster stronger cooperation going forward.
The Australian leg of the trip (20 to 21 March) started with a traditional Aboriginal welcome ceremony, followed by a series of briefings at the headquarters of the Australian Defence Force. The briefings focused on global and regional challenges, and the interconnection between European and Indo-Pacific security.
Visiting the HQ Joint Operations Command, the Director highlighted the changed security environment in the Euro-Atlantic area and its implications beyond Europe’s borders. “Russia’s war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and other global challenges are on the rise. We have a responsibility to preserve the rules-based international order. This order protects democracy and freedom and allows for prosperity to flourish. Therefore, NATO Allies will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes and we are grateful to our Partners for doing the same”.
Lieutenant General Diella was also briefed on recent developments within the Australian Defence Forces as well as challenges encountered at the operational level, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region. By increasing its presence in the region, conducting regular training and activities with its partners and security agencies, Australia is working to promote defence and stability in the region and beyond.
The Director concluded his trip to Australia by laying a wreath on behalf of the NATO International Military Staff at the Australian War Memorial, , which commemorates the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war or on operational service and those who have served Australia in times of conflict.
Travelling to New Zealand (23 to 24 March), Lieutenant General Diella met with key military leaders of the New Zealand Defence Forces and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. “At the Madrid Summit, NATO leaders agreed to deepen our engagement in the region because the link between European and Indo-Pacific security is clear. Allies’ engagement with our partners in the Indo-Pacific region has reached historic levels and we are determined to continue deepening and strengthening it”, he underlined.
Moving to the Joint Forces Headquarters and the Trentham Military Camp, the Lieutenant General briefed New Zealand and international students on the NATO 2030 Agenda and the new Strategic Concept with a focus on enhancing partnerships. “In an era of strategic competition, NATO must work even more closely with like-minded countries. We are determined to continue to deepen and strengthen our cooperation with our Indo-Pacific partners, for example by having their Armed Forces take part in NATO exercises and activities, which improves our collective interoperability and ensures our forces can meet common challenges”, explained Lieutenant General Diella.
As long-term valued Partners, Australia and New Zealand have both been engaging with NATO since the early 2000s, within the “Partners across the globe” framework. The two countries’ relationship with NATO continues to evolve in response to today’s complex security environment through their Individually Tailored Partnership Programmes (or ITPPs). Their respective ITPPs will address crosscutting security issues of global concern – including maritime security, new technologies, cyberspace, impact of climate change on security and resilience – through tailored political and military consultations, joint training and exercises, and cooperation in NATO-led operations and missions. To this end, for the first time, in May 2022 Australia’s and New Zealand’s Chiefs of Defence attended the NATO Military Committee Chiefs of Defence (MCCS) meeting in Brussels. Marking another first, in July 2022 the Chair of NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, attended the 24th annual Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defence Conference in Australia.