Chair of the NATO Military Committee attends Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defence Conference
From 14 to 16 August 2023, Admiral Rob Bauer, Chair of the NATO Military Committee attended the 25th annual Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defence Conference in Fiji. This year’s theme was “Preserving the Rules-Based Order to Enable Sovereignty in an Era of Strategic Competition”. On the side-lines of the conference, he met with a number of Allied, Partner and non-Partner Chiefs of Defence, including Australia, Colombia, Fiji, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia and New Zealand as well as the Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command.
At the invitation of General Jone Kalouniwai, Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and Admiral Chris Aquilino, Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Bauer attended the Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defence Conference to discuss ongoing efforts and responses to a number of global challenges, such as threats to the Rules-Based International Order, cyber and information-related risks, as well as natural disasters and climate change.
As a forum to discuss common security challenges, improve mutual relationships and foster security cooperation, the conference is a welcome backdrop for bilateral meetings with Allied, Partner and non-Partner Chiefs of Defence. As such, Admiral Bauer met with the highest military representatives of NATO’s Asia-Pacific Partners, General Angus Campbell for Australia, General Yoshihide Yoshida for Japan, Lieutenant General Wong Park for the Republic of Korea and Air Marshal Kevin Short for New Zealand. Reflecting on these meetings, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee underscored the importance of the Indo-Pacific for the Alliance, especially given that developments in the region can directly affect Euro-Atlantic security. “NATO and its partners share a common goal of working together to address cross-cutting security issues and global challenges as well as protecting and strengthening the Rules-Based International Order, including freedom of navigation”, he added.
Discussions between the Chief of Defence of Colombia, Major General Helder Fernán Giraldo Bonilla and Admiral Bauer highlighted the value of the existing military cooperation between both entities. “As NATO’s only Partner in South America and its newest, Colombia has a unique perspective to bring to this partnership. It also has specific expertise in areas, such as countering improvised explosive devices, counter-narcotics, and counter-insurgency, which could greatly benefit our Alliance and its training programme”, emphasised the Chair.
Sitting down with the Mongolian Chief of Defence, Major General Ganbyamba Sunreviin, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee noted the benefits from an ongoing dialogue, which can enhance the situational awareness on regional and global security developments, but also identify constructive, and mutually beneficial opportunities, in areas such information sharing, education, exercise and training, as well as defence planning and reforms.
Finally, engaging with Admiral Chris Aquilino, Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Bauer reiterated NATO’s ambitions to further develop and strengthen its dialogue and cooperation with regional Partners and actors as stated in the 2023 Summit Communiqué and the 2022 Strategic Concept. “The Indo-Pacific is important for NATO, given that developments in that region can directly affect Euro-Atlantic security. With the help of our Partners in the region, we can work together to address everything from disinformation, climate change and maritime security to cyber defence and competition in space”, he concluded.