Defence Ministers make progress on improving capabilities; take stock of ISAF mission
Defence Ministers took concrete steps to improve Allied capabilities and interoperability and assessed the progress made in Afghanistan during their two-day talks which wrapped up on Friday 22 February.
“We have taken some important steps forward, to keep NATO prepared to deal with the threats of the future, while adapting to the economic realities of the present,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “We are making this Alliance more effective in the way we train and exercise together. More efficient in the way we plan and use our resources. And more energetic in the way we use our NATO Response Force.”
At their talks on Thursday, the 28 NATO defence ministers agreed goals for more ambitious training and exercises in order to preserve and further develop interoperability within the Alliance. This will be done under the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI). As part of the initiative, ministers agreed that the Alliance should hold a major live exercise in 2015, and draw up a comprehensive programme of training and exercises for the period 2015-2020. They also agreed that the NATO Response Force (NRF) will be at the core of the initiative.
The NATO ministers, together with counterparts from partner nations, took stock of progress made in Afghanistan on Friday. The meeting involved all 50 members of the ISAF coalition, the Defence Minister of Afghanistan, and representatives from the United Nations and the European Union. The ISAF Commander, General Joseph Dunford, who also attended, briefed the meeting on progress being made. Ministers also reinforced the commitment to the post-2014 mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces.
Defence Ministers also met for a session of the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) and agreed on a set of priorities to guide cooperation over the next five years, including in training and exercises. The Secretary General and Ukrainian Defence Minister Pavlo Lebedev signed an exchange of letters confirming Ukraine’s intent to contribute a frigate and helicopter to NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield, which fights piracy off the coast of Somalia.