Joint press conference

with General Breedlove (Supreme Allied Commander Europe), General Pavel (Chairman NATO Military Committee), General Graziano (Chief of Defence, Italy) and General Mercier (Supreme Allied Commander Transformation)

  • 19 Oct. 2015 -
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  • Last updated: 20 Oct. 2015 09:22

Joint press conference with General Philip Breedlove (Supreme Allied Commander Europe), General Petr Pavel (Chairman of the NATO Military Committee), General Claudio Graziano (Chief of Defence, Italy) and General Denis Mercier (Supreme Allied Commander Transformation)

GENERAL CLAUDIO GRAZIANO (Italian Chief of Defence):    Authorities, generals, admirals, ladies and gentlemen it’s a great pleasure to bring you all the greeting of the Italian Armed Forces here in Trapani. We are particularly keen to be one of the hosting nations for this Exercise Trident Juncture 2015. And first here today allow me to thank the local institutions and the citizens of Trapani for the long-lasting relation that binds the town with this military base, I will say with all the military reality we are in Sicily. And to the Mayor of this, the city and the mayors of the similar cities, I am particularly grateful for being here today, I would like to thanks for hospitality and to reassure all of the people [inaudible] that every effort will be made as usual actually to minimize any sort of impact of the daily lives of their communities, in the meantime to make possible, to make possible these exercise to accomplish all the aims, the important aims it’s pursuing. A special thanks to the media operators for their interest in NATO effort to remain relevant in facing modern challenges to the stability of the Euro Atlantic region and of course let me praise General Domrose, Joint Force Commander Brunssum and the Joint Force Commander staff for their engagement in making this training even another, event another success. As you know Trident Juncture is at the top of NATO training for readiness of its competency responding to crisis scenarios on a large scale and the training is a very important, training is very important, training is also a deterrent and in this particular moment it’s very important. And I would like to reinforce here how Italy has always been supportive of the NATO responsive force concept through which we have significantly announced the interoperability and preparedness of our forces and this is also a good place to develop the cause of a very high readiness forces. And the current global scenario is affected by far reaching domino effects caused by convergence of many destabilizing factor and just an example is the spreading of the new geographic terrorism. And in addition we are facing contingencies that increasing constraints our military budget in a period when countries in other regions are boosting their defence expenditures. So again this one is an important exercise to increase connective defence, the way of committing many, committing better, our money is also important because we had the certification of different quarter, NRF 16 and the deploy J Factor, J Factor based in headquarters deployable everywhere. That is I think is a very important and successful moment because this kind of deployable headquarters is going to be very significant in any kind of deployment to ensure security around theatres. And I also strongly believe that the more focused the commitment of the southern flank is one, it’s of course a training for all NATO but in this moment the training, the focus of southern flank is needful and time has come for NATO to encompass in a comprehensive strategic policy blending, [inaudible] issue in Eastern Europe with the alliance southern flank, thereby considering its wider implication with the crisis such as we have are having now inside Middle East, Libya and several other interconnected areas. Fact proves that we cannot manage as an [inaudible] phenomenon, what happens in the Mediterranean as well in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. Just to name some of the hottest spot in our neighbourhood. To conclude let me stress that we need a systematic approach aimed at the, dealing effectively with crisis such as the numerous crisis that are now affecting the area as I said already where and with the threat posed by the advance of terrorism and organized crime in different areas. Let’s then continue doing our best to increase interoperability among our forces for general effectiveness of the Alliance. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR:  And now we take the floor, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Pavel, please sir.

GENERAL PETR PAVEL (Chairman NATO Military Committee):  Thank you. General Graziano, ladies and gentlemen as I have spoken only a couple of minutes ago I will keep my remarks brief and then I’ll hand over the floor to two Strategic Commanders, General Breedlove, Strategic Commander Europe and General Mercier, Strategic Commander Transformation. As Chairman of the NATO Military Committee and a soldier who has taken part in many national and multinational exercises throughout my career I wanted to acknowledge the effort of all the personnel taking part in today’s distinguished visitors day and also the entire Trident Juncture 15 exercise. General Graziano, Claudio, let me extend my gratitude to you as the representative of the host nation. The national forces of the Alliance members are all trained to a high standard, many of the groups you will meet today have exercised, trained and fought together over a number of years. However the world is ever changing, new threats are emerging and therefore NATO is constantly adapting. As it adapts NATO nations want to ensure that their troops are able to respond and so we educate, exercise, practise and train alongside each other so if needed NATO is able to respond to any threat from any direction. On a more technical note and being in Trapani it is quite natural that the assets on display today are predominantly from air domain. With aircraft being provided by 18 NATO Allies and 3 NATO partners, partner nations. These air assets will be used in support of land, maritime and special operation forces. Personal recovery and search and rescue missions are also scheduled. With this let me hand over to SACEUR, Phil the floor is yours.

MODERATOR:  General Breedlove please.

GENERAL PHILIP BREEDLOVE (NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe):  Thank you Petr and good afternoon again to all of you, thank you for taking the opportunity to come out and see a tremendous display of NATO capability. The Alliance is well aware of the changing world and security situation and so we have taken a number of steps under our Readiness Action Plan to respond to those challenges we see in the north, the east and the south. As a result NATO Allies are implementing the most comprehensive reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War. Our very high-readiness joint task force or VJTF coupled with a more ready and responsive NRF and facilitated by our NATO Force Integration Units send a very clear message to any potential aggressor. Any attempt to violate the sovereignty of one NATO nation will result in a decisive military engagement with all 28 Allied nations. Today’s activities demonstrate just one part of Trident Juncture 2015 where more than 30 nations and about 36,000 troops are participating. Demonstrating that we can deploy high readiness forces from across the Alliance in a matter of days. These multinational forces from air, land, sea and special operations are highly interoperable and have proven capable of conducting complex military manoeuvres across the full spectrum of operations. Our focus in NATO is that our measures remain defensive, proportional and appropriate but what we also make clear is that NATO’s commitment to collective defence is rock solid. With that I’ll turn it over to my fellow Commander, the SACT, Denis.

GENERAL DENIS MERCIER (NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation):  Thank you very much Philip and good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. And in order to be complimentary I will bring some Allied Command  Transformation perspective. In the, in the shift that we have initiated to better adapt our approach to training and exercises. In fact we have a big shift in this approach which is three fold. The first one is we continuously increase the quality and the [inaudible] of our exercises and for that we have integrated and in a very flexible way, so that means that even came with the, after the initial planning of the exercise we have continuously integrated new threats. So we have integrated in this exercise for instance cyber threats, ballistic missile defence, hybrid threats and it was very ambitious then, a very ambitious exercise in scale but it was very ambitious in expectations as well and after the debriefing of the first phase with the Commander of the Joint Force Command Brunssum and the competent commanders I saw that this ambition give even more enthusiasm to all the participants and it was a great thing. That shows to me that the more ambitious we are, the more enthusiastic are the players which means that the realism of the exercise was here. And as Philip mentioned we have evaluated our readiness and responsiveness. Second shift is a partnership and experimentation, we have an improved number of partners participating in this exercise. International organization, European Union for instance, a number of non-governmental organization and also we have the strong participation of the industry. We have 39 companies within the beginning of the planning phase as observers, and in order to better understand our requirement and with this understanding of our requirements we hope that finally they will better come with innovative solution in the future. And the third shift, this is implementation across all our transformational initiatives from the higher headquarters down to the tactical unit and to the tactical level. So we will continue to use the exercises like this, so as you can see this is more than exercise and this is more than, this exercise is more than an enabler of our capability, this is a demonstration of our credibility to operate as alliance and to face any kind of challenges in the future.

MODERATOR:  Ladies and gentlemen now we will have a question and answer section. Please those who want to put an answer to the commanders here raise your hand, qualify yourself and the media you’re working for and then we will present you the microphone.

Q:  Hi Sam Jones, Financial Times. This is a question for General Breedlove. The Deputy Secretary General earlier mentioned the Russians building up in Crimea then in Kaliningrad and now obviously in Syria, does NATO, what form would the, NATO’s modern deterrence to Russian aggression take next? Obviously it hasn’t stopped them so far, does NATO need to consider its own A2AD kind of operations in the Mediterranean, obviously there’s already very significant forces deployed here and that hasn’t done anything to stop Moscow. So what form should deterrence take in the future?

GENERAL PHILIP BREEDLOVE:  So it’s an excellent question. We have since the Russian invasion of Crimea worked on assuring our Allies and assuring our, the nations and now we look at how does that assurance lend itself to deterrence and broadly deterrence as it relates to NATO nations is working but we, we’re not sure exactly what it will take to work in the future and this is a question that we’re working on every day. The places that you mentioned are obviously not in NATO countries but border NATO countries and so we need to be very aware of what’s going on and be able to address that. The A2AD, anti-access area denial, that was questioned about earlier. This is a problem that we are addressing in our Alliance and looking at those capabilities and capacities that we need to either enhance or develop to better be able to address these growing concerns that we see in all the areas that you mentioned. And it is a collaborative process that starts in Brussels with the requirements that I put on the table and then SACT and Denis Mercier and his team build those capability packages that we ask the nations to address. So it’s something that all of our NATO command and commanders are focused on.

GENERAL DENIS MERCIER:  Let me add one comment to your question and it’s that all A2AD capability is not offensive or aggressive in nature, it’s principally a defensive measure. So we have to consider it, we have to be aware of it, we have to include it in our planning but it’s not the threat as such.

Q:  Pat Carter, UK Defence Press Agency. Do you expect or have you noticed any additional air or sea assets taking an interest in joint Trident Juncture?

GENERAL PHILIP BREEDLOVE:  I think we’re all shaking our head no at this point. So I, I’m not aware of any and I don’t think any of the rest of us are.

MODERATOR:  Thank you for your participation, the press conference is over.