Good Evening, ladies and gentlemen. Let me start this press conference by giving you an overview of the main outcomes of the first NATO Chiefs of Defence meeting in 2016.
Over the course of today, the Chiefs of Defence held frank exchanges of views and provided additional guidance for the months ahead, in light of the challenging security environment and the fast approaching Warsaw Summit in July.
During our session on the Resolute Support Mission, the 28 Allied Chiefs of Defence and their 14 Partners received briefings from General Breedlove and Commander Resolute Support, General Campbell. The Chiefs of Defence commended and stressed their support for the Afghan security forces, who continue to face significant challenges, including the emergence of Islamic State affiliates.
The Chiefs of Defence recommended to pursue the ongoing efforts based on conditions on the ground, in support of enhancing the performance of the Afghan security forces and assuring Afghanistan of our long-term commitment.
The following session dealt with the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa region. The discussions with the seven Mediterranean Chiefs of Defence enabled the Allied Chiefs of Defence to gain firsthand insight into the regional security challenges and assess progress of ongoing cooperation between NATO and the Mediterranean Dialogue Partners, including Defence Capacity Building. Concluding the meeting, the Chiefs of Defence stressed the importance of containing terrorism and the need to further enhance practical military cooperation tailored to individual needs of the Nations and of NATO.
This afternoon’s session centred on Strategy and Adaptation. The Chiefs of Defence welcomed the progress in the implementation of the Readiness Action Plan and then focused on NATO’s continued military adaptation. The Chiefs of Defence offered their advice on how to take the adaptation forward, taking into consideration threats on both NATO’s Eastern and Southern borders. This advice, drawing on the strength of NATO’s unity, capabilities and responsiveness, focused on the essential measures required to further reinforce NATO’s Collective Defence. This advice will be provided to the North Atlantic Council ahead of the Defence Minister’s meeting in February.
With that said, I will now hand the floor over to General Breedlove and General Mercier, who will brief you on Operational and Transformational issues respectively. Phil, over to you.