by NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller at NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battalion at Ādaži Military Base
ROSE GOTTEMOELLER (NATO Deputy Secretary General): Good afternoon everyone, what an afternoon we’ve had, we are sorry to keep people waiting a bit, we were a little late getting out of Brussels today but it is an honour and a pleasure to be here today. State Secretary Garisons, Colonel Lejiņš, Lt Colonel French, Ambassador Bĕrziņš, and my fellow Ambassadors from NATO, it’s an honour for me to visit Camp Ādaži to salute the men and women of NATO’s armed forces.
This camp which I’ve just had a quick drive around on this snowy afternoon, it’s a model of everything that NATO stands for and you symbolise the spirit of our Alliance: all for one and one for all. Personnel from countries across the Alliance serve together. Your presence sends an unmistakable message. We are NATO.
Many of us as individuals and nations working together as one alliance. You embody an important truth that we are much stronger together than we are alone.
You will know that you are not alone, that you are part of the largest reinforcement of NATO’s collective defence in a generation. A reinforcement that includes the deployment of similar multinational battle groups in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland.
On Monday, I will visit Lithuania where a German-led battle group has been deployed. Croatia, France, the Netherlands and Norway have provided troops and equipment to support that effort in Lithuania.
In Estonia, the United Kingdom is the lead nation for that battle group with support from Denmark and Iceland.
The United States leads our battle group in Poland supported by Croatia, Romania and the United Kingdom.
I want to thank all NATO members who are actively supporting these four battle groups.
Here in Ādaži I want to thank the leaders, military personnel and citizens of Latvia for your indispensible role in hosting and contributing to this battle group right here in Latvia.
I also thank Canada for being the lead nation here and Canada’s Ambassador to the NATO. The Permanent Representative, Kerry Buck, is joining us here this afternoon. Your presence here testifies to NATO’s vital transatlantic bond and - by the way - this is Canada’s largest troop presence in Europe since the Cold War.
In addition, I want to thank Albania, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and soon the Czech Republic for providing troops and equipment here for this multinational effort.
I am, again, joined here today by the NATO Permanent Representatives and other senior representatives from each of these countries and so glad that you are able to join me on this trip.
So thank you colleagues for being here and showing your support for this important mission.
All the personnel gathered here today represent the solidarity of NATO, an alliance of 29 nations that have united behind a common purpose to protect our nations and our nearly one billion citizens.
NATO’s commitment to strong deterrence and defence has helped to keep the peace in Europe for nearly 70 years. This deployment follows that proud tradition.
All military deployments involve challenges and sacrifices and I know you are here without your families, far away from your friends.
I hope that all of you know that your service is very, very much appreciated. Your presence here makes a huge difference; for that we are deeply, deeply, grateful.
I thank you all for your service, for helping us to defend our Alliance, for helping to deter aggression and for preserving the liberty and peace of your fellow citizens across this great Alliance.
Thank you very, very much for your presence here today, thank you for hosting us. I hope we will have a few minutes now to have a chat, at least with some of you and get a look at the equipment. It is an impressive site, and again we just drove around the camp so we got some feel for the scope of this activity; it is really impressive.
So just as I wrap up now, I know I have a few words with the press, but I wanted to say thank you again to Latvia for all your efforts in hosting this battle group here and to all the nations involved, starting with Canada the lead nation.
So thank you colleagues again, I look forward to further discussion.
MODERATOR: We’ll take actually a few minutes for questions from media. If you could please state your name and media outlet.
QUESTION (Reuters News Agency): (inaudible).
ROSE GOTTEMOELLER: I think first of all, I really like to emphasise the degree to which the presence of the four battle groups here in the Baltic States and in Poland is so impressive because we came out of the Warsaw Summit just in July of 2016 with a decision to move forward but what you see here in this forest, you know the footprint wasn’t anything like what we see today, so within a year from the Warsaw Summit these battle groups were certified and ready to go.
So that is an impressive sign of how NATO can pull together and work and get something done when it is facing a serious challenge and the threat of aggression.
So we have, I think, truly accomplished a lot and again I want to give credit for that now.
But these battle groups do not stand on their own. A lot of attention now is going into follow-on forces and what else needs to be done including the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.
We are looking now at capabilities of troops available for Europe in the numbers of 40,000, so it’s not as if these battle groups stand alone; there are a lot of different capabilities that can be brought to bear and the question of what other capabilities in terms of air defence, in terms of air policing, in terms of naval presence, all of these are the types of issues that are continually under consideration and development.
So I really think, first of all, we need to take credit for what has been accomplished so far but also to recognise that there is a lot of ongoing work and that these battle groups are not standing alone.