Opening remarks

by Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Denis Mercier at the Joint press conference with General Petr Pavel, Chairman and General Curtis Scaparrotti

  • 16 May. 2018 -
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  • Last updated: 16 May. 2018 21:34

Thank you Peter and Mike.

Since I took command of Allied Command Transformation in September 2015, I have attended eight Military Committees in Chiefs of Defence session, here in Brussels or in one of our allied nations. This one was the last before my hand over, which will be in September this year.

This press conference provides me with the opportunity to publicly thank my two colleagues and friends, General Scaparotti, Mike and General Pavel, Peter. I would like to express my profound gratitude for the great job we did together, as a team, to improve peace and security in the Euro Atlantic area. I could not have imagined better leaders and friends to work with.

I still have more than four months before leaving, so I will continue to promote my mission to focus Allied Command Transformation on warfare development. Our efforts will ensure SACEUR has the warfighting capacity he needs to face any challenge today and in the foreseeable future.

I have presented today different ideas, presenting our disruptive technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, can improve our decision making processes, logistics capabilities, and other domains useful for the Alliance military posture.

One of my main achievements as SACT is the contribution of my command to the adaptation of the NATO command structure, which has been endorsed by our nations and will soon be a reality. Through the necessary evolution of the NATO command structure we will reinforce the defence and deterrence posture of our Alliance.

I truly believe that this adaptation is only a step to keeping a competitive edge. Our Alliance has to continue to innovate, and adapt to a very challenging environment.

We are members of the most successful military Alliance in the world because we have always been able to adapt.

In February 2018, Defence Ministers decided on the key elements of this new NATO Command Structure: They will take further decisions in June, including on timelines, as well as the locations of our new commands. I am very proud of the contribution we did, together, with Allied Command Operations and SACEUR for this adaptation of our command structure.

I cannot finish without addressing a few words regarding the exercise Trident Juncture 18. Trident Juncture 18 will take place this November in Norway and is designed to ensure that NATO forces are trained and ready. It will be an important test, and a tremendous display of our collective capabilities. It is comprised of two parts: a live exercise conducted in and around Norway and a command post exercise conducted mostly in Naples.

With over 40,000 participants from more than 30 nations, this exercise is a prime example of NATO Allies and partners working together in peacetime as well as in a crisis. It will be one of NATO

This exercise has air, sea and land elements, and Norway offers the possibility to train realistically in all of these domains. The cold and wet weather will pose additional challenges to our troops, and will train them to operate in extreme conditions. It is very important for NATO to show that it is ready to defend and deter in any geographic part of the Alliance.

The exercise scenario is not real. But the lessons we will learn from it are very real. So are the benefits for our resilience and our strength. And the exercise will integrate many experimentations of new capabilities and systems as it will strengthen our military capacity.

NATO is a defensive Alliance. This is why we are open and transparent in the way we exercise. Observers will be invited, and the international rules on military exercises will be respected in full.

Thank you!