Opening remarks

by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee at the start of the Military Committee Conference in Warsaw, Poland

  • 29 Sep. 2018 -
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  • Last updated: 29 Sep. 2018 11:26

Monsieur le ministre, mesdames, messieurs, bonjour.

J’aimerais tout d’abord souhaiter la bienvenue aux chefs d’état-major de la défense des pays de l’OTAN et aux commandants stratégiques réunis aujourd’hui à Varsovie pour la dernière réunion du Comité militaire en session des chefs d’état-major de la défense de 2018.

Je ferai quelques remarques liminaires avant de demander au ministre polonais de la Défense, M. [Monsieur] Mariusz Blaszczak de déclarer notre conférence officiellement ouverte.

Firstly, a welcome to five new members of the Military Committee.   Let me extend a warm welcome to General Andrzejczak.

Thank you for inviting us to Warsaw and for hosting this Conference. The hospitality we have received so far has been exemplary and we can clearly see all the hard work your staff have put into organising this Conference.

Poland is a leading Ally that contributes greatly to our combined security. Your military play an active role in NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and KFOR:

help guard the safety of the Baltic Region….

host NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence System….

contribute and host one of our enhanced Forward Presence battlegroups, MultiNational Corps Northeast…

 I was lucky enough to visit the Corps Headquarters this week and Training Centre in Bydgoszcz.

These all demonstrate the solid commitment of Poland to NATO.

But I would also like, this morning, to welcome five other new colleagues:

General Ferenc Korom from Hungary. Welcome.

General Brigadier Dragutin Dakic from Montenegro. Welcome.

Admiral Antonio Silva Ribeiro from Portugal. Welcome.

General Yasar Guler from Turkey. Welcome, my friend.

and General Sir Nick Carter from the United Kingdom.

Enfin, j’aimerais souhaiter la bienvenue au général André Lanata, le nouveau commandant suprême allié Transformation et au nouveau Assistant secrétaire général adjoint pour les opérations, Docteur John Manza.

I wish all of you the very best in your new appointments and I very much look forward to hearing your ideas and remarks which will enrich our discussions.

First, I would ask us to take a moment and pay tribute to our serving military personnel and remember the sacrifice of those men and women killed or wounded in the line of duty.

We face an unpredictable and fluid security environment with many challenges and developing threats posed by state and non-state actors; in the traditional domains of land, sea and air as well as hybrid warfare and cyber-attacks.

This Military Committee is the most senior Military Authority in NATO, providing strategic military advice to the North Atlantic Council.

The twenty-nine Allied Chiefs of Defence gathered around this table bring a wealth of experience and expertise.

Responsible for translating political decisions and guidance into military strategy and recommending the measures necessary for the defence of the Alliance.

We work together to safeguard the freedom and security of one billion citizens on both sides of the Atlantic.

Two months ago, at the Brussels Summit two months, our Heads of State and Government reaffirmed decisions of the Wales and Warsaw Summits.

The Alliance will continue to respond to security challenges by enhancing our deterrence and our defence posture and projecting stability with a 360-degree approach.

We begin our meeting today with a session dedicated to missions and operations.

Almost 20,000 military personnel are engaged in NATO Missions around the world in complex ground, naval and air operations in all types of environment.

 Here, we will focus on our operational main effort, the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan….

 to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Security and Defence Forces and Government Institutions…..

as well as the NATO Mission in Iraq recently launched at the Brussels Summit, in the Communiqué building on training and capacity efforts already conducted by the Alliance in Iraq.

Our commitment to Afghanistan is unwavering.  The security situation remains challenging. Nevertheless, the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces are working hard to secure their country and deny a safe haven to terrorists.

We continue to support the Government of Iraq to stabilise the country and fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

In our second session, we will focus on NATO Military Strategy.

 As the Alliance adapts and modernises in line with Political decisions and guidance, the Military Committee needs to ensure the Alliance continues to have an overarching framework to promote a common understanding of NATO’s military goals, intended approaches and resource requirements.

The Alliance does not have the luxury of choosing the security threats we face so we must be ready and able to operate decisively across all domains, now and in the future.

Our third session will focus on Readiness, Responsiveness and Reinforcement.   As we continue to ensure that the Alliance’s deterrence and defence posture remains credible, coherent, and resilient, it is of strategic importance to increase our responsiveness, heighten readiness and improve reinforcement.

NATO’s Readiness Initiative will ensure that more high quality, combat capable national forces are made available to NATO.

The initiative will further enhance the Alliance’s rapid response capability, either for reinforcement of Allies in support of deterrence or collective defence.

From within the pool of forces, Allies will offer an additional 30 major naval combatants, 30 heavy or medium manoeuvre battalions, 30 kinetic air squadrons, with enabling forces at 30 days’ readiness or less.

 It will also promote the importance of effective combined arms and joint operations.

Our fourth session is on Alliance Modernisation, the NATO Command Structure Adaptation and the NATO Headquarters’ Functional Review.

Heads of State and Government have agreed the implementation plan which will enable our Strategic Commanders to command and control forces to deal with military challenges or security threats at any time, from any direction, including large-scale operations for collective defence.

The adapted Command Structure enhances and strengthens the relationship to the Force Structure headquarters and national headquarters, and this improves the Alliance’s regional understanding.

Ensuring the NATO Command Structure remains robust, agile and fit-for-purpose in order to take quick and decisive action.

Finally today, the Chiefs of Defence will elect the next Director General of the International Military Staff to take office next summer.

In each of our sessions we will be supported by our Strategic Commanders; SACEUR, General Scaparotti, and SACT, General  Lanata, who will provide detailed military strategic assessments on all issues.

Minister, please let me express again our thanks to Poland for the warmth of the welcome and incredible hospitality we have received since we arrived.

Minister, the floor is now yours.

Thank you, Minister.

I would like now to thank the media for attending and I woud kindly ask you to leave the room.