Press Conference

by the Chairman of the Military Committee, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, at the 180th meeting of the Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence session

  • 16 Jan. 2019 -
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  • Last updated: 16 Jan. 2019 16:50

(As delivered)

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good afternoon. Thank you very much for joining me today.

I will give you an overview of the main outcomes from the first Military Committee in the Chiefs of Defence format for 2019.

We are only a few months short of from the 70th Anniversary of NATO.

The commitment and support for the Alliance's primary responsibility, to protect and defend our populations and our territory against attack, is as resolute today as it was in 1949.

Today's security environment is unpredictable which means that more than ever, the Alliance needs to be ready and able to counter any threat or challenge from both state and non-state actors.

The Chiefs of Defence sessions have allowed for a robust exchange of views and enabled all the Allied Chiefs to provide further direction and guidance on numerous work strands, which will be provided to the North Atlantic Council ahead of next month's Defence Ministerial meeting.

The Military Committee started their first session with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

This session allowed the Secretary General and the Chiefs of Defence Staff to exchange views on key strategic issues which face the Alliance and helped set the scene for the rest of the day's discussions.

In the session on NATO's current and future challenges, the Chiefs of Defence emphasized the importance of continued intelligence sharing between Allies and international partners.

In order that the Alliance maintains credibility, the Chiefs of Defence discussed how new technologies, especially those that we class as disruptive technologies will influence the planning and execution of future Operations, Missions and Activities.

NATO needs to have a key role in developing those technologies to maintain an advantage.

The Chiefs of Defence agreed that Russia and international terror groups were two major challenges.

Discussions focused on continuing to monitor Russia's posture as well as on the importance of keeping NATO-Russia military-to-military lines of communication open.

The CHoDs exchanged views on military - to - military cooperation with Ukraine and the importance of engagement.

They expressed concern about Russian actions in the Black Sea, particularly surrounding the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.

Turning to the Alliance's Strategic Developments, the Chiefs of Defence reviewed the progress on the development of NATO's Military Strategy.

They underlined that there should be an integrated approach to all external challenges facing the Alliance, as the military instrument whilst powerful, is just one of the tools available.

On NATO's Readiness Initiative, the Chiefs of Defence agreed that it will ensure that high quality, combat-capable national forces at high readiness will be made available to the Alliance.

Meeting with our Operational Partners in Resolute Support format, the Military Committee received briefings on the operational and political situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

The Chiefs of Defence reiterated their support for the NATO-led mission to train, assist and advise the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and Institutions.

The Chiefs of Defence reaffirmed their commitment to Afghanistan's long-term security and stability, and to an Afghan-led and owned peace process.

Focusing on the Regional Security situation, the Military Committee met with the Pakistani Chief of Defence, General Hayat.

The Allied Chiefs welcomed Pakistan's commitment and support to reconciliation in Afghanistan and acknowledged Pakistan's continued support to facilitate NATO's logistical supply lines for its Resolute Support Mission.

And Allied CHoDs recognized Pakistan's sacrifice and commitment to defeating terrorist threats.

Regarding NATO's Deterrence and Defence posture, the Chiefs of Defence welcomed the NATO Command Structure Adaptation progress, noting that a modern, agile and robust Command Structure will strengthen the Alliance's deterrence and defence, and its ability to project stability.

For the first of today's three sessions, we were joined by our former Military Committee friend and colleague and now Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, General Claudio Graziano to discuss topics of mutual interest.

The Military Committee received an update from Allied Command Transformation on warfare development and discussed ways to link strategic thinking to the delivery of capabilities through increased experimentation, trials, exercising, modelling and simulation.

Meeting with Georgia, the Chiefs of Defence received an update on the security situation in and around the country, the strengthening of its institutions and ongoing defence reforms.

The Chiefs of Defence received an update on how the implementation of the Substantial NATO-Georgia package is progressing, from the Georgian Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Vladimer Chachibaia.

The Chiefs of Defence noted the security situation in the region remains challenging and welcomed Georgia's constructive approach to resolving the situation.

They also recognized and stated their appreciation for Georgia's significant and enduring contribution to NATO's Operations and Missions.

Finally, turning to the Western Balkans, the Military Committee agreed that NATO and the Western Balkans share a common interest in regional stability and defeating terrorism.

The Chiefs of Defence reaffirmed that any changes to NATO's force posture will remain conditions-based and not calendar-driven. NATO will ensure its KFOR mission to ensure a safe and secure environment in Kosovo.

The Military Committee noted the long-standing agreement that NATO would have to re-examine our level of engagement with the Kosovo Security Force, should its mandate evolve.

The Military Committee acknowledged that strategic communication efforts should reinforce the Alliance's engagement and improve resilience to disinformation in the region.

So over the past day and a half, we have covered a wide range of topics which demonstrates the breadth of work currently ongoing within the Alliance.

Thank you very much.