Press Statement

by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee at the joint press point with SACEUR and SACT following the Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session

  • 22 May. 2019 -
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  • Last updated: 23 May. 2019 14:12

(As delivered)

Hello everybody and thank you very much for joining us.

I am here today to give you an overview of the outcomes from today’s Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence format.

Just one month the Alliance marked its 70th anniversary.

The longest lasting and most successful alliance in history has preserved peace and stability for seven decades. The commitment that Allies made in 1949 is still as strong today as it was then.

Actions speak louder than words.

Actions that see twenty-nine Nations sending troops across the world under the NATO flag supported by a network of partners.

Actions that see Heads of State and Government, Foreign and Defence Ministers, and Chiefs of Defence meet regularly to ensure coherent and informed decisions are taken concerning the defence of Alliance.

Actions that see here in NATO headquarters and elsewhere in the Chain of Command, represented by our Strategic Commanders, military and civilian personnel working together.

Actions that see soldiers, sailors and airmen exercise together, to increase their ability to operate together.

They all demonstrate the continued commitment to the Alliance and unity.

Today, the Chiefs of Defence can see the progress of the discussions we took in January providing further direction and guidance to NATO’s military authorities and advice the North Atlantic Council ahead of the Ministerial meeting here next month.

The Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg met with the Military Committee this morning for the first session so we could understand his political intent and we were able to debate the key issues.

As the world changes so does our Alliance.

Every change that is made needs to be done holistically.

We then discussed Deterrence and Defence with the Chiefs of Defence Staff stressing the need to continue to develop the right capabilities and remain at the forefront of innovation.

We need to sustain and maintain effective defence and deterrence, working with our Allies to facilitate that.

We have, today, agreed a Military Strategy. This is the first time for many years, we have done so and it is part of NATO’s adaptation process.

NATO adapts. We continue to revise and review the threats we face, as allies.

Today, our Alliance faces enduring challenges from all strategic directions; state and non-state; military forces; and terrorist, cyber and hybrid.

Against this background, the NATO Chiefs of Defence decided in 2017 to task the Military Authorities to review our existing strategy.

To create a common understanding of the threats and challenges was developed, and through consensus, this strategy was produced with each member, each Ally, being an equal partner. 

Therefore, we now have that handrail to guide us and to enable us to deliver our core business to defend almost 1 billion people.

This works guides our other work and I would particularly like to thank the Nations, the Staff who have helped this come together today.

It brings coherence.

Today also we have looked at how we work together with the European Union and I invited the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, General Claudio Graziano to join us.  

SACEUR, my friend Tod Wolters – to my left, is responsible for the command of NATO military operations.

And, in the case of any aggression, SACEUR, is responsible for executing military measures within his capability and authorities to preserve or restore the security of the Alliance.

The Military Committee today discussed the need to create the conditions to support and enable SACEUR to fulfil his mandate.

This requires us to think across our Allies and across our governments.

We note that Military mobility is an important topic both in the European Union and NATO.

Therefore, the efforts within the European Union on military mobility and NATO’s work to enable SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility are mutually reinforcing.

Today we also were joined by General Viktor Muzhenko from Ukraine and we discussed the continued support we offer the Ukrainian Armed Forces in their transformation and reform.

We note the challenging security situation and we welcome the commitment of Ukrainian authorities to continue to reform.

Last but not least, we focused on discussions with our Mediterranean Dialogue partners as that partnership celebrates its 25th anniversary.

This helps us to boost trust and cooperation between those members and strengthens their defence capabilities and helps us to address wider security challenges.

We welcome their dialogue with us and we recognise their valuable contributions to NATO’s Operations and activities.

Throughout the day, the Chiefs of Defence held frank exchanges of views and offered together clear guidance and advice on a number of issues.

This advice is crucial to allow the NATO Military Authorities to continue to deliver the advice to political leadership supporting NATO’s adaptation and our three core tasks of collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.

And with that I hand the floor to SACEUR.