Opening remarks

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

  • 14 Sep. 2019 -
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  • Last updated: 26 Sep. 2019 09:46

Air chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and Major General Alenka Ermenc, Slovenian Chief of Defence

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 Ljubljana pour la dernière réunion du Comité militaire en session des chefs d’état-major de la défense de deux-mille dix-neuf.

Je ferai quelques remarques liminaires avant de céder la parole au chef d’état-major général slovène, général de division Alenka Ermenc qui présentera le ministre slovène de la Défense, M. Karl Erjavec  pour ses remarques d’introduction avant que je déclare notre conférence officiellement ouverte.

I want to thank you for inviting us to Ljubljana for hosting this Conference. This is the first time the Military Committee has held its conference in Slovenia and the hospitality that you have given us has been outstanding.

Everyone in the room can see all the effort that your staff have put into organising this Conference and we look forward to seeing more of your beautiful country as we are here in Slovenia.

We have a new face at tour table of chiefs fo defence today and I would offer a particularly warm welcome to Major General Valdemaras Rupsys from Lithuania.

Otherwise known as Val, Welcome.

And Val, we look forward very much to hearing your ideas, your thoughts for this conference which will enrich our discussions. And congratulations on your appointment.

As we heard last night, both NATO and Slovenia are celebrating important anniversaries this year. Seventy years since the Alliance was created by twelve founding members, and fifteen years since Slovenia joined our great Alliance.

With these anniversaries, we must not lose sight of the challenges that were overcome throughout history as we adapted to circumstances.

Therefore, I would like to now take time right now and pay tribute to all our serving military personnel and remember the sacrifices of those men and women killed or wounded in the line of duty.

Today’s security situation is the most unpredictable it has been for many years. However, the Alliance’s commitment to preventing conflict and to preserving peace, to succeeding in deterrence for nearly one billion people on both sides of the Atlantic remains constant.

This committee, the Military Committee of the Alliance provides strategic military advice to the North Atlantic Council.

And everyone in the room today at the table is responsible for translating political decisions and guidance into military strategy and recommending measures considered necessary for the defence of our Alliance.

NATO is a political-military defensive organisation combining both soft and hard power. We promote democratic values and are committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes.

But if diplomatic efforts fail, the Alliance has the military capacity and capability to undertake crisis management operations alone or in cooperation with other Nations and other international organisations.

The first of our two sessions today will therefore focus on the Alliance’s operations, missions and activities. Following an intelligence briefing, we will discuss those operations in detail.

NATO leads missions in Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan as well as the Mediterranean.

We remain committed to Afghanistan.

We all agree that it is clear that a sustainable solution in Afghanistan cannot be reached by military means alone.

NATO Allies and partners will continue to train and advise Afghan security forces. We make them stronger, so that they can fight international terrorism and create and sustain security and stability in their own country.

Our military presence is there to create the conditions for peace.

Closer to home and closer to this region, the KFOR mission has made an important contribution to stability in the Western Balkans for twenty years. It has helped to sustain ad create a safe and secure environment for all the people of Kosovo.

Peace and stability in Kosovo has been a priority for NATO and our mandate for the United Nations has not changed, so we will continue our peacekeeping mission.

To the South, we have our NATO Mission in Iraq. To strengthen the Iraqi security forces and to ensure ISIS cannot return.

Trainers from Allies and partners are in Iraq boosting skills in areas like military medicine, logistics and countering improvised explosive devices.

Our mission in Iraq there contributes to fight against terrorism. Training local forces is one of our best weapons we have in this mission.

We also conducts air policing, including over Slovenia, and we have four rotational enhanced forward presence battlegroups in Poland and the Baltic States.

We assist in NATO with the refugee and migrant where appropriate, particularly in the Aegean Sea, we have patriot missiles deployed in Turkey, we provide AWACs surveillance aircraft in support to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and when required, NATO carries out disaster relief operations and missions to protect populations against natural, technological or humanitarian disasters.

All these commitments take place against the backdrop of adapting our Alliance and in a complex and challenging security environment.

As the we develop our deterrence and defence, we need to ensure that effective strategic communications support our operations and missions.

In the world we are in, misinformation and propaganda are tools that are used by both state and non-state actors against the Alliance.

Therefore, NATO’s civilian and military communicators must be supported to communicate transparently on our deployments, our operations and as we saw in Norway last year, and on our exercises.

This Alliance does not seek confrontation, NATO’s aim is to preserve peace. We will not compromise on the principles on which the Alliance and the security in Europe and North America rest.

Maintaining current operations and missions whilst looking to the future means we need to be ready to respond to any challenge or threat.

Looking to that future today, our third session will focus on the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area and our Warfighting concepts.

This year we saw the Chiefs of Defence, you, we, sign a new NATO military strategy for the first time since 1967. This supports and informs the Alliance's three core tasks of collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security.

Based on this strategy which you have endorsed, the Deterrence and Defence concept will aid planning and provide direction, assist in the reinforcement of forces and examine our approach to future threats to the Alliance in the Euro-Atlantic area.

Our warfighting capstone concept will allow for a prioritisation of capabilities, force developments and experimentation to counter multi-dimensional and multi-domain challenges.

This will enable NATO as an Alliance to maintain our military edge against adversaries, potential or real, and allow us to continue to meet our objectives across our core tasks.

Our fourth session today focuses on NATO’s Military Instrument of Power.

Through a recent Crisis Management Exercise this year, lessons have been learned and identified as to how we can continue to improve our decision making at the strategic political-military level

Noting these lessons, the Chiefs of Defence will exchange views and of course provide direction and guidance on how to increase the speed of decision-making, ensure our forces are available to SACEUR as strategic commander in a timely and transparent way, and improve our ability to respond efficiently and effectively to any threat or challenge.

In each of our sessions today we will be supported by our Strategic Commanders; Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Tod Wolters, and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Andre Lanata, who will both provide detailed military strategic assessments on the issues.

General Ermenc, thank you again for hosting us . I now give the floor to you for your remarks and the introduction of the Minister Erjavec.

General,Minister. Thank you very much for those very strong opening remarks.

This now concludes our Opening session.

Can I please politely ask the media now to leave so we can continue with our conference?

And if I can ask the CHODS and Delegates to stay where they are as I escort the Minister from the Conference.