Opening remarks

by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee at the 182nd Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session

  • 14 Jan. 2020 -
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  • Last updated: 14 Jan. 2020 10:52

(As delivered)

Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach

Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning.

Before we begin this session, let us first take a moment and pay tribute to all of our serving personnel and remember the sacrifice of those men and women killed or wounded in the line of duty.

Thank you.

J’aimerais souhaiter la bienvenue aux chefs d’état-major de la défense des pays de l’OTAN réunis aujourd’hui pour la première réunion du Comité militaire en session des chefs d’état-major de la défense de 2020.

Dans chacune de nos sessions aujourd’hui nous serons soutenu par nos commandants stratégiques; le commandant suprême des Forces alliées en Europe, Général Tod Wolters et le Commandant suprême des forces alliées pour la Transformation, Général André Lanata.

L’année 2019 a été mémorable, de par les anniversaires historiques que nous avons célébrés mais aussi par le travail entreprit.

We celebrated NATO’s 70th Anniversary. Marking seven decades of continued evolution and adaptation to remain the most successful military alliance in History.

Twelve NATO Allies observed their 20th, 15th and 10th Accession Anniversaries and all 29 NATO Nations reinforced the Open Door policy by signing the Accession Protocol for the Republic of North Macedonia. And a particular warm welcome, Vasco, to you to our table today.

NATO commemorated 20 years since the beginning of the NATO-led Kosovo Force.

The NATO Science and Peace for Security Programme celebrated 60 years having grown into one of NATO’s major partnership tools, covering a wide range of issues, including cyber defence, response to terrorism, and energy security.

We marked the 25th anniversary of the Mediterranean Dialogue and the 15th Anniversary of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. Acknowledging once again, as we will today, the vital role that our partners play in NATO operations, missions and activities.

We strengthened our partnerships in Europe and beyond, deepening political dialogue, extending support, and engagement with partner countries and international organisations, including our friends in the European Union and the United Nations. 

For the first time in 60 years, the NATO Military Strategy was agreed by you, the Chiefs of Defence, and updated to reflect the current threats we face. This Strategy is the handrail that guides and enables us to deliver safety and security to defend to almost 1 billion people.

So NATO is strong and our accomplishments continue to adapt to a changing security environment.

Every new decision we take both as NATO and as Allies is part of that process of adaptation. And we see the results of our work.

We have taken additional steps to remain capable to fulfil our core tasks in the years to come.

We continue to strengthen our deterrence and defence, raising the readiness of our forces, increasing our ability to move them across the Atlantic and within Europe, and modernising our military command structure and headquarters.

Since 2014, we have implemented the biggest reinforcement of collective defence in a generation.

We have strengthened our military posture from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.

We have combat-ready troops in the eastern part of our Alliance.

We have declared Initial Operating Capability for the Joint Support and Enabling Command which will help to coordinate and safeguard the movement of allied forces across Europe and the North Atlantic.

We continue to demonstrate the Alliance’s determination to deter threats and defend Alliance territory.

In addition, our new Cyberspace Operations Centre, under SACEUR’s command, is now running in Mons, in his headquarters.

The first NATO counter-hybrid support team was deployed to our Ally Montenegro, with the aim of helping to strengthen the country’s capabilities and deterring hybrid challenges.

The NATO AWACS had completed a USD 1 billion mid-life upgrade programme, incorporating the latest digital technology. In a further USD 1 billion modernisation contract was approved recently to provide new capabilities to operate AWACS to 2035.

We have received the first of five NATO Allied Ground Surveillance aircraft, a clear demonstration of modernisation and our investment to deliver leading-edge capabilities for our shared security.

We are investing 232 million EUR in a facility for the long-term storage and maintenance of US military equipment, prepositioned in Poland. A large investment at Powidz able to host the equivalent of a brigade’s worth of combat-ready equipment.

Defence Spending continues to increase. As the Secretary General has announced in 2019 an increase of 4.6 %, the fifth consecutive year of growth. By the end of this year 2020, Allies will have invested more than $130 billion since 2016 extra. By 2024 we expect that number to be $400 billion.

We have declared space an operational domain recognising the importance of space in keeping us safe and tackling security challenges. Our approach to space will remain defensive.

These are just a few examples of our ongoing work.  But we will not stop there.

We continue to improve the readiness and resilience to respond to threats. 

We remain at the forefront of technological change with our people as well as our equipment.

And we must remain resolute and determine in the face of terrorism.

We continue to address in a measured and responsible way Russia’s deployment of new intermediate-range missiles, which brought about the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty which poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security. 

Over the next two-days, we, the Allied Chiefs of Defence will meet to discuss the outcomes of the Leaders’ Meeting in December and take decisions to adapt our military capabilities, strategy, and plans in line with our 360-degree approach to security.

We will meet in a few minutes the Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg to provide the political context for our discussions.

We will then discuss our ongoing operational commitments, force generation and future requirements.

In dedicated sessions with the Operational Partners from the Resolute Support, our Mission in Afghanistan, the NATO Mission in Iraq and our KFOR Mission in the Western Balkans. Reinforcing our continued commitment to these missions plays a central role in regional security and of course helps to train local forces.

In Iraq, the safety of our personnel is paramount. We have currently suspended the training activities but our training mission continues.

We monitor the situation very closely and we remain in close and regular contact with our friends in the US authorities.

Last week, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke to President Trump and the Iraqi Prime Minister who seek additional support from NATO in the Middle East.

The request will now be discussed at the political level through the North Atlantic Council.

This afternoon will discuss the Concept for the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area and the new NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept. These two concepts flow from the NATO Military Strategy which sets out NATO’s military priorities as well as its approach to current and future threats.

The Concept for the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area guides commanders on what we need to maintain our security and the resources for the future.

It’s bringing together our current military thinking as we face an unpredictable world and deal with the consequences of a changed security environment.

The Warfighting Concept looks forward 20 years setting a vision to support Allies’ efforts to develop Allied military forces and identify potential capability gaps, and provide the necessary recommendations to ensure we are ready and able to meet the requirements of the future.

General Lanata’s leadership is providing opportunities and innovation, including the use of emerging and disruptive technologies to ensure that NATO maintains its military advantage.

Tomorrow, in the second day of our conference, we will turn our attention to NATO’s Southern Flank and discuss our work to enhance cooperation with partners including the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations.

The Framework for the South is an integral part of the Alliance’s strengthened deterrence and defence posture.

We have never had, throughout History, the luxury of deciding which threats to focus on. 29 Nations look to NATO for peace and security in a territory ranging from Europe to North America, the Atlantic Ocean almost to the North Pole to the Tropic of Cancer and the East Coast of North America.

We referred to this as SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility. We will also look tomorrow at how we enable SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility, including our new command in Norfolk, Virginia, United States, the Joint Forces Command Norfolk and the Joint Support and Enabling Command in Ulm in Germany.

All of these elements help protect different parts of the Alliance and allow us to add even more forces, to act quickly, and reinforce.

In our final session we will meet with our Partner Georgia to receive an update on the current security situation and discuss future cooperation.

Although we continue to adapt, we still today deter and defend. We have over 20,000 people deployed directly from NATO on operations, missions and activities.

Our people who are deployed, your people who are deployed guarantee the safety and security.  Away from home and serving in difficult and arduous conditions to provide that peace and stability.

And I, on behalf of the Chiefs of Defence, wish to acknowledge their bravery and the sacrifice in helping us keep us safe.

May I conclude today with a special welcome to two new members of the family of the Chiefs of Defence.  

Nous avons 2 nouveaux chefs d’état-major de la défense Défense de la Roumanie et les Etats-Unis.

Daniel et Mark, vous arrivez à un temps décisif pour l’OTAN. Nous sommes en pleine adaptation, une adaptation qui a commencé en 2014 et qui est de grande ampleur. Nos efforts pour continuer d’adapter notre Alliance continue. Les discussions et décisions prises dans les 2 prochains jours vont définitivement nous garder bien occupé en 2020.

Merci beaucoup.

Je demande maintenant aux journalistes présents de bien vouloir quitter la salle pour que nous puissions commencer nos réunions. Nous avons beaucoup de terrain à couvrir et un temps limité.