by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee - 182nd Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session
Good afternoon, I am Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee. I would like to provide you an outline of the main outcomes of the first NATO Chiefs of Defence meeting of 2020.
We were joined in our first session by the Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. Together, we focused on the decisions taken at the Leaders’ Meeting in December 2019 and on the political and military priorities for this year which are to continue to adapt our military capabilities, our strategy, and plans across the Alliance in line with our 360-degree approach to security.
In our second session the Allied Chiefs of Defence evaluated NATO’s role as a peace and security provider. Currently, NATO is leading operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Mediterranean and has over 20,000 military personnel engaged around the world, managing what are often complex ground, air and naval operations in all types of environment.
Later, meeting with our Resolute Support Mission partners, the Chiefs of Defence discussed the strategic, operational and political context in and around Afghanistan, as well as our main effort to train, assist and advise the Afghan security forces and institutions.
The Chiefs of Defence stressed their enduring commitment to Afghanistan but re-emphasised that a suitable, sustainable solution in Afghanistan cannot be reached by military means alone.
In our next session, the Chiefs of Defence met with the operational partners for the NATO Mission of Iraq to discuss our training mission and the security situation in the region.
We received an operational update from Major General Jenny Carigan, the Commander of the NATO Mission Iraq and from the Supreme Allied Commander Europe who both underlined the importance of NATO’s role in training and advising Iraqi security forces. The Allied Chiefs of Defence discussed the US request of enlarging NATO’s role in the Middle East which will be considered by the NATO political authorities over the coming weeks.
NATO Mission Iraq was established at the request of the Iraqi Government to help strengthen the Iraqi security forces, to provide advice and support to the Ministry of Defence and the Office of the National Security Adviser. NATO instructors have been working at a number of military schools and academies, boosting skills in areas like military medicine, and countering improvised explosive devices.
The mission is currently suspended due to security concerns. All Allies expressed solidarity and a commitment to continue the mission when conditions allow.
The Chiefs of Defence subsequently met with KFOR partners to reiterate their continued support to the mission in Kosovo which has provided peace and stability to the region for over 20 years. Our mandate has not changed. We are there to maintain a safe and secure environment for all the people of Kosovo, and will continue our peacekeeping mission.
In yesterday’s final session, the Chiefs of Defence showed very strong support for the Concept for the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area and the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept. These two concepts flow from the NATO Military Strategy, which sets out NATO’s military goals, intended approaches, and resource requirements as well as its approach to current and future threats. These documents are complimentary and will allow our Alliance to prepare for a more unpredictable world and deal with the consequences of a changed security environment.
This morning, the Chiefs of Defence turned their attention to our Southern Flank. They noted the progress made on the Framework for the South which is an integral part of the Alliance’s strengthened deterrence and defence posture. They also discussed enhancing the cooperation with partner countries and international organisations, including the European Union and the United Nations.
NATO’s partnerships are, and will continue to be, essential to the way NATO works. The success of NATO’s partnerships is demonstrated by their strategic contribution to Alliance and international security.
The Chiefs of Defence then discussed the Reinforcement and Enablement of the SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility which aims to protect the different parts of the Alliance and allow us to add even more forces, to act quickly, and reinforce if needed.
We will improve NATO’s logistical capabilities, notably by enhancing command and control, increasing transport capabilities in support of the military mobility and upgrading infrastructure in Europe. The Joint Forces Command Norfolk in the United States and the Joint Support and Enabling Command in Ulm, Germany were established to support this important work.
The Chiefs of Defence agreed that the Enablement Plan for SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility should complement the European Union’s efforts. It is important that NATO-EU work in this area together and to reinforce each other. And this work should be complimentary.
In our final session with our Partners from Georgia, the Chiefs of Defence recognised Georgia’s significant and enduring contribution to NATO’s operations and missions, especially to our Resolute Support and the NATO Response Force.
Furthermore, they reaffirmed their support to the refreshment and the implementation of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package. The work to refresh this Package will give both Allies and Partners the chance to reflect recent initiatives and to prioritise these initiatives for better effectiveness for the future. Finally, they acknowledged that security situation in the region remains challenging and welcomed Georgia’s constructive approach to the ongoing security situation.
I would like to conclude by thanking the 29 Allied Chiefs of Defence, the Chiefs of Defence from our operational Partners and our soon to be 30th Ally, North Macedonia, for the fruitful and constructive discussions they have contributed to over the last two days.