Press statement

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

  • 27 Jan. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 27 Jan. 2021 18:54

Hello, I’m Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee

We have just concluded the first Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence of 2021. 

Defence Ministers will meet next month and the advice and guidance provided by the Military Committee today is a vital component of their political decision making process.

This morning, the Allied Chiefs of Defence were honoured to be joined by the Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. He shared his views ahead of next month’s ministerial meeting and he updated them on the progress of NATO 2030. 

Stressing the importance of this work he underlined how our democracies, our values, and the rules-based order are being challenged.

The Secretary General urged Allies to continue to increase defence spending, invest in modern capabilities and to ensure our military remained ready to deal with challenges such as Russia’s aggressive actions, terrorism and the risks posed by the rise of China.

NATO is the world’s most successful military alliance because we adapt. That said, the security challenges we face are complex and intertwined, progressing from local to national to regional to international in a short space of time. No single nation, neither North America nor Europe can deal with such challenges on their own. 

Terrorism knows no territorial boundaries. We have seen the brutality and disregard for life displayed by ISIS and other terrorists organisations. NATO is playing a key role in the fight against international terrorism so that we can better protect our nations.

To our east in Afghanistan, we face a difficult dilemma. As we consider our future presence we must not forget the sacrifices that have been made over nearly 20 years. All Allied Chiefs of Defence agreed that whatever decision is made, it is vital that we take the decision together.

To our South in Iraq, the security situation remains challenging. The Committee reinforced their commitment to increasing our support, helping to build and strengthen Iraqi forces and institutions.  

Furthermore, the Chiefs of Defence noted the need to continue to explore what more NATO can do to fight terrorism, build stability and strengthen our partnerships across the region.

To our West, the security and stability of the Western Balkans is an area of great important to the Alliance. The Allied Chiefs and their operational partners reiterated their full commitment to Kosovo’s security. The KFOR mission will continue to provide a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo.

The Chiefs of defence also discussed our maritime security, which remains of vital concern. From the protection of our sea lines of communication to critical infrastructure.

The Alliance must stay vigilant. Our maritime presence plays a key role in the deterrence and defence of the Alliance and we are determined to help protect our Allies from any possible threats from this domain.

As we look to the future, to continue our constant adaptation and improvement we must consider the plans that underpin our Defence. 

Building on the strong foundation of NATO’s Military Strategy, two concepts have been developed. 

The concept of the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro Atlantic Area and NATO’s Warfighting Capstone Concept. 

While the detail of these documents remain classified this work is essential for keeping NATO strong militarily and ensuring that our capabilities remain fit for the future. The Committee’s advice on these documents will now be submitted for consideration to our political leadership.  

COVID-19 continues to impact upon all of our lives and from the beginning, NATO and Allied militaries have played a key role supporting the civilian response to COVID-19. 

The day closed with a session devoted to COVID 19 where, as you would expect, we are working closely with international partners including the European Union. I was pleased to be able to warmly welcomed General Claudio Graziano, Chairman of the EU Military Committee to our table for this important topic

The Chiefs of Defence noted the interoperability amongst Allies and Partners and praised Allied forces support to the civilian response throughout the pandemic.

I would take this opportunity, again, to express my personal gratitude to all of our military personnel who have directly supported the COVID response.  They have ensured the Alliance plays its part in countering the virus whilst maintaining our core task of delivering credible and effective deterrence and defence. All of this helps save lives. 

Solidarity, unity, and cohesion are the cornerstones of our Alliance.

The unity of spirit and determination that was represented in today’s meeting demonstrates that the bonds forged between Allies over the last seventy years remain strong.
Thank you