Opening remarks

by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chair of the NATO Military Committee at the start of the Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence session

  • 18 May. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 18 May. 2021 18:35

(As delivered)

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

Chefs d’état-major de la défense, chers collègues, Bienvenue à notre première séance «en personne» de deux mille vingt et un.

C'est un plaisir de vous voir ici.

La Conférence ministérielle des affaires étrangères et de la défense du premier juin et notre Sommet des chefs d’État et de gouvernement treize jours plus tard, nous avons un ordre du jour chargé pour la session d’aujourd’hui du Comité militaire des chefs de la défense.

Cependant, je n’ai aucun doute sur les capacités de ce Comité

Depuis plus de soixante-dix ans, l'Alliance s'est appuyée sur ses chefs de la défense pour obtenir des avis et des conseils militaires avisés du comité militaire le plus ancien et le plus gradé au monde.

Nous fournissons les forces et les conseils pour la protection et la défense de la zone euro-atlantique.

Constant adaption and evolution have been key to the Alliance’s continued success so today I am particularly pleased to welcome in person four new members of our family:

Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre from Canada. A very warm welcome Wayne.

General Milutin Djurovic from Montenegro. Milutin, welcome.

General Onno Eichelsheim from the Netherlands. Onno, welcome.

And Admiral Teodoro López Calderón from Spain. Teodoro, a very warm welcome.

And a very good balance between armies, navies and air forces

Each of you bring invaluable experience and national perspective, and we look forward to benefitting from your advice, experience and guidance on our work.

NATO Allied and partner forces ensure the protection and defence of the Euro-Atlantic area.

All four points of the compass, across all the domains of Land, Sea and Air and Space and Cyber our highly trained, professional and committed Service people are prepared for any endeavour

Allied forces are present day and night, on duty providing vital deterrence and defence.

I now invite all of you to stand with me.

Minute’s silence

Thank you.

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

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

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who will be with us in a moment, through his NATO 2030 initiative is preparing the Alliance for the future.

Ensuring we continue to adapt with a forward-looking, bold, and ambitious agenda agreed by Heads of State and Government next month.

This is important because we see threats and challenges emanating at us many directions.

Assertive and rising authoritarian powers, non-state actors and terrorists are challenging the rules-based international order.

Russia continues its pattern of destabilising aggressive actions, including ongoing violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity and reinforcements at the Ukrainian border.

Although we have seen some reduction in the number of Russian troops near the border, tens of thousands remain including their weapons and equipment.

Russia is trying to impose restrictions in the Black Sea, including restricting access to the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait

Therefore, NATO needs to stay vigilant and preserve our freedom of movement in all relevant seas and airspace.

We continue to face the threat of international terrorism.

We face malicious cyber-attacks almost every day, disruptive technologies, nuclear proliferation, and climate change has implications for security.

So the Alliance is responding by adapting and taking action.

And we are addressing how to strengthen the resilience of both our societies and our infrastructure.

In order to reduce the vulnerabilities stemming from foreign ownership, coercion or manipulation.

We are investing in emerging and disruptive technologies in NATO.

We keep channels for communication with Russia open, including in the NATO-Russia Council.

We regret Russia has not responded to our offer to hold a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.

But we continue to aspire for a constructive relationship with Russia, when Russia’s actions make that possible.

We engage with our friends and partners around the world who share our values and interests.

We lead by example and remain the strongest military alliance in history because we learn, and we are diverse and we are inclusive.

It is vital that our armed forces represent the breadth of society they protect.

Which is good for Armed Forces to gain from talent and benefit.

We should also reflect societal change and inclusiveness.

As a waypoint in this work, the title of Chairman of the NATO Military Committee will become Chair of the NATO Military Committee.

Identifying and removing barriers is important to create an Alliance fit for the future.

Today we begin with a report and a meeting with the Secretary General.

His advice and political guidance will assist us to set the scene on NATO 2030, Military Strategic planning and adaptation, and NATO operations, missions and activities.

We have built strong partnerships around our region and beyond, to address the threats and challenges we face.


And we seek to contribute to the efforts of the international community in projecting stability and strengthening security outside NATO territory.

We do that through strengthened cooperation and partnerships.

Therefore I am very pleased that today we will be joined by the Chiefs of Defence from our Enhanced Opportunity Partners from Ukraine and Georgia

And with that can I now ask our cameras to leave so I can welcome the Secretary General and we can begin our conference?

Thank you.