Press statement

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

  • 18 May. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 18 May. 2021 18:12

Good afternoon, Welcome.

The Allied Chiefs of Defence and I have just concluded our Military Committee meeting.

A month away from NATO’s Allied Heads of State and Government Summit, there were many topics requiring our attention, advice and guidance.

The Military Committee’s work ensures our political leadership is advised on all military options

And is able to take the necessary political decisions to guarantee NATO’s core mandate – the collective security of our 30 nations.

Today’s discussions focused on NATO 2030, NATO’s military strategic planning and adaptation, NATO-led operations, missions and activities as well as our close partnerships with Ukraine and Georgia

We were joined by the Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg in our first session of the day.

He informed the Military Committee on progress related to NATO 2030 and the main political issues in the lead up to the Summit.

The Allied Chiefs of Defence enthusiastically welcomed the NATO 2030 agenda, which underpins the work of NATO’s Military Authorities.

Following the agreement and adoption of our Military Strategy in 2019, we have been bringing to operational life two key supporting concepts.

The Concept for Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area, developed by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Wolters, focuses on military requirements we need to deter and defend today.

And the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, developed by our Supreme Allied Commander Transformation – General André Lanata, offers a vision to guide the Alliance’s long-term defence development to remain militarily strong in the future. 

In recent years, the Alliance has undertaken a huge programme of adaptation with more investments, modern capabilities and an increased readiness of our forces.

To prepare for the future and in order to effectively guide the Alliance’s long-term military development, the effects of Climate Change need to be considered.

Climate change will impact our lives in many ways, but crucially for the Military Committee we are focussed on how it affects our common security.

The Allied Chiefs recommended that a survey on the impacts of climate change and possible consequences be completed across the Alliance’s national Armed Forces.

From there, the Military Authorities can further integrate climate change risks and considerations into NATO’s military planning and exercises.

The Chiefs of Defence welcomed the Secretary General’s call for NATO to remain strong militarily.

And they discussed how the development of a new Strategic Concept could affect Allied military planning.

Every day, across the Alliance and further afield, our Forces are on duty protecting and defending our citizens and territory in NATO led operations and missions

The Military Committee received operational and intelligence updates, and exchanged views on the current challenges facing the Alliance.

We focused the two missions NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Through our near 20-year engagement in Afghanistan, we have helped to build the Afghan security forces and they have taken the lead in providing security across their country.

Since we welcomed the US-Taliban agreement and the US-Afghanistan Joint Declaration in 2020, the Alliance has gradually adjusted our troop presence as part of the peace process.

We have long recognised that there can be no military solution to the challenges Afghanistan faces, and in light of the US decision to withdraw, NATO Allies decided to start the withdrawal of Resolute Support Mission forces.

The Chiefs of Defence recognised the challenges involved in this drawdown, commended the operational planning going into the process and discussed the way ahead.

Standing together, thousands of our troops from Allied and partner nations, and from Afghanistan, have paid the ultimate price.

We owe a huge debt to all those who have served.

Our mission in Afghanistan has shaped and strengthened the ability of our troops to work together, including in the fight against terrorism.

And as Allies, we continue to consult closely on our future engagement with Afghanistan.  

In Iraq, in close coordination with the Iraqi government, NATO is enhancing its presence with our training mission.


Advising, training and capacity building activities will now include more Iraqi security institutions, and areas in and beyond Baghdad.

Our presence is conditions-based as is the mission’s enhancement, which will be gradual and, importantly, demand-driven.

NATO’s presence in Iraq is a key contribution in the fight against international terrorism.

To support Iraqi Government forces as they fight terrorism and ensure that ISIS does not return.

NATO has over forty partners across the world – from the Middle East and North Africa, to Asia-Pacific, South America and Europe.

Each partnership is unique and we tailor our support to meet each partner’s specific requirements and needs.

Today’s complex security environment has seen an increase in global security challenges.

These cannot be solved by any one nation alone.

The Alliance is a strong supporter of greater global and transatlantic cooperation.

This afternoon, the Allied Chiefs of Defence met with their Ukrainian and Georgian counterparts.

Russia continues to demonstrate a sustained pattern of destabilising behaviour, including its violations of Ukraine’s and Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,

Talking to General Khomchak, the Military Committee discussed the security situation in and around Ukraine and Armed Forces defence reform in Ukraine.

The Chiefs of Defence reiterated their full support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and discussed future cooperation in and around the Black Sea.

The Military Committee encouraged Ukraine to continue implementing major reforms, to build security and development for all Ukrainians.

Turning to Georgia, the Military Committee met with General Matiashvili.

NATO’s partnership with Georgia remains strong and close with Georgia contributing much to our shared security.

Georgia has been an important contributor to our Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan

And participates in the NATO Response Force.

Through our cooperation over the years, Georgian forces have increased their capabilities and become more effective.

We maintain a strong level of practical cooperation, including with support from our NATO Liaison Office in Tbilisi and through the activities of our Joint Training and Evaluation Centre.

Through our updated Substantial NATO-Georgia Package adopted last November, there is even more ambitious cooperation planned, including:

The implementation of the secure communications project;
A NATO-Georgia exercise in 2022;
And enhanced cooperation on maritime issues and situational awareness.

NATO is a learning organisation and has always endeavoured to lead by example.

As I announced earlier today, the title of Chairman of the NATO Military Committee will now be replaced by the title ‘Chair’.

Noting the power of words, the Military Committee wants to underline that there are no gender barriers when it comes to holding the position of Chair.

This gender-neutral term is applicable to not only the Chair but for the Deputy Chair position as well.

This announcement is supported by the range of work the NATO Military Authorities and our Gender Advisors have accomplished over the last sixty years – ever since the first NATO Conference of Senior Service Women Officers of the Alliance took place in June 1961.

Developing and maintaining high standards for ourselves is crucial, and encouraging high standards in other militaries around the world is important.

Advancing the integration of women into our national armed forces and incorporating gender perspective into our strategic, operational and tactical levels strengthens the performance and operational effectiveness of the Alliance.

Over 55% of NATO nations have women Generals.

Over 60% of NATO Member nations have their own national gender training programme

70% of NATO nations have military gender advisors

Over 85% of NATO nations have all military positions open to women.

96% of NATO Member nations incorporate gender perspective into Pre-Deployment Planning

And 100% of NATO nations have used NATO-certified gender training

Coordination with NATO’s Strategic Commands, Centres of Excellence and Department Heads is key to ensuring that our members have the appropriate tools for enhancing their understanding of the importance and relevance of integrating gender perspective into their daily work. 

We have made progress, but there is still more work to do.

NATO’s policy on gender equality and gender inclusiveness has three key principles. Integration, Inclusiveness and Integrity. 

NATO is committed to diversity and inclusion, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or background.

I personally would like for everyone who has the opportunity to raise awareness on gender perspective and promote its integration into a military context, to please seize those opportunities and set the example.

The core principle of the Washington treaty remains as relevant and meaningful today as it was at its drafting in 1949.

We are stronger together.

Thank - you