by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at the 2021 Spring gathering of NATO’s Consultation, Command and Control Board

  • 16 Jun. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 17 Jun. 2021 09:48

(As prepared)

Thank you Camille for the kind introduction.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon and good morning to our colleagues in North America. Let me thank Camille Grand and his colleagues for the solid stewardship.

As the Chair of the C3 Board, let me also welcome you to this virtual C3B meeting at principals’ level. I am very glad that this year we are able to meet at the Spring plenary, in spite of a busy NATO agenda. Even though COVID-19 has prevented us once again from meeting in person, it has not affected this Board’s ability to connect, exchange ideas, take key decisions and maintain an ambitious work plan.

We are at a historic moment for our transatlantic Alliance. Two days ago, NATO Heads of State and Government agreed to an ambitious set of proposals put forward by the Secretary General as part of his NATO 2030 initiative. The leaders set the direction for the next decade, ensuring that we remain strong militarily, strengthen our political cohesion, and take a more global approach to defence and security. The new geopolitical reality of increasing competition requires action.

NATO leaders agreed to strengthen their commitment to collective defence, with more funding for core deterrence and defence Alliance activities.

They agreed to raise the level of ambition on resilience, with concrete targets and a joint assessment of vulnerabilities in our critical infrastructure, including transportation hubs, telecommunications and 5G technologies, and our supplies of fuel, food, and medical equipment. We witness that the dependence on civil and commercial assets, such as IT and communications infrastructure, is continuously growing.

The impetuous on resilience will build upon the progress made in the recent years, when NATO agreed to implement seven baseline standards for resilience. At the end of the day, the strength of our Alliance is the strength of our nations.

To preserve NATO’s technological edge, leaders agreed to promote defence innovation, improve interoperability and boost transatlantic cooperation. This will require deepening our engagement with industry and with academia on both sides of the Atlantic and support the development, testing, evaluation and adoption of emerging and disruptive technologies.

Allies also addressed the security implications of climate change, including the need to reduce vulnerabilities in, and emissions from the military sector.

Leaders agreed to update NATO’s Strategic Concept, which is the fundamental document that outlines NATO’s enduring purpose and defines the Alliance’s core tasks. With this update, Allies will recommit to our values and ensure we equip our forces to better address the continuously evolving challenges.

Today, potential adversaries are using all the tools at their disposal – military, political, economic, information and disinformation – to challenge our institutions, weaken our societies and undermine our security. Our unity and our ability to adapt is even more important as we face a more unpredictable and rapidly changing world. Sophisticated cyber-attacks and disinformation. Disruptive technologies. Terrorism. The security impact of Climate Change. And a shifting global balance of power that includes the rise of China.

All of these challenges are too big for one country to face alone. But through NATO, European and North American Allies are not alone. They stand together and promote, combine, and leverage the comparative advantage of their industries and their national expertise, for the security of our nearly 1 billion citizens.

 NATO 2030 places the Alliance on the right trajectory to become an alliance fit for the digital age. Data is everywhere, as some call it the new oil, or the new global resource. One of this Board’s primary responsibilities is managing Data for the Alliance.

The development of NATO’s Data Policy shall allow the Alliance create the building blocks for Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, for coping with big data in general. All these will facilitate and interrelate with a host of other emerging technologies, like autonomy, quantum technologies, and lead to applications in all five operational domains.

All these will demand that we work even closer together, we cooperate more, they will reinforce our unity, broaden our approach to security, and help us defend the rules-based international order, together with our valuable Partners. In this context, improving interoperability is essential. This Interoperability Platform truly expresses the benefits of Allies cooperating with Partner Nations and bringing Nations together to develop capabilities. To continue to operate existing capabilities, and to develop new and innovative capabilities as well.

We, in NATO HQ, recognize the value of innovation. I am personally chairing the NATO Innovation Board, which brings together the NATO military authorities, the NATO agencies and this HQ at the most senior level. I can tell you, nobody has monopoly on good ideas. I encourage you to be active, to innovate and to invent. You can play a much more important part in this. We also encourage nations to contribute to the newly established innovation voluntary fund and engage with DIANA.

We also acknowledge that innovation is much more than technology. We can innovate by generating new ideas, or by applying novel solutions to replace obsolete practices or processes.

This Board has played a pivotal role in steering and directing the NATO Enterprise efforts in the implementation of the C3 Enterprise Roadmap, and update it to keep pace with the latest evolutions.

This community deserves a large portion of the credit for the establishment of the CIO function in NATO, which will bring coherence and an enterprise approach to IT and cybersecurity strengthened CIO functions. This may be an innovation stemming from industry, but for us it is innovation in action.

It is crucially important that we move at speed in modernizing the IT infrastructures the NATO Enterprise relies on every day and which must also interconnect Allies and Partners. 

As a Senior Policy Committee, the C3 Board plays a critical role in supporting the NATO Cyber Defence and Cyberspace Domain initiatives. Improving the cyber security of our own networks is a key priority for NATO. The success of NATO cyber adaptation programme will depend also on this Board.

As NATO has embarked in the digital transformation, the C3B’s expertise and leadership are critical to ensure we become an Alliance fully adapted to the digital age. This is essential for the success of the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, which the Alliance aims to implement, benefitting from the C3B work strands on policy, standardization and, from its products in innovation and Emerging & Disruptive Technologies.

The aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic has left the Allies with new challenges, to recover economically, and to keep our citizens healthy and safe. During Covid, it was key for political decision-makers and NATO Commanders alike to continue to have access to secure, timely and reliable information. This community provides the essential tools for managing information and delivering the Alliance’s effective consultation, command and control capabilities, and to benefit from the Federated Mission Networking agility, flexibility and scalability needed to manage any environment in future NATO operations and missions.

Providing, and at the same time protecting NATO’s resilient telecommunications networks are essential to safeguard NATO’s strategic interests. This Board, with the support of other committees, is leading the effort to guarantee the security of the Next Generation Communications Networks at NATO, as 5G is gradually deployed. Your commitment to enhancing NATO interoperability, internally and with partners, is clear. We have to stay ahead technologically as well.

We can achieve none of this alone. We need to deepen and broaden our partnerships. The decisions taken by NATO leaders this week depend on it.

I would like to close by thanking you all for your service and your dedication to our Alliance. I know that we all look forward to a time when we can meet in person. For now, I wish you all the best for the stimulating, creative and collaborative debates over the course of the next two days.

I wish you fruitful discussions and a very successful plenary.
Thank you.