Opening remarks by the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer

Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session, Athens, Greece

  • 18 Sep. 2021 -
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  • Last updated 27-Sep-2021 08:44

(As delivered)

Minister of National Defence,
Chiefs of Defence,
Strategic Commanders,
Military Representatives,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

J’ai l’honneur de vous souhaiter la bienvenue à la conference du Comité militaire ici à Athènes. We are here at the invitation of the Greek Government, the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff.

Mr. Panagiotopoulos, General Floros, on behalf of the Committee I want to thank both of you for the warm welcome and hospitality you have shown us since our arrival.

With the continued impact of the COVID-19 virus and the devastating wildfires that hit Greece over the summer… this conference comes at a challenging time.

Nevertheless, the organisation of this conference has been flawless.

This is one of the many examples of how Greece proves to be a resilient Nation and a valued NATO Ally.

Ever since Greece joined the Alliance in 1952, it has contributed to our main mission – the protection and defence of allied citizens and territory.

Your resilience is highly valued, especially given the current challenges that are facing the Alliance:

  • The rules based international order is being undermined by authoritarian powers…
  • Russia continues its pattern of aggressive behaviour…
  • China is challenging accepted norms of international relations…
  • Terrorism threatens the safety of our citizens…
  • New technologies are changing the nature of conflict...
  • Hybrid warfare, including disinformation is on the rise…
  • Cyber-attacks are becoming more frequent and more disrupting…
  • And climate change is fuelling conflict and exacerbating threats....

In an unpredictable world, we need transatlantic unity and security.

We need Europe and North America to stand strong, bound together by shared history, values and goals.

Throughout 2021, our Allied forces have demonstrated determination and strength. They have assisted civil authorities in the response to the pandemic, wildfires and floods.

They have worked, trained and exercised alongside each other on NATO-led operations, missions and activities. Across all domains, in all types of environments.

2021 was the year that saw the end of our military presence in Afghanistan. 

Our servicemen and women served there for two decades.

Doing what their democratic governments asked of them, fulfilling the role that was enshrined in our constitutions.

Never once have they failed to show us what true courage and commitment looks like.

On behalf of the Military Committee, I want to thank the 3.2 million men and women who serve our Alliance for their dedication, professionalism and sacrifice.

I would like to now take a moment to remember the sacrifice of those men and women killed or wounded in the line of duty.

Their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

Please stand.

[Moment of Silence]

Speaking of dedication and professionalism, I am pleased today to welcome two new members to the Military Committee:

  • General Thierry Burkhard from France. C’est avec grand Plaisir que je vous souhaite la bienvenue.
  • And Lieutenant-General Romolusz Ruszin-Szendi from Hungary. Welcome.

I look forward to hearing your contributions and advice as the Alliance continues to adapt while reinforcing its deterrence and defence posture.

Our sessions today will begin by focusing on the ongoing missions and activities of the Alliance.

From Iraq to Kosovo to our Standing Naval Forces and Air Policing missions.

We will discuss the progress of our strategic adaptation and review the implementation of our concept of the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area and NATO’s Warfighting Capstone concept.

In our next session, the Committee will undertake a considered analysis into peacetime challenges and the enduring threats facing the Alliance.

There is an ancient Greek saying by Antisthenes, a pupil of Socrates, that I think we can all take to heart.

He said that you should always pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes…

After this session, we will look to the future, by discussing the military implications and opportunities of the NATO 2030 agenda.

A strong military, combined with the will to use it when necessary, is the essence of NATO’s deterrence.

And military force is the ultimate guarantor of Allied freedom, as the Secretary General has recently reiterated.

Without a strong and credible military to back it up, diplomacy will fail.

And while military action is always the last resort, sometimes it is the only rational response.

We will conclude our sessions with the election of the next Director General of the International Military Staff, better known as ‘DGIMS’.

DGIMS is the head of the IMS, a staff of approximately 500 military and civilian staff who provide strategic and military advice and staff support for our Committee.

So we are all very much looking forward to find out who will fulfil this crucial position as of the Summer 2022.

But now, I would first like to hand the floor over to General Floros for his opening remarks.

Konstantinos the floor is yours.

[CHOD delivers his Opening Remarks]

Thank you Konstantinos, I now hand the floor to the Minister of Defence, Mr Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos. Minister, the floor is yours.

[Minister delivers his Opening Remarks]

Thank you Mr Panagiotopoulos for your inspiring words.

We will now hear a video address by Prime Minister Mr Mistokakis.


Mr Panagiotopoulos, please convey our thanks to your Prime Minister for providing us with these inspiring remarks.

Finally, we are supported today by our two Strategic Commanders: 

  • General Tod Wolters – Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR);
  • and General André Lanata – Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT).

Regrettably this is General Lanata’s last meeting with us as SACT, as he ends his tenure later this month.

During the afternoon session, we will say goodbye to him, as well as  General Enzo Vecchiarelli from Italy and General Nick Carter from the United Kingdom.

Last but not least, we should recognise the anniversary of our colleague from Turkey, Yasar Güler who turned 21 today.

But now, let us focus on the task at hand and make good use of our time together here in Athens.

At the end of today’s conference, I will convey the advice and guidance of the 30 Allied Chiefs of Defence in a letter to the Secretary General and early next week I will brief the North Atlantic Council on the outcome of this MCC.

Konstantinos and I will now escort the Minister, allowing to leave and I would now like to ask in the break the media to depart this opening session so we can officially begin today’s delibrerations.

Thank you.