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

Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session, Athens, Greece

  • 17 Sep. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 17 Sep. 2021 19:35

(As delivered)

Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister,
Minister of National Defence,
Chiefs of Defence,
Strategic Commanders,
Military Representatives,
Distinguished guests,
And last but not least: General Konstantinos Floros,

Konstantinos, as you have rightly said: this conference comes at a crucial time for the Alliance.

It is up to the Military Committee to provide the North Atlantic Council with unfettered military advice, that ensures NATO’s responsiveness, readiness and reinforcement.

NATO must always be ready to expect the unexpected.

Recently I have discovered that – as with so many wisdoms in our daily lives – this mantra can be traced back all the way to ancient Greece.

It was first stated by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who lived 500 years before Christ.

He declared that the world is in perpetual change, and that we must therefore always be ready to adapt.

It was around this time that the concept of democracy was founded here in Athens.

“Demos” referring to the people.

And “cratos” to the concept of power.

At that time, you were not fully considered to be part of the ‘demos’ if you had not spent time in military service.

In order to live in freedom and decide your own fate, you had to first serve that freedom in the military.

I am tempted to say… those were the days…

Back then, there was a lance and shield in almost all households to protect the family against enemies.

That role was later attributed to national, professional Armed Forces.

Nowadays, the people in our countries have something that is even more powerful than that: a political and military alliance of 30 nations.

This is something none of our adversaries can achieve…

Not only are we stronger in numbers, we also derive strength from our diversity.

From our willingness to learn from each other.

And our steadfast loyalty.

It is a scientific fact that birds fly faster in formation.

The larger the flock, the higher the speed.

If that is not a metaphor for NATO, I don’t know what is.  

In the year that Greece celebrates the bicentennial of its independence, the country looks towards the future.

Therefore, it is fitting to host this opening ceremony here in the Hellenic Naval Accademy: the place where you train young naval cadets to be the leaders of the future.

The Greek Armed Forces are an unmissable link in the chain that forms our Alliance.

General Floros,

You are right: this conference is a perfect opportunity for us all to spend time together.

And to cement the ties that bind our great band of brothers and sisters.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and all those in your team for the warm reception you have given us.

And for the excellent preparations that have gone into this conference.

In the end… this meeting is not about all of us… it is about the 3.2 million men and women in uniform who serve our Alliance.

Nous sommes à leur service, comme ils servent notre Alliance.

We serve them, as they serve our Alliance. And safeguard the freedom of our peoples.

Thank you all.