by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the 70th Anniversary of the NATO Defense College

  • 18 Nov. 2021 -
  • |
  • Last updated 22-Nov-2021 09:06

(As delivered)

Minister Guerini,
Admiral Bauer,
General Rittimann,
And General, Admirals, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is really a great pleasure to be here, to be back in Rome, and to be back at this NATO Defence College.
Especially since we are here to celebrate 70 years of the NATO Defence College.

Let me start by thanking you, General Rittimann,
for your leadership, for the way you are leading this very important NATO institution.
And you have ensured that the NATO Defence College remains the leading academic institution in our Alliance.
It makes lasting contributions to our shared security.
And this institution - the NATO Defence College - is helping the Alliance to adapt to a changing world and stay ahead of the curve.
I also have to thank Minister Guerini, dear Lorenzo, for being the host nation, for hosting the NATO Defence College for several decades.

Italy as a founding member of our Alliance makes important contributions to our shared security, to our collective defence.
Italy contributes to our presence in the Baltic Region with the air policing and troops.
It takes part in our fight against international terrorism.
Italy was a long standing and important contributor to our mission in Afghanistan and you help NATO to train and build capacity in Iraq.
I would also like to thank Italy for what you have done over many, many years in leading the NATO force, KFOR in Kosovo and helping to stabilise the Western Balkans.
On top of that, Italy hosts many important NATO institutions.
Like this Defence College.
but also the Joint Force Command in Naples,
and also now the new Alliance Ground Surveillance drones and many other important NATO institutions and facilities.
So thank you both to Defence College and to Italy as a host nation.

General Eisenhower’s mission, in calling for the creation of the NATO Defence College was clear.
To forge future generations of Allied leaders.
Capable of providing innovative solutions.
To some of our most difficult security challenges. 

In 1951, the College opened its doors to 47 men from ten NATO countries for the first Senior Course.
Since then, some 15.000 graduates have passed through the College’s classrooms and corridors.
Women and men.
Civilian and military.
From 80 countries.
Both from partner countries, and of course,
from Allied member states of NATO.
And I'm delighted to see many of the current course members and graduates - the “Anciens” - here today.

Over the years, the College has developed its reputation.
As a leading provider of world-class education.
On nearly every aspect of international security.

Its alumni have gone on to fill some of the highest civilian and military offices.
Both at the national level and in NATO.

It has expanded its curriculum.
And as you heard from the Commandant, it is launching a brand new Senior Executive Seminar.

In addition, it has developed cutting-edge research.
And an extensive outreach and engagement programme.
With think-tanks, academia and other international organisations. 

The Defence College embodies the secrets of NATO’s success.
Our unity and our ability to adapt.

The College’s motto - “unitatem alentes” - captures its longstanding commitment.
To promote unity.
Fostering a truly transatlantic mind-set and culture.
And helping to create the all-important “human interoperability.”
That ensures we can operate effectively together as Allies and as partners.
Transatlantic unity is even more important today, as we continue to adapt our Alliance to a more dangerous and more competitive world.

Russia and China are leading an authoritarian push-back against the rules-based international order.
Brutal terrorism persists.
And other threats are transforming our security.
From cyber-attacks and disruptive technologies.
To the existential challenge of climate change.

These are different challenges, different threats.
But they have one thing in common.
The need for Europe and North America to stand together.
Making the mission of this College more important than ever.

As we have done for over seven decades, NATO is responding.
Since 2014, we have carried out a fundamental transformation of our Alliance.
To further strengthen our deterrence and defence to the full range of threats from wherever they come.
And to prepare for a world of a greater state-to-state competition.

All NATO Allies have increased defence spending.
Invested in high-end capabilities.
And boosted the readiness of our forces.

We have increased our exercises, and activities, on land, at sea, and in the air.
Deployed multinational combat-ready troops in the east of the Alliance.
And strengthened our defences against cyber and hybrid attacks.

At our Summit in June, NATO leaders agreed to do even more together.
Through NATO 2030 - an ambitious agenda for our future security.

So as we continue to boost our military readiness,
we are also sharpening our technological edge.
With a new defence innovation accelerator and innovation fund,
that will support academics and entrepreneurs working on cutting-edge technologies.

We are strengthening our cyber defences.
And increasing the resilience of our critical infrastructure, supply chains and societies.
To make them less vulnerable to attack.

We are stepping up to defend the rules-based international order.
By deepening our cooperation with like-minded countries and organisations around the world. 
And for the first time, we are putting climate change at the core of NATO’s agenda.
Not just to reduce the impact of climate on our militaries.
But to reduce the impact of our militaries on the climate.

Finally, we are developing NATO’s next Strategic Concept.
In time for our Summit in Madrid in June next year.
This is an opportunity to reflect the radical changes in our security environment.
Chart a common course forward.
And recommit to our values and transatlantic unity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In calling for the creation of the NATO Defence College in 1951,
General Eisenhower wrote that the challenges facing the new transatlantic Alliance were on such a scale that nations would need to find a way of constantly “exploring new approaches and broadening our points of view."

As we look to the next decade, the College’s role in widening our horizons and strengthening the transatlantic bond is “more relevant than ever.”

So thank you for everything you do to support our shared security.
I wish you a very happy 70th anniversary.
And much success as we continue to strengthen NATO.
For 2030 and beyond.

Thank you so much.