Joint press conference by Admiral Rob Bauer, Chair of the Military Committee, General Tod Wolters, Supreme Allied Commander Europe and General Philippe Lavigne, Supreme Commander Transformation

Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session

  • 19 May. 2022 -
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  • Last updated: 19 May. 2022 20:37

(As delivered)

Admiral Rob Bauer, Chair of the Military Committee:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have just concluded the Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session.

The focus of this meeting was on collective defence.

Without a doubt, a new era for NATO has begun.

In the past few months, NATO has shown that it is capable to swiftly and effectively change its posture.

We have implemented the largest reinforcement of collective defence in a generation.

The foundation for that adaptation came from the work that the Military Committee started a few years ago, in close cooperation with the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.

Together, we developed: a new NATO Military Strategy. Secondly, the Concept for the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area, abbreviated as DDA, and the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, abbreviated as NWCC

Whilst we are still in the process of further developing and implementing these concepts, we have already and rapidly put them to the test.

President Putin’s war in Ukraine has presented us with a new strategic reality.

Today, the Ukrainian Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Zaluzhnyi provided the Allied Chiefs of Defence with an update on the situation in his country.

We commended Ukraine for the willingness across all generations to fight for freedom.

Ukraine will never accept Russian occupation.

And NATO will support Ukraine for as long as necessary.

Subsequently, the Chiefs of Defence discussed what this war means for NATO’s posture in the short term AND in the long term.

I want to stress that we are not looking at the situation in Ukraine alone.

Together with Finland and Sweden, and our Asia-Pacific Partners Australia, Japan, New Zealand and The Republic of South Korea, the Allied Chiefs of Defence discussed how we can best assess all global security developments that affect our Alliance.

There is one thing that we can say with certainty: time is no longer our friend.

The timelines for collective defence are very different from crisis management.

Since we are a defensive Alliance, it is very much our adversary who determines the timeline…

And that means we always have to be ready to expect the unexpected.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there are many lessons to be learned from the war in Ukraine.

Most importantly, it has once again proven the importance of morale: to know what you are fighting for.

The 3.2 million men and women in uniform who serve this Alliance know exactly what they are fighting for: the protection of freedom and democracy. The protection of our way of life.  

Together, they shield the 1 billion citizens who live on Allied soil.

It is up to us military leaders to make sure they are equipped to perform that important task.

I will now give the floor to our Supreme Allied Commanders, to say a little more on their respective fields.

General Wolters, the floor is yours.

General Tod Wolters, Supreme Allied Commander Europe:

Good evening, I will keep my comments brief and I will focus on the support to Ukraine and the defence of the Alliance.

Ukraine is resisting this invasion with courage and determination.

We support them.

Allies are providing light and heavy equipment.

All of this is making a difference in helping Ukraine defend its people, its territory and its free and democratic future.

The US continues to lead this effort with speed and agility.

From a US perspective, we provided nearly 4 Billion dollars in lethal assistance since the invasion.

For the last 84 days, our focus is to support, so that Ukraine can prevail.

With respect to the defence of the Alliance, we have responded in all domains and all regions, to shield all Allies.

We deployed elements of the NATO Response Force to strengthen our Forward Defence.

We now have eight battle groups under NATO command, deployed along the Eastern Flank.

Under my authority, as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, we now have over 42.000 troops and 120 jets at high alert; with over 20 ships ready to respond.

Our land domain has seen a tenfold increase.

The air domain a 50 percent increase of fighter jets patrolling the skies.

In the maritime domain, we filled the Standing Naval Forces.

The United States now contributes more than 100.000 service members to our collective defence and the assure and deter efforts.

We have also resumed training for our Ukrainian partners.

The bottom line: NATO resolve and unity is as great as it has ever been.

The performance of our Ukrainian partners facing this aggression has been very very impressive.

Thank you.

General Philippe Lavigne, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation:

Thank you very much.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Transformation is about adaptation of our armed forces and our capabilities to meet the new strategic realities, but it is also vital for being able to tackle the challenges of the future.
Transformation is not only technology, it is innovation, it is a mind-set change, it is people and their new skills.

The Russian aggression in Ukraine, and the consequences that war produced for the security of the Euro-Atlantic area is an additional trigger to accelerate the path of transformation.

We are, first of all, convinced that we have to continue with building our capacity to engage and be able to operate in multi-domain operations.

I mean to operate effectively and efficiently in all five operational domains: land, sea, air, space and cyber. And, this is both a strategic challenge and an opportunity.

It is challenge because we have to develop the ability to deal and synchronize with multiple actors: military, governmental, civilian and industry.

It is also an opportunity, because we will be stronger together!
And, Digital Transformation, one of my priorities, which is essentially about digitally transforming the whole NATO, is expected to make us, the Alliance, more agile and even more coherent.

And this Digital Transformation is the most important enabler of multi-domain operations.
A digitally transformed Alliance will be better capable of understanding the environment, by ensuring better situational awareness.

And, this will allow us faster decision making and to benefit from synergy of data sharing.
Digital Transformation will, in short, enable us to be stronger, by harnessing the power of multi-domain operations.

It is the way to respond to this renewed great power competition, the ongoing information technology revolution, and weaponization of space and cyber by our competitors and potential adversaries.

And, my belief is that this transformation must accelerate today!

Our 30 Nations have already validated this transformation that will allow us to preserve the Alliance’s core added value, the interoperability.

We are stronger together! Thank you.