Joint press conference

by Admiral Rob Bauer, Chair of the Military Committee, General Christopher Cavoli, Supreme Allied Commander Europe and General Philippe Lavigne, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation

  • 19 Jan. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 19 Jan. 2023 17:41

(As delivered)

Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good afternoon.

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

The focus of this meeting was on collective defence.

Russia’s unprovoked and brutal war in Ukraine has ushered in a new era for global security.

Together, the Allied Chiefs of Defence and their counterparts from Invitees Finland and Sweden discussed the ways in which NATO is reinforcing its Deterrence and Defence.

We have shown the world that we are capable of quickly scaling up our presence wherever and whenever necessary.

During this meeting, we have discussed the many ways in which we will strengthen our hard power.

This means that NATO and national military planning will be more closely linked than ever before.

And that our rapid deployable forces will be able to perform with unprecedented speed and flexibility.

Yesterday, we discussed with the NATO Deputy Secretary General how we are implementing the decisions about our posture that were taken by the political leadership during the NATO Summit in Madrid, and what still needs to be done in the run up to the Summit in Vilnius.

Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Cavoli, provided us with his strategic considerations on the Eastern flank and across the whole spectrum of our 360-degree approach to security.

And how we will operationalise and implement the Deter and Defend strategy that we approved in 2020.

Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Lavigne, provided us with his insights into balancing capability and capacity, and shared with us the strategic observations from the war in Ukraine.

Today, we dedicated a special session to the military situation in and around Ukraine. On behalf of the Ukrainian Chief of Defence, General Zaluzhnyi, the Military Representative of Ukraine, Major General Serhii Salkutsan detailed the Ukrainian strategic objectives and the support that is required to obtain those objectives.

The Chiefs of Defense reaffirmed their unrelenting support and commended the Ukrainian military leadership for the practical, tactical brilliance with which they are outmanoeuvring their opponent time and time again.

NATO will support Ukraine for as long as it takes.

In Ukraine, we are seeing a willingness across all generations and across all parts of society to fight for their freedom.

They prove to the world what resilience truly means.

We can all learn from that.

And in fact we should all learn from that.

Because in this new era of collective defence, we need all Allied societies to place more emphasis on resilience.

To be always able to expect the unexpected.

During this meeting, we looked at how we can help our 3.2 , soon to be 3.5 with Finland and Sweden, million men and women in uniform to perform their sacred task in keeping 1 billion citizens safe.

Today, the Chiefs of Defence met with their KFOR operational partners being - Armenia, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Moldova, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine – to discuss the situation on the ground and the security environment.

We also discussed NATO’s non-combat and capacity building Mission in Iraq with our operational partners Sweden, Finland and Australia.

Both in KFOR and in NMI, Allied men and women in uniform are doing outstanding work to promote stability and security.

But the responsibility for freedom does not fall on the shoulders of those in uniform alone.

In this new era of collective defence, it is up to us all to prevent conflicts from escalating, to show resilience and be ready to expect the unexpected. 

I will now give the floor to our Supreme Allied Commanders, first Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Cavoli, the floor is yours

Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Christopher Cavoli.

Good afternoon everybody. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak with you today.

I thought I would take a few minutes to talk to you about the changes that we are making in the alliance to reinforce both stability and security as we go forward.

So following Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine the Alliance very quickly, fundamentally changed its posture.

We activated our strategic plans and this dramatically allowed us to increase our military presence on the eastern and south-eastern borders of the Alliance.

We began conducting enhanced vigilance activities in all domains – air, land, sea, space, and cyber.

We rapidly reinforced our presence on the ground eastern flank with thousands of troops, hundreds of aircraft, and dozens of ships within just days of the conflict.

We doubled the number of battlegroups in the eastern part of the Alliance from four to eight, and now we have increased our ability to reinforce them up to brigade level, upon need.

This strengthened posture has and will continue to shield all Allies. It represents the most significant reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War. 

Our new strategy for the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area, which Rob alluded to a moment ago when he described the DDA,  this has focused back on to collective defence.

For many years, we were focused on crisis management and out of area operations, and we have resolved with this new strategic approach, to return our primary focus to the task of collective territorial defence.

This has profound implications. During the Madrid Summit, we received clear guidance and a mandate to turn DDA as a strategy into a set of fully executable plans. And this will means changes to our current plans, structures, posture, and readiness levels.

We are now in the process of implementing and developing a family of plans that describe “How” the Alliance operates in peace, crisis, and war to provide for collective defence.

National military plans will be interlinked again with Alliance plans and all thirty NATO Allies will have a harmonized planning blueprint that will incorporate National forces and capabilities into our deterrence posture for the entire European Area of Operations.

This DDA family of plans, as we call it, is the key. It will drive our structure, our operations, our activities, and our investments into the future. It will result in changes to include in our command and control structures.

So as work continues on these plans, it remains a team sport. Our strongest and most enduring advantage will continue to be the unmatched unity of this Alliance. And that means we are able to connect them together into a system of collective defence that ensures and will continue to ensure that no Ally is left alone to deal with any security challenge that this Alliance might face.

Thank you again, I look forward to your questions.

And to the Chairman as always, I thank you for your ability to convene this magnificent group of Chiefs of Defence, and Philippe and myself, in order to have the profound sorts of discussions we enjoyed today.

Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Philippe Lavigne

Ladies, Gentlemen of the press,

As a result of working hand in hand with SACEUR, we have just delivered our thoughts about this unjustified invasion in Ukraine.

I obviously can't tell you everything, but will follow some highlights.

This war in Ukraine does not call into question our two main concepts, the DDA and the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept.

On the contrary, the conflict shows that we are going in the right direction and prompt us to accelerate their implementation.

So first, related to the continuing process of Shaping and Contesting, this conflict demonstrates that the Military Instrument of Power is not exclusive.

There are others levers at play - Economic, informational, cultural, etc…

And the Ability to shape and contest below the threshold of war and during the fight, is key.

We need to leverage the informational sphere, the cognitive dimension, Cyber, and Space. 

And to take into account non-state actors who play a significant role as we see in, for example, Space.

Second, more timely, what is the fight itself telling us?

In such a high intensity scenario, hard power and logistics are paramount.

It underlines the importance of attrition and consumption and the industry ability to consider it

When we reflect on our ability to generate effects, as Allies, to generate operational capacity to fulfil NATO Plans, we need to address the balance between the capability and capacity, the quantity and the quality.

And this balance needs continuous attention in the light of current trajectories, in which quantity is decreasing and quality is increasing.

Observations in Ukraine demonstrate the strong performance of smaller, higher quantity platforms making use of current technologies.

But in the same time, we also observe the combination of high technology, Space, Hypersonic, and the Uberization of the battlefield.

We need quality and quantity to keep the advantage.

Of note, the conflict underlines also the Fundamental importance of non-material aspects.

I mean Multi Domain Operations, Readiness, Modern Command and Control, Cognitive superiority, Situation awareness, persistent preparation, realistic training, Resilience, and of course Morale and Leadership.

It’s Already addressed in the two concepts so now we have to implement them.

And at the end of the day, the agility and flexibility that the Ukrainians show on the field during war time, and which make their strength, inspire us.

And validate the way we considers future warfare development to preserve peace and protect our freedom. 

As a result, you may ask me the so what question?

With the Nations, our inclusive work on this Strategic Considerations is an ongoing process.

It will become lessons learned to implement, with in mind to strengthen NATO’s added value: the Interoperability.

At a time when it is challenged by the digital era, we must continue our work to improve Interoperability and expedite NATO’s Digital Transformation, as written in the Strategic Concept.

Let's not assume that taking into account today's lessons will be enough to preserve the Article 5 credibility.

NATO has a more global vision, that we call the 360 approach. Keeping the advantage is always a question of speed, and for example related to decision-making.

It is the combination of agility, flexibility, rapid decision-making, moral strength, the appropriate use of cyber and space domains that makes Ukrainians effective today.

This is why NATO is now moving towards Multi-Domain Operations to support operational capacity and keep the advantage tomorrow with a collective approach.

Finding the right balance between the “large and few” versus the “small and many”.

With the need for further study, conceptual work, war gaming including Command and Control considerations.

And of course to finish, the Nations approved before February 24 last year two military concepts: the DDA and NWCC.

The assumptions made in these concepts are still valid in the light of the war in Ukraine.

Therefore, the first main lesson of this conflict is that we have to accelerate the implementation of these two military concepts.

For twenty years now, ACT has looked to the future to enhance the Alliance’s Military Instrument of Power and we will, on 7 June, mark our first twenty years in Norfolk, NATO’s home in North America.

And so with this, CMC, SACEUR and I stand ready to answer your questions.

Thank you very much.