Joint press conference

by Chair of the Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer and the Norwegian Chief of Defence, General Eirik Kristoffersen following the meeting of the Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session, Oslo, Norway

  • 16 Sep. 2023 -
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  • Last updated 19-Sep-2023 08:43

(As prepared)

Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Military Committee Conference has just concluded.

Today, the NATO Chiefs of Defence – together with Invitee Sweden – discussed the executability of the defence plans that were agreed by Allies at the Vilnius Summit.

The impact of these plans is immense.

Never before have NATO and national defence plans been so closely interlinked.

That means that it is crucial that we not only firmly move forward… but that we also closely consult each other every step of the way.

And that is exactly what we have done today.

Today we discussed how we can make these plans work.

This includes:

  • putting more troops on higher readiness;
  • capability building and development;
  • adaptation of NATO’s command and control structures;
  • creating and sustaining more enablement: logistics, host nation support, maintenance, military mobility, and replenishment and prepositioning of stocks;
  • and crucially: more collective defence exercises and training.

To give you an example: in 2024, the Alliance will be holding its largest collective defence exercise since the Cold War: STEADFAST DEFENDER.

Over 40,000 troops from across the Alliance will exercise in Germany, Poland and the three Baltic States.

A new era of collective defence is upon us.

And the NATO Military Authorities have been preparing for this new era for years.

We have never been stronger or readier.

And yet… much more needs to be done in order to not only protect ourselves against current threats, but also against reconstituted threats and potential future threats.

For that we need a fundamentally different approach to public-private cooperation in the defence and security sector.

Today the Chiefs of Defence expressed their concern that across the Alliance:
-  production capacity is lagging behind
- delivery times are moving to the right
- and prices for equipment and ammunition are shooting up.

Right now, we are paying more and more for exactly the same… and that means that we cannot make sure that the increased defence spending actually leads to more security.

At the Vilnius Summit, NATO Allies approved a new Defence Production Action Plan to accelerate joint procurement, boost production capacity and enhance Allies’ interoperability.

Our liberal economies are not apt at creating the prioritisation that is so desperately needed right now.

This is about sustaining the foundation of security upon which our economies can flourish.

Long term stability needs to prevail over short term profits.

As we have seen in Ukraine: war is a whole-of-society event.

Therefore, the prevention of war through resilience and deterrence… should also be a whole-of-society event.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Chiefs of Defence all expressed today their immense respect and admiration for our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in uniform.

We are doing everything in our power to support them in their rightful claim for freedom and sovereignty.

Every day, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are gaining ground on the battlefield.

Every success is one step closer to victory.

And even though the Russian leadership is unfortunately more than willing to let both their own population and the Ukrainian people endure senseless suffering… Ukraine will outlast and outperform them.

And we will help them every step of the way.

President Putin wanted NATO divided and made every attempt to do so.

And yet here we stand: more united than ever.

United in our belief that the rule of law applies to all.

That conflicts should be solved in the court room, not on the battlefield. And that self-determination is an unalienable right.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This meeting comes at a challenging time.

I want to thank General Kristoffersen wholeheartedly for the outstanding way in which the Norwegian authorities have hosted this meeting.
There are more than 3 million servicemen and women who will do whatever it takes to protect every inch of Allied territory and every single one of the 1 billion citizens who live on Allied soil.

It is the solemn duty of the Chiefs of Defence to make sure they are able to fulfil their important tasks to the best of their abilities.


We serve them, as they serve our Alliance.

And together, we will make sure that we are ready to face any adversary in any domain. In any corner of the Euro-Atlantic Area.

And that brings me to my final statement: I would like to share with you the news that today the Chiefs of Defence decided to extend my mandate as Chair of the NATO Military Committee for an additional 6 months.

And to elect the Italian Chief of Defence, Admiral Dragone, as my successor for a period of 2.5 years. The exact handover date will be agreed by Admiral Dragone and myself.

I congratulate Admiral Dragone on being elected for this position.

I am honoured and humbled by the continued trust that the Allied Chiefs of Defence have placed in me.

I will do my utmost to keep unifying north, south, east, west, large and small within our Alliance.

And to actively reach out to NATO’s Partners around the world.

Building on the fundamental belief that there is so much more that unites us, than what divides us.

And that we are truly stronger together.

General Kristofferssen, the floor is yours.

 

Norwegian Chief of Defence, General Eirik Kristoffersen

First of all Admiral Bauer, let me thank you for your steady leadership, bringing the Chiefs of Defence´s from all the NATO countries together and for making the Military Committee an important platform, where we have discussed for years now and also today, our military strategy and how things are decided.

I would also like to thank you, the press for being here with us today, an open press plays an immensely important role in our democracy.

It has actually been a great and sincere pleasure to host the NATO Military Committee Conference here in Oslo. It has been a very good Conference indeed, and Admiral Bauer just explained some of the outcomes of the conference.

I would again say that met here in peaceful Oslo in an uncertain and insecure time.

The Ukrainian people are fighting for their homeland, for their peace, freedom, and democracy. These are values we share and hold very high.

Our Ukrainian friends are also fighting a battle on all our behalf for a functioning rules-based world order, which Russia has challenged for years.

We will continue to support that fight. We will continue to support with donations, with training, and we will continue to support in close cooperation with industry.

I am very impressed with the Ukrainian people’s will and ability to fight back. And as Admiral Bauer said, it is truly a whole-of-society effort.

It cannot be said often enough: NATO stands more united than ever. This has been evident throughout this conference as well. Putin´s war on Ukraine has brought us even closer.

Admiral Bauer mentioned the NATO exercise Steadfast Defender.

An important element of that is the biggest exercise is to be held in the Nordic countries ever – Nordic Response – in 2024. The five Nordic countries have come together to host NATO allies to train and exercise in our part of the world.

This exercise will be an important milestone in a common Nordic further integration into NATO and our new plans, which we have discussed today.

Once Sweden is formally accepted into the Alliance, it will fundamentally change the way we look at defence and deterrence in NATO´s northern flank.

Having all the Nordic countries as part of the world´s strongest military Alliance is good for our region, is good for Norway but also a great strengthening of NATO and the whole Alliance.

All our defence industries, in our countries, will continue to play an important role in the times that lay ahead. Both to be able to supply our Ukrainian friends, but also to ensure that we in NATO can reach the goals discussed today. Boosting production, and increasing cooperation are two key issues. We are on the right track, but we must continue to improve how we, together with industry, develop and procure military capabilities.

Once again, it has been a pleasure to host the Military Committee Conference here in Oslo.

NATO is the cornerstone of the Norwegian security, and we are proud to be part of the strongest military alliance in the world.

And again, ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you for being here today. Now we look forward to your questions.