Joint Press Conference

by the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer with Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Christopher Cavoli and Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Chris Badia.

  • 18 Jan. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 18 Jan. 2024 18:13

(As delivered)

Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The NATO Military Committee has just concluded its two-day meeting.

The NATO Chiefs of Defence – together with Invitee Sweden – discussed the defence plans that were agreed at the Vilnius Summit.

These plans contain Force Structure Requirements, which set the number and types of equipment and organisations that we require, across all regions and domains.

This feeds directly into the NATO Defence Planning Process and will shape our armed forces for decades to come.

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

Allies are now actively working to maximise the executability of these new defence plans.

That means - should it come to it - we want to be able to execute these plans with a minimum amount of risk.

This is about preparedness.

NATO is stronger and readier than it has ever been. Together, we have made immense strides in our collective defence.

But we want and need to do more, in order to deter and defend any potential threat.

In a few minutes, both the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Chris Cavoli, and the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Chris Badia will talk about how we do that, now and in the future.

As I said yesterday: this requires a whole-of-society approach.  

We need more societal resilience. More energy independence, resilient infrastructure.

And across the board, but especially for a key topic such as Integrated Air and Missile Defence, we need a fundamentally new approach to public-private cooperation in the defence industry.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Yesterday, we were briefed by the Ukrainian Military Representative to NATO, Major General Salkutsan – on behalf of Ukrainian Chief of Defence General Zalushnyy.

Our assessment is: there is intense fighting going on. And while Russia’s most recent attacks are devastating, they are not militarily effective.

At the same time, we see substantial military successes on the Ukrainian side.

While the world may have been overly optimistic in 2023, it is important that in 2024 we don’t become overly pessimistic. 

Today is the 694th (!) day of what Russia thought would be a 3-day war.

Ukraine has prevailed as a sovereign independent nation in Europe. They are closer to the Euro-Atlantic family than ever.

And they have inflicted heavy losses on Russia:

For example, more than 300,000 Russian casualties (killed and wounded).

For example, thousands of Russian tanks and armoured vehicles and hundreds of planes have been destroyed.

The Ukrainians have been able to liberate significant parts of their territory, pushing back the Russians from roughly 50% of what they occupied at the beginning of the war.

Another gain is that the Ukrainians have been able to conduct deep strikes, destroying key Russian capabilities.

The fact that Ukraine has been able, without a real navy, to push back the Russian Black Sea Fleet and open up a grain corridor is another huge gain.

All military leaders around the table affirmed their strong commitment to helping our Ukrainian brothers and sisters defend themselves.

This is not charity. Support to Ukraine is a direct investment in our own security.

The only way to get a lasting, negotiated solution is to strengthen the Ukrainian position on the battlefield.

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world is seeing a record amount of violence and conflict.

In the run up to the NATO summit in Washington this year, NATO is actively looking for ways to strengthen and deepen its partnerships in our southern neighbourhood.

That is why today, the NATO Chiefs of Defence conducted a meeting with their counterparts from the Partner Interoperability Advocacy Group being Australia, Austria, Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland.

And a dedicated session with NATO’s Indo-Pacific Partners being Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea.

We talked about how we can create more and better military cooperation.

When it comes to security, there is no such thing as local.

All security is connected. And that made it all the more valuable to talk to our Partners face to face on developments that concern us all.

We have years, sometimes decades, of cooperation to build on, ranging from information exchange, military education and training to operating side by side in NATO missions and operations.

Meeting with our Partners reminds us that none of us stand-alone in the face of challenges or threats. As long as you have Partners, you have better solutions.

And with that, I would like to give the floor to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
General Cavoli, the floor is yours.

Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Christopher Cavoli

Good afternoon everybody and happy New Year. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak with you for a moment in the afternoon.

I would like to provide an update on ACO operations and upcoming training activities.
Last summer, Allied Heads of State and Government approved our regional plans and gave us the green light to continue with all aspects of modernizing our collective defence system. 

For the first time in 30 years, we have the strategy – deterrence and defence of the Euro-Atlantic area – and we have the plans to make the Alliance fit for the purpose of collective territorial defence. 
We are now in the process of making our plans executable. This means making sure we have the force commitments, command and control arrangements, and the enablement our plans require.

We also need to rehearse and refine our plans through rigorous training and exercises. On that note, I would like to announce the kick-off of Exercise Steadfast Defender 2024 commencing next week and running through May.
Exercise Steadfast Defender 2024 will be the largest NATO exercise in decades, with participation from approximately 90,000 forces from all 31 Allies and our good partner Sweden.

The Alliance will demonstrate its ability to reinforce the Euro-Atlantic area via trans-Atlantic movement of forces from North America. This reinforcement will occur during a simulated emerging conflict scenario against a near-peer adversary.
Steadfast Defender 2024 will be a clear demonstration of our unity, strength, and determination to protect each other, our values and the rules based international order.

Finally, I want to provide an update on the Allied Reaction Force. The ARF is a critical component of our new force model which supports our plans. The ARF is capable of carrying out a full spectrum of missions and serves as a rapid deployable strategic reserve.

In the fall of last year, NATO rapid deployment corps – Italy was selected as the Interim Headquarters for the ARF.

They are currently training, exercising, and rehearsing in preparation for their new role. They are on track to receive validation as the Interim ARF Headquarters following exercise Steadfast deterrence in May.

Thank you again, I look forward to your questions.

Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation - Chris Badia

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen and thank you very much for being with us today,

Complementing and underlining what has been said by Admiral Bauer and General Cavoli I would like to expand in this context from an Allied Command Transformation view and the role we play in all of this.

And let me start by saying that what you heard is important.

As it is being prepared for today and tonight in order to cope with all possible challenges this Alliance faces or might face, today and the day after tomorrow. This is what my command focuses very much on, on behalf of all NATO.

We as an Alliance with all it‘s nations need to be sure to be more agile and be more flexible and we do this through our agreed transformational pass.

As the warfighting of tomorrow becomes more complex in a multi domain we need to ensure that we are in every aspect faster and better than our competitors.

This goes with nations transformation and this a perpetuous journey and not a one-time event. Our war transformation journey pushes boundaries, forging a collective edge in order to become better every day.

We do this through multi-domain integrated operations, which means seamless warfare across sea, land and air. Those are the classic domains. But the new two domains are cyber and space. And I get to that in a second but we are now working within five domains and we have to completely understand what that means. And this what transformation is very much about.

With that of course we have to look at flexible command structures, for rapid adaptation to ever-changing threats and unwavering interoperability, united action systems that we have and this is from the first minute we are needed.

And continuous capability advancement in order to stay ahead of the curve. With that we are shaping a strong and more agile military within the 31 nations.

The world demands even greater agility and flexibility. The past two days' discussions focused exactly on achieving just that.

Informed by the latest strategic concepts, we are now in "defence planning" mode, how we go forward on all those things. We are identifying the capabilities we need individually and collectively, with speed and strength. And capabilities are the foundation because without capabilities we can’t put anything against it.

The main part is how we change into all this – as we call it a multi-domain enabled Alliance, in order to fulfil multi-domain operations.

And this is within the new understanding because as much as with the military on the same side we look at how the civil domain holds and how there be more synergies, in order to become better and stronger.

So my domain is not only about operations in multi-domains, it is through multi-domain operations overall. How do we do that?

Number one, we look very much at interaction. So increased cooperation with non-military actors. And just to give you one example here. If you look at space for instance. Space has a lot of civil infrastructure. And there is no need to duplicate everything in order to use space to a better extent and this how transformation also goes.

How do we cooperate with the civil world and find all those synergies? Just as an example – connectivity - synchronizing military and non-military effects as I already alluded to, converging effects and last not but least all the integration, fully embracing cyber and space as operational domains.

The precondition to transform into multi-domain enabled Alliance is digital transformation. And it goes without saying this is happening in parallel. So if you will in short, we are transforming from a platform-centric force into a data-centric force.

Our strengths will remain unity with interoperability with all of that.

The Alliance is always greater than the sum of its parts. MDO embodies this principle, leveraging our collective strength and interoperability.

So in closing ladies and gentlemen, transformation is not a luxury for NATO, it's a necessity and we are very well prepared for that.

And one last remark for you.

Everything we do is also based on a strategic foresight and strategic foresight analysis means the outlook on what will change.  And we just put it on our ACT website, as today there is the new strategic foresight analysis, released today. So whenever you want to see what NATO thinks about, what the future challenges might be, you will find some interesting information there.

Thank you very much.