Remarks to the press on the NATO Military Committee Conference (Sevilla, Spain - 16-18 Sept)

by B. Gen. Massimo Panizzi, Spokesperson of the NATO Military Committee

  • 13 Sep. 2011 -
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  • Mis à jour le: 14 Sep. 2011 15:14

Good afternoon to all of you.

As you know, the NATO Military Committee meets at least 3 times a year in Chiefs of Defense format. For their annual conference and their 3rd meeting this year, the NATO CHODs will meet on 16th and 17 September in Seville (Spain). The two Strategic Commanders SACEUR, Admiral Stavridis and SACT, General Abrial, will also attend the Conference.

For a better understanding of what lies ahead for NATO’s top military, I’ll give you a quick overview of the topics the Chiefs of Defence will discuss.

The first day, Friday 16th, will be dedicated to the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. CHODs will receive briefings from SACEUR, COMISAF (General Allen) and the NATO Senior Civilian Representative (Ambassador Gass): they will share their views on the Transition progress but also take a wider, more long-term look at NATO’s future involvement, especially in the post-2014 era. On a regional perspective, and for long-term stability in Afghanistan, the Alliance is developing tailored co-operation with Pakistan, a key regional player. This all takes place in the framework of Transition and the draw down of our combat troops. The Pakistani Chief of Army Staff, General Kayani, will inform discussions by providing the CHODs with an insight into Pakistan’s perspective of how this strategic partnership and cooperation (ISAF, ANSF and Pakistani Army) is developing from a pol-mil strategic viewpoint. The outcome of this session will be instrumental to the upcoming October Defense Minister Meeting in Brussels.

On the second day, Saturday 17th, CHODs will examine the potential strategic implications for the Alliance and the global security landscape in the aftermath of the so called “Arab Spring”, with particular reference to the core tasks for the Alliance, as declared at the Lisbon Summit in 2010 (Crisis Management and Co-operative Security). Geo-strategic implications for NATO of the security landscape, the status of NATO’s relationship with established partners (Mediterranean Dialogue, ICI), new partnership options to bring greater stability and security to the region and engagement by relevant international actors for a real Comprehensive Approach, will be the focal point of the discussion. Two guest speakers are invited to join the debate: Dr. Ahmed A. Saif, a leading Arab academic from the Sheba Centre for Strategic Studies (YE) and Mr. Robert Fisk, a renowned Middle-East expert and journalist with the UK Independent newspaper.

Following this, CHODs will focus on current challenges in transformation and operations for the Alliance, taking a forward-looking perspective. SACT, General Abrial, will brief on the results of his work on the SMART Defence approach (initiated by the Secretary General). This includes Multinational Approaches to Capability aimed at promoting and synchronizing ideas for multinational cooperation in capability development. Discussions will inform the October meeting of Defence Ministers. As you know, the Industry Day in London, organized by ACT and attended by both SECGEN and the Chairman MC which concludes today, has focused on this subject: “Innovative Approaches to Cost-Effective Capability Development". This is a key issue that NATO’s Commander for Transformation already addressed during the June 2011 Strategic Military Partner Conference in Belgrade. ACT’s Industry day is an annual, strategic-level conference aimed at developing and fostering the Command’s relationship with industry and bringing together representatives from NATO, the NATO Nations and the industry private sector. In an effort to develop the SECGEN’s concept of SMART Defense, ACT has established a Task Force that is identifying new ways of developing cost-effective capabilities. In Seville, the NATO CHODs will give their views on this urgent issue.

Still on transformational and operational challenges, SACEUR, Admiral Stavridis, will address requirements, including planning, that will allow the Alliance to face emerging security challenges associated with regional instability, maritime security and trans-national threats.

The third session on Saturday will be devoted to lessons identified and learned from the Alliance’s ongoing operations, particularly those highlighted as a result of Operation Unified Protector in Libya. CHODs will assess how these lessons will be factored into future operations and give their guidance on how the implementation of the New Command Structure should be adapted in consequence. The impact of national defence reviews on NATO’s future operational requirements will also be a point of discussion. In Autumn 2011 the Military Committee will give its guidance to its Strategic Commanders for the development of Detailed Implementation Plans for the New Command Structure.

The final session will be devoted to the election of the new MC Chairman. You will be informed immediately about the result of the election. The Military Committee will also say farewell to the US CHOD, Admiral Mike Mullen, and the EST CHOD, General Ants Laaneots, as they both participate for the last time before retiring from the forces. The Albanian CHOD, Brigadier General  Xhemal Gjunkshi and the Turkish CHOD, General Necdet Özel will participate in this meeting for the first time.

As you can see, the Conference Agenda is intense and includes all the most pressing issues NATO is currently dealing with. The outcome of the Conference will be reported to the Council and will be instrumental to discussions and decisions in the upcoming Defence Ministerial in October.