NATO Chiefs of Defence discuss Afghanistan, Partnerships and Transformation
Brussels – NATO Chiefs of Defence reaffirmed their commitment to support the ISAF Commander over the next 19 months, which will be crucial in determining the outcome of the mission. The Military Committee also discussed opportunities to deepen military-to-military cooperation with NATO Partners. Delving into transformation, they expressed support for ongoing and future initiatives, particularly Smart Defence and the Connected Forces, to achieve best value for money while building on lessons learned from operations.
As the Alliance approaches the completion of the ISAF campaign, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan is entering a new phase. Its primary role is changing from combat to support. “NATO and Partner Chiefs of Defence acknowledge the increased capability of the Afghan National Security Forces to provide security for their country,” said General Knud Bartels, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee. “Transition therefore remains on track and our assessment is on the whole positive,” stressed the General. NATO Chiefs of Defence also discussed Afghanistan post-2014 and the new mission, Resolute Support. “We made good progress and details on the Concept of Operations for the new mission will be finalized in the coming weeks, ready for the Defence Ministers to discuss next month,” the Chairman said.
With NATO’s strategic partners of Ukraine and Georgia, the Military Committee reaffirmed its support to these nations in their defence reforms and their commitment to increasing interoperability with NATO. With Russia, the Chiefs of Defence were supportive for the ongoing cooperation between NATO and Russia through the 2013 Work Plan, and discussed new initiatives for the development of the 2014 Work Plan, particularly with regard to maritime cooperation in the Mediterranean. They also demonstrated their commitment to transparency with briefing on Exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013 and operations in Afghanistan. On this note, General Bartels emphasized: “In the months to come, we will continue to build with Russia on reciprocal transparency on military exercises, enhancing mutual understanding.”
In the transformation session, Chiefs of Defence provided clear commitment and guidance to NATO’s future training and exercises concept. They also discussed a high visibility exercise – due to take place in 2015 – which will mark the shift in NATO’s operational focus and test both the Alliance’s new Command and Force Structures. Closing the meeting, the Military Committee stressed the importance of preserving capacity, as well as capability. “Defence spending across the Alliance must be coherent, complementary and matched to future threats,” concluded General Bartels.