Chairman of the Military Committee discusses why ''Defence Matters''
General Knud Bartels, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, attended the day-long conference “Defence Matters”, hosted by Carnegie Europe, in Brussels, on 26 November 2013. The event aimed to stimulate discussion of how and why defence matters to the citizens of NATO allied and partner nations.
Speaking to more than 150 participants at the conference, General Bartels stressed that to understand why defence matters, the key question is not “the cost of security but the cost of no security.” “Security Costs mean different things to different Nations." He continued by saying that conflict is now more difficult to predict than even before, and that the nature of the conflict itself has also changed. “The dynamic of uncertainty we see today, is what we will face in the future. To effectively meet the challenges that uncertainty brings, we need to be able to anticipate, understand, prevent and eventually defend ourselves,” he stressed.
General Bartels explained that in 2015, when NATO will no longer have a combat operation in Afghanistan, the Alliance will shift from being “Operationally Engaged” to being “Operationally Prepared”. This will mean that NATO will be focusing its efforts on the development of forces that are well prepared and ready for full spectrum of operations. “Given the breadth of challenges we face, we need to maintain a wide scope of capabilities. We must be prepared, which is why we are reinforcing our three pillars: collective defence, cooperative security and crisis response operations,” he added.
Lastly, he underlined the role of partners, “who have become an integral part” of NATO’s way of operating. He also stressed the importance of sustaining interoperability through the Connected Forces Initiative. “Interoperability is no longer a desirable by-product of partnership, it is the essential foundation on which we must build our future military cooperation. Our ability to operate with partners is an important force multiplier for NATO, and we should therefore proactively work with them to maintain these links to our mutual benefit,” he concluded.