Chair of the NATO Military Committee visits Switzerland
From 4 to 5 December 2023, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Bauer was in Switzerland for an official visit at the invitation of its Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Thomas Süssli. The Chair also met with Federal Councillor Viola Amherd, Head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS), and delivered a keynote address to senior military and civilian staff. The programme concluded with a visit of the Spiez Laboratory.
Starting off his official visit in Berne, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Bauer was welcomed by the Swiss Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Süssli with a short honour guard, which was followed by a bilateral meeting. Discussions focussed on the potential to further increase the existing military cooperation between NATO and Switzerland, the ongoing security environment, with a special focus on the war in Ukraine and the Western Balkans. “The cooperation between NATO and Switzerland has always been done in full respect of your neutrality. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t count on you to project security and stability beyond your own borders. As the second-largest non-NATO contributor to our KFOR mission, and in light of the current unrest, your troops are playing an essential role in reassuring local communities and safeguarding peace in the region. We also welcome the announcement that you will be extending your contribution to December 2026 as well as reinforcing it as of April 2024”, commented Admiral Bauer.
Sitting down with Federal Councillor Viola Amherd, Admiral Bauer commended her for Switzerland’s openness to share information and expertise with the Alliance. “Switzerland has extensive expertise in a number of areas that are of particular interest to NATO, such as in Small Arms and Light Weapons, Mine Action and Resilience”, adding that “by working together on such topics, we can learn from each other, share different perspectives and potentially develop better solutions”. He also noted Switzerland’s regular participation in NATO activities and exercises. “For almost a decade, we have been building up the interoperability between Allied and Swiss troops by serving and exercising together. Recently, the Swiss Armed Forces took part in the NATO Cyber Coalition exercise to defend against cyber attacks and jointly solve complex problems, close weak points and create a common picture of the situation”, he added.
Innovation and new technologies were also central themes of the visit, with a stop at the Spiez Laboratory, which is specialised in services relating to arms control, protection measures, health and incident management for international organisations, authorities and the general population. “In the current security environment and the growing threat posed by chemical, biological, nuclear and radioactive agents and weapons, it is primordial to have experts who provide essential advice to national and international authorities, like NATO and that help shape a better and safer world”, underscored Admiral Bauer.
During the visit, Admiral Bauer also provided a keynote address, titled “The Impact of Russia's War against Ukraine on the Global Security Environment”, to senior military and civilian staff from different Swiss government entities.