Opening remarks

by the Chairman of the Military Committee, General Knud Bartels, at the 166th Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session

  • 18 Jan. 2012
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  • Last updated: 12 Apr. 2012 11:53

Head of the Table and Opening Remarks Left to right: Lt. General Walter Gaskin (Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee);  Lt. General J. Bornemann (Director General IMS); General Knud Bartels (Chairman of the NATO Military Committee)

Welcome to the 166th Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session. It is good to see so many Chiefs of Defence here today, and also to see the Strategic Commanders here in person. A warm welcome to those who have not attended a Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session before.

It is a privilege to be your Chairman and to lead such a team.

Before we begin I would like to remind you of what our purpose is; The role of the Military Committee is to provide relevant and timely advice to the North Atlantic Council. That advice informs their political decision making, which in turn enables NATO Strategic Commanders to carry out the tasks asked of them.

We meet at this time facing some complex security challenges: operations in Afghanistan are at a turning point as security transitions to Afghan lead and security across North Africa and the Middle East is a continuing concern.

President Obama recently described NATO as a Force Multiplier; a fact credibly demonstrated on operations, in Afghanistan, off the Horn of Africa, and in the Mediterranean, and notably over Libya in recent months.

De ma position d’ancien chef d’état-major des armées du Royaume du Danemark, j’ai perçu l’opération en Libye comme un véritable succès interarmées multinational de l’OTAN.

Nous avons beaucoup de leçons à tirer de cette opération que nous devrons ensuite introduire dans nos travaux de transformation mais vu du Comité militaire, cette opération fut un succès.

Les conditions de ce succès sont à mettre au crédit du Comité militaire qui a fourni au Conseil de l’Atlantique Nord les avis militaires pertinents et opportuns afin que les orientations politiques décidées permettent de donner des directives efficaces aux Commandants stratégiques.

Je souhaite m’appuyer sur ce succès et j’attends avec intérêt l’issue de nos discussions qui nous permettront d’aider l’Alliance à aller de l’avant.

Our near term objective is to set the conditions for success at the Chicago Summit in May 2012. The North Atlantic Council are seeking to achieve deliverables in a number of key areas, including strengthening partnerships with North Africa and Mediterranean countries; Afghanistan; Defence Capabilities and NATO Ballistic Missile Defence.

Between now and Chicago we have only a handful of opportunities in which to set the conditions for success; the Defence Ministers Meeting in February; the Foreign and Defence Ministers Meeting in April; followed shortly afterwards by another Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session. We do not have much time in which to achieve a great deal and we must work quickly in order to deliver success.

Over the next 2 days I aim for the Military Committee to engage on military matters relevant to all of these areas.

My priority of effort is Afghanistan. I wish us to make progress on the NATO Strategic Plan for Afghanistan post 2014 and in the near term on our collective commitment to supporting the transition to Afghan security leadership and the transformation of the NATO force into one focused on the delivery of enduring security force assistance.

We will be joined by the NATO Senior Civil Representative and Commander of the International Security Assistance Force giving us the opportunity for a unique insight into how they see the future.

Nous avons aussi un certain nombre d’autres points sur lesquels je souhaite faire des progrès significatifs, dans la perspective d’aboutir à des résultats tangibles au sommet de Chicago. Certains dépendent d’acteurs externes à l’OTAN, d’autres lui sont propres.

Concernant nos relations avec les acteurs externes :

Avec le Dialogue méditerranéen, notre première session de cette matinée, je souhaite explorer avec mes camarades membres de ce forum comment développer davantage les opportunités de partenariats avec les pays d’Afrique du nord et ceux riverains de la Méditerranée.

In the NATO-Russia Council format I look forward to further enhancing our already healthy NATO-Russia cooperation.

In the Euro-Atlantic Partnership meeting, we will have a detailed discussion with our partners and I look forward to learning from the observations of working with the Alliance on operations from Sweden and defence cooperation with a Nordic perspective from Finland.

In the Kosovo meeting, with our mission partners, we are fortunate to have Commander of the Kosovo Force and the Head of the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) with us and I look forward to a discussion on the future of that mission in light of current events.

Following achievement of what I hope will be clear outcomes on the external issues, I wish then to focus on the big internal challenge to NATO: transformation.

My number one priority in this area is to progress on Implementation of the new NATO Command Structure, on the new structure which we have agreed upon.

We will also discuss the latest progress on NATO Defence Capabilities, including the SMART Defence initiative, which in the current economic climate potentially presents us with an opportunity of working together better, of maximising the scarce resources we have at our disposal and ensuring that the Alliance can continue to meet the challenges it faces with the capabilities it needs.

I look forward to a successful round of meetings, I thank you all again for attending and I believe we should now get on with the business in hand, we have much to do.