Opening remarks

by the Chairman of the Military Committee, General Knud Bartels, at 168th meeting of the Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff session

  • 16 Jan. 2013
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  • Last updated: 16 Jan. 2013 11:02

Good morning, and welcome to the NATO Chiefs of Defence and the Strategic Commanders gathered here in Brussels, for the first NATO Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence format of 2013.

With the media present, I would like to make some opening remarks to set out why we are here, what we have to do, and the outcomes we intend to deliver.

As we meet today, NATO and its Partners currently have over 110,000 military personnel, deployed on five operations and missions in eight countries and at Sea in the Mediterranean and off the Horn of Africa. These personnel, working together across nations, languages and cultures, are central to the work of NATO and its partners. Through their continued commitment and professionalism they reflect the very best aspects of the Alliance and as such I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to each and everyone one of them.

Over the next 2 days we will need to address a number of significant and converging challenges that face the Alliance. Our aim throughout our discussions will be to ensure that the NATO military structures and capabilities remain fit for purpose and matched to the Core Tasks of Collective Defence, Crisis Management and Cooperative Security as set out in the 2010 Lisbon Strategic Concept.

At the Strategic level, the continuing economic crisis and associated austerity measures are impacting on national defence investment and as such may present a risk to NATO Capability delivery. This at a time when the rapid evolution of world events continues to challenge our ability to predict, prepare for and address emerging strategic security threats. We must therefore continue to work collaboratively, to deliver military capability more rapidly, more effectively and more economically. To do this we will need a fresh approach and commitment from politicians, the military and industry to work together across national boundaries to embrace the principles of Smart Defence for acquisition and through life support.

At the operational level we must build upon our success to date and set the conditions for enduring stability where ever we are deployed. This is particularly important in Afghanistan where NATO and its Partners remain committed to providing support for the Afghan Security Forces as they increasingly take the lead for the provision of security; a role they are currently fulfilling in 76% of the country.

Nous devons avant tout garantir le succès de notre engagement en Afghanistan, tout en nous assurant que les forces de l’OTAN qui se redéployent depuis le théâtre d’opération puissent récupérer et se reconfigurer afin d’être en mesure d’appréhender un spectre plus large de menaces potentielles, au-delà du seul cadre contre-insurrectionnel. Cette transition constitue un défi singulier et non moins essentiel pour les Nations et pour l’OTAN en particulier.

En outre, l’Alliance dispose désormais d’une nouvelle structure de commandement, potentiellement capable de jouer le rôle de catalyseur pour le développement de la standardisation, de l’interopérabilité et de la performance des forces des pays membres de l’Alliance comme de nos partenaires. Ce potentiel ne pourra toutefois pleinement s’exprimer sans un engagement durable des Nations se concrétisant par une structure de commandement entraînée, évaluée et dont tous les postes sont honorés.

Ces sujets constituent autant de défis pour l’Alliance, particulièrement en cette période de contraintes économiques. Je suis toutefois persuadé que les alliés ainsi que leurs partenaires partagent la même compréhension des difficultés auxquelles nous devons faire face, ainsi qu’un intérêt commun pour les résoudre.

With this in mind, I have 3 key themes for these meetings which should guide our deliberations throughout the two days.

Firstly, we must continue to deliver success on current operations, with particular emphasis on the transition to the post 2014 mission in Afghanistan.

Secondly, we will continue to build upon the strong partnerships which NATO has forged on operations and issues of regional security.

Finally, we should establish the roadmap for the recuperation, restoration and reform of NATO military capability delivery to ensure it is effective, affordable and available to support the Alliance’s strategic objectives.

To begin to address these issues we will today focus primarily on activity with our partner nations, commencing with a session to review the security situation in the Mediterranean Dialogue Region.

Our second session will focus on the Mission in Afghanistan and the NATO Military Committee will be joined by Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (Com ISAF), General John Allen, and representatives from our 22 ISAF partners. In this session General Allen will provide a brief on the current situation, and progress and plans for the transition towards Afghan lead security.

Subsequently the Military Committee will consider the post 2014 Mission in Afghanistan. The Committee will be joined for the first time by representatives from the 7 partner nations that have thus far committed to supporting this mission. Throughout these discussions our objective will be to ensure that we build upon the momentum and success currently achieved in order to set the conditions for the transition of responsibility for security to credible, capable and sustainable Afghan Security forces.

Continuing on the theme of working with partners, the Committee will later today hold sessions in the NATO Russia Council format and in the Euro Atlantic Partnership format, where our objective is continue to build upon our common interests of regional security and shared understanding.

The theme of partnership in regional security will continue on Thursday morning when the Military Committee will be joined by representatives from Partner Nations in the Kosovo Mission to review the progress of the NATO lead mission and the direction and longevity of the future task.

Durant la journée de jeudi, les sujets liés à la transformation seront au cœur de nos discussions. Nous établirons tout d’abord une compréhension commune des défis sécuritaires auxquels nous devons faire face avant d’échanger sur la façon dont nous pouvons et devons nous adapter à cet environnement changeant. Au cours de cette session, nous passerons en revue les travaux initiés lors du sommet de Chicago ainsi que les réflexions en cours au sein des commandements stratégiques et des états-majors. Notre objectif est d’établir une feuille de route de la transformation qui soit cohérente et qui intègre les deux éléments clés que sont l’initiative pour l’interconnexion des forces et la défense intelligente.

In each of our sessions we will rely on the support from SACEUR Admiral Jim Stavridis and SACT General Jean-Paul Palomerous, to enable our debate, with their insights as Strategic Commanders. We will conclude with some internal agenda points.

As you will appreciate we have a busy agenda over the next 2 days and the issues we must discuss are complex and urgent. I therefore look forward to a healthy discussion amongst Allies and Partners and remind all of us that our aim is to deliver timely, relevant consensus based advice to the North Atlantic Council in support of NATO’s strategic objectives.

Thank you.