Opening remarks

by Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Petr Pavel with Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Denis Mercier

  • 17 Jan. 2018 -
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  • Last updated: 17 Jan. 2018 15:51

(As delivered)

Good afternoon, let me begin this press conference by giving you an outline of the main outcomes of the first Chiefs of Defence meeting in 2018.

We have had a packed agenda over these past two days which allowed the Chiefs of Defence to discuss a wide range of topics and tasks ahead of the Alliance and give their direction and guidance.

We began by meeting with Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. We focused with him on the political and military priorities for this year’s Summit in July.

In our second session, we met with our wide network of partners to address issues of security and stability in Europe’s southern neighbourhood. This is one of the greatest transnational security challenges that we face and one which impacts every nation around the globe. NATO’s network of partners, complemented with international organizations such as the European Union and the United Nations, allows us to work more effectively and in a comprehensive manner. Our goal is to cooperate even more cohesively, sharing our experience and expertise and avoiding duplication of effort, all with the aim of improving stability in te Middle East and North Africa. In this context, the Chiefs of Defence also stressed the role of NATO’s Hub for the South.

Meeting with our Resolute Support Mission partners, we discussed the strategic, operational and political context in and around Afghanistan, as well as our main effort to train, assist and advise the Afghan security forces and institutions. The Chiefs of Defence stressed the enduring commitment to Afghanistan. They also recognised the progress achieved by the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces over the course of last year, in particular the growth of the Afghan Special Security Forces and the Afghan Air Force, improved leadership and – most importantly, the Afghan forces’ growing confidence in their ability to fight and win.

Another key topic on our agenda was the ongoing NATO Command Structure Adaptation. It is vital that we have a Command Structure that is robust, agile and fit-for-purpose.  An NATO Command Structure that supports the Alliance’s requirement for effective command and control across all the core tasks, which means continued ability to defend and protect Allied territory and populations whilst also carrying out Crisis Management and Cooperative Security. The Chiefs of Defence endorsed the option recommended by the NATO Military Authorities for the adapted NATO Command Structure and provided their recommendations on implementation and timeline. I need to stress that the NATO Command Structure adaptation is subject to a political decision, which will be made during the meeting of Defence Ministers next month.

On the transformation of the Global Coalition against ISIL and NATO’s role in Iraq, we noted how the Coalition is transitioning from combat to stabilization. Consequently, we deliberated how NATO could adapt our current activity within our Training and Capacity Building Initiative in Iraq, upon request by the Iraqi authorities and taking into consideration the importance of local ownership and buy-in.     

Today’s session began with meetings with Ukraine and Georgia. The Chiefs of Defence noted the challenge for Ukraine of achieving security and defence reforms alongside re-establishing Ukraine’s territorial integrity. They also recognized the progress made in the Ukrainian Armed Forces reform and stressed their commitment to furthering the capability and interoperability of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

During our session with Georgia, the Chiefs of Defence recognized Georgia’s significant and enduring contribution to NATO’ operations and missions, and especially to Resolute Support in Afghanistan. Furthermore, they stressed their continued support to the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package and welcomed Georgia’s constructive approach to the ongoing security situation.

And finally, we turned our focus to the military aspects of NATO’s overall coherence related to the Alliance’s strengthened deterrence and defence posture. The Chiefs of Defence stressed the necessity to ensure effective and coherent implementation of decisions taken at Wales and Warsaw Summits, as well as the Heads of State and Government meeting last May here in Brussels, together with 2018 priorities, in support of all three core tasks and in a 360-degree approach.

With that said, I will now hand the floor to SACEUR, General Scaparrotti, and subsequently to General Denis Mercier. Mike, over to you.