NATO Military Committee visit Allied Command Transformation in Portugal
From 26 to 28 February 2018, at the invitation of General Denis Mercier, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), the Military Committee travelled to Allied Command Transformation’s (ACT) subcommand, the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC) in Monsanto, Portugal. The Military Committee also took the opportunity to visit the Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) Headquarters. Furthermore, General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the Military Committee and General Mercier met with the Minister of Defence, H. E. Mr. Jose Alberto de Azeredo Lopes and the Portuguese Chief of Defence, General Artur Pina Monteiro.
Upon arrival at the Military Airbase in Lisbon, General Pavel and the Military Committee received an official Welcome with an Honour Guard and were greeted by ACT Chief of Staff, Air Marshal Graham Stacey. Subsequently, they received a warm welcome by the Commander of JALLC, Brigadier General Mario Barreto.
The focus of the Military Committee’s three-day meeting was adaptation and innovation, as part of the continuous effort to ensure the Alliance addresses both current challenges and tasks as well as keeps pace with technological and operational changes. The Military Representatives received subject matter expert briefings from senior military and civilian officials from ACT, NATO Headquarters Consultation, Command and Control Staff (NHQC3S), NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency, Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE), NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM), STRIKFORNATO and from the NATO Chief Scientist. Topics of discussion included NATO Command Structure adaptation, long term military strategic considerations, Cyberspace, emergence of disruptive technologies, and Maritime domain.
General Mercier, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) kicked off the meetings by highlighting the importance of Lessons Learned (LL) in the Alliance. General Pavel, Chairman of the Military Committee noted that “by analysing missions, operations, training, exercises and activities and identifying possible improvements, the JALLC allows NATO to continuously transform and modernize its processes, forces & capabilities”. SACT then briefed the 29 Military Representatives on the adaptation of the NATO Command Structure from ACT’s perspective and on ACT’s contribution to the adaptation process to ensure that the Alliance is Fit for Purpose. The ACT Chief of Staff, Air Marshall Sir Graham Stacey added that “NATO needs to be a flexible, adaptive, and responsive organization to overcome this century’s threats”.
The second day of NATO’s Military Committee visit focused on technology. Specifically, how new technologies can be better utilized to improve the Alliance’s capabilities and how the use of advanced and emerging technology can be integrated into the way NATO works. General Pavel highlighted that “technology offers game changing capabilities which brings both risks & opportunities to the Alliance”. The Military Committee then went on to discuss topics related to the Cyber Domain, namely NATO’s Cyberspace Domain Roadmap and the Operationalization of the Cyberspace Domain. Cyber threats and attacks are becoming more common, more sophisticated, and more damaging. NATO and its Allies rely on strong and resilient cyber defences to fulfil the Alliance’s core tasks, of collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security. “Cyber is part of modern conflict and it is important that the Alliance is as effective in cyber space as we are on land, at sea & in the air”, noted General Pavel.
On the final day of meetings, the NATO Military Committee took an in-depth look at NATO’s Maritime agenda, examining the current maritime environment and challenges, and evaluating current NATO capabilities and future opportunities. The Chairman of the Military Committee underscored that “the Atlantic binds our Alliance together and we must ensure that NATO can deploy its maritime forces rapidly, control sea lines of communication, preserve freedom of navigation and conduct effective mine counter-measure activities”.
At the joint press conference with General Mercier, General Pavel stressed that “the Military Committee’s visit to ACT in Portugal is very timely, as our discussions will be reflected in products for the July NATO Summit and beyond. NATO must be prepared as much for the now as for the future. With an ever changing and complex international security environment affecting strategic assumptions, it is essential that we operate and adapt at the same time”. General Mercier concluded by saying that “transformation is not an aim on itself, it is about the transformation of our military capacity. Consequently, warfare development is the actions we take to adapt our military capacity to the rapidly changing security environment. From the discussions we had, I see coming not only sharing best practices but also emerging new ideas".