Opening statements of the press conference
by Chair of the Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer and the Chief of the Estonian Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Martin Herem following the meeting of the Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session, Tallinn, Estonia
Chair of the Military Committee:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Military Committee has just concluded.
Our discussions covered the breadth of the security challenges facing the Alliance.
Without a doubt: a new era for global security has begun.
It is crystal-clear that this conflict is bigger than Ukraine.
The entire international rules-based order is under attack.
And it is up to the free, democratic nations of the world to protect it.
Today, for the first time ever, the Allied Chiefs of Defence welcomed their Finnish and Swedish counterparts around the table as invitees.
The accession of Finland and Sweden, with their impressive defence capabilities, will both enhance the security of the Baltic Sea region and strengthen the Alliance as a whole.
Together, we discussed how we can strengthen our collective security.
And how we will implement the far-reaching decisions on NATO’s deterrence and defence posture, that were taken by our political leadership at NATO’s Summit in Madrid.
Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Cavoli, provided us with his strategic considerations on the Eastern flank and across the whole spectrum of our 360-degree approach to security.
The Chiefs of Defence discussed the operationalisation of the ‘deter and defend strategy’ that we approved in 2020.
This strategy makes sure that:
- national plans are more closely interlinked with Alliance plans;
- military leaders have a common frame of reference for both Alliance wide threats and regional threats;
- and that we enhance the speed and effectiveness of our rapid deployable forces.
We’re talking about the biggest overhaul of our military structures since 1949.
The planning for that started several years ago, but now we’re implementing it.
The Chiefs of Defence also discussed how they will sustain and increase Allied support to Ukraine.
The ammunition, equipment, and training that Allies are delivering are all making a real difference on the battlefield.
With its successes on the ground and online, Ukraine has fundamentally changed modern warfare.
NATO will support Ukraine for as long as it takes.
Winter is coming, but our support shall remain unwavering.
Other topics on the agenda today were NATO’s ongoing operations, missions and activities, including the NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) and Kosovo Force (KFOR).
The Chiefs of Defence dedicated a special session to diversity in our Armed Forces.
Not only because we want to practice the values that we preach, but also because having a more diverse talent pool in our workforce increases our effectiveness on the battlefield.
And crucially: creating a culture of inclusion is fundamental for the trust between men and women in uniform. Without trust, we cannot function.
We need to keep developing and adapting.
That is why Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Lavigne, provided us with his insights on how we can promote cooperation across domains and service branches, and how we can transform our Armed Forces in the digital era.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are honoured to be hosted here in Tallinn.
And to experience first-hand the enduring spirit of the Estonian people.
I want to thank General Herem wholeheartedly for the outstanding way in which the Estonian authorities have hosted this conference.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
These are challenging times. Times of great uncertainty.
But we as Allies are strengthened by the knowledge that:
there are 3.2 million servicemen and women (soon to be more) who will do whatever it takes to protect every inch of Allied territory and every single one of the 1 billion citizens who live on Allied soil.
It is the solemn duty of the Chiefs of Defence to make sure they are able fulfil their important task to the best of their abilities.
We serve them, as they serve our Alliance.
And together, we will make sure that we are ready to face any adversary in any domain. In any corner of the Euro-Atlantic Area.
General Herem, the floor is yours.
Chief of the Estonian Defence Forces:
I am pleased to host the Allied Chiefs of Defence here in Tallinn for this year’s Military Committee meeting.
I am happy to welcome the Finnish and Swedish Chiefs of Defence at this conference. Their accession to NATO will improve the coherence and unity of effort of the Baltic Sea region’s defence and it will also strengthen the Alliance as a whole.
Throughout our discussions today, we have all shared the understanding that we are facing a dramatically changed security environment. The Euro-Atlantic area is again not at peace.
Collectively, we must deny Russia the possibility to change today’s rules-based international order. An aggression not answered will lead to further aggression.
Our most urgent task is to support Ukraine.
As Chiefs of Defence, we must continue to push for significant military help for Ukraine. We have witnessed how this help can change the course of the war. And hopefully bring peace closer for the Ukrainians.
In doing that, it is critical to ensure cohesion and unity of allies. The winter will be difficult, but must stick together and stay committed.
Heads of State and Government agreed at the Madrid Summit that due to the changed security environment, we must move away from the previous tripwire approach to forward defence.
Now it is up to us – the armed forces – to translate this new concept into concrete military actions.
In order to ensure the required output as an Alliance, we must first ensure the necessary national input in terms of defence spending and capability development. Article 3 is an equally key commitment.
As our Prime Minister announced this morning, Estonian defence spending will increase for the next years to nearly 3%. This will allow us to establish the required divisional structure, certain enablers for it and improve host nation support for allies.
At the NATO level, forward defence is not only about the number of allied boots on the Eastern border. The entire chain must be in place. It means having the appropriate mix of national and allied in-place forces, known reinforcements, advance plans linked to assigned forces and assigned C2, and regular exercises to test it all.
Today’s discussions reflected the shared understanding that we are moving in the right direction. However, we must also keep in mind that time is important.
As an Alliance, we must be able to face threats in 360 degree perspective. We are being challenged by different actors from the High North down to Africa, across oceans, seas and up to the space domain.
Some actors, such as Russia, are active across the globe when it comes to creating instability.
Today, we also discussed diversity in the armed forces. I fully agree that we can only be stronger when using all our resources and people. As a small nation with a reserve based model, all citizens, no matters their specifics, must be able to contribute to national defence in some form.