by the Chair of the NATO Military Committee Admiral Rob Bauer on the occasion of NATO's 75th anniversary celebration with the NATO Secretary General and Ministers of Foreign Affairs

  • 04 Apr. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 04 Apr. 2024 09:30

(As delivered)

Mr Secretary General, 
Your Excellencies, 
Admirals, Generals, 
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Happy anniversary.
On this day, 75 years ago, NATO Allies signed a treaty to create a band of brothers and sisters.

Starting with 12, we have now grown into an Alliance of 32 Armed Forces. 

Each word of the Washington Treaty lying here before you, is a sacred pledge that Allied Armed Forces fight to uphold. 

Together, we are protecting much more than physical safety.  

We are collectively defending freedom and democracy.

The choice to put your life in the service of freedom comes from a deep-rooted desire to be part of something bigger.

To be there for others.

To fight for the “we” in a world of “me”.

When civilians seek shelter, military personnel step up.

We are the shield for the innocent.

We are what stands between freedom and oppression.

That task, that life goal, is something that all men and women in uniform share with each other.

It forms an invisible bond that transcends wars and generations.

It is a bond you can feel.

Because you know what it means to serve.

Prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.

That bond, that boundless trust, is something all Allied Armed Forces share.

We feel the security of comradeship.

The security of friendship. 

Across Europe and North America, 3.5 million men and women in uniform are upholding a shield against aggression.

We deter and defend against any adversary, at any time, in any place. 

In a world where authoritarian regimes are desperately trying to portray an image of strength… and brutal tyranny strives to take away the sovereign rights of peoples and nations…

… we need that shield more than ever. 

We need to show the world that democracy is worth fighting for. 

It is not a perfect system. 

Nor is it self-sustainable. Even in countries where it has existed for centuries. 

But it is worth risking our lives for. 

Because without choice, without freedom, without the rule of law: what is there? 

How can we ever build a safe and prosperous world for our children?

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Keeping 1 billion people safe is a herculean task. 

It is the combination of our political and military power that enables us to do that.

And the fact that we are able to turn our 
diversity into a strength. 

Every day at this NATO Headquarters in Brussels, people come together on the political and the military level to find consensus on thousands of pieces of policy. 

Every day, Allied Armed Forces work side by side in NATO missions and operations. 

Every day, 32 nations choose the “we” over the “me”. 

NATO is – at its core – a defensive Alliance. 

We are the most successful Alliance in history, not because of any aggressive display of military strength, or territory we have brutally conquered… 

We are the most successful Alliance in history because of the peace we have brought… the countries we have united… and the conflicts we have prevented from spiralling out of control. 

Today, we celebrate our band of 32 brothers and sisters. 

Allies, separated by oceans but united in our determination.

Together, we are stronger.

Together, we are more.

Together, we are NATO.