Updated: 19-Nov-2004 NATO Speeches


28 October 2004

Opening remarks

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the CNAD exhibition

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here with you to open the second CNAD Industry Exhibition, which is devoted to “The Digital Battlefield”.

Let me start by extending some words of thanks.

First, to Assistant Secretary General Marshall Billingslea. It is very much due to his initiative that we had such a successful first CNAD Industry Exhibition earlier this year. That exhibition showcased the latest developments in capabilities to fight and protect against terrorism. I am convinced that this exhibition will be equally successful.

A word of thanks, also, to all those colleagues -- in the Defence Investment Staff and other International Staff divisions -- who have worked for several months to put this exhibition together. Thank you very much for all your hard work.

And last, but not least, thanks also to the Conference of National Armaments Directors. This exhibition is organised under their aegis. And I want to thank them for their key role in making sure that NATO militaries are armed and trained for the challenging tasks that they are given

NATO is going through momentous changes. The extent of our operational commitments has grown steadily these last few years, and with it the scope and tempo of work within NATO. And we have set in train a complete overhaul of NATO’s capabilities, structures and processes, to ensure they are relevant to the new, extremely challenging, security environment.

A key challenge before us is the emergence of the “Digital Battlefield”, which is the theme of this exhibition. In recent times, we have seen a dramatic increase in the speed and agility by which military operations can be conducted. New capabilities enable military forces to perceive, understand, and act upon common operational pictures that are supplied by a wide range of sensors – then assembled via digital information grids -- and distributed throughout the battlefield, from the platoon to Headquarters levels.

The systems that are on display at this exhibition represent the essence of these emerging network-centric / network-enabled capabilities. Speed, promptness, agility, flexibility, situational awareness -- these are critical new battlefield imperatives. They are imperatives that you will see reflected at this exhibition, and which make it so very timely indeed.

The number of companies represented here is impressive, with 34 exhibits, both large and small, from 21 nations, including 3 new NATO Allies and 4 of our Partners. I understand that, for reasons of space and logistics, only 40 per cent of those companies who applied could be accommodated at this exhibition. That shows how topical this exhibition is. But it also shows the considerable interest in NATO on the part of industry -- an interest that we welcome, and that I believe we should foster.

Again, it is a great pleasure for me to open this second CNAD Industrial Exhibition. Many thanks to all those who have been involved in making it happen. And a warm welcome to all exhibitors and visitors.

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