Updated: 16-Oct-2006 IMS News Release

9 Sept. 2006


NATO’s highest military body
concludes meetings in Poland

9 September 2006

Bullet The Military Committee: NATO's senior military authority

WARSAW -- Chiefs of defence from 26 NATO nations wrapped up intensive discussions on a wide range of issues here in Warsaw during the weekend and shaped key military work leading to the Riga Summit in end-November.

“We made real progress on a number of complex issues,” said Gen. Ray Henault, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and NATO’s top officer. “We took stock of all our operations, with a particular focus on Afghanistan, and readied work on several transformational initiatives. The recent heavy fighting in the south of Afghanistan plus the fact that the NATO Summit in Riga is 10 weeks away made for some very focused discussions.”

The formal meetings of the NATO Military Committee at the level of Chiefs of Defence Staff take place three times a year, including twice in Brussels. Once a year, the meeting is convened in a member country: last year they met in the Netherlands. This year marks the first time the body has met in Poland.

Over the course of a day-and-a-half of meetings, the chiefs of defence assessed progress on all five ongoing operations, including Afghanistan, Kosovo, the training mission in Iraq, naval counter terrorism operations in the Mediterranean, and support to the African Union mission in Sudan.

“Afghanistan is our number one operational priority,” said Gen. Henault. “I’ve visited there several times, including last week with the North Atlantic Council, and I see a determined and capably led force with about 20,000 personnel from 37 NATO and non-NATO countries, deployed on a complex and demanding mission. The forces are resolute and will fulfil their missions of security, stability and provincial reconstruction.”

“We will continue to establish a robust military presence throughout the country,” Gen. Henault continued. “We will deter, disrupt and defeat opposition forces, and help set the conditions for success for Afghan government authorities, and for more reconstruction and development. We are very aware that development is not possible without security, and enduring security is not sustainable without development.”

Nations agreed to a force generation conference on September 13 to address the existing capability shortfalls in the ISAF mission, and to a force generation conference for September 15 respecting capability shortfalls in the NATO Response Force. These meetings will take place at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium.

During the meetings the Military Committee also discussed ways and means to continue building capability and sustainability in the NATO Response Force; considered the military advice being developed to implement the new NATO Ministerial Guidance and new level of ambition for NATO military forces (to deal simultaneously with two major joint operations, and six smaller operations); and reviewed work on initiatives respecting enhanced NATO training and Special Operations Forces transformation.

“The in-depth discussions at this meeting will be very helpful to inform the military advice that we will bring forward to the North Atlantic Council early next week,” remarked Gen. Henault. "I have already briefed the Secretary-General on the substance of our discussions.”

New CIMIC Centre of Excellence on track

A new Civil-Military Co-operation Centre of Excellence is one step away from accreditation by NATO following a signing ceremony here September 9.  At a ceremony hosted by the Polish Ministry of Defence, the four sponsoring nations (Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland) signed a memorandum of understanding to mark the final hurdle before seeking accreditation of the centre by the North Atlantic Council, later this year.

“Civil military co-operation is absolutely essential in today’s NATO operations, and we’ve got to get this right,” said Gen. Lance Smith, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.  “Military force alone will not bring long-term peace and prosperity.  It requires a coordinated team effort and CIMIC is the commander’s direct interface with key civil leaders.”

NATO learned the importance of CIMIC during its stabilization missions in the Balkans and pushed for the creation of a standing capability.  Based in Budel, the Netherlands, the centre will not be part of the NATO chain of command but will maintain a close working relationship with Allied Command Transformation and Allied Command Operations, NATO’s two strategic commands.

NATO centres of excellence are nationally or multinationally sponsored and funded entities that offer expertise and experience that benefit the Alliance. They can enhance education and training, help improve interoperability and capabilities, assist in doctrine development, and test and validate concepts through experimentation.

There are already two other centres certified by NATO: the Joint Air Power Competency Centre (Kalkar, Germany) was approved in March 2005, and the Centre of Excellence for Defence against Terrorism (Ankara, Turkey), was approved in August 2006. A third centre – the  Naval Mine Warfare Centre of Excellence (Ostende, Belgium) – has been submitted for NAC approval.  More than a dozen other COEs are at various stages of consideration.

For further information, visit the CIMIC centre’s website at: www.cimic-coe.org.

Election of new Director International Military Staff

During the meetings, the chiefs of defence also elected Lt.-Gen. Jo Godderij, a fighter pilot from the Netherlands, as the next Director of the International Military Staff. He will replace Spanish Vice-Adm. Fernando del Pozo early in the summer of 2007. Lt.-Gen. Godderij currently serves as the Military Representative of the Netherlands in the Military Committee.

The International Military Staff, based at NATO HQ in Brussels, is the 400-strong executive body that supports the work of the Military Committee and its full-time Chairman. The Military Committee, composed of the 26 NATO chiefs of defence – and represented on a permanent basis by Military Representatives in Brussels – provides consensus-based military advice to NATO’s political authorities, and shapes the guidance received from them as direction to Alliance military commanders.

The other Belgian-based NATO headquarters is near Mons, less than an hour southwest of Brussels, where the Alliance’s military operations are planned and coordinated.

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