|Updated: 15-May-2008||IMS News Release|
15 May 2008
NATO Member and Partner Chiefs of Defence
BRUSSELS – Top military officers of NATO and Partner nations today concluded two days of discussions and exchanges at NATO Headquarters on a wide range of military-related issues. This is the first of three meetings this year for the NATO Chiefs of Defence.
More than 60 Chiefs of Defence from NATO members, non-NATO troop contributing nations, Partnership-for-Peace nations, the Mediterranean Dialogue countries, Ukraine, and Russia, attended over yesterday and today, making this the largest gathering of top-level military officers in NATO’s history. For the first time, Chiefs of Defence from non-NATO countries contributing to NATO operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo also participated in the discussions, as did the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee.
“The focus of much of our discussion was on taking forward the decisions made at the Bucharest Summit. ” said Gen. Ray Henault, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, and NATO’s top military officer. “I was particularly pleased to have so many representatives from non-NATO countries who contribute to our operations, and General Henri Bentégeat, my counterpart at the European Union Military Committee. This underscores just how important our partners from the international community are to what we do in the Afghan and Kosovo theatres, and is tangible evidence of a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to our operations.”
“The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan now comprises 40 countries with close to 50,000 troops, and more forces continue to be made available. It remains the Alliance’s top operational priority and a NATO commitment for the long term,” said Henault. “On Kosovo, the Chiefs of Defence expressed their satisfaction at the current force levels in place, and the arrangements for additional Reserve Forces should the situation on the ground require. We also acknowledged the good working relations we have in this respect with the Serbian military, including their Chief of Defence.”
Apart from operations, the NATO officers addressed military applications of the NATO enlargement decisions at the Bucharest Summit, how to improve the mechanisms for funding operations and capabilities, and the review of NATO’s command and control structure. The importance of effective cyber-defence was highlighted by yesterday’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that formalizes the establishment of a NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, in Estonia.
Discussions with Mediterranean Dialogue nations focused on the progress of NATO’s counter-terrorist operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean region, and the development of cooperation programmes as an aid to improving interoperability of forces.
The Ukrainian Chief of Defence updated colleagues on the current status of the transformation of the Ukraine armed forces. The meeting was also briefed on the mid-year assessment of the 2008 NATO-Ukraine Work Plan. General Henault congratulated Ukraine on its progress and commented that, “Military cooperation in many areas is clear proof of well-developed military relations that will contribute to the further development of the NATO-Ukraine distinctive partnership.”
Russian Chief of Defence Gen. Baluyevskyi and his NATO colleagues approved the status paper on the NATO-Russia work plan for this year, and the status report on the NRC action plan on terrorism, and looked ahead to other opportunities for joint exercises and training.
This was the last of the formal Chiefs of Defence meetings chaired by Canadian Gen. Ray Henault, who will retire at the end of June 2008 after a 40-year career, and at the conclusion of a three-year tenure as Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee.