Updated: 19-Dec-2008 IMS News Release

16 Dec. 2008


Chairman of Military Committee’
End of Year Meeting with the Media

Admiral Di Paola, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee met the media for the End of Year wishes. He presented a wrap-up of the activities performed by NATO’s military during the first semester of his mandate. He spoke of the role and procedures of the Military Committee, underlining the need to speed up and improve the consensus-based decision- making process in order to provide the Council with ever more rapid and effective advice on military issues. He also underlined the professionalism of the International Military Staff in their support of the Military Committee in their work

From an operational point of view, he described the current situation in Afghanistan, stressing the renewed Alliance commitment to support the Afgan Government and the International Community, especially in the light of the elections next year. The recent  important changes in Kosovo were also described, stressing the need that all actors involved must play a responsible part in this process. A stable and secure Kosovo is in everybody’s interest. He emphasised that experience in Afghanistan and Kosovo shows that military intervention alone is not a long-term solution and that today’s security challenges require a comprehensive approach by the whole of the international community, combining civil and military measures and close coordination. 

Admiral Di Paola honoured NATO’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen working during this Festive Season in Afghanistan, the Balkans and in all NATO’s operations: on land, at sea and in the air, and the fact that they are far from their loved ones, putting their lives at risk.  He recognised that we all have a duty to recognize their efforts and hoped sincerely, for them and their families, that they come back to us safely when their job is done. “I would like to wish all our servicemen and women the very best for the festive season and hope that the New Year brings us closer to the peace we all seek across the globe.”

He mentioned the last August crisis in Georgia, which raised much international attention. Although there was no direct NATO involvement, the event had a strong effect on NATO’s relationship with Russia. The Chairman mentioned his meeting last week with the new Military Representative from the Russian Federation and  said he was confident that a new start will kick off in NATO’s relationship with Russia, a strategic player in the International Community.

He also referred to the last Chiefs of Defence meetings in Nov 08, where a wide range of important military issues were discussed.  These same issues are constantly in focus during the day-to-day work of the Committee in providing the North Atlantic Council with prompt, comprehensive military advice.

He referred to NATO’s flexibility in responding quickly and effectively to the recent  UN request to provide security to the shipment of World Food Program cargo ships off the coast of Somalia with the so-called Operation Allied Provider, which has now concluded its mandate.  NATO naval forces also provided a maritime security presence and escorted African Union-chartered vessels carrying logistical supplies for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  He reminded that the EU’s operation ATALANTA, carrying on the work of Allied Provider, is now active, but that NATO stands ready to consider further requests for the use of Alliance naval assets to combat piracy in this region.  He pointed out that piracy is a global problem that also needs a comprehensive approach.

He looked ahead, to NATO’s 60th Anniversary to be celebrated in 2009.  He noted that NATO will continue to be the essential forum for security consultations among the Allies of Europe and North America, and that the Alliance provides a necessary transatlantic framework for a strong collective defence of our populations, our territories and our forces.

He referred to the Alliance’s continued transformation to keep pace with 21st century security challenges, and the evolution of NATO through improved defence planning process.  He underlined the need to further develop  capabilities required to conduct the full range of NATO’s missions and to remedy specific shortfalls, mentioning in particular improving strategic lift, enhancing the availability of mission-capable helicopters, and further strengthening our cyber defence. 

Admiral Di Paola thanked the media for coming and assured them that their role was important in relaying critical and responsible information to our publics.  He concluded by wishing all present a successful New Year 2009,

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