Updated: 08-May-2009 IMS News Release

Eng. / Fr.

7 May 2009


NATO Military Committee concludes two days meetings
in Brussels

From the event
6-7 May 2009
Meeting of NATO and Partner Chiefs of Defence

NATO HQ, Brussels – Chiefs of Defence (CHODs) from more than 40 countries, together with NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Operations and  NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation, attended the NATO Military Committee Spring Meetings in their various sessions over 6 and 7 May, chaired by Admiral Di Paola, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee.

NATO Members and ISAF Non-NATO Troop Contributing nations discussed a wide range of issues, taking stock of all NATO-led operations and missions including ISAF.  Particularly welcome were Gen. Henri Bentégeat, Chairman of the European Military Committee and via video-conference, Gen. General Mohammadi, Afghan Chief of Defence, Gen. Mangal, Afghan Deputy Minister of the Interior for Security and Gen. Formica of the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan (CSTCA).

After welcoming 4 new CHODs, and Albania and Croatia attending the meeting for the first time in their status as full NATO members, Admiral Di Paola asked for a moment of silence to honour the men and women who have given their lives during the NATO missions for peace and security.

With regard to Afghanistan, the Military Committee was updated on the progress made by the Afghan National Army and on the training and mentoring program of the Afghan National Police. In this context, the increased coordination between ISAF and EUPOL has improved the comprehensive approach towards the security situation. Special attention was then paid to the 2nd Afghan Presidential elections coming up in August and to the security of the polling stations and of the candidates. It was recognised that the number of ISAF troops increased over the last year, however more troops and capabilities will be needed to support this milestone event.  In this regard various CHODs expressed their Nations intention to increase their  contribution to NATO’s ISAF operations, providing troops, trainers and equipment.

Following the Heads of State and Governments decision in Strasbourg/Khel to establish a NATO training mission in Afghanistan to oversee higher-level training for the Afghan National Security Forces, Supreme Allied Commander Operations (SACEUR) Gen. John Craddock briefed the Committee on the status of the project. This initiative would contribute to the Afghanistan National Development Strategy, and will be a further opportunity to harmonize efforts and support the Afghan Security Forces.  This important project will be further discussed at the next Ministers of Defence Meeting in June.

The Military Committee noted progress made in Afghanistan since the NATO Bucharest Summit. The recent counter-narcotics operations have been assessed as effective. During the last 3 months there has been an increase in successful operations conducted by the Afghan National Security Forces with ISAF support. Kabul security is now largely in Afghan hands as the lead force, and an ever more capable Afghan National Army participates in 80% of ISAF operations, taking the lead in half of the operations. The Committee underlined the sense of urgency for the Afghans to have more trained military and security personnel in order to further implement the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. There remain, however, shortfalls in the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLTs), essential in reaching the 2011 objective of 134,000 trained Afghan troops.

It was also stressed that NATO needs to continue developping its strategic communications efforts to better inform public opinion about NATO’s role and military activities, and in particular, the objectives and actions of the ISAF mission.

This was the second time the ISAF Non-NATO Troop Contributing Nations participated in discussions at Chiefs of Defence level and they provided valuable input.

Next, the Committee welcomed the analysis and insight of NATO’s Secretary General, H.E. Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, during an informal meeting in which the new Strategic Concept was discussed. The Military Committee presented the Secretary General with the results of their recent Symposium “Defining the Military Dimension of the New Strategic Concept”. This Military Committee document is intended as a starting point for informing the political debate, to provide a military frame for the New Strategic Concept and to contribute to a common understanding of the new global strategic threats. Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer expressed his gratitude for the Military Committee’s early input and called it a very important first step in the development of the new Strategic Concept for NATO.

The Ukrainian and Georgian Chiefs of Defence both met with the Military Committee in separate sessions. The Military Committee encouraged Ukraine and Georgia to continue their defence and military reforms despite the challenging economic times, and expressed its appreciation of their willingness and determination to participate and to contribute in NATO-led operations - all the more emeritus because of the current economic climate. Admiral Di Paola also expressed NATO’s gratefulness to Ukraine which is the first NATO Partner Nation to contribute to the NATO Response Force.

With regard to Kosovo, the Committee analysed the security situation in Kosovo and the next KFOR tasks linked to the establishment of Kosovo Security Force. The Committee was also updated via video-conference on the progress of the European Union EULEX mission by General Yves de Kermabon, Head of EULEX.  This mission aims to support the Kosovo authorities by monitoring, mentoring and advising on all areas related to the rule of law, which is fundamental to the future security of Kosovo. The NATO CHODs had an informed discussion on the present and future of KFOR and concluded that, in light of NATO’s long-term commitment in the region, a specific report on this issue will be presented at the next Ministers of Defence meeting in June. 

SACEUR updated the Military Committee on the ongoing revision of NATO Response Force (NRF). As reaffirmed at the Strasbourg/Kehl Summit, NRF is set up to provide a rapidly deployable, credible force for the Alliance and is a driving force for transformation and capability development. It needs to be able to respond to new and unpredicted crises for either collective defence or crisis operations beyond Alliance borders. As such, the Military Committee analysed the options studied in order to make the NRF more deployable, sustainable, interoperable and, thus, more usable. Options for a revised NRF will be forwarded for discussion at the Defence Ministers meeting in June.

Also coming out of the recent Strasbourg/Khel Summit was the need for the Alliance to consider a longer-term role for NATO in combating piracy. Recent incidents in the Horn of Africa have already led to prolonging the NATO Standing Maritime Group 1 Mission until June 28. The Military Committee took stock of the current operations and had a thorough discussion on the issue of the hijacking of ships and vessels off the coast of Somalia. In the light of ongoing NATO maritime actions to counter piracy, the Military Committee acknowledged that NATO’s answer can only be provided after deeper political analysis and guidance. The North Atlantic Council is preparing a political directive to NATO’s military authorities for a long term role in counter piracy activities off the Horn of Africa.

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