Updated: 27-jun-08 NATO IMS Speech



26 Jun. 2008


by General Henault to the Military Committee in Permanent Session on the occasion of his chairing the last meeting in this format

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you.  Before I bang the gavel for my last time in this format, I would like to take a couple of minutes to share my final thoughts with you.

Loraine and I were delighted to be hosted so graciously at the farewell dinner on Tuesday night in such an enjoyable and memorable atmosphere.  It reflects that wonderful sense of family that has prevailed throughout my time here, and tied a wonderful bow around the personal friendships we have developed and the collegial and professional working relationships we have enjoyed.  I can only compliment the dedication and commitment with which you represent your Chiefs of Defence and your nations, and the way in which you have helped maintain our focus on operations and people, and help to transform the Alliance into one which is increasingly relevant to the 21st Century security environment.

Il est clair que ma responsabilité s’exerce envers chacun des 26 chefs d’état-major de la défense de l’OTAN, afin de veiller à ce que nos efforts soient adaptés à la fois à l’intention qui les guide et aux directives politiques que nous recevons. Il n’a pas toujours été facile de réaliser cet équilibre et nous avons assurément été confrontés à bon nombre de défis au cours des trois dernières années.

I mentioned briefly in the NAC yesterday that I have been grateful that you, the Military Representatives, have made consistent efforts to align, where possible, your national positions with Alliance priorities, thus strengthening NATO as a player on the world stage.  Without you, we could not have moved forward at all.  The Chiefs of Defence can be extremely proud of what you have done to maintain and nurture that strategic perspective, and to ensure the success of our many operational, transformational and partnership/multinational objectives.

By the time I bang the gavel for the last time, I will have chaired 177 Military Committee meetings.  You can add 204 NACs to the total number of meetings at which I have represented you, your CHODs and the Strategic Commanders.  It has been a truly rewarding three years, and I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to represent the NATO military authorities, in all their forms.  We have discussed and debated some thorny issues.  Many of them have been, and remain, pivotal to NATO’s success in operations and in the transformation so needed.  The PE Review has moved forward, albeit with some difficulty, but it must continue to be at the heart of the changes we need to make to become more deployable and responsive.

All that being said, we have seen many successes.  We agreed on the expanded scope of our operations in Afghanistan and the revision of the applicable operational plan, we agreed on the reconfiguration of the forces in Kosovo into a structure that has been highly successful, we agreed a concept to implement the Comprehensive Political Guidance and agreed on the Effects-Based Approach to Operations, paving the way for the Comprehensive Approach.  We agreed a number of transformational initiatives and developed a much more strategic outlook on the things that we do.  And, we agreed Phase One of the PE Review, as difficult as it was!  And we improved our relations with the many other actors with whom we need to interact, not the least the European Union and our many civil counterparts.  Most importantly, perhaps, we are now operating seamlessly with nations from all corners of the world, all of whom are fighting alongside us when necessary.  That is a true mark of the success with which we are adapting to changing dynamics in the world and tracking the many challenges that face us.

We have consistently pursued the three key themes that I established when I arrived in Brussels three years ago: Expanding Operations, Increasing Capabilities and Enhancing Co-operation.  They are enduring, and will undoubtedly continue to provide the basis upon which NATO continues to maintain its relevance.

Throughout, I have repeatedly been asked whether, with an expanding NATO, we are constrained by the absolute conditions that consensus demands.  Some have even suggested that we should seek other ways to make our decisions to accommodate different levels of importance on certain matters.  I have consistently argued that achieving consensus remains at the heart of the successes we have achieved as an Alliance.  And, I remain convinced that this fundamental principle cannot change.

The improvement of the way that we do Strategic Communications has also been a key objective for me in the time that I have been the Chairman, and is an extension of what I did - and finally achieved - when I was Chief of Defence for Canada.  Strategic Communications, in the media-intensive world where we operate, cannot be left to chance.  I am gratified that we are making important strides in this respect, and I extend my thanks to the Public Affairs Staff and the IMS for what they have done to improve Strategic Communications at both the political and military level.

Finally, I am proud to have been a part of the military machinery, especially this Committee, that has consistently provided considered and appropriate military advice to the North Atlantic Council.  I am equally proud to say that there were only a couple of occasions where we were unable to reach that full consensus.  I am most grateful to you all for the positive and constructive approach you have always taken to that work. 

So, that is it for me.  I will proudly and humbly make my farewell comments to your Chiefs of Defence tomorrow.  In the meantime, for those of you that will remain, I wish you continued success in your endeavours at this Headquarters.  For those of you going to new positions or retiring, I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.  And, not to be forgotten, my thanks to your spouses for all that they have done.

And before I close, let me offer my thanks to DCMC for the operational focus and the dynamism that he has brought to the Office of DCMC; to DIMS (my good friend) for the energy, leadership and strength of purpose he has consistently and unwaveringly demonstrated; to the ADs and their staffs, for the unstinting support they have consistently provided; to the SAs, for the strategic focus and eternal wisdom that they apply to their role; and, to my MAs and support staff, led by MA1, who have operationalised and managed the many ideas and goals I have always set.  Not to be forgotten is EXCO and his highly dedicated staff, our Strategic Commanders’ Reps and their supporters, and our patient and always reliable support staff.  And the interpreters, our unsung heroes!

En tout dernier lieu, je voudrais remercier la Belgique - par ton intermédiaire, cher Jean-Marie - pour tout ce qui est fait pour nous permettre, ainsi qu’à nos familles et à l’Alliance, d’accomplir la tâche pour laquelle nous sommes venus ici, au siège de l’OTAN, à Bruxelles. Et, je n’oublierai jamais ton sourire, si réconfortant et toujours apprécié surtout durant des moments difficiles.

Merci à tous et à toutes.  This, my final MC-PS, is adjourned.

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