NATO Chiefs of Defence Enhance Military Plans, Capabilities and Resources
(Source: NATO; issued Sept 18, 2020)
On 18 September 2020, the Allied Chiefs of Defence gathered virtually for their final Military Committee Conference of 2020. Discussions focused on Operations, missions and activities, Deterrence and Defence of the Euro Atlantic Area Alignment, NATO’s Warfighting Capstone Concept and Russia – Capabilities and Response. The Military Committee’s advice will frame discussions in the North Atlantic Council ahead of this year’s Defence and Foreign Ministerials. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the Military Committee, led the day’s meeting assisted by NATO’s Strategic Commanders, General Tod Wolters, SACEUR, and General Andre Lanata, SACT.

The Conference began with introductory remarks by Air Chief Marshal Peach. He began by noting the fortitude of the Allies and the strength of unity during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Chairman then focused his attention on Italy, one of the founding members of the Alliance. The Military Conference was due to be held in Rome this year but owing to the virus, was held virtually instead.

The NATO Military Committee Chairman said, “Our friends and colleagues in Italy had worked diligently to put together this year’s Conference, while dealing with the extraordinary measures that COVID-19 brings to planning any event. It was, therefore, a matter of deep regret that we were unable to travel to Rome. I would like to take the opportunity to once more to thank the Italian authorities for their support and understanding - we stand together in solidarity although sadly we are not geographically collocated this time!”

The Chiefs of Defence welcomed the progress made on the two concepts - Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area and NATO’s Warfighting Capstone Concept. They emphasized the need for the Alliance to maintain flexibility with its response plans and ways of working.

Air Chief Marshal stated, “The concepts bring together current military thinking as we face a more unpredictable world and deal with the consequences of a changed security environment. They will fuel NATO’s strategic thinking, and provides unfettered military advice through several options”.

NATO’s operations and missions were the first order of the day – the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, NATO’s Mission in Iraq and the Kosovo Force Mission in Kosovo. The Chiefs of Defence reaffirmed their longstanding commitment to Afghanistan, the Afghan people, and the Afghan security forces. They stressed the need to continue to consult and, conditions allowing, adjust the military presence to support the peace process. They further stated that an Afghan-owned and led peace process aimed at finding a political resolution that ends decades of conflict was the only way to deliver sustainable peace.

NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg addressed the Chiefs of Defence; discussing burden sharing, operations, NATO 2030 as well as preparations for next month’s Defence Ministerial. NATO 2030 is an opportunity to look at how the Alliance will be ten years from now. It is about making the Alliance stronger politically and more global; from a strong military base.

The Secretary General spoke about the reflection process for NATO 2030, “the objective is to strengthen our Alliance further at a time when our security, our values and the rules-based international system are being challenged and undermined. To tackle these challenges, we need a strong NATO and a united transatlantic community. Only an Alliance that is militarily strong can be a politically strong Alliance.”

During the final session the Chiefs of Defence stressed the Alliance’s dual track approach to Russia through deterrence and defence whilst remaining open to dialogue. The Allied Chiefs noted a pattern of destabilising behaviour by Russia, including aggressive actions against their neighbours, elections interference, and cyber-attacks.

“The Chiefs of Defence stressed the need to remain vigilant and to keep in mind our core task - to ensure peace and stability for our people”, said Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach during his online press statement.

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