The theme of this biannual event was a follow on from the previous Commanders' Conference that took place in Dublin, Ireland in March 2019, the role of SOF in peer-state competition, crisis, and conflict.
SOF's ability to think outside the box, be the tip of the spear, and thrive in contested spaces makes NATO SOF the perfect contributor to an overall Alliance solution
Vice Admiral Colin J. Kilrain, Commander, NATO Special Operations Headquarters, opened the conference stating "we set the stage in Ireland and made a compelling case that we need to provide SOF advice for this challenge. We are here now to put meat on the bones and get at the heart of competition." He also reminded those attending that "SOF is not the solution to the peer-state problem, but SOF's ability to think outside the box, be the tip of the spear, and thrive in contested spaces makes NATO SOF the perfect contributor to an overall Alliance solution".
Vice Admiral Colin J. Kilrain, Commander, NATO Special Operations Headquarters, speaks to the Allied and Partner Senior Enlisted Advisors in Ottawa, Canada.
Canada's Chief of Defence General Jonathan Vance also met with the SOF leaders and addressed the SOF community at this critical juncture.
The conference also included operational updates on Afghanistan and Africa to ensure that all SOF leaders walked away with not only an operational picture, but also opportunities for further interaction and opportunities to engage bilaterally or multilaterally.
"These biannual events are not to be missed as they allow for us, a united NATO SOF Community, to roll up our sleeves and help shape the future of NATO SOF. NATO SOF needs stronger relationships with the joint force, with industry partners, and with each other in order to compete and to leverage each other more effectively." said Vice Admiral Kilrain. He concluded the two day event by thanking the host country Canada. "Canadians are known for not only their warm personalities, but their cold weather, and we got both while we were here. A big thanks to CANSOFCOM for hosting this event, a first on the North American side of the pond."
NATO SOF will continue to provide support to all NATO missions, activities, and actions. NSHQ plays a key coordination function by identifying requirements and communicating with national SOF leadership. The fact that NSHQ is co-located with SHAPE in Mons, Belgium allows for seamless coordination with both SHAPE and NATO Headquarters on all NATO SOF engagements.