MONS, Belgium - NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) hosted the NATO Special Operations Forces (SOF) Commander's Conference virtually on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.
The theme of this biannual event focused largely on the NSHQ's Strategic Approach, which was released this year along with an updated NSHQ Mission Statement – "Across the spectrum of conflict, NSHQ provides strategic SOF advice, synchronises NATO special operations activities and enables related SOF capability development in order to deter potential peer state and terrorist threats and defend the Alliance".
"While I had hoped that we would all be meeting in person to have these critical conversations, the current COVID situation has forced us to do what SOF does best, and that is to adapt and be resilient" stated Lieutenant General Eric P. Wendt, Commander, NATO Special Operations Headquarters during his opening remarks
NSHQ leadership also provided condensed updates on strategic level developments taking place within NATO; NSHQ priorities as outlined in the Strategic Approach, to include Comprehensive Defence, Joint Fires Observer, and SOF's role as a Force Multiplier SOF and/or Direct SOF; and ongoing NATO and national SOF operations.
NATO SOF Commanders received operational updates on Afghanistan and Africa to ensure that all SOF leaders walked away with not only a holistic operational picture, but also opportunities for further interaction and prospects to engage bilaterally or multilaterally. NSHQ has continued to put increased emphasis on its role of synchronization and nations have expressed appreciation of these efforts.
The value in bringing NATO SOF as well as SOF leadership of countries and key partner is furthering understanding, sharing information and situational awareness of NATO SOF actions and activities across the entire spectrum from the tactical to the strategic level. These biannual events, virtually or in person, are key and the day-to-day relationships across the Alliance and with Partners ensures NATO SOF is ready, and able to do the work of their nation and NATO when asked.
NSHQ exercised the ability to adapt to the changing environment while maintaining open lines of communication during the virtual spring Commander's Conference. Despite current COVID challenges, an immense amount of progress continues along NSHQ's key priorities.
While the NATO SOF Community hopes to be able to meet in person in the Spring of 2021, they will continue to do vital work for the Alliance both physically and virtually.