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Apr 30 2021

NATO Special Operations Headquarters Holds Virtual Commanders Conference

MONS, Belgium – Harnessing Allied and National Special Operations Forces Activity to Contribute to NATO Deterrence and Defence Objectives was the theme of the virtual NATO Special Operations Forces (SOF) Commander's Conference on Tuesday, Apr. 27, 2021. 

Hosted by NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ), 32 Alliance and Partner nations including more than 60 military and civilian participants from across Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s Area of Responsibility engaged in discussions on a wide-range of topics.

“The aim of this conference is to act as a forum to connect Allies and Partners, provide updates on NATO and national activities, and significant developments in order to strengthen the Alliance,” said Brigadier Rob Stephenson, Acting Commander of NSHQ during his opening remarks. “Turning towards the future, we recognise the complex security environment, so SOF must continue to be innovative and ensure it is fit for purpose; flexible, tailored and adaptable to meet any security challenges facing the Alliance.”


Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Tim Radford and Acting Commander of NATO Special Operations Headquarters Brigadier Rob Stephenson pose for a photo at NSHQ.

The conference afforded leaders an opportunity to openly and candidly discuss approaches to further synchronise NATO SOF efforts. To facilitate this synchronisation, NSHQ recently stood up the NSHQ Operations and Coordination Centre (NOCC). The NOCC will act as a focal point for synchronising activity conducted by national SOF which contributes to NATO’s deterrence objectives, enabling greater situational awareness, as well as identifying further ways to enhance partnerships and transparency across the Alliance.

Allied SOF commanders and their staffs provided an operational overview on Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa to ensure all SOF leaders left with a holistic overview of the mission, current priorities, and challenges in the respective operating environments.

Before transitioning to the afternoon session, General Tim Radford, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe shared his thoughts on the important role NATO SOF plays in the planning for deterrence and defence across SACEUR’s AOR.

“SOF’s emphasis on peacetime deterrence, military assistance and strategic reconnaissance will be of increasing relevance to an Alliance that’s implementing genuine, generational, strategic change,” said General Radford.

NSHQ leadership led a panel discussion on the development of the SOF domain plan in support of DDA, focusing on the requirements and design for peacetime deterrence, crisis response and conflict. Additional discussions throughout the conference centred on partnership, maritime development, and strategic planning and coordination for the year ahead.

While virtual, bringing Allied and Partner SOF leadership together to better coordinate, further understand, and share information on NATO SOF activities across the Alliance remains essential. These biannual events, virtually or in person, are key to maintaining strong relationships amongst the NATO SOF community.

Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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