CMC’s Press Statement (As delivered)
Hello everybody and thank you very much for joining us. I am here today to give you an overview of the outcomes from today’s Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence format. Just one month the Alliance marked its 70th anniversary. The longest lasting and most successful alliance in history has preserved peace and stability for seven decades. The commitment that Allies made in 1949 is still as strong today as it was then. Actions speak louder than words. Actions that see twenty-nine Nations sending troops across the world under the NATO flag supported by a network of partners. Actions that see Heads of State and Government, Foreign and Defence Ministers, and Chiefs of Defence meet regularly to ensure coherent and informed decisions are taken concerning the defence of Alliance. Actions that see here in NATO headquarters and elsewhere in the Chain of Command, represented by our Strategic Commanders, military and civilian personnel working together. Actions that see soldiers, sailors and airmen exercise together, to increase their ability to operate together. They all demonstrate the continued commitment to the Alliance and unity.
Today, the Chiefs of Defence can see the progress of the discussions we took in January providing further direction and guidance to NATO’s military authorities and advice the North Atlantic Council ahead of the Ministerial meeting here next month. The Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg met with the Military Committee this morning for the first session so we could understand his political intent and we were able to debate the key issues. As the world changes so does our Alliance. Every change that is made needs to be done holistically. We then discussed Deterrence and Defence with the Chiefs of Defence Staff stressing the need to continue to develop the right capabilities and remain at the forefront of innovation. We need to sustain and maintain effective defence and deterrence, working with our Allies to facilitate that.
We have, today, agreed a Military Strategy. This is the first time for many years, we have done so and it is part of NATO’s adaptation process.
NATO adapts. We continue to revise and review the threats we face, as allies. Today, our Alliance faces enduring challenges from all strategic directions; state and non-state; military forces; and terrorist, cyber and hybrid. Against this background, the NATO Chiefs of Defence decided in 2017 to task the Military Authorities to review our existing strategy. To create a common understanding of the threats and challenges was developed, and through consensus, this strategy was produced with each member, each Ally, being an equal partner. Therefore, we now have that handrail to guide us and to enable us to deliver our core business to defend almost 1 billion people. This works guides our other work and I would particularly like to thank the Nations, the Staff who have helped this come together today. It brings coherence.
Today also we have looked at how we work together with the European Union and I invited the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, General Claudio Graziano to join us. SACEUR, my friend Tod Wolters – to my left, is responsible for the command of NATO military operations. And, in the case of any aggression, SACEUR, is responsible for executing military measures within his capability and authorities to preserve or restore the security of the Alliance.
The Military Committee today discussed the need to create the conditions to support and enable SACEUR to fulfil his mandate.
This requires us to think across our Allies and across our governments. We note that Military mobility is an important topic both in the European Union and NATO. Therefore, the efforts within the European Union on military mobility and NATO’s work to enable SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility are mutually reinforcing.
Today we also were joined by General Viktor Muzhenko from Ukraine and we discussed the continued support we offer the Ukrainian Armed Forces in their transformation and reform. We note the challenging security situation and we welcome the commitment of Ukrainian authorities to continue to reform.
Last but not least, we focused on discussions with our Mediterranean Dialogue partners as that partnership celebrates its 25th anniversary.
This helps us to boost trust and cooperation between those members and strengthens their defence capabilities and helps us to address wider security challenges. We welcome their dialogue with us and we recognise their valuable contributions to NATO’s Operations and activities.
Throughout the day, the Chiefs of Defence held frank exchanges of views and offered together clear guidance and advice on a number of issues. This advice is crucial to allow the NATO Military Authorities to continue to deliver the advice to political leadership supporting NATO’s adaptation and our three core tasks of collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.
And with that I hand the floor to SACEUR.
SACEUR Press statement (As delivered)
It is great to unite with two dear friends and patriots – the Chairman of the Military Committee Stuart Peach and Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation, André Lanata. It’s an exciting time to come together to talk with the Allied chiefs of defense about what the Alliance is doing, where we are going, and where to apply focus and resources. Not only do we have forces deployed on operations, but we also continue to adapt our formations, and train together to improve our readiness and interoperability. Our Allied and Partner forces are currently deployed and operating together in Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, NATO Mission Iraq, and Kosovo Force.
Meanwhile, Allied Command Operations is implementing the biggest adaptation of our Alliance since the Cold War and continues to adapt across air, land, sea, space and cyber to provide security to more than one billion citizens. NATO Command Structure Adaptation puts people in the right position, in the right place and at the right time to accomplish the mission, significantly increasing the readiness of our forces.
This allows us to remain robust and flexible force, and enables us to take quick, decisive action.
Developing our new NATO Military Strategy provides an overarching approach that takes into account the challenging security environment, reinforcing the importance of readiness and our exercises to remain a true deterrent force with speed, depth and breadth. Additionally, our forces continue to train at national and NATO-level to ensure units are organized and trained as elements to credible formations, including critical enablers.
The threats facing the Alliance are complex. The past 70 years reminds us all of the challenges we have faced together, and our collective success in preserving the comprehensive defense for the Euro-Atlantic area. The ability to change as the world is changing demonstrates the strength of our Allied Forces. With that, I will turn it over to General Lanata.
SACT Press Statement (As delivered)
Thank you Tod. First of all, I would like to welcome General Tod D. Wolters and I would like also to warmly congratulate him for his new position as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. General Wolters is a friend. We already worked together when I was the chief of the French Air Force and I am very happy to continue to work with him today. ACT that I have the privilege and the honour to command as of last September, has established, through my predecessors, strong relationships with ACO and the Military Committee. My teams are working daily and closely with NATO Headquarters and ACO’s staff members on the entire spectrum of military concerns.
As you know, we have evocated during these sessions today major topics and challenges that we are confronted. One thing is essential today: that NATO must stay prepared, NATO must stay prepared for these numerous challenges! If SACEUR is able to tackle these challenges today, it is because our current capabilities have been developed more than 15 years ago. And this is expressly the role and the place that Allied Command for Transformation conducts to keep the Alliance’s edge. The ACT battle is already engaged !
After few months as NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, I measured how ACT, as a major innovation driving force within the Alliance for some years now, leads the efforts to renew our approach to capability development. The speed and impact of technological advancement in defence is impossible to ignore. A number of state and non-state actors, are developing new capabilities by combining and exploiting available technologies.
In order to keep the Alliance’s edge, Allied Command for Transformation, with and through NATO headquarters, and especially under the responsibility and the authority of the Military Committee and as the head the Chairman of the Military Committee, in close cooperation with Allied Command for Operations, is to shape the future capabilities of NATO, to enhance innovation and bridge the two. And also provide to our fighters the appropriate military tools regarding this challenging environment. That’s the role of ACT and I should mention also that we are the NATO home in America. Thank you for your attention.
Q1. Brooks Tigner - Jane's Defence Weekly. I have two questions, one for General Wolters and one for Sir Stuart. General Wolters, what is the current status of NATO's training situation in Iraq given that several of the countries have pulled their personnel from the mission or at least from the activity. Who's doing the training right now? If no one is, when do you expect that to resume? And to you Sir Stuart, you are undoubtedly aware of the US letter that was sent to the EU expressing great doubts about risks of duplication of effort, etc with PESCO. You've had opportunities to discuss that yesterday, I think you were there at the CHODs meeting of the EU. And of course, you had General Graziano here today. Do you share that view which was expressed in the letter of NATO's largest Ally? Thank you.
SACEUR: Let me start with NATO Mission Iraq. As we speak the mission is ongoing. It is being administered by the NATO force that we've had in place. And as you well know, their task is to advise and support the MOD in Iraq. And that mission continues as we speak.
CMC: I can confirm, of course, at the invitation of the European Union, did attend with SACEUR and SACT, the EU Military Committee meeting yesterday. And the content of the letter is an issue between the US and the European Union. We, NATO, continue to work on 74 different areas of cooperation with the European Union and we continue to explore ways as the European Union develops its future plans of working with them.
Q2. Just a follow up. It seems that if the largest ally expresses concerns, I'm not asking whether you pass judgment on the letter but whether you share those concerns.
CMC: Well we continue to work with the European Union and develop how these modalities, how it will work, when they develop their plans, how we will work together. But to suggest there is any friction is wrong. There is no friction between me and the Chairman of the EU military committee. And we have been together two separate days this week.
Q3. Iryna Somer, Interfax-Ukraine Agency; Sir Stuart, can you please give more details regarding meeting with Ukrainian General. What kind of question you had or Chief of Defense for him. Did you actually, it was interesting, if some changes are possible because of new president in the country? And question for SACEUR please, as for newcomer here in NATO HQ, can you please give us your vision, your assessment regarding situation in and around Ukraine, like for example, in Donbass and Crimea. What do you think about it? Thank you.
CMC: First of all, the engagement with Partner Ukraine, was long planned and the General came to give us a briefing and his impression of the situation. And the particular focus, as we have on many occasions, is as I suggested in my remarks, to continue to discuss the ongoing defense reform process and to improve coordination between Allies and our partner Ukraine. As for General Muzhenko and the future individuals with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, that is clearly a matter for the Ukrainian authorities.
SACEUR: With respect to what take places from a US perspective with regards to supporting Ukraine, as you are very familiar with, the robust exercise and training events that we have embraced for the last several years will continue and grow. And those engagements have been very, very productive. They've improved the transparency and alignment between the forces in the east and the forces in the west. And we plan from a US perspective to continue a robust training and exercise regime to improve our transparency and alignment to better allow Ukraine to protect their sovereign territory.
Q4. Teri Schultz (NPR, DW): For SACEUR and if anyone else would like to answer, what kind of concerns do you have about the situation with Turkey and the S-400. This has been going on a long time but now there's a deadline of the second week of June for Turkey to make a decision to stop this sale or be cut off from US equipment. What are your expectations for resolution here?
SACEUR: We remain very, very focused. You never know what the future will reveal but we obviously have a nexus and conflict with respect to the utilization of an F-35 in the vicinity of an S-400. Certainly the United States and certainly Turkey have expressed their opinions. Those negotiations are ongoing and will continue to work as best as we possibly can to ensure that we continue to maintain the appropriate relationship that exists between two great allies, United States and Turkey. And the fact that Turkey remains a very, very strong NATO ally is important to all of us.
Q5. Kuwait news agency, KUNA. Sir, in your discussion with the Mediterranean partners, was there a reference to the situation in Libya? And what is your assessment of that situation?
CMC: There was not an assessment of the situation in Libya. The conversation with our partners, and it is for them to comment on their individual perspective, was about capacity building, support from the Alliance and to commemorate 25 years of partnership. And for the situation in Libya, we continue to condemn the violence and seek support for a cease fire.
Q6. Inaudible. Sir Stuart, could you please give us the main outlines of the military strategy and will there be some form of it which will be published?
CMC: We don't intent do publish it in accordance with long term standing practice in the alliance. And in terms of the outline, the content is, as you would expect, is a traditional military strategy but in a very much modern format. And we have worked on the document and, it is a document, I can confirm that, for several months but I am not going to go into details of its content.
Q7. Deutsche Welle. I have two questions. First question, you said about reforms in Ukraine so that you discussed this could you tell us a bit what you expect, like in this year, from Ukraine in the reform of its Armed Forces. And the second question is to SACEUR, the question is, could you explain us what is your position towards Russia? Thank you very much.
CMC: On Ukraine, we continue to discuss reform and offer allied advice and support to Ukrainian Armed Forces in their process. And we continue to be impressed by the amount of reform and the quality of that reform that been undertaken. And any requests for individual details and tactical disposition would be for the Ukrainian military authorities.
SACEUR: With respect to Russia, we have two key thoughts. We are strong on defense and we are promoting dialogue. As all of us well know, Russia's demonstrated a disregard for the sovereignty of its neighbors. We understand that, but what we do know is from a NATO perspective, we defend our sovereignty and we take that obligation very, very proudly.
Q8. Russian News Agency, RIA Novosti, I have a question to SACUER, do you have already some specific plans for contacts with your Russian counterpart Gerasimov?
SACEUR: The practice that's been in place previously will continue. At my level, we engage safety deconfliction dialogue and I suspect in the future we will continue to do so.
Q9: Near future? (Inaudible)
SACEUR: It is to be determined.
Q10: 5 TV Channel of Ukraine. Whether Russia is afraid of NATO and what are specific measures of NATO support of Ukraine?
CMC: Well, the role of NATO in support of Ukraine is to coordinate and support the reform process within the Ukrainian Armed Forces. And that's it. There's not much, there's nothing hidden or secret about it. And NATO's role in many decades of its existence is to offer that process of coordination, convening authority of bringing 29 allies together.
Q11. And about Russia whether Russia is afraid for NATO?
CMC: Well that's a subjective question. The role of this alliance, and has been for seven decades, is to deter and if, necessary defend. So its vital that we continue to offer credible deterrence.