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SACEUR  /  Speeches & Transcripts  /  SACEUR Cavoli - Remarks at Rikskonferensen, Sälen, Sweden

SACEUR Cavoli - Remarks at Rikskonferensen, Sälen, Sweden

Thank you thank you for the introduction!

What a pleasure to be just back in Sweden and especially here in this beautiful winter paradise. What a gorgeous place full of the spirit of Sweden. And it's emblematic of the beauty of this land and the strength and depth of its people. It's a true pleasure to be here.

Your majesties, your Royal Highness, Prime Minister, Ministers, Excellencies, General Bydén - my friend, ladies and gentlemen, it's a real pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to you today for a few minutes.

So, this is an unprecedented time for Euro-Atlantic security. Russia's illegal, unprovoked, brutal invasion of Ukraine has upended many aspects of European security and our assumptions about. It has forced us to recognise the imperative of collective territorial defence and that has fundamentally changed our alliance posture.

Months before Russia's Invasion, the Alliance prudently began to conduct enhanced vigilance activities in all domains: air, sea, land, space, and cyber. The activities brought us greater awareness of potential threats and ensured that we would not be surprised and that we would be postured to respond to any challenges that might arise. And then, when Russia invaded Ukraine on the 24th of February, the Alliance lost no time. We activated - for the first time ever - every one of our response plans simultaneously. This allowed the Alliance rapidly to deploy into Frontline States thousands of troops from both sides of the Atlantic. Within days, we increased NATO forces under my predecessors operational command to 140 Allied ships at Sea, 32,000 Allied ground troops on the Eastern Flank, 135 aircraft for NATO Air Operations and all this in addition to the 170,000 troops and hundreds of aircrafts already under National command on the Eastern Flank States.

This posture has been in place ever since and it has deterred Moscow from expanding the conflict with Ukraine into a conflict against NATO. Our actions have successfully shielded all Allies. This rapid and effective response was enabled by and was an example of NATO's approved strategic framework for Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area, This concept - we abbreviated it as “DDA” - is the key to realising the new Strategic Concept adopted at Madrid, which turns the Alliance's focus from Crisis Management in Out-of-Area Operations back to Collective Territorial Defence.

Implementing DDA is a task that has been given directly to me as SACEUR. It is a big task and it is my main priority.

The first step has been to update our plans. The key plans that we have been working on, are the Regional Plans. These are geographically specific plans that describe how we will defend key and relevant places in the Alliance against both Russia and Terror Groups, the two named adversaries in our new Strategic Concept. We are building those plans on top of existing National Defence Plans in the relevant locations. Of course, these plans are going to go ahead and drive a tremendous amount of change in the Alliance. The amount of change that is necessary to move from Out-of-Area Operations to large-scale territorial defence is significant.

First, our Command and Control Arrangements will certainly need to be adapted to the new plans. The responsibilities of our headquarters will need to be updated to make them fit for a new purpose and this will surely provoke organisational changes.

Second, we will require a New Force Model to produce more, and more ready forces on a standing basis as opposed to the rotational schedule-based model we had the luxury of using during the past twenty years. This Force Model has already been adopted and we are now working on fleshing it out with actual commitments of Troops from Nations. It is very promising. It is not done yet but it is going very well.

Third, we will require a New Force Structure - that is the number and types of equipment and organizations that we require to conduct our operations. The Regional Plans will drive this New Force Structure Requirement. And then, we will take those and feed them into the Requirements Process, our NDPP, the NATO Defence Planning Process. And for the first time since the end of the Cold War, we will have objective, militarily sound plans-based Capabilities Targets to offer to Nations.

[Forth], our exercise program will be modernised and made fit for this purpose, focusing on larger scale exercises that are centered on Collective Defence.

So, in fact all of our Operations, our Activities and our Investments will be driven into the future by our plans as we implement DDA.

Of course, a plan is never complete. This Family of Plans will not be the be-all and end-all. The plans rather will be part of a planning process. There will be a bunch of living documents that can be updated as the situation require, as changes require.

Changes such as the potential Accession of Sweden and Finland into the Alliance. This would of course produce new challenges but more importantly new opportunities for us to plan for. One of the variables the plans will drive and adjust is our posture. As you know, we currently have a posture consisting of Battlegroups, eight Battlegroups, along the Eastern Flank in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romanian, and Bulgaria. Each of those Battlegroups is scheduled to be brought up to Brigade-size, on need.

However, there are other posture changes coming too. In the Air Domain for example, we aim to build an Integrated Air and Missile Defence posture along the Eastern Front and across the AOR. And across domains we must further develop the Reinforcement and Sustainment Network which includes the prepositioning of critical stocks, improving our Military Mobility especially in terms of infrastructure processes and policies. So, with all of this change Sweden approaches the Alliance at a very exciting and dynamic time.

I would be happy to see Sweden brought into the Alliance. We have a long history together and, Minister, thank you for mentioning and announcing the Defence Cooperative Agreement with the United States, I think it will be a huge advance for our countries.

But, we have a long history together in training, in bilateral and multilateral security cooperation and on Operations, indeed. You would bring real capacity and real capability on Day One and quite interoperable, thanks to all the work that we have done together. Moreover, as Minister Haavisto said yesterday, you come as a Nordic package, a package with already existing defence agreements, multilateral command and control arrangements and other advantages. It should be a perfect fit, easy. And it's good, if it's easy. It's good, if it's easy, because I think the future looks hard.

The NATO you are planning to join, is in a new world, one shaped by Russia's illegal war on Ukraine. Let me share with you just a couple of my own personal observations on that conflict so far. They have implications for the sorts of militaries we'll need.

First, Hard Power is a reality. Soft power is good and useful and even necessary and integrated deterrence of course relies on all elements of national power: economic, diplomatic, informational but the great irreducible feature of warfare is Hard Power. And we have to be good at it.

Second, kinetic effects are what produce results on the battlefield. Cyber, information operations and so on, very important, but if the other guy shows up with the better have a tank.

Third, Precision can beat Mass. The Ukrainians have showed that this past autumn. But it takes time for it to work, and that time is usually bought with space. And so to use this method we need space to trade for time. Not all of us have that. We have to compensate for this in our thinking our planning.

Fourth: Scale. Scale, scale, scale, scale. The magnitude of this war is incredible. The Ukrainians have 37 front line brigades, 37. Plus dozens more territorial brigades. The Russians have lost almost 2,000 tanks, the Russians alone 2000 tanks, lost. If we average out since the beginning of the war, slow days and fast days, the Russians have expended on average well over 20,000 artillery rounds per day. The scale of this war is out of proportion with all of our recent thinking but it is real and we must contend with it.

Fifth, and related, production capacity remains vital, absolutely vital. A healthy and elastic defence industrial base is just as important to DDA as ready forces.

Finally and perhaps most importantly in this forum: Civilian leadership has proven vital. It galvanises the nation, it brings meaning to the horrible events and it shines the light into the future that the military will fight to reach. Leadership is the beginning of Victory and so it is the parent of peace. That is why fora such as this are so important. This is why it's such a brilliant forum it brings together our civilian thinkers and leaders to contemplate the hard questions of national and collective security.

I feel very privileged to have had the chance to share my thoughts with you as you do so and thank you for the opportunity.

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