Nato defence chiefs commit to keeping alliance "ready, relevant and able"

Written by Martin Banks on 18 May 2017 in News
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Nato defence chiefs have committed to keeping the western alliance “ready, relevant and able.”

Nato emblem | Photo credit: Press Association


The pledge came at a meeting of the military committee, the alliance’s highest military authority, on Thursday at the Nato headquarters in Brussels.

The meeting, which discussed Nato operations and missions, comes a few days ahead of a much-awaited visit to the Middle East and Europe by Donald Trump, his first overseas trip as US President.

This includes a meeting of Nato leaders in Brussels next Thursday (25 May).


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Trump in the past has called Nato “obsolete” - comments he has since partially withdrawn - and called on alliance members to “pay their fair share” towards the cost of Europe’s defence.

In 2014, Nato members committed to spending two per cent of GDP on defence but only a handful, including the US, have so far met that target.

Throughout the day’s discussions, the Nato defence chiefs stressed their commitment to keeping the alliance “ready, relevant and able.”

They also addressed the potential for joining the global coalition against ISIS and enhancing Nato’s contribution to fighting terrorism.

The defence chiefs also spoke of the need to have a “consistent, coordinated and coherent” approach which “enables Nato to provide more assistance” to the alliance’s partners.

Speaking at a news conference at Nato headquarters after the Brussels meeting, United States General Curtis Scaparrotti, Supreme Allied Commander Europe of Nato Allied Command Operations, conceded that Nato “must do more to ensure a Europe that is whole, free and at peace.”

Describing the one-day meeting as “profitable” he praised the “contributions from across the alliance to Nato operations and to the defence of Europe.”

He told reporters, “I also appreciate how difficult it is in these complex times to meet all the requirements in the light of high demand and continued resource constraints to provide all the forces that we require.”

Even so, further effort by Nato members was needed, he said, including “a change in our posture, in our mindset and our ability to respond at the speed of conflict.”

He said, “Clearly, Nato is changing; we are adapting the alliance to respond to different approaches to modern warfare which is extremely complex, potentially vast in scale, scope, and intensity. And we continue to work as allies to succeed in this significant transition.”

National, bi-lateral, and collective alliance efforts were, he said, “fundamental” to Nato’s future success.

He added, “Nato nations are responding, nationally, multi-laterally, and collectively. Looking forward, we must maintain a strategic, long-term view. We must have a sense of urgency coupled with a sense of endurance.”

Scaparrotti said, “Nato is charged to be ready and responsive to the new and continually, involving, evolving security environment. We must continue to set the conditions and invest now to ensure European stability in the future.”

Also speaking at the closing joint press conference, General Petr Pavel, Chair of the military committee, said, “What is crucial is that the military advice we provide is clear, concise and importantly, able to deliver the desired strategic effects”.

Pavel is a Czech army officer and the first person from a former eastern bloc state to hold the position.

Further reaction to the outcome of the committee, which meets twice a year, came from General Denis Mercier, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation of Nato who said, “Since our last meeting in January, we reached a significant milestone in achieving 100 per cent apportionment and acceptance on Nato capability targets by the 28 Allies and Montenegro.

Mercier, former Chief of Staff of the French Air Force, added, “These targets are based on the military requirements translated directly from the political guidance and they are based on the principles of fair burden sharing and reasonable challenge.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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