April 24, 2012

Dempsey, NATO defense chiefs gather for conference

by John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will meet with his NATO counterparts and the defense chiefs of partner nations in a two-day conference that begins April 25 at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

The chairman arrived here from Afghanistan today for the third stop in an overseas trip that began with a visit to Jordan.

NATO foreign and defense ministers recently met to set the agenda for the alliance’s summit in Chicago next month, when the heads of state and government gather to finalize commitments. Over the next two days, Dempsey said, the defense chiefs will discuss how to act upon the guidance.

“The ministers get together and provide us with political guidance, and we discuss how we turn that into military advice and planning,” the chairman explained.

But the Chicago summit will focus on the way ahead after 2014, when Afghan forces will have security responsibility for all of Afghanistan, he noted, and challenges remain in the meantime. Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, will brief the defense chiefs, as will Simon Gass, the alliance’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan. Dempsey met privately with Allen at ISAF headquarters April 22.

Partnerships based on capabilities will be another important aspect of the defense chiefs’ discussions, the chairman said.

“Our new U.S. strategy rebalances our forces toward the Asia-Pacific region while sustaining our commitments in the Middle East,” he noted. “We and our partners need to innovate. We need to move away from our traditional paradigm and take a fresh look at re-emphasizing policies and procedures that allow us to provide the capabilities we all need.”

Rotations, exercises and military academy exchange programs go a long way toward building and sustaining partnerships and helping partner nations’ respective military capabilities fit together, the general said. “As we move forward in this direction,” he added, “we’re building on a strong foundation.”

The defense chiefs also will discuss the alliance’s mission in Kosovo, counterpiracy and counterterrorism efforts, and lessons learned from Operation United Protector in Libya. In addition, defense chiefs from Russia, Ukraine and Georgia will participate in discussions on the practicalities of NATO military partnerships and ways to deepen cooperation.


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