The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, is attending the NATO and Partners’ Chiefs of Defense Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, Jan. 16.
The meeting, hosted by Danish Army Gen. Knud Bartels, chairman of NATO’s military committee, is being held at a particularly busy time for the alliance.
NATO and its partners have more than 110,000 service members deployed in five operations and missions in eight countries and at sea in the Mediterranean and off the Horn of Africa. “These personnel, working together across nations, languages and cultures, are central to the work of NATO and its partners,” Bartels said in his remarks to open the meeting. “Through their continued commitment and professionalism, they reflect the very best aspects of the alliance, and as such, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to each and every one of them.”
Afghanistan is by far NATO’s largest and most complex operation, and the chiefs will hear from Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. ISAF is made up of the 28 NATO nations and 22 partners.
Allen will brief the chiefs on the current situation in Afghanistan and on the progress and plans for the transition toward Afghan lead in the country’s security, Bartels said.
The NATO Military Committee also will consider the post-2014 mission in Afghanistan. Seven partner nations who have committed to the post-2014 mission will participate in the discussion.
“Throughout these discussions, our objective will be to ensure that we build upon the momentum and success currently achieved in order to set the conditions for the transition of responsibility for security to credible, capable and sustainable Afghan security forces,” Bartels said.
But NATO is about far more than simply Afghanistan. The alliance chiefs have a busy schedule that also includes examining NATO military structures and capabilities to ensure they’re adequate for collective defense of the alliance’s nations.
The chiefs also will discuss the current economic realities and the limitations that an austere fiscal environment will impose. This contributes to the uncertainty facing NATO’s militaries, Bartels said, and is occurring “at a time when the rapid evolution of world events continues to challenge our ability to predict, prepare for and address emerging strategic security threats.”
“We must, therefore, continue to work collaboratively to deliver military capability more rapidly, more effectively and more economically,” he added.
The general called on NATO allies to adopt a fresh approach to the problems and threats facing them. NATO’s “Smart Defense” doctrine looks for the military and industry to work together, he noted.
Bartels said he has three themes for the meeting. The first is to continue to deliver success in ongoing operations. The second is to build on the strong partnerships NATO has forged on operations and issues of regional security.
“Finally,” he said, “we should establish the roadmap for the recuperation, restoration and reform of NATO military capability delivery to ensure it is effective, affordable and available to support the alliance’s strategic objectives.”
The meeting will include sessions with the alliance’s NATO-Russia Council format and Euro Atlantic Partnership format. Tomorrow, the military committee and partner nations will review the alliance’s Kosovo mission.