NATO Military Chairman Opens Defense Chiefs’ Meeting
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
BRUSSELS, May 21, 2014 Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and NATO transformation are important topics for discussion as the alliance’s Chiefs of Defense conference gets underway here today.
U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with German army Gen. Volker Wieker, chief of staff of the German Armed Forces, during a break from the NATO Chiefs of Defense meetings in Brussels, May 21, 2014. The alliance of 28-member countries discussed current military issues including the way ahead in Afghanistan, Ukraine and future threats. DOD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in Brussels to attend the conference.
First up is a discussion on the implications of Russia’s actions in annexing Crimea and threatening Ukraine, Danish Gen. Knud Bartels, the chairman of the Military Committee, said at the opening of the conference this morning.
“Russia’s annexation of territory, in a sovereign nation, on NATO’s borders has to cast a shadow of insecurity across the alliance’s Eastern flank and has potentially serious implications for the region and beyond,” Bartels said.
NATO nations, he said, will continue to urge Russia to de-escalate and move troops from its borders with Ukraine, and the alliance will continue to be resolute in its deterrence and commitment to collective defense.
On Afghanistan, he added, the NATO chiefs will join with the chiefs of defense from partner nations to review the security situation in the light of the recent successful first round of Afghan elections.
“In this the final year of the ISAF operation, we will complete the process of transition to NATO’s planned future role of training, advice and assistance, which underlines alliance’s commitment to Afghanistan beyond 2014,” Bartels said.
Afghanistan’s national security forces can be justly proud of their accomplishments and are committed to build on those successes, the general said.
“NATO and its partners therefore remain committed to supporting the continued development of the Afghan National Security Forces beyond 2014, through a new NATO-led mission called Resolute Support,” Bartels said. “Planning for this mission continues. However, it will only be implemented once the necessary legal framework has been put in place.”
The end of the ISAF mission gives the alliance a chance to refocus its military capability towards a broader range of potential future threats, the general said.
“As we have seen in recent months, the global security situation remains fragile and unpredictable and the alliance is increasingly surrounded by an arc of instability from Ukraine, to Syria to the Sahel,” he said. “NATO must therefore ensure that it retains the capability, commitment and credibility to deliver against its three core tasks of collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security.”
Twelve years of combat in Afghanistan has made the alliance more interoperable and Bartels wants the member nations to build on that foundation.
“Both collectively and individually, NATO nations will also need to invest in the capabilities and training necessary to develop alliance readiness and maintain its qualitative advantage, which are its greatest deterrence to potential adversaries,” he said.
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