Meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence wraps up

Meeting of NATO ministers of defence wraps up © U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg © U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr

Following the meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence that took place this week (14-15 February), Government Europa highlights the most important meetings, discussions and outcomes of the two-day event.

The priority areas for discussion at the meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence included streamlining NATO’s command structure, ensuring fair burden-sharing among members, and the alliance’s efforts to project stability beyond its borders.

Reforms to the NATO command structure

One of the primary agreements made at the meeting was for structural reforms to NATO’s command structure that will place a greater focus on the emerging threats posed by evolving technologies. The new priority areas for the adapted command structure will include:

  • Maritime security;
  • Logistics;
  • Military mobility; and
  • Cybersecurity.

It will also involve the creation of a new Joint Force Command in the Atlantic, which will be tasked with protecting sea lines of communication between North America and Europe. The details of the plan, including timelines, locations and staffing requirements, will be determined at a meeting in June.

Developing next-generation anti-submarine aircraft

Another commitment was made at the meeting by Canada and Poland, which joined France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey in a project to develop “Co-operation on Multinational Maritime Multi Mission Aircraft Capabilities”.

The project is designed to improve critical capabilities by replacing aging maritime anti-submarine and patrol aircraft, and could lead to joint acquisition or development of new aircraft by the participating countries.

NATO’s Deputy Secretary General, Rose Gottemoeller, explained why new developments in this field are urgently needed: “This joint effort recognises the fact that the majority of Allies’ maritime patrol aircraft fleets will be reaching the end of their operational lives between 2025 and 2035.”

At a formal signing ceremony for the project last year, she welcomed the participants’ commitment to collaboration: “The decision to work together demonstrates both foresight and the willingness to invest in the critical capabilities that the Alliance needs”.

Increased training and capabilities in the Middle East

A major outcome of the meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence was the agreement of a mission to improve sustainability and resource management in training efforts. This will include additional training programmes to take place in Iraq, and support the country’s troops following their defeat of the so-called Islamic State extremist group.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg offered additional details on this new commitment: “We will also plan to help the Iraqi forces become increasingly professional by establishing specialist military academies and schools”.

These efforts will extend to improving NATO’s capabilities in the region, to improve its ability to respond to emerging incidents, Stoltenberg added: “We agreed that we need to improve our ability to react to future crises in the region, including with enhanced planning and exercises”.

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