From 15th to 17th September 2023, at the invitation of General Eirik Kristoffersen, the NATO and Invitee Chiefs of Defence gathered in Oslo, Norway for their annual Military Committee Conference. The agenda of the conference focused on implementing the decisions taken at the Vilnius Summit, which aim to further strengthen the Alliance’s Deterrence and Defence Posture.
Opening the NATO Military Committee Conference, alongside the Norwegian Minister of Defence, Mr Bjørn Arild Gram and Norwegian Chief of Defence, General Eirik Kristoffersen, Admiral Bauer thanked the hosts for their warm welcome and hospitality. He then proceeded to provide an overview of the day’s agenda, which focussed mainly on the executability of the DDA family of plans: “The plans that Allies agreed in Vilnius will impact the development of all our armed forces for decades to come. We are taking bold steps to further strengthen our deterrence and defence posture. Never before have NATO and national defence plans been so closely interlinked”, he noted. When addressing the Regional Plans, he added, “they are underpinned by objective, threat-based Force Structure Requirements, which detail precisely which assets or capabilities are required in a crisis or conflict scenario. Needless to say, these plans and requirements are living documents. They will be updated as the threats that face us develop”.
The Chiefs of Defence discussed how these plans would feed into existing processes. “To turn these plans into action, we will need more troops at higher readiness; capability building and development; adapt the NATO’s command and control structures; more enablement, which includes logistics, host nation support, maintenance, military mobility, and replenishment and prepositioning of stocks; and crucially, it involves more collective defence exercise and training”, underscored the Chair in his opening remarks. This is part of NATO’s evolution from an Alliance optimised for out-of-area contingency operations to an Alliance fit for the purpose of large-scale operations to defend every inch of allied territory.
The military leaders paid tribute to their brothers and sisters in uniform: those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and to those still suffering from the mental or physical effects of their deployment.
“Once Sweden joins, we will have a band of 3.5 million brothers and sisters in uniform who protect our great Alliance. They see together what they cannot see alone. They do together what they cannot do alone. The military profession brings immense opportunities. But it also requires immense sacrifices”, emphasised Admiral Bauer, before inviting all Chiefs of Defence to stand for a moment of silence.
The Chiefs of Defence also focused their attention on the future and NATO’s longer-term posture. The Chiefs of Defence expressed concerns about the shortages in production capacity that cause delivery times and prices for equipment and ammunition to go up. “Right now, we are paying more and more for exactly the same… and that means that we cannot make sure that the increased defence spending actually leads to more security. Our liberal economies are not apt at creating the prioritisation that is so desperately needed right now. Long term stability needs to prevail over short term profits”, stressed Admiral Bauer in his press remarks.
During the conference, the NATO Chiefs of Defence decided to extend Admiral Bauer as Chair of the NATO Military Committee for an additional 6 months and elected the Italian Chief of Defence, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone to be his successor for 2,5 years.