Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), General Stephane Abrial this week hosted the NATO Military Committee made up of military representatives of all 28 Alliance member nations, at his headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.
After a working session at HQ SACT, the military representatives toured the USS Laboon a short drive away at Naval Station Norfolk and witnessed the ship's Missile Defence capabilities.
"This event takes an even greater meaning now due to NATO's commitment towards the next missile defence capability – an important part of our collective defence", General Abrial said about the visit on board the USS Laboon.
Equipping the Alliance with a wide missile defence system is a key mission for NATO, as a part of the 'Smart Defence' concept – where nations share commitments and capabilities, merging resources in order to better address common security challenges. In this regard, the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago in May will be a key milestone with the scheduled declaration of an Interim Missile Defense Capability.
The USS Laboon belongs to the Arleigh Burke-class in the United States Navy, the same class as the three destroyers already designated by the US to be deployed in Rota, Spain, as part of the NATO Ballistic Missile Defence system.
The USS Laboon's Ballistic Missile Defence capabilities are also a good example of another high profile concept, the Connected Forces Initiative. This initiative mobilises all of NATO's resources to strengthen the Allies' ability to work together in a truly connected way.
In this context, because of the way Ballistic Missile Defence is structured, it allows nations to plug into the system as required, enhancing its overall capability - "...possibly on a rotational basis between different nations," Gen. Bartels highlighted at the Press Conference on USS Laboon, as he underlined the requirement for a Missile Defence capability in the face of 21st Century security threats and challenges. For the newly appointed Chairman of the Military Committee it was the first visit to Norfolk.
Greeting the military committee aboard the USS Laboon was Commander Naval Surface Force Atlantic, Rear Admiral David M. Thomas Jr. and the USS Laboon commanding officer, Commander Storm.
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