NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

2021 - 2024

NATO’s Transformation: Strength and Interoperability through Space

It is with great pleasure that I speak today to such a knowledgeable audience about space… and more specifically about NATO’s approach to space.

Thank you Gen Pringle,

chére Heather,

and the space foundation,

for the organization of this huge event and giving me the opportunity to share my perspectives, as I am responsible for NATO’s transformation.

NATO was founded in 1949 on a solemn promise: An attack on one ally is an attack on all.

From that Foundation, we have built the strongest, most successful alliance in history.

Over the past 75 years NATO’s open door has helped to spread democracy &  prosperity.

We have kept our 1 billion citizens safe by continuously evolving.

As we celebrate NATO’s achievements, and running toward the Summit in Washington DC, this July, we do not rest upon them.

Today, we need NATO more than ever.

Russia has brought war back to Europe.

And we continue to face other serious threats and challenges, not least

– terrorism,

– cyber,

– the cognitive dimension,

– the security impact of climate change,

– and obviously, Space!

What I’ve heard this morning, from Jessica RosenWorcel, Chairwoman of the FCC, Gen Steven Whiting, SpaceCom to Heidi Shyu, under secretary of Defence for research and engineering, resonates particularly with my following points.

The very concept of warfare is undergoing a paradigm shift.

Space, once a distant frontier, now sits at the heart of modern military operations.

Whoever controls this domain controls the highest ground & the flow of information, and therefore holds the ultimate advantage.

And, as Sun Tzu famously advised, “All warfare is based on deception”.

Today, such deception could involve manipulating satellite imagery or Command and control, or disrupting communication links.

The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, where space-based intelligence & communications play a critical role, illustrates the importance of space domain awareness.

This awareness extends not only to Russian activities, but also to those of China, which has made significant strides in its space program in recent years.

China’s opaque military space development is of particular concern and also highlights the need for enhanced space situational awareness capabilities to track & identify potential threats.

Unlike in the past, however, dominance in space will not be achieved by a single nation deploying vast fleets of spacecraft.

NATO’s strength lies in its collective power.

At Allied Command Transformation, NATO’s strategic warfare development command, in Norfolk Virginia, we are working tirelessly to ensure that our member nations’ military capabilities, including those in space, are fully interoperable & seamlessly integrated.

Space has been declared an operational domain by NATO in 2019…

Maybe you’re ironically wondering, as Stalin did with the Vatican…

“NATO, how many divisions in space?”

First, building a robust space capability requires more than technology & equipment…

It also requires a skilled workforce

– space analysts,

– operators,

– engineers

– and strategists.

This is a challenge for NATO and our member nations as we work to identify, train and retain the talent needed to succeed in this new domain.

Moreover, as with all other capabilities, NATO Structure’s primary vocation is not to possess its own space assets.

NATO is an alliance founded on the belief that 32 allied nations are far more powerful

– militarily,

– economically,

– diplomatically

in short, far more influential together than individually.

My command, Allied Command Transformation, has the complex mission, being clearly stated:

to keep the edge, today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow!

ACT’s mission relates to the interoperability & coherence of the military instrument of power across all domains & environments.

2019 is only 5 years ago. On the one hand, that’s pretty new! On the other hand, we have rushed over the last 5 years to integrate space

– into our concepts,

– doctrine,

– and operational plans,

in order to increase our preparedness & readiness!

In such a short time, we have been able to integrate space at full speed because we are doing it in parallel with everything else we are doing to transform NATO into a multi-domain operations-enabled Alliance underpinned by digital transformation, following our North Star Concept for capability development, with new, agile methods & processes based on simulation & experimentation, and in close coordination with the entire NATO enterprise, nations & partners, industry & academia.

I couldn’t agree more with General Saltzman when he emphasized that now is the time to partner to win, especially for Space.

Space is also a force multiplier, a power catalyst for all other components of the military instrument of power.

And Space is an evolving, highly competitive environment.

Space is vast, but already congested as well.

Today, the key orbits for functional areas such as observation & communications are more limited, while the number of key players is growing massively, due to an acceleration in launches by both established & emerging space powers.

Commercial launch companies are achieving rapid turnaround times, private satellite constellations are growing exponentially, and technological advancements are happening at breakneck speed.

This means ever faster data collection for intelligence & collection purposes, shorter revisit times for remote sensing, and the potential for real-time battlefield situational awareness, all driven by the ever-increasing capabilities of new, innovative space systems.

Space has become an inherently global environment.

Civil societies, businesses & militaries now share the same vision & interest in space as they increasingly depend on space information:

Global Positioning Systems underpin everything from navigation applications to precision-guided munitions…

Satellite communications connect troops in the field and enable global financial transactions wherever you may be…

And we know that many more challenges are coming to us.

We will have to solve these together, as a team.

Disruptions to space services, whether intentional or accidental, natural or man-made, could be crippling, and any conflict that extends into space has the potential to affect all users, especially the warfighter in an operational activity.

Further complicating the picture is the ambiguity of many space capabilities, as they can be dual, used for both civilian and military purposes.

This “gray zone” of space activities, where the line between civilian & military  applications is blurred, makes it difficult to discern intentions.

This ambiguity can lead to misinterpretations and increased tensions.

In addition, competition for resources in the electromagnetic spectrum, and the ever-present threat of cyber-attacks, add to the complexity of operating in space.

These factors highlight the critical need for improved space domain awareness, the ability

– to see what is happening in space,

– understand the context,

– and anticipate potential threats

faster than our adversaries.

Only then, can we effectively navigate the gray areas, manage competition, and ensure the continued use of this vital domain.

So, Space is now a strategic landscape.

It’s complicated, things change fast…

Some Allies know more about space than others do, though access is no longer the prerogative of a few nations as space becomes more accessible and much cheaper.

To keep everyone on the same page for the future, ACT’s role is to raise nations’ “Space IQ” within the Alliance.

That way, all Allies

– can learn from each other,

– have the same approach to this new domain

– and be more prepared to face any challenge in space together.

This means

– coordinating space efforts across the Alliance

– and identifying areas where nations can better share their strengths.

By working together to fill these gaps, NATO can build a more responsive, ready & agile force.

To achieve this, NATO has identified three key functions for space operations:

Space Domain Awareness understanding what’s happening in space at all times including threats;

Space Domain Coordination working together effectively as an alliance and ensuring that space information is shared in a timely manner for the right user;

And Operational Space Support ensuring that space capabilities are available when needed and that nations provide relevant data, products & services.

Dedicated structures, such as

– the NATO Space Center in Ramstein, Germany, acting as the operational hub for NATO,

– and the NATO Space Center of Excellence in Toulouse, France, serving as focal points for expertise & collaboration

are crucial to further implement the Domain.

NATO’s multi-faceted approach leverages existing capabilities through partnerships with trusted industry providers.

Political & military leadership must be informed about

– the strategic space landscape,

– its inherent risks

– and potential benefits.

Voluntary information sharing fosters a collaborative environment where a clear picture of the space domain strengthens collective defence.

Interoperability among allied space assets is paramount.

We invest in education & training to cultivate a skilled workforce capable of navigating this complex environment.

Responsible behaviour in space is a common goal.

Through its strategic communication, NATO promotes a rules-based order, works with international organizations and fosters partnerships with the commercial sector.

Because in NATO, we know that a safe, secure & stable space environment benefits all nations.

Therefore, building resilience into space systems is vital to ensuring continued functionality in the face of potential threats.

Building resilience & survivability in space requires a multi-layered approach.

One key strategy is to diversify capabilities, for example by deploying constellations of smaller, more replaceable satellites.

In addition, hardening our space capabilities & infrastructure against physical & cyber-attacks through protection & cyber defence, will be critical.

Finally, fostering international cooperation on space traffic management & debris mitigation can prevent accidental collisions and ensure a safer operating environment.

By focusing on these areas, NATO harnesses the power of space for deterrence & defence.

Yes, space is essential to deterrence & defence, and the posture of the Alliance.

Deterrence is at the heart of our strategy.

Although shaped by operations & activities in each domain, deterrence is most effective when implemented across domains & instruments of power, emphasizing the need for an MDO-enabled Alliance.

Successful deterrence requires the 4 C’s:

– Capability,

– Credibility,

– Cohesion

– and Communication…

and must be tailored to affect the decision calculus of the adversary.

The core tenets of deterrence are the same for space as they are for other domains.

Nevertheless, the space domain presents its own unique challenges and opportunities.

We have already achieved some important milestones, such as when Allies agreed at the Brussels Summit in 2021 that attacks to, from or in space could lead to the invocation of Article 5.

ACT as a whole conducts studies and war-gaming at a senior pol-mil level to strengthen NATO’s strategic understanding of deterrence.

Space war-games are expected in the coming months, and several studies have been conducted since 2016.

We must now build on these efforts by continuing

to serve as a forum for political-military consultation and information exchange on relevant deterrence & defence-related space developments, across the conflict spectrum.

In the space domain, deterrence could include

– demonstrating the ability to deny an adversary the use of critical space assets during a conflict

– or to impose costs through counter space operations.

It is critical to develop a credible range of response options to deter aggression.

We must also integrate space considerations into the delivery of NATO’s core missions, by ensuring the sustained & effective provision of space support & effects to Alliance operations & missions.

Finally, we must foster trust & cooperation among Allies to accelerate the development of compatibility & interoperability of

– Allied space services,

– products,

– and capabilities.

Recent examples of Allies’ commitment to space training Are, to name but a few

– US Global Sentinel,

– and AsterX 2024,

a French Space Command exercise held in Toulouse last month.

These multinational exercises focused on developing the skills needed to conduct space operations under realistic conditions and fostering cooperation among Allies.

Such exercises are essential to building a strong & interoperable space capability.

Ladies & Gentlemen, the space domain presents very important challenges, and NATO, forged in collective defence, is adapting quickly.

– By leveraging trusted industry partners,

– fostering information sharing,

– and cultivating a skilled workforce,

we are building a robust space Domain.

Through international partnerships and advocacy for responsible behaviour, we strive for a safer and more secured space environment.

United as 32 nations, NATO is learning fast, working hard and ensuring that we keep the edge in this multi-faceted world.

The first NATO Space Symposium will take place in Toulouse at the end of this month.

It will be a valuable opportunity to further discuss these critical issues and chart a path forward for a secure & stable space environment.

Together, through continued cooperation & innovation, we can accelerate the momentum & unity needed to ensure a peaceful & prosperous future in space.

I was a bit longer than expected and I am afraid we have no time for questions.

Be sure I will collect them, and we will take your main concerns and address it at the NATO SPACE Symposium in Toulouse.

I look forward to seeing you all there later this month.

Thank you for your attention.

Win as a team.

  • Dear Bryan,
  • Dear John-Mikal,
  • Distinguished guests,
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,

For two decades, the collaboration between NATO’s Science and Technology Organization and Allied Command Transformation has been a beacon of progress.

Together, in a spirit of mutual benefit, we have pushed the boundaries of innovation, explored uncharted territory in technology, and enabled the delivery of solutions that have strengthened NATO’s capabilities and helped keep our Alliance safe.

But the world around us is changing and I usually qualify this change with 3 words:

More, referring to the massive change we can only meet with an equally massive transformation;

Faster, because our world is changing at an unprecedented pace;

– and Everywhere, because interactions now take place simultaneously in the physical and virtual domains, in an escalating and unrestrained dynamic of violence.

Over the past 20 years, the rapid development of technologies and their applications, in traditional domains as well as in space and cyberspace, has opened new avenues for states and non-state actors to project their will.

In this highly dynamic and complex global security environment, which I call the “New Reality“, disruptive technologies are emerging faster than ever.

Consider the recent use of hypersonic weapons, the growing threat of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, and the pervasive influence of disinformation campaigns.

This “New Reality” demands an exponential acceleration of NATO’s transformation, ensuring we remain at the forefront of innovation.

This workshop should mark not just a continuation, but a quantum leap in our collective journey.

This is the perfect time to give the ACT-STO system the right energy to make a transition to a higher level – and we should all be very excited about it!

I am talking about harnessing the power of science and technology to:

  • Bolster NATO’s deterrence and defense;
  • and Implement Integrated Multi-Domain Defense.

To strengthen NATO’s Deterrence and Defense, we must stay ahead of adversaries by leveraging EDTs to enhance our capabilities and maintain a credible deterrent posture.

And the possibilities are endless. We should not limit ourselves…

Just for example

How can we use AI to create a self-healing OODA communication network in a contested environment?

Integrated Multi-Domain Defense is a revolutionary approach.

It may sound complex, but simply put, it is about seamless orchestration across air, land, sea, space, cyber, and cognitive dimensions.

Imagine a not-so-future battlefield scenario.

  • AI-powered systems of systems analyze real-time intelligence and data, feeding precise targeting data to swarms of drones and cyber attacks that neutralize threats before they materialize.
  • Soldiers, equipped with augmented reality interfaces, seamlessly collaborating across domains, their actions facilitated by advanced algorithms.
  • Imagine perfectly coordinated multi-domain strikes and AI-assisted decision-making
  • Imagine them united under one common goal: protecting the Alliance.

This is the vision of Integrated Multi-Domain Defense, a vision we can make reality through collaboration.

For this endeavor, ACT and STO must continue to play as a team.

At ACT, we need the brilliance, the bold spirit, and the unwavering commitment of the STO community to harness emerging technologies and build the Integrated Multi-Domain Defense of tomorrow.

This is not just a goal; it is an imperative for our collective security.

Now, the challenges are real. Let me take four examples.

Cognitive warfare, which threatens to manipulate our minds.

Once again, I’m going to use your imagination…

  • Disinformation campaigns weaponized with AI to seed discord and mistrust within societies.
  • Sophisticated psychological operations targeting soldiers on the battlefield, undermining their morale and decision-making capabilities.

In fact, this is not about imagination!

These are not futuristic scenarios; they represent the already real threat of cognitive warfare.

We must develop countermeasures that strengthen our cognitive resilience, from individual soldier training to advanced AI-powered systems that can detect and counter disinformation campaigns.

Investing in cognitive science and ethical AI development is critical to protecting our minds and societies from this insidious threat.

Second example. Energy weapons and challenges.

Directed energy weapons capable of destroying missiles and drones are proliferating. Integrating them, at scale, into our integrated air and missile defenses requires innovative solutions for power generation, targeting and beam control.

At the same time, the future of energy presents its own challenges.

Reliance on traditional energy sources makes us vulnerable to disruption, while alternative energy sources offer opportunities for resilience and sustainability.

We must explore solutions such as mobile power grids, Small Modular Reactors, renewable energy integration, etc… to power our future capabilities up to the battlefield while reducing vulnerabilities.

Third example, Quantum and AI, which hold the potential to revolutionize every aspect of warfare.

Quantum computing promises breakthroughs in cryptography, sensing, materials and bio-science, logistics, assisted C2, etc… potentially altering the balance of power.

Artificial intelligence will revolutionize everything from decision-making and communication to autonomous weapons systems and capabilities.

While these technologies offer immense potential, their ethical implications and potential for abuse require careful consideration.

My final example illustrates again the areas we should prioritize from a S&T perspective.

Integrated Multi Domain Defense System of Systems approach… or in other words, how to develop IMDD capabilities in a global open architecture?

Overall, the System of Systems approach holds significant promise for enhancing IMDD capabilities.

But its implementation requires overcoming technical and organizational challenges… For example, what new Cybersecurity measures and protocols should we adopt to neutralize induced vulnerabilities?

The list I have presented is not exhaustive.

I encourage you to come up with your ideas, explore new technological frontiers, and suggest areas where your expertise can be applied.

Time is not on our side. The “New Reality” demands early collaboration between S&T, industry, and the warfighter.

We must anticipate, not react!

Fortunately, we are not alone.

By our side are industry partners eager to bridge the gap between cutting-edge research and real-world solutions.

At ACT, our goal is to foster an ecosystem where innovative minds from defense contractors, startups and academic institutions meet.

This collaborative space is intended to promote the cross-pollination of ideas and accelerate the translation of research into prototypes and deployable technologies. Sharing not only data, but also challenges and opportunities, will unleash innovation across traditional boundaries.

We need to help educate our industrial partners, and support them in developing a stronger, more innovative and more competitive NexGen Defence Industry, just as the US are already pushing for in their recent “US National Defense Industry Strategy“.

By working together, we can turn research papers into operational capabilities and drive NATO’s technological edge into the future.

The most disruptive ideas often come from defying convention and fostering an environment where challenging the norm is not only accepted, but encouraged.

This vibrant ecosystem of collaboration is our key to unlocking the full potential of emerging technologies and securing our collective future.

Experimentation is the melting pot in which innovation thrives.

We must expand our experimentation efforts, test our concepts in realistic scenarios, and continually refine our integrated, multi-domain defense capabilities.

We must create robust and accessible continuum of experimentation across the Alliance, in order to work together.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let us continue to foster the spirit of collaboration that has driven our success for two decades.

Let us integrate more deeply, share knowledge more readily, and ensure that warfighters are involved every step of the way.

Remember, it is not just about developing technology; it’s about empowering our soldiers, sailors and airmen to defend our nations and our values.

Together, let us write the next chapter in NATO’s transformation story, a chapter powered by innovation, driven by collaboration, and secured by the brilliance of the science and technology community.

Thank you.

Good morning, future diplomats!

Welcome to Allied Command Transformation.


Let’s talk about you, your future, and your aspirations.

You’re around 16, full of dreams and plans for your life.

I still feel 20 in my head!

You might be studying, starting a career, building relationships, or just figuring things out.

Whatever your path, you deserve a world where you can pursue your dreams without fear, where you can travel and learn from each other.

Now, think about the world we live in. It’s not perfect.

Imagine bullies trying to control things on a global scale, online attackers causing chaos, and even challenges to the fair play between countries.

Think of that news story that went viral with fake information, or maybe online games where you have to pay extra to win.

These are just some of the things NATO works to prevent.

These threats can impact not just faraway countries, but your future right here in the Hampton Roads.

That’s where NATO, created in 1949, comes in.

For 75 years, NATO allies have been working together to keep our people safe and our nations free.

We’re the shield, the insurance policy, for that peaceful and stable world your futures rely on.

We work together, 31(soon 32) countries, to deter those who might choose violence or destruction.

We have boots on the ground in Europe, including young men and women from Hampton roads Americans from here, reassuring our allies and deterring aggression.

We have aircraft patrolling the skies, protecting borders and airspace.

We have cyber soldiers to take into account cyberattacks and we are working on new technologies, all to ensure you can sleep soundly and build your future without worrying about bombs and bullies.


As you prepare for your Model NATO challenge, imagine the world as a giant puzzle.

Every country is a piece, with its own unique shape … a shape that results from its own history, culture and experiences.

But just like a puzzle wouldn’t be complete without all the pieces fitting together, peace and security can’t be achieved without countries working together.

That’s where NATO comes in!

Think of it like a super team of superheroes, they work to prevent conflict and keep everyone safe.

They do this in three main ways:

  • Sticking together: Just like your friends have your back, each NATO member promises to help any other member if they’re attacked. That means no country has to face threats alone.
  • Being prepared: No superhero goes into battle without training, right? NATO countries constantly practice working together and improving their skills, so they’re always ready to respond to any challenge.
  • Staying ahead of the curve: The world keeps changing, and new threats pop up all the time. Think cyberattacks, fake news, and even climate change. NATO keeps adapting and innovating to make sure they can handle whatever comes next.

Now, you might be thinking, “This sounds cool, but what does it have to do with me?”

The future belongs to you, and NATO needs smart, passionate young people like you to help shape it.

That’s why you’re here at the Model NATO challenge!

Here’s your chance to step into the shoes of a real diplomat and see how it feels to represent your country.

Remember, every perspective matters.

Just like Finland sees the world differently from Italy, each country brings its own unique voice to the table.

By understanding and respecting these differences, you can work together to find solutions that benefit everyone.

During the challenge, you’ll face tough questions and complex situations.

But don’t worry, it’s not about having all the answers.

It’s about showing your knowledge, willingness to learn, and ability to work with others.

Remember, true strength comes from cooperation, not dominance.

So, go out there, use your voice, build bridges, and find solutions.

You have the power to make a real difference in the world, and NATO is here to support you every step of the way.

Use your diplomatic skills to enable the team to reach a consensus.

Good luck, and remember, the future is in your hands!

Your Excellences, Generals,
Dear Dean,
Distinguished guest,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is not my first rodeo… since I am delighted to come back to Austin and the great State of Texas!
So I want to start by thanking the Atlantic Council and the University of Texas – Austin.
For this opportunity to speak to the thinkers and leaders of tomorrow.

​If this was a speed date, my profile would say:
French Air and Space Force, General.
More specifically from the South West of France, where the best rugby players come from.
Where my motto comes from: Win as a Team!
A fighter pilot, so yes, I can confirm… “I feel the need, the need for speed!”
And the same goes for NATO’s transformation… speed is key!

​I’m tasked with NATO’s warfare development and so I want to give you my take on NATO’s contribution to American Security, past, present and future.
And tell you about what we are doing to prepare NATO’s own future.

​​As you know, our great Alliance is fast approaching its 75th Anniversary.
So, as you do when getting ready to blow out some candles… you start by looking back.
How has NATO benefited American Security?
To any history students here… I would point to the benefit of having Allies.
And I say that as a proud member of the Armed Forces of America’s oldest Ally… for more than two hundred years now.
By the way, as fate would have it, I’m speaking to you on February 6th. A very special date.

On February 6, 1778, 246 years ago, France recognized the independence of the United States of America.
In Versailles, with Benjamin Franklin, George Washington’s representative in France, France signed a treaty of commerce and friendship and a treaty of military alliance, formalizing the aid that certain French officers, like La Fayette, decided to give to the Americans in a personal capacity.

A long standing friendship, the benefit of having allies, the essence of NATO.
I would say look at how the United States, after World War Two, and at the time the only nuclear power in the world… was willing to create a shield against aggression and oppression.

When American leaders understood the value of helping former enemies rebuilt, so they could better stand up to bullies together.

People like Presidents Truman and Eisenhower (who was also NATO’s first Supreme Allied Commander Europe or SACEUR).
Secretary of State George Marshal and Sam Rayburn who went to law school here.
In the face of Soviet aggression and its willingness to snuff out freedom in countries only just emerging from war.

If I was talking to UT Radio Television Films students I would be tempted to illustrate the value of Alliances…
With the many films about the Three Musketeers… based on the great novel by Dumas.
To show the “All for One and One for All” nature of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
An article 5 that has, in NATO’s history, only been triggered once.
Do any of you know when that was? (question to audience)
It was within 24 hours of 9/11, with 7 NATO AWACS flying over the US to prevent further attacks.
That’s the aircraft with the big radar dish on its back.

To the economists in the room, I would point to how the NATO umbrella helped protect the rules-based order, that America put so much effort into building in the aftermath of WW2.
A framework that provided the stability, predictability and reliability necessary to commercial relations between both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.
A framework that provided peace and prosperity.

To those studying international relations I would say:
Think about how NATO, the most successful Alliance in history, was an essential ingredient of the so-called Long Peace.
During which no NATO Ally has been attacked by another country.
It was America’s commitment that made it possible for much of Europe to emerge from the ashes of war, to become what it is today.
I would also point to the continued power of attraction of our Alliance. A growing club with its own waiting list.
Since I have been in my current position… My command has overseen the military integration of two new members.
And we are completing the process for a third, Sweden, which will bring the number of Allies to 32.

And you can think of it the other way around.
Do our opponents think NATO is an asset to the United States?
To answer that question all you need to do is consider how hard Russia and China are working to divide Allies, to undermine the Alliance!
Because NATO deterrence offers the most cost-effective way of maintaining stability.

To sum up:
Together, we provided the umbrella that allowed nations with the same values, to prosper in peace and security.
Together, we won the Cold War.
Together, we stopped ethnic violence in the Balkans.
And together, NATO troops stood shoulder to shoulder with their American Allies in the fight against terrorism.

Last year, the bipartisan Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States put it like this:
“Since 1949, the cooperation and interoperability between NATO nations, their sharing of military hardware and expertise, and their ironclad commitment to Article 5, enabled a collaborative defence of European security and eased the burden on US Forces.

Even more recently, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg met last week with the American Secretaries of State and Defence.
And in a joint statement, the Speaker of the House and the Secretary General stated:
“Together, our nations make up half of the world’s economic and military might. NATO is good for Europe and good for the United States”

But because I am not a politician, not a historian or an economist, I will try to give you the military argument for the Alliance.
I should start by reminding you that NATO is a regional organization: the Euro Atlantic area.

My job is to lead Allied Command Transformation, one of two Strategic Commands in NATO.
The other being Allied Command Operations, led by American General CAVOLI.

We work together, including on how to best prepare NATO forces for today, tonight and tomorrow, for the collective defence, and the preservation of peace and security in the North Atlantic area.
Or to talk football, which I’m told is your second language here in Longhorn country…
…my second language is rugby…
ACT and ACO complement each other on the field.
ACO is leading the offensive and defensive plays on the field.
While ACT is studying the opponent’s plays and defining what conditions our players will face tomorrow and in the future.
Identifying the skills our players will need and how best to develop them.

That is because as a defensive Alliance, NATO must have and… show it has…
What it needs to carry out its fundamental mission.
Which the new NATO Strategic Concept defines as: collective defence with three core tasks:
Deterrence and defence; Crisis prevention and Management; and Cooperative Security.

In our strategic foresight efforts, ACT has defined a very challenging operating environment.
In a disinhibited, fragmented playing field with resource scarcity driving instability and conflict…
Leading among other things to mass migration, which in turn is being weaponized against us.
The growing challenges posed by AI and other Emerging and Disruptive Technologies, including in non-physical domains as well as in space.
More accessible technologies that are emboldening non-state players to challenge us.
Just look at the Red Sea.
Or the new possibilities offered by EDTs, like hypersonic missiles or swarming autonomous weapon systems.
Just think… China is today the world’s top exporter of military drones, with Russia and Iran not far behind.
The “second drone age” also involves the widespread use of cheap commercial drones, or “Costco drones”, leading to a new ‘IED moment’.

Couple that with more strategic shocks, more pervasive instability…
And the willingness of non-state players and autocratic regimes to challenge the rules-based international order.
And you get to what General Mark Milley, the former US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described as:
“An unprecedented fundamental change in the character of war, and our window of opportunity to ensure that we maintain an enduring competitive advantage is closing”.

This is not a distant prospect… as anyone reading the news can attest.
Look at the threats from North Korea or Iran and its proxies.
And look in particular at Russia, a revisionist power that has shown no hesitation in using force to achieve its ends…
…against civilian and military targets.
Or the growing proximity between Russia and China.
China’s ambitions are running on Russian gas and oil, and Russia is selling SU-35s and advanced air defence systems to China.

This range of factors constitute a real challenge to the Long Peace I mentioned earlier.
When you get more players in a small area, with things moving faster, you are going to get more contacts…
You need therefore to train harder, prepare harder and just be better.

So there is a clear need for a fast and profound transformation…
NATO has agreed the most ambitious and detailed defence plans in a generation.
Putting three hundred thousand troops on higher readiness.
With more forces being trained, prepositioned and equipped to deter a reconstituting Russia. That has shown how far it is willing to go.
With a new Defence Production Action Plan to increase our stockpiles.

Exercise Steadfast Defender has just begun… the largest NATO exercise in decades.
Involving ninety thousand troops, over 50 ships, 80 fighter planes and 1100 combat vehicles.
To rehearse the execution of our new Regional Plans, and to demonstrate the Allies’ determination to defend every inch of NATO territory.

At the same time, we continue to define military requirements and develop the corresponding capabilities in order to keep our edge.
While working with industry to build up the necessary capacity and remedy the production shortfalls we are experiencing today.
With a heavy emphasis on innovation, both technological and in terms of processes, to deliver the most coherent Military Instrument of Power NATO needs.

Last year was the ninth consecutive year of growth in defence investment by America’s Allies.
With eleven having reached or passed the 2% of GDP spent on defence.
A number expected to continue to grow as that becomes a floor, not a ceiling.
On Ukraine, Allies agreed a multi-year assistance programme and individual Allies have provided material support to Ukraine.
Just last week, the European Union, with whom NATO shares many members, agreed a 50 billion euro aid package for Ukraine.
The EU also played a big part in the sanctions regime put in place to limit Russia’s ability to wage war over the long term.

The changing nature of the threat has also meant a return to a greater emphasis on deterrence.
A topic that had been seen as less vital after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
But has returned to the forefront with the aggressive nuclear language being used in Moscow.
A deterrence that will require the appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities, with the addition of space and cyber.
The speed and variety of threats also means we need to move away from a purely reactive mindset.
To a shape and contest approach. One that would allow us to win the war before the war.

That includes thinking about new concepts and reinforcing existing efforts on cyber and space.
That are so vital to gaining an advantage in modern warfare.
Or working on the cognitive dimension. To make sure we are able to push back against our opponent’s efforts.
Because make no mistake… they are working hard and getting better all the time.
As they try to undermine the Alliance’s unity.
We need to help our forces, but also our fellow citizens to be in a better position to resist cognitive assaults.

Ultimately, we are aiming to make NATO a Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) enabled Alliance that has undergone a Digital Transformation.
But what is MDO?
MDO is like joint (where we combine the various services Army/Navy/Air/Space) on steroids.
Or in other words it would be like playing football where you are able not only to coordinate your offense and defence as you do now.
But also be able to play in all dimensions with each player having a 360° view of the field and the ability to ‘read’ the opponents’ play, and the ability to coordinate with the movements of the fans in the stand and the movements of the blimp above…
All geared towards achieving a specific effect in a given part of the field.
It requires greater interaction with non-military actors, greater connectivity, by synchronizing military and non-military efforts for converging effects.
And greater integration by fully embracing cyber and space as operational domains.

In this incredibly complicated and fast moving security environment and all this talk of technology… The biggest mistake would be to ignore the human factor.
As we have seen in Ukraine: agility, smarts and the ability to adapt and evolve, go a long way.
Look at how a nation without much of a fleet has managed to hold off the mighty Russian Black Sea Fleet.
We will always need men and women in uniform who can outthink, outsmart and out-imagine.
We are working hard on developing the best way to train and develop those skills.

As I near the end of this speech, I want to leave you with two final thoughts about our shared future.
First, we have been talking a lot about what NATO brings to the USA.
The other side of that coin is… what does America bring to NATO?
How much time do we have?
Because it’s a long… very long list.
So I won’t give a long description of the American troops stationed in Europe, or the US Air Force aircraft or navy ships.
That contribute to reassuring those Allies most exposed to Russian threats.
Or the moral, political and military leadership the United States has provided from the very start of our shared endeavour.

The second is this. Austin has rightly been recognized as one of the great tech hubs of the world.
And I would guess that among those present here, there are people from all over the country and around the world.
NATO today shields 1 billion of our fellow citizens, in North America and in Europe.
People with whom we share basic values individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
But also a bunch of smart innovators like you.
We all have something to learn from one another.
Look for instance at how Baltic nations are innovating on 5/6G or on Cyber…
Despite being among the smaller members of the Alliance.
Living next to those giant Russian troll farms and state-sponsored cybercriminals, presumably helps to focus the mind.
Or how our newest member, Finland, thinks about defence in a different, more holistic way.

Together we have a wealth of experience, of viewpoints and ideas.
All of which will continue to feed our great Alliance for the next 75 years.

I thank you for your attention.
Win as Team… be in on the football or the rugby field…
Or in NATO !

Ladies and gentlemen

Welcome to London!

I am sorry not to be with you in person… But honoured to open this second Future Operating Environment workshop.

As part of a reenergized ACT strategic foresight effort, we now have the 2023 Strategic Foresight Analysis or SFA23.

It surveys the full range of instruments of power and presents a wide view of those challenges in a world riven by pervasive competition.

We need to share the results of that work and use it to help us with what comes next….

The urgent work of preparing NATO for its Future Operating Environment.

So that the Alliance can continue to deter and defend.

FOE23 will look at the strategies and capabilities of our strategic competitors, or actors.

As well as the prominent role played by non-state actors, like the private Tech sector.

The characteristics of changing operational domains and effects dimensions in the battlespace.

Where we need to enhance our ability to integrate effects in the virtual, cognitive and physical spaces.

In which a whole range of new tools and assets provide situational awareness, surveillance or even mobility….

And where it is increasingly difficult to hide, … and therefore easier and faster to target and destroy.

While our decision-making cycles are shrinking under the effects of Quantum computing, IA and other EDTs.

FOE23 will also examine the warfare toolset for future competition and confrontation.

Including the increasing speed, range and accuracy of new weapons.

Just as we are confronted with the difficult equation of quality vs quantity.

All of this brings risks, challenges… and opportunities.

So I will conclude by stressing the urgency of this task.

The Allies have understood the difficulties ahead.

But more choices still need to be made and actions taken.

Our job here is to help by providing science-based analysis and information.

Although time is not on our side:

It took a hundred years for the First Industrial Revolution to transform warfare in the late 19th Century.

It took half that time for the Second Industrial Revolution to bring warfare to the carnage of World War One.

But clearly, the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution – centred on automation and data –  is already having a vast and immediate effect.

Thank you for your attention and I wish you a successful meeting.

I leave you in the most capable hands of our Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Robinson, … Guy, over to you.


  • Secretary General Stoltenberg
  • Minister of Defence Pål JONSON,
  • Distinguished panellists,
  • Leaders and representatives from industry,
  • Admirals, generals,
  • Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning.

Yesterday, in my opening remarks, I discussed a rapidly evolving security environment …

characterized by more, faster and everywhere.

The brutal war in Ukraine has put those trends under the harshest of lights.

For this particular audience I would point to the issue of limited availability of our most advanced capabilities.

Alongside opportunities and challenges that come with mass and production at scale.

Or the big role played by a number of big tech players in ensuring the ‘digital survival’ of the Ukrainian state.

Although, nations everywhere are becoming more dependent on services provided by commercial players.

Partly because it is proving difficult to effectively compete with innovating private service providers, …  in areas as diverse as space and cyberspace,

Or even the ‘older’ worlds of logistics or telecommunications.

So how does NATO continue to defend and deter in this environment, …  today and tomorrow?

We have already started of course.

Today’s level of linkage between NATO and national defence plans is without precedent.

With Regional Plans, built on objective, threat-based Force Structure Requirements.

A Defence Production Action Plan to speed up joint procurement, … boost production capacity and enhance interoperability, in parallel with complementary European initiatives.

We are moving from today’s Joint Operations framework  …

To a Digitally Transformed and MDO-enabled Alliance.

From a NATO Defence Planning Process centred on crisis management,

to one built around MDO-based collective defence.

And to striking the right capability balance of Tech and Mass.

By leveraging innovation at both ends of that spectrum and pulling from the brain power and resources of our tech and industrial sectors.

It will also mean turbocharging interoperability.

Which, as Admiral Bauer reminded us yesterday, has always been at the heart of NATO business,

… and is equally central today to NATO’s Digital Transformation.

Interoperability is also a place where NATO and industry have a long shared history.

Stronger relationships with the Tech and defence industry, and wherever possible, the use of open standards, ….

will help NATO ensure interoperability embraces digital and data-centricity …

and continues to work as a force multiplier and  streamliner of national efforts in our transformation towards MDO.

Although it will, as it has always been, up to the individual nations to implement the norms and the standards we have agreed together.

To give a concrete example of what MDO might look like:

It means going from the intensive (and manpower demanding) Desert Storm air-to-ground targeting process,

To an uber-like on-call model that is automated and AI assisted to optimize and accelerate the synchronization of all domains,

… including to the greatest extent possible, space and cyber, and addressing the competition / war in the info sphere.

A model that has integrated all relevant data and information, from all available sources.

Data centricity for better understanding, for rapid decision-making, tasking and execution.

Using the most appropriate combination of Lethal, Non-Lethal, Influence and Information military activities.

On the “production side”, it will require to address quality and quantity, in complementary of exquisite capabilities to keep our edge. It will require we find ways to … produce more mass and more Tech faster, better and cheaper, together with industry.

Both for mass lethal capabilities and consumables and for high-tech digital capabilities.

Because the return of high-intensity warfare translates into significantly higher rates of consumption and attrition.

We cannot ignore that harsh mathematical reality.

Those ratios must also help think through the implications for Deep Precision Strikes or Integrated Air and Missile Defence for instance.

If our interceptors cost ten or a hundred times more than the cheap threat they are countering… Clearly that is not a viable long-term solution.

How do we intercept at a fraction of the cost of the threat?

Faster, because innovation and experimentation allows us to cycle through the definition of a need, … solution trialling, …development and fielding so much faster…

especially for digital, data and AI related capabilities, but we need to apply those principles more widely.

Including to the urgent work of revamping our command and control systems.

Or actually producing the kit we need in the numbers we need.

And ensuring we can resupply in the quantities we need in a reasonable amount of time … and money…

Which brings me to cheaper … (a dirty word for some I know…;)

The fact is neither Industry nor NATO can afford to be priced out of the market.

Operational needs will always tend to outrun defence budgets … and NATO’s pockets are not bottomless.

Commercial tech sectors have shown how they can innovate, bring new products to the market while keeping costs under control.

Some examples among many:

Shrinking costs for space access and connectivity or electric vehicles, advanced AT tools available to all … for next to nothing.

Low-cost tech solutions must therefore be part of the mix, as our friends in Ukraine have shown, again and again.

At Allied Command Transformation, we are already fully engaged on all these fronts.

Making the most of our ‘strategic’ position on the other side of the Atlantic,

I spend a lot of time meeting with academia and industry.

Recognizing that there is no monopoly on good ideas and an urgent need to rapidly identify, test, experiment and deliver the most promising solutions.

Among our ongoing efforts I could mention our effort to transform our annual interoperability experimentation event into a distributed Interoperability Continuum.

Where we can, together : military and Industry, … continuously test and experiment systems in a coalition setting, to ensure their compatibility and interoperability  …

and especially their ability to share and consume data as a federation.

In line with ACT’s open innovation DNA, … we also bring experts and innovators to look at specific challenges, …as we did last month to talk about Cognitive Warfare.

Which is increasingly being used to challenge our narratives, but also to impact behaviours and influence decisions makers and … ultimately undermine the Alliance’s cohesion.

To move ahead with the data-centric integration of capabilities, information and decision-making across domains and environments.

A new Industry-NATO paradigm for Capability development would have much to offer.

It would help the Alliance, individual Allies, and industry move more rapidly towards more mass and more tech, …

on the basis of a more agile Capability Culture and greater Digital Interoperability

Alongside a stronger MDO-enabled NATO Defence Planning Process (NDPP),

As I did yesterday I will end on the importance of doing all of this : Together.

NATO, Allies and Industry, we must make the most of our respective strengths, and work on our respective weaknesses, for the good of our Alliance.

Because we all bring something different to the party.

We at NATO could, and should, do more to involve the private sector in our exercises, experiments for instance.

So that together we can get closer to getting the right mix of low-cost high-tech, exquisite capabilities and mass that NATO needs.

In short: More Tech, More Mass, Faster, Better, Cheaper… YES WE CAN!

Thank you for your attention.

Monsieur le Président,
Honourable Members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Being the first to speak after lunch… and after such a distinguished set of speakers… is a challenge.

I will start by thanking our Danish hosts and by saying I am very honoured to share with you my thoughts and to answer your questions the NATO Parliamentary Assembly for inviting me.

Today I want to talk about our security environment…

How NATO is adapting to meet the challenges, risks and opportunities that come with it

and what ACT is doing to help.

Why start with our security environment?

Because NATO’s new reality today is much more complex and dangerous.

There’s the return of full-scale war on European soil

and the suffering … and extraordinary courage … of the people and forces of Ukraine.

But it’s also a reflection of a security environment that is fragmented and highly dynamic.

I would use three words to describe it:
More / Faster / Everywhere.

More new and advanced technologies.

Think for instance about what was described last week as the ‘functional defeat of the Russian Black Sea Fleet’ …

Because of a new threat they had not seen coming.

More munitions being expended in a day than some of our industries produce in a year.

Requiring we think harder about quantity and quality,

But also more data and more information. That need to be collected, analysed and acted upon at the speed of relevance.

No easy task.

Which brings me to faster.

That avalanche of data is also lifting the fog of war, increasingly leaving speed as the only cloak for manoeuvre.

Think of the devastating efficiency of Ukrainian strikes on Russian Armour.

Speed is also why hypersonic weapons are cutting into that our own decision and reaction loops.

Remember all the talk of EDTs (emerging and disruptive technologies)

Today the reality is that many have already emerged…

While we wait to see if Quantum Computing will deliver on its promise.

And finally everywhere.

Competition for rare resources, challenges to what were previously acknowledged as shared commons in an interconnected global system.

Unmanned systems that continue to expand the reach of Allies and opponents alike.

Including in urban settings, where more than half the world’s population live.

Or from the height of space to the bottom of the sea.

Closer to home, opponents are also able to reach into our private lives through the information environment.

Many of our fellow citizens are already being targeted in a series of campaigns built on ‘weapons’ they carry with them at all times, … by choice.

I’m sure you have one in your own pocket. (Hopefully on silent mode).

As I said … A challenging picture.

How did NATO react?

There is a reason, our Alliance is approaching its 75th birthday… its ability to change when needed…

The Allies have understood the urgency and NATO is adapting and transforming.

With a historic return to the basics: collective defence.

With efforts to look at what effective deterrence means today and tomorrow.

The Allies have agreed their Political Guidance 23 and a new level of ambition.

Leading to an unprecedented level of integration between operational and defence plans,

To ensure we boost our readiness and resilience for our mission of deterrence and defence.

So what about ACT’s role in all that?

A quick summary would include Anticipation, Concepts and Capabilities and Talents.

Anticipation to link that new reality I described earlier with what NATO needs to keep its edge …

And the Military Instrument of Power required to deter and to defend every inch of Allied Territory.

And since the threats we have identified can be characterized as More / Faster / Everywhere,

We need the right forces, … forces that are stronger and more agile, ready and mobile and more interoperable.

ACT anticipation work led to the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, approved by the Allies in 2021.

It will serve to guide Alliance efforts as NATO develops the forces and capabilities it needs.

We are also revitalizing our foresight efforts.

With the 2023 Strategic Foresight Analysis for instance:

It goes beyond the warfighting aspect, to get at the wider picture.

We are working with your experts and your nations to do so.

800 participants in 8 workshops in 8 months (including Washington, Helsinki, Berlin, Riga, Bucharest).

It will help us define a Future Operating Environment : new actors in the battlefield, Warfare

And think about all NATO’s instruments of power.

Including how to work better with Partners of all kinds.

Including the European Union.

Look no further than the EU-NATO taskforce on resilience and critical infrastructure announced earlier this year.

To give you an idea of the range of our ongoing work …

And show how much effort we put into working with all our nations.

I can just point to the events we have held in the past weeks and will be holding in the near future.

In June we held CWIX 2023, the largest interoperability event of its kind in NATO.

With 1900 participants from 40 Allied and Partner Nations testing fielded and future systems in a coalition setting.

Since Interoperability remains an essential part of NATO’s DNA.

The vital lubricant that allows us to train, exercise and if need be, fight together.

Two weeks ago, we invited over 400 NATO and Allied experts and leaders to come to Paris for the 2023 NATO Communicators Conference.

We spent a lot of time talking about Cognitive Warfare, which all of us are grappling with.

Including the ability of that phone I was talking about earlier to bring disinformation straight to the customer… and to the soldier in the field.

With Deep fakes, ChatGPT and other AI technologies allowing opponents to launch concerted assaults on our cognitive capacity.

To achieve what the Chinese refer to as winning without fighting.

Tomorrow, we gather in Copenhagen for the Multi-Domain Operations (or MDO) Conference.

That will help us on the way towards a MDO-enabled Alliance.

By integrating capabilities, information and decision-making across domains and environments.

Built on the back of a NATO Digital Transformation.

And a few weeks after that, ACT will host the NATO Industry Forum in Stockholm.

Because as the Secretary General said last week in Kiev, there is no Defence without Industry.

The technological, capacity and complexity challenges we face require ever closer cooperation. The topic of this forum is : “Addressing the new reality together”

I must also mention our innovation work.

A couple of months ago we held an ACT Innovation Challenge to look at monitoring in the Arctic.

And next month we will look at the issue of military mobility in another innovation challenge to be held in Slovenia.

And you know DIANA (the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic)

has already received 1200 proposals from innovators across the Alliance for its three challenges.

All of these events, over just a few weeks, bring me to the final point I want to highlight.

The importance of team work, and more broadly the challenges associated with finding, training and retaining the talented people we will all need.

On team work, I am proud to say how closely ACT is working with our ACO colleagues.

I am, for instance, in near constant contact with General Cavoli.

But it also means the nations, with whom we are constantly interacting and exchanging.

Because in today’s data rich environment, not sharing or exchanging would deprive us of today’s greatest asset: data.

In closing.

We are in the middle of NATO’s biggest overhaul in a generation.

The largest reinforcement of our collective defence …

In response to the many challenges of the more dangerous and competitive security environment I discussed earlier.

In Vilnius, NATO leaders agreed to strengthen our defence and deterrence across all domains and against all threats and challenges.

To speed up our transformation in the face of urgency.

It’s ambitious, but where there is a will…there is a way

A way ahead, … together … , AS A TEAM.

Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to answering your questions.

  • Distinguished hosts and guests of the Euro-Atlantic Resilience Forum,
  • General Petrescu, dear Daniel,
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am particularly honored to have this opportunity to share with you my vision of the resilience we need in NATO and to update you on the work we’re doing in the Alliance in general and at Allied Command Transformation, Norfolk, in particular.

To put it in a nutshell, I would say that although resilience is not a discovery in itself, the recent crises have caused a real breakthrough that has redefined the notion of resilience, especially due to the immense possibilities opened up by the use of EDTs…

…which leads me to say that tomorrow there will be, on the one hand, those who have succeeded in their digital transformation and who will therefore be resilient, among other things…

and on the other hand, those who have not.

  1. Resilience is not a new concept. In fact, it is in NATO’s DNA.The Washington Treaty contains numerous mutual assistance and solidarity clauses, the most famous of which being Article V.
    For almost seventy-five years now, the Allies have been committed to self-support and mutual assistance to withstand armed attack.
    We can say that Resilience has always been a cornerstone of Collective defense. And it still is.In 2021, recognizing the changing nature of war and the increasingly persistent, simultaneous, and boundless threats NATO faces in this fragmented world of pervasive competition, Allied Command Transformation endorsed a new strategic document, the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, to be both the North Star and the compass for NATO’s Warfare Development over the next 20 years.Inside, a thorough analysis of the implications for future warfighting supports the derivation of five warfighting development imperatives (or WDI) to organize and synchronize Alliance warfighting development efforts.Among these five WDIs, layered resilience is defined as the ability to absorb shocks and fight on across all echelons, military, civil-military, and military-civil.Last year in 2022, NATO adopted in Madrid its latest Strategic Concept, which also recognizes resilience as an essential enabler of the Alliance’s core missions.Earlier this year in January, NATO and the EU signed the third NATO-EU Joint Declaration, developing further our strategic partnership in a number of areas, including resilience and critical infrastructure protection.And Finland’s membership on April 4th is a great step forward for the resilience of the entire Alliance. With Sweden soon to follow, they are bringing great knowledge, expertise and experience in this matter.
  1. Our commitment to protecting our citizens and defending our territory, remains steadfast. Even more since Russia decided to launch this war of aggression against Ukraine.
    • The war in Ukraine has been a defining moment for NATO, refocusing Allies on the need to strengthen not only NATO and national military instruments of power, but also the civilian and civil-military interface, which also reinforces our resilience collectively.When President Putin first ordered his tanks to roll across the border, he expected Kiev to fall within days and the rest of the country to follow in a matter of weeks.He was wrong.Because he underestimated the resilience of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
    • Of course, there was this huge international display of solidarity, commensurate with the shock of rupture that the nations felt and the fear that this aggression from another era aroused.But what has allowed Ukraine to embrace and make the most of this solidarity, what explains why this country has held up admirably, is the intense preparation that has involved the whole of Ukrainian society and all levels of the state apparatus, and which now seems to be underpinning all resilience.
    • Since 2014 and the annexation of Crimea, NATO has helped the country prepare by actively participating in the build-up of the Ukrainian armed forces.But at the same time, the political authorities have undertaken profound reforms that have put Ukraine firmly on the path of digital transformation.And as a result, since the beginning of the war, Ukraine has emerged as a leading example of digital innovation and resilience.In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, which certainly kicked off this movement on a global scale, Ukraine has been particularly quick and eager to use digital capabilities based on cloud technology to perform basic government functions, while encouraging innovation and experimentation.When Russia started this war, Ukraine naturally relied on this digital architecture, demonstrating resilience and a strong commitment to continue fostering civilian innovation in support of military operations.
  2. Western countries – most of them NATO Allies – supplied Ukraine with advanced weapons and ammunition; and the Western technology sector proved a real game-changer.
    • First because new technologies are inherently a source of resilience.Let me take an example. Space.For space is certainly an area where a lot is being done, and where more still needs to be done.Modern warfare relies heavily on space.From GPS-guided munitions to communications and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, space is almost everywhere when it comes to high-tech military applications.After the Russian invasion in February 2022, when Moscow quickly shut down all internet-based services, SpaceX sent Starlink terminals to Ukraine.Since then, the high-speed satellite terminals have become the backbone of digital communications for the Ukrainian military. Starlink’s data stream helps bring in drone feeds from across the battlefield, allowing commanders to see enemy forces in real time and coordinate artillery strikes much faster than relaying the same information over radio.This underscores the power of combining private-sector innovation with government needs, and the increasing interconnectedness of civilian and government space assets.Then, an attack on dual-use or civil space systems would be highly disruptive.The sudden loss of satellite-based positioning, navigation and timing services or satellite communications would paralyze most financial, commercial and transportation systems and related activities.To have a resilient space support, we need resilience in space, but we also need resilience for the ground segments down to the users.You can send more satellites to densify your network and obtain high-precision positioning.You can use laser beams for resilient communications.

      One could imagine having specific additional capabilities such as “responsive launch” to quickly rebuild a targeted constellation.

      And so on…

    • But it is the ability to combine resources and fuse data that unlocks the true resilience potential of all these new and innovative technologies.You can predict and prevent natural disasters as you can deter a threat.By integrating “traditional” space data / with data from hyperspectral sensors, through Big data analytics boosted by artificial intelligence and quantum computing, you can spot anomalies that reveal your enemy’s camouflage for example, and gain decisive military advantage to prevent an attack.You also become resilient to jamming by being able to dynamically orchestrate and continuously adjust your communications network as a system of systems, while being confident that your messages cannot be intercepted or decrypted thanks to Data Centric Security, Zero Trust and Quantum safe crypto.Space support to military operations is so essential that its resilience has become a critical factor in NATO’s deterrence. Resilience in Space is achieving transparency, predictability and accountability.It is therefore essential to exploit all existing synergies between available national systems, both military and commercial, in order to improve the resilience of the space capabilities provided to the Alliance.And what is true in Space can be exported to other domains.
    • That’s the reason why at ACT, and across NATO, we seek to achieve digital transformation as quickly as possible, systematically and immediately seizing new opportunities as they emerge.To do this, sharing is paramount.We share best practices by creating communities of military experts.We learn how to better work together, through exercises and wargames that we make as realistic as possible through modeling and simulation.The process is incremental.Each activity provides valuable insights and help us fine-tune our responses to different scenarios. These experiments bridge the gap between theory and practice, ensuring that our resilience efforts are practical and effective.By working together across nations at the military level, we benefit from each other’s experience. The lessons learned from different nations help us to better prepare for and adapt to evolving threats, thereby ensuring our collective resilience.
    • But resilience in NATO goes beyond the military.It requires robust civil-military cooperation, which is central to our overall resilience strategy.This cooperation begins with a strong foundation of trust between the political and military levels. Without trust, our efforts are bound to fail.We must also recognize the need for synergy between what NATO and nations need and what industry can produce.Indeed, the private sector has a critical role to play in enhancing our resilience capabilities.Working with industry leads to innovations and technologies that help strengthen our resilience.And Data resilience is also essential. It requires the will to share data in a whole-of-government approach. And it demands that nations regain full ownership of data as a strategic asset of vital interest.
    • Finally, I want to finish by saying a few words about something that is becoming increasingly important: our cognitive resilience.There has been growing concern about the increasing infiltration of misinformation, or “fake news,” into public discourse and politics in many Western democracies.Through social media and across the World Wide Web, our enemies and adversaries are working hard to influence the minds of NATO populations, exploiting our openness to influence the attitudes and behaviors of our 1 billion citizens.Therefore, it is imperative to develop an effective and robust digital resilience mechanism – as part of Digital Transformation – to mitigate the negative impact and vulnerability of individuals and prevent anyone from collecting Data from our own emotions.NATO encourages citizens within the Alliance to build their own personal resilience to cognitive attacks.By awareness of these potential dangers, citizens will take steps to protect themselves from threats and attacks that may arise from the connectedness created by our reliance on technology.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The resilience of a nation and an alliance is not only based on capabilities, or training or innovation.

It is a whole that requires:

– A change in mindset to embrace agile change;

– Unanimous support from all sectors of society;

– A realistic partnership between NATO and industry based on adequate production capabilities;

Integrated civil-military cooperation through communities and forums at all levels;

Financial and human resources to invest in emerging and disruptive technologies and to foster these communities of sharing, training and upskilling.

Emerging and disruptive technologies play a central role in this mechanism, as they open up new opportunities on their own and even more so when combined.

In order to realize these opportunities before our adversaries and competitors, it is essential that we adopt a team spirit and share to understand better, to decide faster and to be stronger together.

The challenges we face transcend borders and require a unified response.

Resilience is a collective commitment.

Resilience is an essential part of our collective defense and contributes to NATO’s deterrence.

NATO’s commitment to resilience is a testament to our dedication to each other’s security and to the principles upon which this Alliance was founded.

With that, I am ready to answer your questions.

Thank you for your attention.

  • Général Réal, commandant la BA701 et directeur général de l’école de l’air et de l’espace, cher Pierre,
  • General Adam, French Space Commander, dear Philippe,
  • Dear cadets,
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,

The conquest of space is said to be mankind’s ultimate challenge.

For my part, I see another… more immediate, but just as difficult, if not more so…

that of keeping you awake and attentive until the end of my speech!

Even if it was in another century, I have been in your shoes and I remember how long the end of a June day can seem, when there are so many temptations outside, in Salon or Aix, sur le cours Mirabeau

So, if you don’t mind, let’s get down to business! Or should I say… let’s get up to Space business!

Since I don’t know how much you know about NATO (and if I’m relying on my own level of knowledge when I was a cadet, it’s not much…), let me start with a quick reminder of NATO’s missions.

We are used to saying that NATO is the most successful military alliance in modern history.

It is not just an empty phrase… Especially in our complex and changing world, it is a real achievement to have managed to maintain and develop an Alliance for more than 74 years.

And despite all the frustrations of coalition warfare, I can tell you I cannot agree more with Winston Churchill that

there is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them.”

So today in 2023, NATO still has 3 core missions:

  • deterrence and defense,
  • cooperative security,
  • and crisis prevention.

Since the last NATO Summit in Madrid, NATO has also a new Strategic Concept.

In the wake of global game-changing events, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and – of course – the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the Alliance finds itself refocused on Collective Defence.

As you probably know, the principle of collective defense is laid out in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

It guarantees that the resources of the whole alliance can be used to protect any single member nation.

Now, at the Brussels Summit in 2021, the Allies have agreed that attacks to, from or in space could be grounds for invoking Article 5.

It would be up to the North Atlantic Council to decide on a case-by-case basis.

Last April, the Alliance welcomed a new member state.

With Finland’s accession this year and Sweden’s in the near future, NATO is finding a new coherence in its geographical environment from north to south, from the High North to the Mediterranean sea, and on both sides of the Atlantic.

And as far as NATO’s future is concerned – what is known as NATO’s Transformation – we are following a course, a North Star, adopted at the highest political level in 2021, and confirmed everyday by the first lessons learned of the war in Ukraine.

This North Star is a concept.

It sets out a vision of the NATO MIoP (military instrument of power) that we’ll need in 10 years’ time, and beyond.

This vision is based on multi-domain operations, MDO.

What is MDO? MDO is the ability to effectively address complex, multiple threats across the five operational domains of land, sea, air, space and cyberspace, while synchronizing the military instrument of power with others.

It is worth looking at what happened in Ukraine in the first few months of the war to get a better idea of what multi-domain can be.

Ukraine’s ability to withstand the violence and brutality of Russian aggression is due as much to the courage of its fighters and to the resilience of its civil society, as it is to the ability of its leaders to rally world opinion and mobilize supporters in all spheres, far beyond the military:

  • economic sanctions and the freezing of Russian assets abroad,
  • embargoes on certain high-tech products,
  • bans on major institutions…

Not to mention the criminal consequences under international law.

As U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris so eloquently put it at the Munich Security Conference last February,

No nation is safe in a world where one country can violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another, where crimes against humanity are committed with impunity; where a country with imperialist ambitions can go unchecked.”

At the military level, Multi-Domain requires a seamless orchestration of joint activities in all domains

In short, Allied Forces must become stronger and agile, ready and mobile, and more interoperable.

Space is key to achieving this ambitious but essential multi-domain objective.

Whether for situation awareness, for the credibility of our Deterrence and Defense posture or simply to conduct operations, continuous and secure access to space capabilities, services and products is essential.

For example, space underpins NATO’s ability to navigate and track forces, provide robust  communications, detect missile launches and ensure effective command and control.

And ACT’s role is to ensure a coherent approach to the integration of space into NATO’s overall posture, from concept to action.

It is a challenge!

Because in no other domain are the differences between our 31 nations so great, both in terms of capabilities and culture.

Now, let me tell you more about the role of ACT for NATO, and more specifically for NATO’s approach to Space.

I usually describe our activities through the letters of the acronym ACT… A for Anticipation, C for Concept and Capabilities, and T for Talents.

To Anticipate is first to understand! Understand what we call the New Reality, characterized by a new level of speed, intensity, and agility.

And to anticipate, space is paramount.

But the space environment has transformed into a contested domain, with numerous actors developing and deploying space-based assets.

Some of these actors have made significant advancements in space technologies and capabilities,

posing potential challenges to the security and stability of the Alliance:

  • development of anti-satellite missiles;
  • jamming and spoofing;
  • maneuvering and targeting…

These activities highlight the need for Allies and NATO, to ensure the protection and resilience of our space assets, and bolster our capabilities.

Our Capabilities and our Concepts. It’s for the letter C in ACT.

NATO is the integrator of space capabilities for the Alliance. And ACT has a key role as NATO’s Warfare Developer, which means being the leading agent for capability and concept development.

Today and tomorrow, we must ensure that our Military Instrument of Power remains able to shape and contest, to deter and, if needed, to defend, against any potential aggression, everywhere.

From seabed to space.

But, to be successful in space, we have specific needs.

We need support. From Nations, and from Industry.

First – Nations.

NATO Allies possess expertise, resources, data, and technologies that, when combined, create a formidable force.

Allies are making significant investments in Space research & development, the acquisition of advanced space systems, and the cultivation of highly skilled personnel.

It is critical that we pool these resources, so the Alliance can leverage the strengths of its member nations to achieve a comprehensive and robust space capability.

In space, too, 1 plus 1 can be much more than two.

The collective contributions of Allies enable NATO to foster a collaborative framework in space.

This cooperation will facilitate sharing of information; intelligence; situational awareness; and will ultimately strengthen the Alliance ability to detect and respond to threats in real-time.

As an integrator, NATO can synchronize and harmonize space policies and practices, in order to establish standards that enhance interoperability.

This will ensure seamless coordination and cooperation in the space domain across Nations…and across the Alliance.

That’s for nations. Second – Industry. NATO must leverage Private sector.

In an interview with the BBC, the US former chief of Space Operations, General Jay Raymond, described the war in Ukraine as “the first war where commercial space capabilities really              played a significant role.”

It was also the first major conflict in which both sides became so dependent on space.

Indeed, the commercial space sector plays a vital role in driving innovation, providing crucial capabilities, & contributing to the security of nations.

And there is a growing gap between Technology Development by the private sector, and Technology adoption, by the governments, and NATO.

The commercial space industry brings agility, flexibility, & cutting-edge technologies to the table.  They offer a wealth of resources that can enhance Nations space capabilities, like for example satellite communications, Earth observation, or launch services.

Thus, the nascent collaboration between NATO & the commercial space industry must grow fast.

It will be critical in addressing the challenges and seize the opportunities of the space domain.

By nurturing collaboration, NATO can also tap into the expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of the commercial sector,

accelerate the pace of innovation,

drive research & development,

and create technological advancements that benefit both civilian & military applications.

Most importantly, it will ensure that the Alliance remains at the forefront of space capabilities by improving our operational effectiveness in the space domain.

I told you I would describe the spatial interests in the 3 letters of ACT.

So with the A we evoked anticipation and the importance of understanding the new reality.

For C, I’ve talked at length about concepts and capabilities.

That leaves T. T for talents. And the talents of tomorrow, are you! There is a geopolitics of space, an economy of space, etc.

And it’s vital that you become familiar with it.

Whether you are a pilot or an engineer,

a leader or a decision-maker,

a specialist or a generalist,

at the tactical, operational or strategic level,

you will need to understand the specifics of the space environment and the military requirements that flow from it.

In short, you need to increase your Space IQ.

But how?

Tomorrow I understand you’ll be taking part in some sort of Wargame. It is a great opportunity to experiment, to look closer and to understand.

Likewise, we need wargames to increase the Space IQ across the Alliance:

pure space wargames to train specialists;

and multi-domain wargames, where the space dimension is fully taken into account, to train and educate the POL-MIL level and decision-makers.

This last point is fundamental to what we call “escalation dynamics“, that is to say the management of escalating and de-escalating tensions

and the art of staying below the threshold of armed conflict.

In space, too, it is important that political and military leaders learn what it means to deter in space, how to do it, and the consequences of their actions.

To increase the space IQ across the Alliance, NATO has now a Space Center, located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

They are our operational hub, constantly coordinating and exchanging data with Nations, in order to build space products for operational commanders.

The ability to provide commanders with real-time or near real-time data – via a common operating picture – improves situational awareness and increases speed of decision-making.

But to do that, we need space-related data, products and services. And that means strengthening our relationships and forging new partnerships.

  • New relationships with the commercial sector, I already mentioned it.
  • And new partnerships with other supranational entities, like the European Union.

In the joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation of 10 January 2023, the two organizations confirmed their commitment to expand and deepen their cooperation on space.

The EU’s and NATO’s responses to space incidents and threats will be complementary and mutually reinforcing.

And we will explore new areas of cooperation.

Such as data sharing, exchange, and connectivity.

With partners, and across the Alliance, we need to champion the “need to share” over the “need to know”.

At ACT, we are working diligently to improve Data Exchange & Connectivity through the Alliance’s latest initiative, called Digital Transformation.

Broadly, digital transformation will improve our ability to move, store, and access data by anyone, anywhere and anytime.

DT is not the objective, it is the tool for a renewed and reinforced NATO MIoP, to keep a credible deterrence and defense edge.

Digital Transformation will enable MDO;

ensure interoperability;

enhance decision-making accuracy, options and speed.

That’s why we must implement Digital Transformation diligently and tangibly.

J’ai gardé le meilleur pour la fin…

I cannot conclude my speech without a few words on the Space CoE in Toulouse.

They will focus on education, training, concept & doctrine development, and lessons learned.

And NATO really needs to better exploit the great potential of our Centers of Excellence, both individually and as a multi-domain network, to produce training and doctrines.

We need more exercises and activities that foster interoperability across all domains, to facilitate the development of compatibility and interoperability between Allies’ services, products and capabilities.

But we can also see further ahead!

Right now our vision is limited by our policy.

We need to consider the state of space governance, a collection of international, regional, or national laws, and regulatory manners and processes.

In this area, the armed forces are well beyond their prerogatives…

But as an international organization, with considerable expertise and weight in relation to the nations it can represent, NATO certainly has something to say.

 It’s up to the nations to redefine our long-term vision for NATO in space.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The evolution in the uses of space and rapid advances in space technology have created new risks, vulnerabilities and potential threats, but also new opportunities.

As Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, my job is that we can seize them together, as an Alliance.

To keep the edge, and win as a team.

Thank you for your attention.

Admiral Bauer,
Assistant Secretary General Borghini,
Admiral Grady,
Mayor Alexander,
Permanent Representatives,
Excellences and Ambassadors,
Military Representatives,
Generals, Admirals,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome all and thank you for joining us on this happy occasion.

Thank you Admiral Bauer, dear Rob, for honouring us with your presence and for your kind words.

Today, I want to pause to look back, take stock and look ahead to the future.

Much as ACT does every day!

Twenty years ago, on this very spot, Lord Robertson, the then Secretary General, unveiled the new logo for Allied Command Transformation.

The ceremony was a symbol of NATO’s interest and confidence in its future in a world still shaken by 9/11.

In his speech he spoke of ACT’s role in ensuring that NATO would “continue to defend the security of its members … against threats and challenges we cannot even imagine today”.

ACT remains resolutely focussed on improving the Alliance’s Military Instrument of Power, while continuing to scan ahead.

For twenty years, we have been NATO’s military leader for Change.

Anticipating new security needs, designing the capabilities and educating the talents that NATO will need to keep its edge.

So that NATO may continue to provide, through our collective defence, for the peace and security of one billion of our fellow citizens.

To illustrate how far we have come:

In 2003, there were no iPhone, no Uber, no ChatGPT.

In 2003, large-scale war in Europe was something that belonged in history books.

In 2003, fake images and sounds impersonating a world leader was bad science-fiction or low comedy.

Yet here we are in 2023, with war in Ukraine and under near constant cognitive assault.

With the continued danger posed by terrorist organizations, and the amplification of great power strategic competition.

And scarier still: Russian officials talking casually about the nuclear destruction of entire cities.

We can all see that today’s security environment leaves us no choice.

It is characterized by more threats, coming at us faster and from everywhere.

Threats like new advanced and autonomous weapons, or hypersonic missiles.

Or the same technological revolutions that are affecting the civilian world like:

AI, Quantum computing, and unbelievable amounts of data.

For NATO to prevail against these and other challenges moving forward, it must continue to adapt and to transform.

So that its Military Instrument of Power can continue to provide credible deterrence, against any foe or threat.

With military forces that are able to understand better, act faster and be stronger together.

And we are drawing inspiration, here and elsewhere in NATO, from Ukraine’s own ingenuity, agility and ability to innovate under fire.

As I have been inspired by the work of my predecessors.

I am honoured to serve as the eighth Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.

I want to take this opportunity to salute and to thank all my predecessors.

All of them have travelled along this Transformational Journey, whose final destination remains unknown.

We are especially happy to welcome back four of them:

Admiral Giambastiani, our first SACT, who started us on this journey and set us on the right path.

General Abrial, who so brilliantly embodied France’s return to NATO’s Integrated Military Command Structure and brought a real capability focus to our work,

General Paloméros, who put us on the path towards closer relations with Industry with the NATO Industry Forum,

And General Mercier, who never stopped championing innovation, now a vital part of ACT’s DNA.

Now we are charging ahead with our Digital Transformation, moving NATO ever closer to:

  • Enhanced situational awareness;
  • Enhanced political consultation and data-driven decision-making;
  • A multi-domain-enabled Alliance;

And ensured interoperability across All Domains.

The challenges of today, which include of course Space and Cyber, as well as Cognitive Warfare, or escalation dynamics, require it.

On top of all these challenges, I want to discuss one final factor.

Speed, or more precisely, the need for speed.

Because crucial to our success, will be our ability to implement quickly, “at the speed of relevance”, as another SACT, General Mattis, was fond of saying.

Both in the short term, with an experimentation and a “try fast, fail fast, and try again” approach.

For timely awareness with greater agility. With new tools and processes, some of which we have already brought online.

But also because by gaining time now, in the short term, is how we can best prepare for the long term.

To do all that, we will need your continued support.

In terms of resources, both human and financial.

And a willingness to listen to different and challenging viewpoints.

That way, we will continue to work closely with our colleagues in Allied Command Operations;

We will continue to increase our efforts to coordinate with the Allies and share our potential, including through the Centres of Excellence;

To build and enhance partnerships with Industry and Academia;

And we will continue to do all that by providing tools like wargaming, modelling and simulation and experimentation.

But today, we are here to celebrate.

And celebrate we should, because NATO, with another birthday coming up next year, has for nearly 75 years served as a bulwark against so many threats.

To sum up, and because as you know, any NATO speech is required to include its share of acronyms:

When I travel, in Europe or in North America, I will often point to our acronym, … to ACT … to illustrate our core activities:

A for Anticipation

C for Concepts to Capabilities

And T for Talents.

Those key lines of effort were true in 2003, they remain true today.

In marking this anniversary, I want to thank our fantastic hosts, the United States and the Hampton Roads community.

Admiral Grady, Admiral Caudle, you are in effect our landlords.

It is no exaggeration to say there is no more generous or supportive host and Ally, than the United States of America.

Mayor Alexander, the warm embrace of the local community, has done so much to improve the lives of ACT staff and their families.

I also want to thank the entire ACT team, for their tireless efforts, imagination and spirit.

The Fleet Forces Band,

and all of you for coming to celebrate with us today.

And finally a big thank you to the fantastic Thunderbirds.

A few months ago, they did me the HUGE honour of inviting me to fly with them.

I should probably not say this….

But if offered the choice between being up there or speaking to you down here….

Well, let’s just say, it’s a good thing they did not ask me to fly with them again today!

The teamwork required to fly in close formation, the mutual trust, the quality of the training needed to reach this level of precision and skill are obvious to all.

I know that, as they fly over our heads one more time, we will all draw inspiration from their example.

To continue working together as one ACT Team, here in Norfolk,

but also in Stavanger, in Bydgoszcz and in Monsanto, for another twenty years.

Thank you for your attention

So Happy Birthday ACT! Win as a team!

And to the great sound of freedom!


Your Excellencies,
Admirals, Generals,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am proud to be able to celebrate this milestone event with you here today.

On behalf of the Secretary General, I convey our heartfelt congratulations on the bi-decennial anniversary of the Allied Command Transformation.

I cannot resist pointing out the irony that we have gathered in this splendid setting to look back at 20 years ACT…

A command whose primary function is to look ahead, to the future.

And yet it is fitting, because in order to be ready for the future… you need to know where you came from.

And you need to learn lessons from the past.

That is something NATO has always done.

We have a unique ability to unite and to adapt.

For over 74 years, the Alliance has kept safe billions of people in Europe and North America.

There are people who have been born and died, safe under the protection of the Allied shield.

All of us gathered here today, and tens of thousands more people who work for the NATO Enterprise, dedicate their lives to make sure we keep up the Allied shield for many more decades to come.

Over the last year, NATO has aged a decade.

In the summer of 2021… when NATO ended its mission in Afghanistan… we could not have predicted that by February 2022… there would be another large-scale war in Europe.

Within a year we have shifted from an era of crisis management operations back to an era of collective defence.

The fundamental difference between out-of-area contingency operations and large-scale territorial defence operations is:

that it is not we, but our adversary who determines the timeline.

We can no longer decide for ourselves where and when we participate in a conflict… or what our ‘level of ambition’ is….

We have to prepare for the fact that conflict can – actually most likely will – present itself at some point.

And then we will either be ready….

Or not.

That means that Allied Command Transformation, NATO’s War fighting and Capability Development Command, has a crucial role in making sure we are ready to expect the unexpected.

Time is a luxury we do not have.

So we need ACT more than ever, to help us prepare for any future scenario that comes our way.

ACT helps Allies make sure they strike a good balance between:

– the forces needed for employment in the short-term to meet today’s threats,

– and the development of capabilities to meet the longer-term risks, and wider strategic challenges of the future.

If it wasn’t for ACT, the urgent would always win from the important.

We would be busy fighting off the crocodiles closest to the canoe… not realising we were heading towards a waterfall…

ACT helps makes sure that our military instrument of power has the ability to anticipate and resist strategic shocks or surprises, manage consequences, fight through and ultimately out-last and prevail against any adversary.

In any domain.

In any geographical area.

This requires a winner’s mentality.

Because in war, there is no second place.

And that brings me to the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation: General Lavigne.

Dear Philippe,

Nobody embodies the slogan “win as a team” like you do.

With your keen intellect, strategic vision and infectious enthusiasm, you manage to make sure everybody who crosses your path wants to join your team.

You are well aware that the only thing harder than getting a new idea in a military brain… is to get an old idea out.

And that it’s crucial to invest in personal relationships.

What makes you “supreme” is not (only) your distinctive career, but your ability to lead and to bring out the best in the people around you.

Together with General Cavoli, you have brought the two Strategic Commands on each side of the Atlantic closer together than ever.

This will help the Alliance move forward in this new era of collective defence.

Make no mistake: NATO is ready for this new era.

And that is thanks to the NATO Military Strategy in 2019, the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept in 2020 and the Concept for the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area in 2021.

After the Summit in Vilnius it is crucial that we do two things, but at the same time.

…First, make the regional plans, the force structure and the new force model fully executable.

…Second, keep looking ahead… keep making sure we are ready for different scenarios.

General Lavigne,

Through you I want to express our deep gratitude to the one thousand military and civilian personnel working at Allied Command Transformation from Allied and Partner nations.

You help us expect the unexpected.

And together with the Centres of Excellence and our partners in business and academia, you are the driving force for adaptation and innovation in our Alliance.

Thank you for all that you do.

Together, we will keep up the Allied shield for many more decades to come. Thank you.

Twenty years ago, Lord Robertson, then NATO’s Secretary General, spoke at the ceremony marking the commissioning of Allied Command Transformation (ACT) —one of two NATO Strategic Commands. He used the adjective ‘daring’ to describe our role and pointed to the strong symbolism of the ceremony as indicative of NATO’s investment and confidence in its

Twenty years on, we are still here, still daring and still looking to tomorrow while contributing to today. Our efforts remain focused on helping our great Alliance ensure, through our collective defence, the peace and security on which our one billion fellow citizens rely.

Much has changed over the years. I am privileged to be the eighth Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and we have gone from 19 flags flying outside the command to 31, soon 32. We have known three separate NATO strategic concepts, the latest of which was agreed last summer at Madrid’s transformational NATO summit, and put collective defence back at the heart of Alliance business.

Today, NATO is facing a security environment characterized by more threats, coming at us faster and from everywhere. These include disruptive technologies that have revolutionized our daily lives, as well as the battlefield.

Our new reality is also brought into stark relief by the horrifying images—we had all hoped belonged in history books—which have accompanied the return of large-scale war in Europe as the heroic Ukrainians fight back against a barbaric and savage invasion.

To prepare NATO for those challenges and threats, ACT will continue to lead the transformation and modernization of the Alliance’s Military Instrument of Power. We need forces that can understand better, decide faster and be stronger together.

That remains ACT’s core business and we will continue to fulfil the mission the Allies have set for us: looking to the future, drawing lessons from the present and developing capabilities for today and tomorrow. We are working, and will continue to work, hand-in-hand with our Allied Command Operations colleagues.

We will enhance existing partnerships (and build new ones) with civilian and military organizations, as well as industry and academia, in North America and in Europe, maintaining throughout our innovative mindset.

Finally, in marking this anniversary, I want to thank our hosts and the entire community of Hampton Roads, whose generosity and warm embrace have significantly improved the lives of our staff and their families. Allied Command Transformation, as the embodiment of the
Transatlantic Link, is deeply grateful for the many kindnesses it has received over the years, stemming from our presence in Norfolk, NATO’s Home in North America.

Your Excellency Maris Selga, Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia,

Mr Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Mayor of the City of Norfolk. Dear Kenneth,

Honourable councilpersons and civic leaders of the city of Norfolk,

Mr. Robert Cross, founder and Executive Director of the Virginia Arts Festival,

Mr. Scott Jackson, General Manager of the Virginia Arts Festival, and Producer Director of the Virginia International Tattoo,

Mr. Gary Bonnewell, Chairman of the Norfolk NATO Festival Committee,

Admirals, generals of the Hampton Roads area,

ACT and JFC Norfolk military leadership,

Defence Attachés,

Distinguished guests,

Dear friends and families,

Ladies and gentlemen.

The Norfolk NATO Festival has celebrated the bond between the city of Norfolk and NATO for many years. And 2023 is special for at least three reasons.

First, 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of this Festival, making it the longest continuously running festival in the Hampton Roads region.

The name has changed, but from the very beginning, since 1953, the associations and civic leaders of the Festival Committee, have made the choice to associate and align the Festival / with the only NATO Strategic Command on this side of the Atlantic.

Ever since then, Norfolk has been NATO’s Home in North America.

Second reason, because 2023 also celebrates Allied Command Transformation’s 20th Anniversary!

In 2003, following the Prague Summit, NATO’s military command structure was reorganized to become more efficient, and ACT was created to become NATO’s leading agent for change.

For 20 years, ACT has anticipated new security challenges, designed future capabilities and educated talents, to keep the edge.

For the next 20 years, ACT will continue to lead warfare development of military structures, forces, capabilities and doctrines. So that NATO, the most successful military Alliance in History, can continue to fulfil its collective defence mission, guarantee the security of its one billion citizens, and defend the democratic values on which our Alliance is built.

And third reason why this Norfolk NATO Festival edition is so special, because 2023 has just seen the accession of a 31st member nation to NATO.

Indeed, Finland is now a full NATO member, and its flag flies proudly over our heads today.

Joining NATO means a lot…

  • It means, having 30 other countries committed to protect you against any aggression.
  • It means, being engaged for the respect of the rule of law, and the self-determination of peoples.
  • It means, being prepared to defend any member of the family, like you would defend yourself.

Finland is stronger and safer within NATO, and NATO is stronger and safer with Finland as an Ally.

As it will be for Sweden, whose ratification process is expected to come to an end soon.

The Russian War of aggression in Ukraine was a catalyst, which accelerated the accession processes that were underway.

As I did last year, I would like to pay tribute to the courage of the Ukrainians. They have shown remarkable determination from the first days of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

As part of the wider NATO team, ACT is focused on providing Ukraine with what it needs, to win and prevail as a sovereign, independent nation.

While Russia is sending thousands more troops into battle, trying to compensate in quantity what they lack in quality, Ukraine is benefitting from an unprecedented support provided by NATO and Allies, with training and modern weapons.

And we need to step up that support.

This war makes us realize that security can never be taken for granted.

NATO is a defensive Alliance by nature, based on solidarity between Allies that are different, but share the same values.

And the Norfolk NATO Festival has always been a symbol of this international solidarity, and friendship. Today, this colourful display of 31 Nations flags and uniforms, also shows our diversity, our inclusiveness and our cohesion!

Year after year, it strengthens the ties between the city of Norfolk and the NATO families living in Hampton Roads.

And since it’s the theme of this year’s International Tattoo, I also want to praise our military families.

They embody ideals we cherish: strength, loyalty, and commitment.

They are standing beside those who stand behind their flags, allowing the women and men in uniform / to give everything.

So the happiness and wellbeing of our families are crucial to our military’s morale. Successful integration of our families in new environment is, therefore, paramount.

We, the military and civilian families from NATO nations, are grateful to the entire Hampton Roads area for its support and warm welcome.

I express my sincere gratitude to the Mayor of Norfolk, and with him, to the local civilian and military authorities, associations, organizations and individuals / who work daily for and with us.

Thank you to the Festival Committee, which has worked so hard to make this Festival such a rich succession of wonderful moments.

And, finally, I would like to thank all of you, especially those who come from far away to participate to this year’s Festival.

You are the living proof of what collective perseverance, resilience, and unrelenting focus on pushing forward, can achieve.

Long live Norfolk NATO Festival, and Win as a Team!

Generals, Admirals,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Less than a year ago, Russia carried out its plan to invade Ukraine, while the international community looked on in disbelief. This brutal aggression of a sovereign nation sounded the return of war to the European soil, and marked the end of an era.

Now, everybody knows that we face a new reality for our security. Europe and North America continue to stand strong together in NATO to protect our people, defend our values and deter further aggression.

As SACT, one of my mission is to propose the adaptation, evolution and transformation of our Military Instrument of Power, in order to fulfil NATO’s missions, and ambition. For that, we must first anticipate the future operating environment.

So what might that war of tomorrow look like? In two words, More, and faster!

1. More, of everything:

  • more missiles;
  • more loitering, swarms of drones;
  • more competition in the information sphere;
  • more threats to our economies, sovereignties, and so on.

2. And Faster. Think hypersonic, Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing.

These new threats will take multiple forms, across different instruments of power and timescales, and over a vastly expanded battlespace.

New threats, yes, but also new opportunities!

My mission is to identify these opportunities, and to do everything possible to ensure that NATO is able to seize and exploit them.

To this end, we are developing together a vision for the future of NATO’s military instrument of power. A vision based on multi-domain operations, which will enable us to think, plan and conduct faster than our adversaries, across all domains. Multi-Domain Operations will rely on Digital Transformation, which our new Strategic Concept urges us to expedite.

In terms of capability development, it gives ACT many responsibilities to ensure that NATO’s starship stays on route and maintain its climb rate.

As a first step, we must “connect the dots” between our main concepts, and clearly identify the short, mid and long-term linkages between the NATO Military Strategy, the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept and the (Concept for the) Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area. We have to know more precisely, not only where we are going, but also when and how.

This morning, general Badia and admiral Robinson will elaborate on ACT’s contributions to that endeavour, which we are committed to fulfil in close coordination with ACO and the whole NATO Command Structure, and of course the nations.

Then, this conference proposes to work on four topics that are critical for this transformation.

The first topic directly flows from the Russian aggression against Ukraine. And with no surprise, our early observations underline the need for us to better anticipate the fast-evolving operating environment.

And to do this, it is no longer just a question of the military instrument of power, but of being able to think the other instruments of power.

And we can see this need today through interdependencies – think of energy security!

For example, we need to look at our own industrial capacity to produce in the long term, in the event of a war. But I could also talk about the importance of Resilience in the deterrence posture.

Having said that – and this should reassure you – the five NWCC imperatives remain valid and relevant; competition in the different spheres brings us back to MDO implementation, the need to shape and contest, and the necessity of managing escalation and de-escalation.

We must now accelerate the implementation of the concepts. The role of ACT is to orchestrate this acceleration, by synchronizing the activities, and maximizing the interactions.

The second topic is about Cognitive Warfare.

Russia’s war against Ukraine demonstrates the importance of the cognitive dimension. While the use of propaganda and influence operations has always existed, what is new with Cognitive Warfare is its strategic use and unprecedented scope.

In cognitive warfare, human mind becomes the battlefield; and a local event can have global repercussions, almost instantaneously! I think you will agree with me that President Zelensky has already won several battles on this field.

So, this is an urgent necessity… Some of our competitors are on the verge of realizing the age-old dream of Sun Tzu “Winning without Fighting”.

The Alliance

  • must seize the initiative in the Cognitive Dimension, recognising the threat of persistent cognitive attacks and the resulting risk to the Military Instrument of Power,
  • and take proactive steps to, first, understand and educate, then shape the environment and contest the threat of Cognitive Warfare.

The third topic deals with ACT’s domain of expertise, Interoperability, which is somehow the military part of NATO’s Digital Transformation.

Interoperability is NATO’s added-value to the nations’ capabilities. This is an enduring challenge, and we must take care that it does not become more and more difficult to achieve, over the coming years.

Let’s never lose sight that the future is about data, civilian standards, open architecture and agile development.

Nations must recover the ownership of their own transformation! And ACT and NATO HQ will help with the implementation of NATO Digital Transformation.

The last topic is about innovation.

Innovation is a different way to approach capability development; resolutely data-centric, modular and agile, but at the same time, offering practical solutions to real-world problems that our warfighters may face today or tomorrow.

Ten years after ACT established its Innovation Hub, we believe we must continue to develop our open innovation community and network, through NATO nations and entities like DIANA, and with academia and industry.

And we need to experiment more! ACT offers realistic testing grounds with real inputs and requirements, which helps to improve products for the immediate satisfaction of our soldiers, the end users. And ACT is committed to offering even more.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope this quick overview has made your mouth water for the next two days. I myself am looking forward to participating in the syndicates and sharing on the proposed topics.

Thank you for your attention. Dear Janusz, please, I give you the floor. And then, I will be ready to answer one or two questions.

Ambassador Braze, dear Baiba

NATO’s spokesperson, dear Oana

Ambassadors, Generals and Admirals,

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to begin

by thanking Ambassador Braze for inviting me, and especially for recently honoring ACT with her presence in Norfolk.

I regret not being with you in person, but what better way to talk about the future of warfare than appearing before you remotely from thousands of miles and six time zones away?

Something previous generation would have considered science fiction.

Today, I want to tell you a little bit about how ACT sees that future, what ACT is doing to prepare for that future, working with ACO, NATO HQ and the Nations and finally link those efforts to yours since it is together that we will ensure NATO continues to be the world’s most successful alliance.

Let me start by inviting you to use your mind’s eye.

Picture a small unit. It is expecting an enemy offensive and a rumble of approaching tanks is growing more audible every second. The sergeant reaches for our most potent weapon, the smartphone. And yes, there is an app for that.

Using that app she can call up via commercial satellite connection all kinds of near immediate fires. And since you are communicators, think now another place and another time. Well, that phone is another soldier’s worst enemy. He is trouble unable to concentrate on the task at hand on his duty. His children’s are, he thinks texting him, sending him links to media reports.

And this is the message he is getting.

All is lost.

He needs to come all now while he still has a home, before all the worthless politicians ruin everything. Many of you will know that version of these stories are happening right now in and around Ukraine. The future of war fighting is in some ways already here.

But you also know that to win tomorrow’s war, you don’t prepare to fight the wars of yesterday.

So NATO must be prepare for the immediate future and at the same time look much further ahead to be ready for more changes and surprises.

So, what might that war of tomorrow look like?

In a few words. More.

More of everything. More missiles, more loitering drones or swarm drones. More competition in the information sphere, more threats to our economies and energy security or whatever all the tools our opponent can reach for, including the abuse of mass migration flows, for example.

More and faster, faster.

These threats will be faster, think hypersonic, obviously, but think also artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

And that means we will need to be much faster because it’s not clear our current decision making process will be up to the task.

And finally, everything, everywhere and all the time.

That is because these new threats will take multiple forms across the different instruments of powers and timescales of our vastly expanded battle space.

That’s what we need to be ready for.

But before you lose all hope, know that we have been hard at work with our friends in ACO and their plans, posture and readiness efforts and exercises here at ACT, we are working on Multi-Domain Operations, or MDO and NATO’s digital transformation and resilience, and especially cognitive superiority and information environment assessment.

For the military side of our alliance our work is broadly defined by three major documents.

The new Strategic Concept agreed this summer, the ACT NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, NWCC, and the ACO concept for the deterrence and defense of the Euro-Atlantic area, DDA.

All three highlight how, in order to provide deterrence and defense for 1 billion of our fellow citizens, NATO forces will have to be equipped, trained for, and able to conduct multi-domain operations.

The military committee has approved the MDO vision and a working definition for MDO, which is “the orchestration of the military activities across all domains and environments, synchronized with nonmilitary activities to enable the alliance to deliver a converging effect at the speed of relevance.

What do we mean by that?

I will invite you once again to picture another scene.

But we have to jump forward in time. A loitering drone has found an important new target of opportunity that we did not know about.

A large command center. We need more information. A lot more information. And we need it now so that our decision makers can make the right call while eliminating the risk of collateral damage.

What kind of information?

It may include historical background data from satellite pictures taken by partners, GSM and ISP data from nano satellites and any other digital traces the personnel working there might have left on social media or via their posted best running times.

Collecting that data sifting through it, and bringing together the various domains is how we get what they need to our decision makers for NATO forces to succeed in this way. They will have to operate beyond the known familiar joint environment and make that giant qualitative leap to MDO, where all the military activities, irrespective of domain or environment, must mesh together.

To do that in an Alliance setting also means much more sharing of data information and intelligence and significantly closer interaction with other instrument of power.

More on than in a moment.

Notice not all of this is entirely new.

Of course, NATO’s has long operated jointly, and you may recall talk of the comprehensive approach. But in a way, we are comparing checkers and the three dimensional chess game played by Dr. Spock. Both use a board and pieces, but the level of complexity is of an entirely different order.

And the fact is, we have little choice because our adversaries can already challenge us in some, if not all, operational domains where we previously enjoy an edge. MDO is how we can keep one step ahead and ensure we can think, decide and act faster than everyone.

All of that will also require moving ahead with our digital transformation because in the example, given just now, clearly all that data needs to flow as fast as possible.

This will involve technological leaps with agile software development organization and structure, able to share and process input faster and more efficiently and the use of more open systems.

So much of what we need, of what we want to achieve will not be possible without it.

Returning now to those other instruments of power mentioned in the MDO definition, I want to make the link to another of our five warfare development imperative that in our ACT warfare development agenda.

I’m talking, of course, here of Cognitive supriority, which will bring better situational awareness and allow greater understanding of our opponents.

But it is also related to the information environment assessment and the importance of ensuring the resilience of our societies.

Let me give you another illustration by drawing your attention to a particularly instructive recent historical comparison.

In 2014, Ukraine’s cognitive strengths will severely tested both in terms of situational awareness, but also in shoring up their own resilience against a physical but also a digital assault.

Clearly, at that time, many of our own governments and NATO as a whole, were a little slow off the mark, too. And we all remember the avalanche of false and misleading information that fell on our open societies, which made it harder to react and mobilise opinions our lack of an adequate information environment assessment capabilities was a clear failure.

But we learn from failures as much as we do from our successes. In the lead up to the Russian invasion this year, the alliance and allied communication efforts and warnings were significantly improved and we were able to significantly increase the resilience of our societies.

And that was achieved both within the borders of Ukraine due in no small part to Ukraine’s successful communication efforts, but also beyond them to a wider world, including our populations.

We continue to work on improving our information environment assessment capability. ACT as with SHAPE and NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division, been working for instance a project Merlin.

It will bring improved data analytics, better modeling simulation and forecasting alerts. We know that other nations are working on collective strengths and weaknesses, including through the use of artificial intelligence on other technologies, or as part of Chinese or Russian collective war efforts.

NATO cannot ignore these developments, especially since we know that democracies are in some way more vulnerable than closed societies.

Which is why one of our warfare development imperative deals with cognitive superiority.

Recall that scenario I mentioned in the opening speech where a smartphone which was used directly at the cognitive resilience of a soldier.

And that is the point here, our armed forces are only as strong as the men and women who serve in them.

That applies at all levels of course, from the top political military leaderships whose decision making processes must take place at the speed of relevance.

It goes all the way down to our men and women on the ground who need the best training and equipment we can provide.

So then, when we think about the future of warfare, I also invite communicators to help us think about how best to protect them from that kind of threat by making use of the other instruments of powers available to the alliance, for example.

To conclude, the fog of war, will continue to worsen and the blinding speed and force of lightning strikes in that fog will continue to grow in intensity and complexity.

But the nations have given us the framework and approve our way ahead, to help us see through that fog and stay ahead.

By pulling together we can, I am confident, continue to ensure the peace and prosperity of our members and our citizens.

Before closing, dear communicators and guardians of the information domain, I wish you a successful conference.

I am also looking forward to seeing you at the 2023 Bi-SC NATO Communicators Conference next September, and I discussed that even with today’s host, ASG PDD during a visit to Norfolk earlier this month.

I am delighted to announce that we will meet in Paris for the September 2023 conference to build our capabilities and continue our conversation.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Communicate as a team and of course, win as a team.

Mr. Alexander de Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium,
Mr. Geoană, Deputy Secretary General, dear Mircea,
Mr. Decamps, General Manager of the NATO Communication and Information Agency, dear Ludwig,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very happy to be here today in Mons, for this first NATO EDGE Conference. It is a major event for achieving our common objective of keeping NATO’s Warfighting edge.

But how do we keep the advantage, collectively?

Through a new data-centric, modular and agile approach to capability development, in order to enable Multi-Domain Operations by 2030.

First of all, it is necessary to see from where we start, and where we want to go.

NATO is without doubt the most successful international political and military organization in modern history, built on common democratic values.

Today, NATO’s military instrument of power is the result of combining the women, men and equipment of 30 different nations, united by common procedures and interoperability standards.

In recent years, increasingly bold competitors have emerged in an ever more complex security environment.

All around us, the digital revolution is shortening all cycles: research and development cycles, training cycles, user cycles…. We have entered the era of agility, open architectures and constant questioning. That’s where we are.

And in our sights, where we want to be by 2030, is MDO, which stands for “Multi-Domain Operations”; “the orchestration of military activities, across all domains & environments, synchronized with non‐military activities, to enable the Alliance to deliver converging effects at the speed of relevance”.

And there is a big difference between conducting complex joint operations – as we do today – and being able to conduct multi-domain operations, as we aim to do tomorrow.

  • Joint operations are military actions conducted by joint forces: significant elements of two or more military services operating under a single Joint Force Command.
  • The typical joint operation is Operation Overlord in Normandy, back in World War II. At that time, we executed stove-piped, pre-planned operations in several domains.
  • In Afghanistan, one could argue that we executed operations in multiple domains.
  • However, connectivity between domains and level of command was built upon fragile, temporary communication networks, glued together using existing technology.
  • Commands and commanders struggled to synchronize each of the domains, and were rarely able to inform or synchronize activities with other Instruments of Power.

Yes, there is a big step between Executing operations in multi domains and Conducting Multi-Domain Operations.

  • MDO is larger; MDO coordinates and synchronizes activities from multiple forces (military and non-military) that can operate in a non-traditional domain.

Unlike in Afghanistan, MDO should enable us to operate in a non-permissive environment, against a peer adversary that can fight back in all 5 domains: sea, air, land, space and cyberspace.

MDO will ensure that our Command and Control, our Communication and Information systems, and all the key capabilities such as the ISR, or Cyber, are linked and synchronized.

Across all domains, MDO will guarantee that all levels of command have a real-time awareness of delivered and available effects, allowing seamless synchronization.

MDO will allow the orchestration of all instruments of power, and the use of non-military effects to support the military objectives, and vice-versa.

And on the battlefield, MDO will enable a warfighter to leverage any available sensor or effector, military or not, across all domains.

This is the “where we want to go”. Now the question is… What is the way? And what is the method?

We have asked a lot from our traditional defence industries[p] in terms of reliability, accountability and guarantees. Because of these high standards, the approach we inherited is a little heavy, which does not fit well with this increasingly compelling need for agility.

Of course, we will not compromise on our standards of reliability and performance; we owe it to our warfighters, and to the one billion citizens that NATO protects, in accordance with our democratic and human values.

But we will add the “need for speed and agility” to the mix.

That’s why, in order to keep up with the pace of the world, we must now resolutely – and quickly – switch to a new development approach.

This calls for a change of “philosophy” in terms of capability development, at all levels:

  • for the warfighters,
  • for their equipment,
  • and for our operating processes.

The period in which we find ourselves is a crucial transition phase. We must both modernize and transform, building on lead nations, but taking care not to leave anyone behind.

Basically, to win any confrontation, we must think and act better and faster than the adversary.

First, we need to gain speed. From cycles lasting a few years today, we must be able to move to a few months or even weeks. For this, we must now disconnect the software and hardware capability cycles.

This switch, from an approach based on sequential and monolithic programmes, to one based on a scalable and agile capability approach, is essential if we are to develop multi-domain, data-centric and interoperable capabilities and operations.

Allied nations must also have equipment that communicates natively and interacts naturally with each other to maximize operational effectiveness. This equipment must be able to easily evolve to meet new requirements, as they emerge through Innovation, experimentations, exercises and real operations.

The segregation between the civilian and military worlds no longer makes sense. NATO must be able to draw inspiration and good ideas from civilian innovation, at scale. The innovation mind-set must become the new normal for capability development, education and training, and working processes.

NATO’s functioning must finally be based on processes that are agile, too. The objective is to strengthen our responsiveness and competitiveness as an organization.

And the instrument for this transformation, the vehicle by which NATO will be able, by 2030, to conduct multi-domain operations, is the NATO Digital Transformation.

Data and agility are at the heart of Digital Transformation.

In short, Digital Transformation is the ability to produce data, and to make it consumable by anyone who is entitled to, resulting into a decisive operational advantage – data must be seamlessly shared and processed, whatever position, Nation or domain.

It leads to three requirements and one challenge for NATO Allies.

First requirement, to have agile, interoperable capabilities, developed with open architectures, able to evolve rapidly as the environment and needs of our warfighters change.

Because change is inevitable; we must be able to embrace it at the speed of relevance.

Interoperability is a collective responsibility.

  • NATO can define the framework, but the implementation is the responsibility of member nations.
  • ACT provides an interoperability testing, experimentation and certification environment. Nations must make the most of it, to accelerate their capability cycles.

If not, it would lead to a growing gap between ‘digital allies’ who have embraced Digital Transformation, and the others who would hamper the Alliance’s overhaul Transformation.

Second requirement, to implement a new distributed and connected Command and Control, compatible with the agility we need for conducting Multi-Domain Operations.

Indeed, the verticality of our C2 is a handicap for MDO, because it induces major bottlenecks in the upper part of the decision-making spectrum, which artificial intelligence will not be enough to overcome.

Distribution and connectivity should allow us to restore horizontality. This newfound subsidiarity should lead to significant time savings and a more fluid functioning.

Third requirement, to have the means to securely collect, convey and consume any kind of data, in an “agnostic” manner, i.e. independently of the nature and origin of the data.

This third requirement has several implications.

  • It means a lot in terms of cyber intelligence, and cybersecurity.

Like a submarine in the water or an airplane in the air, cyber is the natural environment of data. Mastering this environment is therefore an essential prerequisite for shaping, contesting and fighting in other domains.

  • In terms of data exploitation, the mass of information to be processed in a necessarily very short time imposes the use of automated treatments based on Artificial Intelligence.

The purpose of these automatisms is to give the human being – whatever his position: operator, controller or decision-maker – a clear and comprehensible, simplified but relevant representation of reality.

These synthetic representations will allow the real-time monitoring of the environment and a high level of situation awareness.

Seamless Data handling clears the fog of war!

  • And AI-based, Assisted Decision-Making tools will become essential as leaders gain access to increasingly detailed situations, the complexity of which is likely to exceed human abstraction capacities.

And now, let me please end my speech on the major challenge we have to face for implementing NATO Digital Transformation.

Sharing. Data sharing. And it’s essentially a political commitment.

Nations must recover the ownership of their own data, so that they are able to collect, and exploit, and share it, irrespective of who are the main industrial contractors.

And that sharing is itself, of course, a political issue. Nations and NATO entities must understand the urgent need to better share Data. The whole logic of digital transformation is centred on data. And when we talk about data, the notion of mass is fundamental.

  • If we don’t have enough data, we can’t account for the complexity of our security environment.
  • If we don’t have enough data, artificial intelligence doesn’t work; and the Artificial Intelligence tools we need cannot be developed.
  • If we don’t have enough data, we are vulnerable to attacks and deception.

We must share more – by breaking down the barriers that prevent us from doing so today – and better – by sharing the right data, as a service, and not a piece of intelligence that must be classified and protected from our own allies.

  • If we fail to share better, we won’t be able to implement new agile, modular approach to capability development.
  • If we fail to share better, we won’t be able to conduct Multi-Domain Operations, despite our tremendous collective efforts to implementing NATO Digital Transformation.
  • If we fail to share better, we will lose our warfighting edge.

We have all the cards in our hands.

We have the will, the skills, and the means to carry out this transformation.

I think Ludwig will agree with me that we can accomplish great things in less than 10 years. It is now up to us to continue on this path, to win together, as a team.

I wish the NCIA a happy 10-year Anniversary!

I thank you for your attention.

Ministers, Excellences,
Generals and Admirals,
Distinguished hosts and guests.

I am delighted to have the finest communication experts of our 30 nations gathered today in Skopje for this NATO Communicators Conference 2022.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the authorities of North Macedonia for hosting this conference. I extend my gratitude to all those who have participated in the organization of this event.

Here are the right people with the right skills. This should allow us to collectively maintain our lead in an increasingly complex security environment.

Information is a resource that is, and will be, increasingly used to destabilize nations; especially democracies, which are more exposed because of their openness.

What has drastically changed over the past few years is the hyper-connectivity of the world.

It is now possible to actually target people’s minds; to change not only WHAT they think – the Information – but also HOW they think – the Cognition.

As NATO’s Warfare Development Command, ACT has been tasked with providing the best military advice to enable NATO to keep the edge in the Cognitive dimension.

How we do this?

We must first understand, and equip ourselves with the right tools to monitor the environment, to decipher all competing strategies, and to detect malicious actions.

And then, we must counteract, and maintain or regain the initiative.

Take the example of Russia’s war in Ukraine; we have seen that Putin’s political warfare strategy aims to undermine the trust, cohesion, and societal framework of NATO nations, by exploiting our democracy-induced vulnerabilities through below-the-threshold attacks on our core values.

To counter this and shape the environment to our own advantage, NATO must build its resilience as an Alliance, and help each nation to build its own.

Thus, we will ensure NATO maintains its warfighting advantage and safeguards its freedom of action, by protecting our intelligence and our C2.

In this way, NATO will also be able to preserve our way of life and offer security, from assertive authoritarian actors and extremist ideologies, under appropriate ethical and legal frameworks, as agreed by NATO nations.

ACT’s Cognitive Warfare efforts will position NATO to seize the initiative in the cognitive dimension whenever necessary, and to ensure the Alliance is prepared to defend against any cognitive attacks from aggressors.

The Digital Transformation will allow us to drive this ramp-up to cognitive warfare.

By our ability to better share data, NATO’s word will remain strong and reliable.

Because trust is long to gain and quick to lose, we must ensure ours is the first voice to be heard, backed by unfettered facts.

But I know I am talking to eminent specialists.

I must say I am particularly confident in our collective ability to lead this evolution with agility and creativity.

I wish you a very fruitful conference. I look forward to reading your outcomes.

And to the authorities and people of North Macedonia, I wish you a happy Independence Day tomorrow.

Thank you for your attention.

Mrs. Elaine Luria, Congresswoman for Virginia, dear Elaine,

Mr. Kenneth Alexander, Mayor of Norfolk, dear Kenny,

Vice Admiral Dwyer, Commander US Second Fleet and JFC Norfolk, dear Daniel,

General Ruggiero, dear Paolo,

General Badia, dear Chris,

Admiral Robinson, dear Guy,

Chief Master Sergeant Blais, dear Brion,

Admirals, Generals, military authorities,

Distinguished civilian representatives of Hampton Roads communities,

National Liaison Representatives,

HQ SACT Staff, dear colleagues and friends,

Dear families.

It is not without some emotion that I preside today over this ceremony of change of responsibility between General Ruggiero and General Badia.

This marks the end of a year that has been extremely rich in events, but also in lessons, for all of us, for ACT and for NATO in general.

ACT is one of the two Strategic Commands of NATO, and the only one on this side of the Atlantic.

Our mission is to lead NATO’s Transformation; and it’s a big one!

  • It means first and foremost to “scan the future”, that is to say to develop capabilities to propose new options to the political leadership…
  • It means aligning 30 nations…
  • while adopting a 360 approach and a great flexibility, to ensure that we can adapt to the constantly evolving context…
  • with the ultimate goal of keeping the advantage.

This begins with understanding our world and the new strategic reality, in its complexity and changing nature.

This understanding must allow us to project ourselves into the future in order to anticipate the capabilities, talents and processes that we will need tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow.

Without ever losing sight of those for whom we work, the warfighters of NATO nations.

But being the Warfare Development Command goes beyond developing capabilities;

identifying the skills;

and educating and training our human resource.

It is also a matter of developing cooperation among member nations, taking advantage of the progress of some for the benefit of all.

It is also to establish partnerships, to seek outside what we lack internally; or to help those who can work with us for the peace and stability of our world, of our billion citizens who have entrusted us with the keys to their security.

This is a beautiful and important mission, and to fulfil it, HQ SACT here in Norfolk is not alone.

First, we make the best use of our position in the United States to listen, to share, to brainstorm… and to bring our added-value, in order to win as a team.

We can also count on our three subordinate entities, the Joint Warfare Centre in Norway, the Joint Force Training Centre in Poland and the Joint Analysis & Lessons Learned Centre in Portugal.

They bring expertise in specific domains, and their own networks.

And, to be as close as possible to the concerns of our decision-makers, and to the operational needs, Allied Command Transformation has a representative at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, and a Staff Element who sits alongside ACO HQ in Mons.

To lead a command of this magnitude and to assume my responsibilities requires a command team.

This Command Team brings together the FOGOs, the POLAD, the CSEL, the DCOSes and the Branch Heads… and, of course, the Chief of Staff, DSACT and myself.

Let me elaborate a little bit on this trio.

This is a true command tool, ensuring that what we deliver is consistent with the expectations of those who lead us and those who serve in operations.

This tight command team is a source of diversity and a guarantee of efficiency. Because a trio is not a triumvirate. There is a great complementarity and no unnecessary redundancy.

And while, in the domain of Transformation, everything is a matter of networks, working in trio is a force multiplier. Especially when nations appoint their finest minds as DSACT.

General Paolo Ruggiero is a man of achievements and relations.

Together with General André Lanata, he produced the NWCC, which reflects our best strategic thinking, and serve as the Military North Star of the Alliance towards 2040; and he actively contributed to its endorsement by the nations.

What he has accomplished over the past three years as Deputy SACT truly illustrates the modern vision of transformation that ACT promotes.

General Ruggiero has been very helpful in strengthening the bonds with nations through NLRs and PNLRs.

He has put a lot of effort into leveraging the expertise of the various NATO-accredited COEs…

and that’s a huge task, considering there are 28 today, and will be 29 by December, and probably 30 within a year.

I might also mention his role in improving the lessons learned process across NATO.

And of course, the NATO Industry Forum in Roma last year, which attracted over 660 participants, and was unanimously recognized as highly valuable to help strengthen our collaboration with defence, security and tech industries.

Dear Paolo, for the precious help you have provided to General Lanata and myself throughout the last 3 years,

and for all that you have done for ACT and NATO,

Thank you so much!

And of course my thanks and gratitude also go to your wife Holly-Ann.

I told you a trio is a source of diversity, and one could argue that we are about to reduce this diversity by appointing another Air Force General as DSACT… Yes guys, it will be challenging!

Please bear with me if you see me talking with my hands and attacking my wrist watch!

General Chris Badia, you have the difficult task of succeeding general Ruggiero.

Your outstanding professionalism and experience, your huge expertise in Programs and Plans – to name a few – will undoubtedly be valuable for ACT. I am both glad and impatient to start working with you.

We have so many tasks to implement after the Transformative Summit of Madrid!

On behalf of all ACT staff,

  • dear Paolo, once again THANK YOU VERY MUCH, as the SecGen is used to say;
  • and dear Chris, welcome to the team;

Welcome to ACT;

and Welcome to Cornelia in this wonderful community of Hampton Roads and NATO.

Win as a team!

General Eric Autellet, French Deputy CHoD,

Dr Bryan Wells, NATO Chief Scientist,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me today to share my vision with you on the conflicts of the future, the impact of technology on future capabilities and concepts of the Alliance, and about the role of ACT in their development.

There is a general tendency to think about the character of future wars through the lenses of the present time.

The wars in former Yugoslavia, and especially in Bosnia-Herzegovina, between 1992 and 1995, led some scholars to argue that armed conflicts have shifted from primarily state-oriented conflicts involving a mass of soldiers and centralized “top-down” planning – to a series of hybrid or “low intensity” conflicts that involve private contractors, paramilitaries and illegal sponsors.

At the beginning of the 21st century, you may have heard many scholars claim that conventional warfare was officially dead. They contended that political and military leadership must adapt to the new reality that no adversary wants to fight the United States and NATO in a symmetrically conventional fashion.

Ukraine crisis and Russian annexation of Crimea, in 2014, led us to believe that hybrid warfare will be the predominant challenge, a way our adversaries will use to circumvent our conventional military power to achieve their political goals.

And, the Russian aggression on Ukraine brought geopolitics and conventional warfare again on “the stage” of Europe’s soil. It also brought back “irrationality” in international relations because Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine had been unprovoked from a rational stance perspective.

Putin had also overestimated his power and potential to win a quick war, and, at the same time, underestimated Ukraine. The determination of Ukraine’s leadership and people to transform their armed forces with NATO’s assistance, since 2014, and to resist Russian aggression since February this year, turned out to be remarkable.

This example shows how difficult it may be to assess the potential of military power only by examining quantitative parameters.

And, while many things related to that war have been unexpected or wrongly predicted, this conflict serves as a reminder that sustained conventional war hinges on the availability of manpower, materiel, ammunition, and defence industrial capacity to sustain it.

Hence, conventional warfare is not dead, and hybrid warfare may not necessarily be the predominant way of achieving gains below the threshold of an open conflict.

And, when we talk about the war in Ukraine, we must accept that this is not the “model war” we may hypothesize as a potential NATO-Russia war, but just a “type of war”. It is because we are aware that this war is specific to geography, history, strategic narrative and culture, and economic factors, among others.

It is also specific in terms of used capabilities, since we know that Russia has not yet used the full spectrum of their capabilities … nor has it been engaged equally in all operational domains (for example: space).

So, in our strategic thinking we have to go wider and farther … and we do. This is why we say that our NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept is threat-informed but risk and opportunity-based.

In this Concept we take into consideration all relevant current developments in security environment, but we don’t bound ourselves on any of them.

This Concept was endorsed by all NATO Nations, and it takes into consideration all their perspectives – but is comprehensive and inclusive enough to encompass them all and not to limit itself to any specifically.

It is because we know that we cannot derive definite conclusions about the future (security environment) from current trends, no matter how convincing they are. This is why in our strategic thinking we want to go “above and beyond”. Hence, we consider the current developments in the character of warfare as one of the “parameters”, as one of the variables in the “big equation”.

Regarding Technology, and I want to talk about technology with a capital “T” – its development is, certainly, an important variable in scanning the security horizon.

There is no doubt, that Technology has been a key driver of our societies for decades, and especially since the pace of its development accelerated in the very last years.

The recent decades have seen an unprecedented growth and acceleration of technological development thanks in large part to the commercial sector. And, it is especially the case in the digital domain, such as cyber or AI today, and quantum technologies or cognitive warfare tomorrow.

These developments have potential or are already being exploited by all kinds of potential adversaries, from terrorists to our peer or near peer competitors. New technologies, which are widely available, have offered state and non-state actors a multitude of solutions to threaten and create potential disruption well above and beyond what was imaginable a few decades ago.

The ability of potential adversaries to challenge the Alliance and its member nations politically, militarily, and technologically is growing. Technology is, therefore, an important driver of our adaptation, and transformation of our capabilities.

Arguably, technology, especially Emerging and Disruptive Technology, is one of the key drivers of the transformation of NATO defence capabilities.

Facing this challenge, the Alliance decided to adopt the NATO EDT roadmap. Since then, we have focused in particular on AI, Big Data, Autonomy, Space, Quantum Technologies, Biotechnologies, Human Enhancement, and Hypersonics.

I believe that we all agree that behind every successful defence enterprise there is a significant number of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians, all working to ensure that warfighters have the best technology, knowledge and know-how to outperform and outsmart potential adversaries.

The North Atlantic Alliance, born in 1949, the longest-running political and military organization in the world, has been so far successfully fulfilling its mission thanks to its cohesion, its deterrence but also its technological edge against adversaries and competitors.

This is why, it is paramount to connect the way we perceive our strategic environment to the most recent evolution of the technological landscape challenges in order to ensure the persistence of this technological superiority of the Alliance.

Of course, there is always a challenge what to choose as priorities, and where to focus. A British (Irish) author and journalist Rebecca West observed that “before the war, military science looked like real science, like astronomy; but after the war it looks more like astrology.” And, this is not because science or technology development failed, but because conflict usually develops in often unprecedented ways.

The risk is, therefore, that we don’t anticipate correctly the type of war(fare), or operations we may be engaged in … and consequently don’t have the right capabilities.

But, this is not the only challenge – time also works against us. We have come to realise that we also must accelerate Transformation in all areas, while ensuring overall coherence. This requires us to adopt new ways of doing things and a more agile approach.

Faced with different challenges and threats in our security environment, its complexity and variety of actors, technology development, and other challenges that multiply the threats, such as pandemics or climate change, we knew we needed a “guide” that would ensure us more proactive and anticipatory approach.

That is the role of NWCC, NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, developed to be our “North Star” concept. With this Concept, we aim at bringing the greatest possible coherence to our efforts to cope with future challenges. And, while we think about a 20 year perspective, it is not a fixed plan for the next 20 years, but the beginning of a process.

And, I am aware there will be doubts and challenges along the way, and we will not always be able to come to definite answers. It is because we are facing a non-linear, complex security environment.

Were we to compare warfare development to physics, we are at the point where we have evolved from understanding the laws of kinetics and electromagnetics, to entering the age of quantum physics. And we too will need to confront the “Uncertainty principle”.

To succeed, we need to factor in a great number of variables, including the changing character of future warfare, with its speed, and blurred lines between systemic competition, crisis and war.

We also have to take into considerations variety of actors, use of disruptive technology, difficulty of attributing cyber threats and attacks, “fighting” in grey zones and hybrid warfare, engaging in Multi-Domain operations, and a coherent civil-military resilience … to name a few.

This is why our Warfare Development Agenda, which sets a plan to implement NWCC, ensures we explore so-called Warfare Development Imperatives, to always be “on track”, and ensure adequate adaptation.

We comprehend that answers to complex issues, due to causalities between the different variables and actors, are rarely binary. Therefore, we are aware that we need to think in terms of trade-offs, and in terms of effects and incremental approaches. Hence my motto: “Think big, act small and fast”, as a steady way to success.

We also know that, to fully succeed in implementing our concepts, we need to accept new paradigms when approaching challenges and proposing new solutions. Our attitude is vital in this effort, or as Winston Churchill put it: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”.

It is about creating team spirit, wherever and whenever possible. This is about creating “a fertile ground” for innovation (creativity), agility, and resilience within our organization. NWCC Implementation and the successful adaptation of our Military Instrument of Power to the evolving security environment greatly depend on our ability to maintain our capability and technology edge, but also on this “team mindset”.

At ACT we are aware that NATO’s Transformation must give us the means to face the new challenges.

And, to acquire these tools we, at NATO, have to be innovative and to fully benefit from science and technology. However, to achieve that, we need to assume fully the risk of failure. That is something that is pretty counter-intuitive for the current procurement processes, which have become rigid for some reasons, but that is a fundamental enabler of innovation.

It is interesting to note, for example, that DARPA uses a “failure indicator” that, if too low, proves that they are not innovating hard enough!

In ACT, we have a relatively long tradition of innovation through our Science & Technology Programme of Work, which is executed by the Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation.

And, our maritime Science and Technology programme of work is impressive, where autonomous systems, AI technologies, and quantum sensing, developed through this programme are field-tested during exercises or through sea trials.

We also work shoulder to shoulder with the NATO Science and Technology Organization. And, collaboration with NATO STO is essential to understanding the future and helping leverage knowledge and technology in particular.

The lessons we learn every day – including from the war in Ukraine, for instance – the experimentations we conduct, the growing understanding we have of the changing security environment, the emerging and disruptive technologies we monitor and harness, the partnerships with nations, academia and, of course, industry… all help us find the best way to maintain NATO’s technological edge.

ACT is also leading a set of parallel and interconnected efforts across the Alliance to achieve digital transformation by modernising and transforming NATO’s digital capabilities, people and processes.

This is, actually, one of my priorities: to provide the alliance with the ability to conduct Multi-Domain Operations based on digital transformation. By harnessing multi-domain operations, digital transformation must allow us to understand better, to be able to decide faster, and thus be stronger together.

And, along with this “capability-oriented thinking”, we in ACT are also exploring on how to improve our processes and organizational culture.

We think on how to improve and make our acquisition processes more agile and faster, by using, for example, digital twins, to create simulations that can predict how a product or process will perform.

And, we also think about the “whole NATO”, especially on how to use different tools to facilitate agile and “asymmetric” thinking to enhance our Art of Command and support decision-making with new technology.

To conclude, I would say that the role of science and technology is vital for the transformation of NATO’s Military Instrument of Power. To express it in the terminology of strategy development: science and technology connects the ends, ways and means of our efforts, as it is often part of all these three dimensions. In “ends”, it is about maintaining our edge, and in “ways” it is about how we use the technology, both in capabilities and decision making. And, in “means” it is about technology as tools and infrastructure.

And, as a “roof” over it, it is the team spirit that must ensure we are smarter, faster and more creative than our adversaries, in using technology for our defence.

Thank you for your attention.

Ministers, Excellences, generals, admirals,

Distinguished hosts and guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would have liked to be physically with you in Riga. Fortunately, today we are equipped with the technological means to conduct a fruitful dialogue, even over such strategic distances…

We have long entered the communication era, and the military has been quick to realize the importance of STRATCOM. Didn’t Napoleon say that “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets...”?

Since then, technological developments have amplified the importance of information in our security environment. Information is a resource that is and will increasingly be used to destabilize countries, in particular democracies that are exposed through their openness.

While they are not new, disinformation campaigns, fake news, or conspiracy theories, are used to fragment states and polarize the public opinion. Directed towards NATO and its member states, they weaken our democratic values, increase distrust and discontent towards political systems, and promote populist and nationalist movements.

What is new is the pervasiveness of information now being leveraged by our competitors via increasing, diverse and largely unregulated information tools, to influence attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. This is further exacerbated as we actively provide opportunities for demanders to obtain our information and codify our behaviours for manipulation.

You will have seen how certain large multinational companies used this to define and anticipate human behaviour. This growing personal data expose vulnerabilities ready for ‘social engineering’. As for China, these practices give autocracies new tools for information control, and even manipulation and disinformation. The brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia offers a blatant illustration of the challenges we now face.

Since 2008 and the return of war in Europe for the first time in the 21st century, Russia has been developing a political strategy to undermine the cohesion of the Alliance. In Ukraine, Russia has systematically used all the instruments of power at its disposal – military, of course, but also diplomatic, economic, cultural and informational – to achieve its goals.

I would argue that Russia’s strategy of political warfare is designed and conducted using this tools specially to undermine trust and cohesion and impact negatively our societal resilience; thus, presenting a great risk to NATO.

Russia’s STRATCOM and cognitive actions have long targeted our one billion citizens with below-the-threshold attacks on NATO’s core values, exploiting our democracy-induced vulnerabilities. They seek to break our willpower by remaining below the threshold that would prompt a warfighting response.

To counter this and shape the environment to our own advantage, NATO must build its resilience as an Alliance, and also help each nation to build its own. We need to strengthen our cohesion, and have our own strategy to better exploit the cognitive dimension, in order to tackle attempts by adversaries, to gain strategic advantage, and to generate the effects needed to safeguard our deterrence and defence posture.

To maintain advantage, preserve freedom of action and actively defend unfettered decision-making, NATO must now develop a Cognitive Warfare capability.

Cognitive Warfare is broader than, but encompasses NATO Strategic Communication, as a holistic approach to counter attempts by adversaries to gain strategic Cognitive advantage within the new hyper-connected operating reality.

Cognitive Warfare is the generation of cognitive effects based on actions in the five military domains and the information environment. Cognitive Warfare leverages hyper-connectivity, the pervasiveness of data, psychological warfare and cognitive sciences to affect not only what people think but also how they think and act.

The Cognitive Warfare concept will propose how NATO can effectively increase the Cognitive resilience of our Military Instrument of Power by enhancing and protecting decision superiority to ensure freedom of action, but could also be applied to our societal Resilience.

This concept will provide a framework for NATO to develop the military instrument of power, by appreciating the implications of the cognitive dimension for the Alliance warfare development, and its accelerated adaptation through defence planning, capabilities and doctrine.

Cognitive warfare directly exploits advances in digital technology, applied both at individual and networked levels, to manipulate the psychological, social and information environment.

You may argue that manipulation and psychological warfare have existed since the dawn of humanity. What has changed is the scale, speed and stealthiness that cognitive technologies now allow.

Our competitors are using Cognitive Warfare to leading people, knowingly and unknowingly, to exacerbate divisions in our societies with implications for the Alliance. Exploiting information technology, they seek to create confusion, false representations, and uncertainty with a deluge of information or misinformation. They use delocalized cyber tools and information to alter our cognitive processes, exploit mental limitations, biases and automatism.

The data provides unprecedented insight into the psychology of targeted groups and individuals, and can lead to distortions in representations and consensus building, altered decision making and inhibited action. The Cambridge Analytica data scandal is an emblematic example of these methods and their potential effects.

Pursued to the fullest, Cognitive Warfare has the potential to destabilize societies, military organizations, and fracture alliances. Sensitivity to cognitive warfare raises many questions and concerns for NATO. How to guard against such attacks? How to detect networked automations that distort and manipulate the information sphere? How to attribute them?

That’s why the conceptualization of Cognitive Warfare is currently being done in Allied Command Transformation. Now more than ever, we need to understand what we are fighting against and how to defend ourselves. We need the contribution of all relevant NATO and national or private entities to help us grasping the outreach of such a complex issue. The Riga STRATCOM Dialogue is certainly the perfect forum to draw attention to this topic.

NATO’s Transformation must give us the means to face these new challenges. This is the sense of my priorities, to provide the alliance with the ability to conduct multi-domain operations based on digital transformation .By harnessing multi-domain operations, digital transformation must allow us to understand better, to be able to decide faster, and thus be stronger together.

Everything starts with understanding the information environment.

Our Capability Development Directorate is currently working on the Information Environment assessment, which can provide detailed analysis of the Information Environment in order to enhance the speed, connectivity and effectiveness of STRATCOM.

It will protect and enhance our decision making through the exploration of the Cognitive Warfare Concept and the overarching Cognitive Superiority Warfare Development Imperative that connects it to other key transformational work. The goal is to recognise, respond to and repel cognitive threats under appropriate ethical and legal frameworks as agreed by NATO nations.

ACT’s Cognitive Warfare efforts will position NATO to seize the initiative in the cognitive dimension whenever necessary, and ensure the Alliance is prepared to defend against any cognitive attacks from aggressors. Thus, we will ensure NATO maintains its warfighting advantage and safeguards its freedom of action, to protect our way of life and offer security from assertive authoritarian actors and extremist ideologies.

These cognitive warfare effort is part of the Warfare Development Agenda, the backbone of our work for the next 20 years. ACT is leading a set of parallel and interconnected efforts across the Alliance to achieve digital transformation by modernising and transforming NATO’s digital capabilities, people and processes. At an age of data predominance, technologies such as AI or quantum computing will probably significantly extend the Cognitive Warfare in the coming years. We must make data resilient too!

We must accelerate Transformation in all areas, while ensuring overall coherence. We need to adopt new ways of doing things and a more agile approach, and this of course includes STRATCOM.

This new state of mind materializes in different ways.

  • First, by a work of thinking and conceptualization. It’s useful, a concept! It helps us speak the same language, and aligns 30 nations to pave the way towards increased interoperability and integration.
  • Second, through an incremental approach which aims at thinking big, acting small and fast, to scale up. We must take advantage of every opportunity, every exercise to experiment new ideas and capabilities, and deduce standards and way ahead. I hope there’s no NATO-led exercise today without any STRATCOM component.
  • Third, we must expand our networks and build relationships with all relevant actors, be it military, governmental or multi-national corporations and organisations, in order to seek solution for problems that will inevitably arise.
  • And fourth, we need to educate and train our people, from soldiers to political leaders, to a high level of maturity. This will enhance the overall understanding of the cognitive dimension, allow the conception of intelligent systems for assisted decision-making that take into account a set of cognitive, human biases to be resilient, and thus strengthen our unity.

It can also contribute to the regulation of the Information Environment, hampering our adversaries’ and competitors’ strategies.

For instance, on ethical and legal questions, collaboration with the EU, which develops a Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference Toolbox, could be mutually beneficial. But the diversity of the audience today makes me think that this shouldn’t be difficult for STRATCOM people to use their networks…

I will conclude with perhaps the most important thing. While empowering ourselves to drive the narrative, we must never surrender our principles and values. When Russia seeks to confuse the narrative and China to control it, NATO must speak first and always tell the truth. As we have during the Russian war in Ukraine.

I now look forward to exchanging views with you. Thank you for your attention.

As delivered

Général d’armée aérienne Philippe LAVIGNE

  • Mr Giedrimas Jeglinskas, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Executive Management,
  • Mr Piotr Naimski, Secretary of State,
  • Colonel Konrad Korpowski, Direcor of the Government Centre for Security,
  • Ambassadors,
  • Representatives of allied and partner nations and organizations,
  • Distinguished guests,
  • Ladies and gentlemen,

Here we already are at the end of this symposium!

Let me first thank my team for organizing this event, and also thank the Polish Ministry of Defence for hosting this event and making it so informative and enjoyable, from the beginning to the end! A special thanks to you Konrad and your team, Ms Marta Podkowska and Mr Slawomir Lazarek. Also, thank you Vlasta and all your ACT team. Thank you!

At the opening session, I said that I hoped we would learn new ideas from each other, which we could adopt to further improve our work in this important area of resilience. I certainly learned a lot and we can say that this symposium has been a huge success!

There have been many interesting topics discussed during these two days, and good lessons identified. We have shared a lot, and we have to continue to build upon it.

Thank you, Mr, Thankey for your takeways from this symposium.

I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on resilience and potential way ahead.

  • First – resilience is first and foremost a national responsibility. It requires political commitment, dedicated organization, money, choices, and prioritization.
  • Second – civil-military cooperation is of the utmost importance for strong resilience, in order to generate unity of effort. This collaboration requires trust between political, civilian and military authorities. It also requires the will and the capability to share data in a whole-of-government approach.
  • Third – since resilience is the ability to absorb strategic shocks, we need to reduce the risk of such a shock happening. We must know how to shape and contest the environment, to win war before it happens.
  • Four – about the effect of the war in Ukraine on our resilience: we need to be dynamic rather than static; proactive rather than passive. This war has also demonstrated the importance of the Space domain for state resilience, with solutions that can be brought by partner nations and also by non-state actors, such as Space X.
  • Five – to deter an enemy, we need to project force and strength; and we also need to project resilience.
  • Six – resilience requires training our people. We have to focus on the “dynamic part” of our exercises, but also on interagency cooperation, including civilian participation in military exercises. We also need to consider using new ways of training and education to strengthen our resilience, including experimentation, wargaming, modelling and simulation, and other modern tools.
  • Seven – regarding Energy Resilience: we need to adapt and rethink (e.g. fuel inventory and procurement) and we need to transform (e.g. consumption patterns, new energy sources).
  • Eight – societal resilience, a question of trust, of “distribution” of resilience and education of our youth. Because resilience is also a question of spirit.
  • Finally, while resilience is a national responsibility, it is also a collective commitment in which we need to leverage our partners.

Hence, we need to modernize and transform our organizations through digital transformation, to have the right tools to share data. We also need to educate our people on new technologies and innovation.

In this area, where military and civilian cooperation is key, NATO needs to take advantage of complementarity with the European Union. We need this cooperation to be more resilient as a team!

Let me reiterate the method we must follow in building resilience too: “Think big, Act Small and Fast”.

The war in Ukraine has reset the strategic and geopolitical context of NATO, Europe and the wider world. Consequently, the real challenge for the forthcoming NATO’s Strategic Concept will be to capture that change and the changes to come by 2030 and beyond and get in front of it. Progressing in building resilience will remain an important part of our efforts to face these challenges.

That is why we have to work together, to succeed as a team.

Thank you for your participation and attention.

Mr Mariusz Błaszczak, Minister of National Defence of Poland;

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning and welcome (again) to the Resilience Symposium organized by NATO Allied Command Transformation and the Polish Ministry of Defence, and welcome to the wonderful city of Warsaw. I am using this opportunity to warmly thank our hosts for having us in Poland these three days. Thank you.

After having had two successfully organized Resilience Conferences by Allied Command Transformation in recent years, we are continuing in this, symposium format, aiming at outreaching to a broader audience, particularly civilian, including academic and scientific.

It is because resilience requires a comprehensive, holistic approach, and because of strong interdependencies. To be successfully built, resilience requires successful collaboration between civilian and military stakeholders and must consider these two mutually reinforcing layers.

In NATO, we realized the significance of building resilience, as a measure to respond to, and to protect against the threats of hybrid warfare, incarnated in Russian behaviour in shaping international relations, which culminated with the so-called Ukraine crisis, in 2014.

However, it was not the first time resilience had been introduced in NATO. The principles of resilience were already built into the NATO founding act, the North Atlantic Treaty, in its Article 3, in 1949.

In Article 3, parties agree to “separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.”

Accordingly, resilience is recognized in NATO as a national responsibility but, also, as the collective imperative, because it underpins deterrence and defence. And, credible deterrence and defence is NATO’s first and foremost concern, which, arguably, depends on the stability and functionality of our societies and our economies.

We are aware that democracy and values we hold dear bring opportunities, but also risks. Our openness, political, economic and individual freedoms may sometimes be exploited by our adversaries, who target our vulnerabilities. And, resilience is, in a practical sense, about the ability and capacity to fill the vulnerability gaps.

It is, as we define it, the capacity to resist and recover from shock, absorb the damage, and resume functions as quickly and efficiently as possible. Resilience is, therefore, about adaptability, agility, and, ideally, the ability to undertake alternative ways, which requires flexibility.

It is, therefore, of ultimate importance to have a holistic understanding and recognition of where shortfalls and vulnerabilities exist, and of the factors and trends that shape them. This will help the Alliance determine risks, prioritise mitigation, and strengthen enablement, readiness and responsiveness.

And, effective resilience is, as we witness that in the example of Ukraine, as well as in Poland and many other European countries, also dependent on peoples’ spirit.

I would draw a parallel here with the military instrument of power. To be effective, it, roughly, needs to comprise the right capabilities (means to fight), right strategies and doctrines (ways to fight), and the fighting spirit.

That means: motivation, discipline, commitment, courage, leadership, or, shortly, willingness to sacrifice for the nations’ political ends.

There is no better example today than Ukrainian people and its leadership that shows how superior morale, determination, and adaptive strategies and tactics can match overwhelming military capabilities.

I believe, these constitutive elements are equally important for resilience. We need capacity (to ensure the “backup”), we need procedures (to recover), and we need that “spirit”, to ensure commitment, adaptability and creativity that will make resilience “alive” and successful.

As you can see, I touched here on one delicate topic, which we may call “cognitive dimension”, which is also worth examining. It is about ethical and moral aspects that we need to have not only in our governments and specialized services … but in the whole society.

Societal resilience, in order to succeed rests on, above all, inspired, dedicated, and committed people.

This cognitive dimension, the perception and decision process of our citizens, is, however, also exposed to malicious influence. Spread of fake news, relativisation of truth and facts, sawing the seed of mistrust in democratic institutions and traditions … are among the risks we have to take into account.

So, and this is a rhetorical question, how can we counter these negative influences, and not lose any freedom we have achieved (such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press etc.)?

Today, we see that the risks for our societies are not coming only from state or non-state actors but also from what we may call “threats without threateners”, such as pandemics and rising challenges of climate change, which all puts an increasing importance on resilience.

In ACT, my command, we are very aware of that. And, although we focus primarily on developing assessments to support military resilience, we take into consideration resilience as a whole. So, while we progress in building resilience in areas such as command and control, warfighting capability, situational understanding, logistics, military infrastructure, among others, we approach resilience by constantly keeping in mind the broader context.

We, therefore, take into consideration the changing strategic environment, including climate change, energy security, Emerging and Disruptive Technologies, and demographic change, to name a few.

Here I want to take energy security as an example. It, obviously, emerged as a very important topic since relations between the West and Russia deteriorated, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This topic is an example of complexity related to security, and it affects us all, and the military is not exempted from that.

Our operational energy, the blood of our combat capabilities, which is still based mainly on fossil fuels, are also dependent on the energy supplies of our nations.

While we (especially European countries) face risks in supplies and prices, this situation should also be seen as an opportunity. An opportunity to transition towards renewable sources of energy wherever possible. This direction would minimize dependencies and also benefit efforts to counter negative consequences of climate change, by decreasing the carbon footprint.

We, in ACT, understand and develop military resilience as a layer of the broader Alliance Resilience, and it has a renewed emphasis in NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC). This is why ACT works on so-called Layered Resilience, as one imperative of the Warfare Development Agenda, which serves as an implementation plan of the NWCC.

This way, Layered Resilience is one of the priorities alongside other key activities in ACT, including development of the Resilience Network, Net Assessment, Digital Transformation and Multi-Domain Operations. And, it will be developed through 8 agreed Thematic Working Groups. I also want to emphasize that the Allies’ Chiefs of Defence recognized Layered Resilience as a priority in the NWCC framework.

NWCC advocates that resilience requires a layered approach comprising mutually reinforcing layers of military and civil resilience, with numerous connecting points and interdependencies. And, it is precisely civil preparedness and civil resilience, the two aspects that ACT is seeking to influence, and where we offer our support and are eager to cooperate.

Partnering is vital to strengthening resilience. Cooperation and team work are, therefore, the best ways to achieve meaningful results.

This is where ACT has already achieved some results, in partnering with the UN[1], and the EU[2], in particular.

During this event, ACT staff will be demonstrating our Modelling and Simulation Training Technology resilience tool, and Resilience Integrated Project Team’s display during the Symposium, and I proudly invite you to join these presentations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you all for participating. I am sure that the outcomes of our discussions during these two days will be beneficial and will open some new perspectives. I hope, and I am sure, we will learn some new ideas from each other.

Moreover, I invite all of us to use the best of our knowledge and creativity to discuss all the different topics on our agenda. This will help us develop our way ahead and plans afterwards.

I expect that this symposium will allow us, at ACT, to expand our views and perspectives on resilience and to further improve our Resilience Concept. I also expect we, together, will be able to identify priorities and areas of closer cooperation between military and civilian stakeholders.

Thank you for your attention and I wish you two fruitful and exciting days.

[1] One example is the establishment of a joint UN-NATO three year project to assist Jordan in improving its preparedness in the field of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons)

[2] Comprises staff-to-staff consultations and practical cooperation in number of areas.

  • Mr Jens Stoltenberg, Dear Secretary General,
  • Dear permanent representatives, dear ambassadors,
  • Ladies and gentlemen,

It is both an honour and a pleasure to address the NAC for my first time as SACT. I would like to thank you to have dedicated some of your time and consideration to ACT, and allow me to personally present to you ideas and proposals articulated in my 90 days letter.

I see the most important aspect of NATO’s transformation, and its main objective, in collectively ensuring NATO’s decisive advantage. This is critical for our relevance and ensuring we maintain the status of the most successful Alliance in history. We owe it to the 1 billion people we protect and secure.

To do that, we have to take into consideration all the challenges we face, in order to adapt our Military Instrument of Power at the right pace.

We need this adaptation because our security environment is changing fast. Competition is permanent. Escalation has become non-linear. This environment is complex, and therefore, uncertain.

Hence, my vision to achieve our objectives, which is: to improve our Alliance’s ability to understand better, to decide faster and to be stronger together.

By “understand better” I mean we need the ability of chess players, to understand the causalities and anticipate the consequences of several “moves” in advance. We need to see “the mosaic” while it is still in fragments.

Our need, in essence, is to be able to acquire full, and collective, situational awareness. With this awareness, our Alliance will be better placed to shape the environment and win the “battle of opportunities”. We will be better able to understand our strengths and our vulnerabilities.

This also includes being aware of the main trends in Russian military thought and strategy, and the challenges that may emerge as a consequence of the new assertiveness of China.

As an example, I would like to point out what General Gerasimov said on the Russian “strategy of active defence”, which represents their response to current and foreseen threats.

[and I quote] “… [by] acting quickly, we should pre-empt the enemy with our preventive measures, promptly identify his vulnerabilities and create threats of unacceptable damage to him. This ensures the capture and retention of the strategic initiative”. [end of quote].

We also must seek to anticipate the impact of new, emerging technologies on defence and security matters. And we must take into consideration potential consequences from threat multipliers such as climate change and pandemics.

I want to highlight that ACT is regularly contributing to strategic thinking, including recently on offence/defence convergence and escalation management.

My second objective is to decide faster than our adversaries. And, when I say “we”, I think about accelerating and improving the decision-making in the continuum – from political decision making to tactical action.

Timely decision making is crucial for engaging in the complex, uncertain security environment. It helps us to not only to react faster, but position ourselves to even better anticipate.

In this area, we intend to work on the creation of realistic scenarios for our analyses, particularly with Wargaming realistic scenarios, which will be augmented with advanced technology, such as Artificial Intelligence. This will allow us to better understand the context and decide faster, on all levels.

And, finally, the third objective, timely understanding and the ability to decide swiftly will reinforce the cohesion of the Alliance – in order to be stronger together.

This is about maximizing our coherence, which is necessary in an environment where challenges are multifaceted and often hidden, difficult to attribute or categorize. From an operational standpoint, this means ability to integrate different operational domains (including space and cyber), making us capable of operating in a Multi-domain environment, by engaging both in kinetic and non-kinetic actions.

This is why we must think and act towards closer cooperation with governmental agencies, academia, industry and the scientific community. And, we must have the ability to better leverage existing networks and pull the expertise from within Nations. These efforts will allow us to win as a team!

The critical milestone to achieve this vision will be the implementation of the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC) through the Warfare Development Agenda.

In addition, I will focus on two priorities:

The first priority, that will be at the heart of the Warfare Development Agenda and central to its success, is Digital Transformation. This ambitious agenda aims at allowing our Alliance to fully take advantage of our data. It involves the establishment of capabilities and services that will be designed around this data and will allow to maximize its potential in a secure way. A core asset will be the “digital backbone”.

This asset will allow us to make data shareable for different levels of decision making, across all operational domains: Land, Maritime, Air, Cyber and Space.

However, as a prerequisite, we need the willingness of Nations to share information! … the willingness … to share … information!

The second priority, and it is again speed-related, I want to ensure the delivery of new, critical capabilities – on time. It is essentially about the agility of our processes.

And, it is particularly the case with the software development. As we successfully implement the new governance model for Common Funded Capabilities, we need to establish rapid pathways for software acquisition. Several member nations have already started to implement such pathways.

I also want to leverage experimentation, whenever possible, in particular during exercises. This will shorten our capability development cycles and allow our warfighters to use and familiarize themselves with new technologies to accelerate change.

In short, we need to change the rules and make them work for us, not against us.

And, finally, I would like to present to you the “enablers”, which will allow me to achieve my vision.

First, it is to innovate – a key to delivering my priorities. I see innovation as a continuous effort that must permeate the way we think about capability development.

This is why ACT will apply innovation in all that we do and will continue to provide innovative solutions to the warfighters, through our Innovation Hub, and in support of DIANA. We deem connecting warfighters with warfare developers as vital for the success of innovation.

Second, collaboration and cooperation. An effective relationship between political leadership and our military team is at the heart of my vision.

I will endeavour to promote seamless communication, shared knowledge and trust among Allies and Partners, through inclusivity, transparency and networks. This will accelerate decision-making and strengthen the resilience of the Alliance.

Moreover, ACT will leverage its unique location on US soil through a dedicated engagement plan with the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the innovation ecosystems and US Academia.

I also intend to maximize the benefits of having NATO’s accredited centres of excellence, and will reinforce our interactions with academia, industry and the European Union.

And, to increase our readiness, we need to train together and be able to operate together. Hence interoperability, which will remain at the heart of our capability development.

Finally, the third, it is our human capital. This is our most valuable resource. I will strive to cultivate talent through our training and exercises, especially in support of data and digital transformation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank you very much again for all the support you have given and give to ACT. I count on your future support to my transformational agenda and I appreciate your efforts to engage your Nations in contributing to NATO’s mission.

Thank you for your attention.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press,

It is with a great pleasure I close this year’s activities related to the Exercise Cyber Coalition 2021.

We all may be proud of what we have achieved, because Cyber Coalition is one of the largest cyber exercises in the world, with a realistic scenario that allows participants to practice responding to cyber incidents.

And, I am very much aware that the success of this exercise depended on the voluntary work and workforce provided by Nations and individuals. And, this is why I appreciate very much and thank to all Nations and individuals who contributed to it.

More than 1,000 people from across the Alliance, the agency’s experts, Partner Nations and the European Union participated in the exercise. The NATO Communications and Information Agency, the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, Joint Warfare Centre, Joint Force Command Brunssum, NATO Rapid Reaction Teams and multiple entities from NATO Headquarters, industry and academia, all together participated in the exercise.

For us in NATO, this exercise allows our Cyberspace Operations Centre the opportunity to develop reporting requirements within cyberspace and examine new tactics, techniques, and procedures.

In terms of warfare development, it is important because it supports the military readiness of the Alliance, through our collective capacity to respond, and, in the long term, promotes collaboration and interoperability.

And, this exercise perfectly demonstrated that interoperability does not relate only to the technical aspects, or to say “the hardware”, but also on how to operate, including procedures or the doctrinal aspects.

The importance of Cyberspace increases day by day. Cyberspace has become crucial for NATO’s mission – hence the intense focus on cyber adaptation to ensure effective cyber security of the NATO enterprise.

But the Cyber domain is not just another domain, because what happens in that domain may impact our effectiveness in all other domains. Hence, its importance for our ability to engage in Multi-Domain Operations.

We declared cyberspace as a domain of operation in order to ensure unhindered access and freedom of manoeuvre in cyberspace during Allied Operations and Missions.

In addition, as the cognitive domain, cognitive warfare and cognitive superiority have been identified in our NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, cyberspace is considered the main vehicle for this.

We are also aware that cyberattacks may affect critical infrastructure in our societies, which puts an emphasis on resilience, making cyber defence a complex endeavour.

This is why, this Exercise enhances the Alliance ability to conduct cyberspace operations for military and civilian entities by exercising the development of situational awareness, sharing of cyberspace intelligence, and the conduct of cyber incident management.

Also, this Exercise was a great way to strengthen the existing mechanisms for interaction between NATO, Allies and Partners to improve collaboration within the cyberspace domain.

We, again, proved to be able work collectively on facing threats that are emerging in this domain, focusing on coordination, collaboration, information sharing, and experimentation.

This exercise was also an ideal environment for innovation, experimentation, concept development and requirements identification.

I will, in particular, highlight the fact that two experiments were being conducted during this exercise: Cyberspace Situational Awareness and Cyber Deception Techniques, with participation of ACT, ACO, nations, CCD CoE (the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence), industry and academia.

This way, we fulfilled our intent to use every opportunity to experiment during exercises.

I thank, once again, our hosts, organizers, and participants, and congratulate them on producing so many useful outcomes for our warfare development.

I am looking forward to seeing you in the same format next year. Thank you.

Mr Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General,
Dear Ambassadors, members of the North Atlantic Council,
Admiral Rob Bauer, Chair of the NATO Military Committee,
Mr Camille Grand, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, mon cher Camille,
Senior Industry leaders from all Allied nations,
Generals, Admirals,
Distinguished Guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning and welcome back to the second day of our NIF 2021.

Yesterday, we had lots of incredibly interesting presentations and discussions on technologies that affects and are, therefore, vital for NATO in ensuring its relevance and developing its capabilities.

We continue, today, with our plenary sessions focusing thematically more on our strategic context and “strategic NATO”.

I, therefore, consider it important to elaborate a little bit more on our security environment, following my yesterdays’ introduction.

In short, our security environment is characterized by its non-linearity. It is, instead, complex, which means that there exists no proportionality and no simple causality between the magnitude of responses and the strength of their stimuli. Sometimes, allegedly small changes, events that don’t seem like a threat, can have striking and unanticipated effects, whereas great stimuli will not always lead to drastic consequences.

The lines between systemic competition, crisis and war are blurred, which is also the case for forward and rear, of virtual and physical. This leads us to prepare and act in a much different way than before. Today, and in the future, we will have to proactively shape our environment, contest adversarial behaviour and, if needed, fight.

What used to be a war throughout history, is today rather competition or “conflictuality” of all kind, across the spectrum of operational domains. And war today has multiple faces, where an armed conflict is just one of them.

This “conflictuality” also leads to extension of conflict into new domains for which physical borders are irrelevant, like Cyber, Space or the Cognitive domain, where any kind of actor can challenge our military instrument of power and our societies, often anonymously.

We also observe the combination of effects in these domains, which requires from us to be ready to engage in Multi-Domain Operations (MDO).

However, while ability to engage in Multi-Domain Operations is vital for our Joint Warfare, we also face challenges of the irregular warfare, hybrid and grey zone conflicts or competition. And we have to deal with escalation/de-escalation scenarios, something we haven’t done much in the last 20 years.

Our challenge is, therefore, to seamlessly manoeuvre through the entire spectrum of warfare, to include, of course, kinetic effects.

Along with these challenges in security environment, we see the fundamental shift in the technological paradigm with our adversaries challenging our edge and the civilian sector acting as the lead innovator, especially in the domain of data and computation.

And, on “top of that”, we are faced with so called “threats without threateners”, such as pandemics and climate change, that will cause instabilities and represents the “threat multiplier”.

And, these long term challenges are in our focus too. For example, regarding NATO’s commitments in facing the consequences of climate changes we see them as “dual”.

It is to deal with (1) consequences, for example: with flooding of military bases, with openings the flows along the Arctic paths, immigration etc. … and (2) with causes.

This includes support to “greening” of our defence capabilities and transitions in the area of operational energy, for example, when and where it is possible.

All these developments in our security environment require from us to adapt. And, adaptation in NATO became an imperative for maintaining our relevance and ensuring our advantage … plus, to avoid strategic risk.

After 2014, we have observed the “return of geopolitics”. This was triggered by the “Ukraine crisis” and deteriorated relations with Russia but later included concerns of the “strategic behaviour” of China. Consequently, we, in NATO, put higher focus, or, rather, “refocused” on so called warfare development.

We also realized that we needed more concrete and straightforward tool to ensure the coherent, proactive development of our capabilities.

Hence NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC) and the Concept for Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area (DDA), and their respective implementation plans. These two concepts, agreed by Nations, allow us to launch key structuring works for the future of our forces.

NWCC is envisaged to ensure flexibility, by adapting continuously to security environment in heading towards 2030.

In implementation of NWCC, we intend to exchange actively with the Nations to synchronize these efforts, and identify the priorities which will make the difference tomorrow. Multi-domain operations should be central to this work.

For ACT, my Command, the main goal is to ensure the most relevant identification of military requirements, in support of NATO’s adaptation. And, this is where Industry comes to play as an integral part of that capability development ecosystem, crucial both for deterrence and defence.

The more we work closely together, the stronger our military instrument of power is … and, therefore, more secure we are!
In cooperation with industry, we want:

First, to make sure we (NATO) are able to move from a platform-centric development to a system-centric approach.

In other words, we need to move from acquisition programmes developed independently from each other, operating, sometimes, in stove pipes, making us struggling to integrate them in a consistent global architecture. It is about designing an open architecture, in which our different systems can operate collaboratively in a multi-domain environment.

And, second, we want to work, together with Industry, on what needs to be done to be more agile collectively to ensure quicker delivery.

My conviction is that NATO’s adaptation should focus on our ability to better understand our environment (and our adversaries), decide faster, which requires to be more agile, and be more connected and interoperable, to be stronger together. We need to adapt together and synchronize our efforts!

And, in “understanding our environment”, one important thing is to anticipate what is vital and where to focus our efforts to ensure credibility and relevance of our deterrence and defence.

One of these vital resources is data. What used to be oil (petroleum), especially during and after World War I, when it emerged as a strategic global asset … it is now, more and more, data!

Today, the speed is of utmost importance, especially in decision making, and is crucial for the effectiveness and efficiency of our operational capabilities.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, is quoted as saying, “In the new world, it is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.”

Hence, data! Data fuels our processes and systems, and everyone goes after it.

Data is relevant to one important capability that has to be developed in NATO to succeed and be effective in Multi-Domain Operations … and it is our C2, Command and Control, our communication and data backbone.

Here, we need a vision of a future C2 architecture, in which data is available in a cloud to allies and partners. We also need a transition plan from now to that vision, on how to operationalize it.

However, we have two problems to fully benefit from our collective data availability: (1) data are not shareable because of proprietary locks, which are imposed by developers, and/or (2) because of national policies, due to distrust and unwillingness to share them.

These issues could be partly overcome by the fact that we don’t need to share everything related to particular data, for example, its source … but what is relevant for everybody to get the “whole picture”.

That’s why, what we need is “data discoverability”, to ensure that data format is not the most important requirement but its “shareability”. This requires to develop technics to tag data and its meta-data to be able to share what we want.

The new digital infrastructure will also allow to move data not only “horizontally” across domains but also “vertically”, and allies and partners would be able to access data according to their credentials.

Further progress in this domain would also be to develop algorithms for data analytics, to allow predictive C2 capability.

We need to progress ambitiously in developing this “Alliance’s data backbone”, and we can work on it via an incremental approach. And I am convinced that Nations will follow if they see tangible results.

My belief is also that we need to continue, even more ambitiously, with our innovation efforts in NATO.

That means we need to be more open, think through, and rethink our acquisition processes. Most importantly, we need to help creating a new mindset, to ensure more flexibility, agility and speed in our processes.

We also need to leverage the research development effort from industry, ensuring rapid prototyping.

Innovation, however, is not an end state, it is a way to an end. And, we want these (innovation) efforts to be done in close cooperation among Allies’ and partners’ governments, academia and industry. The teamwork is crucial for success!

Take as an example quantum technology. We are interested in all the three major categories of this technology: quantum sensing, quantum communication, and quantum computing.

In this field, our (ACT’s) Maritime Science and Technology Programme of Work is impressive, where autonomous systems, AI technologies, and quantum sensing, developed through this programme are field-tested during exercises or through sea trials.

Since most of these technologies are still in the laboratory, we are very interested to follow its developments and, when possible, test it in the most realistic environment possible. Whether this technology will be applicable for civil and military use in three or ten years, we would like to understand it already, and know where to implement it in our existing capabilities.

We are also aware that our “innovation outcomes” have to be sustainable, deployable and robust, which is far more demanding than the technology developed for the market, because it will be immediately contested once used in potential conflict.

This is why we need a close cooperation between warfighters (“the customers”) and producers of technology, to ensure that the innovations, technologies and the processes, which we implement in our capabilities are fully relevant and benefit our operational requirements.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have full confidence that we will have fascinating and enlightening debates during today’s plenaries.

Thank you for your attention.

Excellences, dear ambassadors,
Mr Lorenzo Guerini, Italian Minister of Defence,
Mr Camille Grand, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, mon cher Camille,
Leaders and representatives from industry,
Admirals, generals,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Distinguished guests, from around the globe,

Good morning and welcome to Rome and to Italy, our Host Nation for this year’s NATO Industry Forum, or NIF, as we call it.

It is my real honour and a great privilege for me, together with my co-host Mr Camille Grand, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, to welcome you to this live event.

Thank you all for coming, since your participation and contributions are what made this event possible.

And, thank you, above all, to the NATO teams and our hosts, the Italian authorities, for organizing this year’s Forum in this wonderful place.

For this year’s NIF, literally “all roads lead to Rome”, as this event is a “great finale” for what we had been doing since the last NIF in Washington D.C. in 2019.

I am particularly glad to have with us today so many distinguished representatives from the “production sector”, both from what we call “traditional” and the “non-traditional defence industry.”

For that matter, I am convinced that the borders between these two will increasingly fade as we seek to address the requirements of our defence capability development.

This is the result of changes in our security environment that continues to evolve at a tremendous pace, requiring us in turn (both NATO and Nations) to continuously adapt … in order to preserve our relevance.

When I was a kid, watching and reading science fiction, including popular movies, series and books you may also be familiar with, I was fascinated by the devices used to fight, communicate or transport, which were available to the characters in those stories.Lasers, holograms, instant communication, wide availability of data and information, Space, incredible speed … or artificial intelligence … everything looked so fantastic. Think just of HAL 9000 (a supercomputer with AI capabilities) from Stanley Kubricks’ “2001: A Space Odyssey”, with all its “intellectual” power, “social skills” and legal and ethical issues associated with him!And, today, we are living with many of those “fantasies”! They are part of our everyday live. However, along with benefits that progress has brought us, we are also faced with a great many challenges … because this widely available technology can and often is used against us and our way of life.

We observe today that the traditional lines between systemic competition, crisis and war are increasingly blurred. As are the former differences between forward and rear, between virtual and physical.

Our environment is characterized by persistent competition, with competitors determined to shape the environment, challenge the liberal world order and who are investing heavily in their military capabilities, while also seeking to circumvent the deterrence we have built on our military power by remaining below “the threshold of conflict” to look beyond NATO’s Article 5.

This is typified for instance by the form of “Unrestricted warfare”, the concept which two senior Chinese colonels developed in their 1999 book.

This “asymmetry” causes conflict to expand into new domains where physical borders are irrelevant, like Cyber, Space or the cognitive domain, where a number of new or existing players can challenge our military instrument of power and our societies, often anonymously, especially since attribution may prove challenging or even impossible.

This is, certainly, challenging for the military, since we need to understand the broader context in which our military instrument of power will be developed, and create the frameworks to proactively shape the environment in which this instrument will be used.

To illustrate our challenge, think of the fragment of verse written by the 7th-century BC Greek poet Archilochus, which reads: “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”
Obviously, we, the military, are the hedgehog 
However, while the “one big thing” we need to know is how to provide efficient deterrence and defence, we also need to know the “many things”, that may offer challenges, but also opportunities that relate to a central, all-embracing system of security and defence.

And, this is why, facing this “extension of conflictuality”, we expand our engagements in other operational domains, even when they are not “weaponized” in the classical sense of that word.

And, this is where we need you, our industry partners.

I consider our defence industrial base an integral part of our (military) instrument of power, particularly for the development of our defence capabilities. Industry is therefore a genuine part of the Alliance’s Deterrence and Defence Posture.

And, this is the reason why we need to maintain a quality dialogue with our “industrial eco-system” about the “production” of our defence capabilities.

For us, in NATO, it is vital we understand the prospects of new technologies and in particular their potential to become disruptive regarding security. And in so doing, it is vital that we encompass both dimensions of this technology … technology as a challenge (potential threat) and technology as an opportunity.

However, the fact is that the defence sector no longer has the exclusive control over the development and availability of defence technologies, since so much innovation and technology progress is now driven by the market. And, for most of these developments, we are no more than customers.

But our intent is to use these security relevant technologies, implement them in our capability development, ensure they are interoperable and make sure they are used in the most effective way possible.

That will require we out-think our adversaries and avoid strategic surprises. Which is why the transformation of our capabilities and of the way we conduct war must be a permanent process (as it is the essence of adaptation), and it implies a permanent dialogue between the actors of that transformation – warfighters and producers.

ACT, by representing the capability needs of warfighters, is paving the way for Allied Command Operations to be successful today and tomorrow, by integrating Nations’ efforts in warfare development. That way, we support ACO by building the “capability blocks” and dealing with legacy systems, by integrating them into the Alliance’s new capabilities, whenever possible.

Being a part of NATO’s “big wheel” responsible for defence planning and facilitation of Alliance’s capability development, ACT is also responsible for identifying military requirements. We are, therefore, the catalyst for adapting NATO’s military instrument of power.

In cooperation with industry, we want (1) to make sure we (NATO) are able to move from a platform-centric development to a system-centric approach, and (2) to solve, together with Industry, what needs to be done to be more agile collectively to ensure quicker delivery.

ACT (and NATO as a whole) needs industry to help it maintain this new defence and security ecosystem. ACT, and other NATO stakeholders responsible for capability development, are therefore a part of one shared community with Industry. We need you, you need us!

We face an uncertain future – but we face it together. My message to my NATO’s colleagues is, therefore: Let’s be bold enough to embrace innovation, smart enough to grow our agility, and open enough to learn from Allies’ industries. We can win (only by working) together – as a team, and I am excited about that shared future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I count very much on our exchanges today and tomorrow, and I am sure they will be fruitful.

ACT is open to cooperating with you to facilitate the future work you and the NATO member Nations can carry out. And, just to remind you, ACT is a NATO stakeholder with the largest established network of partners, including industry, academia, COEs, and scientific and innovation community.

I strongly believe that this Forum allows us to reinforce the bonds – bonds that go beyond a simple business partnership – that strengthen our instruments of power. And, doing so, contribute to our security.

I wish you all promising and fruitful exchanges during this event. I expect fresh and new ideas, and I am sure that this event will lead to concrete outcomes.

Thank you very much for your attention!

Mister Minister of Defence of Portugal, dear Minister,

Members of the European Council, European Parliament, European Commission, European External Action Service, European Military Committee and EUMS,

Representatives from Ministries of Defence, Armed forces, research and technology organizations, industry and academia,

Chief executive of the European Defence Agency, dear Jiri,

Ladies and gentlemen, Good morning!

I am delighted to be here, physically in Lisbon, alongside Portuguese authorities, in this marvellous country. I want to thank the EDA for organizing this event. Despite the COVID restrictions which do not allow us to meet in person, I feel necessary to discuss together this important question: the impact of Emerging and Disruptive Technologies (‘EDTs’) on Defence.

As I am addressing a well informed audience, I offer to focus my remarks around a number of cross-cutting considerations rather than discussing the impact of specific EDTs that would probably teach you nothing.

No doubt that Technology (with a capital T) is a key driver of our societies for decades and especially since the pace accelerated in the very last years.
Obviously, technology is also a key driver of our governmental organizations. As it is for the international ones!

Without bragging, nor comparing, the North Atlantic Alliance, born in 1949, the longest-running political and military organization in the world, has been so far successfully fulfilling its mission thanks to its cohesion, its deterrence but also its technological edge against adversaries and competitors.
However, it is paramount to connect the way we perceive our strategic environment to the recent evolution of the technological landscape challenges in order to ensure the persistence of this technological superiority of the Alliance.

On the one hand, traditional technological competition continues to rage. NATO and EU provide appropriate frameworks and venues to analyze collectively the Pol-Mil context and the issues, but in these matters, it is up to our Nations to make the final decisions.

And they know what to do in order to decide sovereignly the appropriate answer for their own investments in novel specific military technologies, informed by the discussions held in multilateral forums like EU and NATO, on topics such as hypersonics or 5/6th generation jet-fighters, for example.

Indeed, for decades, NATO’s technological superiority was assured in a context where, not only, the technologies relevant for military applications were essentially driven by the Defence investments, but also where the dominance of the Alliance in this field was unparalleled and unquestioned.

In parallel, military budgets in most of the Western Nations have steadily declined in the post-Cold War era – a trend that took time to reverse while peer competitors have been investing in their capabilities.

Between brackets, it seems appropriate at this stage to differentiate well Russia, which has chosen a niche strategy exploiting our vulnerabilities and its strength, from China, which seeks to impose itself on all sides.

As a result, the ability of potential adversaries to challenge the Alliance and its member nations politically, militarily, and technologically is growing.

Even if I do not underestimate the strategic challenge and the associated requested investments in this traditional competition and the absolute need to stay deterrent enough, I do not think this is our main challenge with regard to Disruptive Technologies.

I think that the main challenge lies mainly with technological developments not driven by Defence sector.

The recent decades have seen an unprecedented growth and acceleration of technological development thanks in a large part to the commercial sector, especially in the digital domain (such as cyber or AI today, quantum technologies or cognitive warfare tomorrow).

These developments are being exploited by all kind of potential adversaries, from terrorists to our peer or near peer competitors who use them to drag the field of conflictuality, deterrence proving sufficiently effective. And it is easy to illustrate this idea with the hybrid warfare actions we are observing nowadays.

Then, new technologies made widely available have offered state and non-state actors a multitude of solutions to threaten and create potential disruption well above and beyond what was imaginable a few decades ago.

This damage and disruption, which can be generated with modest financial and material resources, can not only be inflicted on traditionally superior military forces on the battlefield, but also on the civilian population and critical infrastructures.

The associated proliferation and availability of knowledge and technologies have provided a number of non-state actors and non-NATO nations with growing opportunities, creating a ‘battle of the uses’ to turn these technologies into aggressive capabilities – a battle where speed is key and uses are key too.

That is the reason why the proximity between capability developers and final users are more essential than ever while until a couple of years ago regular capability development and procurement processes were widening this distance… partially, because of the “risk adverse” trend of our processes…

In between, if I dare to say so, it is “50 shades of grey” as the new Space field, evolving today between these two models of development gives us an interesting illustration.

There is no doubt that this new ecosystem must be fully understood in order to adapt to it and this is one of the main missions of my command, Allied Command Transformation.

In this new technological paradigm, it is imperative for the Alliance to embrace Innovation in order to reverse this dynamic and re-gain its strategic and military advantage by taking in the upper hand in the ability to leverage EDTs.The NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, my command proposed recently and which has been recently approved by NATO Ministers of Defence, contributes to this endeavor.

In order to leave no ambiguity, I would like to start by offering a definition of EDTs in a defence context.

For me EDTs are novel technologies whose potential practical uses are still partially uncertain, but whose the application to military capabilities have the potential to change the way military forces operate and could shift the balance of military power.

It is equally important to be clear about what I mean by Innovation.

If I define it as the implementation of new and different ideas, methods or solutions that achieves value for the Alliance, I would like to distinguish two different approaches, each adapted to one of the technological development model that I mentioned earlier:

  • First, Directed Innovation: “pushing” the development of military technologies. We come back here to the traditional strategic competition with peer competitors I developed before. Hypersonics for instance.
  • Second, Open Innovation: “pulling” innovative solutions from the civilian world to explore their adaptation for a military purpose. It is where acceleration of civil technical developments occurs and all actors are present, including peer competitors through hybrid warfare. Artificial Intelligence for instance.

Facing this situation, the Alliance decided the adoption of the NATO EDT roadmap.

Since then, we focus in particular on AI, Big Data, Autonomy, Space, Quantum Technologies, Biotechnologies, Human Enhancement, and Hypersonics.

The framework being laid out, I would like to move to the ‘How?’ As you probably noticed with my definition of Innovation, I consider that it makes sense only if it aims to put in the end a capability on the hands of war fighters. The overall Innovation cycle therefore goes from ideation to fielding at scale.

There are however very different mechanisms at stake in the upstream phase, where you explore potential solutions, and the downstream phase, where you deploy at scale successfully tested innovation. Let us have a separately look at these two phases.

The upstream phase is about recognizing issues or opportunities, looking for solutions, inventing or adapting them, user in the loop, and testing them as you go as much as possible.

These mechanisms are fundamentally different for directed innovation and open innovation, with lots more of ‘inventing’ for the former and lots more of ‘adapting’ for the later, and very different timeframes.

Nevertheless, they have in common the need for proper resourcing and adapted processes, allowing empowered teams to take bold initiatives.

That means in particular to assume fully the risk of failure.
That is something that is pretty counter-intuitive for the current procurement processes which became rigid for some reasons, but that is a fundamental enabler of innovation.

It is interesting to note for example that DARPA uses a failure indicator that, if too low, proves that they are not innovating hard enough!

In ACT, we have a long tradition of directed innovation through our Science & Technology Programme of Work, which is executed by the Centre for Maritime Research & Experimentation. We also work shoulder to shoulder with the Science and Technology Organization.

I know that STO members are attending the conference, good morning to you! And thank you for your commitment.

We complemented it with an open innovation endeavour when we established an Innovation Hub as early as 2012.
In 2020, we decided to take our Hub to the next step by giving it an ‘Innovation Lab’ capability to quickly prototype and test solutions, user in the loop – notably thanks to an in-house coding capacity implementing state-of-the-art software techniques inspired by Industry and Allied best practices.

Products are then updated continuously, sometimes even daily, to cope with the users feedback and evolving needs. This is what we should aim for. But, if we really want to embrace the new technological paradigm, we have no choice but transforming the way we operate.
The transformation that we need must aim at one idea first and foremost: to regain agility.
Look at what Elon Musk has accomplished. He has invested two theoretically impenetrable markets: Luxury automobiles with Tesla and Space transportation with SpaceX.

And, when I say ‘invested’, ‘disrupted’ would probably be more accurate… What is fascinating is to see HOW he achieved that. In a nutshell, by applying to complex cyber-physical system what he learnt from the software domain: agile development astutely combined with the techniques of ‘Industry 4.0’ and, to say it abruptly, guts. Guts to question status-quo. Guts to take risk by knowing that you learn more from your failures. Guts to accept to see rockets exploding at launch.

Moreover, by doing so, he became the work leader within Space Transportation in less than fifteen years.

He developed Falcon 9 for a tenth of what NASA’s costing model was saying it should have costed.

I can hear some of you think: “All that is very interesting but inapplicable in a governmental defence context”.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the US Air Force is currently proving you wrong.

They have started by revolutionizing software acquisitions by embracing the state-of-the art software practices I mentioned earlier about ACT’s Innovation Hub.

To be honest, to give credit where credit is due, we adopted these practices ourselves based on the lessons learned of the US Air Force, more specifically from their Kessel Run Experimental Lab, with which we have established a partnership.

To sum up the philosophy of the US DoD software acquisition reform largely driven by the US Air Force, I would like to refer to Dr. Will Roper, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

Quote: “So, you know how your app on your phone updates? Those developers are often getting real-time feedback – are you using your app? Are you happy with it? Is your use duration commensurate with what they designed it for? Then they use that feedback to update.
The war-fighting analogy for that is obvious. We’d really like to be able to have software go out into the battlefield, get feedback from the users.
What was day one of the war like? Change it, upgrade it and be different on day two. We have to adopt these commercial development tools that allow us to change software routinely, but change it safely.”
End of quote.

Nevertheless, they do not stopped there. Now they are looking how to apply this approach to complex cyber-physical systems such as fighter jets with the ‘Digital Century Series’ acquisition strategy considered by for its Next-Generation Air Dominance programme, based on the combination of agile software development with digital engineering and open architecture.

That’s what I’m talking about when I talk of the need to embrace agility…

To sum it up: if we are serious about seizing the opportunities of EDTs, about keeping our technological edge, we need to make of innovation more than another buzzword, we need to fundamentally change the way we operate and think. We need resources but above all, we need a real cultural revolution.

To conclude my remarks, I would like to say a word about what we in NATO are doing together, with you in the EU.

The will of the Nations and the EU member states remains critical to enhance the “Transatlantic Bond” between NATO and the EU; to bring the NATO-EU cooperation further and beyond the current achievements in key areas like the development of capabilities, strengthening resilience, the defence against cyber-attacks, information warfare and the sharing of innovative ideas.

A broad cooperation has been established between our two organizations and is executed through the well-known 74 proposals of the joint declaration.

When it comes to Warfare Development, this cooperation is materialized in the following fields: Defence planning, Interoperability, concepts, exercises, strategic foresight to mention only few…

That being said, I am convinced and eager to further boost this fruitful NATO-EU cooperation and I think that the fields of Innovation and EDT offer a particularly wide range of opportunities in this area.

In ACT, we have developed an important network of NATO’s Centres of Excellence (like Stratcom or Cyber). The skills and expertise available in these structures constitute a remarkable bridge between our organizations. They are used as forerunners in NATO-EU Cooperation, to tackle current and future challenges;

We have also developed a vast Innovation Network (more than 3000 members) that should allow us to share our best practices;

We are working hand in hand with the EDA to organize common Innovation Challenges that will benefit to both organizations;

One of the challenge we face in this new era is also to get a common understanding of the technologies we face, their potential use, their legal and ethical dimension. I am convinced that we should be able to develop this common understanding together by addressing initially, for example, common taxonomy since it is paramount to lay the groundwork for more advanced AI cooperation by example.

Finally, I am deeply convinced that we should apprehend together implications of such new domains such as cognitive warfare; I submit these lines of thought to your future discussions, and I am sure that they will lead to concrete proposals.

Allow me to conclude on a quote not by an European, but an American, John McCain which illustrates where we are nowadays:

“A strong E.U., a strong NATO, and a true strategic partnership between them is profoundly in our interest”

Thank you again to the EDA for organizing this timely event. I wish you a very fruitful conference.

Thank you very much for you attention.

Norfolk (VTC), 31 March 2021

  • Rear Admiral (Retired) Larry Baucom, Dear Larry,
  • My esteemed predecessors,
    • Admiral (Retired) Edmund Giambastiani, Dear Edmund,
    • General (Retired) James Mattis, Dear James, and
    • General (Retired) Denis Mercier, cher Denis,
  • Dr. Regina Karp, Director of ODU’s International Studies Program, our moderator today,
  • Ladies and gentlemen,

Larry, thank you and the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads for organizing this unique event. It is really an honour to be with you today.

I also thank the Norfolk-NATO Festival Committee for finding a way to continue our successful cooperation despite the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I deeply regret that we are not able to meet in person and acknowledge that no technology can entirely replace direct interactions and their many advantages.

This event highlights our shared determination by bringing together my Command, Allied Command Transformation, representing 30 nations, our Hampton Roads hosts and especially 3 former Supreme Allied Commanders Transformation – embodying NATO’s cohesion, consistency and persistent determination in the face of all challenges.

As Amit Kalantri, a young Indian writer, put it: “Our ancestors have invented, we can at least innovate.” And that, in many ways, might usefully sum up our ACT philosophy.

My predecessors – I want you to note that I resisted the temptation of referring to them as our ancestors – each in his own way, set the foundations for something that was then implemented during their tenure or by their successors. Something that improved the way the Alliance develops and maintains its Military Instrument of Power.

And, something that ensured peace and stability for all of us, for all of you … which is our collective Military Instrument of Power!

NATO is rightly celebrated as history’s most successful military alliance. Today it protects almost one billion people. And once again, this success is born of its cohesion … and its ability to adapt.

And this is particularly the case with NATO’s Military Instrument of Power, the Alliance’s strong and stable foundation.

Like any family, there have been occasional political differences and even a few dissonant tones between our leaders, but the Alliance’s strength is in no small part due to its ability to bring all of them around the same table and discuss these issues … and move forward as one!

We are all old enough to remember times when our opponents have questioned NATO’s continued existence, but as Mark Twain might have said, those reports were greatly exaggerated!

We are here today with an Alliance that is very much alive, present, and credible. And the protection and stability it provides are due to the efforts of its military organization and leaders.

Allow me to say a few words about the great contributions made by my predecessors, who together made our Military Instrument of Power what it is today.

Admiral Edmund Giambastiani was the first Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. He, in reality brought transformation to NATO, as Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) transitioned to Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT).

Admiral Giambastiani was the catalyst behind NATO’s reorientation towards the future by providing a vision of how NATO could think about tomorrow.

General James Mattis ensured that NATO could think differently, at the political and military level, about the global security environment. His qualities of the visionary military leader may be well illustrated by the fact that he described beforehand what a hybrid conflict could be.
He was also instrumental in developing the Multiple Futures Project and the provision of military inputs into the NATO Strategic Concept 2010, which remains in use today.
You might say, General Mattis brought strategy back to NATO.

General Denis Mercier continued to move us forward by ensuring the strategic level remained connected to our warfighters. His leadership, by focusing on the warfighting focus areas, ensured the significant improvement of the practical application, including introduction of Emerging and Disruptive Technologies to our transformational agenda.

General Mercier also led the efforts of proposing the framework and started implementation of the plans for restructuring ACT, as part of the broader NATO Command Structure Adaptation … to better deal with the initiatives put forth in Wales’ and Warsaw’s Summits.

As you can see, much has been accomplished since ACT was stood up in 2003. It took a great deal of vision, leadership and effort to come as far as we have today, towards directing our collective capability development.

And, continuing on the path set by its previous military leaders, ACT is currently focused on implementing new operational domains, like space; on the use of and defence against Emerging and Disruptive Technologies; on innovation; on interoperability and on paving the way for NATO’s future transformational efforts.

When we talk about our way ahead, I would like to mention the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC), which we developed in ACT to operationalize NATO’s military strategy.

The Concept was recently approved by the CHODs and endorsed by NATO’s defence ministers, at the political level.

We now turn to its implementation for the upcoming years. It is because NWCC complements existing strategic documents by looking at global trends and factors affecting Alliance security over the next 20 years and prioritizing efforts in concept and capability development needed for Alliance forces to maintain a decisive comparative advantage.

Returning to today’s topic: “stronger, together”, it is clear today that emerging challenges require even more cooperation and cohesion.

Today, no country, however powerful, is able to face alone the challenges confronting us …

Or as the NATO Secretary General said, when he addressed the American Congress 18 months ago, as we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Alliance – “It’s good to have friends”.

And as you all know, the challenges we face today are legion: an aggressive and capable Russia, active international terrorist groups, and significant instability in Europe’ vicinity … all of which is complicated by Emerging Disruptive Technologies, the explosion of the cognitive sphere, China, post-Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty … and even global challenges like climate change and pandemics like the one that made today’s event a virtual one.

It is in this ever changing and complex environment that ACT continues to toil in order to develop and maintain NATO’s Military Instrument of Power, while ensuring it remains credible, robust and resilient. This is the practical application of the principle of “strategic patience”, a persevered and determined improvement of our MIoP, which we collectively improve.

I already mentioned the increased relevance of innovation in NATO, due in no small part to the pace of technological change.

The increased importance of technological development within the commercial sector, especially in the digital sphere, the falling costs of advanced technologies and the military modernization programmes our potential adversaries and competitors (irrespective of their relative size) have embarked on – require we adapt in this domain as well.

This is the arena where we also need to have close partnerships with industry, academia and the scientific community.

The effectiveness of our Military Instrument of Power depends therefore, in part, on our ability to keep up with dynamic changes in sectors that are not part of the “traditional defence development eco-system”.

Hence, agility. It is a quality that is required alongside pure combat power. It is about adapting our capability development, changing our mindset and our procedures, our organization, our acquisition processes … while keeping in mind our ultimate goal: supporting our soldiers, sailors and airmen in the field.

As you can see, dealing with complexity requires a transformational agenda that is not exclusively focused on the “outside world”, our environment, but also inwards: on us, on the way we adapt to this evolution.

That is why another important aspect is proactivity, which is needed to avoid surprises, to anticipate them, and, above all, to retain the initiative. I am profoundly convinced that we need to understand what success looks like for NATO if we are to shape, contest and fight in this evolving security environment.

And, this is why I directed that NWCC, the Concept I mentioned before, be designed based on that logic and mindset. To encourage a proactive and anticipatory approach.

To conclude, I’d like to highlight again, that while there may be occasional political turbulence at the political level, the military remains NATO’s strong and stable foundation.

The coherence and the cohesion of this common military culture and forces, having been built up patiently over more than 70 years, constitutes, in my eyes, a phenomenal success, the effects of which go well beyond the military effects achieved in operations.

It has proven its effectiveness in the field on numerous occasions. It brings confidence to our forces and instils fear in our adversaries. It is a deterrent and a factor for stability.

That is why, I am sure, our collective capabilities, our military culture represents the sum of the strong and credible unity of efforts and sacrifices made by 30 nations … and their partners.

As the world changes, as the environment changes, so do we.
And today, we are fortunate to be able to discuss these changes with some of the finest military leaders this Alliance has ever had, the former SACTs.

Please make the most of this unique opportunity. I wish you a fruitful discussion and many great insights.

Thank you for your attention.

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