NATO

Speeches

2020

16 Oct - Remarks at the Norfolk Airport Signage Unveiling Ceremony

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

Mr. Alex Pincus, Assistant City Attorney, City of Norfolk
Ms. Freda Burns, Right of Way and Development Administrator, City of Norfolk
Mr. Adisa Muse, Chief Deputy City Clerk
Mr. Richard Broad, Director of Public Works

VADM Lewis, JFC Norfolk commander,
Admirals, generals,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,

It is both a pleasure and an honour to co-host this unveiling ceremony along with you, dear Kenneth.
I thank you for the exceptional support you have afforded us who serve in uniform, coming from 30 European and North American countries, our families, and for your outstanding cooperation in organizing activities which have kept the ties between the city of Norfolk and ACT, strong over many years. In addition, with the setup of JFC-N, Norfolk, NATO’s home in North America, now hosts two of the Alliance’s Headquarters.

It is worth emphasizing that our success rests entirely upon the cohesion that we maintain among nation members. This cohesion, in turn, is fortified by our commitment and mutual respect, our solidarity and our unity.
And, all of this is embodied by an international community of NATO member nations’ military and civilian families, here in Norfolk, where their daily interactions provide as many expressions of this solidarity and unity.
Many of you will know how much military families understand the many challenges that come with serving overseas, but rest assured that NATO families coming to Norfolk, feel quite at home and, from day one.

That is because they are privileged to enjoy the phenomenal hospitality and openness of the people of Hampton Roads.

The NATO Norfolk Festival symbolizes this long tradition of support the local communities and authorities offer NATO personnel. It is always a great success, except of course when a global disease intervenes, as it did this year, but I take for granted that the 2021 edition will be better than ever. 

Along with their traditions and experience, these NATO families also bring a great many international students to the area and they are delighted to make the most of the opportunity to study in the great Universities in the area: Old Dominion University, Virginia Wesleyan College, Regent University etc...

I would also like to mention outstanding initiatives like the Model NATO Press Corps and the NATO Model Challenge in which local Student Diplomats play the role of Ambassadors from Allied countries during a simulated international crisis.

In addition, through the Youth Ambassador Programme, the children of NATO Personnel are given various volunteer and community service opportunities at public and local organizations.

All of these create strong ties and enduring friendships throughout the year.
Allied Command Transformation also contributes to this community and its economy in different ways. For example, more than 1,500 people from Allied and Partner Nations come to visit our Headquarters annually – or they did until last March, taking part in the various conferences we organize in the Hampton Roads area.

Among the many subjects of common interest, I will highlight the topic of resilience, in part because of the significant expertise found locally which explains why Norfolk was designated as one of the first resilient cities in The 100 Resilient Cities network.
But also, because ACT co-hosts with the City of Norfolk, a very successful conference, focused on resilience against a terrorist attack in a city in a hybrid environment context.
While it is small comfort, I have no doubt that some of the lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis will help both NATO and Norfolk improve their resilience and robustness…

Mayor Alexander, thank you again for your continued support to NATO, its staff and their families here in Norfolk. We very much appreciate your hospitality. This fruitful cooperation and the close relations between the city of Norfolk and ACT are both a symbol and an instrument of the transatlantic bond. Our partnership demonstrates a rock-solid commitment, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, to our collective defence.

I would also like to extend my thanks to the airport employees, for their many kindnesses to NATO staff members, and who thereby contribute to bringing our communities together. A special thanks to the greeters and TSA officers who are taking good care of SACT’s party when travelling.

For all these reasons, I see this unveiling ceremony, especially in the challenging situation we find ourselves in, as an inspiring symbol of better things to come. In addition, I am delighted with the notion that all passengers travelling through ORF will be reminded that Norfolk is NATO’s Home in America!

Thank you for your attention!

19 Sep - Remarks on NWCC, Space and COVID Lessons Learned, Brussels *

Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please refer to the point of contact at the bottom of the page.

18 Jun - Address to the Defence Ministers Meeting, Brussels *

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02 Jun - Address to CWIX 2020 - Video message

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the CWIX 2020.

CWIX is an annual programme of interoperability testing. It supports military readiness of the Alliance by putting an emphasis on command and control capabilities needed for its missions. It is also unique, original, concrete and pragmatic, and it has established itself the largest NATO interoperability event.

Traditionally, our CWIX community would be joining together this time of the year in an annual execution event, mainly at the Joint Force Training Centre in Bydgoszcz, Poland. This year, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic, CWIX 2020 is a fully distributed event.

COVID arguably came as a shock and will expectedly have profound consequences. Some of you may have experienced loss, and I express to you my thoughts of comfort and deepest condolences. I sympathize with all grieving families and those affected by the virus.

Despite this COVID challenge, our security challenges remain, and ACT continues to develop the adaptation of the Alliance.

CWIX 2020 will, even in times of crisis, provide NATO, member and partner nations and other organizations with a controlled environment to test, identify and fix their interoperability issues to continuously improve NATO interoperability.

And, we demonstrate that we are still able to work together, even remotely. This year’s CWIX is managed by HQ SACT based in Norfolk, through a “hub” provided by the JFTC Battle-lab in Bydgoszcz, and supported by “virtual” services hosted by the NCI Agency in The Hague.

I thank all of you for making that challenging task accomplished.

Last year, we had the biggest CWIX in its history, with more than 1500 participants from 38 nations. That success in growth led us to already reaching the physical limits of CWIX, and we arguably have to consider other formulas to support this initiative.

In any case, a form of remote work should have been considered.

This year, due to COVID crisis, there will be 20 NATO Nations and 3 Partners participating, and I thank all of you for participating.

Due to these circumstances you will undertake less technical interoperability tests we would normally expect at CWIX. However, this decrease in number of participants and tests should not define this event.

The fact is that this COVID crisis does not allow us to meet physically as we traditionally do, but this “dislocation” of the teams undoubtedly brings an added value.

Because COVID forces us to work remotely, I also see in this crisis an opportunity. It consists in accelerating our reflection on other formulas which would have been necessary in all hypotheses.

Let us, therefore, grasp these constraints to mobilize our innovative mindset and start inventing a distributed CWIX ... which could, perhaps, extend over a wider period, to continue to progress on a continuous improvement of interoperability ... That is to say, to go beyond a "one-shot, one time a year" event.

I want to put this edition of CIWIX in that perspective and this is also why I also see this COVID crisis as an opportunity, that of pushing us to new adaptations. That is ACT’s role.

I am sure CWIX 2020 will demonstrate the resilience and resolve of NATO and partner nations as they continue to innovate in order to improve interoperability, even during a global pandemic.

It is very important that we continue, despite obstacles.

And, I think it is important to emphasize again that assuring interoperability remains at the heart of Alliance capabilities as a means of ensuring that NATO’s Military Instrument of Power (MIoP) has the edge over potential adversaries. You are very aware of that!

This interoperability ensures that NATO and partner nations’ forces can “act as one”, multiplying effect in terms of operational effectiveness and cost efficiency.

And, this is an added value of CWIX - to allow Nations to test interoperability as part of their mission preparations, or as part of the capability life-cycle process.

CWIX is where nations improve interoperability through innovation; by developing and experimenting with new ideas, new solutions and new capabilities. Moreover, CWIX promote an innovator’s culture, where failure is an option, as nations are able to “try, fail, fix and then try again”, in order to succeed.

Your collective endeavours demonstrate to us why NATO remains the longest and most successful Alliance in history. What you do here is a defining achievement that we will take forward in the months to come.

Congratulations for getting this far and I wish you the very best of luck during your three-week CWIX 2020 execution period.

Again, thank you for your participation. I am looking forward to seeing results of your tests.

I wish you a very successful work and many fruitful achievements.

14 May - Remarks on NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept at Military Committee Conference, Brussels *

Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please refer to the point of contact at the bottom of the page.

08 Apr - Opening remarks for MOU signature for the Integrated Air Missile Defence Centre of Excellence, VTC *

Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please refer to the point of contact at the bottom of the page.

03 Mar - Opening remarks at Military committee visit in Stavanger, Norway *

Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please refer to the point of contact at the bottom of the page.

14 Jan - Remarks on NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept at Military Committee Conference, Brussels *

Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please refer to the point of contact at the bottom of the page.

2019

12 Dec - Chiefs of Transformation Conference Closing Remarks

Generals, Admirals, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,

It has been my distinct honour and a real pleasure to host you at the 2019 Chiefs of Transformation Conference. I thank all of you for your participation and inputs during this annual gathering.
This year, we gathered 364 participants from 28 Member Nations, 6 Partner Nations (Austria, Australia, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland), Industry, Academia, and NATO Staff.
I also want to point out that, again at COTC, we welcomed national young disruptors to join the senior leaders. This year we also involved our enlisted personal through specific session dedicated to our CSEL representatives. Their point of views are crucial to address the essential Human capital issue.

I want to congratulate the team of DCOS Strategic Plans and Policy, led by RADM John Tammen, for their commitment and effort with the organization and execution of this event.
I also want to congratulate the ACT’s Protocol team, remarkable as always, and the entire hotel management team and staff. Let’s give them a round of applause!

We were privileged to have yesterday a video opening address by NATO’s Secretary General, Mr Jens Stoltenberg, who recognized ACT’s efforts and highlighted opportunities COTC provides.

He highlighted that "to large degree, our future security will be determined by our ability to understand, adopt and implement emerging and disruptive technologies.”, and concluded that “NATO has a key role in driving this change".
He recognized and commended also all the efforts deployed by ACT in that field through different perspectives such as:

- Organization of major events (NATO Industry Forum, NAC Away Day to mention few) ;
- Implication in the preparation of the London’s leaders meeting main outcomes (Emerging and Disruptive Technology roadmap, declaration of Space as an operational domain) ;
- Identification of trends and their potential military implications through SFA and FFAO ;
- Promotion of innovation within the entire Alliance by organizing twice a year NATO innovation Challenges ;
- Development of a LAB capability within ACT;
- Promotion of experimentation during exercises... in my opinion the best way to bring capability to life, testing at scale some innovative solutions.

Here in ACT we invest considerable efforts in embracing EDTs through innovation and through anticipating its impact both as challenges and as opportunities.
Yesterday I explained our, ACT’s, approach to NWCC and innovation. These topics were among several that have been touched upon in our various discussions during these two days. And, they contribute greatly to our Warfare Development.
While we have a clear idea of what Warfare Development is, achieving its objectives will require a lot of effort and, let me stress it again, cooperation.
Closer cooperation among member Nations, and NATO with partners, particularly with Industry and Academia helps us to ensure the future of the Alliance.
We also proved the benefits of our close interaction here, at this Conference.
My intention is not to try to summarize our two days rich and frank discussions.
But let me emphasize some significant insights we developed together and the actions we need to undertake.

First,
This is not only a question of technology. We are all focussed on technologies; probably too much indeed. Technology is a necessity but only makes sense if it is supported by a military strategy.
I strongly believe it is essential for us as an Alliance to regenerate our military strategic thinking.
How can we effectively counter the strategic paths of our adversaries? Instead of searching each time for symmetric responses, there are probably alternative ways to oppose to our adversaries.
In this field, I have great expectations in our work on the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept. There is a unique opportunity to emphasize alternative ways which should combine military actions across domains and attempt to synchronize military actions with the other instruments of power.
This is exactly the reason why we have proposed to conduct a session on hybrid warfare. If we can faster attribute any aggression in the new shadow wars we are facing, this will change positively our deterrent effect. Here is one of the question which illustrate in another way the necessity to link better military concept of operations and the way to mobilize technologies.
The driver should not be the technology!

Second,
I am not repeating myself. This is not only a question of technology. Listening to your views during this conference reinforce a deep conviction that I built since several years.
We are all facing tremendous challenges regarding Human capital and this trends will amplify:

- Birth rates are decreasing in our western societies,
- Our armed forces are competing with private sector to hire specific skills,
- Our environment is getting more and more complex and we will need to help our warfighters but also our decision- makers to better apprehend the different situations.

Of course this is mainly a responsibility of Nations but I think NATO has, at least, the role of offering a forum of exchanges in order to better apprehend and progress together on this critical issue.
I am also convinced that we must invest in the field of cognitive science.
The notion of man-in or man-out of the decision/action loop is of course a point which has to be debated. We should be careful not to seed this issue incorrectly.
We should always recall that, being an Alliance of values, we will always comply with the law of armed conflict.

Third,
We all recognize that one of the major factor of evolution was not only the technological changes itself but the pace of its development.
All of you expressed the absolute necessity to adapt in depth the way we drive capability development in order to be able to out- pace our adversaries. All of you mentioned agility.
This is the reason why ACT is a strong advocate of the full implementation of the new model of common funded capability. At the management level, under the personal commitment of general Sharpy, we have done good progress. There is still work to be done at the governance level and we need your support in this endeavour.
Indeed today we should all recognize, and I will quote here my chief of staff Paul Bennett, that we face a kind of institutional latency here!
But this will not be enough, especially in the field of software development where we have to be definitively more agile.

In ACT we are investigating new methods coming from private sectors and already experienced by some of your Nations.

- Spiral, incremental development ;
- User centric approach : operational cases instead of stand-alone requirements ;
- Minimum viable products ;
- Experimentations at scale.

All of these are becoming reality in ACT, not only “buzzwords”.
In ACT, we have already made many concrete steps that keep us on track! It’s not only principles here – We apply them to concrete projects.
I mentioned yesterday some examples of these projects, which are covering the identified challenges. For example, with the Information Environment Assessment tool, we cope with the challenges in information domain, with our efforts in building resilience we cope with the hybrid challenges but also EDT or adaptation of our capability development approach.

I can also mention the example of decision making where we develop today a roadmap to support these different dimensions.
My intent is to go further with these initiatives by unifying them and bringing coherence to them. It is linked also with the development of our NWCC. It is our intention to bring all these dimensions and the lessons we learned from these initiatives into our concept.
But, we also need you, your Nations, to take part in these efforts.
We are at the beginning of our journey in this endeavour and I personally believe that ACT could connect initiatives taken in your Nations and act as a “Hub of the Hubs”.
I think that we need to formalize the designation of a “chief of innovation” or an innovation champion, as we have now one in ACT, in your respective countries.
My concern is also to contribute to the effective implementation of these MVP into capabilities. This is the reason why I investigate the ways to faster contract with winners of our innovation Challenges.

Fourth,
To really unlock the potential of AI and big data, we have to take resolute measures to treat data as a strategic resource and to consider a global capability development approach here.
How do we collect, how do we homogenize, how do we share, how do we protect are paramount questions ahead of us at the same level of priority than how do we process!
This is mainly a question of will, not a question of technology. Technologies are already existing...
Among others, the question of level of classification which slow our ability to share is probably something to consider and discuss. It includes our ability to share information among Allies and with key partners.

Fifth,
Last but not least: Interoperability.
This is one of my main concern. That should be on of yours! We have been until now successful in assuring interoperable forces and we need to continue to ensure it.
Once again this is not only a question of technology. Everything NATO, and especially ACT, is doing in the field of education and training, concepts and doctrines, exercises contribute to interoperability of our forces. We have to be convinced of this tremendous and everlasting effort.

Of course this new technological developments will bring new challenges. How to make operate legacy systems with latest generation systems?
Few ideas on it:

- We should better leverage the lessons learned process which is yet not adequately exploited for interoperability;
- We should take more into account operational needs in technical standards;
- We should increase our commitment to Federated Mission Network developed by ACT and our contribution to exercises and events such as CWIX or Tide Sprint; They are organized for you!
- We should think interoperability by design throughout the DOTMLPFI spectrum.

We have clearly identified many opportunities for continued improvement, looking beyond the Brussels Summit and London’s Leaders meeting, and in support of the warfare development of the Alliance.

These improvements, particularly boosted by innovation, will significantly support our Transformation efforts, and result in a fast delivery of tangible and beneficial capabilities to our warfighters.
In fact, you all know that in my mind only one thing is important: concrete deliveries!
I would also like to assure you that we value your feedback. We introduced a different conference format from the COTC 2017, allowing more discussion, engagement and debate. More importantly, we will be working on implementing the takeaways from this event.
As I already touched upon, the takeaways from this year’s Conference will help us progressing further and will represent substantial contribution to the elaboration of the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept.

These are huge challenges in front of us but allow me to be optimistic.
I am deeply convinced that we, 29 Nations, with our increasing military budgets, with the best in best competences in terms of military, technology, industry, academia, research centres, Centres of excellence, and our human capital will succeed in overcoming them. I trust here the power of our network.
Thank you again for the very good discussions, and more importantly for the actionable outcomes we can now link to the work strands and upcoming events.
Above all, after two days of dialogue, we established new contacts, we exchanged ideas and we now know each other better. This work is certainly the guarantee of our collective success tomorrow.
I would like to thank you for your attendance and wish you all a safe trip home, and Happy Holidays and merry Christmas.

11 Dec - Chiefs of Transformation Conference Opening Remarks

General Erhard Buehler, Commander Joint Forces Command, Brunssum,
Admirals, Generals,
Chiefs of Transformation,
Representatives of the European Union, NATO Partner’s Nations and governmental organizations,
Representatives of NATO’s Centres of Excellence, Industry and Academia,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests,
Dear friends,

Good morning! And, welcome to the Chiefs of Transformation Conference and welcome to Norfolk.
I am very honoured to open this conference, as I see it as a great opportunity to keep abreast in approaching NATO’s adaptation.

In fact, this is the only annual venue that gathers the Alliance and Partner Nations’ Chiefs of Transformation, senior enlisted leadership, ACT’s leadership, together with non-NATO organizations, Industry and Academia.
We want to share perspectives on current challenges and the best ways to adapt our Military Instrument of Power, and our organization and processes to be able to respond to them.

Welcome to all of you!
The interactions that we will have here, among representatives of different nations, sectors and organizations, including Industry and Academia, are vital to expand the horizon and frame our decisions.
Therefore, let me also warmly welcome representatives from the invited NATO partners’ nations.
You are very important to us, we want you to be part of our warfare development agenda, and I also need you to stay connected to it. Your views and ideas will be an added value to all work-strands of Warfare Development.
Today, our gathering testifies the bond that exist among NATO nations and their partners, from both side of the Atlantic.

Despite some political challenges, our military cooperation has proved its efficiency in the course of this 70 NATO’s years.

It is, therefore, important to continue to integrate this cooperation in NATO’s adaptation.
And, along with our cohesion, our ability to adapt was one of the main factors of success of our Alliance.
“The only constant in life is change”, Heraclitus said. We can regret it or feel more comfortable in a more stable environment, but this is a fact!

The rate of change in our environment is exponential, and the character of conflict seems to evolve faster than our traditional defence organizations.
So, to adapt at the speed of relevance is an imperative for us! But, we also have to make our adaptation coherently. While we develop our capabilities individually, we have to ensure it is consistent, always focusing on our ability to operate together.

One way to ensure that coherence is to identify our priorities, continuously improve our structures and organization, and share our perspectives on risks and opportunities.
Once we identify opportunities, we should exchange innovative ideas and best practices, and develop them and explore them through common projects and exercises.

Fortunately, we are not at the beginning. There are already a lot of efforts being done by all 29 Nations and with our partners, and we need to implement them and do that as fast as possible for the common good.
I don’t intend to develop in details all that we are doing in ACT, as Admiral Bennett, our COS, will present it to you briefly.

Instead, I want to focus on two efforts, part of our common priorities, which will allow NATO to better orientate and better facilitate its efforts towards adaptation.
So, I will elaborate shortly on how we, in ACT, approached describing a perspective of future warfighting (through NWCC), and what we do in facilitating innovation in the Alliance.
The main driver of change for the Alliance is its strategic environment, which, as you know, is growing steadily more complex, unpredictable and dynamic.
Among the factors that characterize our strategic environment the most prominent are, evidently, terrorism and strategic competitions, particularly with an assertive Russia.
It is also a growing instability at our borders, an issue that consumes our forces, which have to be ready to respond to threats to sustain these lasting engagements and, simultaneously, adapt themselves. Indeed, we face challenging times!

This environment is today more complex, with following characteristics:

• Blurred lines between peace, crisis and war, further complicated by the increasing difficulty in detecting and attributing hostile actions,
• Conflict extending into new domains such as Cyber, Space or Information sphere,
• Effects combining in several domains,
• The multiplication of actors in theatre (regular forces, armed militia, civilian populations, NGOs, etc.
• The acceleration of time and of tempo, especially in the infosphere, which directly influences the outcome of a crisis today, and, tomorrow, into the kinetic realm with hypersonic weapons,
• And lastly, the gradual deletion of our traditional security landmarks induced by the revision of the international order established immediately after the World War II, including our multilateral framework, and rules-based systems.

I also expect further development of hybrid scenarios in which information warfare and cyber effects will be combined to circumvent our superiority using new technologies, which are now available to everybody.
By the way, these challenges are relevant for NATO, but they are also relevant for all of us sitting in this room.
In our interconnected world, we all share this challenging environment in one way or another, be it as a civil or military organization, a nation, a company or an individual.

To ensure that NATO’s military instrument of power can stay ahead of evolving threats in this environment, it is an imperative for us to develop a number of indispensable attributes in our military instrument.

In order to prevail, our military instrument will need to:

• Better understand and anticipate in order to “out-think” potential competitors;
• Build our culture of persistent readiness and ethos to “out- excel” and innovate;
• Persistently operate across a single, but multi-domain battlespace to “out-fight” any adversary;
• Ensure sustainability and resilience to“out-last”and prevail in contested or denied physical or non-physical environments;
• Capitalize on strengths to build advantage by “out-partnering” and improving connectivity and interoperability with Alliance instruments of power and other actors;
• And, finally, rapidly generate cross-domain military options.

To conceptualize these priority areas properly, and align development of 29 different military instruments of power to a common direction, we need a common, allied perspective.

And, my intent is to ensure it by development of the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept.
NWCC will be a threat-informed risk- and opportunity based military concept that will envision a 20-year horizon warfighting perspective.
The Concept will support Allies’ and NATO Military Authorities collective understanding of what is necessary to fight and win through tomorrow.

NWCC will, by focusing on trends driving the evolving character of warfare, allow NATO to establish a common warfare development vision in order to take the initiative to develop its military instrument.
And, it is not only a question of producing a new NATO paper. I want to produce not only a 20 years’ horizon vision, but also to allow us to identify and launch immediate actions that will ensure we are ready and on time to respond to the challenges of tomorrow.

Indeed, my intention is to provide and initiate very concrete capability and concept development actions in order to reach our goals.

Development of this Concept is one of ACT’s major efforts this year. By doing this, we intend to develop a warfare development strategy to inform and guide our allied capability development.
And we, at ACT, being the lead of its development, would like to integrate the various NATO, national, and multinational perspectives in one model, by incorporating them into our NWCC development efforts.
National representatives have already been included in the workshops we organized, and we are doing our best to incorporate all relevant perspectives and proposals into the document. This Conference will allow us to discuss and focus even more on the content of the Concept. Your views are essential.

I also have to say I was pleased to note that, in the London's Meeting Declaration, the Secretary General was invited to present to Foreign Ministers a Council-agreed proposal for a forward- looking reflection process under his auspices, drawing on relevant expertise, to further strengthen NATO’s political dimension including consultation.
I humbly believe that NWCC could be one of the military contribution to this political reflection.

Regarding the timeline, we plan to have an Initial NWCC in May 2020, and the Final Concept at the beginning of 2021.
Along with developing the Concept that will consolidate our efforts in preparing our military instrument of power for future challenges, we, in ACT, recognized the need to better facilitate adaptation by improving, at the same time, our capability development processes.

This is why in Allied Command Transformation, we are putting a lot of efforts to facilitate NATO’s adaptation through an open innovation approach, for example.
One of our breakout sessions is dedicated to the topic of innovation and disruptive technologies. We want you (COTs) to understand what is at stake and, and we want to assure you that your nations can benefit from ACT and other Nations’ initiatives.

Beside Nations’ efforts, ACT’s mission regarding innovation is, in my mind, to provide 3 fundamental contributions to the Alliance’s efforts to keep its edge:

• First, to inform the NATO’s strategic level on the implications of technological innovation, make them better understand vulnerabilities and opportunities, but also priorities and the different dimensions of the strategic challenges we are facing. So, first, we need to understand!
• Second, to apply innovation in our capability development and warfare development efforts in order to deliver better, faster, and, expectedly, cheaper capabilities. This goes in line with our efforts to optimize the Common Funded Capability process.
• And, finally, be one of the leading innovation agent for the Alliance, notably by facilitating the adoption of innovative practices within NATO and the nations.

To support these missions, I have decided to reinvigorate our innovation endeavour in the HQ SACT. 
Our main ambition is to create the conditions that will allow innovation to flourish, but also make sure that it constantly improves our capabilities and the way we operate collectively. 
In other words, my goal in promoting innovation is to implement novel solutions that deliver value to the Alliance.

But, I want to emphasize one thing - innovation is not only question of technology. It may sound provocative, but I think that the technology itself is of secondary importance.

It is because the majority of technologies is widely available, and instead of focusing on developing technology, our challenge is to adequately think our military strategy and, at the same time think adaptation.
It is, therefore, first the question of the use of these technological opportunities. And, as we explore through NWCC how to adapt our military strategy, it is also a question of adaptation.

This includes adaptation of our procedures, our capability development and, most importantly, our agility.

To illustrate this, I want to present to you what we, in ACT, have done since last year, to facilitate innovation in NATO.

• ACT had an important role in developing, together with our colleagues from the IS ESC division, the roadmap on Emerging and Disruptive Technologies, which has been agreed last week in London during the Leaders’ meeting. 
This roadmap shows not only political willing towards the use of new technologies in the Alliance, but will also open many areas that will take into considerations our (ACT’s) recommendations.
• We took the ACT innovation hub to the next step by giving it a “lab” capability, making it able to rapidly prototype and to offer a productive environment for final users and solution providers to interact and design “user-centric” solutions.
In this endeavour, ACT is leveraging its geographic location on US soil to benefit from the exceptional innovative tissue we find here. For example, from the lessons learned in the US DoD open innovation Labs and USAF’s software factories, especially the “Kessel Run” initiative.
• We are adapting our structure to be better suited to work with EDT, by establishing the Innovation Branch, with a Data section and a Disruptive Technology Policy section.
• After more than a year of existence, our EDT roadmap, which should not to be confused with the political roadmap approved last week at the strategic level.
Our Roadmap has a lot going on and covers now every “cluster” of technology, including Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Autonomy, Hypersonic Technology, Directed Energy Weapons, Biotechnologies, Human Enhancement and Quantum Technologies.
• We delivered the Information Environment Assessment tool, experimented during Trident Juncture 2018, to SHAPE and NATO HQ. Declared IOC last June, we will continue to improve this capability towards FOC in 2022.
• As a reminder, this tool, by using Artificial Intelligence on Big Data, intends to profile the information environment in real time in order to advise operational and senior political leaders about how NATO messaging is received.
• We are also studying the art of the possible in Quantum sensing for underwater detection and will fund a demonstration on underwater quantum communication, next year at the Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE).
• Lastly, we openly shared some of NATO's problem statements and use cases with industry and academia through two innovation challenges in the 12 past months.

As you can see, we are steadily building conditions for innovation to become our everyday reality.
It is not for the sake of producing something new, it is to ensure the best conditions for NATO’s adaptation! And, I know that a lot have been done, at the same time, everywhere in your nations.

Today, we want to share our visions, perspectives and best practices with you during this conference on innovation and disruptive technologies and to identify possible common efforts.

With this conference, we want to continue to demonstrate our commitment to innovative adaptation and interoperability as crucial for our warfare development.

For all these reasons, the title of this year’s Conference is "NATO Warfare Development: Innovation & Interoperability, Winning Tomorrow’s War Today"

I didn’t have time to elaborate other important topics, such as NDPP, the optimization of the work with COEs, interoperability or NCS Adaptation, to mention few of them. But, we will include them in our discussions during these two days.

I want to encourage you to use “innovative thinking” in all breakout sessions, discussing topics on our agenda: NWCC, interoperability as a mindset, counter hybrid warfare and terrorism, and human security.

I am sure you will agree with me: only by acting together, in a “one NATO” approach will we be able to tackle the challenges we face, today and will face tomorrow.

We need you, the Chiefs of Transformation, NATO’s Partners, Senior Enlisted Leaders, representatives from Industry and Academia, and young disruptors to help us define what our future focus on capabilities will be.

I’m looking forward to getting actionable outcomes from the breakout sessions, in a spirit of openness, connectedness and close collaboration.

Thank you for your attention and wish you all fruitful discussions.

14 Nov - Address at the NATO-Industry Forum 2019 on 'State of the NIF'

Honourable David Norquist, US Deputy Secretary of Defense,
Dear Ambassadors, members of the North Atlantic Council,
Honourable Ellen Lord, US Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment,
Air Chief Marshal, Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Dear Stu,
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,

I want to start by thanking the U.S. authorities for hosting this NATO Industry Forum. I am very happy that we were able to meet in Washington, D.C., where the North Atlantic Treaty was signed. Your presence testifies that the Transatlantic Bond is ironclad.

This bond is at the heart of our Alliance – an Alliance which has offered security and prosperity in the Euro-Atlantic for seven decades. We can legitimately be proud of it.

But our security also relies on our capabilities, or as Thomas Hobbes once said, “Covenants, without the Sword, are but Words, and of no strength to secure a man at all.”

Since NATO’s inception, our military power was primarily based on the quality of our people in armed forces, and the technological superiority our industry gives us. The industry is, therefore, a genuine part of the Alliance’s Deterrence and Defence Posture.

Today, the civilian sector assumes the role of lead innovator in critical areas of military relevance such as computation, robotics, advanced manufacturing, energy, and others.

Consequently, our armed forces are increasingly reliant on technologies which development is driven purely by the market and that are widely available.

This proliferation of technology also offers our adversaries greater capabilities to challenge the Alliance technologically, militarily, and therefore politically.

At the same time, our procurement processes struggle to engage with the ecosystem that is behind these technologies, moving at a pace which challenges our capability development processes.

We, therefore, collectively, must radically change our methods and our mindsets. This transformational endeavour is a matter of urgency and the raison d’être of my command, Allied Command Transformation.

It can only happen through a renewed partnership with you, the industrial community. We need you to understand better these technologies, to be able to propose relevant solutions, but also, the first and foremost, we need to jointly adapt our development processes to deliver quicker better military capabilities.

This is what our Forum today is all about! To trigger this change, we need to challenge each other, in a friendly but resolute fashion, and aim to:

  • give momentum, at the highest level, to topics we deem relevant to maintain the Alliance’s edge, and,
  • generate tangible, actionable leads we can build on between two NATO Industry Forums.

Last year, the theme of the NIF held in Berlin was innovation and Emerging and Disruptive Technologies. There is no doubt in my mind that NIF18 significantly raised awareness of the strategic and political level.

This event, amongst others initiatives, has contributed to generate a momentum, which first tangible result is the establishment of a NATO roadmap on Emerging and Disruptive Technologies that was discussed at DEFMIN last month and is to be endorsed at the Leader’s meeting in 3 weeks, in London.

Our fruitful debates of last year NATO Industry Forum also generated various ideas on how to better leverage innovation in NATO and the Alliance.

Here are some examples of what we have done following these recommendations:

  • We took the ACT innovation hub to the next step by giving it a “lab” capability, making it able to rapidly prototype and to offer a productive environment for final users and solution providers to interact and design “user-centric” solutions.
    • In this endeavour, ACT is leveraging its geographic location on US soil to benefit from the lessons learned in the US DoD open innovation Labs and USAF’s software factories, especially the “Kessel Run” initiative.
    • We are building this capacity as we speak and expect to reach Initial Operating Capability (IOC) next month.
  • We set up a dedicated budget to fund this lab programme of work, to give it the necessary freedom and agility to be truly innovative.
  • Following the suggestion to create a NATO Open Innovation Alliance, offering a framework based on shared principles and values for open innovation agreements between start-ups and major defence companies, under the “moral umbrella” of ACT, we have taken the initiative to put this idea at the agenda of the ACT day of the NIAG plenary meeting that will be held tomorrow.
  • We openly shared some of NATO's problem statements and use cases with industry and academia through two innovation challenges in the 12 past months.


This shows that, for us, the NIF is not just a fancy and enjoyable high-level social event, even if it is always a great pleasure for me to meet our numerous friends from Industry. We leverage the NIF outcomes to adapt the way we operate.

I do not doubt that this new edition will also bring its fair share of actionable ideas, as we already saw yesterday with the Break-out sessions, and the day before with the specific Young Disruptors’ sessions, that ACT organized in the same way.

Here are my few key takeaways from the very fruitful exchanges in our Break Out Sessions held yesterday.

  • Technologies are available, leveraging them requires the appropriate human capital:
    • Our leaders need to become more familiar and comfortable with AI;

    • Our operators need the appropriate skillsets;

    • NATO must adopt a federated learning approach, and consider exercises and operations as venues to train our personnel to use new technologies and build trust in the insights they deliver;
  • To unlock the potential of AI and big data, we have to take resolute measures to change the way we approach data:
  • Treat data as a strategic asset;
    • Develop a problem-driven data collection strategy;

    • Initiate and drive at the highest leadership level the transformation of NATO into a "data-centric" organization;

    • Build trust between nations, academia, and industry to facilitate data sharing;

    • 
Machine learning only works if the data used to train algorithms is reliable. We need to mitigate the risks of bias or manipulation of this data.

  • Resourcing has to align with the leaders’ intent. Leaders have endorsed the importance of data science and analytical decision making; we now need to secure resources in relation to the stakes.

  • Harnessing solutions from the new tech ecosystem requires a real overhaul of our procurement processes:
    • We need to speed up dramatically our contracting;

    • We must acknowledge that freezing requirements and sticking to them is not adapted to software development;

    • We need to be more agile and to move from a fixed project to a living product approach.

I expect the next three plenary discussions will build upon these proposals and generate additional fresh ideas on the theme of decision making.

Let me tell you an anecdote to illustrate what we had in mind when we picked this theme. When LtGen Rick Lynch took the command of the Deployable Joint Task Force (DJTF) of the NATO Response Force, back in 2005, he addressed his team in its command post.

There was a big screen in the room. He asked the audience “You see this screen? You want to know what it is meant for? That’s quite simple: this is where I want to see the answers to my questions before I ask them.”

Well, I consider this an entirely legitimate request. Because, ideally, we want to deliver to a commander what he or she needs to make informed decisions before he or she asks for it specifically.

This is today even more relevant than back then.

As new domains of conflict appear, such as Cyber, Space and the Information sphere, the lines between peace, crisis and war are blurring. It becomes more and more difficult to spot the adversary – sometimes even to detect that we are under attack.

Spotting a missile that is fired at us is one thing – spotting a hybrid attack combining fake news, cyber-attacks and instrumentalized militias is a different story.

Concurrently, time scales are compressing. Our ability to understand the situation and take the appropriate decisions in the necessary tempo is consequently challenged.

In order to out-think and out-pace our potential adversaries, we need to approach our decision-making processes differently.

My vision is that the decision-makers at all levels are presented with the richest information available on a situation:

  • presented through visualization techniques, so that is easy to digest,
  • allowing the exploration of a wide field of possible courses of actions and assumptions and their consequences through modelling and simulation.


This will offer our leaders a range of response options. This seems to me of great value at the Political-military level, but not only. Amongst other examples:

  • Assessing and refining assumptions on very complex studies such as we did during A2AD work;
  • Apprehend a complex situation and analyse a huge amount of open or classified data as included in our Information Environment Assessment tool;
  • Test and wargame our advanced operational plans to verify their relevance;
  • And, assess the most relevant architecture of systems in our capability development.

That being said, it is not only a matter of developing technology. Many technologies are already there, available for us. 
The question is: what does it take to adopt them? 
The answer is, in my view: we need to change our people’s culture and skills, our processes and our organizations.

In order to make the best use of the available technologies, the first condition is naturally to have people ready to use them – in other words, to secure we have the right skill sets in our workforces and military personnel, in our capability development branches as well.

We also need to take into account the cognitive dimension of the interactions between men and machines. I’m not only talking about the questions of man-machine interface raised by the growing complexity of our systems here but also about the key question of confidence in the machine.

I don’t ignore the difficulty for military and political leaders to trust machines when it comes to helping them to decide. Confidence is not achieved by decree, it must be earned. That means we need to experiment, explain, illustrate, demonstrate what is feasible and what the added value is.

We also need to transform our processes and our organizations to gain the agility required to capture technologies that move so fast.

Consequently, our 3 plenaries intend to explore:

  • first, the potential of technologies to assist decision-makers, attempting to answering the following questions:
    • What do technologies already offer today to enable better-informed, quicker decisions?
    • What can we expect tomorrow?
  • second, the impact of the new information landscape on the way decisions are produced. I’m eager to hear how companies have transformed the way they take decisions in this new landscape;
  • and, third, the “so what” for NATO and the Alliance’s posture: how can we apply these technologies, set-up the appropriate processes, and get our people and our leaders to trust and to get used to using machines to assist them in their decision-making processes?

In other words, how do we, very concretely, improve NATO’s decision-making capability, to maintain the Alliance’s political-military edge and its defence and deterrence posture?

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have full confidence that we’ll have fascinating and enlightening debates during these plenaries.

I invite you to challenge us, in NATO, to reform ourselves and personally commit to taking actions to leverage your recommendations in NATO’s continuous adaptation.

It also works the other way around. My dear friends from Industry, as a voice of NATO customers, I want to challenge you personally to adapt alongside with us. This must be a collective endeavour. Let’s start now!

Thank you for your attention.

24 Oct - Remarks to Defence Ministers Meeting - Countering Hybrid Threats and Resilience Dinner - NATO HQ *

Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please refer to the point of contact at the bottom of the page.

09 Oct - Address to the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Conference 2019 *

Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please refer to the point of contact at the bottom of the page.

25 Sep - Address to the NATO Information and Communicators' Conference (NICC) 2019

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the 2019 NATO Information and Communicators’ Conference.

This year, Allied Command Transformation is organizing this important event, and I want to thank our friends from Poland for hosting us in Warsaw.
In particular, I thank the Minister of Defence, Mr Mariusz Błaszczak for opening the conference.

I would also like to extend my personal thanks to those from NATO HQ for their strong involvement and support, especially Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Ambassador Tacan Ildem and, NATO Spokesperson Ms. Oana Lungescu.

Most importantly, I thank you all for participating. And, I urge you to take the discussions from your working groups, workshops and plenary discussions back to your commands, centres and institutions, to your commanders and leaders, and continue improving our military culture and NATO’s effectiveness in the information environment.

While I cannot be with you in person, I want to share my thoughts on the importance of the continuous development of different communications disciplines: Strategic Communications, Military Public Affairs, Information Operations and Psychological Operations.

The conference is taking place in the middle of the adaptation of NATO’s command structure and increasing competition in the information environment. It is also taking place in a year in which we celebrate NATO’s 70th anniversary. The anniversary of an open and transparent alliance, built on freedom, democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.

Our cohesion, based on mutual trust and solidarity is the key of our success and longevity.

In our increasingly interconnected and networked world, our potential adversaries recognize the information domain and seek to exploit perceived weaknesses.
And, certainly, in democratic nations there will surely be fissures that can be exploited. And, information, or better say – disinformation, is, among other asymmetric means, an important instrument that our adversaries use in their approaches.

We count on you, NATO’s team of networked communicators, to help us understand the information environment and to prepare us to rapidly identify and counter malicious actions in the future like we do it today. And, we also have to build our resilience against possible strategic shocks in the information domain, as much as possible.

Make no mistake: Information may be weaponized.

Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence may be used as a “weapon of the weaker”. A weaker in terms of conventional military capabilities, but capable of harnessing new technologies in non-kinetic, information domain.

These new technologies may be applied to use personal data to build better microtargeting capabilities in an effort to control public opinion.
This is why we not only need to understand the dynamics of media, social networking and our common need to relate and share deeply personal information. But, we also need to understand and use the potentials of new, disruptive technologies relevant to this domain.

I will illustrate it with one of ACT’s particular line of efforts, which is development of the Information Environment Assessment (IEA) capability. It aims at assessing the perception of our populations and potential adversaries of NATO strategic message, even with the weak signals.

This capability aims at allowing us to assess the effectiveness of NATO deterrence, especially in hybrid threat environments. We experimented it during the last year‘s Trident Juncture exercise and this effort received a valuable support and recognition from Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy.
You are the front-line warfighters in this increasingly contested information environment. It is of paramount value for the Alliance to ensure you are resourced, trained, operating and succeeding like never before.

Again, thank you for your participation. I assure you, I will follow the outcomes of your discussions with a great interest.

I wish you a very successful conference and many fruitful discussions.

19 Jul - Remarks at the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation Change of Responsibility Ceremony

The Honourable Elaine Luria, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 2nd district, dear Elaine,
The Honourable Kenneth Alexander, Mayor of Norfolk, dear Kenneth,
The Honourable Robert Dyer, Mayor of Virginia Beach, dear Bobby,
ADM (Ret) Harold Gehman Jr., Former Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT),
LtGEN Hans-Werner Wiermann, Director General of International Military Staff, dear Hans-Werner,
LtGEN Robert Hedelund, Commander of the US Marine Corps Forces Command,
VADM Scott Buschman, Coast Guard Atlantic Area Commander,
VADM Bruce Lindsey, Deputy Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, dear Bruce,
VADM Andrew Lewis, Commander 2nd Fleet and Joint Forces Command Norfolk, dear Andrew,
Ms Kathleen Jabs, Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland security from Commonwealth of Virginia,
Honorary consuls,
Defence Attachés,
National Liaison Representatives in ACT,
Dear Manfred,
Dear general Ruggiero,
Generals, Admirals,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends,

It is with mixed feelings that we have arrived at one of the major milestones for our command this year, with the handover of the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander’s position between two particularly distinguished officers from Germany and Italy.
Today we are saying farewell to a valued member of our team, Admiral Manfred Nielson.

Dear Manfred, I felt immensely privileged to have been able to “navigate” with you at the head of this Command for the last 11 months.

During this time we shared everything and we worked together on creating the conditions this HQ needs to fulfil its mission as NATO’s Warfare Development Command. Our dedicated and competent staff, along with our 3Js, the three subordinate Centres (JFTC, JWC and JALLC) did a great job to implement my directions and guidance.

ACT is recognized by NATO HQ and nations as a leading agent and a force of progress in the area of capability development. We work to ensure NATO has the right military instrument of power to guarantee a credible and adaptable defence posture today and into the future.

All this contributes to the stability provided by our Alliance and makes NATO an instrument of international peace and security.

We, in ACT, work to position the Alliance for future success, by strengthening our capacities, and ensuring their permanent adaptation.
You, all of you in ACT, individually, are part of this success. Be aware of that, to be able to explain the value of your hard work to NATO’s stakeholders and partners outside of ACT.

It is important that you do that, because your achievements take place far away from the cameras and the eyes of public.
In NATO, it is our role, in ACT, to ensure that we are collectively ready and able to respond to challenges of today and tomorrow. ACT has a vital role in this long term transformational efforts:

  • ACT analyses the trends, risks, threats, and technological developments that shape our security environment. By doing that, it ensures awareness, understanding and unity of effort among the members of the Alliance in developing the required capabilities.
  • ACT is responsible for the defence planning of the Alliance. In essence, it is to define the Alliance's military needs necessary to deal with politically approved engagement scenarios. By doing this, ACT integrates 29, soon 30 nations, into a common military development dynamic, which is a factor of collective impetus, interoperability, unity, and, in one word, stability.
  • ACT explores new technologies and experiments with innovative solutions. By doing that, it builds the capabilities of tomorrow's Alliance and contributes to its robustness and its deterrent effect.
  • ACT conducts new programmes to modernize NATO’s command and control capabilities. By doing that, it improves the capabilities of the Alliance and ensures its unity of action, it produces stability.
  • ACT defines the standards of training, exchange of information, connections of our equipment. By doing that, it promotes the Alliance’s unity of action and creates stability.
  • ACT educates and trains thousands of army, navy and air force men and women each year. This helps to homogenize the Alliance's military culture, develops interoperability and ultimately produces stability.
  • Finally, ACT develops new concepts that provide new ways to deal with the emerging challenges for our forces. By doing that, it ensures our preparedness, and contributes to the collective effectiveness of our armed forces and, as a result, to their deterrent effect.

In great part, NATO’s success, as a military and political organization, is made possible by the tireless work and commitment of this formidable command, by all its directorates, divisions and branches ... its people.

I am saying all this because you can all be proud of the work that has been done here every day.

Manfred, I thank you, the Command Group and all ACT’s staff for working so hard to implement these efforts.

I thank you for your contribution, and especially the personal touch you brought to every major activity in our HQ. I especially thank you for helping me to find my feet during my first days in ACT.

You passionately invested yourself in every activity we worked on. I always appreciated your tact and your ability to focus on what is essential for NATO’s Transformation.

I, and the entire staff of this headquarters, recognize in you a true leader. One able to look to the future, to see what the young men and women who serve in uniform, and the Alliance as a whole, will need to face the challenges of the future.

Your forward-looking ability was an indispensable and valuable asset for our Command. We are so glad to have had such a capable navigator to help our Command find the fairest winds on our Warfare Development journey.

Manfred, I could speak at length about your many contributions, but would rather go to what I see as your greatest strength: your deep sense and understanding of human relationships and their true value.

You always really understood the importance of human capital and how much human relationships can achieve. You encouraged it with your good cheer, sincerity, and friendliness, and this is what we are going to miss most of all.

I, above all, very much appreciated your loyalty, and your honest and straightforward attitude. I have always been able to count on you, knowing you would always tell me what you thought.

And, I also want to say that I really admire your character as a real soldier, someone able to suffer for a greater cause. As you proved again and again, and most recently in Newark airport in November last year. No one can doubt your ability to adapt after that.

I also want to acknowledge Annette, the woman behind this great man. I, therefore, extend our wholehearted thanks to Annette, who accompanied Manfred during his rich and rewarding career.

And, I also thank Annette for her personal involvement and many contributions to the NATO community. Christine and I will miss you Annette.

Manfred and Annette, on behalf of all ACT staff, and our guests present today, we wish you a very, very warm farewell and the best for your future.

I am also looking forward to seeing you again in September, in Berlin, for the Tattoo ceremony in your honour.

I mentioned already our mixed feelings today and this is because we are also very pleased to welcome Lieutenant General Paolo Ruggiero.

General, dear Paolo, today’s ceremony is the opportunity for me to introduce you to this demanding command.
And without describing in detail your remarkable career, I do want to share with you how fortunate we feel to have you join our Command team.

We hope to capitalize on both your operational experience and your expertise in the force preparation and force sustainment domains. Your previous assignments included command roles with operational units and staff officers’ posts in the Army General Staff and the Office of the Chief of Italian Defence Staff.

Moreover, your previous experience with NATO will be highly beneficial for us.

In 2015, you were deployed to Afghanistan first as Chief of Staff, and then as Deputy Commander for Transition of the NATO "Resolute Support” mission. And, the last three years you served as Deputy Commander of LANDCOM, in Izmir, Turkey.

General Ruggiero, your rich experience, your competences and abilities, will be useful in our Warfare Development journey. Because everything we do here in ACT has to serve our operational capabilities.

I am sure that you and your wife Holly Ann will find yourself right at home here, with true friendship from the great people of the Hampton Roads area.

And, I want to publicly thank once again all the hard working and dedicated people of Hampton Roads, its political leaders, its universities and civic leaders who make all the events we organize possible, and for giving such a fabulous welcome to all the international military families who call this area home during their tour.

Here, our families share everything with yours. I especially want to thank:

  • Ms Elaine Luria, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives,
  • Mr Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Mayor of the City of Norfolk, and
  • Mr Robert Dyer, Mayor of Virginia Beach,

...who do us the honour of accompanying us with their faithful presence.

So, Paolo, on behalf of all ACT staff, and our guests present today, we wish you and your wife, Holly Ann, a very warm welcome into this new family.

Thank you for your attention.

03 Jul - Remarks to the US Independence Day Flag Raising

Congresswoman Luria, Dear Elaine,
Mayor Dyer, Dear Bobby,
Mayor Alexander, Dear Kenneth, who will join us soon,
Dear Guests of Honor, Generals, Admirals, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor for our NATO command, ACT, and a personal pleasure to take part in the United States of America’s National Day celebration by raising the American flag, the glorious Star Spangled Banner.

NATO members and their families feel immense privilege and pride, sharing this moment with the men and women serving a country which has always preserved the heritage of the universal principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence on the 4th July 1776.

As a matter of fact, since the American Revolutionary War, the United States has remained faithful to its founding values and committed with its Allies, in preserving them.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to attend the D-Day 75th anniversary ceremony in Normandy along with the US and French presidents, amongst others.

True to these values, how many young soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice on these beaches of Normandy to free Europe from tyranny?

This is one symbol of the vital US contribution to the fight, which drew the Second World War to an end.

75 years ago, Europe was recovering from the most devastating conflict causing the deaths of almost 70 million people, including 45 million civilians. 70 million people! These figures are simply unimaginable today!

Nowadays, the witnesses of this period are less and less numerous.

For the youngest generation it could appear today as just a date in a History book.

It is our responsibility to let them understand what guided our political leaders, at that time, in their determination to ensure we « live in peace with all people and governments », by maintaining an Alliance that serves as the shield for our freedom, prosperity, and peace.

The fates of the United States of America, Canada and Europe are inseparable!

Today, Allied airmen, sailors and soldiers from both sides of the Atlantic are still fighting shoulder to shoulder.

In Afghanistan we shed the same blood, in the same valleys to build a fair society, a society where young women have right to education for example and prevent safe heaven for terrorist organizations.

In the Middle East, hand in hand, we are defeating ISIL from the sea, the air and land.

As former Chief of Staff of the French Air Force, I am in a good position to bear witness to the success of these operations. And as a French citizen, being in Paris at that time, I know pretty well what a terrorist organization like Daesh is able to perform.

In the Sahel, we are fighting close together to support our African friends in their war for progress against those who profess obscurity.

Let me remind you that last year some French fighters intervened for the benefit of US Special Forces seriously engaged by terrorists.

The blood of our soldiers has not been spilled in vain. Our fight prevents the appropriation of this enormous desert region by the terrorist groups such as Al Qaida or ISIL.

In Europe, we are deterring, as we have done for the last 70 years, willing to protect the same core and universal values that founded this wonderful country. And we are contesting together all the destabilizing actions of all of the actors searching to weaken our Alliance and our unity.

Everywhere in the world, we are defending the same ideal; the one consisting of living in peace, free and independent, as almost originally declared in the United States Declaration of Independence.

Today, we are facing a very challenging environment with threats that disregard recognized state borders, with threats that none of our countries are able to deal with by themselves.

I am deeply convinced that the only effective way to defend our liberty and our independence is to do so together and united.

United States of America, I have the utmost respect for your Nation which has never stepped back, which has asked so many of its sons and daughters to pay the ultimate price in enduring battles for freedom along with their Allied Band of Brothers.

In raising the US flag today, we are paying tribute to American men and women, currently deployed in overseas operations, protecting these cherished values, to those we have lost in the battles for peace, to those who have been hurt in their body or their mind, and to all our military families who support our service members in their duties.

God bless them.

Today, NATO’s Allied community wants to wholeheartedly thank you for the opportunity to join you on this day of remembrance, to celebrate together our common heritage, a legacy that we will continue to protect at the highest price and pass on to new generations.

Long live these values ! Long live our Alliance!

And long live the United States of America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave!

21 May - Address to the EUMC, Brussels *

Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please refer to the point of contact at the bottom of the page.

25 Apr - Remarks at the Norfolk NATO Festival 2019 Flag Raising Ceremony

Mr. Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Mayor of the City of Norfolk. Dear Kenneth,
Congresswoman Elaine Luria. Dear Elaine, Congressman Robert Scott,
Mr. Simon Scott, Chairman of Norfolk NATO Festival, Admiral Grady. Dear Christopher,
General Lori Robinson,
Admirals, generals,
Chief of Police Larry Boone,
Outstanding NATO members of the year,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Mayor Alexander, I thank you again for your exceptional support to us from 29 nations, from Europe and North America, who serve in uniform and to our families.

Thank you also for your cooperation in organizing activities, which make ties between the city of Norfolk and NATO Allied Command Transformation so strong over many years.

I also want to thank the Norfolk NATO Festival Committee, civic leaders, and National Liaison Representatives in ACT for their hard work in the preparation of this year’s Norfolk NATO Festival.

This April, Norfolk NATO Festival takes place in a year in which we mark the Alliance’s seventieth anniversary. These successful 70 years are proof of NATO’s relevance and its commitment to protect our freedom and peace.

Today, we face unprecedented challenges, challenges no one nation can face alone. In such an increasingly unpredictable and volatile world, having friends and allies is essential.

NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said in his Address to the United States Congress, in Washington D.C., three weeks ago, that, in this challenging world, "it’s good to have friends". It is “good for Europe, and it is good for America”.

This is why we realize, every day, that the need to maintain and further develop our Alliance only increases. We need to prevent any conflict and we need to preserve the peace.

This colourful display of NATO Member Nation flags and uniforms in this military presentation representing all 29 NATO Member Nations is a symbol of our diversity, inclusiveness and, most important of all, our cohesion.

We live this cohesion through our commitment and mutual respect, through our solidarity and our unity.

This military presentation constitutes also the symbolic “bridge” across the Atlantic Ocean, joining North America and Europe in a common destiny, and giving them a common purpose.

Recognising the flags of our 29 nations illustrates our commitment to defend together the values upon which the Alliance is built: freedom, tolerance, democracy, and rule of law.

In front of these flags today, I could not evoke the commitment of our military without having a thought for those who have sacrificed themselves in all theatres of operations, in the name of solidarity among our countries, in the name of our Alliance.

I would like to thank all the men and women from our nations who contributed to our peace. Particularly those who shed their blood, and risk their health and lives for our freedom, for your freedom and the freedom of your families, for your prosperity.

This year’s Festival theme is “A Salute to the Women of NATO”. It symbolizes our great appreciation to the role and contribution of women, both in our armed forces and in our military families.

This appreciation should resonate with everyone.

That is why we made this topic the centrepiece of all of the Festival’s activities and events. From the “Innovation thru inclusion” conference, organized some weeks ago here in Norfolk, co-presented by ACT and Norfolk NATO Festival, to the Virginia International Tattoo.

I am particularly honoured today by the presence of congresswoman Elaine Luria and General Lori Robinson. Thank you.

I am also particularly proud that, this year, the ACT Outstanding NATO Civilian of the year, and the ACT Outstanding Junior member of the year, are women. Innovation and inclusion are reality in Allied Command Transformation!

Chief Petty Officer Bernard Dath, Mrs. Anna Hires, and Master- at-Arms First Class Arianne Logan, your presence in the Official Party of today’s ceremony is a sign of our recognition to your outstanding service and dedication to Allied Command Transformation and the mission of the Alliance. Well done!

Today, the NATO service members and their families working at Allied Command Transformation represent thirty-six allied and partner nations and all of us are very proud to call Norfolk home.

We are proud and grateful that the Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, recognized 4th April 2019 as the 70th anniversary of the establishment of NATO in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In part, that declaration reads, “Norfolk, Virginia is proud to be NATO’s Home in North America”.

We also consider Norfolk our home, thanks to its vibrant arts and culture community, distinguished universities and educational programmes, numerous recreational and shopping opportunities as well as nearby beaches, and the warm hospitality of its population. In Norfolk, we feel at home!

The Norfolk NATO Festival and Parade of Nations is one of the most awaited annual events hosted by the City of Norfolk, but it also gives the NATO family a chance to give back and share our culture and appreciation with the local community.

I express, again, my sincere gratitude to the Mayor of Norfolk, and with him, to all the local civilian and military authorities, organizations and individuals from the Hampton Roads region.Thank you, again, to the Norfolk NATO Festival team.

Thank you for your commitment to this year’s NATO festival, and thank you for your commitment to the values of the Alliance, and to our bond that links both sides of the Atlantic.

I also extend my gratitude to all women who contributed to the richness of our organization.

And, finally, I would like to thank everybody coming from far away to participate in this year Festival’s activities.

This evening, for example, at Virginia International Tattoo, we will welcome performers from the United States, Australia, Canada, Jordan, Romania, the United Kingdom and France, including the French Pacific Islanders rugby team, gathered from New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and Tahiti.

You are all invited to watch and hear them performing this evening at the Tattoo, and to the rugby match on Sunday, where they will play against the local rugby team “The Norfolk Blues”.

Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you all to enjoy this year’s Norfolk NATO Festival’s events.

02 Apr - Address to HQ SACT staff on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of NATO

Admirals, generals,
My fellow ACT teammates, Ladies and gentlemen,

We know the price of war. Seventy years ago, Europe was still recovering from the most devastating conflict in the human history.

We should always have in mind what the war is. The younger generations, and I among them, have never experienced anything even close to what the World War II was.

That is why the leaders of the free world, representing the will of their citizens, after that war decided that the ultimate goal must be “to live in peace with all peoples and governments”.

They were “determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law”.

And, they sought to “promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area [while] resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security.”

That was the essence of the North Atlantic Treaty, which in only 14 founding articles defined the Alliance, its functioning and its objectives.

70 years ago, the Alliance political centre of gravity was in Washington DC, as it is today in each and every NATO location, demonstrating its cohesion.

We are proud of being members of the world’s oldest, strongest and most successful military alliance of democratic nations in history.
We are an alliance, bound by a shared history, and common ideals and goals.

For 70 years, our Alliance has showed its strengths and relevance based on the values we, Nations, share and are determined to continue to defend. These are, above all, democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.

Moreover, it is our solemn commitment to each other, embodied in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which defines an attack against one Ally as an attack against us all, which is the source of trust, solidarity, and cooperation between member nations.

NATO has preserved peace and stability in its area of responsibility, and maintained its cohesion during these seven decades.

We, 29, soon 30 countries, work together to prevent conflict and preserve peace for nearly one billion people of the most advanced countries in the world!

Our strategic culture represents a voluntary contribution and determination of member countries to work together in tackling the critical challenges with and beyond the Euro Atlantic community of nations.

NATO’s success lies primarily in its ability to adapt to evolving circumstances, to unite around our common purpose and shared interests, and to modernise and keep up with the dizzying pace of technological and strategic changes.

This is what makes NATO the most successful alliance in history.

This continuous adaptation to security challenges has been proven throughout NATO’s history.

  • For forty years, NATO successfully deterred the Soviet Union from aggression against Western Europe.
  • In the 1990s, we faced new security challenges in Europe, and helped to end conflicts in the Western Balkans.
  • After 9/11, the focus was on crisis management, and NATO took a lead role in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan, followed by Resolute Support Mission, since 2015.

Today, we cannot rest. We face an unpredictable and complex security environment.

  • It includes peer competitors, particularly Russia, but also China and others, ambitious to reassert their influence regionally and globally.
  • It includes challenges and threats that our competitors and adversaries use in their asymmetric approaches, particularly cyber and hybrid attacks.
  • The spectrum of challenges is even broader and encompass instability across the Middle East and North Africa, migration crises and a continued terrorist threat.
  • Moreover, uncertain and volatile environment, with blurred lines between conflict and peace demands permanent engagement of our forces.

To respond to all these challenges and threats, we develop our Military Instrument of Power.

We also use all opportunities to project stability and work with partner nations, organizations and institutions.

And, we continue to innovate, and remain at the forefront of technological change.

Success rarely comes without challenges, and we are not afraid of talking about them.

Since its establishment 70 years ago, NATO has been challenged many times, and endured much criticism.

During the Cold War, member nations sometimes argued over the form of the Alliance, but never on its substance.

When the Cold War ended, with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union, a new type of criticism emerged. It was time, some argued, for the Alliance to fade into ancient history, just like the Warsaw Pact.

But, we should never forget that there was a big difference between the Warsaw Pact and NATO. The members of Warsaw Pact were coerced into that organization, while in the 1990s former communist countries queued to join NATO.

That phenomenon continues to this day.

We still have our door open to new members, to those eager to join our Alliance and contribute to our collective defence, which is the basis for stability and thus for prosperity.

A prosperity grounded on the compromise of accepting common interests, collectively and freely, to ensure the peace in the world, in another word, to ensure freedom.

To tell the truth, welcoming new members into NATO today is a nice symbol, showing that stability achieved by the Alliance constitutes, 70 years later, a guarantee of its relevance.

Obviously some decisions within NATO are easier to take than others, and there are some topics, such as fair burden sharing, that will, from time to time, prove more challenging.

As an alliance of democracies, unity does not mean uniformity! Balancing different interests and priorities has never been easy.

But, the magnificence of this alliance is rooted in the idea that the general interest is more important than the individual one.

NATO has shown, again and again, that it is an organization capable of solving its internal and external challenges, by offering a security architecture that no other organization can match.

Despite all the challenges NATO has and continues to face, the Alliance has demonstrated its resilience. This resilience is based on its shared values and cohesion, and ability to go beyond individual interests.

Most importantly, NATO has successfully responded to all external challenges. This was a result of its ability to adapt and evolve with the changes in its strategic context.

This is, also, where ACT becomes important.

Since the Alliance wants to maintain a credible Military Instrument of Power this is not a choice, but a necessity.

This is why you are a part of NATO’s success, and you, with your work, contribute to it.

As I have said before, I want to assure you that the work of each of you, has been, is, and will always be, important for the success of our Alliance. Be convince of that, because this is truth!

Each of you, at your level, your post, across the most elementary tasks, you carry out the work related to Warfare Development.

It includes everything from strategic foresight to capability development, from development of concepts and doctrines to education, from innovation to exercises, enhancing the interoperability of our capabilities and forces.

But, we still need to do a lot to assess the impact of new technologies, such as, for example, Artificial Intelligence and autonomous systems, on our security. Both as a challenge, and as an opportunity.

However, disruptive technologies are only a part of our broad portfolio, and we will continue to work hard on executing our role of Warfare Development Command.

To conclude, I will say that our world is changing and NATO is changing with it.

But, one thing remains unchanged: our commitment to one another endures, giving us the strength to overcome our differences and rise to any challenge.

With this commitment at its core, NATO has been able to navigate a changing security environment and tackle a range of security challenges over the decades.

Standing with unity and resolve in defence of our values, NATO will remain a pillar of stability in an uncertain world for the next generations.

Far from being obsolete, NATO remains vital for Europeans and North Americans, who benefit from NATO’s existence every day.
Should the North Atlantic Treaty have to be rewritten today, changing a single word would probably be impossible!

Now, 70 years after creation of NATO, we know the price of peace! It is:

  • a matter of commitment to each other,
  • a matter of solidarity between our countries,
  • a matter of respect, despite the differences among our individual powers, and,
  • a matter of unity, which is, above all, the most important signal we can send.

Happy anniversary and let us look forward towards the next 70 years!

Thank you for your attention.

11 March - Opening Remarks to the Military Committee Visit to Headquarters, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation *

Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please refer to the point of contact at the bottom of the page.

13 Feb - Remarks to Defence Ministers Meeting - PG19 session *

Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please refer to the point of contact at the bottom of the page.

16 Jan - Address to the North Atlantic Council *

Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please refer to the point of contact at the bottom of the page.

2018

December 13th, 2018 - Closing remarks to Chiefs of Transformation Conference 2018

December 12th, 2018 - Opening remarks to Chiefs of Transformation Conference 2018

November 13th, 2018 - Remarks to NATO Industry Forum in Berlin

October 30th, 2018 - Remarks to Trident Juncture 18 Enhanced Logistics Base

October 1st, 2018 - Remarks to Joint Forces Training Centre's All Hands Ceremony

September 11th, 2018 - Remarks to NATO's Allied Command Transformation Change of Command Ceremony

 

>>> Speeches Archive >>>


Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please contact:

Lieutenant Colonel Isabelle Roth, French Army
SACT Public Affairs Advisor

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