Following a meeting of the EU Military Committee, the military leaders’ program in Brussels continued with the NATO Chiefs of Defence meeting held on May 21–22. The timeliness of this meeting is unquestionable, as NATO has to react to the developments of the crisis in Ukraine, the lessons learned must be subjected to analysis and the impact of events on NATO’s threat assessment and strategic plans must be evaluated. The meeting is at once a preparation for an upcoming defence ministerial meeting in June, and also for the NATO Summit to be held in Wales in September.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen delivered a speech to the military leaders, in which he identified three key issues which he intends to put on the agenda at the summit of heads of states and governments. These are the building of security, the readiness action plan and financing.   

(photo: nato.int) 

Building security is very important in the light of current strategic challenges, so the Alliance is transforming, among others, the system of military exercises, giving greater transparency to military capabilities. The set of procedures related to this subject is presently under review, and the joining of NATO exercises with national ones will be given emphasis too.

Speaking about Hungary’s position in his contribution, Gen. Dr. Tibor Benkő, Chief of the Defence Staff said that jointly conducted training exercises play a fundamental role in NATO’s transformation process, so we intend to join “Fearless Warrior 2015”, a battalion-level national exercise scheduled for 2015 – as well as the certification exercise of the V4 EU Battle Group – with the NATO Exercise “Trident Juncture 2015”, and will invite partner nations to participate.

(photo: nato.int and Defence Staff)

The events in Ukraine and their impact on the security environment are high on the agenda of the meetings. The Alliance recently deployed additional aircraft in the Baltic Air Policing Mission, and a NATO Standing Naval Maritime Group on the Baltic Sea. NATO supports the reform of the Ukrainian defence sector and the generation of related security capabilities. At the same time, the Alliance is committed to the resolution of the crisis in Ukraine through a political solution. The chiefs of defence agreed that NATO should strengthen its response capability to be able to handle such potential crisis situations in the future.

NATO must fully meet the requirements of the three core tasks set out in its Strategic Concept, namely collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. To implement the goals of the program NATO Forces 2020, it should make good use of the opportunities provided by the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI) and the Smart Defence (SD) initiative.

Regarding partners, a key task is to maintain interoperability which has been generated during military exercises and co-deployment in operations. With respect to operations, special emphasis was given to the end of NATO’s current ISAF operation and the preparation of “Resolute Support”, a new mission to be launched in 2014. The withdrawal of forces and equipment unnecessary for the new operation is going on as planned, and the transition of security tasks to the Afghan national security forces is well under way.

(photo: nato.int and Defence Staff)

The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee noted that the Afghan people 
“can be truly proud of what they have achieved”.

During the series of meetings, a wreath-laying ceremony took place by the mission memorial plaque at the Permanent Delegation of Hungary to NATO, on the occasion of the Day of the Hungarian Defence Forces, the Day of Hungarian Heroes and the Day of Hungarian Peacekeepers. In his speech delivered at the ceremony, Gen. Dr. Tibor Benkő praised the self-sacrifice of Hungarian soldiers who lost their lives on foreign missions. He thanked the members of the military delegations in Brussels and Mons and the soldiers serving on the staff of EU and NATO commands for their work, and presented awards to them.