On 14 May, NATO announced that the Chiefs of Defence (CHOD) reviewed two documents encapsulating the alliance’s first military strategy since the Cold War, in their 183rd meeting, which was held in virtual mode for the first time, due to the current pandemic.

Chaired by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, RAF, the meeting reviewed and refined the Concept for Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area (DDA) and the final draft of the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC) which, according to ACM Peach, “looks forward 20 years and sets a vision to support Allies’ efforts to develop military forces.” The latter “brings coherence” to all NATO military activities, he added.

The meeting also addressed NATO’s on-going operational commitments. In a press conference, ACM Peach  reiterated NATO’s “unwavering” commitment in Afghanistan – despite the anticipated reduction of its presence in-theatre – condemning the recent attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar. He recognised that, even though the situation on the ground remains “fragile,” there are some “encouraging signs in the intra-Afghan negotiations that could lead to a political solution.”

Dealing with the NATO mission in Iraq – temporarily reduced for security reasons – he said the alliance  “continues to provide support to the Iraqi security forces.”  When conditions permit, he added, NATO will “resume its training efforts and increase activities on the ground as it takes responsibility for some of the training activities of the Global Coalition.”

In its final session, dedicated to NATO’s response to COVID-19, the meeting discussed existing measures, support mechanisms and the medium-term effects of the pandemic. The CHODs were also briefed on EU support and relief efforts by the EU Military Committee Chairman, Gen Claudio Graziano.

ACM Peach highlighted that the Chiefs have asserted that COVID-19 “would not affect their contributions to collective defence.” His statement came a day after the EU’s chief diplomat, Joseph Borrell, urged EU countries not to cut their defence budgets in reaction to the potential economic consequences of the coronavirus.

Caterina Tani in Brussels for MON

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, GBE, KCB, RAF, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee. (Photo: NATO)

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