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NATO Adjusts to Change, Military Committee Chief Says

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

BRUSSELS, May 20, 2015 – A constantly changing security environment is the new norm, the chairman of the NATO Military Committee said here today as he opened a meeting of the alliance’s military chiefs.

Gen. Knut Bartels of the Danish army noted that the fighting in Yemen is threatening to become a regional conflict, and the move by the European Union to respond to the Mediterranean migration crisis are just two examples of changes in the security environment.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is attending the meeting.

“Our meeting today will establish a common understanding of the issues as the first step in developing coherent responses,” Bartels said. “It will set the tone and identify the way ahead for the NATO military authorities in the second half of this year.”

This is the general’s last meeting as chair of the committee. He steps down next month, and Gen. Peter Pavel of the Czech Republic will succeed him.

Bartels said the alliance will implement the Readiness Action Plan by the alliance’s summit in Warsaw next year. The plan creates new capabilities to ensure NATO can respond quickly and firmly to challenges. It responds not only to the challenges Russia has posed, but also to threats from the Middle East and North Africa.

Restructuring, Beefing Up NATO Response Force

The plan restructured and beefed up the NATO Response Force in the land, sea and air domains. Part of the restructuring was creation of a quick-reaction Spearhead Force -- a brigade that will be able to deploy within 48 hours of notification. The force strengthens alliance collective defense capabilities and ensures NATO has the right forces in the right place at the right time, NATO officials said.

The Spearhead Force has reached interim capability and will continue exercises through 2015.

Bartels said the committee also will hear about progress on command and control centers being established in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.

The NATO Military Committee plans meet with partners to discuss the interoperability achieved from working together in Afghanistan and ways to continue that growth, and it will also receive briefings from Army Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of the alliance’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

“We will complete our partner sessions by meeting with our special partners, Ukraine and Georgia,” Bartels said. “In both meetings, we will receive updates on how these two nations assess their regional security situation and on NATO’s support to enhance the resilience of their military institutions.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

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Gen. Knut Bartels
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey

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