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NDC - News-Strengthening NATO: Insights from a visit to NATO HQ and SHAPE

Strengthening NATO: Insights from a visit to NATO HQ and SHAPE

  • 15 Mar. 2024
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  • Last updated: 16 Mar. 2024 07:48

Senior Course 144 (SC 144) and NATO Regional Cooperation Course 31 (NRCC 31) embarked on a fascinating two-day journey to the heart of NATO, visiting both the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) on 13 March and NATO Headquarters on 14 March 2024. Their mission: to delve deeper into the Organization's intricate processes and strategic transformation, particularly against the backdrop of evolving security challenges. The invaluable opportunity to meet their respective military representatives, gaining first-hand information, significantly contributed to enriching their background knowledge.

NDC delegation attending the panel discussion.

The visit to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) offered Course Members a deeper understanding of SHAPE’s current objectives and priorities.

After being welcomed by Admiral Sir Keith Blount, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR), Course Members received two comprehensive briefings by Lieutenant General Hubert Cottereau, SHAPE’s Vice Chief of Staff, and Major General Davide Re, Deputy Chief of Staff – Strategic Development and Preparation Directorate, on SHAPE’s integral role in NATO’s warfighting transformation. The third briefing, by Rear Admiral Gunnstein Bruåsdal, Deputy Chief of Staff – Partnerships Directorate, discussed partnership programmes and activities such as visits, conferences and workshops for participating nations.

Outlining SHAPE's ongoing adaptation into a strategic warfighting headquarters, the speakers highlighted the implementation of deterrence and defence strategies for the Euro-Atlantic Area (DDA), detailing the comprehensive approach that includes strategic-level training in multi-domain warfare and operations. This modernization effort is geared towards enhancing the Alliance's collective defence capabilities, ensuring readiness to counter evolving threats and safeguard all Allies. In this context, partnerships contribute to NATO's core tasks – collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security – reinforcing its open-door policy, as enshrined in Article 10 of the Washington Treaty.

As NATO adapts to the changing security environment, so does the NDC. A fruitful meeting between NDC Commandant, Lieutenant General Max A.L.T. Nielsen, and SHAPE's Chief of Staff, Admiral Joachim Rühle, provided an opportunity to discuss strategic education as delivered by the NDC, and avenues for enhancing cooperation between the NDC and SHAPE. This meeting was of great significance, as the NDC remains committed to providing top-tier education that thoroughly prepares future leaders and continually adds value to NATO.

On 14 March, the visit to NATO HQ began with a welcome and keynote address by Lieutenant General Janusz Adamczak, Director of the International Military Staff (DGIMS), who provided an overview of the current security environment and NATO’s ongoing response. “We must face the fact that since Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, peace in Europe is no longer a given. War has, unfortunately, come back to our continent and now we must work together to ensure it doesn’t spread any further. We have to prepare for this new reality, for this new era of collective defence”, he noted. The Director General also underscored the strides made by Allies in defence spending, capacity building and production capability, as well as the ongoing implementation of NATO’s new regional plans.

Following the opening remarks, attendees engaged in a lively panel discussion moderated by Dr Cynthia Salloum, NDC Faculty Advisor and Senior Researcher. The conversation revolved around NATO's current agenda, with a keen focus on defence and deterrence strategies after the Vilnius Summit.

Distinguished speakers provided valuable insights:

  • Dr Benedetta Berti, Head of Policy Planning, Office of the Secretary General, shed light on the transformative decisions made during recent NATO Summits and outlined expectations for the upcoming Washington Summit.
  • Major General François-Marie Gougeon, Director of the IMS Policy and Capabilities Division, emphasized NATO's unwavering support for Ukraine and underscored the significance of maintaining Ukrainian sovereignty as a cornerstone of Alliance cohesion.
  • Lieutenant General Ian Cave, Military Representative of the United Kingdom, offered a nuanced perspective from his country and highlighted varying priorities among NATO Allies.
  • Lieutenant General Sławomir Wojciechowski, Military Representative of Poland, discussed the importance of interoperability and standardization within NATO, stressing the pivotal role of cohesion and motivation among Allies.

The agenda further delved into critical topics such as the situational update on the conflict in Ukraine, NATO's cooperative security initiatives, its deterrence and defence posture, and the assessment of terrorist threats. Through briefings and interactive discussions, participants gained invaluable insights into the multifaceted challenges facing the Alliance and the strategic pathways for collective defence.

Lieutenant General Max A.L.T. Nielsen had a packed agenda of engagements, including a meeting with DGIMS where he expressed his gratitude for the continued support and emphasized the NDC's aspirations in terms of recognition, curriculum improvement and strategic visibility.

As the day drew to a close, the visitors departed with a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper appreciation of NATO's vital role in safeguarding international security. The journey to NATO Headquarters had not only expanded their knowledge but also reinforced their commitment to the Alliance's enduring mission: preserving peace and security in an ever-evolving world.

NDC Public Affairs Office