Partners Across The Globe: NATO Consolidates Worldwide Military Force
The military leaders of 50 nations, more than a quarter of those in the world, opened a two-day conference at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on April 25 to discuss, as the Pentagon's website described it, "the present and future of the effort in Afghanistan" and other topics.
Afghanistan being the main subject of discussion, the military chiefs of NATO's 28 member states, collectively the Military Committee, presumably met with the chiefs of defense staff of the 22 non-NATO nations supplying the alliance with troops for the war in Afghanistan.
In January top military leaders of 67 countries, over a third of those in the world, met at NATO Headquarters to discuss operations in Afghanistan in what is the largest-ever meeting of chiefs of defense staff in history.
The recently concluded expanded meeting of the NATO Military Committee was the last before next month's summit in Chicago and was largely focused on that impending event.
Participants in the conference included General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; General John R. Allen (in teleconference), commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, in charge of the largest foreign military force ever to be stationed in that nation; NATO's two top military commanders, Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Stephane Abrial; U.S. military chief Dempsey's equivalents from 49 nations in Europe, North America, Central America, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Northeast Asia, South East Asia and the South Pacific supplying troops for NATO's Afghan War. (Armenia, Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia, El Salvador, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Jordan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Tonga, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates.)
In short, NATO's 21st century global expeditionary force and its top commanders. An international military coalition never authorized by the United Nations or discussed at any conference or other fora except at NATO Headquarters and at the bloc's summits.
On the second day of the Military Committee conference in Brussels, NATO's Allied Command Operations reported on a training course underway at the Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters in Brunssum, the Netherlands where staff officers from NATO's Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative military partnerships are being instructed to "work as augmentees in a Deployable Joint Force Headquarters (DJF HQ) environment.
NATO added, "DJF HQ serves as an example of a Joint HQ for non-NATO nations to contribute to the Alliance's missions."
"Many of the attending nations already share close ties with NATO and have taken part in NATO's missions, including the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan."
Participating officers were from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Qatar, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates.
At the gathering of military chiefs on April 25 and 26, subjects addressed were NATO's wars and occupations in three continents: In addition to the ten-and-a-half-year conflict in Afghanistan, NATO's top brass discussed missions in Kosovo (Kosovo Force), off the Horn of Africa (Operation Ocean Shield), in Libya (Operation Unified Protector), the Mediterranean Sea (Operation Active Endeavor) and no doubt others. Most everywhere, indeed, but on or near the Atlantic Ocean, north or south.
Reporting on the conference, the Pentagon's website paraphrased an unnamed senior Defense Department official, "speaking on background," as affirming that "Every opportunity for NATO members and their partners to work together helps to keep the alliance moving forward...especially as they seek to improve interoperability [and] refine tactics and procedures..."
Quoted directly, the source added:
"NATO remains a very strong partnership - as strong as ever - and we have a lot of demonstrated successes with NATO if you look at the history up through today and current events, and especially in the last year. So I think that bodes well for the future of the partnership. The United States involvement in NATO is a strong partnership for tackling any future challenges."