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170216defminNATO's Allied Commander Transformation, General Denis Mercier, attended the February NATO Defence Ministers meetings in Brussels, focused on ensuring NATO’s strength and flexibility in the face of evolving challenges. Ministers have reviewed progress in deploying NATO’s deterrent forces in the eastern part of the Alliance, addressed the fight against terrorism, and focused on threats stemming from the Middle East and North Africa.

Defence Ministers agreed to create a new regional Hub for the South, based at NATO’s Joint Force Command in Naples. The Hub is one part of the Alliance’s response to threats stemming from the Middle East and North Africa. Ministers also discussed NATO’s Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability and agreed to develop a follow-on capability for NATO AWACS planes after they retire around the year 2035.

Those discussions were the opportunity for Supreme Allied Commander Transformation to enhance the innovation process within the Alliance: "We will need to share innovation initiatives from all across our Alliance in order to leverage their full potential" Mercier said.

He also demonstrated that the reinforcement of our deterrence and defence posture requires "to dedicate the appropriate resources, to synchronize national priorities with the targets defined by the NATO Defence Planning Process, to ensure the interoperability of all these capabilities with the NATO standards and doctrine and, when required, to ensure that they can be available for NATO operations."

Allies also agreed on the next steps to modernise the NATO Command Structure and reviewed progress on the deployment of new deterrent forces in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The Secretary General stressed that these deployments are defensive and measured, saying "our aim is to prevent conflict, not to provoke it."

Allies also took steps to enhance NATO’s presence in the region, with more maritime training, exercises and situational awareness. They also addressed how NATO can better counter cyber-attacks, which are becoming more frequent and complex.