NATO Defence Ministers met by secure video conference on Wednesday, 17 June and Thursday, 18 June 2020, making decisions to strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence and defence, addressing plans for a second wave of the coronavirus, as well as other key issues such as resilience, missions and operations.
In response to Russia’s growing arsenal of nuclear-capable missiles, Allies agreed a balanced package of political and military measures, including strengthened air and missile defence, advanced conventional capabilities, intelligence, exercises, and steps to keep NATO’s nuclear deterrent safe, secure and effective. Ministers also addressed NATO’s missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, which play a key role in the fight against international terrorism.
"We face global challenges, so we must take a global approach, to tackle them even more effectively," Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference ahead of the two-day meeting.
Addressing the possibility of a new outbreak of coronavirus, the Secretary General said "NATO is preparing for a possible second wave of COVID-19," pointing to NATO’s new operation plan, a stockpile of medical equipment and a fund to acquire medical supplies at short notice. As a sign of solidarity across the Alliance, more than half a million troops have supported the response to date, setting up almost 100 field hospitals and airlifting hundreds of tons of critical supplies around the world. "Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, NATO and Allied armed forces have played a key role in supporting civilian efforts," the Secretary General said.
General Lanata, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, declared: "The general use of our armed forces contributes to a smoother management of such strategic shocks, thanks to robust know-how only held by the military in specific areas like crisis management, ops planning or emergency logistics as well as the reassuring effect of deployed soldiers." Focusing on Resilience, General Lanata mentioned the "important contribution of ACT that integrates pandemic dimension to feed the thinking process […] and support the Civil Emergency Planning Committee work."
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic was also the topic of Allied Command Transformation's Spring 2020 Innovation Challenge. The scenario of this challenge described the situation of a pandemic (Covid-19 oriented) and asked for solutions in regards with situation awareness dashboard, fake news analysis, delivery and secure communications. Verifeye Media, a UK information technology company, won NATO’s Innovation Challenge. Its automated detection of potential misinformation and disinformation for videos and photos, in real time, was considered as the most useful, innovative and feasible solutions of the ten proposals pitched to the NATO Innovation Hub, in close coordination with the Dutch Ministry of Defence. Allied Command Transformation is working on numerous initiatives to support the Alliance and Allies in responding to pandemic challenges, including the use of data science.
Ministers also updated NATO's guidelines for national resilience, to cover areas such as energy, transport, and communications. These updated baseline requirements for resilience reflect threats from cyber, the security of supply chains and foreign ownership and control.