NORFOLK, Va. – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation Headquarters hosted the 2019 Chiefs of Transformation Conference at the Hilton Norfolk “The Main” from Dec. 11 to 12.
The conference, presented by General Andre Lanata, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, focused on warfare development initiatives for the NATO Alliance. Through small group “breakout sessions,” senior leadership engagements, industry demonstrations, and the Young Disruptors Forum, critical topics were discussed related to Innovation, Interoperability, Hybrid/Counter-Terrorism connected to Resilience and Human Capital. The theme of the conference this year was, “NATO Warfare Development: Innovation & Interoperability - Winning Tomorrow’s War Today.”
During the closing plenary, General Lanata stressed the importance of conferences, like Chiefs of Transformation Conference, that provide a platform for Member Nations and Partners to enhance collaboration, best practices, connect and share information.
“As NATO’s Warfare Development Command, it is the responsibility of Allied Command Transformation to deliver tangible capabilities quickly to our warfighters and to develop a more global capability approach,” said General Lanata. “Thank you for the discussions and actionable outcomes over the past two days of dialogue. I am deeply convinced that 29 Nations will continue to succeed and I trust the power of our network.”
Allied Command Transformation Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Paul Bennett highlighted the significance of maintaining an Alliance with an “edge” over its adversaries and the importance of adapting warfare development strategies for tomorrow.
“We need an Alliance that is able to effectively operate together well into the future,” said Vice Admiral Bennett. “A clear warfare development agenda allows us to align and deliver capabilities for military operations across the Alliance. NATO must continue to adapt and explore what we need, for all Nations, especially regarding human capital and new technologies.”
For the second year in a row, the Young Disruptors Forum at Chiefs of Transformation Conference provided a unique opportunity for top-level young professionals from NATO and Partner Nations to learn and understand NATO's transformation goals. The 15 “Disruptors” from Canada, Denmark, France, Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States fully integrated into small group discussions, as well as provided feedback to General Lanata and Chiefs of Transformation Leaders present at the conference. Five of the “Disruptors” were Virginia Wesleyan University undergraduate students, who currently reside in the Hampton Roads Community.
Nicole Davis, 21, a Virginia Wesleyan University student, emphasized how the Young Disruptors’ program gave her an once-in-a-lifetime chance for her opinions to be heard by international leadership at NATO.
“For the most part, I feel like senior leadership are open to our opinions and insights, but we need to keep pushing our thoughts,” said Davis. “I think the speed of which the Alliance can react to certain situations is limited. Things change so fast. Now, a single tweet can somewhat change the entire geopolitical situation. How fast can the Alliance react, and get all the Nations together, to tackle an issue, or adapt to the new mentality that innovation requires?”
“Allied Command Transformation leaders are committed to the ‘bottom-up approach’ as we give more opportunities to articulate a non-commissioned officer’s opinions on current and future challenges of the Alliance,” said Command Sergeant Major Tibor Bogdan, NATO Allied Command Transformation Senior Enlisted Leader. “By having non-commissioned officers next to the Chiefs of Defence, and strategic-level leaders, there is a chance to learn how we all can work cohesively together for NATO. The entire story of transformation includes military, officer and enlisted, and our civilian counterparts.”
Chiefs of Transformation Conference is a key annual event that shares a higher-level of understanding on future security challenges, innovation and transformation. National Chiefs of Transformation, from across the Alliance and Partner Nations, work with Nations to drive interaction and discussion on National transformation initiatives and longer-term capability development with NATO’s senior leadership.