NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General André Lanata welcomed fifteen of the twenty nine Permanent Representatives to NATO on April 30, 2019. The purpose of the visit was to increase their awareness of Allied Command Transformation’s role in NATO’s delivery of continuous warfighting capabilities now and into the future.
The visit was preceded by the World Affairs Council, Norfolk NATO Festival banquet which took place on April 29. The event welcomed keynote speaker United States’ Permanent Representative to NATO, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison alongside fourteen other Permanent Representatives to NATO. Also in attendance was NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General André Lanata, Mr. Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Mayor of the City of Norfolk and NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation Vice Admiral Manfred Nielson.
Following the dinner, General Lanata introduced Ambassador Hutchison who began her speech by recognizing that NATO faces new challenges and risks in today’s changing world and the Alliance is committed to projecting stability beyond its borders. She emphasized that addressing the challenges requires continuous adaptability, collaboration, and coordination between allies in order to plan for a future of enhanced collective defence. Strength in unity was a principal theme of Ambassador Hutchison’s speech. “We cannot be together and weak and we cannot be strong but not together,” she said. She continued by highlighting NATO’s unity and ability to adapt as being significant elements that have contributed to the Alliance’s success. “NATO has survived for 70 years because we have been unified, we have been strong, and we have adapted to the risks that we face.”
While at the Headquarters the Permanent Representatives received separate briefings on the NATO Defence Planning Process and, Emerging and Disruptive Technologies. In his opening speech, General Lanata outlined the content of the sessions and highlighted 3 key messages for each.
In NATO Defence Planning Process the messages were: understanding, transparency and commitment to the Defence Planning Process. “We understand perfectly that within PG19 [Political Guidance 2019], the Level of Ambition approved by the Allies defines a balance between political realism and a credible military capability which is required to maintain our edge,” said the General. He went on to say that his Headquarters is “committed to giving Allies visibility on our work and an opportunity for feedback.”
On Emerging and Disruptive Technologies the General highlighted: the evolution of the threat, opportunities that new technologies can offer the Alliance and thirdly, understanding the impact of these technologies.
Innovation was a theme throughout the discussions with the Alliance’s and Allied Command Transformation’s need to ‘push’ Military Innovation and ‘pull’ from fast paced Civilian Innovation being highlighted.