Dunford Pleased With Results of NATO Military Committee Meeting

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is pleased with the progress made at the NATO Military Committee meeting this week, saying the discussions have set the stage for decisions by alliance defense ministers and heads of state.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford told reporters traveling with him that the alliance’s 29 chiefs of defense discussed Iraq, Afghanistan, intelligence-sharing and many other matters during the meeting in NATO’s new headquarters in Brussels.

“We spoke about the NATO mission in Iraq, we spoke about furthering NATO’s ability for intelligence and information sharing in the south, [and] we talked about some specific measures to improve NATO’s deterrent posture to include the change in the NATO command structure,” Dunford said.

One of the proposed command changes involves the newly re-established U.S. 2nd Fleet in Norfolk, Virginia. If approved at the NATO summit in Brussels in July, the command would become a NATO joint force command to safeguard the transatlantic link among the NATO allies.

Response to Russian Activity

The mission is in response to increasing Russian ship, submarine and aircraft activity in the North Atlantic, officials said, adding that the new command would strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defense posture.

The chiefs of defense also discussed a German offer to host a NATO joint force command for logistics in Ulm, Germany.

The Military Committee also examined what a new NATO training mission in Iraq would look like, Dunford said. In January, NATO sent a small team to Iraq to assess what the alliance could do to further the training mission.

That team took a look at the institution-level, including at the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of the Interior, and at the defense schoolhouse. The team looked at noncommissioned officer training and unit training and came back with a proposal. NATO officials said the mission would include several hundred personnel to train Iraqi instructors and develop Iraqi military schools.

The chiefs of defense will pass this proposal to the alliance’s defense ministers, who will meet next month. If approved at that conference, the proposal will move to the NATO summit in July. “We would anticipate that once the new Iraqi government is seated, NATO will make a formal offer to Iraq,” the chairman said.

If the heads of state approve the proposal at the summit, the mission will draw resources from all NATO nations and receive the associated NATO funding.

The chiefs of defense also spoke about filling manpower needs in Afghanistan. The NATO force generation meeting is later this month, and Dunford said he was encouraged by the responses from his fellow chiefs during the Military Committee meeting.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)