General Denis Mercier: Warsaw Summit opened the fourth era for NATO Alliance
The two-day NATO Warsaw Summit in July provided the defining moment for European security, building upon and further enhancing the 2014 Wales Summit Communique, which laid out plans for the biggest reinforcement of NATO’s collective defence since the Cold War.
“In an age of uncertainty, we need our Alliance more than ever for predictability, cooperation and unity. The decisions we will take at the Warsaw Summit will strengthen our Alliance and demonstrate our resolve,” said NATO’s Secretary General Mr. Stoltenberg at the pre-Summit press conference on 4 July.
Spurred on by NATO’s three core tasks –Europe’s collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security –the Warsaw Summit focused firmly on deterrence and defence to protect the nearly one billion people who live in the 28 Member Nations of the Alliance as well as on projecting stability beyond its borders.
The Summit also underscored solidarity and military power at a time when NATO faces two main challenges for its populations and neighborhood; in the south, the violent extremism across the Middle East and North Africa leading to terrorism and mass migration, and in the east, challenges posed by Russia following the illegal annexation of Crimea, which has since undermined the European security order.
Warsaw Summit, in this focus, was a significant demonstration of the unique and essential transatlantic bond between the Allies, highlighting NATO’s key values of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the preservation of peace and security, while concurrently reaffirming the clear message that an attack on one Ally is an attack on the whole Alliance.
Calling the event “Poland's huge success”, the host of the Warsaw Summit, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło, said: “This is an event that will go down in history as the Summit which drew a new map of global security. It was a Summit which strengthened the NATO's organization.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
General Denis Mercier: Warsaw Summit opened the fourth era for NATO Alliance
Following the Change of Command ceremony at Joint Warfare Centre (JWC) on 21 July 2016, the Public Affairs Office conducted an interview with French Air Force General Denis Mercier, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT).
Referring to the Warsaw Summit, General Mercier said: “If I look at the history of NATO, I can see three different phases. The first was the Cold War; the second was the post-Cold War phase with the opening of NATO, and then the post-9/11 phase in which NATO focused much more on the expeditionary operations, fighting against terrorism. This summit opens for me the fourth era of our Alliance. When we say that this summit focused at defence and deterrence and projecting stability we also point out that this was a summit that decided on the development of playbooks regarding hybrid warfare, declaration of cyber as the fifth domain of warfare, and reinforcing our resilience. In that sense I found it a very historical summit that reaffirmed our unity and cohesion.”
General Mercier added: “We saw our 28 Heads of State and Government agreeing to find solutions to face any kind of challenge at 360 degrees. NATO recognized that our nations will have to face a wide range of threats and that they have to make real decisions to face these threats, while recognizing the importance of partnerships, both with the Partner Nations and the international organizations, as well as the strong presence of the European Union.”
As threats evolve, so too must NATO training and exercises
“Regular political consultations, shared situational awareness, and joint exercises” are of key importance in order to respond to common challenges in a timely and effective manner, according to the Warsaw Summit Communique.
In order to build out capabilities established through the Readiness Action Plan (RAP) agreed at the Wales Summit in 2014, such as the NATO Response Force increasing to more than 40,000 troops with a Spearhead Force, NATO has placed an unprecedented focus on exercises, be it NATO-run or in national or coalition formats, which contributes to our common security.
In 2015 alone, NATO conducted nearly 300 exercises including NATO’s largest and most complex exercise in over a decade, TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2015 (TRJE15), of which JWC directed the computer-assisted command-post exercise phase with the participation of nearly 4,000 military and civilian personnel.
The common trait of these exercises is that they are all defensive in nature, long-planned and transparent to the media and international observers.
General Denis Mercier said that the current main effort regarding the exercises was to “continuously adapt them to reflect the adaptation of the Alliance.”
Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Gen. Petr Pavel, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) Gen. Curtis Scaparotti and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) Gen. Denis Mercier
General Mercier said: “What we saw in Warsaw is NATO conducting a huge adaptation in the long term of the Alliance. This is one of the main outcomes of the summit. This adaptation is now what we have to implement, but we need to integrate that into our exercises. Because, our exercises must reflect the way we manage the crisis, whatever the crisis, wherever it happens, and whenever it occurs. This adaptation of NATO must lead us to review our exercises to continuously bring the maximum realism into the scenarios that we develop. The JWC is absolutely at the centre of that. Because this adaptation must be integrated into the development of the future scenarios, in the Events and Objectives of our exercises, it is absolutely essential that JWC stays connected to any of the implementation of the outcome of the Warsaw Summit. And, this is why JWC is a part of the ACT family, which is in charge of the Transformation of NATO, together with the JFTC in Poland and JALLC in Portugal.”
JWC indeed has a very important role to play within NATO’s ambitious exercise programme and in reinforcing Allied forces’ interoperability. As threats evolve, so too JWC’s training and exercises. At the operational level, the Centre’s aim is to provide the best training there is to our combatant forces and test their ability to work effectively together.
“JWC is a key player for the interoperability of our forces looking at the development of training and exercises, but that's not all. JWC is also a key player in the innovation we can bring in this area; it is a key player in the evolution of future doctrine and concepts,” General Mercier said, adding: “Because more and more we integrate experimentation and future concepts in our exercises to look at the future. So, JWC adds great value in organizing and conducting very complex exercises, but more than that the JWC leaders have an innovative mindset which is necessary in building our exercises. JWC is one of the key centres in our Alliance within this field. I am very pleased with what the Centre has achieved already but there is a lot of work to do. And we have a new Commander, a new team, and I think we will work very well all together to develop what I call Transformation of the military capacity of our Alliance.”
Brigadier General Andrzej Reudowicz, Commander JWC and General Denis Mercier, SACT
Defence and deterrence
The Warsaw Summit highlighted a new era regarding the defence of the eastern flank; battalions of 800 to 1,200 multinational troops will be established in Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, as well as a brigade of four more battalions to be based in Romania and Bulgaria. This will be in addition to the establishment of NATO Force Integration Units in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.
At the conclusion of the summit, Polish Minister of National Defence, Antoni Macierewicz said: “Only today we can say that we are obtaining real allied guarantees by deployment of Allied forces, which will be a symbol of determination and deterrence, a symbol of security of Poland and other countries making up the eastern flank.”
For the security of NATO’s south-eastern border, NATO “agreed in principle to enhance the Alliance’s contribution to the efforts of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL by providing direct NATO AWACS support to increase the coalition’s situational awareness,” according to the Warsaw Summit Communique.
At the Warsaw Summit NATO also declared the achievement of the NATO Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Initial Operational Capability.
“This is a significant step toward the aim of NATO BMD that offers a stronger capability to defend our populations, territory, and forces across southern NATO Europe against a potential ballistic missile attack,” the Communique stated.
Other focus topics of the Warsaw Summit included increased dialogue and cooperation with partners, the Alliance’s new strategy on hybrid warfare and the cyber defence challenge, new capabilities such as JISR and AGS, defence investment, as well as Afghanistan, the Open Door Policy and the NATO-EU cooperation.
“Innovative exercises are fundamental to NATO’s readiness and success as they instill the momentum in Transformation,” said Brigadier General Andrzej Reudowicz, Commander JWC. “Being at the forefront of operational level training for NATO, JWC has a wide spectrum of training requirements from NATO Command and NATO Force Structure HQs to fulfil.”
Brigadier General Reudowicz, Commander JWC