NATO must remain fit to face any challenge amid a more unpredictable and competitive world, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Allied Chiefs of Defence.

“Our armed forces have ensured that this health crisis has not become a security crisis, but COVID-19 has not made other challenges go away”, the Secretary General said, “Our democracy, our values, and the rules-based order are being challenged. So we must remain fit to face any challenge the future may bring,” he said.

The Secretary General urged Allies to continue to increase defence spending, invest in modern capabilities and boost the readiness of armed forces to cope with global challenges such as Russia’s aggressive actions, terrorism and China’s rise.

Mr Stoltenberg said he is looking forward to working with US President Joe Biden, as the US and Europe are safer standing together.

Looking out a decade, the Secretary General said that he will present his recommendations how to equip NATO for the future when allied leaders meet in Brussels this year. He underlined that he wants NATO to take on a more global approach and work closely with democracies in the Asia-Pacific region.

On Afghanistan, Mr Stoltenberg said that peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are an historic opportunity and that any adjustments of NATO troop levels in the country must be taken by Allies in a coordinated way.

During the one-day meeting, Allied Chiefs of Defence will focus on NATO operations, the response to the coronavirus crisis and strategic military planning documents. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, presides over the sessions.

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Just read a BBC article about China’s detention camps and how they are treating the women there. Absolutely disgusting! China has so much to answer for.

Mark B

Agreed. Many people in many countries seem to be looking at China and seeing a whole range of problems.I suspect that the reaction has already started and China will notice before long. I am not sure what the response will be.


Re-education camps…they called them labour camps last time.
“We learn from history that we do not learn from history”. The camps, Hong Kong (no thanks to us failing to carrying out our duty to Hong Kong), China’s takeover of the South China Sea, China forcing Sri Lanka to cough up an entire port and 15,000 acres of land around it for 99 years as part of China’s supposed ‘win-win for all, no politics, only economics’ Belt and Road Initiative. It’s all too late now.

George Royce

Yeah that’s not going to happen. The EU will set up it’s army and it will undermine NATO, which it sees as its rival. The US will side with the EU over any future dispute, as the US doesn’t have friends it has interests. We’ll be better served if we rapidly increase defence spending to 3% and stand up on our own two feet, deciding our own destiny via foreign policy. Some may gleefully poo poo the idea of CANZUK, but it’s gathering momentum and eventually it will happen. That will be our military and trading future.

Mark B

An EU army is a pipe dream. I am sure it will exist at some point in some form but nothing that would tempt countries to chuck away their NATO membership. If anything I think NATO may well expand. It is a simple concept which saves money by sharing defence. Time and time again we get people with grand ideas however they normally collapse under their own weight.We should always work with friendly nations..

Supportive Bloke

The problem is that the EU sees itself as being very economically ‘big’ on the world stage. At the centre of it lies quite a few frustrated political ideas as what wouldn’t fly in national governments but work on the big grandiosity of the EU stage. There have always been a few people within the EU power structure who are a bit delusional about how the EU sits on the world stage. There honestly were conversations about how the EU was going to take over the UK & FR permanent security council seats at one point. Hopefully the EU’s clown… Read more »


Is there not a potential that a joint EU army could be a plus for NATO? Overcoming the challenge of multiple small armies with different kit and chains of command, the inefficiency of duplications in facilities etc. A joint EU army has the potential to answer the credible challenge that many European countries rely on the US to foot an unfair proportion of the continent’s security bill.

Sean Crowley

Greater spending may not be the Answer , Australia has dramatically increased our defense budget to a substantial amount , almost 2 % of GDP but cannot find crew to man or fix our planes . Same with the Army no one here likes to go to war sitting down but many are finding them selves being sent to Armour or even worse aircrew , and the Navy might as well be called the British Pacific Fleet as it would not exist without ex Royal Navy crewman . There should be a concentration and consolidation on one service like the… Read more »


I think you have a point in the sense that increasing defence spending on it’s own isn’t the solution (but to be clear everything I’m about to say is ‘in addition too’ spending more). There also needs to be major rebrand of the armed forces, and bloody more confident one too in recruitment, no more nonsense about making it look like some kind of US peace core. But in addition there’s needs to be an strong investment is salaries, accommodation, educational scholarships paid for with services etcetera. This being as mentioned, ‘in addition’ greater spending in general on defence and… Read more »


Have to say I fully agree with you, 3% would also be enough do a credible military posture (to be clear, that’s an actually 3%, rather a political accounting fudge of 3%). As for CANZUK, this is indeed being slightly dismissed, very pre-emptively, and very incorrectly. The idea of a more coherent military alliance with certain key members of the commonwealth/ former dominions, is frankly an obvious boon, both militarily, and politically. It really should be made to happen enthusiastically.


A posture of united resolve is the only way forward if wayward powers continue to grow at an alarming rate. Public displays of empty warheads and thousands of marching troops maybe a typical demonstration of wannabe World power, but at some stage, these trappings of war have a tendency of being used? The Cold War threats may have faded somewhat, however, the UK’s national civil protection measures suffered the same decline. Sadly, a nuclear strike on Western countries is quickly becoming a frightening possibility, from a number of potential adversaries. I fear the UK is lacking the civil defence coordination… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

The old bunkers could be requisitioned by HMG, but they were never for the civil populance. The Emergency Broadcasting Network and other bits and pieces like warning still exist, not through Sirens but radio and TV.
Save the sort of underground facilities created by the likes of Switzerland I’m unsure what could be done without such vast costs regards protection of the population.

With MAD I feel cyber and pandemics are still the greater threat.


One result of COVID has made many come to terms with the unthinkable. One person commented that they would be more likely to believe the threat of an alien invasion, than they would have done before the pandemic. Such clarity begs the question, should we not spend more time on the unthinkable? On that basis, should the West be seriously looking at survival, after the bomb, considering the scenario is very real?

Daniele Mandelli

Absolutely. But maybe that would still only go so far, as even with the civil defence preparations of the Cold War restored most of the population would still be toast. We could reintroduce the MAFF depots, Green Goddesses, a modern UKWMO, all sorts. As has been witnessed by this pandemic, the millions unable to cope with Covid rules and obey the quite basic social distancing demands of HMG makes me doubt society could organise itself sufficiently and have the discipline to cope with anything more serious. Additionally, most of these preparations, even In the Cold War, were for government and… Read more »


I totally agree, the main thrust of Cold War protection was to save the machinery of government and the establishment. However, there was a substantial infrastructure that has since been abandoned at an unbelievable pace? My thinking is some sort of missile umbrella, as I say below, it must be a shared programme. The Russian concerns cannot be ignored but they don’t pose a single threat. We are more likely to receive the blunt end of a nuclear attack from one of the up and coming club members, dirty or otherwise?

Daniele Mandelli

Yes, I think it was 92 to 94 timeframe when much was discarded. Agree such an endeavour would have to be shared. But that brings it’s own problems as seen countless times. Who is in command? Who has finger on trigger? All of NATO, or will the USA want to be big Daddy? Who hosts infrastructure? Do all countries pay equally or do lesser nations voices count for less. If this tech then itself proliferates does this make their use more likely as regimes hide behind their umbrellas? The Soviets were so wary in 1983 with all the rhetoric and… Read more »

Last edited 24 days ago by Daniele Mandelli

Thanks, Daniele, I have some reading to do about operation Ryan.


I love the Green Goddess idea…I’m just old enough to remember those being sortied out due to the firefighter strike many years ago!


The think about a ballistics missile defence for the U.K. is that it’s only really ever going to be tested against the longer ranged variety, thats IRBMS, ICBMS and SLBMs. Having a ballistic missile defence system that can engage these long range ballistic missile is not really within the UKs sovereign capability. Only the USA can do that with is GMD and even the US with all is resources can only develop a system to counter 10s of individual warhead The other problem is that if a nation has one SLBM or ICBM they have 20+ Each with a number… Read more »

Supportive Bloke

Yes, but we do have the tech with Samson and Aster+ to do the job.

We can do the tests from the ship platforms that we have and once the R&D is done we can then deploy landside.

We probably already have the land-based and space sensors to pick up launches and to track.

I’d not be too worried about the 20+ numbers arguments as the software systems we have are already announced as capable of high multiple numbers of target tracks.


My understanding is that ship based systems are still not really up to the job beyond intercepting theatre based weapons. I know the US used a ship based system pushed up an exatmosphere kill vehicle for a theoretical intercept of an ICBM last Nov ( the test itself was as far as is know at the very short ranges for an ICBM, so slow reentry and with a reentry vehicle without any pen aids).so it was more a Test for future systems not something that’s operational or close to operational. At present I’m pretty sure the only operational way to… Read more »


The cost of BMD would be huge, however, what cost do we place on the continuum of the human race? I’m sure a combined effort by the US and NATO members could develop and deploy such systems if the will is there? Once COVID-19 is globally brought under control the mood for survival maybe unstoppable?


The basic problem is it’s cheaper to add an extra warhead and retry vehicle to an existing booster ( ICBM, SLBM) then it is to build a ground based intercepted and exoatmosphere kill vehicle. so it’s always more resource intensive to build the defence over the offence ( the US GMD system that can kill a few 10s of warheads is more costly than the U.K. nuclear deterrent that if we so wished could put well over 100 warhead onto an enemy. we also literally don’t have the ability to produce a GMD system at present as it requires a… Read more »


Again as with several of the comments on this thread I do think there are some interesting points here. Certainly there is a reasonable need I’d argue for a resurrection of some serious element of civil defence. Though I believe this would be best actioned in a rather specific brief of improving national civil resilience. For example, rolling out and also restoring a national warning system, both in terms of texts, and aerial sirens (yes those veteran WW2 ones or the like), restoring all or some of the most useful Cold war bunkers for civilian/military administration. In some way the… Read more »


After COVID (or a much-improved method of living with it is established) I believe people will be less smug about unthinkable scenarios? The pandemic definitely changed many people’s beliefs about the vulnerability of human life on earth. If and when there is a direct threat of WOMD on the UK, the population will demand some credible level of protection. Talk of ineffective civil defence measures against such weapons will be dismissed as fatalism, and I pity the government of the day, in such circumstances. We do need to wake up and seriously determine a credible plan to at least offer… Read more »

Andy P

It will be interesting to see where NATO see themselves and how various countries will ‘step up to fulfil these roles. NATO by its name isn’t designed for an extended reach like the pacific, yes some countries have assets that have the legs to operate in that theatre but are we talking putting NATO in front of a US or UK TF or are NATO looking for other countries to add to the pool. I guess if its the former then the UK or US could get some cash for it from the NATO pot but its hardly expanding NATO.… Read more »


I was shocked to read about the state of things in the British Army and its infantry battalions. As I read it a few days ago, there are only slightly less than 12,000 infantry soldiers with many battalions under strength, such as the Scots Guards, which has a working requirement of 603 troops but with just 339 soldiers


Its not just the Infantry, all supporting arms, be it logisitic or OS, are at absolute minimum. Units which are required to support an operational deployment are stripped to the bone or no longer in existance. Yes the Infantry are under strength, but part of that issue is th cap badge mafia, where the high ranking old boys fight tooth and nail to ensure their previous Battalions/Regiments survive, no matter how innefective they become. Even if a Battalion is at full strength it cant do much without suppporting sig/medics/loggies/Engineers/OS to include all the Arty assets/aviation etc. The army is in… Read more »

Andy P

Its not just the army mate, speaking to a couple of mates on boats recently and there are quite a few issues, I’ll not be specific but scary times.

Captain P Wash

NATO is a must, It’s been so for many decades now and we need it more than ever but you have to question how effective it has actually been with the World in such a potentially volatile state. China, Russia, Ukraine, Myanmar, North Korea, Scotland, Iran, Planet bleddy X…… ( I was joking about everything other than Scotland by the way !!!! )

Last edited 24 days ago by Captain P Wash

NATO Is a must ,Kosavo is a very good example on how effective it can be, the west would soon regret it if NATO was no more and with a mafia state like Russia
playing power games ,NATO is still relevant today.

Daniele Mandelli

I think NATO has been very effective Captain.
It existed to defend western Europe from attack by the Warsaw Pact, and outlived that.

It was not meant to deal with the internal affairs of those nations and should not be getting involved with North Korea.

John Clark

I think we will see NATO start to morph into a more international organisation in the decade ahead, as it’s forced to pivot, to take in the threat from a Cino / Russian alliance. The proposed EU military capability is quite frankly laughable, such a force would need to be well funded, organised and flexible. The EU force would be non of these things. Poorly funded, poorly organised, as has proved via is Vaccine debacle. It’s so poorly organised, it couldn’t find it’s collective arse with both hands ….. As for flexibility, the EU dosen’t even know what that means…… Read more »


I do think the a major glaring issue in UK defence (apart from a lack of everything except bureaucracy), is the genuine need for some credible form of land based air-defence….and not those ridiculous Rapiers. Certainly around major civilian/military areas. Not a huge fan of the US Patriot system, but anyone else have some ideas on this?