BRUNSSUM, the Netherlands - The second NATO Air Chiefs' Symposium of 2020 took place at Allied Air Command on 10 September. General Jeffrey L. Harrigian, Commander of Allied Air Command, welcomed more than 31 leaders of Allied and Partner Air Forces (with a mix of in-person and virtual attendance) to discuss improvements in connectivity to enhance Air Power readiness and resilience.
Maintaining assured and secure connectivity is key to our success
General Harrigian set the scene providing the strategic context for the discussions. "Maintaining assured and secure connectivity is key to our success, along with expanding interoperability with our Allies and Partners. These meetings are all about having an active dialogue to reinforce lessons learned, review emerging capabilities, and get after improving our collective readiness to deter and defend as an Alliance."
The keynote speech was delivered by General Wolters, Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, giving his views on Deterrence and Defence in the Euro-Atlantic Area (DDA). His speech was followed by further discussions on the DDA and how to operationalise the concept. Briefings also focused on space, with insight given by General Lavigne, French Air Chief; alongside developments of F-35 operations from Lieutenant General Rosso, Italian Air Chief.
With a view on space operations General Harrigian said, "NATO has recognized the importance of the space domain and its value in support of deterrence and defence. Space is essential to the Alliance, from the ability to navigate and track forces, to provide satellite communications, and to detect adversary missile launches." Space was recently identified as the fifth operational domain for NATO, along with air, land, maritime, and cyberspace.
In parallel, chaired by Warrant Officer Sara Catterall, Allied Air Command Senior Enlisted Leader, the representatives of the Allied and Partner enlisted communities met to discuss human capability enhancement and innovation, as well as cultural diversity.
Ongoing stringent health protection measures were implemented throughout the conference to counter COVID-19. This was enabled by a mix of appropriate physical distancing and hygiene measures.
The first meeting at this level was convened at Ramstein back in 1977, then Headquarters Allied Air Forces Central Europe. The forum has since been growing to include leaders of the member air forces contributing to NATO's Allied Air Command and senior observers from the air forces of NATO's Partnership programmes.
In the Mediterranean sea, Croatian navy vessel 'Dubrovnik' left the Port of Split 3 September as the flagship to the fifth focused patrol of NATO's Operation Sea Guardian (OSG) in 2020. OSG Focused Patrol 20-5 runs from September 2-22, 2020 in the Central Mediterranean Sea. Appropriate COVID-19 measures were taken, while preparing for the mission. Like previous patrols this year, Croatian Navy crew was briefed via teleconference by NATO Maritime Command. Several other measures were implemented to ensure crew is able to operate safely carrying out NATO mission.
Operation Sea Guardian is a non-Article 5 maritime security operation of NATO aimed at working with Mediterranean stakeholders to maintain maritime situational awareness, deter and counter terrorism and enhance capacity building. One of the main efforts for this patrol is gathering pattern of life information about the shipping routes in international waters.