On 14 and 15 February 2018, the NATO Defence Ministers were in Brussels for their spring meeting.
On the first day of the meeting, the ministers decided to adapt the NATO command structure to the altered security environment and focus more on maritime security, logistics, military mobility and cyber defence. They agreed to establish two new commands: a joint force command for the Atlantic, to help protect sea-based lines of communication between North America and Europe, as well as a new support command for logistics, reinforcement and military mobility.
The NATO Defence Ministers also used their meeting to talk to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini as well as representatives of Finland and Sweden about NATO-EU cooperation, particularly in the light of recent EU decisions on defence.
On the second day, the ministers discussed NATO’s role in projecting stability beyond its own borders and in fighting terrorism. In response to a request from the Iraqi Government and the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, they agreed to start planning a NATO training mission in Iraq.
The ministers’ discussions also covered NATO’s other priorities in the South. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg summarised as follows: “We agreed that we need to improve our ability to react to future crises in the Region, including with enhanced planning and exercises.”
A new NATO support command
Defence Minister von der Leyen confirmed Germany’s readiness to take responsibility for setting up a new NATO command which would enable armed forces within Europe to move around more quickly in future. No final decision has been taken on the location of command headquarters, however.