Can you tell us how NATO ensures a robust and resilient Command and Control structure?
NATO's Command and Control structure is one of our Alliance's main strengths. Why? Because it is the only international organization that has a permanent robust Command and Control structure which enables military operations and responsiveness.
Currently, we are looking at modernizing the NATO Command Structure (NCS) to ensure we can address all the complex security challenges of today and tomorrow simultaneously. If the Alliance is organized differently, we will be able to find all of the capabilities to deal with these challenges in the Nations of the Alliance or our partners.
This is why I am a strong believer of the Persistent Federated Approach (PFA). PFA is how we link up the NATO Command Structure, the NATO Force Structure (NFS), national facilities and even sometimes the private sector, to have a permanent exchange of information and a very agile, flexible federated network.
This is an important aspect of my discussions with the Agency, as the key question is: 'How do we build these IT architectures?' We will rely more and more on IT architectures as they will enable the exchange of information and the distribution of operational control if necessary in a more agile structure.
If you have access to information more quickly than your opponent, you can make faster decisions with a robust Command and Control structure, and through secure IT, and you can act on it as a cohesive force rapidly and effectively defending the Alliance.
How can we better leverage partnerships with Nations, NATO Agencies and Industry in capability development?
The value of NATO is that we have clear political guidance. Based on this, the two Strategic Commands and the Military Committee define military requirements.
We survey what exists in the Nations and then define the shortfalls and ask Nations to develop these areas as priorities for their targets in their future defence development plans. And it works quite well. But we still have the tendency to define capabilities by equipment, instead of defining the effect we want to achieve.
The AWACS for example are delivering surveillance and control. So for the next generation aircraft in 2035, we are looking at how surveillance and control will look like by then, what effect we will want to achieve and based on this, we build the requirements. Think effect and architecture. And there is a strong role for the Agency to develop this architecture, the interoperability and link this together.
Technological developments are happening at an unprecedented speed. With this in mind, how can NATO better support capability development?
We need to think in terms of flexible and agile architectures, instead of capabilities and platforms. We will need to continue to shorten the cycles of the development. Otherwise we will be disconnected from the highly rapid change of technology.
We must win the battle for speed. We have the world's most powerful private sector, and yet we are so slow to implement technology, leaving us behind the curve. This must change. We have a lot of best practices in Nations, and we need to now introduce them to NATO.
Why are cloud-combat platforms so important for NATO operations and exercises?
When thinking in terms of desired effect, cloud-combat platforms combine the different domains - land, air, sea and cyber - to ensure we deliver the appropriate effect. For me, the key combat system is C4ISR and how we associate these different capabilities.
If we look at the single platoon for instance, they have many sensors on the ground. But how are we fusing this vast amount of information using artificial intelligence and re-distributing this intelligence at the appropriate levels? Interoperability standards are essential, which is why we are developing Federated Mission Networking (FMN) to ensure interoperability between the different national systems.
In Iraq for example, this is not a NATO operation, but all the forces can operate together because they use NATO standards.
That is the value of it, knowing that when we deploy together we will link up our systems, and it works.
Why are training and exercises critical enablers for NATO's defence and deterrence posture? How does Information Technology fit in this?
As an Alliance, if we do not train together, then we have difficulty operating together from day-zero. And this is why training and exercises are so important. SACEUR defines training requirements, and my responsibility is to put these training requirements into the exercises.
Together with SACEUR, we are reviewing this process as we need to shift the emphasis from the exercises themselves to focusing on training requirements.
In 2019, when the next process starts, we will have a prioritized list of training requirements and build the exercise programmes accordingly. We do this today already, but this approach will bring more flexibility in moving the requirements from one exercise to another.
NATO conducts roughly 100 exercises a year, and Nations conduct 200 that have a link to NATO through the Connected Forces Initiative.
We also need to be innovative to ensure we correctly exercise using very important new systems in complex threat-based scenarios. A key example is how we integrate cyber in exercises to ensure the objective of the exercises is not destroyed by cyber-attacks.