The Chairman of NATO's Military Committee, General Knud Bartels, attended the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit ''The Shangri-La Dialogue 2013'' in Singapore from 31 May to 2 June.
Initiated in 2002, “The Shangri-La Dialogue” is an annual inter-governmental security forum, which gathers key policy-makers in the defence and security establishments of regional states and of major powers with significant stakes in Asia-Pacific security. “As a key part of the security architecture of the Asia-Pacific region, I consider this an excellent opportunity to gain a greater appreciation from the national and international perspectives, and share NATO’s views and understanding of this region,” General Bartels said.
Speaking at the panel “The Afghan Drawdown and Regional Security,” Bartels emphasized NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan for the long term. “Even as ISAF conducts redeployment, I can tell you that on 1 January 2015, the Alliance and its partners will be side-by-side with our Afghan partners in train, advice and assist role,” stressed the General. He explained the audience, “The drawdown and transition to ‘Resolute Support’ will be a complex operation, which includes: our current campaign against the Taliban; transition from the current mission to the next; our continued support to the Afghan Forces in their effort to fight the enemy; and redeployment of forces over the next year and a half.”
Delivering his closing remarks, General Bartels emphasised the important role of neighboring countries in setting Afghanistan for success. “The regional dimension, and particularly the cooperation with Afghanistan’s neighbours within existing frameworks, will be vital in setting conditions for success beyond 2015. With our continued support, Afghanistan will have a strong foundation from which to continue building a better future.”
The Shangri-La Dialogue also offered an opportunity to discuss issues of common security interest with military representatives from Asian and Allied countries. With General Shigeru Iwasaki, the Japan Self Defense Force Chief of the Joint Staff, Bartels shared perspectives on strengthening practical military-to-military cooperation between NATO and Japan. Building on the joint political declaration signed in April 2013 during the visit of NATO’s Secretary General in Japan, the Generals outlined areas where Japan and NATO can develop closer cooperation beyond Afghanistan, such as crisis management, peace-support operations and counter-piracy missions. In bilateral meetings with General David Hurley, Chief of the Australian Defence Force, and Lieutenant General Richard Rhys Jones, Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force the same topics were raised and security perspectives in the Asia-Pacific region were exchanged.
In a separate session, General Bartels met with Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, with whom he had an open discussion on the security situation in Central Asia, South Asia and North-East Asia. Following up on the 7th NATO-China staff talks, the two leaders discussed the potential for closer military-to-military cooperation, particularly in the field of counter-piracy. China welcomed NATO as part of the Shangri-La dialogue. General Bartels also met with military leadership from allied countries, notably Canada and France discussing matters of common interest.