NATO April 4 2014
In his first country visit as Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Lieutenant General Mark O. Schissler, U.S. Air Force, praised Estonia’s strong commitment to collective defence and emphasized NATO’s full solidarity towards Allies.
Discussing future NATO exercises and training in the Baltic region with Major General Riho Terras, Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, Lt Gen Schissler stressed that all Allies are protected by Article 5 of the Washington treaty, which requires members to provide necessary assistance in response to an armed attack against an Ally. “We will make sure we have updated military plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments,” he emphasized.
This week, NATO Foreign Ministers directed Allied military authorities to develop additional measures to strengthen collective defence and deterrence against any threat of aggression against the Alliance.
Maj Gen Terras commented, “NATO membership provides Baltic states a strong assurance of security and I am confident NATO fully understands the recent changes in the security environment and decisions in increasing the presence in the region will come in near future.”
Lt Gen Schissler also underlined NATO’s continued commitment to air policing. “One of NATO’s roles in peacetime is to preserve the integrity of NATO airspace and to safeguard NATO nations from air attacks. Air Defence, which includes air surveillance and air policing, is a key element in maintaining the security of nations.”
During a visit to the Ämari airbase, the Deputy Chairman acknowledged Estonia’s offer of Ämari as an additional location for the NATO air policing mission and stated: “The Baltic States have proven their determination to be good hosts to the mission for 10 years. I welcome your commitment to continue improving and upgrading the support they offer.”
Lt Gen Schissler expressed to Maj Gen Terra NATO’s appreciation for Estonia’s commitment to operations and, not least, to cyber defence. “I have just visited the Estonia Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. I was impressed about the resources they have assembled to support complex cyber training and exercises.”
He concluded the visit by praising Estonia for its commitment to maintaining its 2% GDP defence spending. “We have seen over the last weeks how unpredictable and dangerous the security landscape is and how quickly a situation in our immediate neighbourhood can change. This is why once again, defence matters.”
Top NATO military official reaffirms NATO’s support to Estonia