General Knud Bartels bid farewell to NATO’s Military Committee on Friday (26 June 2015), leaving his position as Chairman after a term of three and a half years. General Bartels is succeeded as the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee by General Petr Pavel, previously the Chief of Defence of the Czech Republic.
General Petr Pavel receives NATO Military Committee gavel from General Knud Bartels
NATO Chiefs of Defence appointed General Knud Bartels as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee at the Military Committee Conference in Seville in September 2011, when he was Chief of Defence of Denmark. He took up office on 2 January 2012.
During his tenure, General Bartels provided strong and consistent guidance with regard to NATO missions and operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, the Mediterranean, Turkey, the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean. In addition, the Chairman had to implement the changes in NATO’s command structure that were adopted at the Chicago Summit. He also demonstrated steadfast support to NATO’s political leaders as well as enduring dedication to the servicemen and women protecting security and defending values under the NATO banner.
At the farewell ceremony attended by senior NATO military officials, General Bartels laid a wreath at the NATO Memorial to the Fallen to honour, one last time, the service men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in NATO-led missions and operations.
Addressing the Military Committee, General Bartels thanked them for their work and their contribution in delivering timely military advice to the North Atlantic Council during his time as Chairman. General Bartels will be remembered for holding a pivotal role in creating consensus in the Military Committee regarding the transfer from ISAF to Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, support to Ukraine, or the implementation of measures under the umbrella of the Readiness Action Plan (RAP), namely the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and the NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs). “These measures will reinforce the Alliance and make it fitter, faster and more flexible” General Bartels stated in his farewell address.
This is an important moment in the history of the Alliance as General Pavel is the first representative of a former Warsaw Pact nation to become Chairman of the Military Committee. In his welcome address, General Pavel commended General Bartels and the Military Committee for the high-quality military advice which has been consistently given to the North Atlantic Council. He recognized that he would be starting his tenure at “an interesting but demanding time for the Alliance characterized by significant changes in the security environment”. General Pavel went on to emphasize “the need for an even more effective and fruitful cooperation among the NATO Allied Nations, Commands and staffs across the NATO Command Structure”. He recognised the work of the 28 NATO Nations as being “one of the greatest advantages” of the Alliance, as it “brings together a wealth of experience and expertise.”
The Chairman is NATO’s senior military officer and the senior military spokesman for the Alliance on all military matters. Moreover, he is the principal military advisor to the Secretary General and the North Atlantic Council, and represents the conduit through which consensus-based advice from NATO’s Chiefs of Defence is brought forward to the political decision-making bodies of NATO.
Since 1963, when the position was made full-time and determined by election, the position has been held by 17 officers from: Germany (five times), the United Kingdom (three times), Canada (twice), Norway (twice), Italy (twice), Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark (once each).
L. J. De Rothschild