Thank you Minister Pedro Morenés and the rest of the delegation coming from the NATO headquarters in Brussels. It has really been a great experience to be here together with you today. And thank you for your hospitality.
But let me start by paying tribute to the three military officers of the Spanish Air Force, who recently lost their lives in the Atlantic waters.
My most sincere condolences go to their families, their colleagues and to the Spanish Government.
We honour the dedication of our men and women in uniform. And we are grateful for everything they do to keep us safe. In missions, operations, and exercises.
So let me then thank Spain for the tremendous work it has been doing in co-hosting Trident Juncture, together with Italy and Portugal.
Spain is strongly committed to our shared security. You are making one of the largest contributions to the exercise – with troops, tanks, planes and ships. And this is a great opportunity to prepare the Spanish contingent to lead NATO’s very high-readiness Spearhead Force in 2016.
Trident Juncture is NATO’s largest exercise in over a decade. It is ambitious and it is demanding. With around thirty six thousand troops. More than one hundred and forty aircraft, and sixty ships. From more than 30 nations.
Trident Juncture is training elements of the NATO Response Force to respond to a wide range of challenges. To ensure they can work seamlessly together, to deal with challenges from the south or from the east.
We are testing complex scenarios. We are testing our air, land, maritime and special forces. We are testing our commanders. And we are testing our ability to work together and with many partner nations and many different organisations. And from what I have seen today, NATO is up to the test.
While our aim is to train and exercise, we are also through this Trident Juncture exercise sending a clear message. To our nations and to any potential adversary. NATO does not seek confrontation. But we stand ready to defend all Allies. So Trident Juncture is an important part of NATO’s long-term adaptation to a changed and new security environment.
Instability and extremism in North Africa and the Middle East. The brutality of ISIL. Russia’s military build-up in Syria and in the Mediterranean and its aggressive actions in Ukraine.
In response to complex challenges and threats from many different directions, Trident Juncture shows that NATO’s capabilities are real – and ready. We are able to operate on a large scale over a large area.
This exercise also shows that NATO is committed to transparency and predictability. Our exercises are open to the world. We have invited international observers from all OSCE countries, and beyond, to the exercise. And I am glad to see that many of them are here today.
So they can see by themselves that what we do is defensive. It is proportionate. And it is fully in line with our international commitments.
So it’s great to see that this exercise is showing the strength and the unity of the whole Alliance.
L. J. De Rothschild