New Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
BRUSSELS -- Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, former Chief of the Italian Defense Staff, assumed June 27 the position of Chairman of the NATO Military Committee – NATO’s top military officer – from outgoing Canadian Gen. Ray Henault, who will return to Canada to retire after three years as the Chairman and 40 years of military service.
“I am honoured by the confidence shown in me through my election by fellow Chiefs of Defense,” said Adm. Di Paola. “The reform and transformation agenda under Gen. Henault’s leadership have situated the Military Committee to configure itself better to address the security challenges of today and tomorrow.”
“My first thought goes to the almost 70,000 women and men who are serving the cause of peace every day under the NATO flag, from Kosovo to Iraq to Afghanistan,” said Adm. Di Paola. “I am strongly committed to continuing the process of shaping NATO military structures and policies. Building on the relationships we have with new partners and new members-to-be will also be a top priority of mine.”
The Chairman of the Military Committee is the principal military advisor to the Secretary General and the North Atlantic Council, and the conduit through which consensus-based advice from NATO’s Chiefs of Defence is brought forward to the political decision-making bodies of NATO.
“It has been a tremendous time to serve at the heart of the most important security organisation in the world,” said Gen. Henault, Chairman of NATO Military Committee since June 2005. “The speed and pace of activity and reform at NATO these past three years have been relentless. We’ve conducted operations on four continents. We’ve increased our footprint in Afghanistan from about 5,000 to more than 50,000 and have maintained capable and responsive forces in Kosovo. We’ve developed advice in support of two Summits and are preparing for another Summit in 2009, which is the 60th anniversary year both for the Alliance and the Military Committee.”
“We have also made real progress on transforming our organisation, building needed military capabilities and deepening our partnerships” continued Gen. Henault. “Of course, much more needs to be done, but I am hopeful that the ongoing review of the NATO command structure, flowing from the establishment of a new level of ambition for the Alliance in 2006, will be a catalyst for the military component of this organisation to become more deployable, more effective and more efficient. Admiral Di Paola is exceptionally capable of taking this work forward.”
Since 1963, when the position was made full-time and determined by election, the position has been held by 16 officers from: Germany (5 times), the United Kingdom (three times), Canada (twice), Norway (twice), Italy (now twice, with Adm. Di Paola); and Belgium and the Netherlands (once each).
Images of the handover ceremony and further information concerning the Chairmanship of the NATO Military Committee can be found at http://www.nato.int/ims/docu/mc-executive-briefing/brief001-election.html