Senior military officers from each NATO member country serve as national Military Representatives to NATO and as members of the Military Committee in permanent session, under the chairmanship of an elected Chairman (CMC). They assist and advise the North Atlantic Council, DPC and NPG on military matters. The Military Committee also meets regularly at the level of Chiefs of Defence (CHODS). Iceland is represented by a civilian official there, because this country has no military forces.
The Military Committee is the highest military authority in NATO, working under the overall political authority of the North Atlantic Council, DPC and NPG. Daily work of the Military Committee is done by the Military Representatives, who act on behalf of their Chiefs of Defence. They work in a national competence, representing the interests of their nations. At the same time they must stay open to negotiation and discussion so that consensus can be reached. This often means reaching agreement on acceptable compromises, when this is in the interests of the Alliance as a whole and serves to advance its overall objectives and policy goals. The Military Representatives therefore have adequate authority to enable the Military Committee to discharge its collective tasks and to reach prompt decisions.
The Committee recommends to NATO's political authorities those measures that are considered necessary for the common defence of the NATO area. Its principal role is to provide direction and advice on military policy and strategy. It provides guidance on military matters to the NATO Strategic Commanders, whose representatives participate in its meetings. It is also responsible for the overall conduct of the military affairs of the Alliance under the authority of the Council, as well as for the efficient operation of Military Committee agencies.
The Committee plays an important role in developing overall strategic concepts for the Alliance. Its further task is to prepare an annual long-term assessment of the strength and capabilities of countries and areas posing a risk to NATO's interests. In times of crises, tension or war the Military Committee advises the Council and Defence Planning Committee on the military situation and makes recommendations on the use of military force, the implementation of contingency plans and the development of appropriate rules of engagement.
The meeting of the Military Committee takes place every week on Thursday, as it follows the regular Wednesday meeting of the Council. Thus it can react promptly on the Council decisions. In practice, meetings can also be called whenever necessary and both the Council and the Military Committee often meet much more frequently.
As a result of the Alliance's role in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, the internal and external adaptation of Alliance structures and with the development of partnership and cooperation with other countries, the frequency of meetings of all the decision-making bodies of the Alliance has greatly increased. The Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session (CHODS) normally meets three times a year. Two of these Military Committee meetings take place in Brussels and one of them is held in a NATO country. This works on a rotational basis. The Military Committee also meets regularly with Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and Partnership for Peace Partner countries at the level of national Military Representatives. These sessions are held once a month, on the CHODS level twice a year. These meetings deal with military cooperation issues.
Last modified: Friday, February 4, 2011, 1:32 PM