U.S. Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander, U.S. European Command, co-hosted the two-day Northern Europe Chiefs of Defense Conference alongside Gen. Onno Eichelsheim, Netherlands Chief of Defence. The annual strategic gathering was held at the Royal Netherlands Army Headquarters in Utrecht, Netherlands, from Nov. 8-9, 2023.
The event drew nearly 80 senior military leaders from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S., in addition to U.S. National Guard leadership from Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
“The strength of our partnerships is the greatest advantage we have over our adversaries,” said Cavoli. “When we use this advantage, we achieve collective defense, deterrence, and we continue to preserve the peace in the Euro-Atlantic.”
During the event Cavoli commended the Netherlands as one of the militaries leading the coalition on F-16 training for the Ukrainian Air Force, highlighting the collaboration and unity of purpose among like-minded countries in support of Ukraine.
“This multinational effort provides an important capability to the Ukrainian Armed Forces by giving them aircraft, training (and) sustainment,” added Cavoli. “By supporting Ukraine with F-16s, this demonstrates the strength of our partnership and a concrete investment in our shared values.”
During the event, leaders discussed security and freedom of navigation in the Baltic Sea region and collaboration to address myriad challenges in the Arctic, including climate change and competition from adversary nations.
"We recognize that only through international cooperation we are able to cope with threats and achieve the common goal of European security," said Eichelsheim. “I am very proud to host this gathering with like-minded nations, because that is the only way we can deter our potential adversaries.”
Three of the 12 European nations in attendance are original members of the State Partnership Program and are celebrating 30 years of enduring partnerships. Norway formalized its longstanding state partnership with the Minnesota National Guard earlier this year.
Regularly hosted by Allies throughout Europe, Chiefs of Defense conferences are a key component of EUCOM’s comprehensive approach to regional security. Through continuous engagement, EUCOM and its Allies foster enduring partnerships and strengthening cooperation among Allied nations.
U.S. European Command is responsible for U.S. military operations across Europe, portions of Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean. USEUCOM is comprised of more than 65,000 permanent military personnel supported by rotational forces and DoD civilians working closely with NATO Allies and partners. The command is one of two U.S. forward-deployed geographic combatant commands headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.