STUTTGART, Germany – The U.S. European Command and Croatian Armed Forces co-hosted the 24th U.S. - Adriatic Charter (A-5) Chiefs of Defense Conference Sept. 28 in Split, Croatia.
During the conference, military leaders from the A-5 Charter nations and observer states discussed common approaches to address collective security threats and challenges related to regional security and defense issues. They also reaffirmed commitment to strengthening relations and deepening areas of military cooperation amongst the A-5 Charter nations.
“We continue to cooperate and support each other, plan and initiate advanced participation in our missions, operations, activities and joint exercises in aim to develop interoperability and raise response readiness to future crisis,” said Admiral Robert Hranj, Chief of General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces. “Today's conference, its conclusions and our joint statement once again prove our firm commitment to partnership in the interest of integration of South-Eastern European countries to NATO and EU.”
The defense chiefs also acknowledged the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and committed to developing capabilities to respond to man-made and natural disasters, including future pandemics.
Senior Enlisted Leaders for many of the countries represented met a day earlier to discuss ways of empowering enlisted leaders in the ranks.
“You can just see in the interactions between senior enlisted leaders that they are comfortable with each other and most importantly that they trust each other,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Phillip Easton, U.S. European Command senior enlisted leader. “This is all about improving interoperability and improving our relationships and we do it through these conferences.”
The A-5 Implementation Working Group also met and presented recommendations to the Chiefs of Defense to enhance regional cooperation and support the Charter’s purpose of NATO and EURO-Atlantic integration.
The U.S. – Adriatic Charter was formed with the core task to enable nations in Southeast Europe to pursue, and ultimately, obtain, full NATO membership. Since its creation in 2003, four U.S. – Adriatic Charter nations have ascended into NATO with North Macedonia’s ascension, which occurred 2020, as the latest.
At this meeting, defense chiefs reaffirmed their support to the charter and expressed support for NATO’s Open Door policy vowing to support the aspirations of Southeast European countries to join the Alliance.
“Each of your nations’ individual contributions toward enhancing NATO’s readiness is worth recognizing,” said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Mike Howard, deputy commander, U.S. European Command. “This conference exemplifies our collective commitment to the enduring principles of the U.S.-Adriatic Charter and a shared commitment to this region’s prosperity and security.”