Military leaders from 13 nations met during the Northern Europe Chiefs of Defense Conference Oct. 19-20, 2022, in Warsaw, Poland.
Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczak, chief of the general staff of the Polish Armed Forces, and U.S. Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander, U.S. European Command, served as co-hosts for the conference.
Other participating nations included Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Also in attendance were representatives from the U.S. National Guard Bureau and the State Partnership Program, including Maj. Gen. Richard McNeely from the Illinois National Guard, which is partnered with Poland; Brig. Gen. Adam Flasch from the Maryland National Guard, which is partnered with Estonia; Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers from the Michigan National Guard, which is partnered with Latvia; and Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler of the Pennsylvania National Guard, which is partnered with Lithuania.
During the conference, heads of delegation discussed regional security challenges, and they reaffirmed their continued commitment to deepening defense cooperation. The defense chiefs also discussed enhancing technological interoperability among NATO and non-NATO nations. Finally, they were briefed on USEUCOM’s Fiscal Year 2023 Joint Exercise Program. Exercises and interactions between Allied and partner forces develop strength and unity and increase interoperability essential to addressing security threats.
“Integrating with our fellow Allies and partners has never been more critical,” Andrzejczak said. “As we’ve learned from Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, we must always be prepared to defend our sovereignty against those who threaten us.”
In addition to routine exercises with Allies and partners in the Arctic and Baltics, the U.S. has quickly responded to the invasion of Ukraine by deploying additional forces to NATO’s eastern flank. There are now approximately 100,000 U.S. service members in Europe, including in the Baltics and Poland.
“There has not been a moment in years when such a meeting has been so critical,” Cavoli said. “Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has served as an opportunity for all of us to come together to discuss important matters of national and collective defense.”
U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) 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 64,000 permanently assigned military personnel and works closely with NATO Allies and Partners. The command is one of two U.S. forward-deployed geographic combatant commands headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.