On Tuesday 30 March 2021, Major General Francesco Diella, Director of the Cooperative Security Division of the NATO International Military Staff, hosted a virtual meeting with partners on the topic of NATO’s COVID-19 Lessons Identified and Lessons Learned.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, NATO and Allies have endeavoured to support each other and partners. To achieve this, NATO set up Operation Allied Hand to stockpile medical equipment and fund the acquisition of additional supplies. Many Allies and Partners, including Austria, Azerbaijan, Israel, Finland, Qatar, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, have already donated medical equipment and made financial contributions, ensuring that critical assistance gets to the right place at the right time. Centralising these requests for assistance through the EADRCC has enabled NATO, Allies and Partners to be more responsive with their support. To date, NATO has provided assistance packages to Moldova, Tunisia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq and Ukraine.
As vaccination programmes progress throughout Allied Nations, NATO must now look to identify the lessons to increase allied resilience and crisis management. With the help of its extensive network of Centres of Excellence (CoEs), NATO aims to collect and analyse input from over 45 NATO entities, including 25 CoEs. In parallel, the NATO International Military Staff under the auspices of its Cooperative Security Division will also work with Partners to gather their valuable insight.
The meeting chaired by Major General Francesco Diella, invited 20 Partner Nations virtually, from each of NATO’s partnership frameworks. After a briefing by Allied Command Transformation’s Assistant Chief of Staff Joint Force Development, Brigadier General Lejins on NATO’s ability to process information as a learning organisation, all participants engaged in an interesting and productive discussion. “We have much to learn and much to gain from sharing our experiences, successes and challenges. Building on these shared experiences, we can ensure that we are all better prepared, stronger and more resilient to withstand the next global challenge”, highlighted Major General Diella.
This pandemic has also emphasised the requirement to preserve NATO’s working relationships with Partners. “Distance or restrictions cannot be obstacles to our continued commitment to Partners. We are more determined than ever to be more active and find new ways of interacting with them. Meetings like these, be it physical or virtual, are an essential part of the work NATO does in Cooperative Security. We must work together to foster the trust we have built over the last couple of decades, to increase information exchanges and support our mission objectives”, concluded the Major General.