New NATO military chairman: We refuse political correctness

Jan Gazdík Jan Gazdík
24. 9. 2014 17:53
Pavel stressed that more of his NATO colleagues are convinced that if some political assignment is wrong it is necessary to turn on the North Atlantic Council to negotiate once more on the topic
Foto: ČTK

Prague - The chief-of-staff of the Czech army Petr Pavel who has been elected to the post of the new chairman of the NATO Military Committee, gave an exclusive interview to the Aktuálně.cz daily. He stressed in it that even more and more of his NATO colleagues are convinced that if some political assignment is wrong it is necessary to turn on the North Atlantic Council to negotiate once more on the topic.

Pavel will replace the present committee head, Danish general Knud Bartels, next year. The committee members preferred him to the rival candidate from Greece.

The Military Committee chairman is Alliance’s highest military authority and chief military adviser to NATO secretary general. In this respect, Pavel will cooperate with Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, who will take up the post of secretary general next month.

„It was the good reputation of hundreds and thousands of Czech soldiers and civil employees participating in the past NATO missions that has influenced the vote,“ Pavel said shortly after being elected the chairman of the committee. The Czech ambassador to NATO Jiří Šedivý stressed, in this sense, the personal qualities of a military expert that general Pavel is.

Aktualne.cz: By what had you convinced your colleagues in NATO that they have elected you quite unequivocally the chairman of Alliance‘s Military Committee?

The vote has been secret, so I don’t know if I had the US support. I haven‘t took any special iniciative in favor of my candidacy. At all Military Committee sesions, I have acted as I’am accustomed from Czechia – going to the point and accentuating the nature of the problem solving. Maybe it was this unbiased acces of mine that has convinced some countries to try this way.

A.cz: Does this stance represent a recipe for a military career success?

Maybe you are right that we always should held our own convictions and stick to what we believe is correct. Today, many people adapt to what somebody wants to hear to not to have any problems. And they don’t stick to what they believe is correct.

The common sense principle succeeds increasingly at the sessions of the NATO Military Committee. Even more and more of my Alliance colleagues refuse the principle of political correctness if it leads to wrong ends.

So if we come to the conclusion that some political assignment is wrong, we turn on the North Atlantic Council and indicate that it is necessary to negotiate on this political assignment further. Simply because from this political assignment impossible or hardly feasable tasks are resulting. Sometimes we propose that a certain task could be achieved more effectively or by means of lesser costs.

These are things that defy the image that a soldier only should salute, say „I will execute the order“ and go for it. Especially the high-rank officers should think about, analyze and, if it is neccesary to come back to the very person who has given the order.

A.cz: Before the vote in Vilnius, you have mentioned what is, in your opinion, NATO’s main advantage, namely that it can win the wars. And that it is forced to do something that does not correspond to its nature, namely to start with the reconstruction of war-torn countries. Will it be your priority to change or at least to try to change this discrepancy?

NATO is a military-political organization whose primary task is to defend the member countries. But it is not an organization primarily destined to the development assistance. It can’t solve the problems that belong to other organizations‘ agenda as the European Union, OSCE and other. It is beyond NATO’s power to take over the role of other organizations. But as a chairman of the NATO Military Council, I can influence one thing, namely that the Alliance will broaden the cooperation with other institutions.

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