(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

On November 20, 2008, IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi addressed the NATO Chiefs of Defense Conference in Brussels.

In his speech Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi spoke of the new challenges to global security in the 21st century, singling out global terrorism as the primary threat. He said that, "at this time our main objective is to defeat global terrorism and bring about stability and tranquility to the world’s population… this is definitely a complex mission since… the terrorists have financial support, resources and equipment from terror collaborators…[they are] supported by radical states that sponsor terrorism." He went on to talk about terrorists’ military aspirations and their designs for nuclear weapons capabilities; "Our enemies, the terrorists have become more and more sophisticated keen to use all measures at their disposal to fulfill their despicable goals. They are characterized by threats which know no borders, which target the home front and lack any moral restraints. The enemy is no longer in uniform. He has become elusive, harder to detect…. The battleground has widened to engulf the field of ideas. Therefore the terrorists are determined never to surrender, ready to kill and be killed."

In light of the global problem of terrorism, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi also addressed the need for "close cooperation between the moderate forces in the international community." He explicitly stated that, "the State of Israel is interested in deepening its security-related relationship with the [NATO] alliance as a whole, and with the individual members, through partnership programs in as many areas as possible. To advance their goals they seek to achieve advanced military capabilities, and the most bothering of these are nuclear abilities. Therefore, there must be close cooperation between the moderate forces in the international community. The professional militaries fighting terrorism must aspire to maximize interoperability, and to share lessons learned in the various arenas."

The Chief of the General Staff mentioned the financial support, resources and equipment that terrorists receive from terror collaborators – radical states that sponsor terrorism. "Needless to say that for those violent countries there are no morals, no human rights and no respect for international law and for innocent lives."

Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi pointed out that Israel is in a difficult, but unique position, located, as it is, at the center of the global struggle with terrorism. "…Due to [Israel’s] unique position, special experience and proven abilities, Israel is an indispensable ally to the moderate forces in this global struggle… [especially because] Israel has become a leader in areas of technology and of fighting terrorism."

Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi concluded by reiterating Israel’s commitment to international cooperation, noting that, "the IDF is ready to accept and examine any suggestions from NATO regarding new channels of cooperation, especially in fighting terrorism in an asymmetric warfare." 

During his visit to Brussels, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi met with his American colleague, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, as well as his counterparts from other countries, including Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, Spain, France and Poland. Additionally, the Chief of the General Staff has met with senior NATO and EU officials.