NATO defense chiefs, including Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, met over the weekend in Norway, where they agreed that Royal Netherlands Navy Adm. Rob Bauer will extend for six months his tenure as NATO’s Military Committee chair, the senior officer in the North Atlantic alliance.
The defense chiefs on Saturday cited a need for a “continuity of leadership in a volatile security climate” for keeping Adm. Bauer in the position on a temporary basis.
The extension will allow his successor, Italian naval Adm. Giuseppe Dragone, to serve out his full term as Italy’s defense chief until November 2024, NATO officials said.
Adm. Bauer said he was “honored and humbled” by the continued trust that the Allied defense chiefs have placed in him.
“I will do my utmost to keep unifying north, south, east, west, large and small within our alliance — and to actively reach out to NATO’s partners around the world,” he said in a statement. “There is so much more that unites us than what divides us. We are truly stronger together.”
Adm. Dragone said he will continue to advocate for supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russian invaders when he takes up the position next year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in February 2022, prompting Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership about three months later. Finland joined the alliance in April 2023, while Sweden’s ratification effort is ongoing.
A number of other states near Russia have either applied for NATO membership, such as Ukraine, or expressed their aspirations to join, such as Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The chair of NATO’s Military Committee is the senior adviser to the alliance’s secretary general. It is traditionally held by a non-U.S. officer of four-star rank or its national equivalent.