Interview with the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (DSACT) General Mirco Zuliani
1. Just a few weeks ago you were assigned to this new position. How do you feel about this assignment, what will be your priorities, what is your vision?
I’m really very excited about this new assignment. NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is a very complex strategic command; we are engaged in so many activities that are very important for NATO, it is essential for the future of the Alliance. From what I can see after few weeks – there are plenty of opportunities where I can dedicate my time and my background, and be someway useful in what the ACT is doing. I am sure you are fully aware that there are priorities, such as Connected Forces Initiative, NATO Defence Planning, Smart Defence, the cooperation with Partners, with industries and with academics regarding also technology – it is very important, so there are really very many activities. I see that I will be very busy as our Headquarters is already very busy.
2. What is your opinion about exercises Steadfast Pyramid 2013 and Steadfast Pinnacle 2013 here in Latvia? What do you think is good and what are the things that need to be improved?
From what I had a chance to see but mainly from what my people have told me, they are really very important. Today I had a chance to talk to some of the participants of these exercises; this first week is for staff level, next week will be the three star level (higher) officers training – commandants will be present here. We are really very happy about this experience; it is a unique opportunity for many senior and higher officers to stay together, to practice the doctrine and tactics as well as the planning process. Sometimes we are so busy at Headquarters that we don’t have time to do this. This is a unique opportunity and from what I can see, there is a need to continue that. I assure you we are going to put a lot of effort in this because also looking towards the future training and exercises are
becoming more and more important.
3. How do you see this exercise in the frame of Connected Forces Initiative?
It is just one element. When we are talking about the Connected Forces Initiative it is a very complex process where we have to take our chance to make the best use of any possible opportunities. An exercise like this and an opportunity to do life training – any other activities are welcomed because they can improve our preparation and our readiness towards future engagements – and that is a meaning of the Connected Forces Initiative – to put all together what we are already doing, sometimes on a national level and to have more comprehensive approach in what we are performing in training and education.
4. Let’s move to a different topic. What is your opinion about the STRATCOM capacity? Also, you have probably heard that Latvia has volunteered to host the NATO Centre of Excellence for Strategic Communication in Riga, what is your opinion on that? What do you think is the overall role of NATO Centres of Excellence in support for NATO system of training and education?
They have a very important role. But let me answer first about the strategic communication. All the activities and all the operations that we are doing have highlighted the need for and the importance of the strategic communication, so this is one of the lessons learned and one of the lessons identified coming out from operations – we have to pay attention and decide if we really have to establish a doctrine, to establish a way to do better because we think we have to improve. That is an opportunity for a Centre of Excellence. In this moment we have to establish a doctrine, to educate and to train those who are going to be involved in this field in the future operations. The ACT really welcomes the proposal from Latvia to establish this kind of a Centre of Excellence and we are fully supporting this. We are working together and I personally think that this is the right moment to have this Centre of Excellence. This Centre as well as all theother NATO Centres of Excellence is a meaning to do some of the activities we need to do within the Connected Forces Initiative, particularly regarding training, experimentation and new ideas. Developing these new ideas is just really very important inside the NATO.
5. And now the final question. Last October ACT took over form the SHAPE the responsibilities in exercise field. How do you see this will work and what would be the improvements after this change?
It was a big and not an easy step. I think that my predecessor and all the team have done a great job. And today we can see the result because at the end there is one entity – ACT who is responsible over the preparation and for overseeing all the activities that are going on in the training area. I am sure that already now we are
seeing good results, of course we are working closely with the Allied Command Operations (ACO), they are our clients and they are going to evaluate what the training results will be. It is very important to keep this kind of a dialogue; I think it was a good decision and that we are on the right path.
Thank you, sir.