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Chief of the Defence Staff visits NATO and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe

On 31 July and 1 August General Houghton conducted a series of calls on key military contacts in Belgium

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NATO Headquarters

During his first visit to NATO since taking up the position of Chief of the Defence Staff on 18th July 2013, General Sir Nicholas Houghton conducted a series of calls on key contacts.

His programme began at NATO Headquarters in Brussels where he discussed the UK’s role and priorities within the Alliance with both the UK Military Representative and UK Permanent Represent to NATO. Additionally, he also met with the Chair of NATO’s Military Committee (CMC) General Knud Bartels. His visit concluded with a trip to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons where he met both SACEUR General Philip M. Breedlove and DSACEUR Sir Richard Shirreff.

The delegation was fortunate that General Houghton was able to visit NATO inside his first two weeks in post and his meetings with both the NATO CMC and SACEUR were symbolic of the continued importance the UK places on the role of NATO.

General Houghton is likely to attend his first NATO Chiefs of Defence Staff meeting in September. Traditionally NATO CHODs meet three times a year (January, May and September) and discuss a variety of defence related topics including: NATO’s current operations, military cooperation with Partners and progress on Capability matters such as the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI).

General Houghton also used his visit to meet with the Chair of the EU Military Committee


The Chief of the Defence Staff is the professional head of the Armed Forces and principal military adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence and the government. The role reports to the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister. Key responsibilities include:

  • leading defence (with the Permanent Secretary (PUS)
  • setting strategy for defence, including the future development of the Armed Forces (subject to ministers’ direction, and together with PUS)
  • the conduct of current operations (as strategic commander)
  • leading relationships with other countries’ Armed Forces

Further information

General Houghton’s biography

NATO Military Committee


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Published 5 August 2013