The second session of the conference – Reforming NATO for the 21st Century – was moderated by Peter B. Doran, Executive Director of CEPA. Panelists addressed the challenge of reforming NATO for the 21st century, and discussed how to rebuild the necessary political consensus for sustaining the Alliance. Antoni Macierewicz, Minister of National Defense of Poland, opened the panel by applauding the closer cooperation and increased defense spending by NATO members since the 2014 NATO Summit in Warsaw, but called for even greater steps to be made, given the territorial threat to states in the Baltic region and Eastern Europe overall. Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe, emphasized that it is the unity of the NATO Alliance that Russia fears the most, and thus it is the critical task of EU and U.S. leadership to maintain this political cohesion. He also spoke on areas where military capabilities need to be improved, including the freedom of movement for NATO forces in Europe.
Jānis Garisons, State Secretary of the Ministry of Defense of Latvia, expressed that there is a strong consensus within Latvia to be proactive in the defense of its sovereignty, both through cooperation with NATO and through the strengthening of its own military. Jüri Luik, Minister of Defense of Estonia, stated that he saw positive developments in the way that Europe has stepped up to address the security challenges posed by Russia, and assessed that the Baltics are defensible thanks to their domestic forces and the NATO Response Forces. Finally, Daniel Kostoval, Deputy Minister of Defense of the Czech Republic, called for the development of a NATO strategy which prioritizes deterrence along the European periphery, and noted the need to strengthen domestic institutions as well as military capabilities.