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Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
Incumbent General Petr Pavel
Personal details
Website NATO

The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee (CMC) is the head of the NATO Military Committee, which advises the North Atlantic Council (NAC) on military policy and strategy. The Chairman is one of the foremost officials of NATO, next to the Secretary General and the Supreme Allied Commander. He is assisted by the Deputy Chairman who advises the Deputy Secretary General and serves as the principal agent for coordination of nuclear, biological, and chemical matters for the Military Committee.[1]

The current Chairman of the NATO Military Committee is Petr Pavel, former Chief of the General Staff of the Army of the Czech Republic, who took office on June 26, 2015. The next Chairman from June 2018 will be Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach from the United Kingdom.[2]


In accordance with Article 9 of the North Atlantic Treaty and the guidance given by the Working Group on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during the first Council session in Washington in 1949, the Defence Committee rapidly established the Military Committee.[3] During its few sessions held behind closed doors in Washington, the Military Committee gave policy guidance on military matters to the Standing Group, and advice on military questions to the Defence Committee and other bodies, and it recommended military measures for the unified defence of the North Atlantic region to the Defence Committee. The Military Committee was directly subordinate to the Defence Committee, and each member nation was represented by its chief of staff or a deputy. Iceland, which had no military forces, was represented by a civilian. Each member state in turn held the Chair of the Military Committee for one year (C1 D-1/2,[4] DC 1/2[5]).

Two other groups which also sat in Washington came directly under the Military Committee:

  • The Standing Group, the executive body, set up at the beginning, responsible for Military Committee everyday business;
  • The Military Representatives Committee (MRC), created at the end of 1950, to ensure communication of information and points of view between the Standing Group and Alliance member states not represented on it.


The principal military member of each NATO country's delegation is the Military Representative, a senior officer from each country's armed forces, supported by the International Military Staff. Together the Military Representatives form the Military Committee (MC), a body responsible for assisting and advising the North Atlantic Council, Defence Planning Committee, and Nuclear Planning Group on military matters.[6] Its principal role is to provide direction and advice on military policy and strategy. It provides guidance on military matters to the NATO Strategic Commanders, whose representatives attend its meetings, and is responsible for the overall conduct of the military affairs of the Alliance under the authority of the Council.

Like the Council, from time to time the Military Committee also meets at a higher level, namely at the level of Chiefs of Defence, the most senior military officer in each nation's armed forces. Until 2008 the Military Committee excluded France, due to that country's 1966 decision to remove itself from NATO's integrated military structure, which it rejoined in 1995. Until France rejoined NATO, it was not represented on the Defence Planning Committee, and this led to conflicts between it and NATO members. Such was the case in the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom.[7]

The operational work of the Committee is supported by the International Military Staff.[8]

The Chairman of the Military Committee is elected from among the NATO Chiefs of Defence and appointed for a three-year term of office. He must have served as Chief of defence – or an equivalent capacity – in his own country and is traditionally a non-US officer of four-star rank or national equivalent.[9]

The Chairman of the Military Committee chairs all meetings and acts in an international capacity. In his absence, the Deputy Chairman of the Military Committee takes the chair. The current Chairman is Czech General Petr Pavel.


Since the formation of NATO, its Military Chairmen have been:[10]

NATO Military Committee in Chiefs-of-Staff Session (1949-1963)[]

Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Took office Left office Time in office Defence branch Nationality
Omar Bradley
Bradley, OmarGeneral of the Army Omar Bradley
5 October 19492 April 19511 year, 179 days United States ArmyUnited States United States
2Baele, EtienneLt. General Etienne Baele
2 April 195119520–1 years Belgium ArmyBelgium Belgium
Charles Foulkes
Foulkes, CharlesLt. General Charles Foulkes
195219530–1 years Canadian ArmyCanada Canada
Erhard J.C. Qvistgaard
Qvistgaard, E.J.C.Admiral Erhard J.C. Qvistgaard
195319540–1 years Royal Danish NavyDenmark Denmark
Augustin Guillaume
Guillaume, AugustinGeneral Augustin Guillaume
195419550–1 years France ArmyFrance France
6Pallis, StylianosGeneral Stylianos Pallis195519560–1 years Greece ArmyGreece Greece
7Mancinelli, GiuseppeGeneral Giuseppe Mancinelli
19561 January 19570–1 years Italian ArmyItaly Italy
Ben Hasselman
Hasselman, BenGeneral Ben Hasselman
1 January 19571 February 19581 year, 31 days Netherlands ArmyNetherlands Netherlands
Bjarne Øen
Øen, BjarneLt. General Bjarne Øen
1 February 195819590–1 years Norway Air ForceNorway Norway
10Ferraz, J.A. BelezaGeneral J.A. Beleza Ferraz
195919600–1 years Portugal ArmyPortugal Portugal
11Erdelhun, RüştüGeneral Rüştü Erdelhun
23 February 19603 June 1960101 days Turkey ArmyTurkey Turkey
Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
Mountbatten, LouisAdmiral of the Fleet Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
3 June 196019610–1 years Royal NavyUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Lyman Lemnitzer
Lemnitzer, LymanGeneral Lyman Lemnitzer
196119620–1 years United States ArmyUnited States United States
14de Cumont, Charles PaulLt. General Charles Paul de Cumont
1962December 19630–1 years Belgium ArmyBelgium Belgium

NATO Military Committee in Permanent Session (1958-1963)[]

Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Took office Left office Time in office Defence branch Nationality
Ben Hasselman
Hasselman, BenGeneral Ben Hasselman
1 February 1958April 19613 years, 2 months Netherlands ArmyNetherlands Netherlands
Adolf Heusinger
Heusinger, AdolfGeneral Adolf Heusinger
April 1961December 19632 years, 8 months West German ArmyGermany West Germany

NATO Military Committee (1963-present)[]

Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Took office Left office Time in office Defence branch Nationality
Adolf Heusinger
Heusinger, AdolfGeneral Adolf Heusinger
December 19631 April 19644 months West German ArmyGermany West Germany
2de Cumont, Charles PaulLt. General Charles Paul de Cumont
1 April 19641 June 19684 years, 61 days Belgium ArmyBelgium Belgium
3Henderson, NigelAdmiral Sir Nigel Henderson
1 June 19681 April 19712 years, 304 days Royal NavyUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Johannes Steinhoff
Steinhoff, JohannesGeneral Johannes Steinhoff
1 April 197128 June 19743 years, 88 days West German Air ForceGermany West Germany
Sir Peter Hill-Norton
Hill-Norton, PeterAdmiral of the Fleet Sir Peter Hill-Norton
28 June 197420 March 19772 years, 265 days Royal NavyUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Herman Fredrik Zeiner-Gundersen
Zeiner-Gundersen, Herman FredrikGeneral Herman Fredrik Zeiner-Gundersen
20 March 197719802–3 years Norway ArmyNorway Norway
7Falls, Robert HilbornAdmiral Robert Hilborn Falls
1980November 19832–3 years Canadian Maritime CommandCanada Canada
Cor de Jager
de Jager, CornelisGeneral Cor de Jager
November 198330 September 19862 years, 333 days Netherlands ArmyNetherlands Netherlands
Wolfgang Altenburg
Altenburg, WolfgangGeneral Wolfgang Altenburg
(born 1928)
30 September 19865 September 19892 years, 340 days West German ArmyGermany West Germany
Vigleik Eide
Eide, VigleikGeneral Vigleik Eide
5 September 198931 December 19923 years, 117 days Norway ArmyNorway Norway
11Vincent, RichardField Marshal Sir Richard Vincent
1 January 199314 February 19963 years, 45 days British ArmyUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Klaus Naumann
Naumann, KlausGeneral Klaus Naumann
(born 1939)
14 February 19966 May 19993 years, 81 days Germany ArmyGermany Germany
Guido Venturoni
Venturoni, GuidoAdmiral Guido Venturoni
(born 1934)
6 May 199930 June 20023 years, 55 days Marina MilitareItaly Italy
Harald Kujat
Kujat, HaraldGeneral Harald Kujat
(born 1942)
1 July 200217 June 20052 years, 351 days Germany Air ForceGermany Germany
Raymond Henault
Henault, RaymondGeneral Raymond Henault
(born 1949)
17 June 200527 June 20083 years, 10 days Royal Canadian Air ForceCanada Canada
Giampaolo Di Paola
Di Paola, GiampaoloAdmiral Giampaolo Di Paola
(born 1944)
27 June 200818 November 20113 years, 144 days Marina MilitareItaly Italy
Walter E. Gaskin
Gaskin, Walter E.Lt. General Walter E. Gaskin (Acting)
(born 1951)
18 November 20112 January 201245 days United States Marines United States
Knud Bartels
Bartels, KnudGeneral Knud Bartels
(born 1952)
2 January 201226 June 20153 years, 175 days Denmark Army Denmark
Petr Pavel
Pavel, PetrGeneral Petr Pavel
(born 1961)
26 June 201529 June 20183 years, 3 days Czech Republic Army Czech Republic
Sir Stuart Peach
Peach, StuartAir Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach
(born 1956)
29 June 2018Incumbent3 years, 71 days Royal Air Force United Kingdom

See also[]


  1., NATO: Deputy Chairman of the Military Committee (DCMC), Jan 19, 2016, retrieved Feb 22, 2018.
  2. "UK Defence Chief appointed as NATO Chairman of Military Committee". UK Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  3. Description at NATO Archives site.;isad
  5. "Directive To The Military Committee (Mc) - Nato Archives Online".;isad. Retrieved 2017-09-19. 
  6. NATO Handbook, 50th Anniversary Edition, 1998-99, 234.
  7. Fuller, Thomas (18 February 2003). "Reaching accord, EU warns Saddam of his 'last chance'". International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  8., International Military Staff, Jun 15, 2017, retrieved Feb 20, 2018.
  9., NATO: Chairman of the Military Committee, Dec 7, 2017, retrieved Feb 20, 2018.
  10. "Chairmen of the NATO Military Committee". 

Further reading[]

  • Douglas S. Bland, 'The Military Committee of the North Atlantic Alliance: A Study of Structure and Strategy,' New York, Praeger, 1991.

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