NATO Festival Banquet

Where does NATO fit in an "America First" Security Policy?

Wednesday April 19th, 2017


  1. Why attend
    Each year, in coordination with Norfolk NATO Festival, the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads hosts a NATO Festival Banquet, which is one of our most successful and highly attended signature events. This program consists of a reception and dinner followed by an address of an important figure (or figures) in the NATO community.
  2. The topic The topic
    Where does NATO fit in an America First Security Policy? The Trump administration campaigned on a foreign and security policy that will put the needs of Americans first. Secretary of Defense Mattis said at his first NATO meeting get that the US may modulate its contributions to the alliance if other members did not increase their contributions to the collective defense of Europe, and the President has made a repeated point that NATO must do more to defeat current threats like terrorism and migration. How will the allies react to the new US policies? What new should the US expect from the alliance, and what should alliance members expect from the US?


  1. General Denis Mercier
    General Denis Mercier
    General Denis Mercier was confirmed by the North Atlantic Council as Supreme Allied Commander Transformation on 23 March 2015. He joined the French Air Force academy in 1979 where he completed a Master’s degree of Science in 1981. Qualified as a fighter pilot in 1983, he acquired extensive experience both as an operational commander and as a fighter pilot, having flown a total of more than 3000 flying hours primarily on Mirage F1C and Mirage 2000C aircraft, including 182 hours in combat missions. Above all, NATO has been a constant throughout his career, at the tactical, operational and strategic level. Indeed, he commanded the 1/12 "Cambrésis" Fighter Squadron, a founding unit of the NATO Tiger association. He participated in numerous other NATO exercises and operations, including Operation Deny Flight over Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1994. Subsequently, he served in the NATO department of the French Joint Operational Planning Headquarters, working as a project officer for Exercise "Strong Resolve ’98", during which he embarked aboard USS Mount Whitney as director of Joint Fires. In 1999, he integrated the operational planning of French participation in NATO Operation Allied Force in Kosovo. Posted from 1999 to 2002 as deputy head of the combined joint task force deputy branch at Regional Headquarters AFNORTH, in Brunssum (Netherlands), he contributed to the development of the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) concept. He was a member of the combined analysis team for Exercise "Allied Effort '01" and an evaluator of the CJTF HQ for Exercise "Strong Resolve '02". He also acted as liaison officer for the CJTF HQ COMSTRIKFLTLANT (Commander Striking Fleet Atlantic) stationed in Norfolk. Back in France, he was appointed as the commander of Reims Air force base, integrating the Mirage F1CR squadrons under his command into ISAF in Afghanistan. From 2004 to 2008 he was assigned to the French Air Force headquarters in Paris, as the head of the plans division and was nominated as a flag officer in 2007 as Acting Chief of Staff (ACOS) for budget and performance. He then commanded the French Air Force Academy in Salon-de-Provence, where he was a transformative leader, fostering enduring partnerships with allies and prestigious universities. Following his nomination as senior military advisor for the minister of Defence in 2010, General Mercier prepared and participated in all NATO ministerial meetings between 2010 and 2012, as well as the NATO summits of Lisbon and Chicago. Moreover, he was the minister's special advisor for Operation Unified Protector over Libya. He became the French Air Force Chief of Staff on September 17th 2012, which formalized his contact with Air Chiefs throughout the Alliance. He has been awarded the rank of Grand Officier of the French Legion of Honor. He is also, among other distinctions, an officer of the National Order of Merit.
  2. Mr. Peter Flory
    Mr. Peter Flory
    Prior his assignment as Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment (ASG(DI)) from 2007-2010, Peter Flory served as the Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy. In this capacity, he served as the principal advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and the Secretary of Defense on issues that relate to nonproliferation and counterproliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; development of security cooperation strategies with nations of Europe, Eurasia, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; oversight over the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program and arms control negotiations; and policy for nuclear and advanced non-nuclear deterrent forces, space-related capabilities, and ballistic missile defenses. From July 2001 to August 2005, Mr. Flory served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, and assisted in the formulation and coordination of international security strategy and policy for East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and Persian Gulf, Africa, and Latin America. In particular, Mr. Flory played a leading role in the development and implementation of Administration strategies for India and Pakistan, and other nations of South Asia. From April 1997 to July 2001, Mr. Flory was Chief Investigative Counsel and Special Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). Mr. Flory led investigations into technology transfers to the People's Republic of China and security problems at the Department of Energy's nuclear laboratories, and was responsible for oversight over intelligence matters, including counterintelligence, covert action, denial and deception, and intelligence analysis. From 1993 until he joined the SSCI staff in 1997, Mr. Flory practiced law with the firm of Hughes, Hubbard & Reed LLP. From 1992 to 1993, Mr. Flory served as Associate Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism in the Department of State with the rank of Deputy Assistant Secretary. From 1989 to 1992, Mr. Flory served as the Special Assistant to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul D. Wolfowitz. After working as a journalist, he served as a national security advisor to Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. An Honors Graduate of McGill University, Mr. Flory received his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Mr. Flory also speaks German and French.


  1. WED 04/19
    5:45 PM
    Registration opens
  2. 6:30
  3. 7:45 - 8:20
    Guest speakers
  4. 8:20- 9:05


DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Norfolk Airport
1500 N Military Hwy, Norfolk, VA 23502