Ambassador Douglas Lute
U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO
Pre-Ministerial Press Brief
June 13, 2016
Moderator: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Ambassador Lute’s Pre-Defense Ministerial press briefing. As you know, Ambassador Lute is the U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.S. Mission at NATO. And I just wanted to say welcome to everyone.
We’re going to start with some introductory remarks from Ambassador Lute, and then we will get to your questions.
This press briefing is going to be on the record, and my name is Shannon Quinn. I’m the press attaché to U.S. Mission in NATO and it is my great pleasure to introduce Ambassador Lute.
Ambassador Lute: Thanks, Shannon, and welcome back to NATO headquarters. Many of you are frequent visitors here during the Ministerials and you’re accustomed to this convention where we spend a few minutes the day before sort of outlining what we expect to get out of the two-day Ministerial.
So we’ll start, Secretary Carter will start with his 27 colleagues tomorrow about mid-day and it will go for just about 24 hours until mid-day Wednesday. The way, I think,to look at this in context is as the last stepping stone, the last sort of policy stepping stone before the Warsaw Summit which is now just a little bit over three weeks from now on 8-9 July.
What are the big themes that we can expect this week? But more importantly at Warsaw itself. I think really there are a couple.
First of all, you can expect at Warsaw that NATO will demonstrate that the decisions it took at the Wales Summit in September 2014 have been delivered. That we do what we say we’re going to do and that we have delivered on the commitments made by leaders at Wales. That’s business number one.
Second of all, I think that they will continue to address how NATO adapts. How it changes itself with regard to the most severe security challenge since probably the end of the Cold War. And these are a set of challenges that come not only from the east due to a newly aggressive Russia, but also to NATO’s southeast where Turkey borders Syria and Iraq and therefore borders ISIL. And also directly across the Mediterranean to the south where NATO bounds a series of very weak or failing states.
So we have challenges on the security front from the east, the southeast and the south.
All of this will produce two big messages, two big themes coming out of Warsaw. The Ministers this week will organize their work against these two themes. The first theme is that inside the Alliance, within our own territory, NATO’s first responsibility is security. The protection of our citizens, the security of sovereignterritory. And therefore modern deterrence and defense is the first theme. This directly correlates to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, collective defense. An attack on one is an attack on all. So the first theme, both this week and then three weeks from now at the summit will be modern deterrence and defense.
The second is that NATO’s responsibilities, however, and its interests don’t stop at its geographic borders. And in fact we have interests beyond those borders along NATO’s periphery where again you see a series of weak, failing or even failed states. And the instability caused by those weak states on NATO’s boundaries promotes security challenges for NATO itself.
So here the notion is that NATO needs to project stability beyond its borders and attempt to influence and stabilize these weak states on its periphery.
So the two key themes. Modern deterrence and defense, that’s inside NATO; and beyond NATO’s borders, projecting stability. So, how do those two themes play out over the next two days. Most of the day tomorrow will be spent on the first theme, and that is protecting our citizens’ security — deterrence and defense.
I like to conceptualize deterrence in three parts. So imagine a spectrum, if you will. It begins first with national responsibilities for deterrence and defense. So each of the 28 allies has a national responsibility. This actually traces back to Article 3 of the Washington Treaty which is the self-help or national resilience article of the Washington Treaty. And here, nations need to be as resistant as possible to outside maligned influence. So resistance to hybrid warfare. Resistance to cyber attack. Know how to protect critical infrastructure. Know how to secure borders. Know how one ally can help another ally work on these national responsibilities. So deterrencebegins at home and that’s the resilience of national responsibility among the 28.
NATO has an important responsibility in the next section of deterrence, though, and that’s the conventional forces realm of the deterrence spectrum. And here the work really began fundamentally at Wales, where NATO adopted what was called the Readiness Action Plan. Most you will appreciate this is now called RAP, its acronym. And here, NATO took some fundamental decisions about how we posture our forces for collective defense. And the basic message of the Readiness Action Plan is that we move to a model of rapid reinforcement. So for the first time in NATO’s history, we very much premise collective defense on the ability to get to where we need to be quickly.
This was in the form of the NATO Response Force which totals 40,000 troops. Inside that 40,000 the Readiness Action Plan created what’s called the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, sorry, bad name, VJTF. Okay, this is a 13,000 troop rapid response force which includes air, land, sea and special operations forces and which today, by the way, is led by Spain and is on an exercise in Poland. So this Rapid Response Force which was created at the Wales Summit two years ago is actually in existence today and being exercised.
RAP also includes, though, a number of things that will be affirmed as complete at Warsaw that get a lot less attention. One is decision-making reform. So we have adjusted decision-making here at the council at the political level to streamline decision-making under crisis, and we’ve also delegated to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Mike Scaparrotti down in Mons, some delegated authorities. So that we’re more fit to purpose and we’re able to respond more rapidly to emerging crises.
We’ve also reset NATO command and control. We’ve done this in two fundamental ways. First, we’ve placed six reception units along our eastern flank where we imagine the VJTF may need to deploy rapidly. These are small headquarters, 40 people, 40 officers in each of the six countries that range from Estonia in the north to Bulgaria in the south. And these small reception centers are essentially forward outpostswhich coordinate with national authorities and enable the quick deployment of this 13,000 troop Rapid Response Force.
So, for example, when the Spanish Rapid Response Force deployed from Spain to exercise in Poland, a key element was the reception center, based in Poland, that coordinated with Polish authorities and worked transportation networks, local support, logistics arrangements, and so forth. So that’s a small example, small case study if you will, of what these six headquarters do across the eastern flank of the alliance.
Now, beyond those very small modest headquarters, we’ve stood up two very senior general officer led headquarters to actually command and control NATO operations, one in the northeast in Poland, and one in the southeast in Romania. So the six reception centers backed up by two senior headquarters really have reset NATO command and control in the east. All in an effort to be more responsive, more focused, and to be ready connections for the VJTF.
Then finally I think you see a series of exercises which are culminating right now, especially in the northeast of the Alliance. So this is led by the Polish exercise Anaconda, but there are others going on in the Baltic states themselves that all demonstrate that NATO has changed its force posture since Wales. It’s much more rapidly responsive, it’s much lighter on its feet, it’s much more able to move in multiple directions from a base here in Western Europe.
The bottom line is on this point, on the conventional side of the equation for deterrence is that at Warsaw leaders will confirm that a lot of work has been done since Wales.
Now that’s not enough. On top of the Readiness Action Plan we believe Ministers this week will fine-tune and leaders will announce at Warsaw what’s called EFP, Enhanced Forward Presence. This is the much-reported decision to put an alliance combat battalion in each of the three Baltic states and a fourth one in Poland, so we will actually forward deploy combat forces I battalion-sized, think of a battalion as 800 to 1000 troops in each of those four allied territories. And the idea here is to establish a forward presence which confirms that any encroachment, any attack on those four allies will immediately contact NATO forces, make contact with NATO forces and trigger rapid responses from the rest of the Alliance.
Each of these four battalions will be on roughly six to nine month rotations. We believe that they will, the rotations will cover 365 days a year, so they’re designed to be no gaps in any of the four countries. And each of the four battalions will be multinational. By that I mean that one ally will take the lead in deploying a battalion base, but that national battalion base will be supplemented or reinforced by other allies. So you can imagine one ally, the U.S. for example, will be one of those four lead battalions. However even our battalion, we believe, we will welcome multinational contributions from other allies as well, and we’ll do that four times over. So one in each of the three Baltics and one in Poland.
Now I don’t have, and I don’t expect this week, fine-tuned detailed announcements about which allies will lead in each of the four allied countries or when all this will come to fruition. Those announcements, I think, will require a little more time and will actually be a principle output of the Warsaw Summit itself. But this Enhanced Forward Presence should be viewed in thecontext of RAP. So we’re going to put these forces forward and we’re going to use them to encounter any even short term modest encroachment that anyone might imagine on Alliance territory, and in fact then trigger the response of the more substantial response forces which we were commissioned at Wales.
So this is a two-part, at least, equation between forces that are in response and forces that are forward present.
You’ll also recall that the last time we met prior to a Defense Ministers meeting, the U.S. had a substantial announcement of a U.S. commitment called the European Reassurance Initiative, ERI. This is the $3.4 billion beginning next year that brings substantially more U.S. forces to the European theater. That announcement complements all that I’ve just described so far, does not substitute. So it’s in addition to Readiness Action Plan, it’s in addition to Enhanced Forward Presence. ERI then stands as a U.S. national contribution above and beyond those NATO steps. But these are very much connected, intertwined and coordinated, so that you really have a quite effective change over the two years.
If we were sitting here in June of 2014, just weeks before the Wales Summit, none of what I just described was either in place, or frankly even imagined. So it’s a pretty substantial change in fundamental NATO force posture in just two years.
Finally, with regard to conventional deterrence, leaders will check in, Ministers will check in this week on two new capabilities that are just coming on-line. One is NATO ballistic missile defense, and those who watch this carefully will appreciate, in fact some of you may have been present at the opening of the missile defense site in Deveselu, Romania back in early May. So NATO missile defense is coming on-line with this first ground-based program. We’ll check in on that. Deveselu was not the last step in NATO missile defense but it’s a very important step.
And they’ll also check in on a very important program for NATO to own and operate five high altitude long endurance surveillance drones, the first of which will arrive in Sigonella, Italy later this year.
So those two brand new sort of 21st century capabilities — missile defense and unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs for surveillance, will come on-line and Ministers will want to take account of that.
Finally, along this spectrum — resilience, conventional, nuclear — is the third component of the deterrence spectrum, and leaders will check in this week, Ministers will check in on NATO’s nuclear deterrent posture which has been in place for some 60 years. I don’t expect fundamental changes here. I think what they’ll do is want to affirm or reconfirm that NATO’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective just as it has for something like six decades.
So all of that goes to deterrence and the first major theme of this week, but also three weeks hence, of the Summit.
Now none of this comes cheap. One of the key decisions taken at the Wales Summit was, as you know, the pledge on defense investment. This week, in fact Wednesday morning, a very colorful chart will be placed in front of each of the 28 Defense Ministers and it will show and tell. It will show how we’re doing against the pledge on defense investment, which allies have attained the two percent mark, and which ones have abided by the pledge because they’ve stopped the cuts in defense spending and turned a corner and begun to make real increases. So there actually exist a chart. You will not get this chart, but the Ministers will get it. Or maybe some of you aim to get it. But the Minsters will get it and they’ll take a serious look at themselves in a sense, to see how they’re doing, to assess their progress against the commitments made last at the Wales Summit. That same chart will be presented to leaders at Warsaw. So this is a bit of a Defense Ministers’ advance notice or check-in, or prelude to the kind of conversation we’ll have at Warsaw itself.
They will also, however, be looking at inputs. So amount of defense spending against GDP. They’ll also look at what we call output metrics. There are an additional nine measures of effectiveness that deal with how you spend your defense spending inputs. So how sustainable are your forces? How deployable are your forces? To what extent are you fulfilling your national commitments to fill the NATO command structure? So Phil Breedlove’s headquarters down the road and so forth.
So we measure not only inputs but outputs. There’s a second chart that will show the outputs, and again, it’s a rather colorful chart. Nobody is completely green on thesecharts. The United States has work to do against NATO’s output measures and so does every other ally.
So the good news is that we’ve made progress on inputs, but we still are lagging on NATO outputs which allow us to meet the kind of challenges I’ve described. So this is very much on Defense Ministers’ minds, and it will very much be on leaders’ minds during one of the key sessions at 28 at the Warsaw Summit.
That’s all about that first theme. Deterrence and defense and being strong.
The second theme, and this topic we’ll take up at dinner tomorrow night among Defense Ministers, and then it will carry over until Wednesday morning, and that’s the second theme about projecting stability.
Here, of course, we’re moving beyond core NATO territory itself and we’re asking ourselves what can NATO do to promote stability along our periphery where we have a whole series of challenges, from the east, the southeast, and the south. Most of this conversation will feature the need for close cooperation with the European Union.
So tomorrow night at dinner Vice President Mogherini and the Defense Ministers from two close NATO partners who are also EU members — Finland and Sweden — will all come together at the dinner conversation, and basically the conversation will have to do with how is it that NATO and the EU, as the two big European institutions, can better cooperate. And it seems to us, especially the United States as a leader in NATO but not an EU member, that this should be the most natural partnership in the world.
When you think about these two organizations — 22 common members; common values; common geography; common challenges. So why can’t we get more done in a cooperative way? What would we cooperate on? Hybrid warfare, cyber security, key infrastructure, promoting stability on the periphery and that’s why there’s such a big part of the discussion beginning tomorrow night. So there’s a whole series of things that ought to bring NATO and EU together.
To date, that has largely been rhetoric. To date that has largely been conversation and flowery language. We need to move beyond rhetoric and get to concrete measures of cooperation. And we think, given the challenges that face these two organizations together today, this is the time, if ever, that we can move beyond rhetoric and get to cooperation. It’s certainly one of our national objectives at the Warsaw Summit to see for the first time this kind of very practical, a set of practical measures where NATO and the EU can come together, and most of this cooperation has to do with projecting stability along the periphery of Europe.
In addition to cooperation with the EU, there’s a set of measures that NATO could take to reinforce and support the International Coalition to Counter ISIL. So this is the U.S. coalition, 60-somecountries, which includes all 28 allies, by the way. But there are some niche capabilities that the Alliance is considering furthering its contribution to the coalition. You’ll appreciate that eventoday we’re training Iraqi officers and building Iraq capacity in Jordan. We’reworking with our Jordanian partners to build capacity there. If we get an invitation from the emerging government, the Government of National Unity in Libya, we’re prepared to help there. But are there other concrete steps that NATO can take to support the international coalition? So Ministers will be discussing that as well.
And then finally in this topic of projecting stability, we’ll review the bidding on Afghanistan. Because at the Warsaw Summit we believe that we want to send a clear, unmistakable signal that NATO stands with Afghanistan, beyond this year into 2017 and beyond, in two concrete ways.
First of all, we’re looking to secure funding pledges so that the Afghan National Security Forces, both Army and Police, are secure in their funding all the way out to 2020. That funding campaign is not complete yet. So Defense Ministers will check in on this this week, and by Warsaw we want to have complete the several billions of dollars required to keep the Afghan National Army and Police operating.
The second form of funding, of course, is the NATO Mission in Afghanistan. This is the Resolute Support Mission, and leaders over this Ministerial and then at Warsaw will check in on how we’re doing with generating Alliance forces to continue to support the Resolute Support Mission and continue to train, advise and assist Afghan forces. So it comes in two forms. Funding and train, advise and assist assistance. So we have work to do on that front as well.
The bottom line of this second theme, projecting stability, is that NATO appreciates that it can’t simply hide behind its boundaries, that it can’t just hunker down, secure in itself protected by Article 5. That NATO’s stability begins beyond NATO’s borders and therefore projecting stability on our periphery, beyond our borders, actually contributes to NATO security itself.
The last meeting of the Ministerial is the NATO-Ukraine Commission. Defence Minister Poltorak will update the Defense Ministers on the security situation, which is not great, in Ukraine, in Eastern Ukraine. But he’ll also update the Ministers, the NATO Ministers on Ukraine’s internal progress with defense reforms that move them closer to NATO standards. In particular I think he’ll highlight, probably take some time to outline what Ukraine has approved recently. This is the Strategic Defense Bulletin. It is essentially an internal Ukrainian road map for defense reform, and you can imagine that Secretary Carter and his colleagues will be interested in hearing about that progress.
All of this is a prelude to a NATO-Ukraine Commission at leaders’ level at Warsaw. So one of the five meetings at the Warsaw Summit will be with President Poroshenko in this NATO-Ukraine Commission format.
The bottom line: the next two days are really the final tune-up or the laststepping stone, if you will, for the Warsaw Summit. We’re going to begin by confirming that we will deliver what we said we would do at Wales and this is important not only because those are substantive measures but also because delivering on those demonstrates that NATO does what it says it will do. It’s a question of NATO credibility. So you’ll see significant attention paid to the Readiness Action Plan for example.
But also as NATO does adapt, it does so in a transparent way. It does so in a responsible, predictable, sustainable mature way. Just what you would expect, we hope, from an alliance of 28 that’s been around for 67 years.
So thanks, and I look forward to your questions.
Moderator: Let’s take a couple at a time. Dragos, we’ll start with you.
Question: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. I’m Dragos from Digi24, Romania.
I wanted to ask you if you know what kind of decision will be made about the Black Sea. Romania has [inaudible] presence of Bulgaria [inaudible] Black Sea. If you know anything about the structure. Thank you.
Moderator: Robin, from Reuters.
Question: Mr. Ambassador, Robin Emmott from Reuters.
I wonder why anyone should feel that the troop battalions [inaudible] serve as a real deterrent when for instance in the Baltics they feel they’re being [inaudible]. Some NATO generals raise the point that with the military buildup in Kaliningrad, [inaudible] the Baltics will be very very complicated and there is this general concern that Kaliningrad has the ability to negate NATO’s force [inaudible]. Thank you.
Ambassador Lute: First to the Black Sea. I spent a lot of attention today on this Enhanced Forward Presence picture, and that of course is not headed to the southeast, it’s headed to the northeast. But Ministers in the plan for Warsaw will also address deterrence in the southeast.
In the southeast I think you’ll see a much greater emphasis on the maritime measures and on air security measures, partly because neither country there has a land border with Russia. But the deterrence package, both northeast and southeast havein common an approach across air, sea and land.
Now I don’t have an announcement todayabout what you’ll get at Warsaw. So there’s no decision that’s ready for announcement, but I think you will see a comprehensive picture across the eastern flank with regard to forward presence and deterrence, although the picture in the southeast will not be a mirror image of the northeast. So it’s not one size fits all. It will be tailored to the circumstances there.
And then to Reuters with regard to deterrence and Kaliningrad and so forth. So it’s true that in Kaliningrad the Russians have deployed significant capabilities which sum up to this, again a terrible acronym, A2AD. So this is Anti-Access Area Denial. These are essentially long range networked sophisticated air defense, coastal defense systems — cruise missiles and so forth — which when activated threaten access to the Baltic Sea region and in fact also cover most of the air space over the three Baltic allies and the northern part of Poland.
So it’s true, that if these systems were activated, NATO access would be challenged into those areas. But it’s also true that the Readiness Task Force can be deployed pre-crisis, before such systems are activated. It’s also true that the activation of such systems could well constitute an attack under Article 5 and therefore trigger a broader Alliance reaction, and further, it’s true that all of these systems have military counters. So for example, a networked air defense system can be jammed. It can be disrupted by way of cyber techniques. It can actually be attacked physically. So it’s not as though this Anti-Access Area Denial challenge is first of all new, or first deployed in Kaliningrad, or without counters.
So, clearly as we think through this rapid response dynamic between forces that are there and forces that need to get there, our counters to Russian capabilities in Kaliningrad are part of the equation.
Question: [Inaudible] Defense [inaudible]. Can you tell us about the composition of this Enhanced Forward Presence [inaudible]? As far as I understood, it will be a framework or lead nation battalion with a contribution of for instance a company, or a company would be within that battalion? Tell us more about that.
Question: My name is [inaudible] from [inaudible]. I would like to ask you, according to you there won’t be a formal announcement about the composition of these battalions, but I would like to get your opinion about possible American involvement into the composition and contribution to the formation of these battalions.
Second comment I would like to get by you is about Afghanistan. Because by the Warsaw you told you [inaudible]. I understand that the United States Resolute Support should remain a training mission. You don’t envisage any shift back to [inaudible] for Resolute Support. Would you confirm this?
Ambassador Lute: Back to Enhanced Forward Presence: So, four NATO-led battalions — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Each of those four will be led by one ally. Now by “led” I mean one ally will take responsibility to frame the battalion and provide the bulk of the battalion forces. So look, a battalion headquarters and three to five companies. It’s not a fixed composition or structure. Each of the four also, however, will not be one nation. They will be multinational. So for example you might have a lead nation provide the battalion headquarters, severalof the companies, and then several additional companies would supplement that lead.
So because of these details, there will be four varieties of these [battalions]. These will not be exactly the same acrossthe four allies in question. And that’s one of the details that isn’t yet set. That’s also why we don’t want to make a premature announcement. But by Warsaw, three weeks from now, we will have the answers to who’s contributing where, and we will also have the answer as to when this set, this deterrence set of four, will be in place.
On Afghanistan, the mission there, the NATO mission there remains train, advise and assist. It is a non-combat mission and it’s been that way for 18 months.
The U.S. has a second mission…so first of all, we contribute to NATO in the train, advise, assist, but we have a second mission for counter-terrorism. That’s a U.S. national mission which is arranged bilaterally with the government of Afghanistan.
Recently the President of the United States took some of the decisions with regard to the U.S. part of that mission, not the NATO part, but the U.S. part. And it has to do with adjusting some authorities so that our commanders on the ground have more flexibility to provide on the ground advice and assistance and, in some cases, enablers to our Afghan partners. Those decisions were taken nationally, not in the Alliance. So the Alliance mission remains non-combat train, advise and assist, and then you can read Secretary Carter’s or other announcements from Washington having to do with the U.S. adjustments.
Question: Good afternoon Ambassador, [inaudible]. One question for you, can you explain increased funding for European Assurance Initiative. What would it mean to the Baltic states? As you know, company-sized troops and [inaudible] are stationed in Baltic states [inaudible]. So what additional forces U.S. force in Baltic states [inaudible]?
Question: [Inaudible] from Moscow. There were reports that the battalions going to deploy to [inaudible] deployed in the region of [inaudible] across the [inaudible] border. Is that possible? Also a short question, is [inaudible] global force or what?
Ambassador Lute: Let me just take those in reverse order.
Yes, the five high altitude UAVs that NATO is buying, and the first one gets delivered this year, are essentially based on the Global Hawk technology. They’re not exactly the same as U.S. Global Hawks, but they’re on that same model.
As to where the NATO battalion headed to Poland will go in Poland, we don’t yet have a decision because the lead nation to provide that battalion in Poland hasn’t yet been specified; and after it is specified,it will have to deal with Polish authorities to figure out where to locate it. But it will be in Poland. That much I can tell you.
With regard to the Baltics, and the European Reassurance Initiative: Where the troops, the brigade, the armored brigade that are part of the ERI, where that brigade will go once it arrives here on rotation, nine-month rotation in early 2017, is also not yet decided. However, I imagine that at least a portion of that brigade will on occasion be in the Baltics on exercise and so forth. But the U.S. Army is still trying to figure out exactly where it will go and when.
Aside from those U.S. troops, I think you’ll appreciate that the program, ERI, also includes prepositioned stocks. So it’s possible that the Baltics would see prepositioned equipment or supplies, and probably the most important element for the Baltics is that that $3.4 billion funds sustained exercise in the Baltics. So it’s a combination of new forces, prepositioned equipment and stocks, and exercised. And the exact breakdown by country is still being worked out.
Question: So you cannot [inaudible]? I’d like to [inaudible]?
Ambassador Lute: I’m not sure what the U.S. Army’s going to call it, but there will be rotational forces of U.S. forces beyond this year. But the size, the location and the persistence is not yet defined.
Question: Thank you, [inaudible]. A question about [inaudible], Mr. Ambassador, one about protecting stability. If you can go a little bit more into some details because as I understand NATO is simply focused on things like military defense, maybe [inaudible] institutions, but is it enough? Or are we also thinking about like a broader approach, maybe you mentionedcooperation with the EU, maybe some multinational organization. Because with protect and stability like putting focus only on this sphere, like military security, it’s probably not enough. We want to protect real stability.
And my second question, [inaudible] is basically also about escalation. You are putting something on the table and it may happen that the adversary, whoever it is, might put something also on the table. So how much are you concerned or worried or however you call it with the fact that it is quite possible that simply Russia will somehow react on what we do on those four battalions, and then what? Anotherescalation? Thank you.
Question: One quick one and then a clarification on your last one. The battalion that the U.S. provides for the eastern deterrent force, will that be separately resourced from the brigade that you committed as part of the European Reassurance Initiative?
And on your last question, does the rotational force of 173rd and 2nd Cav that’s been part of Atlantic Resolve, does the heavy brigade of the European ReassuranceInitiative take the place down the line? Or that just is not known yet?
And a separate matter too, the Secretary General announced [inaudible] for additional spending. I don’t believe that includes additional American spending. Is this moving in the right direction or is there going to be continued pressure by the U.S. that’s not enough in terms of the show and tell part?
Ambassador Lute: Again, let me take those in reverse sequence.
It’s not clear, Julian, where, what will be the source of the U.S. battalion. Thereare options. The U.S. battalion can come from the U.S. Army in the United States, it could come from a brigade or regiment here in Europe, or it could come from within the reinforcing brigade. So that decision is in progress. It’s not yet clear.
As to the, and this actually relates to an earlier question about Atlantic Resolve. So those who have been watching this carefully will appreciate that Atlantic Resolve is this program that we’ve had now for two years, since about this time in 2014, where a U.S. company, Army company, so think 100-150 troops, have been in each of six Eastern European countries so from Estonia down through Bulgaria. And that’s been a persistent exercise program that the U.S. has done and has committed those six companies, so essentially two battalion’sworth of structure, to NATO, and we’ve been sustaining that for now two years.
Exactly how we adapt that program of six companies in the face of what I’ve already described — Enhanced Forward Presence, so the four battalions, one of which is U.S., and this additional brigade that’s coming from the States, is all part of the mix. So I don’t have an announcement today about the future of what we’ve called Atlantic Resolve. That’s in the works. So I’ll just have to defer that question.
As for spending, I think you’re referring,Julian, to the fact that the SecGen today showed a chart something like this at his press conference. This is titled, of course, NATO, Europe and Canada, so it’s essentially the 27 spending patterns minus the U.S. Right? And even those in the back can see this is zero spending increase. You can see that from 2009 there are a series of defense cuts across those 27 allies and, for the first time, last year there was a modest increase and then here in 2016 there’s a more substantial increase in real defense spending. So this is adjusted for inflation. It excludes the U.S.
U.S. defense spending also increased this year in real terms. So, if you add U.S. increases to the non-U.S. increases you get an even more substantial overall increase. But the U.S. is already at or above, andhave been for decades at or above, the NATO standard.
So of the five countries that are at or above two percent, we’re one of them and we will remain one of them.
So the focus is a little less on us because we’ve met the commitment of the defense investment pledge. It is more on those who have more substantial work to do. And what this chart shows is that the other 27 allies got the message at Warsaw and are beginning to pay the price of their obligations under the Washington Treaty. That’s very good news.
And by the way, this breaks about a 20-yearpattern in non-U.S. defense spending. So the Wales pledge has actually made a difference, and I think the SecGen’s data shows that.
Now back to this question about projecting stability. The two key themes, projecting stability and deterrence.
So on projecting stability. NATO’s role primarily will be in cooperation with two international organizations that have primary responsibility for projecting stability. The first one is the one you mentioned, the EU. So if you look to the EU’s programs to deal with illegal migration or counter-terrorism or building capacity on the EU’s periphery, those are the kinds of programs where we believe NATO can support the EU. Not take over the EU’s responsibility. Not supplant or replace the EU. But complement them and coordinate with them.
So very much the EU is, as I said, our natural partner in projecting stability.
The other, though, is the international coalition. And here the coalition has a responsibility in Syria, Iraq proper. NATO does not aim to replace them or supplant them, but NATO is in close coordination with the international coalition to see if there are NATO capabilities that can assist, support, reinforce the coalition and take some of the weight off of the coalition itself by contributing.
So in both of these cases, NATO’s not in the lead but we find ourselves trying to support and we’re willing to do that all along the Mediterranean coast of North Africa and across the Middle East and then up our Eastern Flank as well.
In terms of deterrence. Look, Russia may react. Russia will be Russia. This is not fundamentally about Russia. This is about us. We are doing what we believe is required by way of the Readiness Action Plan at Wales and now Enhanced Forward Presence – these new capabilities I outlined. We’re doing what we believe, what we assess is needed to fulfill treaty obligations under Article 5. We don’t predict, I can’t account for Russian actions or reactions. Russia will be Russia and NATO will be NATO. This doesn’t lock us into some kind of a competition. We can take sufficient and necessary steps without locking ourselves into some sort of a spiral with Russia.
I think the sorts of things that I’ve outlined here demonstrate that we don’t have offensive ambitions. NATO is a defensive alliance. It has been from day one in 1949. So none of what I’ve forecasted here or described as being under discussion this week or three weeks from now in Warsaw is a threat to anybody. Youdon’t invade with a few battalions, okay? But you can deter, and you can affect a potential aggressor’s calculus in terms of cost, benefit and risks. That’s what thesefour battalions do. That’s what they’re designed to do. And especially when combined with the Readiness Action Plan, meaning that there are reinforcements not far off, and with national additional contributions like the full-up combat armored brigade which the U.S. is providing next year.
So this is a package deal. The forward-most elements are designed to impose doubt and to effect any potential aggressor’s calculus in terms of gain and loss. And we think the four battalions are reasonable, sustainable and a responsible defensivemove. So that’s why we’re taking it.
Question: Heidi Jenson from Aftenposten, Denmark. It was back in February at the Defense Ministerial the decision was taken. However, still there is no decision over who will be [inaudible]. In spite of the [inaudible], what does that say about the capacity of NATO [inaudible] armed forces when they need to?
Question: Thank you, [inaudible] from [inaudible] News Agency. Remarks from your speech, Mr. Ambassador, you said that more national responsibility, more European cooperation, and more [inaudible]. Does it mean that less involvement from the part of the United States?
Ambassador Lute: Again, let me take those in reverse sequence.
I don’t think there’s a single bit of evidence in the last two years that the U.S. is less involved. The U.S. led the NATO response over the last two years — air, sea and land. It continues to do that today. As we’ve already discussed, just a couple of months ago, we announced a four-fold increase in our commitment in terms of $3.4 billion next year, which brings this brigade over and it brings prepositioned equipment and it sustains exercise.
So look, there’s nothing that I can detect, in fact over the last three years, even before Crimea and Donbas, that suggest the U.S. is disengaging from NATO or its leadership role in NATO. I think you can rest secure that that leadership will continue.
Now I can’t account for rhetoric in the United States. It’s a campaign season. We’re 28 democracies, we all go through campaigns. We’ll let that play out. I’m just talking about actual factual concrete steps. They all point to continued U.S. leadership.
On the battalions – so you’re right, you’re a very astute observer. The decision to consider this was taken in February. So I sat right here in February and said I think Defense Ministers are going to decide to focus on deterrence. But that decision didn’t include any details. It was a mere concept. So from February to June what you have is scale: a battalion in each of the four countries; the rough outline of that battalion, multinational, six to nine-monthrotation, 365 days a year, and so forth. You have initial steps with regard to those four allied host countries in terms of where these battalions will go. And you also have substantial progress on who will they work for by way of NATO command and control and so forth.
So there’s been substantial work that’s taken place between the original concept and today. The last details are due in the following three weeks, between now and Warsaw. I know that’s what many of you are waiting for. Who’s going to lead and which country, where are they going in each of the four countries, when will they be there, and so forth. We welcome all of you to the Warsaw Summit where you’ll be briefed in detail on those details, but I don’t have those today.
But there is substantial progress. Look, because NATO is a deliberate organization, I mean we don’t take – this will probably come as no surprise to you — we don’t take decisions half-heartedly. We take our time in an aim to get it right. And by get ‘it right’ I mean take decisions that reflect the 28 democracies, take decisions that keep us aligned with international obligations so we don’t run across international obligations or throw the rulebook out. Stay aligned with responsible, predictable, mature adaptations. That’s what you’ll see coming out of this alliance. It’s what you saw at Wales. And it’s what you’ll see reinforce at Warsaw. So it takes a little time to be predictable, responsible, mature, and – okay – sustainable. This is not a one-time flash in the pan and then we don’t have deterrence anymore. This is somethingthat’s got to be sustained over time. So when you add in all those qualities it takes a bit of decision-making time to get it right.
I think this week will be an important step along that path to get it right, but Warsaw will be the real delivery vehicle. So I look forward to seeing all of you there. Thanks.