June 13, 2016: Ambassador Lute’s Pre-Ministerial Telephonic Press Briefing

Ambassador Douglas Lute

U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO

Pre-Ministerial Telephone Press Brief

June 13, 2016


Moderator:  Today we are pleased to be joined once again from Brussels by Ambassador Douglas Lute, the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO.  As you know, this week is the NATO Defense Ministerial, and the Warsaw Summit is just around the corner, so this is a very timely discussion.  So we thank you, Ambassador Lute for taking the time to speak with us today.

We’ll begin today’s call with opening remarks from Ambassador Lute and then we will turn to your questions and we will try to get to as many as we can during the time that we have which is about 45 minutes.  As a reminder, today’s call is on the record.

With that, I’ll turn it over to Ambassador Lute.

Ambassador Lute:  Thanks Peter, and thanks to all those across Europe for joining us today on this sort of Pre-Ministerial Hub call.

Let me give you first a bit of context.  The Ministerial will begin tomorrow, mid-day and run through Wednesday, mid-day.  This is literally the last major stepping stone, that is the last meeting of Ministers before the Warsaw Summit which is on 8 and 9 July.  So we’re about three weeks out from the Warsaw Summit.

At Warsaw I think you can expect the following major narrative.  First of all, Warsaw will demonstrate that we will complete the actions that began at the last summit, which was at Wales in September 2014, and that adaptation that began at Wales will address the most severe challenges to the Euro-Atlantic security environment since the end of the Cold War.  These challenges include challenges to the east of NATO, to the southeast of NATO, and by this I mean largely on the Turkish border with Syria and Iraq, and then directly to the south of NATO across the Mediterranean, looking to the states along the North African coast.

There will be two major themes that will organize the Ministerial over the next two days, but those same two themes will be prominent at Warsaw.  The first theme is that within the alliance we’ll discuss how NATO protects its citizens, and this has very much to do with modernizing NATO’s deterrence and defense.  So deterrence and defense is the first theme.

The second has to do with projecting stability beyond NATO’s borders.  This especially speaks to how NATO can improve the stability in bordering states.  So not member states, but those beyond NATO territory itself.  And in particular focuses on weak and failing states on NATO’s boundaries.

So let me take the Ministerial now and apply it to those two themes.

The Ministers will assemble tomorrow mid-day and in the first two meetings they will very much focus on that first theme.  This is modern deterrence and defense.  And this is, of course, the very core mission of NATO, to protect our citizens.

I’d like to ask you to think about deterrence in three parts.  So first of all, there’s an element of deterrence that falls to national responsibilities for resilience.  This is the national responsibility for self-defense, national responsibilities for countering hybrid warfare, for cyber security, for protecting key infrastructure. This is essentially what allies can do for themselves with assistance from other allies.

The second element of deterrence has to do with conventional capabilities.  This is conventional military capabilities.  And here we’ve seen some very fundamental changes to NATO’s force posture over the last couple of years.

First of all, Ministers will look to what was called the Readiness Action Plan which was commissioned at the Wales Summit and now is nearly fully complete.  This features an updated NATO Response Force numbering 40,000 troops.  This NATO Response Force includes air, sea, land and special operations forces.

Within the 40,000 is a very high readiness brigade of 13,000 troops, and this force, this Very High Readiness Force is ready to move on several days’ notice.  In fact, right now, this year’s Very High Readiness Force is led by Spain and it is on exercise in Poland today.  That’s all part of the Readiness Action Plan.

Another element of that plan has to do with command and control across NATO’s eastern flank.  This command and control features these sites.  Features six reception centers for coordinating arrival of NATO reinforcements.  Those six reception centers range geographically from Estonia down to Bulgaria.  They’re all six in operation today.  And also command and control is improved by two standing headquarters.  One three-star headquarters in Poland, and a two-star headquarters in Romania.  And by three- and two-stars, I’m just giving you the rank of the senior most officer commanding those headquarters.

So the Readiness Action Plan has dramatically improved NATO’s presence in the east, but also its ability to command and control NATO forces.

The Readiness Action Plan also includes two brand new defense plans.  One through the southeast, and one for the northeast of NATO territory.  And we have streamlined decision-making.  By that I mean we’ve streamlined the decision-making steps in the time of crisis here at NATO headquarters among we 28 ambassadors, but also we have delegated crisis decision-making authorities to the Supreme Allied Commander just down the road in Mons, Belgium.

And then finally, we’ve initiated a whole series of exercises which bring all the pieces of the Readiness Action Plan together, and this is most prominently featured right now where across the northeast of the alliance base, there’s a series of exercises ongoing that demonstrate what the Readiness Action Plan is all about.

The basic message here on the Readiness Action Plan is that first, it contributes to deterrence; and second of all, the decisions NATO took at Wales will be delivered fully at Warsaw.  So in short, NATO does what it says it will do.

Now you remember the last Ministerial, the last Defense Ministerial back in February, the U.S. also made some announcements with regard to what we call the European Reassurance Initiative.  That initiative which will bring a U.S. brigade to Europe on a rotational basis beginning early 2017, are on track.  But you can see that this U.S. decision very much complements the Readiness Action Plan as it brings a new brigade, heavy brigade, with all its most modernized equipment into Europe and it also features significant prepositioned equipment for the U.S. as well.

That’s all a review of what we’ve already done.

What’s new with regard to conventional deterrence?  And here, Ministers will discuss and make final adjustments to what’s called Enhanced Forward Presence.  This is the plan that was conceived in February and now has much better detail, and it features one NATO battalion each in four different allied states.  So Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.  So each of those allies will host an alliance, a NATO battalion.  And by battalion, think of a combat ready force of 800 to 1000 troops in each of those four NATO allied states.

This, of course, will be on a rotational basis.  The four lead nations that provide the backbone for these battalions will be complemented or supplemented by other allies who join.  And then of course the four host allies — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland — will be intimately involved as well.

I don’t anticipate we’re going to get all the details in Enhanced Forward Presence this week.  Most of the fine-tuned details, that is, which nations will lead in which allied state and when will this all begin.  Those details will be delivered at Warsaw itself.

And then finally, with regard to conventional deterrence, Ministers over the next two days will talk about two new capabilities that are coming on line.  First of all, NATO’s ballistic missile defense system.  Those who watch this closely will know that just last month we brought on to operational status a ballistic missile defense site in Deveselu, Romania; and we broke ground on another similar site which will open in 2018 in Poland.  And another capability called the Alliance Ground Surveillance System.  This is a set of five world-class, high-altitude, unmanned aerial vehicles which will provide the alliance a surveillance capability beginning at the end of this year.

So all of that, from RAP to the Enhanced Forward Presence, the American contribution of the brigade under the European Reassurance Initiative and then these new capabilities — ballistic missile defense and Alliance Ground Surveillance.  All of those combine to anchor the center of the deterrence spectrum.

Then briefly, Ministers will also talk about the third element of deterrence and this is the alliance nuclear deterrence capability.  Here we don’t expect major changes, but Ministers will ensure that NATO’s nuclear capability remains as it has for about 60 years — safe, secure and effective.

Now all of this capability that I’ve just outlined means that we need appropriate defense investment to fund these capabilities.  Dollars and euros actually translate into these capabilities.  None of this comes cheap.

You’ll appreciate that at the Wales Summit, for the first time in NATO’s history, leaders took a pledge that they would over a ten-year period move towards the alliance goal to commit two percent of gross domestic product, GDP, to defense spending on a national basis.  So at Warsaw we’ll be two years into that ten-year pledge.  How are we doing?  Well, Ministers will actually review a color-coded chart tomorrow, and they’ll see exactly where the 28 allies stand.

In shorthand, 5 of the 28, to include the United States, are at or above two percent of GDP in defense spending today.  So five are at the goal.  Many others, a clear majority, have stopped the cuts and made real increases since taking the pledge at Wales.

Now look, there’s a long way to go here.  If a nation were at 1 or even 1.5 percent of GDP, you don’t get quickly to 2 percent, but again, it’s a ten-year program and I think we’ll have real progress to show.

Now outputs are important as well.  I’ve mentioned inputs.  But what we buy with those defense dollars are also important.  So Ministers will review over the next two days a series of output measures that deal with the sustainability of our forces, the deployability of our forces, the degree to which we’ve met our commitment in providing manning for NATO’s headquarters, and so forth.  I can tell you that nobody has a perfect record on these output metrics.  We all have work to do, to include the United States.  But the message here is that the alliance and the Ministers over the next two days will be very transparent about how we’re doing with inputs and how we’re doing with outputs.  This is a very important preview to a similar session we’ll have at the Warsaw Summit where leaders will actually see a version of these same charts and see who is meeting NATO standards and who is not meeting NATO standards.

So all of that goes to this first theme of deterrence and defense and protecting NATO citizens.

The second major theme will begin to be addressed tomorrow evening at dinner but then that conversation will continue on to Wednesday morning, and this is the theme of projecting stability.

So beyond the core task of protecting NATO territory itself, NATO wants to protect stability to address the source of problems like terrorism and illegal migration, especially along NATO’s periphery, where there are weak and failing states.

So at dinner, the 28 Defense Ministers will be joined by key partners — Vice President Mogherini from the EU; and also two EU members who also are close NATO partners — Sweden and Finland.

So with that cast, they’ll discuss how NATO and the EU ought to work more closely together.  It’s the U.S. view that NATO and the EU should be very natural partners.  We say this because they share values, they share 22 common member states, they share the same geography, and they face many of the same challenges.  But by Warsaw it’s our strong commitment that it’s time to move beyond the rhetoric of NATO-EU partnership and move to concrete, practical cooperation.

We think there are a lot of topics for NATO cooperation with the EU.  These include national resilience, how to counter hybrid warfare, cyber security, maritime operations, exercises, capacity building, and so forth.  So there’s a lot on the agenda that could prove fruitful in terms of NATO-EU cooperation, but it’s time to get at the hard work of actually doing it and move away from just talking about it.  This conversation’s been going on for some time and I think you’ll see that we’ll have a leader’s announcement at the Warsaw Summit that really moves us forward significantly on NATO-EU cooperation.

Ministers also will talk about how NATO could provide niche capability support to the Counter-ISIL Coalition.  For example, today we’re training Iraqis and we’re building capacity in Jordan.  All 28 NATO allies are already contributing as members of that coalition, but Ministers will consider what more NATO can do to support the international effort to defeat ISIL.

Finally, Afghanistan will be again on the topic.  Of course Afghanistan has been a long-term NATO effort to project stability in that very troubled part of the world.  So Ministers will discuss the ongoing Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, where we have some 40 nations contributing just short of 13,000 troops to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces.  And we’ll also check in on the project to provide sustained funding for Afghan Army and Police.

The bottom line on this projecting stability theme is that NATO appreciates that when our neighbors are stable, NATO is more secure.

The final meeting on Wednesday, late morning, will be a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.  Here Ukrainian Defence Minister Poltorak will be here to update the 28 NATO Ministers on the security situation in Ukraine and also review Ukraine’s internal process of reform, in particular in the defense arena.  Most important, he will brief us on the recently approved Strategic Defense Bulletin which is actually a Ukrainian road map for how it is they’ll move their defense community, their defense capabilities towards NATO standards.

Ministers will also review ongoing NATO assistance to Ukraine and all of this will be in preparation for a similar meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at Warsaw among heads of state and government.

So in closing, this is a bit of a final tune-up for the Warsaw Summit.  We’ll be building on what was decided at Wales.  We’ll continue to adapt to the challenges NATO faces here in Europe.  Both those that confront NATO directly, so the security of NATO territory and NATO populations, but also the stability challenges that lay outside NATO territory proper on our periphery.  I think the series of responses that I’ve outlined here will demonstrate that NATO is changing, it’s adapting, it’s doing so in a responsible, predictable, mature way just as our 28 democracies would expect.  And the bottom line is, we’re doing it together.  As we say here at NATO headquarters we’re doing it as 28, or 28 allies for 28 allies.  In other words, we’re doing it together.

Let me stop there, and Peter will arrange the questions.

Moderator:  Great.  Thank you very much, Ambassador for those remarks.  We’ll now begin the question and answer portion of today’s call.

I’d like to take one question that we received from a journalist in writing, from Lusine Petrosyan, a journalist from Armenia, contributing to the Hraparak Daily.  She asks, Mr. Ambassador, what is your assessment, how much have Russia’s behavior and actions have changed in Europe since the NATO Summit in 2014?  Has NATO become more dangerous or more conciliatory in Europe?

Ambassador Lute:  You mean has Russia become more dangerous or more conciliatory?

Moderator:  Yes.  Has Russia, did I say NATO?

Ambassador Lute:  Yes.

Moderator:  Has Russia become more dangerous or more conciliatory in Europe.

Ambassador Lute:  Well, I suppose that I would characterize that as mostly Russian behavior since 2014 has been consistent.  So I think there’s more continuity since 2014 over the last two years than there has been change in Russian behavior.

Why do I say that?  Russia continues to occupy illegally Crimea.  Russia continues to destabilize by way of proxy forces the Donbas in Eastern Ukraine.  Russia continues to conduct large exercises outside of the parameters, outside of the transparency measures of the Vienna Document.  Russia continues to flaunt doctrine which is aggressive and irresponsible.  And Russia continues to act irresponsibly with regard to routine interactions at sea and in the air in international sea space and air space.

So if you look at those five or six features, you’ll see a good deal of continuity in Russian behavior.

Moderator:  Great.  Thank you very much.

For our first two questions we will turn to Matthias Gebauer from Der Spiegel; and then to Thomas Nehls, a freelancer from Germany.  First we’ll go to Der Spiegel, please.

Der Spiegel:  Thanks so much for having the question, Ambassador.  I have one brief question.

You talked about the meeting on the nuclear deterrent question which is also happening tomorrow.  I’m wondering, what do you expect for the NATO Summit when it comes to the nuclear posture of NATO?  Will there be any change in the language?  Or will there even be like a reinforcement of the nuclear deterrence sector in Warsaw?

Moderator:  Next we’ll turn to Thomas Nehls, a freelancer from Germany. ‎

Mr. Nehls: Yes, a radio correspondent.

Ambassador Lute, I have a question regarding the NATO Summit and also the Ministerial talks regarding the money. I mean one is hearing that for months now, and I wonder why it should be necessary to increase it all that amount of about 900 billion dollars.  I think that is the general amount of the sum of the single NATO budget, the national one.  I look at the Russian money.  They increase very much too and they have 90 billion dollars.  So ten times more.

And you elaborated that it is necessary to even increase it to meet the Wales negotiations.  Why is it necessary to be ten times bigger than Russia?

And if I may, does NATO care about human rights and other rules of democracy in member countries or associated countries?  Let’s say like Turkey.

Ambassador Lute:  Okay, let me take those in order.  First of all, from Der Spiegel.

I don’t expect any significant changes in NATO’s nuclear posture either at this Ministerial or at the Warsaw Summit.  I think much more important is that leaders in both occasions will confirm that NATO remains a nuclear alliance, and that NATO’s nuclear deterrent posture remains safe, secure and effective.  So this is simply a confirmation of NATO’s posture and a confirmation that we’re doing what we say we will do with nuclear weapons, and that’s keep them safe, secure and effective.  But no significant changes on that front.

On the funding question.  You mentioned a number of 900 billion dollars.  Of course 650 billion of that is U.S. defense spending and not all U.S. defense spending is committed to support NATO.  So a good portion of that 650 has little to do with NATO because of U.S. global commitments and so forth.  So it’s not actually 900 billion which is a staggering number.

Nonetheless, it’s more than what Russia spends.  The key here is that in many cases defensive capabilities, and NATO is a defensive alliance, NATO’s defensive capability can prove more expensive than building aggressive capability.

Why is that?  Because NATO needs to be strong across all 28 member nations.  We have a responsibility to defend 28.  And since we’re not an offensive alliance, we can’t pick and choose where it is we invest.  We have to be strong across our 28 territories.

The other point I’d make is that NATO has really since the end of the Cold War taken a break on defense spending.  If you look at the patterns over the last 20 years or so, you’ll see a constant decline.  Some have referred to this decline in defense spending as the peace dividend coming from the end of the Cold War period.

My basic argument to you with regard to defense spending would be that if you look around NATO today, to the east, to the southeast, and to the south, you see a series of challenges that we think require renewed investment.  Despite the fact that we already make substantial commitments, we think there’s justification for more.

So that’s the shorthand.  So we’ve taken a break on defense spending, it’s time to begin to reinvest.

Moderator:  Thank you very much.

For our next question we’ll go to Mr. Igor Ćuzović, from Telegraf in Serbia.

Telegraf:  Thank you. Ambassador, you said the Warsaw Summit will be a historical Summit and the momentous transition to the next phase.  Obviously the next phase in relationships to Russia.  What do you think, what can be expected after the Warsaw Summit?  Will the NATO-Russia relationship change dramatically?  Or do you expect more or less the same level of relationship between them?

In addition to this, Mr. Lavrov recently stated, I’m convinced that there is serious economic [inaudible].  He is aware that Russia will never invade any NATO member.  Are you convinced?

Moderator:  Thank you.

And for the next question we’ll go to Loara Stefanescu of Romanian Public Television.

Romanian Public Television:  Hello, good afternoon, Mr. Ambassador.  Loara Stefanescu from Romanian Public Television News Department.

Two weeks ago during his historical visit in Athens, Mr. Putin, the Russian Federation’s strong leader, sent a very vocal message threatening Romania for its fully legally decision to host an American defensive system, the Deveselu anti-ballistic missile shield.  Many Romanian people perceived Mr. Putin’s statement as a serious threat and is waiting for government’s response and protection.

We can see two aspects.  One is whether or not should we Romanians to take those threats seriously or to consider them stupid things?  The other is, if the threat is to be taken seriously, what kind of military measures should be taken by U.S.?  I’m thinking of deploying Patriot defense missiles or

F-16 squadrons.  Thank you.

Ambassador Lute:  Okay, there’s a lot there.

It occurs to me on the first set of questions I did not get to the point about democracies and so forth, and let me just reiterate that the foundation of this alliance are the democratic principles which underpin our 28 nations.

Now there’s not one size fits all in terms of democracy, so there’s 28 versions of democracy.  But I want to underline that NATO remains committed to those democratic values which have been in place now since 1949 when the alliance was created.  And we watched carefully those democratic principles across the alliance, and we believe every one of the 28 allies is responsible to uphold those values.

On NATO-Russia, I think what we can expect now what, two years after Crimea, the original move into Crimean and the Donbas.  What can we expect at the Warsaw Summit?

I think leaders are likely to highlight the importance of two fundamental factors and these are two factors that have to stay in balance.  First, that NATO must be strong, so we must take the kinds of steps that I outlined in the opening.  Steps that ensure that any potential aggressor is deterred from taking moves against NATO because the cost is simply too high.  Again, this speaks to steps we have to take for resilience, steps in the conventional realm, and steps in the nuclear realm.  So strength and deterrence is part of the relationship with Russia.

But the other part is equally important, and that is to at least be open to dialogue with Russia.  Now it may be that we don’t have a strategic partner in Russia as we imagined that we had over the last perhaps 25 years.  We accept that.  Russia’s behavior shows us that we don’t have a strategic partner.  But that doesn’t mean that we should close out dialogue.

So recently, at Ambassadors’ level we held a NATO-Russia Council.  This is the 28 allies plus Russia.  We discussed a series of topics of mutual concern.  I would imagine the NATO-Russia Council will meet again in the coming weeks, maybe months.  Our military leaders are free to engage their Russian senior-most military counterparts.  So both from political to political and military to military.  It’s important to keep open these channels of communication and dialogue.

Why?  Because first of all, we have common interests.  We have common interests to avoid accidents and miscalculation.  We have common interests to be transparent with exercises that are happening on our own territories, and make sure these exercises are not misconstrued or misperceived to be anything but what they are, and in NATO’s case those are all defensive exercises.  And there are actually topics where the international community has found that a dialogue with Russia, even cooperation with Russia, can be fruitful.  So I’d point to the Iran Nuclear Agreement, which is not a NATO diplomatic act, but it included Russia.  I’d point to the removal of Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons in Syria which would not have happened without international cooperation with Russia, and so forth.

So I think this balance is what you’ll see coming out of both, primarily out of the Warsaw Summit, and that’s this balance between strength and openness to dialogue.

I won’t comment directly on Mr. Lavrov’s quote about Russian intentions.  We don’t view Russian rhetoric or Russian statements as definitive.  What NATO looks at is Russian capabilities.  Therefore, when we see Russian actions like Crimea and Donbas, like their exercise program, like their defense investment program, like the kind of capabilities they’re modernizing, that’s what we take seriously.  That’s what we can measure with confidence.  And it’s against those capabilities that we aim to set up the deterrence regime that I outlined.

So rhetoric is interesting, but we really pay attention to actions and capabilities.

Finally, to our Romanian colleague and her question, you’re right, we saw as well the statements regarding Russian reaction to the ballistic missile defense site which was recently activated in Deveselu.  In fact, three or four weeks ago I was there in Deveselu for the commissioning ceremony.  When a host ally like Romania agrees to host a NATO site as in Deveselu, the host nation takes on responsibilities.  Romania has fulfilled those responsibilities with regard to hosting the site.  But the alliance takes on responsibilities as well.  And if there are actions from any state that threaten not only Deveselu or any other part of Romanian sovereignty, then you can expect that the alliance will take defensive measures.

The specific defensive measures I can’t outline here today because we don’t have a specific threat.  But being a member of NATO means when you’re threatened from outside, NATO stands with you.  So NATO is with Romania and we very much appreciate the Romanian hosting of that site.

Moderator:  Thank you very much.

For our next question we’ll turn to Alexander Pausch of Der Neue Tag in Germany.

Der Neue Tag:  Ambassador, thank you for the opportunity. I remember as a young officer you have guarded the Iron Curtain in Bavaria, and it seems like we are going back in this time.  The 2nd Cavalry which was your unit when you were as a young officer here in Germany is now in Eastern Europe in the Baltics guarding again the eastern border of NATO.

So do you see we will go back to the Cold War or a kind of Cold War?

Moderator:  Thank you.

The next question will go to Paul Adams, the diplomatic correspondent of BBC.

BBC:  Hi, Ambassador.  Many thanks for doing this.

Two quick questions, if I may.  Just one quick one, you mentioned you thought there was still a bit of fine tuning with regard to the battalion’s composition, lead nations and so forth, and we might not get the full readout on that tomorrow. I just wanted to check if I understood you correctly on that score.

And secondly, forgive me for a national preoccupation here in Britain, but you mentioned the importance of NATO-EU collaboration and cooperation.  In the event of a British vote to leave the EU in less than two weeks’ time, would you anticipate there being some damage to that?

Ambassador Lute:  First of all to the question having to do with my original regimental affiliation with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which when I was a young officer some time ago was positioned on the inter-German border in Bavaria.  It’s true that that regiment is now back in duty along borders, and most recently it has been part of a set of measures to reassure NATO allies from Estonia down through Bulgaria that the United States, and in particular in this case the United States Army, takes seriously its commitment to Article 5 of the treaty.  That is that an attack on one will be treated as an attack on all.

So there is a point that the 2nd Cavalry is still on duty.  I don’t however think that this is a return to the Cold War.  Why is that?  I say that because the Cold War featured a very bipolar, zero-sum approach to global politics.  This was a global standoff between two superpowers.  That’s not what we have today.

It also featured two irreconcilable ideologies and I don’t think we have that today.

It featured a Russia, or a USSR, that was nearly completely isolated politically and economically from the West, and Russia today is not isolated economically.  It’s under sanctions economically, but the Russian economy today is much more dependent on the West and interdependent than ever was the case in the Cold War.

So I don’t see the sort of global military political ideological standoff that reminds me of my early days.  And I don’t honestly think that we’re moving back to that.

What we are moving back to is an understanding inside NATO that collective defense and the territorial integrity of the 28 allies, the sovereignty of the 28 democracies of NATO still matters and we will I think beginning at Wales and certainly culminating at the Warsaw Summit, deliver on that commitment.  But this is not a return to the Cold War.

And then the question on the four battalions, we call this Enhanced Forward Presence.  Yes, you did hear correctly that we won’t have the details of the four battalions, and by that I mean which four allies will lead those battalions, which other allies will contribute to those battalions, because these battalions we imagine to be multinational.  So a single allied lead, but other allies reinforcing or supplementing the lead battalion, the lead of the battalion.

We also won’t announce, I believe this week, where which battalion is going.  That is, which battalion is going to which of the four host nations, host allies.  So who’s going to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.  And we won’t announce in the next two days I believe exactly when this new deterrence posture will be in effect.

Those details, so who, where and when, will be announced at the Warsaw Summit.  We have some fine-tuning to do before we’re ready to make that announcement.

Moderator:  Thank you very much.

For our next question we’ll go to Gabriela Naplatanova from bTV in Bulgaria.

bTV:  Yes, I was going to ask the same question about the scope and scale of this reinforcement in the eastern flank, and how long do you think this reinforcement could last?  And what kind of rotation do you plan for these four battalions?

Moderator:  Thank you.

And for our next and unfortunately I believe our final question we’ll go back to Matthias Gebauer from Der Spiegel.

Der Spiegel:  Ambassador, just one specific question.  You said you won’t have the details which alliance partners will deploy troops to the Baltic states and Poland, but could you maybe answer one direct question.  One hears from NATO officials that there is at least a question which country will provide these troops to Poland.  So could you at least say [inaudible] this country is still open at the moment?

Ambassador Lute:  To the question from Bulgaria, and this has to do with our deterrence posture along the eastern flank and how long we might sustain that posture.  You know, there’s no end date associated with the decision.  So I think probably the safe answer is that we will do this as long as the conditions require.  So there is no prescribed end date.

The rotation itself, so across those four allied nations, will be for about six-month rotations.  So a battalion would come in, serve for about six months, rotate out, but be replaced immediately.

So when you add this up, you would have 365 day per year coverage of the deterrence combat battalion in the northeast corner of the alliance — so Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.  And I think that’s the basic posture.

Then to the second question, the details about who will go where and so forth, I don’t even have a partial announcement today except to say that I am confident that in three weeks’ time at the Warsaw Summit we will have a good definition of who’s leading the battalions, which host nations will welcome those battalions to be based there, and when all this will be set.  But as you can imagine, until you have the whole package, we’re not anxious to announce parts of it because, of course, things can change as we move towards completion of the project.

So let’s just say I’ll see you at Warsaw on that question.

Moderator:  Great, thank you very much, sir.

Ambassador Lute:  All right, Peter.  Thanks very much for hosting.

Moderator:  Did you have any closing words you’d like to offer?

Ambassador Lute:  No.  See you at Warsaw.

Moderator:  Great.  See you at Warsaw.  Thank you very much.  I want to thank you, Ambassador Lute, for joining us, and thank you all very much for participating and for your questions.