Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks with his NATO counterparts at a flag raising ceremony for Finland at NATO Headquarters, in Brussels, Belgium, on April 4, 2023.

From July 11-12, the Heads of State/Government from the 31 NATO Member States will meet in Vilnius, Lithuania. At this meeting, the Summit’s participants will seek to further strengthen the Alliance’s ability to address Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine as well as other security challenges. NATO Summits exemplify the importance of alliances and partnerships, which according to the U.S. National Security Strategy, “uphold and strengthen the principles and institutions that have enabled so much stability, prosperity, and growth.” The United States works through its alliances and partnerships – such as NATO, the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), and the Organization of American States (OAS) – to address global and regional issues.  Alliances and partnerships are among our most important strategic relationships. They foster peace and security by promulgating international norms and good security sector governance principles such as participatory decision-making, accountability, responsiveness, and transparency. 

President Joe Biden holds a press conference Thursday, June 30, 2022, at the NATO Summit at IFEMA Madrid. (Official White House Photo by Carlos Fyfe)
President Joe Biden holds a press conference Thursday, June 30, 2022, at the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain. (Official White House Photo by Carlos Fyfe)

The United States Department of State’s Global Defense Reform Program (GDRP), managed by the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, offers allies and partners advisory assistance focused on building the resilience of their security institutions. By emphasizing good governance principles and addressing the needs and challenges of the partner nation and its citizens, GDRP advisory assistance bolsters key bilateral relationships and helps modernize and improve national security policies, strategies, and organizational frameworks in ways that advance the overall missions of our alliances and partnerships.  

 Furthering NATO’s Collective Defense Mission 

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on May 11, 2023.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on May 11, 2023.

In Europe, GDRP advisors work with NATO Allies to align their national strategies with Alliance defense and security commitments and objectives. Their efforts empower Allies and enable them to better prepare for NATO missions and operations, strengthening the Alliance as a whole. 

Albania and North Macedonia are NATO Allies that collaborate with GDRP advisors to develop, implement, and operationalize new National Security Strategies (NSS) and National Defense Strategies (NDS) for their countries. In Albania, the Ministry of Defense relies on its NSS and NDS to articulate the country’s national security and NATO defense aspirations. For North Macedonia, this will be the country’s first NSS since becoming a NATO member in 2020. An updated NSS and NDS will help North Macedonia synchronize its initiatives in support of its obligations to NATO. It will also inform the country’s planning and resource allocation over the mid- to long-term. These new strategic documents will better reflect the current security environment, guide planning and decision-making, and align resources to national security and defense priorities; thus, complementing NATO’s mission.     

Securing a Free and Open Pacific Region through the PIF 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and leaders from Pacific Islands and representatives from New Zealand and Australia pose for photos during the U.S.-Pacific Islands Forum at the APEC Haus in Port Moresby on May 22, 2023
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and leaders from Pacific Islands and representatives from New Zealand and Australia pose for photos during the U.S.-Pacific Islands Forum at the APEC House in Port Moresby, Papa New Guinea on May 22, 2023.

In the Pacific region, GDRP advisors provide PIF members assistance to enhance their maritime security governance, bolster their ability to monitor maritime activity within their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and share information with partners across the region. The PIF’s mission supports a free, secure, peaceful, and prosperous Pacific Islands region. Through GDRP, the United States advances this mission by engaging directly with Pacific Islands governments to strengthen security institutions and regional relationships, address shared maritime security objectives, counter threats posed by strategic competitors, and reinforce through our actions that the United States is a steadfast and reliable security partner in the region.  

Secretary of State Antony Blinken participates in the U.S.-Pacific Islands Forum meeting at the APEC House in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on May 22, 2023.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken participates in the U.S.-Pacific Islands Forum meeting at the APEC House in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on May 22, 2023.

In alignment with the PIF’s cornerstone objectives, GDRP works with members Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to strengthen their ability to counter illicit maritime activities, illegal fishing, and environmental exploitation in their EEZ and territorial waters. The GDRP advisor in Palau’s Ministry of Justice assists with managing, coordinating, and implementing an effective maritime security strategy using a whole-of-government approach. This effort improves interagency coordination within Palau, fosters broader coordination across the Pacific Islands, and advances the PIF’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent in accordance with the U.S. Pacific Partnership Strategy. In Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, GDRP advisors assist the Ministry of Justice to further each country’s respective maritime law enforcement legal and policy frameworks, implement a maritime domain awareness information and operations framework, and enhance coordination and cooperation between law enforcement and the justice sector. Across the region, GDRP promotes the United States and the PIF’s goals by fostering cooperation between governments, collaboration with international organizations, and a free and prosperous Pacific.   

Partnering with OAS Member States to Safeguard Regional Peace and Security  

Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends the OAS General Assembly Opening Session in Lima, Peru on October 6, 2022.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends the OAS General Assembly Opening Session in Lima, Peru on October 6, 2022.

In Latin America, GDRP advisors support OAS Member States’ efforts to improve their cybersecurity policy and governance, defense planning and resource management, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and domain awareness and interagency information sharing. In alignment with the OAS’ main purpose to promote stability and security in the hemisphere, GDRP seeks to enable partner nations to effectively oversee, manage, and sustain the responsible delivery of security and address shared threats. 

In Ecuador, GDRP supports the Ministry of Defense and Joint Armed Forces Command in developing its institutional capacity for domain awareness through building the organizational strategies, policies, and frameworks to bolster the government’s territorial defense. Given the security challenges posed by transnational organized crime and illegal fishing within its EEZ, Ecuador seeks to improve its security institutions to better safeguard its citizens and its resources. Enhanced awareness of its maritime, air, and land domains will help Ecuador better defend its sovereign territory and provide security for its citizens while also sharing timely information with its neighbors to combat shared regional security challenges. In Ecuador and across the region, GDRP advances the goals of the OAS in promoting solidarity, collaboration, and democratic governance amongst its member states’ security sectors.  

GDRP Advisor and U.S. Department of State representatives meet with Ecuador’s Marine Corps to discuss domain awareness objectives in Guayaquil, Ecuador on March 24, 2023.
GDRP Advisor and U.S. Department of State representatives meet with Ecuador’s Marine Corps to discuss domain awareness objectives in Guayaquil, Ecuador on March 24, 2023.

Advancing Global Alliance and Partnership Missions 

The United States’ alliances and partnerships – such as NATO, PIF, and OAS – are key to upholding stability and prosperity, addressing shared challenges, and reinforcing international norms. By strengthening the governance and capacity of security institutions of allies and partners, the United States is deepening bilateral relationships while enhancing the core tenets of peace and security. 

About the Authors:  Sarah Bufano, Lauren Gray, Matias Preti, and Ramzey Yousef serve as portfolio managers in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Global Programs and Initiatives at the U.S. Department of State. 

 

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future