Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to participate in this forward-looking relationship discussion on the future, the evolution, of NATO and Transatlantic security. As noted today, we should always be open to discourse among our allies. Well, I am available, and my coffee pot is always on in Washington.
Over 70 years ago, 12 nations came together in the aftermath of one of the most devastating conflicts in history to form an alliance based on shared democratic values and hope for lasting peace and prosperity.
Since then, NATO served as the bedrock guarantor of democracy, freedom, and Transatlantic security. The Alliance has grown. We have seen the end of the Cold War and risen to face new challenges.
Following the terrorist attack of September 11, on September 12, 2001, during America’s darkest hour since World War II, NATO members stood together, invoking Article 5 for the first time in the Alliance’s history. As someone who served shoulder-to-shoulder with our Allies many times during my active military service, including here in Deutschland, I can confidently say the United States supports the Alliance, believes in the Alliance, and honors its Article 5 commitments.
The past seven decades repeatedly validated just how necessary it was for the West to form the NATO Alliance. There is no major foreign policy challenge in the world today in which either the United States or Europe can expect to succeed without working together. Our unity is a strategic necessity because American and European security are inextricably linked.
We must jointly confront the challenge of revisionist powers such as Russia, who seek to weaken European institutions and governments, damage the credibility of America’s commitment to Europe, and undermine transatlantic unity.
Russia continues to intimidate its neighbors with threatening behavior, such as nuclear posturing and the forward deployment of offensive, as well as covert, capabilities on NATO’s periphery. Further, its invasions of Georgia and Ukraine demonstrate its willingness to violate the sovereignty of states in the region.
We see the Chinese Communist Party attempting to weaken our partnership and undermine the current rules-based international system, both directly and indirectly, through the use of predatory Belt and Road Initiative loans, strategic port acquisitions, attacks on free press, intellectual property theft, and the potential compromising of Europe’s 5G networks.
As Secretary Pompeo has said, we call on our European allies and partners to implement the EU recommendations to mitigate security risks in 5G networks – by adopting strong, risk-based security measures that exclude high-risk suppliers from all parts of their 5G networks. Each country is responsible for protecting its network, and it is misguided to think the risks associated with installing equipment from suppliers subject to control by authoritarian regimes with a track record of malign cyber behavior can be mitigated.
The revisionist actions of these authoritarian regimes showcase the enduring importance of our Transatlantic partnership that champions democratic values such as human rights, the rule of law, a free press, and free markets. NATO has proved adaptable to new and emergent strategic threats since the end of the Cold War. Looking forward, I have the utmost confidence in our Transatlantic institution’s ability to rise to these new challenges.
U.S. participation in Allied responses to increasing Russian aggression, including Enhanced Forward Presence and Baltic Air Policing missions, symbolize the continued commitment of the United States to defend NATO partners and our shared values.
NATO also continues to work together to deepen its counter-terrorism cooperation. NATO Allies have contributed significantly to counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, promoting security and stability in Iraq, and looking more broadly in the Middle East and Africa to identify, disrupt, and destroy terrorist networks.
However, NATO Allies have a duty to ensure the Alliance is well equipped and focused to continue to deter and defend our way of life against emerging challenges from both state and non-state actors.
By increasing investment and ensuring all Allies are contributing equitably to the mission and increasing cooperation and coordination between NATO and the EU, the Transatlantic security ties we have enjoyed these past 70 years will endure and evolve.
The United States looks forward to continuing its engagement with NATO allies on the future role for NATO in Africa and the Middle East. We look to our Allies to take over some of the support roles and capabilities that we currently provide. The United States is committed to remaining a reliable ally and collectively tackling the operational realties on the ground will advance our mutual interests across the Trans-Sahel.
Additionally, it is important Allies continue to invest in our future security by fulfilling their Wales Pledge. On this, we have collectively made some progress: Since 2014, non-U.S. defense spending at NATO has increased by $130 billion.
We encourage those countries that developed concrete plans to reach their two percent pledge by 2024 to continue working to put those plans into action, while continuing to encourage those who have not yet developed plans to do so as soon as possible.
NATO Allies also contributed to the health of the alliance by procuring advanced capabilities, such as air-and-missile defense systems and next generation fighter aircraft that increase the Alliance’s interoperability, provide heightened deterrence value, and place the best possible equipment in the hands of the troops, allowing them to confidently carry out their mission.
To that end, a number of European-led initiatives have sprung up in the last few years to increase cooperation on the continent and develop European-sourced solutions to replace aging equipment.
Let me be clear, the United States supports these efforts. Projects like PESCO’s military mobility have important, real world consequences for both the day-to-day operations of our militaries, and contingency planning for a large-scale security emergency in Europe. Even the European Defense Fund, which seeks to develop European solutions to fill capability gaps, contributes to the United States’ request for Europe to invest more in its own security, in accordance with the NATO Wales Pledge.
However, these two efforts must also consider the Transatlantic dimension of European security. By ensuring that non-EU NATO Allies can meaningfully contribute to European defense initiatives – in the spirit of the 2016 and 2018 Joint NATO-EU Declarations– we will decrease the potential for duplication while safeguarding interoperability.
Preventing cooperation amongst all members of the two most significant organizations in Europe will only serve to dilute the strategic vision and capabilities of both.
The United States stands ready – as it always has – to contribute meaningfully to the Alliance. Further, we remain committed to the development of plans and capabilities to ensure our Allies are best positioned to protect their own citizens, deter aggression, and respond to significant challenges we face, collectively, today and tomorrow.
And we recognize a strong and free Europe remains of vital importance to the United States. Deepened collaboration with our European Allies is critical to our ability to confront forces threatening to undermine our common values, security interests, and shared vision. To that end, transatlantic security and relationships remain a key pillar of our National Security Strategy. Together, we are indeed stronger.
Thank you. Danke.