Meeting this Challenge of Change Will Not Be Easy
Meeting this Challenge of
Change Will Not Be Easy
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense
Chuck Hagel, Munich, Germany, Saturday, February 01, 2014. (Source
: U.S. Department of Defense).
John, thank you. Thank you very much. And to Ambassador
Ischinger, thank you for once again hosting this conference, an important
It's good to be back in Munich. As you noted, I have been here many times. And I
especially appreciate being here with my friend and former colleague and now
cabinet partner, John Kerry.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
I want to also recognize our United States congressional
delegation, which I have been part of a number of times, led by an unfamiliar
face here, John McCain. John, nice to see you. Thank you. Sheldon Whitehouse,
Senator, thank you for your leadership. And many of the delegation are
individuals who have led on this issue for many years, and you are all quite
familiar with most of the U.S. congressional delegation. So, thank you for your
continued leadership and involvement.
I also want to recognize our American ambassador to Germany,
John Emerson, who is here somewhere, for his work and his efforts. And it is not
easy, as we all know, for an ambassador in any country at any time, but
Ambassador Emerson has done a tremendous job. And we very much appreciate his
good work and his leadership, as well.
In preparing for these remarks, I was looking through the
memoirs of Henry Stimson, who over a long and distinguished career held both my
job – actually, he held my job when it was Secretary of War, and he held it
twice. He also held John Kerry's job, Secretary of State. The book I thumbed
through contained a handwritten letter from McGeorge Bundy.
Many of you know – knew George Bundy, worked with McGeorge
Bundy, and certainly everyone knows who he was. He helped in this particular
case Henry Stimson write his memoirs, and that book was published in 1952. In
Bundy's letter to an admirer, Bundy described Stimson's recollections of life as
“a picture of history worth going on with, whatever the ups and downs.”
I recall these words here in Munich this morning because this
conference is itself a picture of history, the history of the transatlantic
partnership. And that history is very much worth going on with. That's why we're
celebrating this gathering's 50th anniversary.
The transatlantic partnership has been successful because of
the judicious use of diplomacy and defense. Over the last year, John and I have
both worked to restore balance, balance to the relationship between American
defense and diplomacy.
With the United States moving off a 13-year war footing, it's
clear to us – it's very clear to President Obama – that our future requires a
renewed and enhanced era of partnership with our friends and allies, especially
here in Europe. As this panel acknowledges, we need what John just described and
as Ambassador Ischinger has noted, a transatlantic renaissance.
We Need a Transatlantic Renaissance
The foundation of our collective security relationship with
Europe has always been cooperation against common threats. Throughout most of
the 20th century, these common threats were concentrated in and around Europe.
But today, the most persistent and pressing security challenges to Europe and
the United States are global. They emanate from political instability and
violent extremism in the Middle East and North Africa, dangerous non-state
actors, rogue nations, such as North Korea, cyber warfare, demographic changes,
economic disparity, poverty and hunger.
And as we confront these threats, nations such as China and
Russia are rapidly modernizing their militaries and global defense industries,
challenging our technological edge in defense partnerships around the world. The
world will continue to grow more complicated, interconnected, and in many cases,
more combustible. The challenges and choices before us will demand leadership
that reaches into the future without stumbling over the present.
Meeting this challenge of change will
not be easy. But we must do so and we must do so together. As our
strategy and defense investments will make clear, the U.S. sees Europe as its
indispensable partner in addressing these threats and challenges, as well as
addressing new opportunities. The centerpiece of our transatlantic defense
partnership will continue to be NATO, the military alliance that has been called
the greatest peace movement in history.
In Afghanistan, NATO-led forces are doing extraordinary work
to help the Afghan people by strengthening the Afghan army and police so that
they can assume responsibility for their nation's security. European nations
have maintained remarkable cohesion and commitment in the face of sacrifice,
uncertainty, and challenges in Afghanistan.
As we bring our combat mission to a conclusion after 13 years,
we should all be very proud of what our alliance has accomplished. Members of
the International Security Assistance Force, especially smaller nations, have
greatly benefited from the experience of training and working alongside other
partners in Afghanistan. We must continue to hone the capabilities we fielded
and sustained these deep and effective defense relationships. And NATO must
continue to develop innovative ways to maintain alliance readiness, as we apply
our hard-earned skills to new security challenges.
In reviewing U.S. defense priorities, tempered by our fiscal
realities, it's clear that our military must place an even greater strategic
emphasis on working with our allies and partners around the world. That will be
a key theme of the Department of Defense's upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review,
which will articulate our defense strategy in a changing security and fiscal
The United States will engage European allies to collaborate
more closely, especially in helping build the capabilities of other global
partners. We're developing strategies to address global threats as we build more
joint capacity, joint capacity with European militaries. In the face of budget
constraints here on this continent, as well as in the United States, we must all
invest more strategically to protect military capability and readiness.
The question is not just how much we spend, but how we spend
together. It’s not just burdens we share, but opportunities, as well.
The Department of Defense will work closely with our allies'
different and individual strengths and capabilities from the training of
indigenous forces to more advanced combat missions.
We're looking at promising new initiatives, including
Germany's framework nations concept, which could help NATO plan and invest more
efficiently and more effectively. In Africa, the U.S. military and our European
allies are already partners in combating violent extremism and working alongside
our diplomats to avert humanitarian catastrophes.
In Mali, in the Central African Republic, the U.S. and European partners are
providing specialized enablers, such as air transport and refueling. We're there
to support a leading operational role for French forces. The U.S. has supported
France's leadership and efforts, and we also welcome the German Defense Minister
von der Leyen's recent proposal to increase German participation in both
All of us must work closely together with African nations in
helping them build their security forces and institutions. A more collaborative
approach to global security challenges will require more defense establishments
to cooperate not just on the operational level, but on the strategic level, as
well. We are working with two allies, the U.S., U.K., and Australia, building,
the three of us, closer collaboration between our militaries across a broad
range of areas, from force development to force posture.
For example, the United States is helping the U.K. regenerate its aircraft
carrier capability, which will enable more integrated operation of our advanced
F-35 fighters and, more broadly, enhance our shared ability to project power.
And last year, an Australian army officer became the deputy commanding general
of U.S. Army forces in the Pacific. This is helping connect our forces more
strategically with our allies and partners in the regions.
We believe this collaboration offers a model, a model for
closer integration with other allies and partners, including NATO as a whole.
And it'll influence U.S. strategic planning and future investments. Sustaining
and enhancing these cooperative efforts will require shared commitment and
shared investment on both sides of the Atlantic. That includes the United
States' commitments to a strong military posture in Europe.
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has
continuously adjusted its defense posture to new strategic realities around the
world. As our force structure draws down following the end of our longest war,
there will be – there must be – adjustments in our posture to meet new
challenges. For example, to respond to elevated threats to our diplomatic
facilities in North Africa and the Middle East, we have partnered with Spain to
position U.S. Marines at Moron, and we have put other forces throughout the
region on heightened alert status.
These forces not only enable us to respond to crises or
support ongoing operations, but they also expand our diplomatic options. Amid
the recent violence in South Sudan, the rapid availability of nearby forces
allowed American diplomats to remain on the ground and help broker a cease-fire.
An important posture enhancement is European missile defense
in response to ballistic missile threats from Iran. Over the last two days, I've
been in Poland, where I reaffirmed the United States' commitment to deploying
missile defense architecture there. As you all know, that's part of phase three
of our European phased, adaptive approach.
Yesterday afternoon, the USS Donald Cook departed the United
States for Rota, Spain, where over the next two years she will be joined by
three additional missile defense-capable destroyers. Despite fiscal constraints,
the budget that we will release next month fully protects our investment in
European missile defense.
Our commitment to Europe is unwavering. Our values and our
interests remain aligned. Both principle and pragmatism secure our transatlantic
In 1947, a time of widespread doubt about the continued value
of the transatlantic partnership, Henry Stimson argued that America could, in
his words, no sooner “stand apart” from Europe than “desert every principle by
which we claim to live.” He helped persuade Americans that, in his words, our
policy toward the world, in that policy, that “there is no place for grudging or
limited participation. … Foreign affairs are now our most intimate domestic
Americans know well the wisdom in Stimson’s warning. We also
know well the responsibilities we shoulder – in partnership with all of you. As
President Obama told the American people in his State of the Union address this
week, “our alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known.”
I have every confidence that our successors will be there 50
years hence to again celebrate the most successful and effective collective
security alliance in history. But as we all know, it will require continued,
strong and visionary leadership, attention, resources, and strong commitment. In
2064, there will still be a Wehrkunde, and there will still be a strong and
enduring transatlantic alliance.
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