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Deputy Defense Secretary Meets with Nordic

Deputy Defense Secretary Meets with Nordic, Baltic State Officials in Stockholm

By Cheryl Pellerin, DoD News, Defense Media Activity.
Stockholm, Sweden — (DoD News) — April 26, 2016 — Deterrence, mainly in response to ongoing Russian provocation and aggression, was the broad topic of discussion today during meetings at Karlsberg Castle here among representatives from the United States, five Nordic states and three Baltic states.

Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work arrived here yesterday as part of a weeklong trip to Sweden and Belgium to discuss regional security challenges and opportunities and to deliver remarks on the Defense Department’s third offset strategy to members of the European Policy Committee.

Swedish troops stand after Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work inspected them at Karlsberg Castle in Stockholm, April 26, 2016, during a weeklong trip to Sweden and Belgium to meet with military and government officials in those countries. Work also was scheduled to meet with officials from the other Nordic states, which include Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Work's trip includes a stop in Brussels to meet with NATO officials.

In attendance at the main meeting were officials from the United States and Sweden, which co-hosted the gathering, and from the other Nordic states of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

At a news conference following the meeting, Work called the day substantive and productive.

Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, fourth from right, holds a press conference at Karlsberg Castle in Stockholm, April 26, 2016, after meeting with representatives of Nordic states, including the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Work is on a weeklong trip to Sweden and Belgium to meet with regional leaders and NATO officials.

Nordic and Baltic Perspectives

“We talked about the Nordic and the Baltic perspectives of … some of the [Russian] activities … as well as other security challenges we face as an alliance and as partners,” he said.

Participants also discussed regional cooperation, the Nordic Defense Cooperation collaboration among the five Nordic countries, an exercise being developed by Sweden called Northern Flag, Baltic operations and their NATO air-policing effort, how the nations can strengthen deterrence, and the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Work said.

The Defense Department’s third offset strategy also was discussed. The strategy is a U.S. Defense Department effort to offset the strengths of potential great-power adversaries with leap-ahead technologies and innovative ways to use them.

For Sweden, whose delegation members briefed Work today on four leading-edge technologies the country’s scientists are involved in, that could mean more technological collaboration with the United States, the deputy secretary said.

Technological Exchanges

The technologies include graphene -- a carbon material that is a one-atom-thick honeycomb lattice that can be used in electronic circuits, batteries and a range of chemical, industrial and medical devices -- along with artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and nuclear detection systems.

“All of [the technologies] are areas of great interest to the United States,” Work said, “and we talked about potentially having more technological exchanges to see if we would be able to move all of those areas forward.”

What he heard today, the deputy secretary said, made him “more confident than ever that together we’re stronger than we are alone [and] that together we are going to be able to strengthen deterrence.”

“Together,” he added, “we are going to be able to make sure that we have a very secure, safe Baltic and high-north region in which all the citizens of all of our countries will live prosperously and safely.”

Sharing the Same View

In his remarks, Swedish State Secretary Jan Salestrand said the meeting clearly showed that the participating nations face common challenges.

Sweden is the first stop of an international trip for Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, who met with mililtary and government officials in Stockholm, April 26, 2016. Work also is scheduled to travel to Belgium and Brussels for meetings.

“We discussed a lot about the vicinity here, but also we discussed challenges in other regions, such as [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]. And we [reached] the same conclusion: it is of the utmost importance that we face these challenges together,” he said.

Regional peace and stability in northern Europe is linked to transatlantic cooperation and unity, Salestrand added, “and this group of countries shares the same view regarding how we look upon the situation in the Baltic Sea area, how we look upon Russia [when it] sometimes behaves in a way that is not according to standard, and we see that we need to have enhanced exercises together and enhanced information exchange.”

The state secretary also expressed appreciation for U.S. engagement in the region.

“We have a common strategic interest in the U.S. presence and in the transatlantic link,” Salestrand noted, adding that the U.S. European Reassurance Initiative “provides important opportunities to increase cooperation.”

European Reassurance Initiative

Work said the European Reassurance Initiative is designed to reassure allies and partners in the region that the United States is with them.

“We take the Article 5 responsibilities of NATO extremely seriously,” the deputy secretary added, “and for Enhanced Opportunities [Program] partners such as Sweden and Finland, we hope that we will be able to expand all our activities in the future.” Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which established NATO, says an attack on one ally is considered as an attack on all.

Describing the European Reassurance Initiative, Work said that by the end of September 2017, the United States will have a full division constantly in Europe -- a Stryker brigade combat team in Germany, an airborne brigade combat team in Italy, and an armored brigade combat team on the continent 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

An Army combat team is a deployable maneuver unit that has 4,000 to 5,000 troops.

The Defense Department also will set up pre-positioned sets of warfighting equipment, Work said, “and we continue to work with Norway to make sure that the pre-positioned equipment sets in Norway are filled up and exercised.”

Continued Engagement

The United States will continue to be very engaged in the area, Work said.

“I look forward to continuing this conversation, and the European Reassurance Initiative is a signal of U.S. resolve and also our intent to make sure that NATO is as strong as it can possibly be,” he said, noting that he looks forward to the May 13 summit of Nordic leaders that President Barack Obama will host and the NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, July 8-9.

Tomorrow, Work will tour Swedish military installations in the southern part of the country before heading to Brussels for meetings at NATO.
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)
 


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
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