Networking Defense in the 21st Century
Networking Defense in the
Remarks at CNAS : Secretary of
Defense Ash Carter Speech As Delivered. Washington DC, June 20, 2016.
Source : U.S. Departent of Defense.
Good morning, everyone. It’s great to see you all here, and
so many long-time friends and colleagues I saw on the list to be here.
Thank you, Richard, I appreciate that. Thank you for that
kind introduction and for inviting me to speak here today. Michèle Flournoy is
also here. Michèle, thank you for your years of dedicated service, for your
years – dare I say – 30 years of friendship, and for your leadership at CNAS.
For almost a decade now, CNAS has been an engine for the
ideas and talent that have shaped American foreign and defense policy…and our
department in particular. In meeting after meeting, on issue after issue, I work
with members of the vast network CNAS alumni – including my excellent Deputy Bob
Work. And I want to thank everyone at CNAS for all you’re doing to think and
write about new ways to advance America’s security and make a better world.
Now, I know today’s conference is focused on the upcoming
Washington transition. And I want to be clear up front that I’m not going to
talk about that subject. And the reason for that is that the United States has a
longstanding practice, tradition, and principle that our department, our
military, and our security leaders stand apart from the electoral process. So
I’m extremely careful not to comment on the election…except to simply say that
our department will run a smooth and orderly transition, as it has always done.
Instead, I want to talk with you this morning about the
broader strategic transition occurring in the world today, and what the Defense
Department is doing to meet its challenges and to seize its opportunities.
Today’s security environment is dramatically different from
that of the last generation, and even the generation before that. In this new
era, we face no fewer than five immediate and evolving challenges:
Countering the prospect of Russian aggression and coercion,
especially in Europe;
Managing historic change in the vital Asia-Pacific region, where China is rising,
which is fine, but behaving aggressively, which is not;
Strengthening our deterrent and defense forces in the face of North Korea’s
nuclear and missile provocations and threat to our allies;
Checking Iranian aggression and malign influence in the Gulf;
And we must and we are combating terrorism – including accelerating the defeat
Last week’s tragic shooting in Orlando underscores the urgency of that last one.
It reminds us that ISIL not only tyrannizes the populations where it arose in
Iraq and Syria, but it also wants to spread its evil ideology…and to plot or
inspire attacks on Americans, including here at home. And Orlando further steels
our resolve to carry out all aspects of our coalition military campaign plan:
first, destroying ISIL’s parent tumor in Iraq and Syria, which is necessary, but
not sufficient; because second, combatting ISIL’s metastases worldwide wherever
it appears; and third helping protect the homeland.
Now, we don’t have the luxury of choosing among these five
different challenges; we must and will address them all, across the spectrum of
In addition, we must grow more flexible and agile because –
as much information as the Defense Department has, and as smart as CNAS experts
and studies are – history has shown us we never perfectly predict the strategic
future. So we have to be ready to contend with a complex and uncertain future
where new and currently unforeseen challenges may arise.
In the face of those five challenges and that uncertain
future, the Defense Department is taking steps to remain the most powerful
military on earth. It’s a competitive world out there, and organizations that
succeed in a competitive world do so because they’re open to change. Accordingly,
I’ve challenged the Pentagon, as has been said, to think outside our five-sided
box. So we’re changing how we invest and how we innovate, how we plan and how we
fight, how we recruit and retain personnel, how our department is structured and
functions, and how we work with our partners and allies – all for the better.
Because we’re doing so and thanks to this nation’s enduring
strengths, I’m confident that the United States will…maintain our unrivaled
military strength for decades and remain the world’s foremost leader, partner,
and underwriter of stability and security in every region across the globe.
But that strength does require new investments on our part,
new posture and presence in some regions, and also new and enhanced capabilities.
The directions set in our 2017 budget ensure the Defense Department maintains
our dominance in each domain – not only sea, air, and land, but also in cyber,
electronic-warfare, space, nuclear deterrence, and more.
In our Navy, we’re growing not just the number of ships but
also their lethality, with new weapons and high-end ships. And we’re extending
our commanding lead in undersea warfare – with new investments in undersea
drones, for example, and more submarines with the versatile Virginia Payload
Module that triples their strike capacity from 12 Tomahawks to 40. We’re
investing to continue our air superiority and global reach through innovative
capabilities like the B-21 long-range strike bomber, swarming microdrones, and
the arsenal plane, as well as advanced munitions of all sorts, among other third
offset investments. We’re also prioritizing training and readiness for our
ground forces and reinvigorating the readiness and modernization of our fighter
aircraft fleet. We’re reversing decades of underinvestment in our nuclear
deterrent, a bedrock necessity, in accordance with the President’s Nuclear
Review and Guidance and the modernization plans built into our budget. And we’re
also doing more to help build our cyber mission force, develop next-generation
electronic jammers, and prepare for the possibility of a conflict that extends
The Defense Department maintains its world-leading
capabilities because it has made incomparable investments in our military edge
over the course of decades. As a result, it will take decades or more for anyone
to build the kind of comprehensive military capability the United States
possesses. This strength is not simply about current and cumulative dollar
figures. Our military edge has been strengthened and honed in hard-earned
operational experience over the past 15 years. No other military possesses this
kind of skill and agility backed by this much experience.
Now, the responsibility I have to all my successors is to
ensure that the military – and the Defense Department – they inherit is just as
strong and just as excellent, if not more so, than the one I have the privilege
of leading today. To do so, we’re also seizing other opportunities for the
That’s why we’re making increased investments in science and
technology – to stay ahead of future threats. Overall, our budget invests nearly
$72 billion in R&D for next year. For a little context, that’s more than double
what Apple, Intel, and Google spent on R&D last year combined.
As part of that, we’re reaching out to America’s wonderful
innovative ecosystems, which are another great and unrivaled source of national
strength, to build bridges to, partner with, and inspire those innovators who
want to make a difference in our world. And this is one way they can do it.
We’ve embarked on initiatives like our start-up in Silicon Valley, the Defense
Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, and there are more to come. We’ve also
created the new Defense Digital Service, which brings in coders from companies
like Google, Palantir, and Shopify for a “tour of duty,” to help solve
technological challenges across the department. And we’ve established a Defense
Innovation Board chaired by Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt to advise the Secretary of
Defense on how we can continue to change to be more competitive.
Meanwhile, to prepare ourselves for the future we are also
updating our core contingency plans with innovative operational concepts. We’ve
revised every one of our war plans. Now I can’t tell you how exactly they’ve
changed – if any audience can appreciate why I think the CNAS audience can – but
rest assured, they’re up-to-date.
It’s also why we’ve taken a series of bold steps in personnel
and talent management to build what I call the Force of the Future…and we’re
going to be doing even more. As we all know, generations change, technologies
change, labor markets change. That’s why one of my responsibilities is to make
sure that amidst all this change, the Defense Department continues to recruit,
develop, and retain the most talented men and women America has to offer so that
tomorrow’s force is as fine as today’s. Later this week, I’ll visit members of
today’s force – including wounded warrior-athletes at the Warrior Games. And
I’ll also meet some of the Force of the Future…ROTC cadets at their capstone
summer course at Fort Knox, sailors at basic training at Great Lakes, and new
recruits at one of our military entry stations in Chicago.
And last but not least, seizing opportunities for the future
is why we’re also pushing for needed reforms across the defense enterprise:
because we owe it to America’s taxpayers to spend our defense dollars as wisely
and responsibly as possible. So we’re improving acquisition, further reducing
overhead, and proposing new changes to the Goldwater-Nichols Act that defines
much of our institutional organization. More on one of those specific reforms
All of these efforts – these new capabilities and investments,
new innovations and plans, people and reforms – will ensure that the United
States military continues to defend our nation, underwrite global security, and
uphold the principled order that has benefited our nation and so many others.
Thankfully, we’ve never had to do so alone. That’s because
there is another critical ingredient to U.S. strength and leadership, and that’s
what I want to emphasize today: our unrivaled relationships with other
countries…a long-time network of allies and partners in every corner of the
That network is an important strategic asset. Our allies
around the world have stood with us – and fought with us – time and again, most
recently in Iraq, Afghanistan, and against ISIL. And we’re just as committed to
them. As history has shown, we have fought with our friends and allies – and to
defend the principles we share – in the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and in
Today, therefore, America’s unrivaled military strength and
that network of friends and allies – also unrivaled – have formed the bedrock of
global security…and have for decades. It reflects an important fact: the United
States has all the friends around the world, and our antagonists have few or
none. That’s no accident.
We have the friends because our network has long been a
principled one, based on the standards and ideals the United States and these
other peoples have collectively promoted and upheld for decades – like resolving
disputes peacefully, ensuring countries can make their own security and economic
choices free from coercion and intimidation, and preserving the freedom of
overflight and navigation guaranteed by international law. It’s also inclusive
and voluntary, since any nation and any military – no matter its capability,
budget, or experience – can contribute.
And we have all the friends because our men and women – the
finest fighting force the world has ever known – embody those principles. Our
people are not only competent, they’re respectful of other people and shared
principles. Defense leaders everywhere I go tell me they like working with our
military. That’s because our servicemembers don’t intimidate, coerce, or exclude…they
work with our allies and partners to ensure a better world. That reputation
makes me proud.
But as the world changes, and as more partners want to
contribute, we’re taking the opportunity to adapt and expand our security
relationships – and I like to say, to network them. And in the remainder of my
remarks I want to focus in on how the Defense Department is networking with our
various allies and partners around the world – across the Asia-Pacific, in the
Middle East and North Africa, and in Europe.
Networking, of course, is helping solve challenges in many
aspects of life today. Networks of all kinds – physical, virtual, and social –
have – with link after link and strand upon strand – improved how we work and
govern, how we sell and shop, how we live and learn. And as the world’s
businesses, governments, and other institutions become more interconnected, it’s
in tune with the times that the world’s militaries would do the same.
Networking security – whether in the Asia-Pacific, the Middle
East and North Africa, or Europe – enables militaries to take coordinated action
to deter conflict, protect their people, and meet transnational challenges, like
terrorism; to ensure the security of and equal access to the global and regional
commons, including vital waterways; and to provide humanitarian assistance
during refugee crises and respond to disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes.
Now, security networking does differ from region to region.
And that makes sense, because each has its own unique history, geography,
politics, and security needs. That’s why, in the Asia-Pacific, we’re weaving
together bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral relationships into a larger,
region-wide network, all in a part of the world that’s never had a region-wide
formal security structure. In the Middle East and North Africa, we’re leading
coalitions and networks to address key security challenges like ISIL and other
terror groups, and to counter Iran’s malign influence. And in Europe, we’re
leveraging an existing and strong multilateral network, and adapting it do new
things in new ways…to stand up to Russian aggression from the east, and to
address challenges on Europe’s southern flank, like the refugees crisis and the
flow of foreign fighters.
In a moment, I’ll address these three regions in greater
detail. But first it’s also important to be mindful that some aspects of our
approach cut across all three.
In each region, the basic principle is the same: we’re
bringing together like-minded partners to enhance cooperation and build and
strengthen connections. And in each region, the network needs a networker: a
nation and a military to enable it. So even as we respond to the five very
different challenges we face today – again, from China, Russia, North Korea,
Iran, and terrorism, especially ISIL – the Defense Department is also leading to
forge these networks.
All the changes at the Department will ensure we continue to
have the dominant people, platforms, payloads, and plans to provide the unique
leadership, capabilities, and guidance to catalyze greater security networking
across these regions. Indeed, in region after region, our people and Department
are building and strengthening connections with countries and militaries so we
can all plan together, exercise and train together, and as necessary fight
together, more effectively and efficiently than ever before.
Those connections take many forms. For one, we’re sharing
information, including intelligence, in new ways, to allow our militaries to
communicate better and in real time so that we can work together seamlessly and
quickly. We’ve done this, for example, with France in the wake of the Paris
attacks last November, and in the trilateral arrangement we’ve developed between
Japan, Republic of Korea, and the United States, to name another.
Also, more and more, we’re leveraging persistent rotational
forces that allow us to project presence without the requirements of permanent
footprints. This has in turn helped us grow the number and complexity of
combined exercises, like the recently completed BALTOPS exercise with NATO,
Finland, and Sweden; the just concluded MALABAR exercise with the United States,
India, and Japan; and the soon to commence 27-nation RIMPAC maritime exercise in
And, as some of those exercises demonstrate, we’re also
improving our interoperability, to ensure that our militaries can work with and
off of the same platforms. For example, the new F-35 stealth jet fighter will be
flown not only by American airmen and naval aviators, but also by Israeli,
Italian, and Korean pilots, to name just a few. In fact, my Israeli counterpart
traveled to the United States this week for a rollout of the first two F-35Is.
Even with these commonalities, our approach to networking is
different, depending upon the region, as I noted. Let me first start with the
Earlier this month, I was at the Shangri-La Dialogue in
Singapore, where we’re continuing to develop the Asia-Pacific security network.
Security in the Asia-Pacific, as I said, has never been managed by a region-wide,
formal structure comparable to NATO in Europe. Instead it has been the United
States and the region’s strong but largely separate bilateral relationships that
have helped ensure security and stability for more than 70 years.
That’s enabled countries throughout the region to make
incredible economic and human progress.
Think about it – economic miracle after economic miracle has
occurred there: first Japan, then Taiwan, then South Korea, and Southeast Asia,
rose and prospered. Now, today, China and India are doing the same. We want that
positive trend to continue because it’s been beneficial for the region and its
people as well as to the U.S. economy and our interests.
Thanks to the investments and planning we’re undertaking as
part of President Obama’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, the United States will
have the people, platforms, and posture to remain the most powerful military and
main underwriter of security in the region for decades. The U.S. role is in
service of a principled and inclusive network…a network in tune not only with
the times but also the region’s history. The network is principled because it
stands for, and in defense of, the principles our countries have collectively
promoted and upheld for decades, such as the freedom of navigation and
overflight. And it’s inclusive because the network’s aimed at no nation and
excludes no one.
To begin with, our historic bilateral relationships are
modernizing and expanding. While we would need to be here all day to go through
the breadth and depth of this work, you can see some of the results:
In, for example, the new U.S.-Japan alliance’s Defense
In our work with our Australian allies both on the challenges of the
Asia-Pacific and in our joint efforts to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria;
In the constant evolution of the deterrent posture on the Korean peninsula with
our ally the Republic of Korea;
And in the way we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our ally the Philippines
including with our landmark Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
And you can see our relationships growing in number and strength:
In the closer than ever U.S.-India military relationship –
thanks to America’s strategic and technological handshakes, with America’s
rebalance shaking hands with India’s Act East policy and the Defense Technology
and Trade Initiative grasping the hand of Prime Minister Modi’s “Make in India”
program – all this includes more frequent exercises and more mutual defense co-development
You see it in the dramatically strengthened U.S.-Vietnam partnership, which now
extends to lethal weapons sales;
And in the U.S.-Singapore relationship, which has helped build cooperation,
provide security, and respond to crises across Southeast Asia.
Those are just a few of our strong partnerships…the list could go on and on.
These growing relationships demonstrate that nations across the Asia-Pacific are
committed to doing more to promote continued regional security and prosperity.
And they show that the United States is using its unique capabilities,
experience, and influence to stand with them and network them to meet common
challenges and ensure continued regional security and stability.
For example, we’re implementing our Maritime Security
Initiative, which represents an initial $425-million-dollar, five-year, American
commitment to establish a regional maritime security network in Southeast Asia.
More than simply providing money or hardware, this Initiative helps the United
States to enable the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand to
connect and work with each other – and us – so they can all see more, share
more, and do more to ensure maritime security throughout the vital waters of
This initiative, which has enjoyed bipartisan support in
Congress, catalyzes a principled and inclusive security network in the vital
field of maritime security.
In addition to all this, the Asia-Pacific security network is
coming together in three additional ways.
First, some pioneering trilateral mechanisms are bringing
together like-minded allies and partners to maximize individual contributions
and connect nations that previously worked together only bilaterally. For
example, the U.S.-Japan-Republic of Korea trilateral partnership helps us
coordinate responses to North Korean nuclear and missile provocations. And our
three nations will conduct a trilateral ballistic missile warning exercise later
And through joint activities like the MALABAR Exercise, the
U.S.-Japan-India trilateral relationship is starting to provide real, practical
security cooperation that spans the entire region from the Indian Ocean to the
Second – and beyond relationships involving the United States
– many countries within the Asia-Pacific are coming together on their own in
bilateral and trilateral mechanisms. For example, India is increasing its
training with Vietnam’s military and coast guard on their common platforms. And
the Japan-Australia-India trilateral meeting last year was a welcome development
and addition to the region’s security network.
And third, and even more broadly, all of our nations are
creating a networked, multilateral regional security architecture – from one end
of the region to the other – through the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus.
Later this year, I will host an informal defense ministers’ dialogue in Hawaii,
with all of the ASEAN countries, to discuss common interests, and find new ways
to ensure regional security.
That’s all to the good, but it’s important to remember, as I
said earlier, that this Asia-Pacific security network is not aimed at any
particular country. The network’s not closed and excludes no one. Although we
have disagreements with China, especially over its destabilizing behavior in the
South China Sea, we’re committed to working with them and to persuading them to
avoid self-isolation. That is one reason why, we’ll continue to pursue a
stronger bilateral military-to-military relationship with our colleagues in
China, including later this month at RIMPAC, which China will participate in
again this summer.
Let me now turn to the Middle East and North Africa, where –
despite much turmoil, turbulence, and transition – our networking is guided by
our crystal-clear and lasting national interests. They remain our North Star in
a confused region.
There we’re focused on what I’ve called, the “two I’s,” Iran
On the first “I,” Iran, the nuclear accord is a good deal for
preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but in other respects our
concerns with Iran persist. And because of its reckless and destabilizing
behavior in that part of the world the Defense Department remains full speed
ahead – in our investments, our planning, and our posture – to ensure we deter
Iranian aggression, counter Iran’s malign influence, and uphold our ironclad
commitments to our regional friends and allies, especially Israel.
The other challenge in the Middle East is, of course, ISIL.
ISIL threatens our interests, those of our friends and allies in the region and
around the world, and our homeland. That’s why our military campaign, which I
outlined at Fort Campbell in January, has these three necessary elements: first,
to destroy the ISIL parent tumor in Iraq and Syria; two, to combat the emerging
metastases of ISIL worldwide; and three, all the while, to help protect the
On that last objective, every day, our homeland security,
intelligence and law enforcement agencies are aggressively and skillfully
pursuing a whole-of-government effort to protect the homeland. And the Defense
Department does everything it can to help.
While we work to do so, the U.S. military has also been
taking action abroad with a 30-member military coalition to destroy ISIL’s
parent tumor in Iraq and Syria and show that there will not be an Islamic State
based upon this ideology. Beyond those two countries, we’re also building a
transregional network of anti-terror nodes to counter ISIL, and other terror
groups, wherever they metastasize – in the Middle East, in North Africa, in
South Asia, or elsewhere.
Before I describe that network, let me walk you through the
coalition military campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat. Our strategic
approach is clear: the way to ensure that the defeat of ISIL is lasting is to
enable capable, motivated local forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria who can
seize, hold, and govern territory retaken from ISIL. That’s frustrating at times,
we all know, but there’s just no substitute if we’re going to ensure that after
ISIL is defeated, it stays defeated. We’ve been accelerating our campaign
dramatically since last Fall… pressuring ISIL from all sides, across all domains,
and simultaneously. And the campaign is producing results on the ground,
creating and seizing new opportunities, and continuing to gather momentum.
As we meet here today, the U.S. military is supporting local,
capable forces in three major operations in Iraq and Syria, along with a number
of other activities. In Western Iraq, we’re assisting the Iraqi Security Forces
in their operations to clear Fallujah under the command of Prime Minister Abadi.
Fallujah is one of the last remaining urban centers under ISIL’s control in
Anbar province, and its retaking will follow the results of the Iraqi Security
Forces in Ramadi, Hit, and Rutbah. In Northern Iraq, we’re supporting the Iraqi
Security Forces in a major operation to envelop and collapse ISIL’s control over
Mosul, while also equipping and funding Kurdish Peshmerga who will converge on
Mosul from the North. And in Northern Syria, we – and our coalition partners –
are enabling the Syrian Arab Coalition forces to expel ISIL from Manbij City,
after its successful envelopment. And we’re working with local forces fighting
ISIL along the Mara line. Those operations are particularly critical for helping
to seal the Turkish border and cut off the flow of foreign fighters in and out
of Syria and to eliminate external plotting being conducted from Manbij.
Meanwhile, we’ve also been pressuring ISIL’s war-sustaining
abilities by systematically eliminating their leadership cadre and their
financial architecture. In addition to taking out their ministers of war and
finance and capturing one of the principals of ISIL’s chemical warfare
enterprise, we’ve killed some 20 of ISIL’s external operators who were actively
plotting to attack our friends and allies and America’s own men and women in
uniform. And we’re continuing attacks on ISIL’s economic infrastructure – from
oil wells and trucks to cash storage sites.
The counter-ISIL campaign is an example of what we can do
when working with local and global partners. Our global military coalition of 30
nations has trained some 23,000 Iraqi Security Forces, and provided local
partners with more than eight full brigade sets of equipment, including
ammunition, small, medium, and heavy weapons, and counter-IED equipment. For our
part, the Defense Department is bringing to bear in the fight against ISIL every
element of our military power – special operators, conventional forces, air
assets, intelligence and surveillance, cyber and space capabilities, logistics
And that’s generating real results on the ground. But Orlando
is a reminder that all nations must do more to defeat ISIL. The sooner we
deliver it a lasting defeat, the safer we’ll make our homelands and our people.
That’s why, in addition to accelerating the campaign with
additional U.S. capabilities, I’ve renewed our outreach to coalition members.
And over the last five months, I’ve convened my counterparts several times – in
Paris, Brussels, Riyadh, and then at Stuttgart – to brief them on the coalition
military campaign plan, but above all to urge them to contribute more, and in
more meaningful ways. And next month, I’ll once again be hosting defense
ministers from every member of the counter-ISIL military coalition here in
Washington for the second overall defense ministerial, and to plan and resource
our next steps in our comprehensive campaign in Iraq and Syria.
We’ve been addressing ISIL’s metastases as well – by
degrading it in Afghanistan, targeting its leadership and infrastructure in
Libya, and in other actions worldwide.
We’ll keep adapting, with our growing network and our
strengthening network of coalition partners. Because the enemy frequently takes
the form of a network itself, it must be fought in that way. An important step
I’m taking with Chairman Dunford is to develop a transregional networked
approach to counterterrorism generally.
This approach leverages infrastructure we’ve already
established in Afghanistan, the Levant, East Africa, and Southern Europe. These
so-called regional nodes – from Morón, Spain to Jalalabad, Afghanistan – will
provide forward presence to respond to a range of contingencies, terrorist and
other kinds…enabling unilateral crisis response, counter-terror operations, or
strikes on high-value targets.
Those forward nodes will also allow us to enable and network
partners to respond to a range of challenges. They’ll help us pre-position
equipment for ourselves and our partners. And they’ll provide important
opportunities to innovate – to develop new command-and-control structure, test
new ways to manage our forces, prototype new capabilities, and try out new
operational concepts, networked and otherwise.
To take full advantage of these nodes and the network they
comprise, we have to change how the Defense Department works, and is structured,
to ensure better transregional and transfunctional integration and advice. Right
now, the responsibility for integration among the combatant commanders and
combatant commands reposed in the Secretary of Defense is inadequately supported
by the formal authority of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That’s why,
in some of our proposed improvements to the 30-year-old Goldwater-Nichols Act,
we want to clarify the role and authority of the Chairman to, among other things,
help the Secretary of Defense synchronize resources globally for daily
operations around the world, enhancing the Department’s flexibility and ability
to move forces rapidly across the seams between our combatant commands. And I
want to commend Chairman Dunford – who has been leading these critically
Now, the third, and last region I’ll discuss today, is
Europe, where I was last week for the NATO Defense Ministerial. And of course,
NATO has for over 67 years been the quintessential example of nations working
together, and networking together, to respond to security challenges.
But today, the Transatlantic Community faces new challenges
very different from the Cold War – in the East, where Russia is acting
aggressively and advancing new forms of hybrid warfare; and on the Southern
Flank, with refugees and foreign fighters; and further abroad, in Afghanistan
and with ISIL and other terror groups.
And in the face of these challenges, the Defense Department
is helping NATO adapt and network so it can meet and overcome this era’s
challenges to the interests and values of this family of nations.
Now, we haven’t had to prioritize deterrence on NATO’s
eastern flank for 25 years. While we all wish it were otherwise, now we do.
Despite the progress that we’ve made together since the end of the Cold War,
Russia has in recent years appeared intent – with its violation of Ukrainian,
Georgian, and Moldovan territorial integrity, with its unprofessional behavior
in the air, in space, and in cyber-space, as well as with its nuclear
saber-rattling – on eroding the principled international order that has served
the United States, our allies and partners, the international community and
Russia itself so well for so long.
In response, as I detailed a year ago in Berlin, the United
States is taking a strong and balanced approach to address Russia. We’re
strengthening our capabilities, our posture, our investments, our plans and our
allies and partners, all while still keeping the door open to working with
Russia where our interests align. And we will continue to make clear that
Russia’s aggressive actions only serve to further its isolation, and further
unite the NATO Alliance.
Throughout… although the 20th century NATO playbook helped
counter the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, and ultimately helped win the Cold
War, it’s not a perfect match for the 21st century challenges the Transatlantic
Community faces. That’s why NATO’s adapting and writing a new playbook. That
playbook takes the lessons of history and leverages our alliance’s strengths in
new, networked ways to counter new challenges, like cyber and hybrid warfare; to
integrate conventional and nuclear deterrence; and to adjust our posture and
presence so we can be more agile and responsive.
Of course, as the alliance’s defense ministers discussed last
week when I was in Brussels – and those conversations will continue by the way
next month when I accompany President Obama to the NATO Summit in Warsaw, we all
need to do more to deter and defend against Russian aggression and to meet the
challenges to NATO’s South and further abroad.
The United States and the Defense Department are already
doing more than our fair share. We’ve increased funding for our European
Reassurance Initiative – more than quadrupling what we requested last year – to
bolster our bilateral military engagement in Europe and to strengthen our
deterrence posture in the face of Russia’s aggression. Among other things, this
funding will allow us to rotate an Armored Brigade Combat Team on a heel-to-toe
basis into Northern Europe as well as preposition equipment and warfighting gear
for another Armored Brigade Combat Team ready to be used by American troops
flown into Europe. This, of course, is in addition to the two brigades we
already maintain there, and the… [rotational] combat aviation brigade that’s
also been sent to Europe.
We’re encouraging our fellow allies to do more as well. We’ve
seen some progress from NATO allies on spending – since the 2 percent pledge
made at the 2014 Wales Summit, the vast majority of allies have stopped making
cuts, and most allies have also committed to at least small increases in defense
budgets – but there’s still more to do. And that will certainly be discussed in
Warsaw as well.
Meanwhile, we’re also working within the NATO alliance to
develop networked responses to Russian aggression. For example, the United
States has helped develop NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, which can
deploy allied forces on 48-hours’ notice from multiple locations in Europe to
any crisis on NATO territory. This is a real innovation: one that uses
commitments from many members of the alliance to provide a networked response to
crises. And the United States is providing the unique enabling capabilities –
airlift and many others – that will make the networked VJTF work.
Additionally, and most recently, NATO has also agreed to a
persistent Enhanced Forward Presence of four NATO battalions on its eastern
flank – one each in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In Brussels last week,
it became clear that the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom will
make key contributions – and we won’t be the only ones – though the final
details will be determined next month in Warsaw. This forward presence too will
be networked as the rotational forces will be fielded from many NATO countries.
And the resulting combined presence will be an additional deterrent to Russian
Given the many challenges to European security, NATO and its
member countries are also networking with non-NATO partners and even
non-European partners to ensure the security of the Transatlantic Community and
the world. For example, in Afghanistan, NATO’s Resolute Support Mission
continues to help strengthen the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
Recently the President authorized us to use American forces to strategic effect
in support of Afghan forces during this fighting season. And we’re very pleased
that other NATO nations have committed not only to provide forces to that
mission beyond this year, but also to provide funding to sustain the Afghan
forces through 2020, as the United States has also done.
Meanwhile, NATO is also providing support to partners like
Ukraine and Georgia, helping build the capacity of these former Soviet states
and strengthen their capabilities and defense institutions…something that’s
particularly important in the face of Russian aggression.
To help address the migrant and refugee crisis, NATO is
complementing the EU’s work in the Mediterranean Sea, with its own NATO activity
in the Aegean Sea. And the United States is sending the USNS GRAPPLE to support
And NATO will soon play a more direct role as an alliance in
the counter-ISIL campaign – first by contributing AWACS and conducting training
and defense capacity building for Iraqi forces inside Iraq rather than in
Jordan. Hopefully that will be the start of more to come.
In conclusion, all of this networking demonstrates that
whether in Europe, around the Middle East, or across the Asia-Pacific, these
inclusive, principled security networks will continue to contribute to national,
regional, and global security and help uphold the principled international order.
And because of the investments, reforms, and changes we’re
making at the Defense Department, the United States will not only remain the
most powerful military and underwriter of stability and security in every region
across the globe – we’ll also continue to be the leader and enabler of these
networks for decades to come.
As a result, we will do more than meet the five challenges of
this new strategic era… we will ensure that this time of historic change is also
one of historic progress.
To ensure it is, we may further change how we invest, how we
operate, how we fight, and how we network. But we will never change why we’re
networking with friends and allies and what we’re networking – and willing to
fight – for: for our security and interests…for the principles that have
benefited so many for so long.
That’s what many of you in this room have spent your careers
working for. I thank you for that dedication. But we’re not finished yet. We
still have work to do. And, as we continue to pursue that mission, I look
forward to collaborating, and networking, with each of you at CNAS