By DoD News
By Jim Garamone
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the North Atlantic Council has approved forward presence along the alliance’s border with Russia.
The secretary general briefed the press following the first day of North Atlantic Council deliberations at the July 8-9 Warsaw Summit. President Barack Obama leads the U.S. delegation.
NATO heads of state agreed to send reinforced, multinational battalions to the eastern part of the alliance. “These battalions will be robust and multinational,” Stoltenberg said. “They demonstrate the strength of the transatlantic bond, and they make clear that an attack on one ally would be considered an attack on the whole alliance.”
Canada will be the framework nation for the battalion in Latvia, Stoltenberg said. Germany, he said, will lead in Lithuania, the United Kingdom will be in Estonia and the United States will take the lead in Poland.
“I also welcome that many other allies announced during our meeting that they will contribute in different ways,” Stoltenberg said.
The battalions will be in place next year, the secretary general said.
NATO leaders also agreed to declare initial operational capability of the NATO Ballistic Missile Defense system. “This means the U.S. ships based in Spain, the radar in Turkey and the interceptor site in Romania are now able to work together under NATO command and control,” Stoltenberg said.
He emphasized the system is entirely defensive in nature and is not aimed at Russia and its strategic nuclear defense.
“Today, we also recognized cyberspace as a new operational domain — joining land, air and sea,” Stoltenberg said. “This means better protection of our networks and missions and operations with more focus on cyber training and cyber planning.” He said the decision is a clear sign to all that the alliance is strengthening its defense in all areas.
NATO’s security depends on all nations being prepared, he said. Nations agreed to boost resilience and improve civil preparedness. They also agreed to invest in new capabilities needed to meet new threats, including hybrid warfare.
“Modern challenges require a modern alliance and they require the right resources,” Stoltenberg said.
Defense Investment Pledge
The leaders reviewed and reconfirmed the defense investment pledge made at the last NATO Summit in Wales. Last year was the first year in many with a small increase in defense spending across NATO, Stoltenberg said. Estimates for 2016, he said, show a further increase across the European allies and Canada.
“This amounts to $8 billion,” he said, noting, many allies are increasing their readiness and the ability to deploy their forces.
“We still have a long way to go, but I believe we have turned a corner,” he added,
Stoltenberg stressed that NATO is a defensive alliance. None of the 29 nations in the group — now including Montenegro, which formally joined today — want confrontation, he said.
“As we continue to strengthen our deterrence and defense, we continue to seek a dialogue with Russia,” he said. “Russia cannot and should not be isolated. Furthermore, with increased military activity in and around Europe we have an interest in agreeing about the rules of the road with Russia. We need to avoid miscalculation and accidents.”
Stoltenberg said he will convene a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council next week to brief Russia on the decisions from the Warsaw Summit.
“NATO’s greatest responsibility remains the protection of our almost 1 billion citizens,” he said. “This fundamental fact informs everything we do. The decisions we have taken today will help keep our nations safe in the more dangerous world.”