ISSN 2330-717X

Defense Officials Discuss Strategic Cooperation

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By David Vergun

The collective support to Ukraine, driven by a network of allies and partners, marks a pivotal moment in security cooperation history, the director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.

James A. Hursch spoke about security cooperation last week on a panel at his agency’s 2022 Security Cooperation Conference. Mara E. Karlin, the Defense Department’s assistant secretary for strategy, plans and capabilities, also spoke at the event in Washington. 

Besides being a pivotal moment, the implications of U.S. support to Ukraine have been far-reaching, Hursch said. 

“We now know the speed with which we can place lethal and meaningful support in the hands of allied forces engaged in a hot war [in terms of] weeks, if not days. We now know the scale at which we can supply allied forces with wartime resources, and we now know the number by which our unmatched network can be expanded to support those in need — 50 partner nations and counting,” he said. 

Security cooperation with Ukraine provides a deterrent effect beyond the current crisis, Hursch said.

“It is not hard to imagine nations having reconsidered potential future acts of aggression based on the magnitude of international support to Ukraine [being] led through the United States’ security cooperation efforts,” he said.

Additionally, the companies that make up the U.S., ally and partner defense industrial base are force enablers and capacity builders that make this security cooperation possible, he said. 

“I have met with many of these companies from the United States and Europe over the past few weeks, and I’m impressed by the recurring question, ‘How can we provide more help?'” he said. 

“A great deal of credit goes to the Ukrainian forces for their bravery and resolve, and we know that the collective efforts of our partners and our collective industrial base have enabled that nation and its forces to effectively fend off a country 28 times its size,” he added.

Hursch also mentioned security cooperation with key allies — such as Australia, South Korea, and Japan — as threats grow from China. 

Karlin said security cooperation requires special skills. “Security cooperation isn’t just a tool in the toolbox, it’s an instrument of statecraft that requires a specialized set of skills and knowledge to properly wield,” she said.

The new national defense strategy lays out what security cooperation is needed worldwide, Karlin said. 

“We’re witnessing a global geostrategic environment laden with threats, both from states seeking to undermine the security and sovereignty of our partners and from non-state actors who would disrupt and diminish our capacity to preserve a rules-based order. In this environment, the enduring U.S. strategic advantage is our unmatched network of allies and partners,” she said. 

DOD aims to help partners not only develop specific capabilities, but also enable institutional integrity and effectiveness and an ability to promote shared values, notably the promotion and protection of human rights and good governance of the security sector, she said. 

“What ultimately sets apart the United States in an environment of strategic competition are the values we represent. Our ability to maintain and continue to set a high bar for human rights, gender equity and equality, humanitarian affairs and rule of law — including civilian oversight of the military — can help our partners meet their goals and advance those shared values,” she said.

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DoD News publishes news from the US Defense Department.

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