Tag Archives: nato

NATO should adapt to various challenges like Russia & ISIS – RT.com – RT

Posted: February 19, 2017 at 10:57 am

Russia indeed poses a challenge to NATO, but of a different kind than ISIS terrorism, the alliances former chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen told RT. He believes NATO should adapt to the various threats but ultimately deal with them from a position of force.

The military alliance does not compare Russia with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorism since it does not measure whether one threat is worse that another, but deems them both as challenges, NATO’s former Secretary General told RT on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany.

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I dont think we should rank treats. I consider Russia a challenge, I consider the Islamic State a challenge, and they should be addressed in different ways. Thats actually the essence of this, that NATO should adapt to be able both to address territorial challenges as well as challenges from overseas like terrorism.

The so-called territorial challenges which NATO faces according to Rasmussen are apparently tensions along Russias borders, namely the Ukraine unrest and concerns over Moscows potential aggression across other Eastern European states. Rasmussen believes the tensions are Moscows own strategy; to set its own borders ablaze to keep NATO out, and not a result of the bloc’s expansion into post-Soviet countries.

It is Putins strategy to keep conflicts in the near neighborhood similarly or frozen, because he knows if that he can keep these conflicts similarly or frozen then he will keep his neighbors dependent on the Kremlin and economically weak, and he will prevent them from seeking Euro-Atlantic integration with NATO and the European Union, Rasmussen said.

To prevent Russia from pursuing this alleged strategy, NATO should do its best to implement the Minsk agreement, which is rather confusing since Russia itself has constantly been calling the warring sides of the Ukrainian civil war to stick with this deal for the past two years.

This is also the reason why we should focus on the implementation of the Minsk deal. And the ultimate goal should be to restore full Ukrainian control with the eastern borders, Rasmussen said.

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While NATO is refusing cooperation with Russia, it is ready for dialogue, and Rasmussen fully supports the US approach to talks with Moscow from a position of strength and even refers to a very successful Cold War experience.

Dialogue is always good. But I think any dialogue should take place from a position of strength, and thats exactly what Vice President Pence also stressed today. He said ‘Peace through strength.’ And the same did president Reagan in the past, and very successfully. He said we will need a stronger US to make sure that the Russians understand that were sincere.

But according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, political dialogue and diplomacy do not make any sense without the resumption of military cooperation.

NATOs expansion has led to an unprecedented level of tension over the last 30 years in Europe, Lavrov said in Munich, rejecting the idea of such dialogue.

What kind of relationship do we want with the US? One [based on] pragmatism, mutual respect, and an understanding of special responsibility for global stability, the Russian FM stated.

READ MORE:Lavrov: NATO expansion led to tension in Europe unprecedented in last 30 years

The stealthy approach of dialogue from a position of strength seems to even apply to Washingtons own allies, whom the US has pressured to contribute their fair share of 2 percent of GDP on maintaining NATO.

But Rasmussen says this call should not be treated as a threat. We should consider this statement from the US not as threat but as a welcome opportunity how can we, Europeans invest more, not only economically but also politically into transatlantic bond.

NATO should adapt to various challenges like Russia & ISIS – RT.com – RT

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Sharing the NATO Burden – New York Times

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 3:58 am

New York Times
Sharing the NATO Burden
New York Times
For many years now, successive American administrations have made no secret of their frustration with how little most NATO allies spend on their militaries, leaving the United States with a disproportionately large share of the bill for the joint defense.
Straight shooting with NATOCharleston Post Courier
Trump confronts NATO's free ridersChicago Tribune
Germany: US benefits from stable EU, united NATOMinneapolis Star Tribune
Wall Street Journal (subscription) –Wilkes Barre Times-Leader –NATO HQ (press release)
all 1,293 news articles »

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Mattis Stresses NATO Importance at Munich Security Conference – Department of Defense

Posted: at 3:57 am

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2017 The bond between the United States and its NATO allies is a critical component in regional and global security, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said at an international security conference in Germany today.

“As guardians for our nations and as sentinels for new threats we all see our community of nations under threat on multiple fronts as the arc of instability builds on NATOs periphery and beyond,” Mattis said at the Munich Security Conference.

Mattis, who as a Marine Corps general served as NATO’s supreme allied commander for transformation, said the “transatlantic bond remains our strongest bulwark against instability and violence.”

NATO exists, he said, to protect the way of life of its members, to include the exchange of free ideas that characterizes the annual Munich Security Conference.

The conference, which brings together more than 450 senior decision-makers from across the globe, is now in its 53rd iteration.

“Im grateful to be among so many leaders in our democracies as we forge our path ahead,” Mattis said, adding, “This is how we build approaches to working together for a peaceful and prosperous future.”

Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are also attending the multi-day conference.

The threats to the alliance are numerous, Mattis pointed out. The best approach to protecting oneself is in tandem with others, he said, as “security is always best when provided by a team.”

Full U.S. Support for Alliance

Mattis underscored U.S. support for the alliance, saying President Donald J. Trump has thrown his full support to NATO and believes in NATOs need to adapt to todays strategic situation for it to remain credible, capable and relevant.

As the NATO-European Union Joint Declaration signed in Warsaw reflects, American security is permanently tied to the security of Europe, Mattis said.

The U.S. defense chief, who met in Brussels earlier this week with his NATO counterparts, said the transatlantic bonds are strong and fellow defense ministers are under “no illusions about the threats our nations face together.”

Unity in Recognizing Threats

NATO allies recognize 2014 was a “watershed year and we can no longer deny reality,” Mattis said.

“Unified by these growing threats to our democracies, we possess strong resolve,” he said, noting the alliance will adapt to the challenges.

Adapting, according to Mattis, is the hard part, as the alliance moves forward together, reinforcing deterrence and defense, and more directly addressing terrorist threats along NATOs southern flank from the Mediterranean to the Turkish border.

In a speech in Brussels earlier this week, Mattis noted that 2014 included Russia using force to alter the borders of one of its sovereign neighbors, and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)

Mattis Stresses NATO Importance at Munich Security Conference – Department of Defense

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NATO’s Red Herring – Carnegie Europe

Posted: February 14, 2017 at 11:58 pm

In Washington and at NATOs headquarters in Brussels, the view is that alliance members spend far too little on defense. Despite repeated cajoling from U.S. defense secretariesand now from U.S. President Donald Trumpfor European allies to spend more, many European finance ministers are opposed to opening their purses to their defense counterparts.

Only a handful of NATO alliesBritain, Estonia, Greece, Poland, and the United Statesspend 2 percent or more of their GDP on defense. And thats out of an alliance of 28 members. No doubt therell be more cajoling at the annual Munich Security Conference when scores of leaders and hundreds of diplomats along with defense and security officials gather in the Bavarian capital on February 17.

By spending more on equipment and training and sending 5,000 troops to Poland and the Baltic states, NATO aims to reassure its more vulnerable members and show Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, that the alliance is taking collective defense seriously. But something of fundamental importance is missing from the spending plea and the deployment of troops: institutional memory, or what collective defense and deterrence used to mean in substance and in practice.

During the Cold War, NATO was in top gear. Training and coordination, doctrine and capabilities, strategy and preparedness were taken as given. Collective defense was ingrained in the theory and practice of the alliance.

The nature of the threat was never underestimated, either. Just take a look at a fascinating report written by the alliances military committee in 1966. The Overall Strategic Concept for the Defense of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Area is worth reading for one main reason: it set out the strategic goals of NATO and those of its adversary, the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact.

The year 1966 cannot be compared with 2017. The Warsaw Pact is defunct. In that sense, the conventional definition of the Cold War no longer applies today. But Russia is still intent on weakening or dividing NATO. The alliances demise remains Moscows goal. Russias determination to hold on to its immediate western neighborsBelarus, Georgia, and Ukraineand maintain a strong influence over Armenia and Moldova has already been tested by Moscows invasion of eastern Ukraine and its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014.

Page 4 of NATOs 1966 report states clearly that Soviet policy toward NATOa policy that Putin is replicating todaywas based on economic means, political means, propaganda, subversion, and military power. With a brief interlude in the early 1990s, the Kremlin hasnt discarded these instruments.

This is NATOs Achilles heel and the reason why the debate over the 2 percent spending goal could be a red herring. During the 1990s, the alliance lost its raison dtreand understandably. Many of its members assumed Russia would embark on a different kind of cooperation or coexistence with the West. However, NATOs bombing of Serbia in 1999 and Russias staunch opposition to that mission only reinforced Moscows Cold War perception of NATO.

The alliance, meanwhile, slowly lost the tools that underpinned territorial defense: coordination and strategic thinking. In 2001, NATO went off to Afghanistan, where crisis management and counterinsurgency eroded what the alliance was established for in the first place. The strategic pendulum is swinging back from crisis management to deterrence and collective defense, a top NATO diplomat told Carnegie Europe on condition of anonymity.

The problem is that on the ground, NATOs European allies are singularly ill equipped for deterrence and collective defense. Again, there is a lack of institutional memory. We lack the generals who knew what deterrence and collective defense were about, another NATO diplomat said.

Just as crucially, NATO today lacks the necessary infrastructure. During the Cold War, NATO had strong bridges, aircraft, roads, and a railroad network to transport troops quickly and in large numbers. True, there were tens of thousands of NATO troops at the ready. But that infrastructure also included energy supplies and logistics, the availability of housing and food, and the ability to cross borders without bureaucratic delays. All these have been largely eroded. If NATO is serious about deterrence and collective and territorial defense, it has to remake this infrastructure.

As the 1966 report stated, to be fully effective against an attack with little or no strategic warning forces should be provided with adequate combat and logistic support, possess the necessary tactical mobility, and be deployed forward with appropriate echeloning in depth in suitable tactical locations.

NATO cannot revive this depleted institutional memory. A whole generation of military, diplomatic, and security personnel has been replaced. That is why the 2 percent spending issue will become a red herring unless NATO realizes what it has lost and what Russia has retained.

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Moldovan President: Planned NATO Office In Chisinau ‘Provocation’ – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Posted: at 11:58 pm

CHISINAU — Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon has told RFE/RL he thinks the planned opening of a permanent NATO liaison office in Moldova would amount to a provocation.

Moldova’s pro-Western government signed an agreement with NATO on the opening of the civilian-staffed liaison bureau in November, before Dodon assumed office.

Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip has urged his Foreign Ministry to accelerate the opening of a NATO liaison office in Chisinau, and the ministry has said it hopes to do so in April.

But in an interview in Chisinau on February 14, Dodon told RFE/RL that he wanted Moldova to remain neutral rather than joining any military alliance.

He said Moldova and NATO had been collaborating well so far.

But when asked about plans for the liaison office, he said: “What do we need a NATO office for? A NATO office in Chisinau, in a neutral country, is a provocation.”

“I do not want this. I want neither NATO nor this Russia-led [military] alliance as far as armed forces are concerned,” Dodon said in an apparent reference to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military organization grouping Russia and five other former Soviet republics — Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

The Moldovan presidency is a largely symbolic position, but Dodon’s position has been strengthened by the fact that he was elected in a direct popular vote — the first president of the country to win office through such an election since 1997.

On February 7, Dodon said after talks in Brussels with NATO Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller that the Moldovan people did not “welcome” the opening of a NATO liaison office — despite the request for the office made by the center-right-controlled parliament and government.

The Moldovan government is made up of officials from pro-Western parties while Dodon previously headed the pro-Russian Socialist Party, which wants closer ties with Moscow rather than closer integration with European institutions.

Dodon said he had recommended to Moldova’s current parliament and government that they “not rush it.”

“If they do rush it, the next parliament and government will cancel this agreement, NATO will close down the office and will run away from Moldova. Why do we need such a thing,” he told RFE/RL.

Dodon also had argued in Brussels that the NATO liaison bureau would “create impediments in regard to negotiations in the Transdniester issue.”

Transdniester, a Russian-speaking region in Moldova’s east, declared independence from Chisinau in 1990 amid concerns among separatists there of a possible unification of Romania and majority Romanian-speaking Moldova.

A war broke out between Moldova and Transdniester in 1992, which resulted in hundreds of deaths.

Russian troops quelled the fighting, but the conflict remains unresolved, and some 1,200 Russian soldiers are still deployed in Transdniester.

Russia says those troops act as peacekeepers, despite repeated calls for their withdrawal by both Chisinau and the international community.

Asked by RFE/RL to explain his stance on Transdniester, Dodon said he wanted “very much” to see Russian troops leave Transdniester.

“I am quite optimistic about resolving this problem, maybe by the end of my term, maybe even earlier,” he said without elaborating.

Dodon’s first visit abroad as president was to Moscow, followed by a trip to Brussels.

He told RFE/RL that he planned to continue visiting former Soviet republics as well as some European Union member countries.

“I believe I will visit CIS members Azerbaijan and Belarus, and probably Armenia, EU member Hungary, and [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan will probably come to Moldova in May.”

An official visit to Moldova by Erdogan has so far not been confirmed by Turkey.

Moldovan President: Planned NATO Office In Chisinau ‘Provocation’ – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

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Nato has troops ‘shortfall’ in Afghanistan – US general – BBC News

Posted: February 13, 2017 at 9:01 am

Nato has troops 'shortfall' in Afghanistan – US general
BBC News
The commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan has said he needs a "few thousand" more troops to break a stalemate in the war with the Taliban. Gen John Nicholson told the US Senate Armed Services Committee he had enough forces for …
US general says NATO needs more troops in Afghanistan to be effectiveUPI.com
Top commander: Russia 'legitimizing' Taliban to undermine US, NATOThe Hill
US commander asks for more NATO troops in AfghanistanDeutsche Welle
Reuters –Antiwar.com
all 153 news articles »

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67% of Russians view NATO as a threat poll RT News – RT.com – RT

Posted: at 9:01 am

Sixty-seven percent of Russians view NATO as a threat, a new survey from Gallup shows. Its the highest number recorded since 2008.

In contrast, back in 2012, only 38 percent of Russians perceived the Western military bloc as a threat.

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Fifty-four percent of Belarusians also view NATO, the security alliance of 28 countries from North America and Europe, as a threat, a 19-point jump from four years ago, the latest Gallup poll has found.

Along with the Russians and Belarusians, more people in Ukraine (35 percent), Kazakhstan (31 percent), Kyrgyzstan (30 percent), Moldova (27 percent), Armenia (20 percent) and Tajikistan (34 percent) view NATO as a threat rather than a protection, the international survey says.

The number of Ukrainians who view NATO as a threat has increased in recent years, according to Gallup. In 2014, when the military conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainians were more likely to see NATO as a protection (36 percent) than a threat (20 percent), researchers says.

Last year, however, the percentage viewing it as a threat shot back up to 35 percent, as the Ukrainian population has grown tired of the ongoing conflict. Without a clear end in sight to the conflict, Ukrainians may be losing confidence in NATO’s ability to help them in this crisis, the latest survey says.

Eastern European countries that see NATO as a source of protection are mostly members of the alliance.

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Poland (where 62 percent see NATO as their protector) in January saw the largest deployment of US troops in Europe since the Cold War, while Lithuania (57 percent) has been bolstered by German, French, Belgian and other troops. Estonia (with 52 percent backing NATO) is hosting 800 NATO personnel, while Romania (where 50 percent approve of NATO) is expected to receive several Royal Air Force Typhoon jets in 2017.

The poll results are based on telephone interviews conducted throughout 2016 in the countries featured in the analysis, with a random sample of some 1,000 adults aged 15 and older, living in each country. In Russia, the sample size was 2,000 adults, Gallup says.

Russia has long been accusing NATO of staging a military buildup across its borders, saying it was undermining security in Europe. The alliance, however, justifies it by what it describes as Moscows aggression.

In response, Russia stationed its most modern weaponry and armaments in its western regions, including the exclave of Kaliningrad, which shares a border with Poland and Lithuania, and is carrying out large-scale military drills on home soil.

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Germany’s Defense Minister: Trump is Committed to NATO – NBCNews.com

Posted: February 11, 2017 at 7:59 am

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen attends a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Feb. 10. Mary F. Calvert / Reuters

Russia’s deputy defense minister has called those NATO exercises a “threat.”

But Von der Leyen disputed that characterization and deemed the NATO troop movements, which involve a U.S. Armored Combat Brigade, “appropriate.”

“Russia knows that it is a reaction for the Russian annexation of Crimea and the hybrid war in Eastern Ukraine,” she told NBC News. “Therefore it was important for us to make sure that our Baltic friends know their borders are secure”

Von der Leyen is the first defense minister hosted by Mattis at the Pentagon and their meeting lasted for about an hour, twice as long as scheduled.

Their conversation ranged from Syria to Ukraine, and also touched upon European defense spending levels. She said it was a “fair question” for President Trump to ask why so many NATO countries do not spend the targeted 2 percent of GDP on their military budgets.

“In an alliance there needs to be a fair share of the burden,” she said. “We recognize that we need to raise the budget, because we need it in the Armed forces. We need to modernize the armed forces.”

The German defense minister also suggested that Europe needs to consider establishing an EU army, to conduct missions that aren’t core to NATO’s mission.

“We need as Europeans to address problems where for example we do not see NATO,” she said, “We have to bring over stability for example to Mali and Niger.”

Ahead of Germany’s planned election in September, she called on the press to help dismantle “fake news” stories, while suggesting that Russia may attempt to meddle in their democratic process.

“The Kremlin has no interest in having a too stable and too strong Europe, she said. “The free press is the strongest sword you have within these complex situations.”

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NATO backs stable, secure and neutral Moldova – NATO HQ (press release)

Posted: February 10, 2017 at 2:53 am

NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller welcomed the Moldovan President Igor Dodon to NATO headquarters on Tuesday (7 February 2017) for talks on the partnership between the Alliance and the Republic of Moldova. Ms Gottemoeller thanked Moldova for its contribution to NATOs KFOR peacekeeping mission, which also gives Moldovan troops valuable practical experience. She explained how the partnership between NATO and the Republic of Moldova helps improve peoples lives, for instance with training for almost 2,000 Moldovans in areas such as fighting corruption in the defence sector, border security and civil emergency planning.

The Alliance has spent 4.5 million euros on destroying pesticides, anti-personnel mines, surplus munitions and rocket fuel. The Deputy Secretary General said that NATO will open a new civilian Liaison Office in Chisinau this year to facilitate NATO support for the countrys reforms, as requested by the Moldovan government. She stressed that NATO fully respects Moldovas constitutional neutrality, as recognised in the Individual Partnership Action Plan.

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Let’s bring NATO to Washington – DefenseNews.com

Posted: February 9, 2017 at 5:55 am

Few outside of the NATO community realize that one of the alliance’s two strategic commands is located not in Europe, but in Norfolk, Virginia. Stood up as NATO began to reorient itself in response to the threats and challenges of the 21st century, Allied Command Transformation, or ACT, is now nearing its 15th anniversary in Norfolk. Today, ACT is charged to look to the future and help the alliance develop new capabilities, forces and doctrine for emerging challenges. But now is the time to consider ACTs future in light of new political realities in America and the worsening security situation in Europe.

For starters, ACT should move to Washington to be closer to American decision-makers and to be able to more effectively draw on the discussions and the decisions being made at the Pentagon. In addition, it is more crucial than ever that American leaders are reminded of NATO’s importance on a near-daily basis. What better way than to have a strategic NATO command right next door to the White House, Congress, the State Department and the Pentagon?

All of this matters because of the role of ACT inside NATO. The two major commands in NATOs relatively light organization deal with two different sides of NATOcurrent operations and preparing for the future. Located in Mons, Belgium, NATO Allied Command Operations handles the coordination of the numerous ongoing international operations under a NATO flag. NATO countries also provide forces for other operations such as Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria. ACT, on the other hand, is tasked with the business development side of the alliance. ACT is a somewhat overlooked node in a powerful network for the United States and the allianceand, because of the way the alliance works, also for U.S. national interests.

The organization behind NATO is relatively smallonly a few thousand people. NATO as an organization does not have significant military assets. The member states have control with their own armed forces and can choose to use them under a NATO hat or in an ad hoc coalition of the willing.

Through NATO, allied nations learn how to modernize their armed forces and invest for future capabilities and through training and regular standardization they develop common ways for operating together. The resulting interoperability means that NATO militaries are prepared to deploy and contribute to military operations also outside of NATO, such as in Operation Inherent Resolve. ACT plays a crucial role in this effort.

A move to Washington should not mean that NATO departs the Norfolk area. Instead, NATO should leave behind a planning cell that could provide the beginnings of a structure that could support U.S. reinforcements across the Atlantic in times of crisis. A linkage could be made with U.S. Fleet Forces Command, which is responsible for providing U.S. naval forces to the various geographical combatant commands.

Its time to bring NATO to Washington, both as a constant reminder of the alliance’s importance to U.S. decision-makers and to energize ACTs purpose for being: transforming NATO toward tackling the many security challenges of the 21st century. And President Donald J. Trump should welcome having a strategic NATO command as a next-door neighbor.

Magnus Nordenman is the director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council. Henrik Breitenbauch is the director of the University of Copenhagens Centre for Military Studies and is a nonresident senior fellow with the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.

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