Remarks at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) US-Poland-Lithuania Roundtable Discussions on Security and Defence
“Bolstering Deterrence And Defence On NATO’s North-Eastern Flank: Securing The Suwalki Corridor”
Aida Hall, Artis Centrum Hotel, Vilnius
March 12, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, it is my honor to be here today with Minister Karoblis, Undersecretary Marek Łapinski, and President Peter Doran. The United States and its NATO Allies have one of the closest military relationships in the world. The U.S. recognizes that the Baltic States and Poland, on the border of our Alliance, play an outsized role in ensuring our security.
The discussions you are holding today will have an impact on the defense thinking of all three of our nations as we work together to buttress regional deterrence still further. Our leaders have highlighted the importance of military mobility, readiness, and responsiveness in Europe. Securing the Suwalki Corridor, which you will discuss today, is critical in this regard. I look forward to learning more about the integrated security situation there and what we can do to ensure that, as President Doran has said, Russia never again threatens a NATO border.
Track 1 ½ meetings like this one, that bring the government and non-government experts together to share their expertise, help our governments to identify new solutions.
It is important to note that a whole of government approach is the most effective way to address the issue of regional security. I am therefore particularly pleased to learn that we have participants from the Lithuanian and Polish Ministries of Interior and Transportation here today.
The wide range of expertise assembled helps to ensure that you can identify the most promising ideas in overcoming challenges to freedom of movement, strengthening our common defense and resilience, and highlighting new ways that we can cooperate to strengthen the work of the NATO Alliance.
This summer, Lithuania will host Saber Strike, a long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise that helps facilitate cooperation amongst the U.S., Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and allied and partner nations. The exercise will take place in multiple locations throughout Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Lithuania will see the largest number of NATO forces engaged in an exercise here to date – including well over 5,000 U.S. soldiers alone.
The exercise is designed to test all of the priorities we’ll be discussing during this conference – cross border military mobility, cooperation on regional movement, sustainment, and many other issues. You can’t have deterrence without capability. By exercising and meeting in formats like today’s conference, we ensure our capability to deter, and if needed, defend our Alliance.
I would like to thank Minister Karoblis for hosting this event. I would also like to thank Undersecretary Lapinski for traveling to Vilnius. And I would like to thank CEPA, Peter Doran and Lieutenant General (LTG) Hodges, for their work to arrange such an important event.