October 24, 2016
Last July, at NATO’s summit in Warsaw, our leaders reaffirmed our enduring Article 5 obligations to our common security and committed to the most significant reinforcement of our collective defense since the Cold War.
Building on the Readiness Action Plan and the U.S. European Reassurance Initiative — our Alliance is enhancing our forward presence on our eastern flank.
NATO Force Integration Units are strengthening the readiness and ability of Alliance members to host multinational forces. NATO’s joint task force is now operational and can deploy anywhere in Europe on short notice. In Poland, Romania and Spain, NATO’s ballistic missile defense is coming online.
And we’re launching a new effort to boost the resilience of allies to better defend against new types of threats, including cyberattacks. We’re also bolstering our efforts on NATO’s southern flank. NATO is strong, nimble, and ready as ever.
The challenges we face — whether terrorism, or a more unpredictable Russia — underscore NATO’s essential role in safeguarding freedom and security.
In the United States, we will never forget that Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty was triggered for the first time after 9/11. And I can assure you – that whatever you may have read in recent times – the United States of America will never fail to meet its own Article 5 obligations should any NATO member come under attack.
To give a tangible backing to that principle, we are institutionalizing a more sustained approach to deterrence, including by enhancing the forward presence in the East to reduce response times to any aggression.
To support this effort, the United States will send a full armored brigade combat team to provide an on-the-ground deterrent force for Central and Eastern Europe. This brigade will be headquartered in Poland but they will be training and exercising here in the Baltics and throughout Central Europe on a regular basis.
The Administration’s $3.4 billion request to support these activities will ensure that we have modern equipment and combat-ready U.S. armored units continuously training in Europe.
Across the Alliance, the trend in defense investment is changing to meet new security realities. But more needs to be done, and we welcome the efforts that many members are making to augment their contributions.
Russia’s hybrid tactics, electronic and cyber capabilities, disinformation, and violations of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty illustrate where we need to respond.
The joint declaration in Warsaw outlined a series of actions we will take to counter these threats. Our job now is to help realize these actions. The full implementation of our commitments is a means to ensure comprehensive security and maintain European security architecture and the rules-based international order.
At Warsaw, we highlighted the self-defense capabilities each Baltic state is developing to deter hybrid threats. The United States will continue to direct assistance in the region to enhance these capabilities, and will point out the accomplishments members throughout the Alliance have achieved to make their economies, governments and societies resilient and self-reliant.
I recently witnessed Lithuania’s impressive symbol of this accomplishment in Klaipeda during a visit to the LNG ship Independence. Yet our work is just beginning. Successful implementation of the Warsaw decisions depends upon continued Allied commitment, unity, and cohesion.
NATO’s essential mission is unchanged: to ensure that the Alliance remains an unparalleled community of freedom, peace, security, and shared values, including individual liberty, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.
I thank each and every one of you for your work today, helping to implement the Warsaw decisions and ensure the future of our countries and our peoples.