Trans-Atlantic Partnership Vital to Global Security
By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Washington - The trans-Atlantic relationship remains an essential source of stability in an unpredictable world, and Europe is the principal U.S. partner in promoting global and economic security, Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon says.
The strategy outlined by President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta January 5 reaffirms the U.S. commitment to European security and ensures continued ability to meet NATO commitments, Gordon said during a briefing January 9 at the Washington Foreign Press Center. He added that the new Defense Strategy also aims to enhance U.S. cooperation and the ability of U.S. military weapons and equipment to easily work with those of European partners facing global challenges.
"If you look around the world and see where America is operating globally, you will see in so many cases how closely and importantly we work with our European allies and partners," said Gordon, who is the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. "We have worked together on challenges around the world, most recently in Libya, ongoing in Afghanistan, but also Kosovo and the Balkans and the Horn of Africa."
The new strategy, unveiled at the Pentagon, reflects both a shift in global strategic thinking and the realities of a more austere national budget climate mandated by the U.S. Congress. The strategy is based on an eight-month comprehensive defense review by civilian and military leaders at the Pentagon, the U.S. military, the departments of State, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. intelligence community. Obama ordered the review to guide defense planners on priorities and spending over a decade with an estimated savings of more than $450 billion.
"It requires all elements of our national power, working together in concert with our allies and our partners," Obama said. "We've succeeded in defending our nation, taking the fight to our enemies, reducing the number of Americans in harm's way, and we've restored America's global leadership."
In the introduction to the strategy, Panetta said that the United States is at a strategic turning point after a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that it is time to shape a joint force for the future. He said the force that emerges will be smaller and leaner, but also agile, flexible, ready and technologically advanced.
Echoing the president's remarks, Panetta said the strategy calls for an armed force that has a global presence emphasizing security interests in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, while still maintaining defense commitments to Europe and NATO, and strengthening alliances and partnerships across other regions.
Gordon said that at the 2010 NATO Lisbon Summit the allies agreed on a new strategic concept aimed at preparing the alliance to meet 21st-century security challenges. He said that during the upcoming NATO Summit in May in Chicago, the alliance will review progress being made. "The schedule for the Chicago summit has yet to be finalized, but I think you can expect, at a minimum, the alliance to focus on three key priorities: the transition in Afghanistan, NATO's capabilities and its partnerships."
The defense strategy guidance announced by the president is an important step in moving the United States toward the goals being set for the Chicago summit, and it further commits the United States to a number of things already made clear for European defense, he added.
"We will continue with our deployment of missile defenses, the European Phased Adaptive Approach, and this will of course include putting assets in Poland and Romania, a radar [station] in Turkey and the homeporting of missile defense-capable Aegis destroyers in Spain," Gordon told reporters.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said January 6 that, as the new strategy notes, meeting security challenges cannot be solely the work of the U.S. military.
"Diplomacy and development are equal partners with defense in our smart power approach to promoting American interests and values abroad, building up our economic prosperity and protecting our national security," Clinton said. She added that this new guidance is a critical element in an integrated approach to strengthening American leadership in a changing world.
"And it promotes our strategic priorities, including sustaining a global presence while strengthening our focus on the Asia-Pacific region; deterring our adversaries and fulfilling our security commitments; investing in critical alliances and partnerships, including NATO; combating violent extremists and defending human dignity around the world; and preserving our ability to respond quickly to emerging threats," Clinton said.
Julianne Smith, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO policy, said at the Foreign Press Center briefing that the reason for releasing the comprehensive review now is because the United States just ended its military operations in Iraq and is in a transition with its mission in Afghanistan.
The strategy is designed to ensure that the United States maintains the best military capability in the world, avoids weakening its armed forces, balancing any force reductions and ensuring that they are taken strategically, and finally ensuring that the United States maintains a force with long-term viability, Smith said.
The strategy is designed to ensure that the United States maintains the best military capability in the world, avoiding weakening its armed forces by balancing any force reductions and ensuring that they are taken strategically, and maintains a force with long-term viability, Smith said.
"The strategy places heavy emphasis on ensuring and maintaining U.S. global leadership, clearly a pillar, a long-standing pillar, in our foreign and defense policies," Smith said. That means, she said, that the United States must sustain and strengthen its robust network of international relationships and capabilities.
Gordon travels to Germany, Lithuania and Denmark January 10-14. In Berlin he will meet with senior German government officials and discuss U.S. and European engagement on global issues at the Körber Foundation, the State Department said January 9. He will then travel to Vilnius to attend the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry's annual Snow Meeting on Euro-Atlantic security issues and meet with high-level Lithuanian and other Baltic government officials. In Copenhagen, he will meet with European Union political directors and hold discussions with senior Danish government officials.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)