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SACEUR  /  Speeches & Transcripts  /  NATO Engages Day 2 - Changing Defence in a Changing World

NATO Engages Day 2 - Changing Defence in a Changing World

General Jones: So now it's my pleasure to ask General Scaparrotti, the SACEUR, to please come forward and allow me to introduce him although he needs no introduction. As the supreme allied commander Europe Commander U.S. European Command General Mike Scaparrotti. General Scaparrotti has led a long and distinguished career in the United States Army serving previously as commander of combined forces command U.S. forces Korea, director of the Joint Staff in Washington and commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command and deputy commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan among many other roles. General Scaparrotti, you're most welcome.
So we're looking forward to having a conversation with General Scaparrotti with him about the military deliverables of this summit. After a brief conversation on this stage, I will take some questions from the audience and I'm sure you'll have quite a few for him. Mike, thanks very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to address the NATO Engages forum.
We'll start directly with the first question. General as the retired SACEUR soaking up the substance of this event. It was clear to me just how much the security situation for NATO has evolved since my time in your job. Can you help us understand the main evolutions in the global and Euro Atlantic security environment that you're observing and how do the military decisions taken at the summit address those evolutions.
SACEUR: Well Jim first thank you for taking part in this with me. I'm honoured, humbled to have followed in your footsteps here as the SACEUR - somebody I admired as a younger officer, actually worked with from time to time. So thank you very much. You know as we look at the environment today one of the things as we work with some of the directives from Warsaw the changes over the past two years and the things that today will be substance of this Summit. There's been some dramatic changes in the environment. The way I usually try and sketched out, if you go back to around 2010 the assumptions were made and that was the last, you know, that was when we made one substantial changes to the NATO command structure - 2010. At that time Russia was being seen as a partner. We were trying to integrate them into Europe, engage Russia. We had leadership in SHAPE headquarters, visiting SHAPE headquarters in our operations center, for instance. Today there are at least a competitor if not an adversary. I think you know full well the challenges that Russia has presented.
Secondly at that time we didn't believe in the West and the United States and we didn't have a peer competitor. Across to all the military domains, we were dominant and we were very sure of that we could demonstrate it and we had demonstrated it. That's not the case today. We have peer competitors. Russia for instance. We still have dominance and met most of the military domains but they're on a very substantial modernization of their force today. And if we don't improve, if we don't continue our modernization that could change in say four or five years. So peer competitor. The third one is technology. Think about the difference between 2010 and today. Cyber for instance, information, information technology, the connectivity of all the different systems that we have today. The internet of things so to speak and it works in the military as well. Precision munitions, the precision of those munitions, the distances that we have now, really at that time in 2010 we were on the verge of change but we still looked at our commands as regional - EUCOM for instance. Today I operate in a multi-regional environment. I regularly work with those in Africa and Central Command in the Middle East etc. Because of that connectivity and because of the distances of our systems. And then finally in 2010 as we looked south there was some instability in Africa at that point in time. But we were making progress as an international community and we actually saw some of those countries that would help with that stability as well. That's a significant difference and out of Africa today is a driver of many of the things that we have to deal with is challenges here in Europe.
The final thing I'll mention is as we look at what we do today and it ties to the NATO command structure change I'll talk about I'm sure in a bit. Is that as I operate today my activity level my op tempo that's required today has gone up considerably even in the last couple of years because of the challenges. Russia's more active. They've got better systems they're employing them in different ways but also we've got a greater threat from terrorism. I don't have to bring that out its well-known here and its impact on the fabric of Europe. That's one of those factors. The other is I mentioned the speed of information. Think about the speed of that information and then the speed of influence on people. That alone is a significant factor and has a lot to do with the way that we operate. So I just kind of leave it at that is kind of sketching out how I see the environmental change from some of the factors today to impact on some of the changes that we see coming out of this summit.
General Jones: Well thank you. We just heard Ambassador Domecq speak about NATO and the EU's efforts to enhance troop mobility across Europe and readiness and deterrence kind of go hand in hand as well. And there are two important things of the summit. Can you tell us a little bit more about the summit deliverables on readiness particularly the four thirty's concept? How does the 4-30's concept impact you as a military commander and what lies ahead the making this commitment into reality.
SACEUR: Yeah and for me I think, Jim, that the biggest sticker on this is that it helps me with a mindset of readiness. We were in a period, say again, 2010 the transition that we've made even the time that I've been in command here is a change in mindset. When we're doing partnership we didn't worry about readiness so much just the capability of the force. We had time to deploy it and the things we were doing. Any kind of crisis was slow to develop. It was limited. We knew that we could we could handle with the forces that we had available at the time. That's not the case today. So today we've got to have ready forces. And the main thing is a mindset of readiness. Now secondly you've probably heard about the four 30s. Thirty battalion combat teams on the ground, 30 squadrons in terms of air, 30 combat naval combatants in 30 days or less for employment. So what does that do for me? Well it's actually going to be a tasker to me and I'll get that I'll get to fill out the definition of that. So that's important to me as well because it gives me an opportunity as a commander to actually shape this and bring it back to the NAC for what fits best with our environment and for plans. So today we have a joint high readiness task force and an enhanced NATO response force that came out of Wales and in Warsaw. So the reason we need this is that we have other forces that the alliance countries have pledged to me, but we were not clear on the availability and the readiness of those forces.
So I'll be able to line this out, get approval at the NAC and then have requirements for those entities within that additional force to the enhanced NRF. At a very well-known readiness rate, a requirement for what comes with that too including enablers, ammunition et cetera. And I'll be able to better plan for the utilization of those forces. So it's a, it's a significant directive coming out of this summit as far as I'm concerned as the commander.
General Jones: From my experience, particularly in mobilizing the alliance for deployment to Afghanistan. Trying to do that can have its challenges and certainly its rewards, maybe with more emphasis on challenges. What are some of the current challenges and rewards that you see at present in trying to bring about a new force in readiness if you will.
SACEUR: Well you know the one thing that's just wonderful about being an alliance and you expect, you experienced this too, is on the one hand the challenges that diversity, diversity of languages, cultures, experiences, on the other hand with, that if you can harness it. It's incredible. A headquarters of say 30 different nations. On one hand can be challenging to do planning etc. but if you learn how to do that and you grasp that, you're going to have a better plan. There's no doubt about it. I've now done this for a little while and I think that's one of the things first that I see. But of course the challenges to that are in fact that you've got two very different perspectives about how to do things and you have to develop a culture within that command that not only will the commander, but those who were there, present their thoughts also be open to other thoughts, be able to bring that together and work with others. That's just a challenge of leadership.
We did it when we brought, as you did - when you led us into Afghanistan, and that's consistently improved in Afghanistan every time I go back.
General Jones: The interoperability
SACEUR: Interoperability
General Jones: is so much better. There's no question. One of the issues that I've been passionate about from the retired seats, but still a very big believer in the essentiality of NATO and the transatlantic link. As I would characterize the 20th century for NATO as be more of a reactive force but with timelines built in. I'm of the opinion that the 21st century is mandating that NATO become more proactive and you and I've talked about this, privately, more proactive more responsive to the multiplicity of threats that we face. Can you talk a little bit about how the decisions taken at this summit will better prepare NATO to be more agile and responsive? And I think that the 4-30s solution is part of the answer but can you give us a little bit more color on how that affects your thinking?
SACEUR: Well first of all the readiness is again a mindset and it helps me begin to shape the forces that I can then plan on. You talked about being more proactive, being able to be proactive means good thinking done in advance and then plans that aren't prescriptive but they're broad enough that you have some agility because we don't fully know the future. In this Summit we got directives for increased deterrence and defense initiatives within it; we've got the Readiness Initiative; we get the NCS-A - huge - NATO Command Structure Adaptation. The first time now since the wall came down that we've increased our force structure at the strategic and operational level.
Why is that important? First of all, remember the activity level and the optempo (operational tempo). We just need more people in each of our component commands - Air, Sea, Land - that did do this work because they're very busy. That gives you greater flexibility by the way. We also needed new skill sets. It was not, it was what, a little over a year ago, we named Cyber a domain in NATO. It's not that other nations weren't realizing that, but we actually have to develop doctrine - put operational procedures in place - begin to integrate that along with the other domains and we've been working that. So out of this Summit, is a directive to establish a cyber operations center which we've got a head start on by the way. We got it up. Because we got NAC approval to begin shifting some people. So we're ahead of that. It includes also that same skill set at the operational level with some teams that can go to tactical to help me get ahead of this. Very important in and of itself. The framework for the South. There's a lot of challenges in the south and one that frankly, the nations of the south we're not quite pleased with where we're at. They thought we could do more. CT is a part of this - counterterrorism. And I thought we could do more.This Summit gave a package for the South that specifically named some of the things like potentially forces set, commands, to react to specific kinds of challenges we might have in the south. Some advance planning that I can do, for the South, and importantly the hub for the South which I might take a question on. So I could go on. But those are some of the things that are exciting about this Summit. And you know, when you come out of this, I bet you I've got some place, at minimum probably 40s maybe around 60 tasks that come out of Summit.
General Jones: Well you are absolutely correct. I mean we have to, on the one hand be capable to move Armies, Navies, and Air Forces, and Special Forces around quickly. At the same time, we can't dismiss the fact that we're on an era of network centric competition. And I would say that it’s both in the military and in the private sector, and so this public and private interface on this new threat is going to be very important for the Alliance and for our individual countries as well.
Thank you very much for about Mike. I'd like to open the floor to some questions - from a gentleman right here please.
Audience Member:  General, I'm (inaudible), I'm a journalist from Romania. We had to before President Poroshenko here at this debate and I would like to ask you more about the security around the Black Sea area, about the continued militarization of the Crimea peninsula. We have seen that Russia continues to build up over there and also to comment a little bit about the movement of troops around Europe. We know that we had, at some point, problems in Romania for troops entering the country for simple exercise. And how you, as a commander, will try to improve all these things.
SACEUR: Yeah, we've actually, the Black Sea region has been a focus here for the past couple of years. First of all I would note tailored forward presence. That put a multinational brigade in Romania and Bulgaria - also had a maritime component to it was the first step. In this Summit, we acknowledged that we called for the, for the reinforcement of that multinational brigade. We recognize that Romania is willing to establish a corps level headquarters for the Black Sea region. We expect to fill that out and do that. We're looking at a maritime component command. It's actually a control, not a command, but control center specifically to help us with the Black Sea region. That exists today in our maritime component. And we're going to refine that and do some work on that in the next year.
Very important aspect of this and the Summit itself, several points in the declaration point to these kinds of refinements that I'll be directed to make. And we're already working on them. We had, as you might imagine in advance of the Summit, we had, through our planning, through our exercises determine what would help us strengthen deterrence and defense in the Black Sea region. That's what we've been working on coming out of this summit and some of the directives that you'll see in that declaration. Crimea is an issue because of the types of systems that Russia has now put into their, you know, defense, missile defense, their special forces, new commands, as well naval component, has a dynamic in terms of their capabilities in the Black Sea region. I would tell you that part of what we've done here in the Black Sea region, as well as our increased activity, in the Black Sea region as NATO is a part of that. Its international waters. We will sail, we'll fly in international airspace, and we expect Russia to accept that. And so that's how we, you know, we view that region and I think we're doing quite well there actually.
General Jones: Thank you. Right behind please.
Audience Member: Thank you. Sir, I'm Oliver Schmidt a professor of (inaudible) of Denmark. Sir, readiness for the alliance is also the ability to fight together. Could you give us a sense about where we are at in terms of joint exercises, multinational exercises? Are there any plans to increase the tempo of the exercises within the alliance and where we are at in terms of the framework Mission Network?
SACEUR: Well, that's a great question because it gets me into something I've got on my list here. If you've watched closely our exercises, at least in the time that I've been here, and Phil Breedlove started before me, we've consistently been integrating them more than national exercises. The U.S. EUCOM, SHAPE/NATO exercises, and the integration has to do with not more or increasing the exercises, I actually think that I would prefer to have a little less but have them much more focused and integrated in terms of what level of our tactical proficiency they practice and if there connected to things that we might have to do in crisis. So we can focus on interoperability, a complete realm. So that we can focus on connectivity via SAR and sensors the interoperability piece that's so difficult. So what we've done is we've actually started working very hard at our component levels that's air, ground, maritime, and then pulling that up in order to increasingly improve. And what you're going to see in a couple of years here is some exercises that, and we've already started, but exercises that might make you think of REFORGER a bit. In the sense that it will be something that will have deployability, mobility, immediate action in terms of the arrival of units into a tactical problems. All of it defensive. All of it announced - not a threat to Russia. But it's training that you know and I know, and now in an alliance we have to do. So that's where we're going and I'm very confident.
General Jones: Thank you very much. This gentleman.
Audience Member: (inaudible) Former EU Special Representative in Afghanistan and where we met with both the generals and until October, UN Ambassador to Russia. I won’t ask about Afghanistan, because we'll speak and the president will be here in a few minutes. But I have a question about NATO-Russia. Many people follow Donald Trump's preparations for Helsinki and also draw, also draw parallels or possible parallels of Singaporean and will happen in Helsinki. So can I ask both generals, would you advise to cancel the NATO military exercises in the Baltic States? Which from my point of view, would be a huge mistake.
SACEUR: OK, well I'll take that. First of all, my perspective on this is, and I've had this conversation with my counterpart in Russia. Is we're transparent. Our exercises are defensive in nature, not offensive. We don't have anything goes beyond those borders. And we publish those not only in line with what's expected with the treaties, but just generally, so that there's no provocation, no surprise. So from my point of view, this is training that needs to be done. It’s part of deterrence and it's not provocative. Now what I do do as a commander, is I look at this, I look at the dynamics of our environment and we have the ability to flex those so that we know we're not provocative giving changes in our environment. As I said, I've talked to my counterparts one of our main points of discussion was how we each do exercises. And I would trust that he'll be as transparent as well as we go forward here.
General Jones: Thank you. Right behind you.
Audience Member: Bobo Lo, French Institute of International Relations. General, surprisingly little has been said over the last couple of days about the challenge of China. So I was interested to hear how you saw the future of NATO-China interaction over the coming years. Are we talking about containment as reflected in spirit of the National Defense Strategy and National Security Strategy of the United States? Are we talking about some increased level of cooperative engagement? Or maybe a sort of a continuation of the Obama era - sort of hedging both ways? And also, perhaps you could specify how you see the challenge of the Belt and Road initiative and more generally of China's expanding influence across Eurasia.
SACEUR: Yeah well first of all I'll say this, I'm going to address this from a military perspective because much of what you ask me is actually policy. But I'll stay within the SACEUR's area. We've had, as you know, Chinese vessels within the Euro-Atlantic region. They've conducted exercises in the Med, in the Atlantic, in the High North. Actually, the way we've approached this, is that they have a right in the International Space, airspace, sea, et cetera just as I do. And we've approached them with an approach of, for instance, of doing a PASSEX, acknowledging them and communication and interaction. So that we begin to understand each other's capabilities were not a threat to each other etc. So it's been more of a relationship like that. Now having said that, as a leader, China is developing relationships throughout the Euro-Atlantic. They have been active in relationships with respect to ports, airports, significant infrastructure. As a competitor, I think that that has a security dimension that I think we have to pay attention to. And so it's one that I'm watching as well.
General Jones: The last question, over here please. I'm sorry but we're out of time. I know there are a lot of questions but I follow orders.
 Audience Member: Thank you very much indeed. Jane Morris is my name. I'm from Northern Ireland and I think that that goes without saying that I have some experience of what we're talking about today. But the title of this is changing defense in a changing world and I'm surprised to hear everything's about military and defense and capabilities and all these words. What, where's the peace building in this. I was involved in the Good Friday Agreement as a women's movement that we got the peace talks and it was about civil society. It was about bringing civil society in. And my analysis now is that there's three types of it. There's peacemaking - which all the diplomats and the politicians. There's peacekeeping - which are the hard hats and with great respect all the security forces, etc. and yourselves are doing. But there are other peacebuilders - and that's civil society and that's women and young people. And my question to you therefore is, you know, does NATO not have a huge role especially that for every one euro spent on peace building you save seven euros in defense. So you even got an economic argument for doing much more peacebuilding than defense and security and fighting.
SACEUR: So I'm glad you brought this up. First of all I'll attack this in a few ways. My job is to prevent conflict and to ensure the peace in the Euro Atlantic. That's my first job. And frankly the best way I do that is to reinforce our diplomats and other civilians that you mentioned who are helping build capacity and peace and stability in countries. I'm kind of their muscle in a sense as well. Now, within this Summit, we have very clear directives on defense capability building - whether it's in Jordan, Tunisia, or Iraq - a new mission in Iraq etc. Some of those are focused on military. You're right. But some of that is capacity building for security for those governments so that we can help them maintain the stability, build the stability, and allow their government to deliver services to the people. If we've not learned anything in the past 17 years of conflict, it's that this is a whole government approach and we've got to learn how to win the peace. So I'm with you. I just happen to get all the questions about the military aspect of this. But yeah but I, I support your perspective fully.
General Jones: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sure you'll join me in expressing our appreciation for General Scaparrotti (applause). We are fortunate to have a leader of his qualities and a strategic thinker at the helm of the military leadership. And we wish you all the best. I know you have at least another year to go but you're the right man in the right place and we appreciate everything you're doing for us. Thank you.
SACEUR: Thank you. Thanks a lot.

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