Official: Strategic Guidance Recognizes U.S. NATO Commitments

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2012 — As the Unit­ed States imple­ments new strate­gic guid­ance that increas­es its focus on Asia and the Pacif­ic, it also needs to pur­sue “smart defense ini­tia­tives” as it con­tin­ues to hon­or its NATO com­mit­ments, a senior defense offi­cial said today.

Bud­get con­straints will demand new effi­cien­cies and new approach­es to col­lec­tive defense, Julianne Smith, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for Europe and NATO pol­i­cy, told reporters at the For­eign Press Cen­ter here.

Smith joined Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Euro­pean and Eurasian Affairs Phillip Gor­don in explain­ing how the new strate­gic guid­ance will impact defense in the Euro­pean theater.

“The trans-Atlantic rela­tion­ship remains an essen­tial source of sta­bil­i­ty in an unpre­dictable world,” Gor­don said, with Europe remain­ing the Unit­ed States’ prin­ci­pal part­ner in pro­mot­ing glob­al and eco­nom­ic security.

“And so the strat­e­gy out­lined last week reaf­firms our com­mit­ment to Euro­pean secu­ri­ty,” he said, and con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to the so-called Arti­cle 5 respon­si­bil­i­ty to aid any NATO ally in the event of an attack.

Gor­don under­scored the need to con­tin­ue enhanc­ing U.S. coop­er­a­tion and inter­op­er­abil­i­ty with Euro­pean part­ners to main­tain this com­mit­ment and address glob­al challenges.

He cit­ed the recent mil­i­tary coop­er­a­tion in Libya and cur­rent oper­a­tions in Afghanistan, Koso­vo, the Balka­ns and Horn of Africa, as well as diplo­mat­ic coop­er­a­tion on issues rang­ing from non-pro­lif­er­a­tion and mis­sile defense.

Smith said the strate­gic guid­ance comes at a “piv­otal moment” for the Unit­ed States. “We have just end­ed our mis­sion in Iraq, we are tran­si­tion­ing through our mis­sion in Afghanistan and obvi­ous­ly we face unprece­dent­ed chal­lenges here at home,” she said.

Look­ing to the future, she said rebal­anc­ing of force struc­ture toward Asia and the Pacif­ic will require the Unit­ed States to adapt its pos­ture in Europe to reflect the evolv­ing strate­gic landscape.

Pend­ing cuts will put “added pres­sure on all of us col­lec­tive­ly to come up with some inno­v­a­tive pool­ing, shar­ing [and] mul­ti­lat­er­al pro­cure­ment,” she said, as well as inno­v­a­tive approach­es to “doing more with less.”

The NATO Sum­mit that Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma will host this May in Chica­go is expect­ed to address these and oth­er chal­lenges, with a focus on capa­bil­i­ties and part­ner­ships and the tran­si­tion in Afghanistan.

Gor­don said the new strat­e­gy guid­ance reaf­firms many of the objec­tives the alliance already is purs­ing while empha­siz­ing two core mes­sages. It rein­forces that the Unit­ed States is “absolute­ly com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing the capa­bil­i­ties we need for Arti­cle 5,” he said. Mean­while, he said it demon­strates that “we’re absolute­ly com­mit­ted, not just to main­tain­ing, but to enhanc­ing our abil­i­ty to part­ner with Euro­peans on glob­al secu­ri­ty missions.”

Smith clar­i­fied that while the new guid­ance will alter, but not elim­i­nate, the so-called “two-war con­struct” — the Unit­ed States’ abil­i­ty to engage in two con­flicts simultaneously.

“We will not be siz­ing our forces for two over­lap­ping large-scale ground-inten­sive com­bat oper­a­tions,” she said. “Instead, if we find our­selves engaged in a major com­bat oper­a­tion in one the­ater, we will focus on spoil­ing the objec­tives of an aggres­sor elsewhere.”

This, she explained, will enable the Unit­ed States to reduce the size of the force while also tak­ing advan­tage of new con­cepts of oper­a­tions in fields such as space, cyber, spe­cial oper­a­tions and pre­ci­sion strikes. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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