Remarks by Secretary Mattis at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Feb. 17, 2017
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS: Thank you very much. Thank you. And excellencies and colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
And thank you, Madam Minister, for your historically informed and stirring words. They remind me of the legacy now shared on both sides of the Atlantic. It's a legacy of freedom, it's a legacy of friendship and a trusted alliance. With the ingrained respect that two democracies share for each other and the trust we share with 26 other democracies in the NATO alliance, your words highlight our enduring transatlantic bond.
I'm grateful to be among so many leaders in our democracies as we forge our path ahead. This is how we build approaches to working together for a peaceful and prosperous future.
When it comes to security, no one goes their own way in this world alone. Security is always best when provided by a team. So it's a particular honor for me to be here with Minister von der Leyen. Ursula and I met last week in Washington where we had an excellent in-depth discussion about the security situation facing not only our nations and the alliance, but the broader global community as well.
In this regard, I have great respect -- I must put in here -- for Germany's leadership in Europe and for the ethical performance of their professional troops on the battlefield.
Like many of us, we just came from Brussels, where we participated in the NATO defense ministerial. There I found the transatlantic bond strong and my fellow defense ministers under no allusions about the threats to our nations face together, and Article V is a bedrock commitment.
Transatlantic unity buttresses European unity, a fact that we recognize in the context of cooperation between NATO and the European Union. The United States welcomes improvements to defense cooperation in Europe, those that increase capabilities and make European defense more efficient without lessening NATO interoperability. The NATO-E.U. joint declaration signed in Warsaw reflects the reality that American security is permanently tied to the security of Europe. Done correctly, European initiatives and NATO unity are mutually reinforcing.
Standing on the bedrock of our NATO alliance, 28 democracies help preserve the rules-based international order, serving to keep the peace and to defend shared values that grew out of the enlightenment. I was heartened by the appreciation of our European allies for the increased threats we face and appreciation that was consistent around the table in Brussels. The allies recognized 2014 as a watershed year and we could no longer deny reality.
As guardians for our nations and as sentinels for new threats, we all see our community of nations under threat on multiple fronts as the arc of instability builds on NATO's periphery and beyond. Unified by these growing threats to our democracies, we possess strong resolve. We're going to adapt the alliance. And now comes the hard part, as Ursula said, and that's the -- as prudent dictates, moving forward together, reinforcing deterrence and defense and more directly addressing terrorist threats along NATO's southern flank, from the Mediterranean to Turkey's border.
NATO has only two supreme allied commanders. Such is the importance NATO places on adaption that one of those two commanders is assigned the sole mission of charting NATO's constant transformation. Supreme Allied Command for Transformation is the only NATO headquarters in the United States. Commanded by a four-star French general, he leads some of the best strategic thinkers from our nations drawn from all the nations, and this demonstrate the level of importance that we in NATO place on adapting the alliance to new threats such as terrorism, cyber threats and hybrid war.
We are engaged as we speak to ensure the alliance is relevant and fit for its time. The United States is moving units into the Baltic states, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, under Operation Atlantic Resolve. And we joined the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada, nations leading our combined forward presence forces, as Ursula mentioned, in Poland and the Baltic states and this is a wholly defensive deployment to maintain deterrence.
To confront the threats facing our alliance, we must recognize not just strategic realities, but also political realities. President Trump came into office and has thrown now his full support to NATO. He too espouses NATO's need to adapt to today's strategic situation for it to remain credible, capable and relevant.
Further, as Minister van der Leyen noted last week, it is a fair demand that all who benefit from the best alliance in the world carry their proportionate share of the necessary costs to defend our freedoms and we are committed to passing those freedoms in tact to the next generation.
The message I delivered in Brussels was expected. It was well received by my fellow defense ministers, as you heard a moment ago, and aligned with the message of Secretary General Stoltenberg. I stand here with you, I'm confident that our alliance will be unified in meeting today's security challenges and I'm also confident that the alliance will adopt a plan this year, including milestone dates, to make steady progress toward meeting Warsaw and Wales commitments to carry our fair share of the security burden.
Ladies and gentlemen, the transatlantic bond remains our strongest bulwark against instability and violence. NATO exists to protect our way of life, to include the free exchange of ideas that characterizes this annual conference in one of the world's great cities. Here, I am confident that we will strengthen our partnerships, confronting those who chose to attack innocent people or our democratic processes and our freedoms.
Thank you very much for having me with you today. Thank you.
Remarks by Secretary Mattis and Secretary-General Stoltenberg at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium
Remarks By Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Feb. 15, 2017
SECRETARY-GENERAL JENS STOLTENBERG: So good afternoon. Secretary Mattis, it's great to welcome you to NATO Headquarters. We spoke on phone on the first day, when you have taken up your new position as the secretary of defense. But it's great to welcome you here at the NATO Headquarters and be able to congratulate you on your appointment and to say to you that, I really look forward to working together with you.
You are an accomplished leader. You know NATO very well. You served as Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation and you made sure that NATO adapted to a new and more demanding security environment. But NATO has to continue to adapt and that's exactly what we're going to address at our meeting today, how NATO continue to adapt to a new security environment.
This is a crucial time for our transatlantic alliance. The challenges we face are the most complex and demanding in a generation. Neither Europe nor North America can tackle them alone. A strong NATO is good for Europe. A strong NATO is good for North America. And therefore, I welcome the U.S. commitment to the transatlantic bond.
This is a commitment which we see not only words, but also in deeds. U.S. troops and equipment are now arriving in Poland and to the Baltic countries. This is a clear demonstration of U.S. determination to stand with Europe in these troubled times.
At the same time, the U.S. has been clear that they need more defense spending and fairer burden sharing. This has been my top priority since I took office in 2014.
After many years of cuts, I'm glad to say that we have turned a corner. Our latest figures, which we published yesterday, show that defense spending among European allies and Canada increased by 3.8 percent in real terms in 2016. That is roughly $10 billion U.S. dollars. This is significant, but it is not enough. We have to continue to increase defense spending across Europe and Canada. So we need to keep the momentum.
After our meeting, we will also assess what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. This is a concern to our people on both sides of the Atlantic. And NATO must play our full part. We have been helping to fight terrorism in Afghanistan for almost 15 years. We are training Iraqi officers and supported the counter-ISIL coalition with AWACS surveillance planes.
Today, we will decide to set up a new hub for the south at our joint force command in Naples. This will help us assess and address threats from the region. And it will compliment the work our new intelligence division -- of our new intelligence division here at the NATO Headquarters.
So, Secretary Mattis, this will be an important meeting. We have a lot of work ahead and I really look forward to working with you and, once again, welcome -- I should rather say, welcome back to NATO.
It's great to have you here.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS: Thank you secretary general. Thank you very much for the warm welcome back to my second home.
It is an important meeting, as you point out. And I think we're here, as you all know, to chart the course of the alliance and the future. The events of 2014 were sobering and we must continue to adapt to what's being revealed to us in terms of our security challenges.
The alliance remains a fundamental bedrock for the United States and for all the transatlantic community, bonded as we are together. As President Trump has stated, he has strong support for NATO. And NATO is in the midst of transformation. It has always been adapting to the security challenges.
This is nothing new, perhaps the pace of change is certainly picked up a bit, but this is something that we can deal with. And it's absolutely appropriate, as the European minister of defense said last week, it's a fair demand that all who benefit from the best defense in the world carry their proportionate share of the necessary cost to defend freedom. And we should never forget ultimately it is freedom that we defend here at NATO.
And I do have confidence that we will prove, once again, that we can react to the changing circumstances. We've done so in the past, there's every reason for confidence that we will move out purposefully together once again.
I am here to listen to my fellow ministers, to have an open conversation among friends and allies about where we're going and our shared level of commitment.
Thank you, Secretary-General Stoltenberg.
SEC-GEN. STOLTENBERG: Thank you so much. Welcome.
STAFF: Thank you very much.