WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2015 —
Today’s discussions of defense matters and ways to deepen the U.S. and U.K. partnership come at a critical time for British defense planning, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in London during a joint press conference with his U.K. counterpart.
On the secretary’s final day of his five-day trip to Europe, he told reporters he’s honored the British government seeks U.S. input on its Strategic Defense and Security Review, adding, “We are interested in turn in their thoughts on our defense strategy.”
Carter said his meeting with British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon earlier today was a continuation of longstanding cooperative dialogue.
“These exchanges are another indication of our close relationship and a new way to strengthen our strategic collaboration as we look to leverage our unique capabilities to engage the world and confront common threats together as strong, principled allies,” the secretary said.
He commended Fallon for continuing the United Kingdom’s commitment to invest at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product in defense -- a pledge made by all 28 NATO member nations last year at the Wales summit.
While the pledge calls for tough choices, “It sends a clear and important signal to the world that the United Kingdom is determined to continue its significant contributions to NATO's collective defense, and sustain its historic global leadership role,” Carter said, encouraging other NATO allies to make the defense commitment.
Complex Security Issues Call for Leadership
Today, the U.K.'s leadership role takes on new importance as Europe and NATO focus on how to address new challenges in a more complex security environment, the secretary said.
Carter also noted his gratitude for the United Kingdom remaining a “stalwart member” of the global coalition to counter and defeat Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces.
Carter added that from NATO's east to its south, both nations must also remain united to deter further Russian aggression and coercion from its destabilizing actions in Ukraine to its air incursions into NATO airspace over Turkey.
“As we've seen in the last few days, Russia's actions in Syria carry risks, both to the region and to Russia itself,” he said. “Their strategy in Syria is fundamentally flawed, and the mistakes Russia is making there will have consequences, [which] will only inflame the Syrian civil war.”
21st Century NATO Playbook
The two leaders agreed NATO allies must work together to address 21st-century threats, which requires 21st-century capabilities, Carter said.
“Together, we must write a new playbook, which includes preparing to counter new challenges like cyber and hybrid warfare, as well as adjusting both our posture and our presence to adapt and respond to new challenges and new threats,” he noted.
To meet the new global security environment, Fallon today announced the United Kingdom will invest more than £70 million -- about $107 million -- on innovation and technology in defense over the next five years.
Carter said both nations share a common drive to innovate for the future, making sure their forces stay at the leading edge of technology.
“Secretary Fallon and I have agreed our defense institutions will work together on a combined approach to innovation, ranging from technology and operational concepts to war games and talent management,” the secretary said.
Following the press conference, Carter and Fallon visited Imperial College to see some of Britain's leading innovators in blast injury studies, swarming systems and robotics as well as technologies being jointly funded by the U.S. and the U.K.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)