Thank you Gisela.
Good afternoon, Members of Parliament and distinguished guests.
Being here in the House of Commons today holds special meaning for me.
I got my start in Washington as an aide to the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Senator Kennedy is among the finest statesman America has ever produced. There was a secret to his success that is less well known.
Senator Kennedy not only came from a prominent Irish-American family. He also spent part of his childhood in England, when his father served as U.S. Ambassador here.
Through these experiences, Senator Kennedy came to revere British parliamentary tradition, and the commitment to legislative democracy the House of Parliament enshrines.
It has been a tough week for his former aides. In the special election to succeed him, his Senate seat switched parties—a sign that political waters are churning on our side of the Atlantic, as I know they are here.
But even so, Senator Kennedy is with us today in spirit. He was one of the strongest proponents of the special relationship between our two countries. In recognition of his contributions to the UK, he was awarded an honorary Knighthood shortly before his death.
So I am honored to be here to help carry forward a special relationship founded on shared history, shared values, and a shared future.
The United States has no closer ally than the United Kingdom.
In Haiti, your military and rescue services are serving alongside ours to help make a desperate situation a little less desperate each day.
Off the Horn of Africa, your Navy sails with ours to sweep the sea clear of pirates.
But nowhere is our special relationship more apparent than in Afghanistan.
Those of you here in the United Kingdom have borne a special burden. No country has stood closer to with on the front lines in our fight against violent extremism—and no country has paid so high a price in this crucial mission. The American people are deeply grateful for your sacrifice. We rely greatly on the expertise and resources that you bring to the fight.
As the war in Afghanistan enters a pivotal phase, your leadership has helped solidify European resolve. Your public, like ours, has grown weary of conflict. Your treasury, like ours, is under strain. And yet when President Obama asked for others to join in our renewed push for security, it was your country who first answered the call. In fact, you increased your troop presence even before the new strategy was announced.
We meet on the eve of the London Conference—a major diplomatic effort which we thank you for co-hosting with the Afghan government. 68 delegations will be attending.
We applaud the conference’s focus on the civilian side of the mission, where improvements in coordination could yield real gains. We hope the conference will help link the expertise and resources of our international partners to the agenda President Karzai set in his inaugural address. His initiatives in anti-corruption, governance, and security deserve support.
The Afghan government will also soon be announcing a new and more comprehensive program of reconciliation. The establishment of the International Reintegration Fund by the UK and Japan will help underwrite this Afghan initiative, providing an assured and lasting means to demobilize Taliban fighters who are willing to switch sides.
The London conference is also an important opportunity for countries to fulfill their pledges of support, and for still more countries to step forward with pledges of troops.
We are especially attentive to a shortage of trainers to help ready the Afghan security forces and mentors to assist them in the field. This is an area where we can and should do more. And just as important as the size of the military forces volunteered is the commitment of civilian expert to the mission in Afghanistan.
Because of the leadership of our two countries, we see the pieces coming into place to make real and measureable progress in the next 18-24 months. It is too early to judge whether momentum on the ground has shifted. But we are confident that the new strategy will help us reach our goal of beginning the transition to Afghan leadership and control next year.
We are not in an easy fight. And 2011 is not the end. It will be the beginning of a transition to Afghan control. But a stable and secure Afghanistan, free from terrorist threat, is a goal worth fighting for—for America, for Europe, for our partners, and for Afghanistan.
Extremism emanating from Afghanistan is not the only threat that our countries face.
We also stand on the cusp of a new way of war.
We now face hybrid conflicts where even weak states and terrorists have access to the most sophisticated and deadly weapons.
Insurgents now have IEDs that penetrate heavy armor. Rogue states seek nuclear devices. Terrorists try relentlessly to strike our homeland. Even our computers, as Google discovered this month, are no longer safe from attack.
These new threats require the development of new capabilities. Which is what brings me to Britain today.
I have traveled here to strengthen collaboration between our militaries and defense industries. In bilateral talks, Sir Bill Jeffrey and I are working to ease restrictions that prevent our militaries from sharing defense technologies.
Defense cooperation is a matter of particular importance, given the strategic reviews each of our counties are undertaking.
Very shortly, we will release our Quadrennial Defense Review, a once-every-four-years look at the threats we face, and how we plan to meet them. One of the review’s primary authors is on her way to brief the UK on its results. But there shouldn’t be any surprises. Representatives from Her Majesty’s Government participated in the review from start to finish.
Continuing that tradition of collaboration, we are confronting questions about the future of defense together. When your Strategic Defense Review gets underway this spring, a representative of our Department will likewise be ready to participate.
We believe that the new challenges we face require significant shifts in how we train, equip, and structure our force. Based on our review, I want to highlight three steps we are taking to align our military capabilities with the new range of threats.
First, we are institutionalizing our ability to wage irregular war. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan reflect the changing nature of war. To succeed in them, and in other irregular conflicts, we are significantly upgrading our Special Operations forces. We are also strengthening the battlefield enablers for irregular operations, including helicopter lift, mine-resistant vehicles, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms.
Second, we are restructuring our forces to prepare for a range of potential conflicts, including those of longer duration. In the two wars we are fighting, it has not been the intensity or scale of the initial combat phase that proved most challenging. Rather, after eight years in Afghanistan and Iraq, we're finding that it is the duration of these conflicts that places the most stress on our military. Indeed, these wars have now lasted longer than the U.S. participation in World War I and World War II combined.
The longer duration of conflict has implications for how we structure and care for our force. As a consequence, we have halted reductions in the Navy and in the Air Force, and accelerated a planned increase of our ground forces, the Army and the Marine Corps. Looking beyond current conflicts, our strategy review focuses on the force structure necessary to sustain a range of operations long into the future, and the medical and social infrastructure to keep it healthy.
Third, the practice of war has moved more toward asymmetric tactics. Battlegrounds used to be a meeting place of like-on-like forces -- Cavalry on Cavalry, armor on armor. In the Cold War, nuclear versus nuclear. But this is less and less the case. The superiority of U.S. and NATO forces in most conventional military arenas has led potential adversaries to seek out unconventional means of attack. So we are making a special effort to broaden our military capabilities to counter unconventional weapons, from anti-satellite technologies and cyber threats on the high-end to IEDs and guerilla tactics on the low end.
We have also identified the cyber domain as a particularly important emerging threat. In the past few years, the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks have increased exponentially. Our networks are now under threat every hour of every day. More than 100 foreign intelligence organizations are trying to hack into U.S. systems. Foreign militaries are developing offensive cyber capabilities. And some governments already have the capacity to disrupt elements of the U.S. information infrastructure. We even see criminals who have world-class cyber capabilities.
Your military and your economy are as dependent upon information technology as ours—and therefore just as vulnerable to the cyber threat.
We have already partnered extensively with your government to respond to intrusions against our military networks. Our computer defenses are largely linked. We have agreements in place that facilitate the sharing of information and technology. But far greater attention and resources are needed on both sides of the Atlantic if we are to stay ahead of the cyber threat.
To address this threat, the U.S. military is in the process of standing up a dedicated Cyber Command. I will also be working to deepen our cooperation in cyber with our allies in Europe and elsewhere. The reality is that we cannot defend our networks by ourselves. International cooperation is imperative for establishing the chain of events in an intrusion, and quickly and decisively fighting back.
These new threats require new defense capabilities. And like European militaries, we are balancing the needs of our forces with the imperative to be frugal in this time of fiscal austerity.
Since spending defense dollars wisely is a common challenge, the Obama Administration is taking steps to ease the cost of developing new weapons systems for us both.
We have a long history of defense collaboration. In World War II it was the British Merlin engine that powered the American-made P-51 Mustang fighter—an effort that resulted in the best fighter aircraft of the war. But a system of export controls developed during the Cold War, and still in force today, makes collaborating much more difficult. So while our troops are once again fighting together on the battlefield, our defense industries are too often held at arms length
The current regime of export control evaluates the suitability of equipment on the basis of its potential military use. But it does not ask whether the piece in question is a product of unique capabilities that could not be obtained another way. It does not ask what the actual risk is of the equipment being someday used against us. It does not take into account the greater control we gain from selling the technology ourselves. And it does all this as slowly and bureaucratically as possible. As a result, the most technologically advanced nation in the world is the least able to use its technology to aid its allies.
The US-UK Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty is an important step in improving this system.
The treaty is before the U.S. Senate. The Administration is pushing hard for its passage. When ratified, it will streamline export procedures, helping strengthen our ability to develop and acquire battlefield systems jointly. The cost-savings from such collaborations are significant. And the benefits of interoperability on the battlefield are clear.
By reducing the need for individual export licenses, the treaty will allow greater exchange of defense goods, services, and information. Companies in the US and UK will be able to collaborate more easily. Our governments can focus on developing critical technologies instead of pushing licenses through bureaucratic labyrinths. Legally enforceable safeguards will ensure the integrity of sensitive materials transferred under the treaty, and each country will retain the right to unilaterally exempt technologies from its provisions. Ratifying the treaty, as we say in American-English, is a “no-brainer.”
On Thursday, Senator John Kerry, Chair of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee, told Secretary Miliband that he is “determined to move forward” with the treaty’s ratification. We will work with Senator Kerry and the Senate to gain passage of the treaty this year.
The treaty, however, will only solve one part of a much larger problem. Even after its ratification, the onerous system of export controls now in place will still exist for our other allies and partners.
The President and Secretary of Defense Gates recognize the need to reform that out-dated system. The White House has begun a government-wide review with the intention of completely replacing it.
In an era where research and development is global, we believe in building higher walls but around fewer systems. A system of export control that protects only truly unique capabilities is better for our national security, our economy, and our allies.
So as you struggle with the difficult choices of what technologies to invest in, or whether to invest at all, remember that equipping our militaries is only a means to an end—a means to secure the safety of our homeland and our interests abroad.
Of the international issues our countries now face together, I would like to highlight three that showcase our common values, and the benefits of a common approach: nuclear proliferation, energy security, and NATO reform.
First, we are striving alongside the UK to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation.
It was in Europe that President Obama first shared a vision of a world that will some day be free from nuclear threat. His speech in Prague has motivated our department’s nuclear posture review, which must balance the President’s bold call for eventual disarmament with his commitment to protect our country, and our allies, as long as a nuclear threat remains.
We are in the final stages of concluding arms control negotiations with the Russians. We have reached the endgame, and anticipate a new START treaty that will reduce both our nuclear arsenals. We are also working to ratify and bring into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
I think you see in the Administration's approach to arms control both the realism and idealism that has characterized President Obama's view of the world. We are taking unprecedented steps toward a world free from the nuclear threat, while at the same time working with the UK and NATO to responsibly ensure our own security and that of our allies.
Second, we are working alongside the UK to protect our climate and environment, and to understand their role in global security.
Our Department is for the first time focusing high-level attention on how natural resources contribute to conflict. This includes classic issues of resource scarcity, especially access to hydrocarbon fuels. But it also includes population growth and climate change.
We know that climate change will exacerbate food and water shortages, increase the spread of disease, and may contribute to migration, both within and across boarders. Increased poverty, environmental degradation, even social unrest and the possible weakening of governments are potential consequences. Developing countries, who have the least resources to cope, will be among those hit hardest.
To address the challenge of climate change, our Department is making our fixed installations more energy efficient. Over the past three years, we have tripled our investment in energy technology. This investment has yielded results. We have reduced energy consumption at fixed installations by 11%. And nearly 5% of electricity used at bases now comes from renewable sources.
The third and last item I want to discuss is NATO reform.
Through NATO, we have pledged to defend our allies as we would defend ourselves. There is no stronger commitment a nation a can make.
Over the past twenty years, NATO has adapted to new missions and developed new capabilities. We want this trend to continue as NATO sets to work drafting a new Strategic Concept this year.
As NATO considers how to shape its mission, capabilities, and partnerships for the coming decade, we join the UK in voicing support for an ambitious reform agenda.
The Alliance’s procedures and processes are outdated. NATO faces severe resource constraints. When heads of state gather in November at the Lisbon summit, they should commit themselves to reviewing NATO command structures, NATO force structures, and how the Alliance reaches decisions and manages its budget.
NATO also needs the ability to address non-traditional threats both on its own and in cooperation with other institutions like the European Union.
So this is a critical year for the alliance, one in which we all must commit to keeping NATO strong.
And as with all defense issues, achieving public support for new missions will require describing how today’s threats differ from those in the past, and how NATO should transform its methods of operating to meet them.
So let me end where I began.
We are societies with similar values that face the same security challenges. We share a common history, a common set of alliances, and a common future.
The choices ahead on defense investment will be hard. Our political systems are each occupied by many concerns. But we have each other as stalwart allies. And soon, our defense industries will partner in the acquisition of new weapons to keep us safe.
So as we meet today in this grand house of democracy, which has hosted generations of statesmen from my country, I take comfort in knowing that our special relationship will endure, because we will make it endure.
Senator Kennedy spoke of this too.
The man whose eldest brother died on a combat mission helping to defend this country, and whose next two brothers gave their lives serving ours, had this to say in his final public address.
“We know the future will outlast all of us. But I believe that all of us will live on in the future we make.”