WASHINGTON, July 5, 2016 —
Senior world leaders -- including President Barack Obama -- will meet in Warsaw, Poland, later this week to examine how the alliance has been responding to threats and chart the course for the future, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday during a news conference previewing the Warsaw Summit.
Stoltenberg spoke in Brussels and laid out the agenda for the biennial meeting of the alliance.
NATO leaders will examine the progress made since the last summit in Wales in 2014, and decide on specific ways forward. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ash Carter will also participate in the Warsaw Summit.
Defining Time for NATO
Stoltenberg said the event comes at a defining time for NATO security. “At our last summit in Wales, we laid out plans for the biggest reinforcement of NATO’s collective defense since the Cold War,” he said. “In Warsaw, I will report to heads of state and government that NATO has done what we said we would do. We delivered a faster, a stronger, and a more ready alliance.”
Meetings of alliance diplomatic, defense and military leaders have set the stage for the summit, and Stoltenberg said he expects the heads of state to agree to enhance the alliance’s military presence in the eastern countries of NATO.
“We will deploy four robust, multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland,” Stoltenberg said. As it stands, he said, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada will lead these battalions.
“This is a great contribution to our common security, and a clear signal that our nations will defend one another, on both sides of the Atlantic,” the secretary general said.
The summit will also agree to develop “a tailored presence” in the southeast, based on a multinational brigade in Romania, Stoltenberg said.
Cyberspace Becomes Operational Domain
NATO leaders will address a long-standing omission, he said. “We will recognize cyberspace as an operational domain, alongside air, land and sea, and I expect that allies will make a cyber defense pledge to strengthen their own networks,” Stoltenberg said. “This is part of our overall efforts to increase our resilience, both within our nations and collectively.”
NATO will also change the integration of intelligence into the alliance, by establishing a new intelligence division within NATO headquarters, he said.
Stoltenberg said this new organization will help leaders counter modern challenges, including hybrid and terrorist threats.
Leaders also will renew commitments to spend more and more widely on defense, he said.
“Last year, after a long period of decline we saw a small increase in overall defense spending by NATO’s European allies and Canada,” Stoltenberg said. “This year, we estimate that it will rise even more.”
Increased Defense Spending
Estimates are that the European allies and Canada will increase defense spending 3 percent, Stoltenberg said, meaning an additional $8 billion for the alliance. Overall, 22 allies will increase defense spending in real terms, he said, and 18 allies will increase defense expenditures devoted to major equipment, and research and development.
“We are both spending more and we are spending better,” Stoltenberg said. “But we have a very long way to go, and we must keep up the momentum.”
Stoltenberg stressed that all these moves are defensive. The alliance, he said, has no wish to increase tensions in Europe. “NATO continues to be a responsible, transparent and predictable actor, and we remain open to dialogue with Russia,” Stoltenberg said. “The NATO-Russia Council has an important role to play as a forum for dialogue and information exchange, to reduce tensions and increase predictability.”
NATO leaders, he said, will also talk of building stability outside the alliance.
“When our neighbors are more stable, we are more secure,” the secretary general said. “NATO can, and will, do more to support them. We will agree to start training and capacity building inside Iraq, expanding our existing training for Iraqi officers in Jordan.”
He expects leaders to agree that NATO airborne warning and control aircraft will provide information to the counter-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant coalition.
“And I expect we will agree on a role for NATO in the Central Mediterranean, complementing the European Union’s Operation Sophia, and building on our effective cooperation in the Aegean to cut lines of human trafficking,” he said.
Afghanistan remains the alliance’s largest operation, and Stoltenberg noted that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah will participate in the summit.
“We are committed to assisting the Afghan forces to secure their country and to ensure it never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorism,” he said. “We will continue our Resolute Support mission beyond 2016, and we will continue our contribution to the funding of the Afghan forces until 2020.”
The summit, he said, will have a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, and will discuss the situations in Georgia and the Republic of Moldova.
Leaders will also discuss increasing cooperation with the European Union, Stoltenberg said.
“Our world is changing, and NATO is changing with it,” he said. “What remains unchanged is the unbreakable bond between Europe and North America, on which our alliance is founded.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)