Immediate Release

Readout of Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper's Remarks at Day Two of the NATO Defense Ministerial

Oct. 23, 2020

Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper provided remarks during the second day of the NATO Defense Ministerial today. His remarks focused on NATO’s ongoing missions, readiness, the importance of presenting a credible deterrent, and ensuring the Alliance can fight and win should deterrence fail. 

On Afghanistan, the Secretary offered our thoughts and prayers for the Romanian soldiers who were wounded outside of Kandahar Airfield on October 21 in an IED attack, and noted that the attack is under investigation by Resolute Support. The Secretary thanked Allies for their continued commitment to the mission, and expressed encouragement by the progress in the peace process despite the challenges. The Secretary noted that the high level of violence by the Taliban jeopardizes this historic opportunity for peace.  Secretary Esper assured the NATO defense ministers that the U.S. will continue to consult with Allies and partners on changes in force posture to ensure the Alliance can adjust together, and when the time is right, leave together.

On Iraq, the Secretary reiterated the U.S. commitment to the enduring defeat of ISIS and long-term regional stability. He welcomed an expanded role for the NATO Mission Iraq, and noted the importance of the safety and security of our diplomatic and military personnel.