By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, June 23, 2015 – NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force has the speed to respond to future crises such as those involving hybrid warfare, space and cyber activities that can evolve and unfold in Europe, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters yesterday in Munster, Germany.
Carter spoke to members of the media following a multilateral meeting with German Defense Minister Ursula Von Der Leyen, Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide and the Netherlands’ Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.
The VJTF is a component of NATO’s Response Force that has responsibility for deploying troops to the Baltics in a crisis, according to DoD officials.
The secretary is in Europe this week to focus on the new security environment and NATO challenges stemming from Russia and the continent’s southern flank.
Next week’s NATO defense ministerial in Brussels -- his first since taking office four months ago -- will be Carter's final stop.
NATO Unity is Critical
NATO’s unity is critical going forward, Carter said.
“And that requires us to be attentive to the problems and challenges that affect all of the members,” he said.
In addition to challenges from Russia, various regions of Europe and its southern tier in particular are also affected by factors such as instability in Northern Africa and the Middle East, the secretary said.
“There is more than one challenge for Europe,” Carter said. “A unified Europe can do more than one thing at one time. That's required now … and it's showing … all the resolve and unity that it always has had over many decades.”
In new domains such as cyber, Carter said, speed and agility of forces are important ingredients and are among a portfolio of steps NATO is taking "to ensure the security of all of its partners."
Nondefense Security Dimension
Carter emphasized that the “new playbook” has a number of different dimensions.
“There's an important nondefense dimension to security today, both in respect of so-called hybrid warfare, but also in respect [to Europe’s] southern tier,” he said.
“That's something which is a whole-of-government … kind of difficulty,” the secretary noted. “Where the habits of cooperation among the militaries, illustrated by NATO, can be and actually [are] matched with other agencies of government that are necessary to deal with those other challenges.”