By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
BRUSSELS, May 20, 2015 – Meetings of NATO’s Military Committee are important in building solidarity within the alliance, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey met today with 27 other NATO chiefs of defense to discuss the issues of the alliance and plan for the way ahead.
During the meeting, U.S. Army Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, provided an update on the situation there. They also received updates on the security challenges emanating from Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and continued presence in eastern Ukraine. Next, they received briefings on the threat of extremists on the alliances southern flank.
The NATO defense chiefs also met with the Ukrainian and Georgian chiefs of defense.
Following the meeting, Dempsey called the alliance one of America’s asymmetric advantages. The existence of the alliance gives member states the advantage, he said, because member nations “have allies committed to our common defense.”
Earlier in the day, British army Lt. Gen. Sir Adrian J. Bradshaw, deputy supreme allied commander Europe, spoke to reporters traveling with Dempsey about Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and NATO’s response to the aggression.
“The issue we need to return to is the fact that they [Russia] have done what they’ve done,” he said. “That they continue to interfere with the affairs of a sovereign nation having annexed a part of it in contravention of international law. That is the issue.”
That Russia is helping the separatists operating in eastern Ukraine “is not a question anymore, it’s a certainty,” he said.
Bradshaw said the Minsk peace agreement is the best hope for some sort of stabilization in Ukraine and NATO nations “need to exert pressure for all parties to abide by this.”
NATO is in a good place with the steps it has taken since Russia’s aggression, he said. The alliance readiness action plan has reassured NATO countries on the eastern flank of the alliance and calls for changes to alliance capabilities to ensure swift and firm reinforcement should the need arise, the general said.
The manifestation of that commitment, the Spearhead force -- the alliance’s very high readiness force of around 5,000 personnel -- has been through alert tests. This summer, the force will deploy to Poland to test aspects of the rapid deployment and integration on the ground. “Thus far, it is going well,” Bradshaw said. “This is the interim force and we are on time and delivering what we said we would do.”
The general said gathering intelligence on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions is tough because the actions are ordered by so few.
“Determining intent of individuals is a challenge for any known intelligence architecture,” Bradshaw said. “When the individual in charge of pulling the levers is surrounded by a close coterie of trusted advisers and decision-making doesn’t spread much farther than that, one is presented with obvious challenges.
“The only response you can take is to be ready for all eventualities, and I believe our readiness action plan takes account of that requirement,” he said.