NATO’s New Frontier

USS Donald Cook arrives in Rota, Spain, February 11, 2014An American ship sailing into a Spanish naval base this week is making history. The arrival of the USS Donald Cook from Norfolk, Virginia, to its new home port in Rota, on Spain’s Atlantic coast, marks the first time that a US Navy ship equipped with the high-tech Aegis ballistic missile-defense system will be permanently based in Europe.

The USS Donald Cook is the first of four US Navy destroyers that, with around 1,200 sailors and personnel, will play a central role in NATO’s missile-defense capability. But the ships will carry out many other tasks as well, such as maritime security operations, bilateral and multilateral training exercises, and participation in NATO operations and deployments, including the Standing NATO Maritime Groups. . . .

Above all, this deployment is a step forward for transatlantic cooperation, because the US ships represent more than a military capability. Each one is an eight-thousand-ton reminder of America’s commitment to security in Europe. . . .

Missile defense heralds a new form of cooperation, with new capabilities against new threats. Where once we lined up tanks along borders, we are now building a complex system that requires a range of high-tech contributions from many allies – on land, at sea, and in the air. NATO’s missile-defense system is what transatlantic teamwork looks like in the twenty-first century.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen is Secretary General of NATO and a former prime minister of Denmark.

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Image: USS Donald Cook arrives in Rota, Spain, February 11, 2014 (photo: US Navy)