Atlantic Council

Charting NATO’s Future

Panel 2: From Wales to Warsaw: Forming a Coherent Strategy for NATO

Ine Eriksen Soreide,
Minister of Defense,
Kingdom of Norway

Chuck Hagel,
Former Secretary of Defense and U.S. Senator;
And Former Chairman, Atlantic Council

Frederick Kempe,
President and CEO,
Atlantic Council

Location: Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C.

Time: 11:00 a.m. EDT
Date: Thursday, September 24, 2015

Transcript By
Superior Transcriptions LLC
FREDERICK KEMPE: If you could all please take your seats? Thank you. You know you have an important session, when the pope is your warm-up act, and when President Xi Jinping will come afterwards. And so as Fabrice said earlier today, only the Atlantic Council’s audacious enough to squeeze itself in between the pope and President Xi Jinping. It’s my pleasure just to briefly open our keynote session with Minister Soreide. I’ve taken a peek at the draft of the statement she’s going to make, and it is a significant statement. And I think you’ll all be impressed by it and we’ll make sure that something is up on our web right afterwards as well.

My job, Minister Soreide, is not to introduce you. That will be left to the former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and our former chairman, who will also join you for the Q&A section of this. This is Secretary Hagel’s first appearance at the Atlantic Council – first public appearance at the Atlantic Council since he left the Pentagon. He has walked around the halls greeting and talking to our staff.

As many of you in the audience know, he was our chairman during a historic period of growth of the Atlantic Council, both in size and influence. First enlisted combat veteran and Vietnam veteran to be secretary of defense, two-term senator of Nebraska, and if I introduced him any longer he would get angry at me, since he’s the introducer. He has now returned to the Atlantic Council as distinguished statesman, a member of our International Advisory Board, and also a member of the Rafik Hariri Center Advisory Council. So, Secretary Hagel, welcome home. (Applause.)

CHUCK HAGEL: Fred, thank you very much. And to each of you, thank you for forsaking the pope and applying your attention here to the Atlantic Council.

I want to make just a brief comment about the Atlantic Council, because I think what Fred Kempe and his team have done over the years has been pretty remarkable. And I think it’s remarkable for many reasons, but in a world that is as shifting and changing at an unprecedented rate, bringing challenges that we’ve never seen before, not without tremendous opportunities that are also unprecedented, this institution, this organization is really relevant to the debate and to bringing very important, relevant leaders into the discussion and allowing members and people who are associated with the Atlantic Council the benefit of participating and listening and questioning these leaders, like our guest this morning.

My role – and former chairmen have very few roles, but this role I’m particularly honored to have and privileged to have because it is to introduce our guest speaker this morning. She is a pretty remarkable person. Not only is she the defense minister from the country of Norway, which represents an important NATO ally and friend to the United States, has for many years, but her years of participation and leadership in foreign policy, national security issues is really pretty special, which has equipped her to do this job. I got to know her during the two years I served as secretary of defense, in particular at our NATO ministerial meetings, which can sometimes, like all meetings, go on and on. But this particular minister never viewed it that way, and maximized her involvement. And I always appreciated it, because when she spoke really did listen because she has something to say.

I’m not going to recite her biography. I suspect you know a great deal about where she has been, what she has done. She will do much more in the future with the kind of respect that she has in her own country, and in Europe, in the world. But suffice it to say, she is one of those individuals who I’m glad is on our side. It’s a personal privilege to have her here, a person, as I said, that I’ve gotten to know and work with closely. And it’s a real honor to present to you the defense minister from the – from the country of Norway, Defense Minister Soreide. Please, Ine, thank you. (Applause.)

MINISTER INE ERIKSEN SOREIDE: No pressure, huh? (Laughter.) Well, dear Chuck, dear Fred, Damon, Barry, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, it is so great to be back in D.C., and to be back at the Atlantic Council. I’m looking forward to discussing NATO’s future and transatlantic relations. And those who have heard me speak before know that these issues are very close to my heart.

And I’m also, of course, especially glad to be introduced by you, Chuck. And I’m proud and honored to call you my friend. And we have kept in touch, and we were able to do some great work together at NATO when you were defense secretary. And your contribution to transatlantic security and to the alliance is enduring. I think you make that clear by your presence here today as well.

I would also like to thank the Atlantic Council for organizing this event, squeezing it in between the pope and the Chinese. This shows, in my opinion, your continued leadership on transatlantic security. During my two years as the secretary of defense or defense minister, there has been a notable change in Washington. I think it’s fair to say that European security is back on the agenda. And obviously, recent events in Europe has had an important impact in this regard, but I would also credit the Council on this. You have continued to speak on behalf of transatlantic security and to maintain U.S. awareness of the importance of Europe. And I’m so grateful that you have done that.

I’m also glad that so many of you have joined us today. This morning, I will focus on the state of the transatlantic union. I will also touch upon the evolving security situation in Europe, and in Norway’s neighborhood. I will touch upon how new realities shape Norwegian priorities, and also how NATO should adapt to this. But first, let me address the state of transatlantic affairs.

From a Norwegian perspective, and from the perspective of European leaders, it is clear that we need U.S. leadership in NATO. And I really want to emphasize this point. U.S. leadership in Europe is needed and it is desired. But a truly comprehensive and during transatlantic strategy needs a strong European commitment as well. It needs to be based on both sides of the Atlantic sharing the burdens.

NATO solidarity means that we consider threats to one ally as a threat against all of us. And solidarity among allies is about the big, strategic decisions but it’s also about working together every day to shape a common strategy, to make that strategy work. NATO solidarity is built upon the common democratic values of the Atlantic Treaty. And the foundation of this relationship is trust – trust in our collective defense capabilities and trust in the strength of the transatlantic ties. So this mutual dependence can only work if we are honest about the affairs of NATO today.

The United States account for approximately 69 percent of the alliance defense budgets. The financial crisis that took Europe in 2008 has resulted in the following quite paradoxical situation: As defense and security – the challenges on defense and security are increasing, defense budgets have been decreasing. In 2014, and Chuck knows this better than many, 21 out of 28 allied countries spent less on defense than in 2008. The situation is not sustainable. Our ability to share the burden of collective defense is a pressing issue that puts each of our allies’ ability to prioritize to the test.

European leaders might be tempted during hard economic times to argue that the U.S. should continue to bear the burden of European security, and to even look to the U.S. to do more. I vividly remember when Chuck presented the European Reassurance Initiative during a ministerial in NATO. Many of our colleagues saw it as a go-ahead for Europe to do less. But the message that Chuck and the U.S. wanted to convey was a signal that European allies needed to do more to our collective security.

There is a clear, understandable, and also completely justified expectation from U.S. policy and decision makers that Europe must take a larger responsibility for our own security and defense. As Europeans, we need to understand that sustained U.S. commitments to Europe depends on our willingness, our ability to step up to the plate. The Russian aggression towards Ukraine has been a wake-up call. And 2015 appears to be the year that the declining European defense budgets has halted, and in some cases been reversed.

Sustaining and strengthening this budget trend must be our priority. The health of the transatlantic relationship depends on more than dollars and euro. NATO is a political alliance. And the financial crisis in Europe has also had political affects. Many European countries are now experiencing domestic political tensions that aggravate the challenge of transatlantic burden-sharing and NATO solidarity. We need to keep an eye on the changing political situation in Europe.

And, without being alarmist, I would assert that we are seeing some worrying trends in the health condition of European politics. Nationalism is on the rise. Trust in political and democratic institutions, both including the EU and NATO, is diminishing. Radical movements, both on the left and on the right, are gaining momentum. That happens right now in several European countries. Some of the radical European political parties from both sides of the political spectrum openly admire Putin and Putinism. Anti-establishment, anti-modernity are common features of these movements. The more complex and multifaceted the world around us is, the more polarized politics seem to become.

How we handle the ongoing refugee crisis will be a test for Europe. The sheer magnitudes and the acuteness of the crisis is staggering. This is the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War. In Europe, we have so far not been able to address the crisis in a coherent way. Several countries have made exemptions to immigration laws, but we have also witnessed the opposite. Fences have been erected to keep refugees out, and border control has been reestablished within Schengen. If not handled correctly, the refugee crisis could lead to further fragmentation in Europe.

And the reason for mentioning these aspects here in this speech is that they have potential implications for our political cohesion as well as our collective decision-making ability, also within the realm of security policy. An increasingly polarized and fragmented Europe could damage or undermine transatlantic unity. And that comes at a time when unity is more important than ever. Dear friends, the complexity of the situation demands that we all do our part, so let me now turn to the changes in the security landscape in Europe and how they are felt in Norway’s neighborhood. Also, some words on how we are meeting these challenges.

Most of Norway’s surroundings are sea territories. Norway’s responsible for sea areas that are seven times larger than our land territories. Seven percent of Norway’s sea areas are north of the Arctic Circle. We have vast maritime areas and we have a unique geographical location. The north is an area where the strategic interests of NATO meet those of Russia. This is NATO’s northern maritime flank, and this is an area that has been largely neglected by the alliance over the past decades. To be very clear on this, we do not see a military threat towards Norway or Norwegian interests from Russia in the current situation. We firmly believe that we have a common interest in predictability and stability in the north.

But the strategic changes forces us to think differently now. In my opinion, we have, as politicians, an obligation to talk about the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. The Russian military reforms, which started in earnest in 2008, have reduced – have resulted in increased military mobility and also responsiveness on the Russian side. Russian military activity is, in many ways, at a level you would expect from a country in power on that side. In high north, we have so far not seen any huge increase in the number of Russian fights, but we do see a more complex and more – of a different quality, the activity that they are doing.

The reforms have improved the efficiency of command and control systems. And this means the concept of warning times is now profoundly changed. We can no longer expect the warning times that we had before. We are seeing the introduction of new, high-end maritime capabilities, but surface and subsurface. These platforms have high-precision, long-range strike capabilities. The Russian defense concept has a strong focus on ensuring sea control and sea denial, to protect the nuclear forces based on the Kola Peninsula.

So given the strategic importance of Russian capabilities in the high north, this area will be highly relevant in any potential crisis or conflict involving Russia. Dear friends, my key point this morning is this: As a result of these developments, especially in the maritime domain, we are on the verge of an anti-access, area denial challenge in the North Atlantic. We could potentially face a resurrected threat to the sea lines of communications across the Atlantic. Therefore, this challenge is not limited to the North Atlantic, but it concerns all of Europe and the U.S.

The understatement of the day is that there is considerable asymmetry between Norwegian and Russian military power. Our main task will be to have a good situational awareness. This is key to continued stability. As a part of next year’s defense white paper, we will focus on developing and acquiring capabilities that provide situational awareness, presence and fighting power. At the end of the day, though, Norway depends on NATO for our security. But we need a NATO that is credible and capable. Thus, NATO needs to evolve to meet the evolving security situation.

One area that needs more attention is the increasing challenges of the maritime domain. Activities in NATO’s maritime areas are increasing not just in the north, but also across the whole of NATO’s area of responsibility – the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Mediterranean. The challenges are very different, but they should be met by a coherent NATO strategy. Maritime power and presence is becoming more important to NATO. We must focus on generating true allied maritime capabilities. I spoke to Secretary Carter about this yesterday. And working with key allies to us, such as the U.S., will be the main issue in the run-up to the Warsaw summit next year.

NATO must not yield on the maritime flanks. But NATO also needs a more structural and fundamental change. The reassurance initiatives, they have been put in place and they have been very important. They’ve had a stabilizing effect and we were able to act quickly. Especially I would commend the U.S. for reacting very quickly to these challenges. The reassurance activities are important and valuable, but they will not have a lasting effect unless we develop a strategic framework that guides us as an alliance. We cannot only do deterrence on a rotational basis when a situation comes up. We need to have a long-term strategy. We need to dispel the notion that these initiatives are temporary, only in place until the current situation is resolved. Reassurance and also the readiness action plan are terms that still have a temporary ring to it.

I’m on the opinion that we do need a long-term strategy. No matter what happens in Ukraine over time, we will still in all likelihood, and in the foreseeable future, have to deal with a Russia that is fundamentally different than we assumed before Crimea. That is why we need an enduring strategy that addresses the enduring change in our security environment. In NATO, we need to take a hard look at the current command structure and our planning processes. Norway has called for a strategic framework for training and exercise as well.

There are a number of important exercises being held at the national and multinational level. The truth is, though, that NATO’s involvement in these activities is limited, and in some cases, not existing. This is a situation that must be addressed. Exercises and training are not only important for the collective military capability of the alliance, they are also key tools in NATO’s toolbox. As hosts, it is a top priority for us to make the high visibility exercise for 2018 as relevant as possible. If we adopt a strategic approach to exercise and to training, these activities can support our policy objectives of providing reassurance, deterrence and stability.

In short, NATO needs to look at how we do business. We need to make necessary changes to prepare the alliance to meet the security environment that is changing fundamentally, and also strategically. This should be the main theme for Warsaw. Dear friends, the state of the transatlantic relationship is strong, but as all friendships it requires effort and work from both sides. We need leadership, we need engagement from the U.S. And Europe needs to invest more in our own security. The political situation in Europe demands attention and focus. We face a threat environment that is unprecedented in its complexity. NATO, and with the transatlantic relationship at its core, has never been more important.

As we continue to develop NATO, we have to focus on high-end collective defense capabilities across services and domains. Before getting to D.C., I spent a couple of days in Texas attending the rollout of Norway’s first F-35 fighter aircraft. I can assure you, it was a milestone and it was a wonderful, wonderful ceremony. But a NATO without credible collective defense forces will lead to increased instability. And a NATO without U.S. leadership will also lead to increased instability. But let just be firm. Let us work together on a NATO strategy that deters aggression and that ensures international order based on the rule of law.

Future generations will look back at our time and perhaps see a watershed in European history. I can only hope that the decisions that we are making today, under great uncertainty, will stand the test of time and that our children and our grandchildren will have reason to be proud of us. This demands our continued commitment to the values that we hold so dearly – democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law. We must work together, bound by these values, to find common solutions.

By that, I am proud to announce that Chuck and I will take questions. (Laughter, applause.)

MR. HAGEL: Good job, Ine. Good job.

MR. KEMPE: Minister Soreide, that really was a significant, significant statement – speech. You touched on many things that are, clear U.S. leadership Europe needed and desired, Europe itself has to step up, the troubling percentage of the NATO budget and the U.S., then the real interesting issue of – look at the migration issue, and the issues of Europe in general, nationalism on the rise, trust in institutions falling, radical movements growing, giving us that feeling.

But I think what a lot of people will take away, and what I think the media may focus on, or should, is – I’m not in that job any longer, so I can’t control that – (laughter) – but the issue of Russia as something we now have to look at a long-term change and not as a short-term fix that can be done purely by an assurance strategy or rotational forces, and that that should be at the center of the Warsaw summit. We need a long-term strategy – I’m quoting you – for the foreseeable future, deal with a Russia fundamentally different than we assumed before Crimea. NATO needs to look at how we do business.

So let me start with that. And I’ll turn to you first, Madam Minister, and then to Secretary Hagel. You know, I realize this is a strategy that needs to get fleshed out. How do we need to arrive at this? Is this a new strategic review of NATO? Maybe even more specifically, what might be the elements of that strategy, and how do we get to them?

MIN. SOREIDE: Thank you, Fred. I think that in giving this statement – that I’ve also been doing during ministerials and other places as well – I think the most important thing is to focus on the fact that what happened with Ukraine sort of took NATO and everyone else a bit by surprise. We had gone from a period where we wanted to look at Russia as a strategic partner, NATO wanted to as well. And suddenly, we had this wake-up calling that this was probably not possible anymore, at least not in the same fashion that we had done before.

And what does that entail for an alliance like NATO? And in my opinion, we have now over time had reassurance measures that I think have been working well. I think it has been very good to see that all allies put something on the table for reassurance. In the beginning, I remember one of the ministerials we attended, I think the secretary-general had a list of the countries that were not presenting anything to the reassurance table. And of course, the meeting afterwards, everyone presented something. And that has been good for allied cohesion.

But I think that we need to look beyond the temporary measures and actually realize that we are in a changed strategic situation, which means that we need to deal with Russia or other issues in a more long-term way as well. I do not mean that we should not discuss with Russia or talk to Russia, cooperate on areas where we have common interest. I mean Norway still do. We cooperate on Coast Guard, border patrol. We have an open line of communication between our operational headquarters and the Northern Fleet’s in order to avoid misunderstandings.

But at the same time, we have suspended or bilateral military cooperation of natural causes. So it isn’t an either/or. We can do cooperation where we have mutual interests in it. But I think the most important part of discussing this in a long-term strategy is actually to realize that this is not something that will pass in a month or two. We have to prepare NATO for actually taking steps to do deterrence, to do cohesion in a different way than just thinking six months ahead.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you for that. Secretary Hagel, a lot of what shifted regarding Russia you witnessed while sitting over at the Pentagon. How has your view of Russia and how to deal with Russia – how did it shift during the time that you were at the Pentagon? And now how do you look at it, particularly with this new element of Putin in Syria, with combat aircraft, new news today that – if right – that he’s intending to take unilateral strikes on ISIS if he can’t find out a way to do parallel action together with us. And you have a possible meeting between President Obama and Putin next week. So what did you experience in office? What do these new elements do in terms of how to deal with Russia?

MR. HAGEL: Fred, I would answer it this way. I would add on to what Ine said about credibility and capability of NATO, because that is a fundamental anchor for the United States, not just on transatlantic issues. But you look at the eastern flank of NATO – and Norway being at the top as Ine mentioned in her speech about the Arctic – and all of the interests coming down through that line, that credibility, capability – which underpins credibility, capability – has to continue to adapt to the realities of what we’re seeing. The threats in Europe, not just coming from Russia, but also coming up from North Africa and the Middle East, what’s going on now with refugees, but also sea lanes, which you mentioned, and keeping air space free.

Specifically to your question, to add on to what I’ve just said, Fred, we, as you note, have seen an astounding shift in policy – Russian policy on how the Russians would approach their interests, not just with the United States, but with Europe and in the Middle East. I’ve always fundamentally believed that any nation, but a nation like Russia – which is one of the most significant nations in the world, one of the most powerful nations in the world by any measurement, starting with their nuclear capability, their resources, their size, the capability of their military, to go all the way through – wants to have a role in the world.

And I think we fundamentally make a mistake when we try to block great nations’ roles in the world. We’re not going to block the Chinese role in the world. We’re not going to block the Russians’ role in the world. And so we’ve got to find the common, Ine said interests, but the common denominators of where then we can work through these big issues. That takes a channel of communications too, which I advocated when I was at the Pentagon, and I –

MR. KEMPE: And you spoke to the defense minister there pretty frequently.

MR. HAGEL: I did, often.

MR. KEMPE: Yeah.

MR. HAGEL: As I did with al-Sisi, because you cannot, I don’t believe, cut off channels of communication and then expect things to get better. Things will not get better. They will get worse. That doesn’t at all necessarily alter the direction of a policy of a nation. Nations will always respond in their own self-interests and each leader takes that self-interest of a nation in different directions, and many times not in good directions. And I don’t think where President Putin is taking Russia is a particular good direction. But it’s a reality. There’s no point in wringing our hands about it. He is the president of Russia. We have to deal with that.

So we have to adapt to where can we find some adjustment of policies of common denominators. In the Middle East, you talked specifically about how we deal with that. Well, I also believe that there will never be a resolution or a solution in an area as complicated as the Middle East. And that probably represents the most complicated area of the world. I don’t know of one that’s more complicated – history, ethnicity, tribalism, religion, all underpinning and fomenting, and despair – what’s going on over there, until we get an element of stability. Well, you can only get stability if you bring the most powerful nations together in some stable resolution of then building a platform to get to the next platform, and that is resolution and maybe even solution.

It cannot be done without the players in the Middle East. I think you, in the Middle East, for example, go back to the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1917, when the British and the French decided that they were going to carve up the Middle East. It was straight colonialism, 1923, when the British and the French did draw the lines in the Middle East. When World War II then came along and we were supposed to be about eliminating colonialism. I think you can take it back that far, or go back to 650, when Sunnis and Shias started to begin to divide the Muslim world.

So we’re not going to solve that problem. And Russia’s not going to solve that problem. But I think you have to have Russia, Iran, the United States involved in helping bring some stability to get to the next platform of how do you – how do you start to help figure it out. It’s complicated. It is as complicated as anything I think we’ve faced since the end of World War II, because it does spillover into Russia, into other relationships in the world. And then not only are we dealing with that in North Africa, but the Asia-Pacific. And so you’ve got to keep all the balance of our responsibilities.

Last point I’d make, let’s not forget that the United States is the only nation in the world that has treaty obligations with other nations. Now, some people may not like that, and maybe America eventually wants to give up those responsibilities, but there is no nation on Earth that has the kind of responsibilities that we take seriously we have. We have seven treaty obligations in the world, and they’re all over the world.

The collective security obligation we have with NATO, articulated clearly in Article 5, is pretty clear. And that’s 27 other nations. If you invade another nation, we will go to war with, as other nations, in defense of that one NATO nation. But we got obligations everywhere. And when you got an obligation and a responsibility like we have – the Russians don’t, Chinese don’t, no one else does – then you must find alliances and relationships and partnerships that work.

Last point I’d make, the Middle East, or where the Russians are and they’re pushing in, obviously I don’t know what is in Putin’s mind. I don’t know if anybody else. But my guess is that a certain amount of that is about the Russians don’t want to be pushed out of the Middle East and they want to have a role in the Middle East. Well, OK, nations can have roles – responsible roles, roles that help stabilize a country and a region. But there’s only so much great powers can do. We have – we have limitations to our power too, as great a country as we are with the powers we have. You can’t do this without alliances and partnerships.

The Russians have got to be part of something here. I mean, let’s just use one example. When we were able to, along with a number of our European friends – but in particular the Russians, the Russians were key to this – get precursors for chemical weapons moved out of Syria – now, it was imperfect. But the United States partnered with a number of European countries, and the Russians were key to that. Now, did that serve the interests of the Russians in many ways? Yes, it did. That’s OK. It served our interests. Now, that hasn’t stopped the war in Syria or what’s going on in Syria, but it’s bigger than just Syria. I mean, you’ve got a number of countries that don’t have really functioning governments in the Middle East.

So I know I’ve kind of meandered around the answer to the question, but I don’t think there’s a quick one sentence or one paragraph answer to your question. And I would end this way, we’re living in a time where the world has never seen such diffusion of power – economic power, power measured by any means. That presents a certain destabilizing dynamic to the world, because the good old days when you had the Soviet Union and their bloc and the United States and the West, we essentially kind of between those two had it all figured out. Those days are over, and I’m glad they’re over, and I hope – I think most people in the world are glad it’s over.

So you’ve got a breakdown in world order because of the complications of technology, of economics, of awareness, of actually nations accomplishing much of what we wanted and hoped and helped accomplish over 70 years, our world order has worked pretty well, and that is nations evolving into their own power base, making their own decisions, having their own economies, having hope, education, and building onto those economies. So all of that is in a mix now, Fred. And patience is all part of that too. But alliances are as critical today as I think anytime ever.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Secretary Hagel. You may want to comment on this. There’s unanimity here in both the nature of Russia has changed and you have to engage with it. So I don’t know whether you want to comment on anything that Secretary Hagel has said, and if not then I’ll move onto the high north. But do you want to comment on what you’ve heard?

MIN. SOREIDE: Well, I agree pretty much with what Chuck has been saying now. And I think that it’s quite crucial, and that was part of my point also in my speech, that NATO as an alliance has never been more important, and that is exactly because of the things that Chuck are mentioning. You need to partner, you need to find allies, you need to find friends in order to get anything done. And my point is that right now at this point in time, it is even more important than ever to do long-term strategies and work with those friends and those partners. We can no longer do the short-term versions of trying to adapt to situations. We have to realize that they are of a most lasting nature than we may have seen up until now, or at least for the past decades.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you for that. And we’ll come back to that in conjunction with the Warsaw summit. The high north, tensions have been rising. Russia, if I’m not mistaken, is set to build 10 new search and rescue stations at ports on the Arctic shoreline, has dropped 50 paratroopers onto the North Pole. So you’re right, things have not gone as far in the high north as they have elsewhere, but on the other hand is a militarization of the Arctic inevitable? Question one. And then the second question is, what you would like to see NATO and the United States do to promote security in the high north.

MIN. SOREIDE: Well, I think it’s, as you say, important to separate between what we see around the Baltic Sea region and what we see in the high north. The Baltic Sea region, there has been experience of a three-fold number of flights, compared to 2013. They fly more aggressively, the Russians violate air space, and it’s kind of a quite different picture than we see. We see more of the same activity, even though more complex – longer flights with several types of planes, and quite a bit of difference, but not the enormous increase in the number of sorties or flights.

However, I do think it’s fair to say that everything that is happening in the north now is something that we pay much attention to. And from our part it has always been, and still is, extremely important to have a presence that constitutes a normal situation. There has been discussions at some point, and I think that comes in every country, that would our presence, that is a normality that we’ve always had, actually be a provocation to the Russians and should we kind of retract from our positions? In my opinion, that is not the solution. We need to uphold and strengthen the presence that is normality.

And what I would like to see from the alliance, and I’ve raised this on several ministerials as well, is an increase of U.S. attention and presence, but also NATO presence. This is NATO’s area of responsibility. And I think we need to realize that when times are changing, a presence – a stable presence is also a way of reducing tensions and to stabilize the situation. And that’s why I think that part of this long-term strategy that I’m talking about, and that will come up in Warsaw as well, is mainly that we need to position ourselves and prepare ourselves for something that is different and over time.

MR. HAGEL: Let me respond to that as well, because I think the minister’s exactly right. For the United States, I would – I would refer back to a couple of years ago. President Obama announced in May of 2013 the first national security plan and strategy for the United States. In November of that year, 2013, I announced the Defense Department’s defense strategy in Halifax, Canada. And it was built upon the exact same principles that Ine mentioned – presence, stability, security. Where we – where the world always runs into difficulties is when there are gaps and where there absences, when there are vacuums. History is rather replete on that point.

We’re behind, quite frankly. The United States is behind in the Arctic and that entire area. And I’ve said – so when I was in the Senate I said this. Senator John Warner and I, when we served together on the Intelligence Committee, introduced legislation about the coming effects of climate change, what that was going to do to the Arctic – open up the sea lanes, minerals, possibilities, shipping. And it was going to attract, certainly the Russians, but it would attract others. The Chinese are playing up there. The Chinese are building two new icebreakers. The United States is way behind. We’ve got two ice breakers, and one – they’re not state of the art. They’re old. One doesn’t really work. The Chinese are ahead of us on that – the Chinese.

So what Ine is saying here is really important. And we’ve got to catch up. NATO has to be part of this. And certainly because of Norway being the – essentially the entry country here, it’s critically important. So that’s an area that I was referring to earlier, and I know you talked about generally in your comments, about all the areas of the world we have to pay attention to. And it isn’t just along the Russian border or the southern border of the Mediterranean or anywhere else, or Asia-Pacific. It’s everywhere. And that cannot allow to drift into an area where we don’t have stability and security.

And we can’t afford to get too far behind, or we can’t afford to get behind at all. So it’s an understated area. There’s no attention on it really these days, because we go to the shiny object, the media does, everybody does, the attention. We go to Syria or wherever – whatever area’s exploding at the moment, that’s what we pay attention to. But leaders cannot do that. And alliances and nations can’t do that with responsibilities. We’ve got to cover it all. And this is a particularly important one.

MR. KEMPE: We don’t have very much time left, but I do think we need to touch on the Warsaw summit and the NATO strategy that you were talking about. This is pretty ambitious stuff you’re talking about. Where are NATO allies on this? You know, is this a dream that you hope that you can push through by then, or where is the consensus on this? Are we going to set our sights too low at a time of history when we really have to set them much higher?

MIN. SOREIDE: Well, I don’t do dreaming as a strategy, usually. So I am – I try to do what I think any responsible leader would have to do, and that is push the alliance that we depend on, that all our other allies depend on, in the right direction to cope and adapt with the changes that we’re seeing around us. And I have been advocating, ever since the reassurance measures were put into place, and Check has heard this speech many times I think, so I will not repeat all of the speech –

MR. HAGEL: And I’m a better person for it. (Laughter.)

MIN. SOREIDE: Yeah. So I won’t repeat it too much. But I just think that the reassurance measures are good. But if the high readiness forces, the readiness action plan, things that we’re doing immediately are the only things we’re doing, we are not adapting NATO to the future. And the future doesn’t only hold the discussion of a more self-confident Russia. It also holds a whole range of other challenges stemming from different parts of around the alliance.

My point is this, this is how the security picture around us is going to look for the foreseeable future. The old threats, they merge with the new threats, and the picture today could look completely different from one year from now. The only thing we know for sure is that there will be a complex picture. We will be challenged and threatened from many angles. And unless we adapt to that, and thereafter adopt a strategy that can actually cope with this, I really think that many of the things that we’re doing right now in order to handle and kind of contain a certain situation is not going to be much help.

So I’m not dreaming about this. I’m working hard to make the rest of the alliance also realize that this is the way we need to go. And I do sense when we discuss this a big change now compared to six months ago in how allied countries see this and view this issue. So and my hope is – not my dream, but my hope is that the hard work that we and the U.S. and other core allies for us are putting down on this will actually make sure that in Warsaw next year we’ll be able to adapt to what challenges we have now, in the future, and make this alliance even stronger.

MR. KEMPE: So final word, Secretary Hagel, the Warsaw summit, the call for U.S. leadership here. You’ve been in the Pentagon. You’ve seen the issues of NATO, how they resonate in the administration, on Capitol Hill. How much support do you find around you here in Washington for a robust U.S. leadership of NATO? And what would be success at the Warsaw summit in that respect?

MR. HAGEL: I think something that Ine just said in reference to a fundamental shift of the last six months, or last probably 12 months, in, first of all, awareness of the threat. What Russia has done in the last year and a half has really rung some alert sirens, and I think here in the United States and elsewhere in the world. I mean, this isn’t just a thinking about or assuming that something’s going to happen, but it has happened. And just as Ine said, everybody, I think, was caught off guard on that action.

Now, that awareness is very helpful. And you can’t have any change in policy or commitment to assets than what’s required to deal with any big challenge without awareness. But that isn’t alone enough. We’ve got to internally here in the United States get back to actually governing, which we – that’s a bit out of your ballpark, which you should be thankful for. (Laughter.) But this mindless sequestration and this really just irresponsible approach that we’re doing to ourselves in the United States, taking these huge cuts at the Pentagon, Defense Department budget, when you ask are people aware.

There’s an interesting dichotomy about all that. I mean, the politicians, those in Congress will say they’re aware of all these problems, but yet they won’t – they won’t translate that into allowing those responsible for the security of this country to have the resources and the responsibility to actually function to deal with it. So it’s an internal issue as much as anything, for us. I think we’ll find a new center of gravity of getting back to some responsible governance. I mean, essentially, we just have been paralyzed and polarized totally. I suspect it’s not going to get any better this next year because it’s all about politics here now in Washington and the country. But if we don’t get this turned around, then we will be incapable of adapting quickly and maneuvering and doing the things that we need to do. And again, this is something that you can’t deal with directly. We’re going to have to do this.

The other part of that is – the danger for the United States is that our allies see this and we lose credibility, we lose trust in who we are and our word and our commitments, and our adversaries watch this too. And so we’ve got to – we’ve got to get turned around on this. And I think we will. I am one who absolutely believes that we’re going through one of these periods where – and history, again, is replete with this – where whether you look at the markets or any dimension of the society or leadership in world affairs, it seems like the world is blowing up. Everything is going to hell. Markets are going down. Everything is going the wrong way. It’s not true. I mean, there are a lot of things going the right way.

But we’re at that point where steady, wise leadership, resourced alliances – and leadership is all about one thing, and that’s tomorrow. It’s not yesterday. And it is difficult today because – and I will leave you with this – I don’t know a time in my lifetime, which I suspect is the same lifetime of most everybody in this room, when it has been more difficult to govern. And that’s not an excuse for not governing or making mistakes, but I don’t know when it’s been more difficult to govern anywhere in the world, certainly in the United States, because of all the things we’ve talked about – complexities and realities, and how do you adjust to these things. Democracies are really the only adaptable form of government that can deal with these things, because we can self-correct. But if we don’t use those mechanisms, then we will fail our – we’ll fail the future. And I don’t think that’ll happen, but that’s how serious it is, I think.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you for Secretary Hagel. For those in the audience, before the end of the year we’ll have a reflections of defense secretary sessions here where we’ll have an hour and a half with Secretary Hagel to talk through some of these issues in more depth as well.

Steady, wise leadership, resource of alliances, this is all about tomorrow. I want to thank Minister Soreide. That was a very significant statement, terrific Q&A session, and Secretary Hagel. Thank you as well for your compliments of the Atlantic Council’s work. We are determined on all of those levels that we talked about in this Q&A conversation, looking at issues of high north, looking at the issues of Russia and how this is evolving, what do we do about it, and definitely looking at the issues of the alliance and how do we reinvigorate, remake, reshape the alliance for a whole host of new challenges. So thank you for taking the time. And thank you for working together with us on these issues.

MIN. SOREIDE: Thank you.

MR. HAGEL: Thank you. (Applause.)