Atlantic Council

After the Summit:
General Philip M. Breedlove on NATO’s Path Forward

Jon Huntsman,
Atlantic Council

Frederick Kempe,
President and CEO,
Atlantic Council

General Philip Breedlove,
NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe
and Commander, U.S. European Command

Location: Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C.

Time: 11:00 a.m. EDT
Date: Monday, September 15, 2014

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

GOVERNOR JON M. HUNTSMAN: Good morning and welcome, everybody. We’re honored and delighted to have you here at the Atlantic Council. I very much appreciating you being with us this morning for the Commanders Series event to hear from General Philip Breedlove, Commander of U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe. In a few minutes, he will give us his remarks and join a roster of Atlantic Council Commanders Series speakers that includes General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and General James Amos, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. The Commanders Series is our longstanding flagship speaker series for senior U.S. and allied military leaders and I want to thank Saab North America for their strong and consistent support for this series. You can follow the series, if you’re interested, including today’s event, on twitter using the hashtag #ACCommanders. We have more great speakers lined up in this series later in the year, including Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, General Lloyd Austin, Commander of Central Command and General Jim Kelley, Commander of Southern Command, among others. We hope that you’ll be able to join us for these upcoming events, as well.

But today, we could not be more excited to host General Breedlove. The General has just returned from the NATO summit in Wales, where the alliance charted its paths for the future, while also working on how to deal with the brutal rise of ISIS, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and emerging threats around the alliance’s southern flank. This is, indeed, a crucial time for NATO and I think the coming period of time will help shape the alliance for many decades to come.

Finally, we at the Atlantic Council like to consider ourselves the Washington home of the D.C.-based NATO community, so we are especially pleased that we can host NATO’s top military leader at the Council once again, this time for his readout on the summit, among other things. We’re delighted to have the general and Admiral Green, who is traveling with him, as well as many other members of their delegation. We have some midshipmen from the Naval Academy, too, I’d like to give them an extra special shout-out. It’s always a pleasure to be in the company of our future leaders. So without further ado, I’d like to turn this dais over to one of my predecessors, General Jim Jones, for some additional comments. General.

GENERAL JIM JONES: Thank you, governor, and good morning, everyone. It’s an honor to be here to introduce – or, to help introduce – the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe. I like to spell out that title because it has a special elegance to it that some people around Washington don’t appreciate. So good morning and welcome. As I said, it’s a – it’s a real honor to be here. I’d also like to recognize the 17th Supreme Allied Commander of Europe – I’m sorry, the 11th? The 11th – the 17th is to be introduced, General George Allen, pardon me. General, always good to see you and thank you for being here.

When the recently completed Wales summit was first planned, there was originally intended to mark the conclusion of nearly a decade of successful allied operations in Afghanistan, the responsibility the alliance assumed many moons ago, when I held General Breedlove’s position. While NATO and its ISAF partners did have a meaningful discussion on the Afghanistan transition, the summit will most likely be remembered for NATO’s response to Russia’s ongoing destabilization in Ukraine and its discussions about the emerging extremist threat on NATO’s borders in Iraq and Syria. The crisis in Ukraine and the dramatic rise of tensions with Moscow have been unwelcome developments in all matters pertaining to European security. Secretary General Rasmussen has stated that Russia’s actions in and around Ukraine pose the most serious threat to European security since the end of the Cold War. Yet, throughout this crisis, General Breedlove has provided remarkable clarity and decisive leadership of allied military forces in responding to a new strategic challenge. In his annual EUCOM posture statement delivered to the U.S. Congress this spring, General Breedlove made a clear and compelling case that America’s European allies are force multipliers, and that a robust American force posture in Europe delivers good value to the taxpayer, a position that I know all of General Breedlove’s predecessors also agree with.

As the crisis in Ukraine worsened, General Breedlove has clearly explained Russia’s strategy and tactics to our publics on both sides of the Atlantic and how they differ from the Soviet threat of the past. General Breedlove has done more than just describe the new challenge to Europe’s security; he is pushing relentlessly for the alliance to continue its transformation, to adapt to new threats like cyber security and unconventional warfare, he’s bolstered the readiness of NATO militaries to deter threats in this new environment and, under his direction, NATO has organized an extraordinary set of assurance measures across all of Europe, north, south, east and west, by land, in the air and on the sea. Meanwhile, he and his staff have been hard at work in advance of the summit to develop new measures to strengthen NATO’s continuous presence and readiness in Europe’s east and north; measures that were blessed at Wales and which I’m sure General Breedlove will describe to you in more detail.

General Breedlove has impacted the alliance beyond the Ukraine crisis, however; he’s overseen operations in Kosovo, the Mediterranean, off the horn of Africa and in ensuring a peaceful transition in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, he’s worked to strengthen NATO’s partnerships around the globe as part of the alliance’s missions of bolstering cooperative security. General Breedlove assumed the title of Commander U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe in May of 2013. An F-16 pilot by trade, with combat experience in the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts, General Breedlove has a rich regional experience in senior command positions in Asia and Europe and leadership positions in the U.S. Air Force. He served most recently as Vice Chief of the United States Air Force and Commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe before assuming the best job title in the U.S. military, Supreme Allied Commander Europe. It was a great pleasure to have General Breedlove at the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished Leadership Awards Dinner this April and it’s a pleasure to welcome him back to the Council for his public debrief of the NATO summit. I’d like to turn the microphone now to Mr. Jonas Hjelm, who will continue the introductions. Thank you.

JONAS HJELM: Thank you, General Jones, and thank you, Governor Huntsman. It’s not easy to come after two so distinguished gentlemen, but allow to elaborate a little bit about why Saab is sponsoring this Commanders Series event. First I will say, it’s a pleasure to have the General Breedlove here today. Looking forward to what you’re going to give us for insights and good things from the summit. Saab and the Atlantic Council have been partners for many, many years now, and I think this is a fantastic relationship that continue to grows as both the company and the Council continues to grow and (evolves ?). I think we, Saab, as a European – North European defense company, makes business globally but also on the both sides of the Atlantic equal to the Atlantic Council. We (breed ?) the transatlantic, so to say, the values, and we shares them and I think the events we see around the world today – all the tragic events and the — what’s happening, these values is even more important than before. And I think this is the core thing for our partnership with the Atlantic Council, to continue to cherish these values.

Before the general is giving his remarks, let me maybe add on something to General Jones describing what the general did before he assumed his – and I agree, very, very nice title, the Supreme Allied Commander. It’s something you could kill for, to have that title one day. I won’t, unfortunately. Prior to this, General Breedlove was the Commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe as well as the Commander for the U.S. Air Forces in Africa. Before that, from ’08 to ’09, he commanded a third air force out of Ramstein, Germany. Before going over there, the general also served, as General Jones said, in various positions here in the United States Air Force. He was the senior military assistant to the secretary of the Air Force. He also was the vice director for strategic plans and policy with the joint staff, and he also was the vice chief of staff for the United States Air Force. So it’s – that was just a part of a very extensive and long, good career that you have had, general.

So, without further delay, could you please help me welcoming the general to take the stage.

GENERAL PHILIP BREEDLOVE: So first of all, thank you to the Atlantic Council for a lot of things, for this opportunity to speak to you but, most importantly, for all the work that it has done through the years in helping shape the policies and the positions that take us forward in our relationships across the northern Atlantic. And it is about shared values and things that were mentioned. And those are the visions that we continue to hold for the future, despite some of the challenges that we see out there today.

To our naval cadets, this is your worst nightmare as a speaker. You’re standing in front of a crowd, literally two-thirds of this crowd are qualified to grade my paper, OK? And then secondarily, you stand in front of two of the nation’s greatest leaders who has – who have had your job before, and they know what doing it right looks like, and they’re grading me every day about whether I’m doing it right or not. But it is a – it is a privilege to be in such an august group and a group that has the expertise that this group has about the Atlantic alliance and our relationships. And sirs, thank to both of you, as you all helped me as I moved into, I agree, one of the greatest jobs in the world.

It is right now quite a challenging job and quite a – let’s say there is not enough hours in the day to really get to everything that we need to do. The arc of instability that we see to our south and now instability that we see in eastern Europe, in a place where we just would never have thought about it in the past, these are all challenges that not only in my U.S. European command hat gives us a lot of work to do, but certainly for the NATO alliance, this is a challenge that comes already at a very busy time. You don’t have to think very hard about the fact that we still have a lot of work to do in Afghanistan. And getting this change of mission under fire from ISAF to Resolute Support, this is no small matter. We see issues in our south from the MENA area, the Mediterranean, Eastern and Northern Africa area, that is clearly still very much on the minds of our southern NATO alliance. And so there is a lot of things that need to be addressed, and I’ll talk a little bit more about that in a minute in our southern area.

But of course, right now we are – have just come out of a summit that had a lot of focuses, a lot of plates in the air. But one of the central plates in the air is, how to we address this revanchist Russia? How do we address a nation that has sort of broken those world morals and our – is using force to change international boundaries, something that we thought was over maybe with what happened in Georgia, and now we see that that is not the case?

Our mission remains the same in NATO, and we embraced that, quite frankly, at the summit. And we also at the summit began to look at what is it that makes our way forward to important. And it goes back to shared values, shared vision for a Europe whole, free and at peace. And that sometimes rings a little hollow because it’s said so many times. But quite frankly, that is still a center-guiding position for what we want to see.

And I will say something that may be a little bit controversial right now, but I don’t think we can ever arrive at a Europe whole, free and at peace without Russia as a partner. And so for the last 12 years we’ve been trying to make Russia a partner. We’ve been making basing decisions, force structure decisions, economic decisions along the fact that Russia would be a constructive part of the future of Europe. And now we see a very different situation, and we have to address that.

Of course, what I’d like to talk a little bit about today – and I’m going to roll a few grenades out on the table and we’ll see where you pick up the pieces and we go – but I would like to talk about some of those very important results from the summit, the Readiness Action Plan. Our expectations going into the summit for the Readiness Action Plan were measured. We knew that we needed to make some change. We didn’t know how much change we could effect. I’m happy to report that quite frankly, we got just about everything we wanted to do. And now if we are able to implement the changes we made in the Readiness Action Plan – or the RAP, as we call it – I think we can reset this alliance for this new challenge that we see in Eastern Europe. And quite frankly, the changes that we will make will also give us adaptations that will better position us for some of the problems we see in the south. And this is important to our southern NATO alliance members, that this is not just about the north and the east, it has to be addressing all of our alliance.

Responsiveness. We’ve had a magnificent NRF, well-engineered across the ages. It did all the things that we asked it to do. We evaluate it, we look at it hard, and it meets every expectation that we set forward in the past. So one of the things we try to make sure people understand is we are not – we are not disheartened by what the NRF did in the past. It met exactly what we asked it to meet. But now it is inadequate to task for what we see as the future requirement on our NRF forces and capabilities. And that’s why the Readiness Action Plan will look at a series of measures that will adapt that NRF. Responsiveness, not readiness. The readiness is exactly what we ask, but now we ask it to tweak its readiness but make major changes to responsiveness, and we’ll talk about that.

I’m often asked, are you trying to deter or assure? I give a simple answer: yes. We’re trying to do both. We needed immediately to assure our allies when Ukraine first kicked off with Crimea but certainly when the Russian forces came across the borders into eastern Ukraine and we needed to assure our alliance posture. Allow me as an airman to use an Air Force example. Fourteen hours from go to show, our aircraft left Lakenheath, landed in Estonia, and were flying CAPs 14 hours from go to ship. This is assurance. This is NATO power, not just air power, but NATO power, assuring our allies that we’re there, and we can be there rapidly if required. We brought assurance to those forward nations.

Now, of course, as you know, we in ACO were tasked to build, as the general mentioned, a series of measures that are air, land and sea, north, center and south. And the alliance did a magnificent job of doing that. The air element immediately; the land elements and the naval elements took a little bit more time, but they were very quick, and they are very visible and very assuring to our nations. I think we hit in sports terms a 440-foot home run with assuring quickly our NATO allies.

Do we deter? I will allow you to enter that debate, and if you want to talk about it in Q-and-A, I think it’s a good question. Clearly, when Mr. Putin now looks across the borders of these three northern nations, he sees a NATO alliance represented by NATO forces that are there exercising, preparing all of the things that we need to do should we ever have to take actions in those areas. So we had credible, persistent presence with capability that is very visible, not only to the nation we wish to assure but to any aggressor that we wish to deter.

So we looked at NATO and asked ourselves, as we see this new situation where you have a nation that will assemble a large force on a border, completely equip that force, bring all of the elements of enablers to that force that makes it credible, bring forward both operational and, in some cases, strategic resupply for that force, all in the name of an exercise, and then boom, the exercise goes across an internationally respected border, and annexes by force a portion of a sovereign nation. So how do we react to that? How do we react to the possibility of that same scenario in the future?

So we looked at what a simple fighter pilot calls a three-legged stool, and it lays out like this. Why would I call it a three-legged stool? It’s to make a point that a three-legged stool, if you take any leg away, what happens to it? It falls over. So these are interrelated, interconnected requirements.

The first leg of that stool is that we need to change the responsiveness of the NRF. Like we talked about before, the NRF does what we ask it to do now. But what we ask it to do is inadequate to task to the new threat that we see from the scenario that I described of this nation not respecting borders and changing borders by force. So the first element is that some portion of the NRF will become much more rapidly available for use. How much? That’s a discussion now that we’ll work on. We put forward some ideas of 48 hours and five days for some of that force, and now we will begin to work at the details of will that work.

I now have another sports analogy. I talk about the goalpost. Whatever we do with this force, it has to go through the goalpost of being affordable and sustainable. If it’s not affordable and it’s sustainable, it’s not creditable for the long run. We can’t afford something that looks good for six months and then falls apart. This has to be something that remains with us. So the first leg of the RAP is changing the responsiveness of a portion of the NRF. And I’ll be happy to talk about some of the particulars on that if you want later.

The second piece is, again, it sounds a tiny bit irresponsible, but remember, for 12 years we’ve been treating Russia as a partner. So on a day-to-day basis, we don’t have any what I would call operational or tactical level headquarters in NATO that is thinking about Article 5, thinking about collective defense, the ability to defend an ally. Clearly, in my headquarters, we talk about it and think about it, but we’re not an operational or tactical level headquarters. So we need a headquarters element of ability I think at the core level that will be focused every day, 365 days out of the year, 24 hours a day on collective defense Article 5 responsibilities for the alliance. This is primarily of course aimed at the north and east, and I’ll talk about the rest of the alliance in a minute. So the second leg of this three-legged stool is a headquarters that feels responsible to the SACEUR and to the alliance for Article 5 collective defense all day every day. That is their mission. It won’t be their only mission, but it will be their primary mission. So that’s the second part of the stool, a command-and-control capability at speed with tasking collective defense Article 5.

The third piece is the harder and more controversial piece and the one we hear talked about in the papers so much. And that is some forward presence in these nations that does multiple missions for us. In peacetime that forward presence prepares the battlefield, looks at where we can accept forces, works on those infrastructure requirements that allow us to rapidly receive forces, put them afield to fight is required, day-to-day exercises with the local nation to bring up those processes which makes NATO much quicker to react if required, works to preposition materials, works to establish local understandings that would allow a NATO force if it had to rapidly respond to quickly come to mission. And then, in that worst case scenario where we needed it, this headquarters would be the backbone on which rapidly reacting forces from the new NRF structure would fall in on to rapidly constitute combat power in the forward area if required.

So how do we define this forward presence? How do we define its missions, its roles? How do we finance the requirements of forward positioning equipment, et cetera, et cetera? These are all the details now to be worked out. And we have some ideas.

But if you think about this three-legged stool I talked about, a rapidly available NRF, a command-and-control structure that is at speed and ready if it’s required on, and then a receding force that on day-to-day is exercising, preparing, setting the stage for rapid acceptance of combat power that comes from that newly structured NRF, if required then to constitute combat power in the forward area – these are the three legs of the stool that the RAP is based on, and these are now the details that will begin to work out. And we’ve already written a paper to lay out for the chiefs of defense to consider here as they come to Vilnius next week to begin to shape these concrete pieces. Again, the three legs require each other. Some would argue, well, can we do it without this, or can we do it without that? The answer is, sure, but it may not work. I think we require all three of the legs of the stool.

So again, very encouraged by what happened at Wales, very encouraged by the solidarity that I saw in the alliance. And I would hate to over-characterize because I don’t want to sound too positive, but what we thought was going to be the ceiling of what we could at Wales became the floor of what we can expect in the future because our nations truly embraced the change, and now the deal is working out the details to hit the goalposts, affordable and sustainable for the future. So I think that’s the end of my prepared remarks. And now we’ll enter into the more fun part of today’s conversation. And I’ll ask for help in choosing who’s going to get to grill me first. (Applause.)

FREDERICK KEMPE: In this spirit, I’m happy to stand well. Can I do that?

GEN. BREEDLOVE: Sir, you can sit if you want. I prefer to that.

MR. KEMPE: (Laughs.) No, that’s terrific. We’ll just see how well we’ve constructed the stage with both of us up there. First of all, I really want to thank you for taking this time. I think we’ve all been impressed by your voice in this crisis, in this moment of history and the clarity. Your op-ed in The Wall Street Journal was brilliant.
The one thing this three-legged stool didn’t address is what does NATO do, what does the alliance do toward what one would call gray areas? And let me ask this in two parts. First of all, give us our assessment of what the situation is on the ground at the moment in Ukraine. What are you seeing – what are you seeing during this cease-fire, et cetera, et cetera? And then if you could take it a little bit beyond Ukraine to a general question of, you know, are we drawing new lines in Europe, or can we avoid that?
GEN. BREEDLOVE: Right. So many of you have served with me. I see more and more faces in the crowd of people I’ve worked for or with in my life, and I would hope that those who have served with me would be quick to say that Breedlove is almost always an optimist, because I am. I’m well over a glass half full on all manner of things about NATO: about the progress that we made at Wales, about the solidarity that I see in our alliance, about this, I’m telling you, absolutely rock-steady commitment to our Article 5 defense of NATO allies. Some things are just incredibly, I think, positive and well over half full.
I would tell you that in that vein, I’m a glass less than half full on what’s happening in Ukraine. Rather than get into a long discussion of what we all understand Russia’s actions have been in the east, they have now for a series of days been reducing their force presence in the east, but they’ve left behind some very capable and very tailored force in the east that allows them to bring continued pressure on President Poroshenko and the leadership of Ukraine, and what that pressure allows them to do is completely shape what I think is sort of the geostrategic context of eastern Ukraine for the future. And I have been quoted as saying, and I’ll say it again, that I think that this cease-fire, while it has done many good things, like stop the loss of life, what it also is doing is allowing a situation to be built in eastern Ukraine that could very easily slip into another frozen conflict, and that worries me greatly, in eastern Ukraine. And I think I’ll stop there.
As far as these gray areas, we – as I said before, we have a great commitment and a rock-solid commitment to our NATO allies and what that means, but clearly there are other nations in Europe that are not NATO allies. And I think the Western world needs to come to grips with what is it that is going to happen in these states that are outside the alliance and between the alliance and Russia, and how are we going to – what are the expectations of nations for how nations will conduct themselves in these states in the future. I think this is work that I would ask the Atlantic Council and others to begin to ponder, is what is the approach to these nations that are not in the alliance and may come under great pressure in the future by those who would try to exploit some of this.
MR. KEMPE: And let me just ask one or two other questions and I’ll go straight to the audience.
Sherry (ph), welcome. I think we have a free seat here.
The – if you’re – talk to us a little bit about what you’re seeing and what you’re watching on the ground in Ukraine. What is the Russian military strategy? What elements are involved? People write or talk about hybrid warfare, but from the standpoint of your position, what exactly is that?
GEN. BREEDLOVE: So we have seen what we have all started terming as hybrid warfare in the early stages of what happened in eastern Ukraine. We watched this play out in Crimea, and then the hybrid warfare became more overt as overt mission – or Russian troops moved into Crimea, consolidated the position and now have essentially annexed that portion of Ukraine. And we saw almost the same script play out in eastern Ukraine, the little green men, the deniable forces, the deniable presence and how that presence was shaping the support to Russian – I call them Russian-backed forces – some of them call them pro-Russian forces – in eastern Ukraine.
But then what we saw is that the Ukraine was actually able to assemble a military force and begin to reshape the ground. And when the Ukrainian forces brought great pressure on those forward Russian-backed forces in Lugansk and Donetsk, now we’re on the horns of a dilemma. Can the Russian Federation see a defeat in eastern Ukraine? Can they see their forces being cut off by the Ukrainian forces who are having success – a tough, hard-fought battle with great impact on all on the ground from both sides, the effect of both sides? But there were successes in Ukraine. And what I think we clearly saw is that those successes were not acceptable to Moscow. The Russian forces went from a hybrid warfare of indiscriminate little green men to an overt action by three armored Russian columns along an LOC into Donetsk, an LOC into Lugansk and an LOC along the coast towards Mariupol. And those forces turned the tide of what happened in eastern Ukraine, reestablished wide-open support lanes so that Russia could bring resupply to those forces in Donetsk, in Lugansk and now begin to bring great pressure along the coastline on Mariupol and those two ports that are so key to Ukraine’s fiscal ability to move forward, and that’s where we see ourselves now. I think that the lines of support are now wide open into Donetsk and Lugansk, and I think that the – in the cease-fire, those lines of supply will run at full tilt. And we see now some of the Russian force that is bringing great pressure on Mariupol, and you can look at that in two ways. It is either a coercive force to say meet our terms in these negotiations or else, or it is a force that is well-suited for taking that port if it’s required to take the port. And that’s kind of where we find ourselves now.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you.
As many of you in the audience now, we’ll have president – the Ukrainian, Poroshenko, here on Thursday after his joint session with Congress, and so it will be very interesting to hear his views on this.
Final question from me. Your three-legged stool: I thought it was a very good image. I won’t deal with the Rapid Reaction Force or the command and control part of it. You did mention the forward presence is the most controversial. What’s required for a credible forward presence? And then what triggers the forward presence? Are little green men an Article 5 offense?

GEN. BREEDLOVE: So let me recharacterize your question just a little bit because I don’t think the forward presence needs to be triggered. I think we need a forward presence right now.

MR. KEMPE: Badly put on my part. Yup, absolutely.

GEN. BREEDLOVE: Right. We describe this as a persistent presence, and it will be a persistent presence enabled by rotational forces. How long those rotations are will be decided by much more smart men and women who do that kind of planning and look at duration versus understanding the mission versus other pieces.

But I believe we need a persistent presence, rotationally enabled by a significant duration, so that we’re not relearning something every three months.

So this forward presence is, I think – in peacetime, as I described, has lots of duties: first of all, exercise with the host nation to bring everybody’s ability up and everybody’s interoperability up.

Second, it is establish a lodgment, an area where, if we needed to, we could rapidly bring force forward. Today we can relatively rapidly take forces into nations like this, but when they land, they’ve got to figure out where’s my supply, where’s my lodgment, where’s my forward-positioned fighting material, how do I interrelate. So now we’ll have a force forward in these areas on a day-to-day basis, doing all that preparatory work, such that they are available then to rapidly receive this new portion of the NRF, to build to a combat capability.

So in that forward area, there will be some command and control. We need to rotate through some of the enablers, so that each of the enablers can be able to work with a host nation to understand the challenges and the things that need to be done. We need fire supporters in there, working with the host nation on a rotational basis, to understand how you would use fires to support business in that area. We need communicators in there occasionally to establish and work out those lines of communication. We need logistics people in there saying, this is how we resupply, this is how we move forward, and these are things that we need to possibly put here in pre-positioning, so that it’s available and we don’t have to transport it when they come forward.

So all host of the enablers needs to be a part of that rotation, so that we can work the squeaky wheel and get it all ready to go if we had to, and then, sitting in there in that command and control capability with some forces attached, if the worst happened, ready to rapidly receive, we know who the commander is, we know who we land and plug into, we know where our billets are, we know where our ammunition kit is, so that we can rapidly fight, if we had to, in that worst of cases.

And we are looking at that model right now and how we define that model. Again, the most important point at this point, now that we have the agreement for the requirement of it, is to hit those goalposts – affordable and sustainable.

MR. KEMPE: But Article 5 is harder, I would say, than it used to be. It can be a cyberattack, potentially. It’s unlikely to be, you know, a Russian Mark tank heading across a border.

So back to the question, our little green men and Article 5 offenses, cyber and Article 5 – you know, how do you – how do you look at all of that?

GEN. BREEDLOVE: So there is a broad series of questions that we are now asking ourself.

MR. KEMPE: Yeah. Yeah.

GEN. BREEDLOVE: And they go – you hit two of the hardest ones –

MR. KEMPE: Yeah.

GEN. BREEDLOVE: – first of all, cyber, what constitutes an Article 5 in cyber. And that – we frankly had not been addressing that in the past, and after the Wales summit we agreed that there’s work to do about what “cyber” means in this context.

On the flipside, to the little green men thing, we have clearly now seen the script play out in Crimea. We’ve seen the script play out in eastern Ukraine. We’re beginning to see some of the script in Moldova and Transnistria. And so we’re beginning to understand this whole track of how this hybrid war will be brought to bear.

And so what we now have to do is to look at those forces in our border nations where there are substantial Russian populations and how do we better prepare those nations to survive the initial onslaught of this hybrid war, because I think what we all understand is that this hybrid war, if it kicks off and it is unattributable, this is not a NATO issue. It is an internal-to-that-nation issue. It’s an MOI problem in most nations. How do we better prepare our allies to characterize, understand and survive the initial onslaught of the little green men scenario? Clearly, also, we had great acceptance among the NATO allies, though, that if you attribute this little green men issue to an aggressor nation, it is an Article V action, and then all of the assets of NATO come to bear. So those are the lines of thought we’re working on.

MR. KEMPE: So a very interesting attribution issue. Please, right, here, and I’ll try to get your questions in the order that they’ve come. Right here, thank you — please. Identify yourself before you give your question, too, please.

Q: Sure. Good to see you again. George Nicholson; I’m a consultant with U.S. Special Operations Command. You talk about enablers. General Jones has left, but one of his large initiatives, when he was the SACEUR commander, along with Rear Admiral Bill McRaven, was the establishment of a NATO Special Operations Command —

GEN. BREEDLOVE: Which is a huge success, by the way.

Q: Well, one of the things that Admiral McRaven tried to do, but there’s been pushback on Congress — he wanted to duplicate that same capability for General Kelly down in SOUTHCOM and the PACOM commander. So can you talk to how effective you think the NATO special operations command has been?

GEN. BREEDLOVE: Well, it’s been absolutely amazing. Quite frankly, what you have seen out of the special operations units of multiple nations in Afghanistan is a result of this exact effort. The sharing of TTP as tactics, techniques, procedures, the — bringing everyone to a NATO standard, working on the (kit ?) — interoperability of (kit ?), interoperability of our forces together as they worked in Afghanistan. It’s a huge success, and now is a great force multiplier for NATO and will be a big part, I think, of helping our nations understand how to handle themselves when they’re there under the onslaught of this little green men scenario up until its attribute. Then it’s a different issue.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you. Frances, then Jan Lodal, please. Yep.

Q: Thank you, General. I’m Frances Cook, a consultant with the Ballard Group. I would like — you were very discrete on one important NATO member — Turkey. I would like you to talk about Turkey now, in the context of how they are actively working against Western policy by supporting ISIL both with oil sales and with facilitating the arrival of jihadis in Syria. We all know about the 49 hostages; we all have hostages in Syria and with ISIL, but we’re still — managing to cooperate. It’s been very rare to see a NATO member turn on Western policy like this, and the information, I think, has become public this weekend, finally, on some of these things. I’m wondering what the impact is on what you’re trying to do elsewhere in NATO. Thank you.

GEN. BREEDLOVE: OK, so, here’s what I’d like to say about Turkey. First of all, we need to remember that Turkey is an important ally in the NATO alliance, and right now, Turkey is in a pretty tough place. They have a border to their south, which is, as you know, quite exciting, and now they have a neighbor to the north, who we used to think was a partner, who has put in place in Crimea the ability, through coastal defense cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles, to pretty much dominate the Black Sea, and they’ve messaged us pretty hard on their ability to exude their influence in the Black Sea.

So our ally, Turkey, is caught between a rock and a hard place, as my father would say in his past. And so I think we need to understand the context of Turkey in that way. The good news is that our alliance has responded, as you know, as we are now actively involved in the air defense to the south and we have helped them to understand what’s going on in their — along their border in the ISR — Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance way. So I’m going to disappoint you, because I’m not going to address the political piece of this. I think that’s for others to do.

As a military man, what I think we need to focus on right now is, we have a member of our alliance that we have shown our support for, and we ask them to support us in actions that we think are important, and that’s a conversation that’s, I think, just beginning.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Gen. Breedlove. Jan Lodal and congratulations on a very good op-ed in the Washington Post over the weekend as well.

Q: Thanks, Fred. General, in Ukraine, what you said about forward deployments — that leg of the stool — what we’re doing for allies — is that feasible to do for Ukraine if you had the right authority, and would it, in fact, help, if we could do that not so much to prepare for the rapid reaction force to come, but rather, to support Ukrainian forces as a deterrence matter to try to at least halt the Russian advance where it is, save Mariupol, save the corridor to Crimea, make sure they at least have to undertake an action that’s bigger than they would feel prudent for them to do in order to move beyond where they are?

GEN. BREEDLOVE: So let me broaden the question. Again, I’m going to get to a little more specific answer. But I think the line of logic that you just used is exactly what I think the Western world, and to some degree, our nation needs to look at now. There are these nations that are outside of NATO and not Russian — literally, in some cases, between us. How does the Western world approach those nations, and what are the expectation of all of the neighbors, east and west, as to what their actions should be in those nations? What are accepted international norms? I think this is first-principle conversation. Then can you begin to look at what you talk about — what are those assurances that we could give these nations? And “we” would be an interesting personal pronoun in that sentence. Who is “we?” Is it NATO? Is it a coalition? Is it bilateral? But all of those things would have to be addressed.

Right now, there is no NATO policy on what to do in those nations that find themselves outside of the alliance and not in the Russian Federation. So this is, I think, a place where, quite frankly, I’ve asked the Atlantic Council to help have a conversation along these lines. How do we approach these exact conundrums?

MR. KEMPE: Yeah. Thank you very much, General Breedlove. Please, here, right in front, and then let me go on the right — here first, please.

Q: Peter Sharfman, MITRE Corporation. Would you anticipate in the future exercises in which the elements of the NRF or other elements moved to practice reinforcement in the foreign (enlargement ?) areas?

GEN. BREEDLOVE: Yes. (Laughter.) Well, I’m being flip by that one-word answer; now let me elaborate, since I hopefully had the effect. I don’t think — we in our nation have some of the most amazing rapid reacting forces out there. I think you would agree with me — elements of the 82nd Airborne and others who are on these kind of very short strings are truly incredible forces.

You don’t have that force if you don’t exercise that force and test it irregularly and sometimes off-schedule. You really don’t know if you have a 48-hour force until you ask it to respond inside of 48 hours. And so part of the original conversation that we had with the leaders at the summit is that this would be an expectation, that we would exercise elements of these forces at speed in order to ensure we had the speed. So the answer — the short answer is yes.

MR. KEMPE: And right here on the aisle, if we could get a — please —

Q: Thank you. Irena Gerskom (ph), (Inaudible) — TV. General, following the NATO summit — since Istanbul NATO summit, the last summit was not a summit without enlargement. What do you think about the feeling in the candidate countries, such as Macedonia, that maybe there was enlargement in the previous summit — the situation such as Georgia and Ukraine could be prevented?

MR. KEMPE: And I think, obviously, this is a good question to ask a military leader versus a political leader. How do you look at the whole issue of enlargement?

GEN. BREEDLOVE: So, what our nations have absolutely reaffirmed is that the door is still open. No one moved through the door in this summit, but several had their programs of engagement improved, and most notably, Ukraine and others had their programs of engagement improved — Georgia clearly as well.

I think that there are lots of things that nations need to do to come across that barrier into NATO. And what I would do is, I would reserve now to make remarks towards the military pieces of those, because those are the things I understand the most. And clearly, some of the nations, like Georgia, have done an extremely good job of becoming interoperable with NATO and deploying with NATO. Georgia has deployed at a very constant and high level, its forces in support in Afghanistan and other places.

And so, what I see is, the nations continue to move towards their goal, or have already probably, in some cases, met the military expectation that we have for their entry into NATO. And now, some of the more political issues are being worked out by the political leadership of NATO.

MR. KEMPE: Thank you, General Breedlove. I’m going to take — there’s so many questions — I can only take two more, so this young man here, and then right — the woman two rows back, please. And those will have to be the last two questions. And let’s take them one after another and then give you final comments.

Q: Morning, General. Scott Massioni (ph) with Inside the Pentagon. I was wondering, how are you keeping the administration’s eye on Russia with everything happening with ISIS right now? And secondly, with the European reassurance initiative, you know, if that is appropriate, how would you like to see that money spent?

MR. KEMPE: And then, let’s pick up this last question, please.

Please, yes.

Q: Hi, Lisa (sp) with ARD German TV. The Rapid Trident Military exercise has started today in the Ukraine, and I just wanted to ask if that’s set to give a provocative signal to Putin.

MR. KEMPE: And I apologize to all of those who I was unable to get to.

GEN. BREEDLOVE: OK, so let me go back to the first thing. I think it would be a gross misstatement that I would keep our government’s eye focused on anything. Clearly, we have a lot of challenges out there — the challenges of ISIL, ISIS, IS, whatever we call these guys, is an incredibly tough problem and clearly deserves a lot of our focus. I think that we still have a government that completely understands that we’ve got to address what Russia is doing in Eastern Europe, and we are working through those issues — very active debate inside of the Beltway about how to address.

So I think that sometimes, what we see in the headlines seems to tell us that we’re maybe focused on one thing at the expense of another. I don’t think that to be the case. I think our government is completely focused on both of these issues, and I see — I see the ongoing work of how to address this, and I’m able to make my inputs. So I worry less about that. Remind me a tiny bit your — second part of your question?

OK, ERI. So ERI is a great — in my opinion, it offers us a great tool to begin to do all of those things that we need to do to address the three-legged stool. We will need U.S. forces to be a part of that small, rapid reacting part of the NRF. Certainly, we will not be all of it, and we’ve already had several other very, very capable nations step up to be a part of that small force, but we will need to make some investment in training and capabilities to make sure that we’re well-set to be a part and to lead and be a big part of that rapid reacting piece.

The third piece — our presence forward — in some cases, I believe that ERI will help us to be a part of conditioning lodgment, setting forward as with other NATO allies those prepositioned materials that we think that we need in some of these areas, and it will allow us to enable that. So I have great hopes for the ERI to be an enabler of exactly what we need to do for that third leg of the stool. So I see that very well.

Now, back to the exercise — this exercise has been on the books for years, and it’s an exercise we do every year. And we are continuing that exercise today. It’s a little over a thousand people — fourteen nations, U.S. part is just under 200 people. It is about a peace operation. It’s about bringing nations together to be able to interact, interrelate. It’s being conducted so far west in Ukraine, it’s almost in Poland. It’s 22 kilometers from the Polish border, and it’s 1,200 kilometers to Donetsk. So yes, the exercise is going forward; no I do not think it’s provocative. It has been on the books. We’ve been talking about it forever. I think we continue to move forward and show our engagement with this government that’s trying to build a positive way forward, and I think this can be a big part of that positive way forward.

MR. KEMPE: General Breedlove, I think I speak on behalf of everyone here. I want to thank, you know, Governor Huntsman, Jonas Hjelm (sp) — always wonderful to have two supreme allied commander Europe in the audience.

GEN. BREEDLOVE: I’ll get some feedback here in a minute, I know.

MR. KEMPE: (Laughs.)

GEN. BREEDLOVE: (Inaudible) — has never been shy to give me feedback.

MR. KEMPE: Yeah, I was waiting for the question to come. I didn’t see — (chuckles) — but I’m sure they would all — as I do, not only salute what you’ve done here today, but really salute your very courageous leadership of our great alliance. So, thank you very much, General.

GEN. BREEDLOVE: Thank you very much. (Applause.)


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