Stronger With Allies

  • Stronger with Allies: Spanish and US Navies Doing More Together

    The Álvaro de Bazán-class Aegis frigate SPS Méndez Núñez (F-104) steaming alongside one of our most lethal and capable naval assets, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), is a sight to behold. For a better part of the past year, Méndez Núñez and its crew, led by Capt. Antonio Gonzalez del Tanago de la Lastra, have integrated into the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, and will continue to operate as one of Lincoln’s escorts during its around-the-world deployment, which is currently underway. This is a powerful display of how integrated the United States is with its NATO allies, including la Armada Española, the Spanish Navy.
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  • #StrongerWithAllies: Meet the Gritty Artillery Officer Who Will Become One of Canada’s Two Female Battery Commanders

    Maj. Melissa Marshall is constantly pushing herself to be ‘stronger,’ ‘faster,’ and ‘better’

    The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) was one of the first militaries in the world to open all of its positions, including combat roles, to women. Introducing women into the combat arms in 1989 increased the recruiting pool by about 100 percent.

    The combat arms are the four combat-focused branches of the Canadian Army: armor, artillery, infantry, and engineering. Each now has a small but powerful contingent of women, including artillery officer Maj. Melissa Marshall.


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  • NATO at 70: Lessons From The Cold War

    On April 4, NATO will mark the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Washington Treaty, which laid the foundation for arguably the most successful alliance the world has ever seen. Yet despite all of its successes, many forget that NATO never had it easy. Throughout its long and venerable history, the Alliance not only had to address numerous external challenges and balance internal interests, but also take bold initiatives when the security of its member states was at stake. Therefore, at a time when some observers argue that the Alliance is facing various pressures, it is useful to put things into perspective, remember some of the earliest challenges NATO had to overcome, and draw some lessons from history.
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  • Behind the Din Over Defense Spending, NATO Was Hard at Work in 2018

    Despite a year of public criticism and uncertainty on both sides of the Atlantic, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed 2018 as a year of tremendous progress for the transatlantic Alliance. Launching his Annual Report for 2018 on March 14, Stoltenberg said allies are “doing a lot more together — in more ways and in more places — than ever before.”

    Throughout 2018, NATO allies and their partners took steps to bolster the Alliance’s capabilities, strengthen its defense, and respond to changing security threats and technologies. Here is a quick look at what the Alliance accomplished in 2018, according to Stoltenberg’s new report.


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  • #StrongerWithAllies: Meet the Latvian Who Leads NATO’s Fight Against Fake News

    In the early 1980s, the KGB began spreading the conspiracy theory that the CIA was behind the AIDS epidemic.


    There were several variations of the fabricated tale. The main one was that CIA experiments to create an incurable disease for use as a biological-warfare agent got out of hand. The result, according to the storyline, was that AIDS infected unsuspecting Haitians and Africans whom the CIA was testing it on—and the disease spread across the world.

    It took a couple of years for this phony account to gain traction, giving scientists time to debunk it.


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  • #StrongerWithAllies: US Combat Engineer’s Job is Digging Foxholes to Protect Armored Vehicles

    Tanks and armored fighting vehicles have proven time and again that they can be the difference between victory and defeat on the battlefield. Nobody knows that better than Sergeant 1st Class James Pilkington, who commands a platoon of Tennessee National Guard combat engineers helping to protect NATO’s eastern flank in Poland.


    Pilkington’s Berserker Troop platoon has been training with Polish soldiers in the huge Bemowo Piskie Training Area of northern Poland for several months. The US-led battle group in Poland, which includes US and Polish troops, also has British, Romanian, and Croatian soldiers.


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  • #StrongerWithAllies: How a Canadian Communications Expert Saved Two Afghan Brothers from the Taliban

    Master Corporal Khamphone Phanthavong will never forget the day in Afghanistan when he learned firsthand what a difference his job as a radio operator can make.

    It came at Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province in 2007. Phanthavong was at the command post of Canada’s Third Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment when an Afghan interpreter working with the unit called with an alarming message.

    “He told us that armed Taliban had kidnapped two brothers, and their mom wanted to know if we could help,” said Phanthavong, who came to Canada as a Laotian refugee in 1983.


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  • #StrongerWithAllies: Lithuanian Combat Photographer Started with a Dogged Pursuit

    Sergeant Specialist Ieva Budzeikaite was less than two weeks into her award-winning career as a combat photographer when the Lithuanian Armed Forces gave her a chance to snap pictures of troops taking survival training.

    “How cool is that!” she thought.

    She had no clue that in the forested, swampy training grounds she would be running faster than she had in her life.


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  • #StrongerWithAllies: This Icelander Helps Improve Lives of Afghan Women

    Iceland has no military, but a young Icelander is spearheading an important NATO mission in one of the world’s most dangerous war zones: Afghanistan.

    Alfrun Perla Baldursdottir’s main task is improving the situation for women in a nation where gender inequality is so all-encompassing that “it’s like women are living in a totally different country than men,” she said.

    The 26-year-old is also trying to empower young people—those under 25—who account for a whopping two-thirds of Afghanistan’s 37 million people.


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  • Our Allies are Our Comparative Advantage

    In an era of great power competition, the United States should adopt a more permanent deterrence posture and bolster its alliances as a strategic comparative advantage over our adversaries. If we are concerned about near-peer competition from Russia and China, the United States must invest not only in its own capabilities, but also in its global alliance structure. Nurturing our alliances as a permanent asset rather than burdens will better prepare the United States for this era of great power competition.

    Polarization within our nation and tumultuous relations within our alliances risk making the United States look vulnerable to our adversaries. While some of these divisions are real, the United States and its allies are in fact more strategically aligned in grand strategy – enjoying the support of Republicans and Democrats – than they have been since 9/11, if not 1989.


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