June 21, 2019

NATO’s Brussels Summit

By H.E. Ms. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ambassador of the United States to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

NATO remains the indispensable security umbrella for North America and Europe. It is the foundation of our national security and that of our allies, and it cements the transatlantic bond. When NATO leaders gathered in Brussels for the Summit this July, they reaffirmed our shared values and charted a path to further strengthen the alliance.

The Brussels Declaration approved by leaders clearly showed all 29 allies speaking with one voice that underscored our unity and commitment to collective defense. The Heads of State and Government of every NATO ally agreed to strengthen our joint military operations to meet common threats, whether Russian attempts to undermine our democratic institutions, their abhorrent use of a military-grade nerve agent in a NATO country, or the continued threat of terrorism.

  • In the Declaration, allies approved a new readiness initiative to ensure 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 combat ships are ready to fight within 30 days during a crisis.
  • NATO is seeking a partnership with the EU to meet common challenges, including improved infrastructure and the regulatory environment to facilitate the mobility of our forces throughout NATO territory in response to an emergency.
  • An important new mission rose from the hard lesson of the rise of ISIS when coalition forces left Iraq in 2012 before the new government stabilized. NATO will train and advise police and armed forces, which should be inclusive of all segments of Iraqi society, to be professional and effective in securing their country.
  • Increased support for Jordan and Tunisia will build their defense capabilities and strengthen regional stability.
  • Allies agreed to invite Skopje to begin accession talks to join the Alliance, demonstrating that NATO remains open to aspirants who are committed to our shared values and meet the responsibilities of membership.

Taken together, these decisions strengthen our overall deterrence and defense posture and project stability through partnerships along NATO’s periphery. If this clear progress is to remain credible and durable, we must be able to resource up to our level of ambition.

This requires a sustained dedication to defense investment, which is why allies recommitted themselves to the Wales Defense Investment Pledge to invest 2%of GDP in defense, and 20% of their overall defense budgets on modernization by 2024. In 2018,eight nations have reached the 2% investment goal, and more allies are in the process of assembling plans to increase spending to meet the commitment renewed in July. This translates into an extra $266 billion in new defense spending already pledged, with more likely. NATO has made great progress in defense investment, but it remains critical that we reinvigorate our efforts to bolster our militaries to ensure our common security.

More work remains to be done in the months and years ahead, and as we have done in the 70 years since the NATO treaty was signed, we will work together as allies through consensus to demonstrate that whatever the security environment, NATO will be there to protect our citizens, deter our adversaries, and defend the alliance.

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