DECEMBER 10, 2019 – The threat from Russia in its own backyard isn’t NATO’s only focus, a senior Defense Department official said, noting that the alliance also is globally focused.
Speaking Dec. 7 at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, John C. Rood, undersecretary of defense for policy, said that with its goal of preserving freedom and democracy, NATO has come to realize the economic, military and societal threat from China’s authoritarian regime.
NATO nations see China as a shared security concern, Rood said, particularly with its Huawei 5G network, which could be used to collect information from the alliance and its partners.
Elsewhere, NATO troops are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, noting that some 8,700 non-U.S. NATO troops are training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces.
Last year, NATO participated in Trident Juncture in Scandinavia, an exercise that involved more than 50,000 troops and “got Russia’s attention,” Rood said. Next year, he added, the alliance plans to participate in an exercise called Defender 2020. The United States is planning to send a full Army division to Europe for the exercise to show speed of assembly, speed of maneuver and the ability to mass forces where needed, Rood said.
NATO also is stepping up its military spending,the undersecretary noted. The alliance has increased defense spending by $130 billion over the last three years, he said, and NATO nations have pledged by 2024 to spend at least 2% of gross national product on defense, with 20% of that money earmarked for procurement of new capabilities.
BY DAVID VERGUN