Allies, Partners Are Key To U.S. National Defense
by Jim Garamone, DOD News
February 19, 2023
Allies and partners are an integral part of
the U.S. National Defense Strategy, the assistant secretary of
defense for international security affairs, said on February 10,
2023 while speaking at a Center for a New American Security event.
Celeste Wallander addressed questions
about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but her main emphasis was on the
importance of allies and partners and what they bring to the
deterrence table. Wallander's portfolio includes Europe, the Middle
East and Africa.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III
has often said the United States' network of allies is the country's
main advantage over any potential challenger.
example of the importance of allies is the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization, she said. "Each and every ally" brings capabilities to
deterrence, Wallander said.
The alliance has been incredibly
successful, deterring the Soviet Union until it dissolved in the
1990s. NATO was the basis for intervention in the Balkans. NATO
invoked Article 5, which states that an attack on one nation of the
alliance is an attack on all, only once in its history—after the
9-11 attacks on the United States.
The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush sails behind the
Italian frigate ITS Carabiniere, while transiting through
the Strait of Messina, a narrow strait between the eastern
tip of Sicily and the western tip of Calabria in Southern
Italy, on December 7, 2022. The George H.W. Bush Carrier
Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval
Forces Europe area of operations to defend U.S., allied and
partner interests. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from
U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Curtis Burdick.)
NATO has changed and adapted to each new
security era, and it's adapting again as Russia is seeking to
overset the international rules-based infrastructure that has kept
peace among great powers since the end of World War II.
NATO ally brings capabilities to the alliance that contributes to
the "credible combat power that NATO can mount and make clear to a
potential adversary — most specifically Russia" — that an attack on
an alliance country would be a losing proposition.
Russia invaded Ukraine, NATO has taken action, building more battle
groups in the eastern frontline states. The nations also provide the
capabilities required for air policing and managing the air domain,
she said. At sea, NATO allies bring different naval capabilities to
the problem of maritime domain awareness that encompasses everything
from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean to the North Atlantic.
"It is that broad scope of incredible combat power that comes
from combined … armed forces and the jointness of our militaries,
which brings something different to bear to deterrence," she said.
While NATO represents 31 allies to the United States, there
are many other allies stretching from the Middle East to the
Indo-Pacific. Each ally, she said, is important to U.S. defense.
U.S. Army cavalry soldiers showcase their vehicle's
capability to Celeste Wallander, Assistant Secretary of
Defense for International Security Affairs, during her visit
to Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania on May 11, 2022.
(Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Army photo by
Spc. Thurnapuf Valle.)
It's not just military capabilities, but
intelligence and information that allies bring, she said. The United
States has worked to share intelligence and information with allies
and partners, and such efforts will continue. She also said the
conflict in Ukraine highlighted the need for allies to more closely
bind their various defense industrial bases together to produce
military capabilities more quickly and efficiently.
Wallander was asked specifically about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
She said Russia's ground capabilities "have been significantly
degraded," with tens of thousands of casualties and the probable
loss of half of its main battle tanks. Officials estimate that
probably 80 percent of Russia's ground force is dedicated to the
Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defense
for International Security Affairs is seen close up with an American
and Ukraine flag background.
"That said, Russia retains a
defense industrial base," Wallander said.
Russia has been
producing weapon systems at a slower pace and with less technology
due to sanctions, she said. "Russia has also drawn upon partnerships
that it has to fill in some of the gaps, most notably Iran,
acquiring UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicle] to be able to strike
Ukrainian targets, and Russia continues to field a pretty
substantial air force," she said. "So, it is a mixed picture."
Russia continues to take casualties in Ukraine, but as they take
these losses, "it is also learning how to adapt," Wallander said.
"It is learning tactically, operationally and somewhat strategically
how to adapt, and it is drawing [from] lessons learned. We're seeing
some of those play out in how Russia is conducting, for example, the
operations right now in eastern Ukraine."
without impacting facts.
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