26 July 2018
US policymakers delivered a loud and clear message to a delegation from the Defence and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly: The United States is increasing its commitment to NATO, and it expects increased investments in parallel from its Allies. Officials told the delegation the Trump administration would make burden sharing among allies one of its principal goals when it comes to Brussels this July for the NATO Summit. The other main priorities, deterrence and defence as well as counterterrorism, go hand in hand with Allies’ responsibility to meet their defence spending commitments.
US policymakers also attempted to lay to rest any lingering doubts in delegation members’ minds about the United States’ Article 5 commitment – NATO’s collective security guarantee enshrined in the Washington Treaty. As Thomas Goffus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for European and NATO Policy, confirmed: “The United States’ Article 5 guarantee is iron clad.” Goffus continued by stating the United States would focus on the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) during the upcoming summit in Brussels: “Deterrence is what we do together, rather than the US-focused European Reassurance Initiative, as the EDI was previously known.”
The visit’s main focus was on the transatlantic link under the Trump administration and the administration’s priorities in the run up to NATO Summit of Heads of State and Government this July; the delegation also learned about Congressional views on NATO and the questions of Allied defence investment and commitment. As officials stressed, increased investments will mean a credible defence and deterrence posture, allowing Allies to channel resources to address new security challenges from counterterrorism to counter-hybrid tactics. The credibility of Allied commitment to a modern mobile and dynamic defence and security, it was repeated, is the only way forward for the alliance in the 21st century.
In addition, US high-level officials relayed the United States’ position on counterterrorism and arms control. Interlocutors highlighted the United States’ continued role in Afghanistan as a convergence of current US priorities: continued resolve in the face of a persistent terrorism threat; an increased focus on working together with its allies to defeat this threat; and, a strong desire to maintain the United States’ global security role in an era wherein it feels increasingly challenged by near-peer competitors, namely Russia and China.
The Defence and Security Committee’s delegation also visited Charleston, South Carolina, where parliamentarians were welcomed for briefings at Joint Base Charleston, Boeing, and The Military College of South Carolina (The Citadel). The delegation consisted of 29 members of parliament from 18 Allied nations.