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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2003 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

Press Briefing at NATO

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Douglas J. Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Brussels Belgium
December 8, 2003

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Good morning everybody. My name is Marc Grossman. Iím the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and with me is Douglas Feith who is the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

We had the good fortune this morning to visit with the North Atlantic Council. The subject is Global Force Posture. As many of you know, President Bush made a statement on the 25th of November in which he said he directed his government to intensify consultations with allies as we move forward in thinking about how to change, make more capable, and move our global force posture. And as directed by the President and the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State, Doug and I came to NATO today to participate in that consultation.

We had the chance today to talk to the Council and we put forward four or five themes that Iíd like to share with you.

The first theme is that the Cold War is over. We face new threats. We have new opportunities. And we need to make sure that our force posture and the force posture of NATO and our allies is aligned in such a way to meet these new threats and to take advantage of these new opportunities.

Second, that change in this regard is designed to strengthen the Alliance, to strengthen collective defense. As President Bush said in his statement on the 25th of November, the whole purpose of this consultation and the whole purpose of these changes is to strengthen the capacity of the United States to meet its commitments and to strengthen the capacity of people to carry out collective defense.

The third theme is that we are engaged here in a real consultation. No final decisions have been made. And while there is a need to change our force posture and we do need to get more modern around Europe and around the world, that no final decisions have been made.

Fourth, that the work we are doing now is an attempt to talk to people about the strategy and the concepts. One of those important concepts is that this is not about numbers. This is about capabilities and about strengthening our Alliance.

Finally, that anything we do will certainly meet the commitments that we have, both treaty commitments and our political commitments.

Although Ambassadors would have to speak for themselves, I think Doug and I were very pleased by the positive response we had from the Council; by the Councilís recognition that there are new threats and new opportunities in this world; and I believe that they welcomed the consultation.

Our job now, Doug and I, is to go on to various countries in the Alliance and elsewhere to make this presentation bilaterally so that people can understand it in capitols, and then report back to the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State about what it is we have found.

So we had what I would consider to be quite a successful morning here and a morning in which we all agreed that the purpose of all of us, the United States and our allies, is to make change that strengthens this great Alliance.

With that I would ask Doug if he has anything to add.

UNDER SECRETARY FEITH: The only part Iíd like to add is that we addressed the issue here at the North Atlantic Council at a strategic level. We understand that itís important for people to appreciate what are the strategic and global ideas that motivate our thinking about how to realign our global posture.

We also understand that there is enormous interest on the part of various countries and in particular local communities about how the realignment might affect them. We did not get into the particulars in this consultation and we donít intend to do that in the course of the coming week as Marc Grossman and I visit various capitols. We are interested in getting initially an appreciation of the broader policy reasons, the motivations for undertaking a review of this kind, and then there will be an additional round of consultations sometime after the beginning of the year that will get into the details.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: With that weíll be glad to take a few questions.

QUESTION: Tom Chalmers with Reuters.

Are there any [inaudible]? You know more about capabilities than numbers, but would you say that your posture in Europe would, the center of gravity of your posture in Europe would move to the East from the West?

As I say, we didnít really discuss that. What we discussed was how you increase capability for the Alliance. So questions of gravity and questions of numbers are things that are really yet to come.

Weíve got some ideas. As Doug has said this is not a blank slate for us, but itís very important that we take into account what the allies have to say in their reaction to what it is that we presented to them this morning.

UNDER SECRETARY FEITH: It is also fair to say that the recent expansion of NATO which has been a great strengthening of the Alliance is an important new reality and a lot of the current force posture in Europe is based on the realities of the Cold War so adjustments are going to have to be made to take into account that the Alliance is larger and stronger than it was a few years ago.

QUESTION: Roman [inaudible], Poland.

Do you expect from the different countries to give you concrete proposals? For example countries like Poland or Romania, Bulgaria?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We didnít hear about that this morning. What we would expect was that we would be able to go to various countries and make our presentation so people understand what our strategic thinking is about. I would expect that people would need some time to react to this. So I donít think either of us in any of the places that we are going expect to come home with some specific proposal, no.

QUESTION: [inaudible], France.

Is there any possibility that you could give any sort of timetable for this review? Are we talking 2004? Could it be later? When are you going to start actually getting into the details of all this?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think the process is going to take years. Weíve been working on our thinking on realigning our global posture already for years. The work was underway before the September 11, 2001 attacks. It was initiated as soon as this Administration came to office in Washington. We now have our thinking far enough along, short of detailed decisions, but itís now far enough along that these kinds of consultations make sense and theyíre at a point where we can present some ideas, weíre going to be getting input. There are going to be a number of decisions that probably are going to take a number of years to make, but there are also probably going to be some adjustments that will be made next year and thereafter.

If I could just add, what we told the Council was that although the process will take some time, and obviously moving military units and strengthening them takes time, but that the consultation has to begin now, decisions are coming, and our expectation is that this consultation will lead to some decisions. Thatís our goal.

QUESTION: Klaus Ponta, [inaudible] Television.

Could you perhaps explain a little bit why decisions are now postponed. As you said, Mr. Feith, you started the process when the new Administration came into office, and as far as I understood the first readings about it they were to be decided at the end of this year. Why the postponement?

UNDER SECRETARY FEITH: Itís news to me that they were supposed to be decided by the end of this year.

QUESTION: That decisions should be taken, was said in the Defense Department.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, the first decision to be taken here was the decision the President announced on the 25th of November which is the first thing you do is consult with your allies, and thatís what weíre doing. So the important --

QUESTION: [inaudible]

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Of course. But as we said to the NAC just now, Secretary Rumsfeld talked about it in Colorado. Both Secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld talked about it here last week. The President made a decision to intensify consultations with allies and announced it on the 25th of November. That seems to me the right and proper first decision to take.

UNDER SECRETARY FEITH: I would stress, there have also been consultations in Asia. Weíve been -- This is really a global project. Itís not confined to any one region. We are at various stages of consultations and thinking with various countries all over the world.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Weíll take a couple more.

QUESTION: [inaudible], World Service.

To what extent can you substantiate some reports in the European, especially in the German press, that the idea is to keep actually some of the American forces in Germany, not shift them to places like Romania and Bulgaria where it would take a lot of investment in infrastructure which isnít there.

UNDER SECRETARY FEITH: Weíre not at the point where specific decisions are going to be discussed, let alone announced, on moving particular units from here to there. What we are looking at is how do we make sure that we have capabilities in Europe that will allow the NATO Alliance to remain capable and sustainable and relevant for decades ahead?

One of the things we stressed this morning at the North Atlantic Council is that the perspective for this exercise is decades. This is not about current events. This is not about immediate considerations. Itís a matter of how do we posture ourselves so that we have an Alliance that will be capable and sustainable going far into the future. It will take into account, as I said, the addition to the Alliance of countries in Central Europe, but weíre not at the point where weíre talking about the kinds of specific moves that you were alluding to in your question

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think what Secretary Powell said in his NATO Intervention last week is locations may change but commitments to allies will not. Thatís a very important way to do this.

One more.

QUESTION: Will you have a consultation in Moscow?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I am going to visit Moscow during the week. We thought it was important to keep the Russians informed of what it is that we are doing and also we have a chance then directly to say that we are interested in making sure that they know what we will do will meet our treaty commitments and also our political commitments.

Okay? Good enough. Thank you all very much.


Released on December 9, 2003

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