The Ironclad U.S. Commitment to NATO
The USA, 29 November 2021
Office of the Spokesperson
“Our Alliance is the strong foundation on which our collective security and our shared prosperity can continue to be built…the U.S. commitment to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty is rock solid and unshakable. It’s a sacred commitment… Among our most important shared missions is renewing and strengthening the resilience of our democracies, by pointing out that we have to prove to the world and to our own people that democracy can still prevail against the challenges of our time and deliver for the needs of our people.”
– President Biden, June 14, 2021
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is attending the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Foreign Ministerial in Riga, Latvia, November 30-December 1, 2021. During this visit, Secretary Blinken will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Allied Foreign Ministers. Secretary Blinken will emphasize the strength of the transatlantic relationship, NATO’s ongoing success in safeguarding the transatlantic community, and the Administration’s commitment to the Alliance and our Allies.
Confronting Security Challenges Together
The transatlantic relationship is built on a foundation of shared values, and NATO has been the cornerstone of an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity for more than 70 years.
NATO is the essential forum for transatlantic security – the only place where the United States meets daily with our Allies to address shared security challenges together. The U.S. commitment to NATO Allies and Article 5 of the Washington Treaty is ironclad, and Allies are united in their shared mission to defend the Euro-Atlantic community, deter aggression, and project stability.
As it approaches its 73rd year, NATO is the most powerful and successful Alliance in history. Today, NATO provides security for approximately one billion people in Europe and North America.
The United States stands shoulder to shoulder with our Allies and NATO partners in NATO missions in Europe, the Mediterranean, and Iraq. Together, the Alliance is deterring and defending against a wide range of security challenges facing the region, including escalating Russian aggression, terrorism, hybrid and cyber threats, emerging and disruptive technologies, and the way the climate crisis is affecting the threat landscape. NATO is also working to address the risks the People’s Republic of China presents to our shared security interests, our democracies, and to the rules-based international order.
Adapting to the Future: Addressing Current and Emerging Challenges
Building off President Biden’s participation in the 2021 Brussels Summit, the United States is joining with our Allies to ensure NATO is fit for purpose in an era of increased strategic competition. In Riga, Foreign Ministers will discuss the development of NATO’s next Strategic Concept, which will guide the Alliance as it addresses current and emerging challenges. The new Strategic Concept will be prepared for adoption at the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain, June 29-30, 2022.
At the Brussels Summit, NATO leaders endorsed the Comprehensive Cyber Defense Policy to support the Alliance’s overall deterrence and defense posture. Putting that policy into practice, Allies are developing a Cyber Action Plan to ensure NATO’s resilience against increasingly frequent and complex malicious cyber activity perpetrated by state and non-state actors, including disruptive ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure.
Recognizing the increasingly complex threats to our security, Allied leaders affirmed in December 2019 and in June 2021 that national and collective resilience are essential for credible deterrence and defense, and vital to safeguard our societies, citizens, and shared values. Allied leaders issued a Strengthened Resilience Commitment that outlined future priorities, including on the security of supply chains, critical infrastructure, and energy networks, as well as preparedness for pandemics and natural disasters. Allies have subsequently updated NATO’s seven baseline requirements to support the effective enablement of armed forces and the Alliance’s three core tasks of collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security.
At the Brussels Summit, Allies endorsed a Climate Change and Security Action Plan positioning NATO as a leading international organization for understanding and adapting to the impact of climate change on security. NATO recognizes climate change as a defining challenge of our times and a threat multiplier impacting Allied security. NATO is incorporating climate change considerations into its full spectrum of work, ranging from defense planning and capability development to civil preparedness and exercises.
To maintain the Alliance’s technological edge, Allies are negotiating the provisional Charter of the Defense Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic, an initiative that will facilitate technological cooperation and speed the adoption of technological solutions to enhance the Alliance’s defense and security.
In the 2019 Leaders’ Statement and the 2021 Brussels Communique, NATO Allies recognized the PRC’s growing influence and international policies can present challenges we need to address together as an Alliance. Beijing is building up its military and expanding its footprint in cyberspace, the Arctic, and in areas that directly affect Transatlantic security, including the Middle East and Africa.
The progress Allies have made on defense spending helps ensure NATO is ready and has the capabilities required to meet any challenge. European Allies and Canada have increased their defense spending by more than $260 billion since 2014. These increases are significant, but Allies must also continue to make investments to meet their NATO Capability Targets, to increase the readiness of their armed forces, especially the NATO Readiness Initiative, and to meet force generation commitments for NATO missions and operations.
Reflecting on Afghanistan and Counter Terrorism
In Riga, Allies will discuss NATO’s operations in Afghanistan, reflecting on lessons learned to strengthen our unity and willingness to commit effectively to necessary operations and to inform the Alliance’s future political-military engagements, including in the global fight against terrorism.
The United States will never forget that our NATO Allies stood by us following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, invoking Article 5 for the first and only time in the history of the Alliance. The United States honors and remembers the sacrifice Allies and partners made standing shoulder to shoulder in Afghanistan. For two decades, Afghanistan was prevented from serving as a safe haven for terrorist attacks, and the United States, Allies, and partners provided a safe space for the country to develop, notably with dramatic advancements for women and girls.
NATO remains fully committed to the international community’s fight against terrorism, including through analysis, preparedness and responsiveness, capabilities, capacity building and partnerships, and operations. Allies and partners continue to support the fight against ISIS and other forms of terrorism. NATO’s counter-terrorism efforts contribute directly to the Alliance’s three core tasks: collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security.
NATO’s Open Door
NATO leaders are committed to NATO’s Open Door Policy, which provides a path to membership for any European country that shares our values and meets the necessary responsibilities and obligations. At the NATO Summit in June, we reaffirmed our unity on this.
It is imperative NATO continue to ensure the credibility of Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
The United States continues to support NATO’s decision in the 2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration, reaffirmed ever since, including in the June 2021 Brussels Summit, that Georgia and Ukraine will become NATO members. These countries’ Annual National Programs (ANP) detail their path to membership.
Already, both Georgia and Ukraine are members of the Enhanced Opportunities Partnership (EOP), which elevates their interoperability and training opportunities alongside NATO Allies.