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By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity
ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, May 20, 2016 – NATO cohesion was the big takeaway for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as he left the alliance Military Committee meeting today.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford told reporters traveling with him that cohesion among alliance allies was encouraging.
Russia dominates concern in the East and the threat of terrorism threatens allies in the South.
“We had a big discussion of security challenges facing NATO to the east and south and making sure the alliance had a common sight picture of the east and south and a common approach to dealing with those challenges,” he said. “We made a lot of progress since February in that regard and that was a positive.”
This was Dunford’s second Military Committee Meeting since taking office and he was pleased with the results. He said the alliance military chiefs coalesced around strategic planning by the committee since February.
Now he believes all nations of NATO “recognize that an alliance, by definition, has to address the security challenges of all members of the alliance,” he said. “In the case of NATO, it is a 360-degree alliance, and so in my judgment, the countries that would primarily orient to the east as a result of their own national interests and those counties that are primarily challenged by the south have come together in a very positive way so we have an overarching strategy to deal with NATO security.”
The military chiefs did identify areas where the strategy needs more work. These are certain issues where the methodology needs to be further refined and applied to specific security challenges or capabilities. Dunford said he expects announcements at the Warsaw Summit of NATO leaders in July.
The chiefs of defense also discussed Libya. The chairman said ungoverned spaces and failed states “attract extremism and external attacks, so we need to address that.”
But with Libya, much remains unanswered. “Number 1: Do the leaders of NATO want to do this?” Dunford said. “Number 2: What would it look like? Number 3, who is interested in participating, and what’s a reasonable timeline to establish such a mission? There are many questions still looking for answers.”
Much depends on the Government of National Accord led by Libyan Prime Minister Faiz al Siraj, and it remains to be seen what the GNA asks of NATO and what groups affiliate with the nascent government, the general said. “All those pieces have to come together,” he said, acknowledging that the GNA is the conduit for NATO and the United States training Libyan forces.
“We know who the groups are that are working with GNA leader Siraj to coalesce under a single government,” Dunford said. “We know who the people are on the ground, but we are waiting for those people to pledge loyalty to the GNA, the GNA to accept them, and then for the GNA to develop a construct for security forces.”
He stressed that this process must be done by Libyan leaders. “This is something that will be done by, with and through the Libyan government,” he said.
That said, if the United States detects “a specific threat stream against us, we are going to take action,” Dunford said.
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