At the recent NATO Defense Ministerial, Secretary of Defense James Mattis observed that “threats to our collective security have not waned, whether terrorism to the south or Russia's aggression and hybrid threats to the east.”
Burden-sharing among alliance members has improved since 2014 when only three nations' military spending was at 2 percent of GDP, noted Secretary Mattis. Last year saw the largest across-NATO increase in military spending in a quarter century. In 2018, eight nations are already meeting the 2 percent pledge benchmark and more are on track to reach 2 percent by 2024.
In the global fight against ISIS, Secretary Mattis said, “we will continue to carry out operations necessary to crush the physical caliphate and prevent a resurgence of ISIS-Daesh. We will be unrelenting in our effort. Working with like-minded nations, we will target ISIS around the world, for this remains a global fight.”
To support these efforts, NATO is transitioning its current activity in Iraq into a sustainable non-combat training mission. In concert with the new Iraqi government, NATO will capitalize on Iraq's success and reinforce their long-term counterterrorism efforts.
In Afghanistan, the security forces continue to improve, said Secretary Mattis. “All six Afghan corps are deployed throughout the country, demonstrating Afghan resolve, while the Afghan government pursues a stable and inclusive political order for its people, with NATO's support.”
“For nearly 70 years, the NATO alliance has served to uphold the values and the principles on which our democracies were founded,” said Secretary Mattis. “The American people remain committed to this alliance, and we look forward to working together to sustain our core function, which is the collective defense of our people, while fostering peace and security.”