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American Forces Press Service

Russia Pushing Limits of International Order, Dempsey Says

By Lisa Ferdinando
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2014 – Russia is 'pushing on the limits of international order,' the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia in general are pushing the limits because they don't believe the international order was crafted in a way that met their national interests, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said during a question-and-answer session at an event on hiring veterans in New York.

Putin and Russia express a sense of victimization following the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the chairman said. Noting that the Russian president recently delivered a speech on that narrative, Dempsey characterized it as "an anti-Western soliloquy that literally lasted for about three hours.'

NATO Commitment is Principal Responsibility

'Our principal responsibility here, of course, is our NATO commitment, notably the Article 5 responsibility, which says an attack on one is an attack on all,' he said. 'Twenty-eight nations of NATO are committed to living up to that.'

Dempsey said the difficulty is in Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine -- the nations located between NATO allies and Russian aggressiveness. To help in meeting that challenge, he said, the U.S. military needs to do different things with rotational presence.

'We probably need to do some things in every domain -- air, sea and ground," he said. "It's going to, I think, require us to put forces back into Europe that we had taken out."

The chairman said he doesn't expect the American forces in the region to be 'dramatically big,' but he added that 'they'll be substantial enough to allow us to deter Russian aggression against our NATO allies.'

Russia is creating an unstable situation, Dempsey said, and it has also 'kind of lit a fire of nationalism.'

'Once you light that fire, it's not controllable,' the general said. 'I am worried about Europe.'

For about 20 years, Dempsey said, Europe has been complacent with its security. 'I don't think they can afford to be complacent any longer,' he added.

Other International Topics

Questions for the chairman also touched on other international topics. U.S. service members fighting Ebola in Liberia are 'making a real difference,' he said in response to a question on that subject.

Separately, when asked about whether the United States should have kept residual forces in Iraq, Dempsey said he was in favor of such an arrangement.

He said the United States did not finish some things in Iraq, such as logistics and intelligence architecture for Iraqi forces and in providing them with close air support and lift capabilities. But the U.S. capability couldn't remain there without an agreement that protected U.S. forces, the chairman said.

'History will be the judge,' Dempsey said. 'To my satisfaction, we tried to get them to a place where they could provide us the protections and immunities we need.' However, he said, he did not want to leave U.S. forces there with Iraq's 'particular judicial system at the time without protections and immunities.'

The general said he thinks that over the next several years there will be a requirement to help Iraq with an operations center "so that we can share intelligence better and we can watch how they are executing their campaign plan.'

'I think we're going to have to rebuild pieces of the Iraqi army at secure bases," he added, "and we've got about three or four of them identified that we think we need to stand up.'

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