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American Forces Press Service

Unity Will Prevent New Age of Disorder, NATO Chief Says

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2015 – Solidarity is needed to prevent a new age of disorder, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday in Munich.

"History is not written in advance," the secretary general said at the annual Munich Security Conference. "We can prevent an age of disorder if we have the will. We can keep the international order that has served us so well if we stand up for its rules and if we stand up for each other."

Last year marked a turning point for European security and the global order, he said. In Europe, Russia annexed Crimea and is seeking to destabilize Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to intimidate the Baltic republics, Poland, Romania and Georgia.

"North Africa and the Middle East are also in turmoil," Stoltenberg said. "States are breaking up, and conflict is at our borders. Extremism is fueling barbaric violence across the region and inspiring terrorism on our own streets."

Maintaining Order

But the international order can be maintained if like-minded nations stick together, he said.

One of the tools, he said, is NATO -- the most successful international security pact in history. "Since its foundation, NATO has been a resolute guardian of the international order," Stoltenberg said. "That order is being challenged, and we must do our utmost to protect it."

NATO must change to address the threats of the 21st century, and it must maintain and increase its strength, the secretary general said. The confrontations today are "not about lining up tanks or digging ditches along our borders," he added. "The Cold War is history, and it should remain that way."

NATO and allied forces must be ready to deploy at a moment's notice and must be able to deter any threat from any direction, Stoltenberg said, including countering the so-called "hybrid warfare" that Russia has used in Ukraine.

'We Cannot Do More With Less Forever'

This is going to require resources, the secretary general said, noting that since the end of the Cold War, European defense spending has fallen steadily. "We cannot do more with less forever," he added.

At NATO's summit in Wales, alliance leaders agreed to increase defense spending as their nations' economies grow. "It cannot be done overnight," Stoltenberg said, "but it can be done."

The alliance's eastern and southern flanks are vulnerable, he said, and NATO needs to work with those countries to strengthen their capabilities and increase their stability.

"If they are more stable, we are more secure," Stoltenberg said. "We must help our eastern neighbors to stay on the path of democracy and reform, to fight corruption, open up their economies and build efficient institutions. This is good for them, and it is good for us."

Violent extremism is a growing threat to the south, with the added danger of terrorists importing their brand of fanaticism to the heart of Europe, as they did in Paris and Brussels, recently, Stoltenberg said.

"We are stepping up our support for Jordan, and Iraq has asked us to help improve its defense capacity," he added. "In this way, we can project stability without deploying large numbers of troops, because most of the time, it will be more effective to help countries look after their own security."

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