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tv   Defense One Discussion on Europe Building Alliances  CSPAN  October 14, 2019 11:26pm-12:03am EDT

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total cash prizes. >> just get a camera, get a microphone, and go start filming and produce the best video you can possibly produce. >> visit for more information today. upcominga look at the u.s. military exercises in europe with the commanders of u.s. army europe and nato allied land command. topics included nato alliances, military readiness, and european security. this event was put together by defense one. this is just over 30 minutes. >> i would like to invite our stingers guess and moderated to take a seat. while they assemble, i will .ntroduce them
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and lieutenant general jt thompson, commander of nato allied land command. our panel will be led and moderated by patrick tucker, defense one technology editor. thank you all. [applause] all right, thank you all for joining us today. thisso pleased to have exceptional panel here to discuss the future of the united states army and the incredibly important theater, the european theater, and, you know, i've been covering different aspects of u.s. army activity in europe for some time. there's one question that is usually sort of a perfunctory .uestion
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this year, that is not exact with the case. i will go to you, jt, as well as you, chris. i wonder if you can talk to me a little bit about the current status and your feelings about the military to military with turkey. how is that right now? how quickly is that changing? jt: i maintain strong relations with my counterparts in turkey within the parameters of u.s. policy at any given time. we spend time going back and forth and visiting each other. we exchange units. we recently had the turkish first commando brigade and company train with us in germany and reciprocated with a company of paratroopers going to an exercise in turkey. that is not uncommon. i have turkish liaisons. all relations are driven by policy in the end but the military to military level in
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the european command and turkey, it is very solid. patrick: washington post a couple of days ago reported on change in the intelligence that the u.s. military was providing in turkey around the operations they are conducting in northern syria. have there been any significant changes beyond those reported in the way you're dealing with your military counterparts in turkey? jt: i would not feel comfortable talking about that yet. anytime we include "intelligence" in the sentence -- [laughter] that's a tip. patrick: any changes in the last week beyond intelligence sharing? also tricky. turkey is a member of nato. and secretary stoltenberg has made some comments recently trying to walk the delicate line as of course only a nato secretary can do.
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when you talk to your nato compatriots about what is going on right now, particularly turkey, what are they talking about? >> nato allied land command is based in turkey. they are our host nation. having this headquarters in turkey is important to them. a large majority of my staff is turkish. the thing we need to remember from a nato perspective is the contributions that turkey makes to nato. second largest army contributing to operations in afghanistan and kosovo and bosnia. and our day-to-day operations with my chief of staff is a turkish two star general. we are good friends and we speak on a daily basis. there is no notable change in our relationship. we are focused on our mission. what you asked me about are not nato operations and i stay in that box.
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patrick: over the past week, anything you can say in terms of how much more difficult it is to navigate that relationship with all of the stuff going on around it? >> we focus on nato activities so no change. we are both aware of what is going on. we both watch the media. but he is a new chief of staff and is focused on his job. i'm leaving tomorrow, getting on a plane, and heading back into an exercise. patrick: let me broaden that out a little bit to lauren. we have heard just now that on a professional level we have to maintain those relationships.
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but this is incredibly difficult between these countries so how will that impact the future of nato going forward from your perspective at the council? lauren: beyond the military to military relationship, there is sentiment at the political level. the current operations in syria are inflaming things further. in the context of the nato conversation, there is a question about core values that turkey is beginning to stray away from including democracy and rule of law. they are fundamental to the alliance. and when you see those degrade, that opens the door to russian influence.
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i do think the introduction and the exit from the f-35 program will be a blow to operability. but that does not change the fact that it is in our interest to continue to work through these issues and at the end of the day, it is about the reliability of an ally. we have seen everything on the hill. outreach from many. there has been talks about sanctions. and other things on turkey. but i think it comes down to how do we work towards maintaining avenues of dialogue and continue this constructive relationship despite the troubles at the political level. patrick: there has not been any major change in the openness of that dialogue from your perspective right now. is that a fair characterization?
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>> yes, we continue to talk and exchange views. patrick: specifically looking at the european theater, is there a sense of what the end of this operation looks like for them? is that something you have a window on right now? >> i think that is something you would have to ask somebody else. patrick: in terms of things that we can ask, i would like to ask all of you about your questions. we will go to the audience during this and i would like to hear from all of you. these are people involved in decision-making and leading the united states army in an incredibly important part of the world. at some point i will go out to you and we will have a microphone. please enunciate where you are from and your affiliation and then we will get your question.
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let me turn now to some of the exercises that have been announced that you are doing. defender europe. a big exercise. i wonder if you can say what is the latest there? how are you preparing for that? what is the point of the exercise? >> the point is to practice the reinforcement of u.s. forces in europe for the purposes of collective defense of the alliance. that is something that requires practice because you are moving large forces over big distances through complicated infrastructure and across a variety of different national lines. it is the sort of thing that needs to be done in order to improve on and that is what we are doing. the army has led the way in practicing this reinforcement strategy in europe first but we will also do some work in the pacific. it will alternate years going forward. patrick: what is the biggest
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challenge in practicing this reinforcement across europe? >> the entire thing is a complex of small challenges that add up to a big one. we call it a strategic readiness. the ability to be strategic -- it is a significant connection of small things that have to go right in order for this to go well. patrick: that sounds like ordering french food in a restaurant. we spoke with ben hodges a little while ago. one of the concerns that he brings up has to do with nato as well. it is the suwalki corridor. who was familiar with that? if you on c-span do not know what this is, it is a 40 mile stretch along the poland-lithuanian border.
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on one side is an ally of russia and on the other is a big landzone that sticks out into europe rather conspicuously. and one big concern that a lot of europe military watchers have had going back a long time is that if you would be able to seize that area, that 40 mile strip, in theory you could cut off reinforcements to lithuania, latvia, and estonia. it is something that ben hodges has chaired a large report that came out last year. how is nato looking at that challenge? i will start with you.
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jt: on the european continent, there is a lot of strategic terrain and the one you mentioned is very strategic. all of the countries involved in that area are very focused on it. and the 40 miles, 63 kilometers is a corridor. some people call it a gap. we own the terrain there right now and we have to be able to defend it and plan accordingly before. >> we look at it the same way. it is a key terrain in europe. it is necessary to remain postured, ready, and agile to respond to any of the possible contingencies. patrick: is this something you are looking at, getting reinforcements there?
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>> the main purpose of defend europe is to practice getting a force onto the other side of the atlantic from here so it can be deployed in any one of the areas. lauren: the major take away is that it is not impossible to overcome a challenge in that area. the biggest issue is a frank conversation we have within the alliance is that it will require taking up space in russia proper which is a difficult conversation to have with your ally but it is something that would have to be discussed. patrick: is it something that would be discussed? is it something the exercise would look at? >> we would not talk about that in a forum like this. patrick: right. i have a few more questions.
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but first, any questions from you all as we get started? sometimes, as these things progress, people have more wine and feel a little bit more courageous. [laughter] this man has already had wine. ok. >> i am jason and i am a government contractor. you said the defender would be alternating from year to year. is that to make sure that things are quickly acted upon? so you can spin the aar's to get the results quickly over the 24 month period? >> i don't think you would be surprised to learn there is an army wide approach to the aar's. function by function, topic by topic in terms of the structure and topics we are talking about.
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they have a significant program to collect alliance wide lessons as well. i don't know how fast it will be. patrick: ok, keep ruminating on your questions. as we talk, feel free to shoot up your hand and we will get you incorporated. europe has been ground zero for what has been called gray zone warfare. the area of conflict that falls just below large-scale conflict and kind of falls in the category of strategic mischief. taking all of the emails from a political candidate and dumping them all on wikileaks was an example of gray zone warfare as is potentially poisoning people working with your military in a foreign country.
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as in all misinformation and disinformation. the new york times a little while ago published a really interesting report on a gau unit that has played a big role in the gray zone mischief that have happened across europe in recent years. not wanting to get into that article per se but gray zone warfare is a big part of the future of the way warfare would be conducted. i wonder how you are dealing with that as a concept. what is the future of that in europe? >> the -- has developed the concept of multi-demand operations and a fundamental aspect of that multi-domain operations is activity short of conflict. the phases are - compete, penetrate, disintegrate. the army sees competition as a
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natural and ongoing state of affairs. it depends on which modality you are talking about. there are things that we do every day. some can be as simple as where we move our forces, how publicly we do so. it can be as simple as combating misinformation that we see emerge in the public domain. >> nato has an entire new outreach thing which is very active in helping to identify this information. in a democracy, particularly a -- democracy is trickier than when you have a top-down command and control. how are you tackling gray zone warfare in terms of competition but also the disinformation and misinformation aspect of it because they seem linked but at the same time separate?
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>> across nato, everyone is focused on it. gray zone, hybrid activity, competition short of conflict. you do have to deal with individual nations. they all see it a little bit differently. not the same. some people like the term "competition short of conflict" because when you translate that into their language, it means we are about to go to war. what i'm excited about is everyone focusing on this. at a conference not long ago a young officer stood up and said something that was very contemplative from a ground force, land perspective. his open-ended question was -- -- below the threshold of combat above the threshold to act.
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i really like that. patrick: did he get a promotion? >> the next question was -- what is the threshold? some say we are at war now. others say there is a threshold to war. sometimes we simplify it too much in nato and say article five. nationstates take it on differently. you hear the secgen talk about it. secretary stoltenberg. patrick: in terms of gray zone warfare, do you say there is still a lot of work to do to be where we need to be in terms of being a credible and current force on that sort of behavior? >> never in my 34 years in the army have i said i was ready. when i was a lieutenant, i told an officer that i was ready. he said when you can do that operation at night with all of your equipment on, then you are ready.
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this is somewhat of a new field especially when you talk about land forces. there is room for growth. but what is exciting is we are on the right trajectory of across the aligns. patrick: let me ask you about this because this is an issue that challenges the traditional line between military forces. you also have communicators and policy folks and gray zone warfare has advantages that go over those distinctions. do you feel nato forces and democratic forces in the west are prepared for the next phase of it in europe? lauren: we have been spending a lot of time on this. there has been a good conversation going on within the alliance about how to tackle this at the national level but also, how do we play to the advantage of the alliance to do
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things to support our allies when they are attacked. you all probably know about the european center of excellence for countering threats in helsinki. it has been doing a lot of work to develop a playbook of countermeasures and potential options. at our disposal in the face of hybrid attacks at different levels. it is important to build on that and start socializing those options so policymakers understand what options are actually on the table. and so we are not taken by surprise when the shoe drops and things happen. and so that they are not controversial but more socialized in the minds of our policymakers. they can only go so far. i do think we need to put more emphasis on how do we take this.
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the trouble is so much needs to be done at the national level but it is difficult to coordinate that in a multinational session. you can do a lot surprisingly. that is an area that nato needs to prioritize. bear with me for a second but with everything we have seen, you could call it at level one. and level three is something that would trigger article five or armed attack. there is a level two in there that we are just starting to think about. we are starting to do this with the germans and saudi arabia but the idea that you could shut down five or six grids massively across several countries -- that would be a significant attack to which you would want to have a significant response.
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and we're thinking about what those responses could look like. patrick: what would they look like? lauren: it does not have to be the same kind of response. it can include things like misinformation in the cyberspace and other domains. patrick: looking at that article five question which is the big question that undergirds all of nato. a lot of people have a misperception that there is a button you push and all of a sudden, article five has happened and people put on their super hero capes and rush out. people's understanding that there is a button to push and you are in a conference call. let us look at how article five has changed as nato has begun to accept the fact that at some point something like a massive cyber event could trigger an article five response.
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it will not be the same sort of article five response that we associate with nato's response to the 9/11 attack. what is the future of article five if you can tell us? >> article five and the washington treaty which just celebrated its 70th anniversary on april 4. everyone knows what article five is but there is also an important article three. i am the commander of nato land command and i don't get into article five discussions. something to keep in mind is 29 nations going to 30 and you have to get consensus from every nation. it takes a little longer to do that. it is not a button. the thing to keep in mind is countries acting unilaterally, bilaterally, multilaterally. there are transitions involved
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with that especially when you are talking ground forces. it gets a little complicated. >> the good thing on article five is the secretary-general came out and said nato recognizes the other domain now. cyber is now a domain. the secgen recently wrote a report that cyber could trigger article five. lauren: another point -- the cyber conversation takes us back to the issue of military mobility and defender 2020. in order to have all of these troops moving across europe, it is critical to make sure the critical infrastructure associated with that movement is also resilient to cyberattack. it also relates back to our ability to fight the conventional fight. patrick: that is a really good point. when covering the issue of theater enable the across europe traditionally, a lot of people
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brought up -- there are a lot of railroads across europe. some are german and some are french. you need permissions. and that was something that they used to highlight a lot. can you comment on that aspect of theater enablement? how does this enabled the reinforcement that would be required in the event of a major hostility? >> the question has to be divided into a couple of parts. the first part is procedural and the second part is infrastructure. procedurally we have made a great deal of progress across the alliance. some countries have relaxed their restrictions and shortened their notification times required. we as an alliance have gotten much more practiced at scheduling and moving and loading rail. we are able to move very quickly across great distances.
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last year we had a very large force of across the alliance go all the way to eastern romania and all the way back almost flawlessly without problem by road, barge, rail, or self driving. we made a lot of progress procedurally. infrastructurally there remains some problems. in the baltics, you switch rail gauge. lithuania has committed to purchasing dual cars. there have been some troubles with bridge classification and the strength of a railhead. can it take the weight of a tank? the eu is using prioritized shopping lists prioritized by nato and has been investing
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throughout the alliance in mobility infrastructure. i have to commend many of our allies who are improving in transportation infrastructure. the program -- the exercise enables us to resolve some of the challenges. patrick: what grade would you give it? >> better than it was previously. [laughter] patrick: erich schmidt from the new york times. there in the center. >> hello and thank you. general thompson, a question for you. do you believe nato is still a reliable ally? given the events of this week, how confident are you when a partner ally comes to you and asks if the u.s. has its back whether it is in the ukraine or the baltics?
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>> the easy simple answer is yes, 100 percent. i have been a part of nato spending my first seven years there and i have complete confidence in the alliance. i see it day in and day out. the events of the last few days -- you could back it up. there have been questions -- is the u.s. committed to nato? absolutely. we are going through a nato command structure adaptation, a three-year process. nato is the strongest and most successful alliance at 70 years but we have a clear recognition that what has worked for the last 70 will not get us through the next 70 so we are adapting. this adaptation -- and the cold war we had 25,000 personnel in the nato command structure. we optimized during the peace dividend. we brought it below 8000. we are adding back in 1200. who is adding the 1200? the u.s.
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>> general, do you believe turkey is still a reliable ally? >> absolutely. i work with turkish officers day in and day out. we are training a nato rep to be part of the nato response force and that corn commander -- and that corps commander is switched on. >> i don't have much to add to what he said. there is no doubt in my mind that the alliance is working commendably nor do i have any questions about each country. the united states has been demonstrating commitment with resources. the european deterrence initiative has greatly enhanced our ability to promote and to prompt investment across the alliance i our allies.
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the initiative has been fundamental to our ability to conduct the exercise programs. it was just described a minute ago. and get the benefits i was just describing. i believe that the u.s. is putting resources where it's commit it is and -- where it's commitment is an demonstrating that daily. patrick: time for one more question or so. this lady back here. >> thank you. ann phillips. thank you, all for being here. i wanted to ask all of you if you would care to comic -- the media directs attention to ukraine. how do you assess the situation in the baltics now? there was already mention of the gru and moldova -- what keeps you up at night?
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patrick: i wish i asked that question. >> it remains complicated, obviously. it remains something we have to keep an eye on as a country. europe has to as a continent and a union and nato has to as an alliance. we maintain forces in kosovo. from my perspective, those forces are a essential to the stability and the area. there are internal tensions that have existed there and have not been resolved despite the fact that 20 years have gone by since open warfare in the balkans. and there are external influences at work there. they do not help. they exacerbate the natural frictions in the area. i don't think the balkans is a place that we can stop paying attention to yet. i think -- and i will be there in a couple of weeks.
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i believe greece and north macedonia have displayed great courage in overcoming the naming dispute. north amasa dona is now in my mind doing everything it can to be the nato aspirant it desires to be. it remains a complicated area. patrick: ok. with that, ladies and gentlemen, join me in thanking our panel. [applause] >> thank you so much for being here this afternoon. all of you and our distinguished guests. i want to take a moment to thank our underwriter once more, and i invite you to stick around, mingle, network. the bar remains open for a little while. we did videotape this event, and
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it will be available on our, and wee look forward to hosting you at another cocktails and conversations. thank you. >> c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up tuesday morning, the cato institute's patrick eddington talks about his experiences as a whistleblower. former new york congressman steve israel discusses the latest on the house democrats impeachment inquiry and how it could impact congressional races in 2020. and the editor of the american conservative, james, on president trump's recent decisions on here yet. watched c-span's washington your -- decisions on syria.
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watched c-span's washington journal. be sure to watch washington journal wednesday following the fourth my credit presidential candidates debate of the 2020 rates. join the conversation all morning with your calls, facebook comments, tweets, and text messages. follow c-span as congress returns to capitol hill after a two-week recess with committees working on impeachment inquiries against president trump, legislation to lower prescription drug costs, and curbing the outsourcing of u.s. jobs. and the senate continues work on the president's executive and judicial nominations including air force secretary nominee barbara barrett. watched live gavel-to-gavel coverage of the house on c-span c-span senate live on two, or this and live on the go, using the three c-span radio app. free c-span radio app.
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>> max, nasa historian eric conway joins the discussion on whether the public distrusts science p he spoke at an event -- science. he spoke at an event. this is just over an hour. extreme greatmy pleasure to introduce tonight's moderator. she is an award-winning science journalist. her reporting on the state of the world's oceans earned her both a pulitzer prize and the cross taken award for the understanding of science. she regularly contributes opinion pieces to the los angeles times and is a senior writer at the huntington. please give a very warm welcome to her. [applause] >> thank you. it is great to see such robust crowd and energetic


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