The Chamber of Commerce
Washington, D.C.

1:07 P.M. EDT

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, good afternoon. And thank you, everyone, for being here. And, Keith, thank you very much for the kind introduction.

I also want to thank the entire team here at the Chamber of Commerce for bringing us together today, because this is a really significant event. It’s not just a gathering of people, it’s actually a productive working session — producing deals, helping enhance the defense and deferrence [deterrence] capability of the Alliance; marrying up government, the private sector, industry, military in service of our common defense.

So, most of all, let me say thank you to everybody in the room and on the livestream for giving me the opportunity to be here to say a few words today.

I want to start by taking us back to 75 years ago.

The world was shifting. Nazi Germany had fallen. The Soviet Union was rising. Communism was spreading. Nations were rebuilding. And people everywhere were reckoning with the horrors of the Holocaust.

So, our predecessors gathered here in Washington. And together, they signed the North Atlantic Treaty, creating what would become the most powerful Alliance in the history of the world: NATO.

But at that moment, it was just a document. In fact, at that gathering, President Truman said, quote, “The purpose of this meeting is to take the first step toward putting into effect an international agreement to safeguard the peace and prosperity of this community of nations.”

“First step.” That was the key phrase that President Truman used. Because transatlantic security does not happen by chance, it happens by choice. Every Ally must continue to take step after step, generation after generation, to continue safeguarding and strengthening NATO on service — in the service of our common defense.

So this afternoon, what I’d like to do is lay out four historic steps that the Biden administration has taken ahead of this summit to contribute to making NATO stronger, more united, and more dynamic than ever before.

First, we’ve worked to modernize this Alliance’s deterrence and defense. When President Biden came into office, our alliances were underutilized, atrophied. And he knew that we could encourage our partners to do more, to invest more, if we strengthened our alliances, if we leaned into them rather than pulling away from them.

And three and a half years later, our Allies are doing more today than at any point since the end of the Cold War.

Now, a strong claim like that demands hard evidence, and so I want to start with the numbers.

This year alone, our fellow NATO Allies will invest over $500 billion on defense. In 2020, our NATO Allies invested just over $325 billion. So, an increase of $175 billion and a substantial percentage increase over the course of the past three and a half years.

On top of this, when President Biden came to office, nine Allies were meeting the NATO commitment to invest at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense. Today, as we enter the Washington Summit and the 75th anniversary of NATO, 23 Allies are investing 2 percent. Many are investing even more. That is a record — far and away a record.

And it’s not just about how much we invested; it’s how we’re investing it.

Today, we face challenges from all directions and all domains — from terrorists, to tyrants, to technology, and beyond. The Alliance has been prepared to handle all of these threats at the same time. And it has been prepared to do so over the course of considerable effort as we’ve worked to modernize NATO’s structure in the last three years.

What has that meant?

First, developing regionally focused plans — which sounds a bit abstract on the surface, but it’s a huge shift. Regionally focused plans ensure that NATO will have the forces and weapons it needs to confront threats from any direction or even multiple directions at once. That has never been done before. NATO has now done it.

Streamlining our command-and-control capabilities. This will ensure that, in the event of crisis, NATO can rapidly shift to war footing, and Allied forces will know from the first moment who they take orders from.

Implementing a new force model. This is about readiness. Under the new model, Allies will know how many troops they are expected to muster in a crisis — and how quickly. For example, within 10 days, Allies could have 100,000 forces where they need to be. Within a month, that number would double. And in the ensuing weeks, it would grow to 500,000.

Investing in a modern arsenal. That means next-generation aircraft, submarines, warships, artillery systems, so we’re ready to fight across every domain: land, sea, air, cyber, and space.

And finally, transforming headquarters once fit for low-intensity conflict into stations ready to defend Allied territory.

Taken together, these steps over the last three years, coming into this Washington Summit, mark a generational shift in the NATO Alliance. And they send an unmistakable message to the world: NATO is prepared to back up the fact that we will defend every inch of NATO territory now and into the future.

Second, and particularly relevant to this gathering here today, we’ve focused on growing NATO’s industrial capacity. As this group knows well, this is directly related to ensuring effective deterrence and defense.

Today, Russia’s defense industry is on a wartime footing. With help from Iran, from China, from North Korea, they’re attempting to undertake the most significant defense expansion since the height of the Cold War.

NATO can, NATO will, and NATO is rising to meet this challenge without disturbing, or distorting, our national economies the way Russia has. We are making robust investments in our defense industrial bases.

Last year, we helped rally Allies to endorse a Defence Production Action Plan, which laid out a path to ramp up production and address near-term shortfalls, like we have seen in ammunition — a shortfall we are closing month by month, and we are seeing the results, as we speak, on the battlefield in Ukraine.

During this summit, we’re taking the next step.
In the coming days, for the first time ever, every Ally will pledge to develop plans to strengthen their defense industrial capacity at home. Like our defense spending commitment, these individual pledges are critical to our collective security.

They will enable the Alliance to prioritize production of the most vital defense equipment we would need in the event of a conflict.

They’ll help forge new industry partnerships across the Alliance, create jobs, strengthen our economic competitiveness.

And these pledges will also spur greater investment in NATO’s most significant advantage: our technology and innovation.
And President Biden has been championing this approach since day one.

Here at home, we’re investing almost $75 billion in our defense industrial base, on top of the tens of billions we’ve already invested in the past few years.

This has helped create jobs at manufacturing sites all across the country. It’s helped strengthen our military readiness. And it’s helped produce equipment that is saving lives and defending territory in Ukraine, from Patriot missiles made in Arizona to Javelins made in Alabama.

And that leads to my next point.

Third, as we’ve worked to meet Kyiv’s equipment and battlefield needs, we’ve rallied our Allies to increase long-term security support for Ukraine.

When Putin launched his vicious assault against Ukraine, he expected a quick victory: that he could send a column of tanks to Kyiv, topple the democratically elected government, erase Ukraine from the map, break NATO, and restore the Russian empire.

But he underestimated the people of Ukraine, and he underestimated the will of the people of Europe. And he underestimated the transatlantic Alliance, and he underestimated NATO.

With support from a coalition of more than 50 partners led by the United States, the people of Ukraine have remained unflinching against an adversary with an economy 10 times bigger, a population three times bigger, and a military once ranked — once ranked as the second best in the world.

And over two years later, Putin has not only failed in his imperialist quest to subjugate and conquer Ukraine. His invasion has actually strengthened Ukrainian sovereignty — the very sovereignty he sought to erase — and bolstered the very NATO resolve he sought to weaken. In fact, his actions grew our ranks instead.

We’re committing to stand with Ukraine in the face of this aggression. And we’re committed to stand with them for the long term so that Ukraine has an effective defense and deterrent capability against any future aggression it may face down the road.

Just last month, the United States signed a bilateral security agreement with Ukraine. President Biden and President Zelenskyy stood up on the sidelines of the G7 Summit and put their names to that document.

And at the end of this week, President Biden will convene more than 20 world leaders, who’ve also signed their own bilateral agreements with Ukraine, to launch the Ukraine Compact, which will make clear that all of the countries are coming together under this single umbrella to stand with Ukraine now and in the future.

In the coming days, NATO will also announce robust new measures of support, including a new NATO military command in Germany, led by a three-star general, that will launch a training, equipping, and force development program for Ukrainian troops; a pledge from all Allies to collectively provide Ukraine with at least 40 billion euros worth of security assistance this next year; and a new NATO Senior Representative in Kyiv appointed by Secretary General Stoltenberg, who you’ll hear from in a moment, who will deepen Ukraine’s institutional relationship with the Alliance and serve as the focal point for NATO’s engagement with senior Ukrainian officials.

We’ll also make announcements outlining how we plan to strengthen critical Ukrainian air defense capabilities and build Ukraine’s air power through the provision of F-16s.

We’ll have more information to share on all of these steps in the coming days.

But together, they make clear: Putin cannot divide us. He cannot outlast us. He cannot weaken us. And Ukraine, not Russia, will prevail in this war.

Fourth, and finally, we’ve deepened NATO’s cooperation with partners in the Indo-Pacific. What happens in Europe impacts the Indo-Pacific. What happens in the Indo-Pacific impacts Europe. We see this every day.

North Korea providing ballistic missiles to Russia that are used to kill Ukrainian civilians. China’s dual-use trade with Russia, which includes microelectronics or technologies used in cruise missiles, is enabling Russia’s war machine.

And we should not expect that the PRC and the DPRK, or Iran for that matter, are supporting Russia for free. We’re watching carefully to see what Russia provides these countries in return and what impact that has on the security of the Indo-Pacific and other parts of the world.

In the face of these threats and challenges, our partners in the Atlantic and in the Pacific have stepped up.

Europe has stepped up to exercise freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific. And all of the Indo-Pacific countries attending the NATO Summit this week — Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the ROK — have helped rally the world to stand in defense of freedom and sovereignty and security in Europe, and to stand with Ukraine.

And I want to pause here to note that Japan, the ROK, and Australia are all on the road to invest 2 percent of their GDP in defense — a historic step forward that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

Put simply, the ties between the United States, Europe, and the Indo-Pacific have never been more important or more integrated than they are today.

And that’s why, under President Biden’s leadership, we are working every day to strengthen these partnerships, including inviting Indo-Pacific nations to participate in this summit at the highest level.

And we’re going to go even further. In the coming days, the Allies and our Indo-Pacific partners will launch four new joint projects on Ukraine, on artificial intelligence, on disinformation, and on cybersecurity.

Each initiative is different, but the main goal is the same: Harness the unique strengths of highly capable democracies to address shared global challenges.

Now, throughout my time in government, I’ve learned the hard way it’s never a good idea to go on for too long at the start of a program and especially before the Secretary General of NATO is coming up to speak. So let me just close with this.

Standing here today, three and half years into the Biden administration, it actually can be kind of hard to look all the way back to the first day on the job. And it can be easy to look around in Washington this week and see the unity, the resolve, and the capabilities of NATO today and say that’s just the natural order of things.

But it isn’t just the natural order of things. It’s taken work. It’s taken strategy. And it’s taken, as President Truman said 75 years ago, us working step by step as Allies together.

And the fact that we’ve come such a long way in such a short time is thanks in large part to leaders like the folks in this room today.

So, thank you for your partnership. Thank you for your leadership. And I look forward to working with you in the years ahead to continue to strengthen the NATO Alliance.

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to be here today. (Applause.)

1:21 P.M. EDT

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