FACT SHEET: U.S. Efforts in Support of NATO Allies and Partners

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The United States has a solemn commitment to the collective defense of all NATO allies.  As has been true since we signed the Washington Treaty in 1949, we will respond if the security or territorial integrity of our allies is violated.  We also have built constructive security and defense cooperation with Ukraine and other members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) over the past two decades to help build a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.

Russia’s aggressive actions have already led many to call for reinforcing NATO’s readiness through Article 5-related planning, training, and adjustments to force posture.  The United States took several immediate steps to demonstrate solidarity with our NATO allies, such as augmenting the Baltic Air Policing mission with the deployment of additional U.S. aircraft.  We also will take additional measures to enhance NATO military plans and defense capabilities.  We expect other allies will join us in these efforts.  These measures should include:

  • A demonstration of NATO’s visible resolve to ensure collective defense of all allied territory through enhanced deployment of air, land, and sea assets for training and exercises;
  • Continued review and updating of NATO plans for collective defense; and
  • Increased readiness and exercising of the NATO Response Force.

The President discussed these measures with NATO Secretary General Rasmussen on March 26, and we will continue to consult with allies, including at the upcoming April 1-2 Foreign Ministerial.  To date, we and NATO have undertaken the following specific efforts:

New U.S. Measures

  • Poland Aviation Detachment (AVDET) Training:  On March 13 and 14, the United States deployed 12 F-16s and approximately 200 support airmen from Aviano, Italy, to Lask, Poland, to participate in a U.S.-Poland AVDET training rotation.  The deployment will focus on training and interoperability with the Polish Air Force.  Three C-130J aircraft will deploy to Powidz Air Base, Poland, on March 31 as part of the next pre-scheduled AVDET rotation.
  • Open Skies Treaty Flight:  On March 14 the United States conducted  -- at Ukraine’s request -- an Open Skies observation mission over Ukraine.
  • Senior Leader Engagement:  The Department of Defense is scheduling near-term Bilateral Defense Consultations with Ukraine, during which senior DoD leaders will discuss defense-related issues with their Ukrainian counterparts.
  • At the request of the Ukrainian government, the Department of Defense will deliver approximately 25,000 cases (300,000 meals) of Meals Ready-to-Eat to Ukraine.
  • Joint U.S.-Ukraine Humanitarian Assistance Command Post Exercise (CPX):  Ukraine requested U.S. officials travel to Kyiv to help plan a humanitarian assistance CPX.  Planning may be conducted in conjunction with the Bilateral Defense Consultations and the CPX executed when the situation in Ukraine is stabilized.

Preplanned but Enhanced U.S. Measures

  • NATO Baltic Air Policing:  On March 6, the United States deployed an additional six F-15Cs to augment the four F-15Cs already in Lithuania filling a NATO peacetime requirement to have quick reaction interceptor aircraft “ramp-ready” for a four-month period to ensure the integrity of the airspace above Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.  The U.S. rotation began in January and is due to end in early May, after which Poland and the United Kingdom have offered to deploy aircraft to support the mission. 
  • USS Truxtun:  The USS Truxtun entered the Black Sea through the Turkish Straits on March 7 to conduct port calls in Constanta, Romania, and conduct a passing exercise (PASSEX) with Romanian and Bulgarian naval forces.  She extended her stay in the Black Sea to conduct a port visit in Varna, Bulgaria, to hold an onboard maritime planning conference with Bulgarian and Romanian officers, and to conduct a second PASSEX.
  • Chiefs of Defense Staff Conference:  U.S. European Command Commander/Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Philip Breedlove added discussion on the situation in Ukraine to the scheduled meeting of Eastern and Central European Chiefs of Defense (CHODs) in Croatia from 19-20 March.  In addition to the Croatian CHOD, who was the co-host, the CHODs from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia attended.

United States Ongoing/Steady State Measures

  • U.S. Force Presence:  There are approximately 67,000 service members in Europe.  Approximately 57,000 active duty service members are assigned to U.S. European Command and approximately 10,000 support other organizations, such as U.S. Africa Command.
  • NATO Response Force (NRF) Commitment:  The United States pledged several thousand service members to the NRF, including a brigade combat team from the Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division, a hospital ship, air-to-air refueling tankers, and escort ships.
  • Army Rotational Forces:  The United States will send a battalion-sized unit from the United States to Europe twice a year for up to two months per rotation.  The unit will participate in NRF exercises, such as the French Rapid Reaction Corps Exercise ROCHAMBEAU in May, and U.S. European Command-hosted multinational exercises such as COMBINED RESOLVE II in June.  Additionally, they participated in Exercise STEADFAST JAZZ this past November.
  • Missile Defense / European Phased Adaptive Approach:  The U.S. contribution to European missile defense, whose aim is to protect against emerging threats from outside of the Euro-Atlantic area, includes a missile defense radar in Turkey, plans for four Aegis destroyers to be forward deployed in Rota, Spain (the first, USS Donald Cook, recently arrived), and two planned Aegis Ashore sites; in Romania (2015) and Poland (2018).
  • Exercise COLD RESPONSE:  The United States participated in COLD RESPONSE, a Norwegian Joint Headquarters command post and field training exercise involving maritime, land, and air forces.  The exercise began on March 10 and went through March 21.  The exercise involved approximately 660 U.S. service members, 470 of whom deployed from the United States.  Overall, 16,000 service members from 16 nations participated in the exercise.
  • Exercises in the Baltic Sea and Poland:  The United States will send U.S. Marines from the Black Sea Rotational Force to the Baltics this April to participate in exercise SUMMER SHIELD.  The United States will also deploy 18 F-16CJs and one KC-135 tanker to Lask Air Base, Poland, concurrent with this year’s BALTOPS exercise, which is an annual, multinational maritime exercise focusing on interoperability, maritime security, and cooperation among Baltic Sea regional partners.
  • Exercise SABER GUARDIAN:  U.S. Army and Bulgarian land forces, along with military personnel from 12 other NATO and partner countries, are conducting Exercise SABER GUARDIAN, a pre-planned consequence management and peace support exercise at the Novo Selo Training Area in Bulgaria, March 21- April 4.

NATO Measures

  • North Atlantic Council Meetings:  Since March 2, the North Atlantic Council has met regularly to review developments in the crisis.
  • NATO-Ukraine Commission Meeting:  On March 2, the NATO-Ukraine Commission met at Ukraine’s request.  On the same day, NATO allies underlined their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, condemned Russia’s military escalation in Crimea, called on Russia to de-escalate, and agreed to increase economic and political pressure on Russia.  There will also be a NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting held at the Foreign Ministerial on April 1-2.
  • Article 4 Consultations:  Subsequent to a request from Poland, the North Atlantic Council held consultations under Article 4 of the Washington Treaty on March 4 and agreed to intensify its on-going assessment of the implication of the crisis for NATO, continue to consult with Ukraine, support efforts for a peaceful solution to the crisis, and meet with Russian representatives on March 5. 
  • Support to Ukraine:  On March 5, NATO allies decided on a number of measures to intensify NATO’s partnership with Ukraine and strengthen cooperation to support democratic reforms.  Measures included an increased engagement with the Ukrainian civilian and military leadership, strengthened efforts to build the capacity of the Ukrainian military, including with more joint training and exercises, and increased efforts to include Ukraine in multinational projects to develop capabilities.
  • Suspension of NATO-Russia Council (NRC) Activities:  At an NRC meeting on March 5, allies condemned Russian military intervention and announced they would be reviewing the entire range of NATO-Russia cooperation in the period before the April 1-2 NATO Foreign Ministerial.  Allies also suspended staff-level civilian and military meetings with Russia, but ambassadorial-level meetings of the NRC will continue. 
  • AWACS:  On March 10, the North Atlantic Council approved establishing AWACS orbits over Poland and Romania to enhance NATO’s situational awareness of activities in the region and to reassure NATO allies.  These aircraft will only fly over NATO territory and will come from the NATO fleet and allied contributions.
  • Crimea Referendum:  On March 17, the NATO Secretary General issued a statement on the referendum calling it illegal, illegitimate, and a violation of the Ukrainian constitution and international law and noted that NATO allies do not recognize its results.