Commander: NATO must reset to face Russia

Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove on Monday called for a reset of the NATO alliance — one that assumes Russia is not a partner.

ADVERTISEMENT

"For the last 12 years, we've been trying to make Russia a partner. We've been making basing decisions, force structure decisions, economic decisions, along the fact that Russia would be a constructive part of the future of Europe," he said Monday.

"And now we see a very different situation, and we have to address that," he said speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

Faced with defense cuts, the Pentagon drew down all its combat brigades from Europe in the last two years. 

Breedlove said NATO needs to establish a reaction force in NATO countries now to lay the groundwork for any future incursions into Eastern Europe.

He said existing NATO reaction forces were "inadequate" to face the challenge from Russia.

Breedlove also called for the establishment of a NATO headquarters element that would be focusing on NATO's "Article 5" responsibilities of defending any NATO country that is threatened by force.

The commander said these measures would reassure NATO allies, as well as deter Russia, which might be eyeing incursions in Moldova and Transinesta.

At the same time, Breedlove said the U.S. would need Russia "in the long term" for a Europe that was "whole, free and at peace."

"They have to be a part of that," he said. But he added, "We are adapting NATO to a different future. The NATO force structure was well adapted to the past where we saw great partnership capability."

"Now we see that we lost some of those partnership capabilities and we've agreed to adapt NATO to be better able to react to a situation where we are not in a partnership relation with some of the major players," he said.