EUCOM Commander, Opening Statement to press in Riga, Latvia Mar. 15, 2017
As delivered Mar. 15, 2017.

I am honored to be here with the Minister of Defense Raimonds Bergmanis.  Sir, thank you for such a great visit. We truly appreciate the strong Alliance between our countries and look forward to future opportunities.

My visit here continues to galvanize our commitment to security throughout the Baltic region. I am proud to be a part of security and stability in this vital region.  Our forces are present here to support a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.

It’s great to be here working with the highly capable and skilled Latvian military. I am encouraged by the Latvian leadership on their continued efforts to meet the 2% GDP defense goal.

Thousands of U.S. service members will rotate through the Baltic region participating in exercises and training events to continue building close ties with our counterparts.  We are committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with our Allies to ensure the independence, sovereignty, and security of Latvia.

In early March, the U.S. Air Force deployed Black Hawk helicopters through Latvia’s Riga airport in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.  The speed and flexibility of this deployment highlight Latvia’s modern infrastructure, and ability to support our Alliance.  The helicopters were flying within hours and U.S. and Latvia forces began conducting joint operations aboard those same helicopters within days of their arrival, with the goal of protecting independence, sovereignty and security in the region.

To support Latvia and its neighboring countries, the United States created Operation Atlantic Resolve to provide new rotational forces to the continent; improved infrastructure; enhanced prepositioning of U.S. equipment; and intensified efforts to build partner capacity in Europe.

The U.S. commitment remains strong to the Trans-Atlantic alliance.  The priority is to maintain ready and postured forces on land, in the air and at sea.  Forces will bring the full weight of the U.S. Joint team with their deployment.

NATO eFP and U.S. rotational forces are a response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and malign influence.  As always we will watch this posture and exercises and take appropriate steps to deter and defend.

Our European Alliance is the bedrock of our success to deter potential adversaries.  We stand with Latvia in supporting peace in the Baltics.

Again, thank you Minister, and I am ready for questions.

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