General Scaparrotti and ADM Bruun Hanssen Press Conference

Presenters: General Curtis Scaparrotti, commander, U.S. European Command, and Supreme Allied Commander Europe; Admiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen, Norwegian Chief of Defense

September 7, 2018

Remarks by General Scaparrotti in a Joint Press Conference with Norwegian Chief of Defense Admiral Bruun-Hanssen

Lt Col Frank Solvsberg (Norwegian MOD PAO): -- press conference rounding up the Northern European Chiefs of Defense Conference. 

The press conference will start with a quick announcement by General Scaparrotti, who is commander of the U.S. EUCOM. After his starter, we will have a possibility for you to ask questions both to General Scaparrotti and Norwegian Chief of Defense Admiral Bruun-Hanssen.  

And without further ado, General?

GENERAL CURTIS SCAPARROTTI: Thank you. Thank you for coming today. 

And first I want to thank Admiral Bruun-Hanssen and your colleagues for your military folks that help support this conference. It's an important one. It was done wonderfully. And we enjoyed this visit and your host, your support
was excellent. 

And we also want to thank (inaudible) and the chiefs of defense who came to the Northern European CHoD Conference, as well as several United States adjutant generals, who are leaders of their state Guard in the United States that's aligned with our partners here in the Northeast.  

This conference, I think, is important because it demonstrates the partnerships that we have here in the Northeastern region, particularly the long-standing and strong relationship of U.S. and Norway. We work daily on very sensitive issues in a very close and, I think, productive way. 

We appreciate Norway's leadership in the region. In particular, I would say you've heard it called the protector of the north; certainly that, and the lead element here within the alliance for NATO and with the most expertise here in the north as well. 

In terms of the conference itself, we had a very good discussion today on a number of topics, but I think it's important for us to do this from time to time, to come together, be able to talk and speak face-to-face at the senior level about our common challenges throughout the region, as well as some common solutions in areas where we perhaps need to improve our capabilities or work better together to reach a solution or respond to those challenges. 

Again, this is among partners that have shared and common values, which is important as well. This conference strengthens those partnerships and the mil-to-mil relationships without a doubt.  

And again, I would just end by saying thank you to Norway. It's been an excellent conference and well-supported. And we appreciate all that you do here for stability in this region. 

I will add one more comment, though, and that is that we also appreciate from the EUCOM perspective outside of this region your support and your leadership with NATO, your support and leadership in areas, for instance, outside of that globally; if you look at your support in Afghanistan and Iraq as well, many other areas that you support stability around the globe.

So, Haakon, thank you.

And with that, I'll turn it back over here.

STAFF: Thank you, sir.

(Lt Col Solvsberg) And I'll just note down the hands as they come up. Any question from the audience?

Q: I might start. Okay. (inaudible) -- sure. (As Johnson V.G.Daily)
(inaudible) or so, good afternoon and --

GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Good afternoon.

Q: -- welcome to Norway.

GEN. SCAPARROTTI: It's good to be here.

Q: The exercise -- the Trident Juncture exercise which is going to take place within a month, I think they started loaded their reg groups (this morning?) on -- in the south. We can probably expect something to indicate what the other side (inaudible) the Russia side. And I'd like to ask you what kind of -- are your estimates on -- on the Russian side, when -- when they do all that and make all the (inaudible) training exercise?

Thank you.

GEN. SCAPARROTTI: All right, thank you.

Well, Trident Juncture, first of all, is -- is a critical and very important exercise for NATO and the nations that take part, the partners taking part in it, as well. It's an opportunity for NATO to come together and operate tactical and -- at a tactical and operational level, and the tasks that -- that we need to be able to do together in this complex environment that we're in. It's one that we're training at -- at a very high operational level, at a very challenging level, near-peer scenario, et cetera. And as you know, with a very large force, the largest we've brought together since 2015 or so. 

So for all those reasons, it's very important. 

I would say at this point here is that while we expect Russia to -- watch this closely, we watch Russia closely when they do their largest exercise, as well, each year. So that's not -- that's to be expected. I think, all of us would do this. 

But the point I would make -- this is a defensive alliance, NATO, and this exercise is focused on those tasks that we need to be able to do together to ensure that we can secure the territorial integrity and the people of NATO. 

So that's the purpose of it. Russia needs to be assured of that, as well. 

Our objective is to increase our capacity; be able to have a higher readiness and training capability.

I do expect that they will want the attention, I think, too. They'll attempt to learn as much as they can about how we operate. And I think we'll see some disinformation as to what they claim the purpose of the operation is, or what we're doing.

And, you know, part of that is for our parties to be proactive. That's why I mentioned that this is a defensive exercise and training event; nothing more than that.

Next?

Q: General, I'm (inaudible) on Defense Magazine, (inaudible).

You mentioned -- discussed some challenges as cyber-threats, one of those you have discussed at this conference.

GEN. SCAPARROTTI: We -- yes, I'll just quickly answer that. 

We -- you know, we do see it's one of the challenges, the cyber challenge. I think you all know that that's -- it's global today. It's a challenge to -- to our commercial entities. It's a challenge to the military, obviously, as well. And we did have a section when we talked about, among the senior leadership, our challenges individually as nations, and then also how -- what those challenges might be as alliance -- within the alliance and as partners, or what we need to strengthen that.

As you know, it's a new domain at NATO, first, and so many of us are really beginning to learn how best to organize, how to develop the best tactics and procedures, and how to share those. So it's a -- it's an important domain, and one that we -- we obviously are working on very hard.

STAFF: See, he was writing. Any more questions? (inaudible)

Q: Yeah. Sir, I'd like to follow up on the -- on the Russian (VG Daily).

(inaudible) your answer mentioning the NATO (inaudible) for -- for force use, and force information's getting through, I guess, some -- probably the NATO side to -- to confuse the general audience of what was going -- really going on on this exercise. Can you -- can you -- can you give us a little bit more into that: what kind of experience you have with -- with confusement (sic) and how would the general (people ?) react to some stories that they would read and hear about during the exercise?

GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Well, you know, I -- I would point out that in the east, where we deployed forces and exercises, we've had misinformation about the purpose of the exercise, about the -- about the discipline in the troops, about concerns about safety for the populace -- those kinds of things spread through disinformation. I would ask the populace to be very discerning of what they read and what the source of that is, and -- and look to -- to our forces to provide the information, because we're -- we're going to be active in providing that information. If there is a question, we'd be happy to answer it.

But I can assure you that this is well-planned, well-supported and very highly trained troops, and we will pay attention to not only what we've got to get done, but safety, environmental and things like that.

Q: There is a -- there is a -- a -- a mention, or a noticed military (inaudible) or -- or training on the Russian sides in their far east at the same time as the Trident Juncture is going on. Do you expect that exercise to be
steady going in the far east, or do you expect it to -- to sort of (move ?) or maintain (inaudible) borders?

GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Yeah, I can't -- I can't really predict, you know, what they may do in that regard.

But, you know, they have -- they have training planned as well, and it spans from east to west. And, you know, I -- I would answer that by saying we - - we all have a need to train. The Russians have a need to train. 

When we train, we make sure that we communicate what we intend to do, where we intend to do it, the purpose of it. We're very transparent. Norway and the other nations have been very transparent about the plans for Trident
Juncture.

We would ask and we would hope that Russia would do the same so that all of us can understand what their purpose is, where they would likely to be, what they intend to do. That way, there's no -- no misconception, no misinterpretation. And -- and then I think we can all be secure, we can be safe, and -- and we can all conduct the training that we need to conduct for a - - a well-trained force.

Q: Just one -- one last question I would (inaudible) on that.

At which level are the Russians invite -- invited to -- to -- to monitor the -- the training? And at which level have they accepted of -- of arriving in -- in Norway, or in the north?

GEN. SCAPARROTTI: We've invited observers. I can't tell you if we distinguished the -- the rank of that. I'm sure there's someone that could tell you that. Our P.A. can probably come back to you on that. And -- and I don't know at what level they've accepted at this point.

But in line with the treaties that govern us here, we've made the notifications required, and -- and, of course, the invitations for observers.
 
STAFF: All right, (inaudible)?

Q: Yes, Kjell Persen, TV2.

You said that you have found common solutions on some important topics. Would you be so kind to elaborate on that?

GEN. SCAPARROTTI: No, I probably won't be so kind to elaborate on it, frankly.

(Laughter.)

And some of the things that we did talk about, I'd prefer not to talk about publicly. That's why we hold it in a classified venue. And -- and to be quite frank with you, when I talk about common solutions, it's generally what steps we need to take as a team, if that makes sense to you.

At this level, we're not really determining tactically how you solve some of these problems, but generally how we bring our forces and resources together to get after a problem, if that makes sense to you. So it's a little different level.

Q: Okay.

ADMIRAL HAAKON BRUUN-HANSSEN: If I can just add on that, it's -- it's very important to all the nations in Northern Europe, whether that's in the Baltics, in Sweden, or it's Norway, that we share the information on what we see, we share the information how we interpret the events, and that we work together to secure a stable and safe environment for us all and our populations.

That is the issue with working in (inaudible), and we are very grateful for the United States that they took the initiatives to these type of meetings to make sure we don't work against (inaudible), but actually work together to solve the issues and problems we see at present.

Q: (inaudible) upon that, Admiral, if you emphasize so many areas which are important for Norway at this conference (inaudible), what sort of (inaudible) would you mention?

ADM. BRUUN-HANSSEN: Well, I think I will start by saying in a group like the Northern European Chiefs of Defense, it's very important that we don't only highlight what is our own interests or own issues, but that we (inaudible)
understanding what each new region, nation is seeing, how they interpret it, how they consider to create or maintain the stability in that part of the region, and put Norwegian interests and concerns into that context.

And, of course, what -- we are a maritime nation facing the North Atlantic, (inaudible) where the Russian Northern Fleet operates, so those are always issues that draw our attention. We follow them closely. Sometimes we're also concerned about what we see.

And -- but as you well know, we also have commercial interest within fishing, oil and gas where we actually cooperate quite a bit in Russia. Those are areas that we want to maintain the cooperation and the stability.
And there are points and lessons come from how we've been working in Russia that we can share with our friends and that may be of value to them in how to deal with Russia in their part of the geography, even though the issues may be different.

I think it's important like in those cases, and we have had this policy for a long, long time, and we want (inaudible) on the one side, making sure that military force is not an option (inaudible) for those, then we want the dialogue on the other side written to make sure that the balance between dialogue and deterrence creates the stability we need to (inaudible) in this part of the world, and that's what we're trying to achieve.

GEN. SCAPARROTTI: If I can add to that, I would just tell you at the basis of what Haakon said is that, you know, we're here to prevent conflict. And to be ahead of that, we need to understand the environment that we're in, we
need to understand our competitor, Russia in this case. And to the extent that we can, we're more likely to be able to prevent that (inaudible) we're more able to posture ourselves properly, ensure security.

And so, these are invaluable; these kinds of meetings are invaluable. Listening to the expertise of your senior leader here and others who have been here and have great experience here is very helpful in that regard.

STAFF: I think we have time for one or two more questions depending on the length of the first.

STAFF: One more.

STAFF: One more, all right. Yes.

All right. Thank you very much.

GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Thank you.

ADM. BRUUN-HANSSEN: Thank you.

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