Presenter: General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Commander, U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe
STAFF: I think whenever you’re ready.
Q: Thanks. It’s like kind of a -- (inaudible) I sent some questions to the staff (ph) wanted to know beforehand basically what I was going to ask for. But of course we are mainly concerned about this region here, you know the North Atlantic and so on -- the Russians (ph) and so on.
So, first of all I just wanted to ask you if -- what you could tell me about NATO’S reaction her in the North Atlantic to the Russian aggression...
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Well you know if you...
Q: And -- and -- and when -- and Iceland’s role when it comes to that?
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Well, you know, if you look at the decisions that NATO’s taken in the last couple of summits leading up to the Brussels Summit here just this summer it’s had an emphasis on -- on a realization that our environment has changed -- the security environment is much more dynamic, we have a peer competition again. And, because of that, the importance of the North Atlantic and the Artic is -- is front and center once again.
And Iceland plays a significant role in the security of that sea line of communication. So that’s recognized and NATO has made decisions. The first one, for instance, is the establishment of a joint forces command in Norfolk for instance. And -- so I think that underscores the importance of -- of the Atlantic itself.
Q: Second Fleet and so on?
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Second Fleet. You know we have a commander designated now. They’re just getting it put together. He’s attended the first meeting with us among NATO commanders and it’s -- it will be important to the security here in the North Atlantic as he moves forward.
Q: So the geographical location of Iceland, which is perhaps the greatest asset...
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Strategically.
Q: Iceland beats to (ph) -- you know offers to -- has offered to (ph) to NATO and so on. It remains as important as ever (inaudible)...
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: That’s right, as it always has been. And today, as you noted, I mean Russia has been on a -- a modernization -- a modernization process for a number of years. They’re developing their capability, particularly in maritime and the undersea component. So as a result we have to make sure that we remain dominant in that domain.
And Iceland plays a role in that, a significant one, given its strategic location; given the capabilities that you have here that support the alliance and all the nations of like values efforts to ensure that we have a secure line of communication, secure Atlantic.
Q: Is that, the unsinkable carrier (ph), as I understand as Sir Churchill called it (ph)...
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Well, you could call it that I mean it’s...
Q: (Inaudible) in war.
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: It is the bridge between what we know is the Greenland-Iceland-U.K. gap.
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: It’s in a very strategic location so it offers us capabilities in many different ways, not only maritime but air as well.
Q: Do you think NATO needs to increase its presence in Iceland to counter the traffic of Russian submarines (inaudible)?
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: What -- what you’re going to see is -- you’ll probably see increased activity.
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: I don’t know about presence. We -- we often in today’s world because of the -- you know compared to, say, 20 years ago, the extended range of our systems, etcetera. We’re using rotational forces now, but again it’s a strategic location.
As we adapt to this modernization that Russia has taken on we’ll see how this settles out but certainly it’s significantly important and we intend to continue to rotate forces here with respect to maintaining our awareness of the maritime domain.
Q: The U.S. is kind of -- you know they are prepare -- chasing the (inaudible) to be able to have a house that (inaudible) and so on. Is that -- this is a -- when it comes to Russian submarines how well does NATO know of Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic around Iceland. Are you able to monitor that quite well?
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Yeah, we -- we’ve been doing this for a long time. What we have to do -- so as I said, we want to remain dominant and to do that we need to continue to improve as well. Technology’s changing, the environment’s changing, the character of warfare is changing and we’re working hard to be ahead of that.
So, Iceland, as I said is a -- is a founding member of NATO and a long-time ally of the United States and we’re going to continue to work together to ensure each other’s security.
Q: Do you think the policing arraignment in Iceland -- you know policing the ice-breaks (ph) -- do you think it’s sufficient? Because this is only that we kind of got (ph) after the U.S. Military bases closed.
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Right.
Q: And you know they, as I understand they have to here (ph) for a few months and then perhaps you have a gap where there’s no policing...
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: We do.
Q: Do you think this is sufficient both when it comes to Iceland defense and -- and when it comes to NATO and its allies -- when it comes to the North Atlantic and Russia and so on?
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: In the time leading up to this we were -- we were meeting what NATO believed to be the -- the requirement of the day. But as I said, we’re living in a -- in a evolving security environment and so we’re actually looking at that all the time.
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: I think there will be, you know, a need for rotational force here again, different assets as we develop our capabilities. Iceland will be a part of that.
Q: And, just in the end, I’ve been reading some reports from specialists, experts, in -- in the area of defense and security and they have been talking about that. And when it comes to the base -- the -- used to be in Iceland, the U.S. base -- that when -- especially when you look book, you know, through the rear window, that perhaps this was not the right decision to close the base at the time. Do you think that’s true? Do you agree with that?
You know, I’m not talking about the decision -- of course, when people took that decision, Rumsfeld and so on, took the decision based on the information they had at the time. But -- but since then things have changed and when you look back...
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Well, the key today is whether or not we can make the adjustment to deal with the security environment that we live in. So we’ve got to -- we’ve got to have the capabilities and whatever those might be in conjunction with Iceland to be relevant to the security environment we’re in. That’s the important, I think, development. And that’s what we’re working with your government to explore as well.
Q: Do you think NATO would be in a better position to counter the Russian aggression if the base was still open?
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: We’re going to be in that position given what we have today. I have no question about that. That’s my job. That’s NATO’s job is to secure the nations that are part of the alliance. And I honestly believe that that’s the best response to the challenges that we see in the Euro-Atlantic today. And we’re going -- we’re going to take the steps we need to do that.
Q: Well, that’s pretty much it. Thank you very much.
GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Thank you.