Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby provided the following readout:
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III participated virtually in the NATO Defense Ministerial on June 1 hosted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Alliance Defense Leaders met to prepare for the June 14 NATO Summit and focused on strengthening the Alliance’s deterrence and defense.
During his remarks, Secretary Austin applauded NATO’s military adaptation since 2014 and encouraged Allies to set an agenda for continued adaptation into the future. He stressed that deterrence and defense remain NATO’s job number one.
Secretary Austin also expressed strong support for Secretary General Stoltenberg’s NATO 2030 initiative, which aims to keep the Alliance strong militarily, make it stronger politically, and give it a more global view. He underlined that the initiative will reinforce a culture of readiness and make the Alliance more resilient and capable of confronting systemic challenges from Russia and the People’s Republic of China. He outlined his view of Integrated Deterrence and its relevance for NATO.
Secretary Austin welcomed NATO decisions and plans to respond to emerging and evolving challenges from climate change, cyber threats, and hybrid activities. He underlined the need for NATO unity in the face of destabilizing and malicious cyber activity, and endorsed a new cyber policy.
In addressing Afghanistan and Iraq, Secretary Austin discussed the retrograde in Afghanistan, pledging to support Afghanistan and work hand in hand with NATO as the Resolute Support Mission transitions to a civilian-led engagement. He also affirmed that the United States remains firmly committed to defeating ISIS and supporting the Government of Iraq.