WSJ: NATO's Breedlove calls for sharper focus on Russia ahead of departure

22:56, 01 May 2016
World
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NATO's departing supreme allied commander Gen. Philip Breedlove says that the United States needs more technical intelligence assets, the kind of spy satellites the U.S. uses to keep an eye on both troop movements and terrorist training camps, focused on the threat from Russia, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

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"We see that Russia has not accepted the hand of partnership but has chosen a path of belligerence. We need to readdress where we're heading," Gen. Breedlove said in an interview, WSJ wrote.

Since the Russian annexation of Crimea, he has been an outspoken voice on the dangers of what he calls a revanchist Russia, repeatedly warning in speeches and congressional testimony about Russian aggression in Ukraine and the dangers of failing to respond.

He is one of the prime architects of the American response, which involved reinforcing Eastern Europe quickly with a small number of U.S. troops and working over time to help build consensus for a larger plan to build a more robust, 4,000-person NATO force on the alliance's eastern flank.

Read alsoNATO allies preparing to put 4 battalions at eastern border with Russia – WSJ"We weren't focused on Russia when I came in three years ago because we were still trying to cast a paradigm that brought Russia into the fold of Western values," Gen. Breedlove said. "Russia chose a different path or they were on that path and we didn’t recognize it."

Russian officials have repeatedly said it is NATO and the U.S. that have been the aggressors, expanding the alliance to Russia's borders, and militarizing the Baltic region. Russian officials said Gen. Breedlove, along with other NATO officials, have exaggerated the threat from Russia.

Gen. Breedlove said he took his post assuming Russia would be a partner, not a competitor. Still, his first moves as the NATO commander were to refocus the alliance on so-called "collective defense," increasing the number of exercises focused on defending against a more capable enemy.

The U.S. has begun to build up the number of intelligence analysts examining Russia, which stood at 13,000 at the height of the Cold War before dipping to a low point of just 1,000 three years ago, he said.

Gen. Breedlove will step down this month after three years in the top military job at NATO, a time in which he has overseen the transformation of the alliance from one focused on expeditionary capabilities, like in Afghanistan, to the defense of Europe in the face of renewed aggression from Russia.

Read alsoNATO chooses new Supreme Allied Commander EuropeThis week, he will be succeeded by Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the current commander of U.S. Forces in Korea and a former senior commander in Afghanistan. Though Gen. Scaparrotti was critical in his predecessor's congressional testimony about Russia's challenge to NATO, some officials say they think he will prove to be less outspoken than Gen. Breedlove.

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