After months of division, NATO military chiefs now have a cohesive approach to security challenges that member nations face to the east and south, the top U.S. general said Thursday.
Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joe Dunford said alliance members had a “common site picture” during Wednesday’s NATO Chiefs of Defense Summit and were able to look at security issues with a more overarching strategy.
“I thought this was much more productive than the February session,” Dunford told a handful of reporters traveling with him from Brussels to the United States. “A common understanding of challenges south and east has kind of coalesced.”
Dunford and his predecessor, General Martin Dempsey, expressed frustration after previous chiefs of defense meetings, in which alliance members bickered over whether NATO should prioritize its focus on the threat of Russian aggression to the east or the threat of Islamic State fighters to NATO’s south.
U.S. leaders had urged alliance members to focus on both threats at once, despite individual national security interests, in what Dunford referred to as a “360” approach. “I think we’re there,” he said.
The general said alliance military leaders were able to work through some issues Wednesday so that foreign ministers could further those discussions Thursday and defense ministers could push forward security planning in June.
A NATO security summit is planned for July in Warsaw, where military leaders hope to present security strategy for late 2016 and 2017.