Panetta Seeks Greater Cooperation

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sees ways to expand military-to-military relations with some of Washington’s strongest European allies even with defence spending projected to decline.

Panetta Seeks To Expand Military Relations with European Allies

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT — U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sees ways to expand military-to-military relations with some of Washington’s strongest European allies even though defense spending is projected to decline on both sides of the Atlantic.

Panetta on Jan 14 began a weeklong trip to Europe where he is scheduled to meet with defense leaders in Portugal, Spain, Italy and United Kingdom.

“I think in each of these countries there are elements of military assistance that we can provide that I think will be helpful to them to be able to be effective partners in NATO,” he said during a briefing with reporters on a flight to Lisbon.

While he did not get into specifics, the defense secretary said he is looking for greater cooperation with Spain on cybersecurity issues.

“The goal of this trip … is to try to strengthen and reaffirm the trans-Atlantic alliance, a relationship with NATO,” Panetta said.

Panetta’s visit to Portugal is the first by a U.S. defense secretary in more than 30 years.

The U.S. plans to scale back its presence at Portugal’s Lajes Field, a military base in the Azores, due to budget constraints. The airfield there at times has served as a hub for U.S. Air Force tankers and other aircraft.

“My goal is to tell them how we hope to broaden and transform our defense relationship through trying to increase mil-to-mil engagement and exercises and try to focus on the challenges that we all have, like maritime security,” Panetta said of his visit to Portugal.

Click to continue to full article.

Source: Defense News.

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