STUTTGART, Germany, (Jan. 4, 2016) -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters traveling with him here that a new Russian national security strategy document naming the United States as a threat does not change his perception of the threat posed by Russia.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. said the U.S. military "has always been focused on Russian capability development." The chairman spoke following meetings with the commanders of U.S. European Command, or EUCOM, and U.S. Africa Command.
Russia is a challenge to the United States and its allies, Dunford said, adding, "based on their behavior, based on their capabilities - nuclear, cyber, conventional - based on the threat to our allies."
The Russian strategy document, "About the Strategy of National Security of Russian Federation," was signed by President Vladimir Putin on New Year's Eve and names the United States and the expansion of the NATO alliance as threats to the country. The previous document - signed in 2009 - does not mention the United States or NATO.
Dunford said he believes Russia is viewing strategy from a perspective of what nation poses a threat to them. Still, he said, he has only read open-source reporting about the Russian document and wants a chance to read it before discussing its meaning.
A BROAD LOOK
Russia's behavior in Ukraine, Crimea and Georgia requires the United States to take Russian capabilities seriously, the chairman said.
In some areas, Dunford said, he is comfortable with the U.S. military presence in Europe. In other areas, "the [EUCOM] commander has asked for additional rotational forces and, frankly, long before this announcement was made, has taken a broad look to see how to best advance our interests in Europe in the context of security challenges in Europe, which is clearly Russia," he said.
Since taking office, the chairman has already spoken twice with his counterpart in Moscow, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff of the Russian Armed Forces. "I've spoken with him a couple of times and plan to do that routinely," Dunford said. "We talk about a wide range of issues."
Dunford would like to have a face-to-face meeting with Gerasimov in the context of military-to-military relations. "No matter what the relationships are between states, it's important to keep the lines of communication open," he said. "We did that during the Cold War - we had a hotline that we could use in times of crisis.
"My experience tells me that when you are in a period of difficulty, having a military-to-military, professional relationship … can, one, help you better understand what you are dealing with, and, two, mitigate the risk of miscalculation," the chairman said.