- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that U.S. assets being deployed to NATO countries largely for training purposes are designed to be a response to Russia’s “provocations” but that the U.S. is holding out hope that Russia will change its course in the region.

“It’s heavy combat equipment for training purposes, principally … these are not forces that are permanently stationed there,” Mr. Carter said in an interview that aired Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.”

“This is a sign of a different kind of footprint: lighter, more agile — dealing with so-called hybrid warfare — the ‘little green men’ phenomenon” in Crimea and Ukraine, he said.

“And many countries are concerned about that, and that’s another part of NATO’s new playbook is helping countries that have that concern to harden themselves,” the defense secretary said.

Mr. Carter had announced Monday a general plan to assist NATO after a meeting with defense ministers from Germany, Norway and the Netherlands at the start of a multiday trip to Europe.

He said in the CBS interview that the model would be one of “rotational presence.”

“Strong presence, lots of training, lots of high readiness,” he said. “These are a response to Russia’s provocations, aggressive rhetoric, aggressive behavior, [the] kind of thing that doesn’t belong in a Europe whole and free. We continue to hope that Russia will change course — I don’t see any signs of that, quite honestly, right now, but we continue to hold the door open.”

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