Secretary of Defense James Mattis reiterated the U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance Tuesday while attending a conference of defense ministers in Brussels.

Mattis’s trip is the latest effort to shore-up the NATO alliance. Some European partners expressed concern when President Donald Trump was critical of the alliance during his campaign last year. Mattis and the Trump administration have since worked to reassure NATO allies of the U.S. commitment, however, the secretary of defense noted the importance of the alliance’s ability to change with the times.

“Our commitment remains to NATO, [which is] … in the midst of transformation. Why? You’ve watched as the character of war over this last dozen years has changed itself, and as the character of war changes, so must the character of the militaries that address them,” Mattis told reporters Tuesday.

The secretary emphasized NATO’s Allied Command Transformation, the alliance’s command tasked with exploring and implementing new initiatives.

“The whole point of that command is to transform NATO, so … we go to Brussels where we all get together, we talk about that transformation, [and] we guide it. NATO has transformed over these last 20 years, and it must continue to transform,” said Mattis.

He added that, in his position as secretary of defense, his approach to NATO is “full-speed ahead and listen, learn, help and lead.”


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