DOD to forge stronger cyber ties with European allies

As he begins a week-long visit to the United States' European allies, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is raising cybersecurity as one of the chief areas of discussion with European leaders and defense officials, the Defense Department said.

In a briefing to reporters in Spain, Panetta specifically cited cybersecurity as a key area for greater coordination.

“In my discussions, I'll have an opportunity to touch on a full range of issues, including greater cooperation with Spain on cyber and the cyber arena,” he said.

Spain has maintained a strong commitment to the NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, Panetta said. He also said he would discuss with Spanish leaders the ongoing transition to a noncombat role for ISAF forces in Afghanistan.

Panetta also took the opportunity to announce the deployment of four Aegis ships to Rota, Spain, to fulfill the United States' commitment to the European ballistic missile defense system.

"The deployment is important, because it demonstrated how this alliance is making investments to meet the new challenges that we're confronting,” he said.

At his first stop in Portugal, Panetta acknowledged that budget constraints have forced the United States to reduce operations at Lajes Field, an air base in the Azores that houses Portuguese and U.S. Air Force elements. The DOD said last month that the number of U.S. and Portuguese service members based there will drop by at least half from the current 1,100 personnel.

Panetta was scheduled for separate meetings in Spain with Spanish President Mariano Rajoy Brey and Defense Minister Pedro Morenes Eulate.

He also is scheduled to travel to Rome and London.

 

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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