Remarks by Secretary Mattis and Minister von der Leyen at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen; Director of the Marshall Center, Lieutenant General Keith W. Dayton


STAFF:  Please be seated.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Director of the Marshall Center, Lieutenant General Retired, Keith W. Dayton.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL KEITH W. DAYTON:  This will be my shortest introduction ever, which is a good thing.  Welcome to all of you as we gather here to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of George Marshall's speech at Harvard where he unveiled what became known as the Marshall Plan and I am delighted that you can all be here with us.

Before I get started and I will only talk about one minute, I do want to thank you five members of the Harris Music Corp from ULMA, you honor us by your presence, thank you very much.  Welcome.

Well, a special welcome today not only to our distinguished guest, but to Mayor Sigrid Meierhofer.  I know -- there you are, who has been a tremendous supporter of the Marshall Center since she has become the Lord Mayor of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.  We also have a very special -- we call the friends of the Marshall Center, these are people, German citizens who live here who sponsor our international students in a variety of ways and they take very good care of them and they make their experience here in Germany something truly special.

So again, thank you all you friends who are here.  It is great to have you.

I also have a few special guests from the Partnership for Peace Consortium.  I am not going name each one of you, but to all of you senior leaders, it's very good to have you present with us as well.

And finally, we have a classed session now, a community ventures event on cybersecurity.  We have about 40 members from 30-some countries and all of you over here, thank you again for joining us.  You just happen to hit the right time to be here so you would get this sort of presentation from both the Defense Ministers of the United States and from Germany.

Again, the namesake of George Marshall, that's our Marshall Center -- a very strong and growing German-American partnership and I would be remiss if I didn't mention one other person in the audience and that is our good friend, Dr. von Geyr from the German Ministry of Defense, who I personally feel have a lot to do with making our new memorandum of agreement and making our friendship and relationship even stronger.

So Andreas, thank you, again very much.

I am not going to talk anymore.  I am going to introduce our first speaker who is the Minister of Defense of Germany, Dr. Ursula von der Leyen.  She has been the Minister of Defense since December 2013.  All of you know a lot about her.  She is the first woman in this post for Germany and I think Germany could not have chosen better and it is a great delight that you have decided to be here with us today and with no further ado, I am going to invite you to come up to the stage and speak to us.  Dr. von der Leyen.

DEFENSE MINISTER URSULA VON DER LEYEN:  General Dayton, thank you very much.  Brigadier General Ediger, thank you very much.  Thank you that I have the opportunity to be here today.  Jim, how wonderful is it to be here together with you and to inaugurate the strategic partnership, the strategic dialogue with you.  Also, Landrat Schpiele and Madam Mayor Meierhofer, guests from Bulgaria, from Austria, from Romania, from Swenden and the friends of the Marshall Center -- to all of you, a wholehearted welcome.

Also, my greetings go to the staff members of the George C. Marshall Center and to all the members of the Bundeswehr, ladies and gentlemen.

There are dates that are not only matter of fact events in history, but they are turning points in history.  Such a date was -- and there is no doubt about it, the 8th of May of 1945 that is when the Wehrmacht surrendered.  That is when Second World War ended here in Europe, but it is also the date when freedom overcome dictatorship, when Europe was liberated from the criminal regime of national socialism.

Europe was a content in ashes.  Millions of people were displaced.  There was hunger, desperation, despair.  But only a few years later, Western Europe experienced a unique recovery.  People again, had bread and work.  The citizens and streets were rebuilt.  Small shops and also large scale enterprises started to flourish, but what was most important was that the people regained their belief in a future of democracy and social market economy and thus, I believe in their future and this unique development is also marked by a special date, which is the 5th of June of 1947.

On this day, the former U.S. Secretary of State, George C. Marshall gave his memorable speech at Harvard University.  He announced his very bold plan.  He said that the European states should be supported in their recovery efforts in order to regain peace and stability.

And although at that point, the world still knew nothing else, but the memories of a cruel war launched by Germany and the destruction of the cultural heritage, the Shoa, the holocaust -- still George C. Marshall believed in the global responsibility of his country and he was convinced that long term, it would be in everybody's benefit and it would be in the interest of the United States to reach out to the defeated, to bring them back into the nation -- into the community of nations and to give people hope.

The 5th of June 1947 is therefore a historic date for my country, but also for Europe and for our trans-Atlantic friendship and partnership.  Today, when we celebrate the 70th Anniversary, we are celebrating George C. Marshall as a great American visionary who received the Nobel Peace Prize for a very good reason, and we are also celebrating the United States of America because back then, by implementing generous, courageous and sustainable measures, the United States back then demonstrated greatness and foresight and Germans and Europeans will forever be grateful to the United States for it.

Today, we are looking back to decades of peace and stability and prosperity in Europe.  The foundation was laid by the Marshall Plan.  Marshall delegated to us, the Europeans, the responsibility for these investments.  The United States limited itself to a supporting role.  And by doing so, by trusting us, the Europeans, who just a few years ago had been mortal enemies by trusting us with responsibility, this idea of a close European linkage -- a close European bond because tangible.

The European idea has many mothers and fathers from many European states.  For example, in March, we celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, but one thing is for sure, without the vision of the Marshall plan and without the willingness and the will of the United States, after the war, not to withdraw but to be there for Europe to engage in Europe.  Without this vision, European integration would not have been successful in the way it was.  The Marshall plan is a centerpiece of our common German-American and European-American history.

And it is the foundation for our enduring decade-long friendship and partnership.  George C. Marshall also, looking back at his time, he tells us a lot for how to orient ourselves in today's world.  To simply to cooperate, to invest into partnerships that really pays of, be it within NATO, but also on a bilateral basis, in the German-American friendship and the trans-Atlantic partnership is a bedrock commitment.  Together, we strengthen our liberal western world order.  Together, we stand for democracy, freedom and human rights.

We trust each other.  We know each other.  We support each other and Germany therefore has a vital interest in a strong and reliable partnership with the United States and the world needs a United States that will continue with its strength, but on the other hand, we also want to strengthen our forces and to be reliable partners for the United States.

We stand side by side in our shared beliefs, for example, in protecting our partners in the East by the enhanced forward presence in the Baltic states and in Poland or when it comes to jointly fighting against ISIS or when cooperating in Afghanistan, our cooperation in the past 15 years -- all of these topics have been discussed in our strategic dialogue, but Germany will always stand by its partners and will be a reliable partner and will fulfill its commitments.  We, Germans are very happy for the American engagement and commitment here in Europe and we, the German people appreciate it that the United troops are still stationed here in Germany.

It is this experience that has brought us together and in Bavaria, I can see how close the relationships are between the Bavarian people, the German people and the American troops and there are many friendships that witness this close relationship.

But we also understand that being partners, we need to have a fair burden sharing within NATO, that means we, Germans need to do more for our security and therefore, we acknowledge the commitments based on Warsaw and Wales and when it comes to defense expenditures, then we are working towards two percent of the GDP.  This is in our own interest.

It is in our own interest to equip the Bundeswehr, to make sure that our service members are equipped accordingly in order to make sure that they can fulfill their missions because after all, we expect that they fulfill their missions and do the job well.  It is also now a European interest to work towards European defense union, to strengthen the European pillar.  We want to stay trans-Atlantic.  We want to be reliable partners and we want to grow as Europeans.

The European Defense Union is something that we work towards and it will be able to take on more of the burden of our common trans-Atlantic security, not in competition to NATO, but as an addition, as a strong partner.

Europe has a vital interest in a stable neighborhood, but if we want that, if we want to have stability in the neighboring regions, then we have to commit ourselves to it.  And this is go poignantly in the spirit of George C. Marshall, which means we have to take on responsibility and we have to act accordingly.

As Europeans, we know from experience what you need and what is necessary for enduring peace.  What you need is to be able to fight terrorism.  You need a strong police.  You need a strong military in order to put a stop to adversaries of democracy.  You need reconciliation to facilitate the spirit of humanity and you need investments so people have work and can support the families.

You also need political visionaries.  You need a strategy.  You need clear cut goals and you need the rule of law as a guardianship for everything.  Europe does have the instruments for it, but it needs do much more in order to pool its resources and to become active.  And I think it is time to act and this is what we are doing.

The European Council said very clearly last week what is being necessary and I hope that until the end of the year, we will have very concrete results.  More common planning with NATO in order to expand our capabilities, more common investments and joint investments in order to help grow and help support the European pillar to bring civilian and military elements together in an appropriate way and much more has to be done.

As Europeans, we have to take on responsibility that is important that defense and stability is being based on the trans-Atlantic bond; after all, this bond has supported and has brought peace and stability and common values, but as Europeans, we do want to take on more responsibility, but without ever forgetting where we have come from.

That is why, dear Jim, I am happy to have you as a colleague.  You and I can talk openly and clearly with each other.  There is a broad spectrum of topics, of common topics that we are discussing and that is why we decided to solidify our cooperation beyond current issues and that is why today, we inaugurated; today, we started the German-American strategic dialogue and I think this is a special atmosphere to inaugurate this dialogue and I think it is the right place to start it.

And that is why now, I would like to say a few words to you, General Dayton.

The George C. Marshall Center is exactly the right place for launching and supporting our strategic dialogue and deepening our trans-Atlantic partnership.  This center embodies a deep trans-Atlantic bond and it does so in an especially lively way and it is in the spirit of its name-giver that also international partners outside the North Atlantic Treaty are being engaged, are being included in to the security political discussions.

We have just welcomed our guest in the geographic ranges from Morocco to Mongolia, people from 143 nations have come to the Marshall Center and more than 12,000 civilians and military have participated in courses of the George C. Marshall Center.

So it is a smart, long term and sustainable investment in security and peace worldwide.  Therefore, this very unique common joint institution is no near and dear to us.  And I am very happy that the Germans have now increased their financial support and also, there is more German staff here at the Marshall Center and this is to show and to emphasize the relevance of the very valuable work here the Marshall Center.

Sir, General Dayton, cherishing the trans-Atlantic partnership and supporting its values and fundamentals also outside the borders of our alliance, this is what you and your staff are working towards every day and you are doing this with great dedication and with lasting success.

The Marshall Center -- your Center is a beacon of a German-American friendship and this friendship is being lived here and we can all feel it.

Dear General Dayton, for your incredible dedication and commitment to support the German-American partnership and for our trans-Atlantic values worldwide, I would like to thank you with all my heart and as a visible sign of our gratitude and appreciation, I would like to present to you the Cross of Honor of the Bundeswehr in gold.

Now, that might be a surprise to you, but it comes from all my heart and that is why, General Dayton, I would like you to please join me here on stage.

On behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany, I would like to present Lieutenant General Keith Dayton for his honorable and meritorious service to the Federal Republic of Germany, the Cross of Honor of the Bundeswehr in gold.

GEN. DAYTON:  Jim, I don't know how you follow that.  But it is my deep personal honor to first of all, Minister, thank you very much.  I had no idea and this is an honor that is far beyond my worthiness, but that’s for another day.

It is my great honor to introduce the 26th Secretary of Defense of the United of States of America, Jim Mattis.  He is a personal friend, but he is a great leader and he is exactly what I believe my country needs.  At this time, I think my President chose extremely well when he picked Secretary Mattis and Jim, the floor is yours.  Please come up here.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS:  Thank you, Keith, old friend, Minister von der Leyen, there is probably no one that I would rather be here today with than my esteemed fellow Minister, the first Minister to call on me after I had the surprise of being assigned to this job, I might add, thank you again for making the trip to Washington, but I would also say that there is a connection between us.

We did not sit down and write our speeches together, and yet as I was listening to her and nodding to myself, I thought, "My gosh, I am going to bore everybody with the same themes," that you have just heard, but Madam Mayor, thank you for all of the hospitality that all of us receive when we come to this beautiful corner of the world.  It is absolutely a stunning place to visit.  And ladies and gentlemen, it is wonderful to be back in Germany once again to pay my respects to an ally that is 100% committed to freedom and the dignity of human beings and show America's solidarity with the German people and standing up for Western values for which we are unapologetic.

I cannot come to Germany however without expressing my deep respect for this country's troops for their professionalism, for their courage and for their sacrifices on shared battlefields against Afghanistan and against ISIS or any other agents of terror and all the world because for the German military and for you here today from the German military, I would just say that your ethical performance is a model for all others and we, in the United States Department of Defense are grateful for our strong alliance with the German military.

Minister von de Leyen and I just completed the inaugural strategic dialogue as you heard and between Germany and the United States, we charted our shared security priorities for the coming year in this perfect locale for that in the finest spirit of what George Marshall stood for.  We talked about Afghanistan, the enhanced forward presence in Eastern Europe and our national security strategies and I would just cite that regardless of any news reports to the contrary, the trans-Atlantic bond between our two countries remain strong.

Germany and the United States stand together, allied against threats to the peace and security of this continent, Canada and the United States and the disruption of harmony elsewhere.

The U.S. commitment to our NATO Article V security guarantee is iron clad.  As demonstrated over decades, our steadfastness and given voice more recently by President Trump before the American people in the Rose Gardens with the NATO ally, Romanian President Iohannis standing at the side and certainly, it was given voice by the United States Senate just a short couple of days ago in a unanimous resolution, 100 to zero.

All of these trans-Atlantic bond is represented in this room here today.  And 70 years ago, as Minister von de Leyen noted on a picturesque campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an American diplomat gave the commencement address at Harvard University.  I need not remind this audience again of what George Marshall said that day, for we can see today across Europe the realization of what became a shared vision -- a peaceful, industrious and prosperous continent, free from tyranny, possessing the military strength to defend itself from aggression and sometimes, it is necessary to pause and recall first principles.  We can get -- kind of take things for granted after a while if we do not.

We need to remind ourselves of why we initially embarked on a path of why free people of Europe, Canada, and the United States made a conscious decision to codify our trans-Atlantic partnership and dare to bind our nations by treaty to collective defense.

All three nations' democracies -- anyone of them could have opted out with the wish of avoiding danger, yet united together.  In the North Atlantic Treaty Article V, the parties stated that they agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against all and in the North Atlantic Article III, we bound ourselves to share the burden of defense saying that parties separately and jointly by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid will maintain individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.

So ladies and gentlemen, how did a man named George Marshall come to give a speech that so eloquently articulated the principles underpinning today's international order.  Why does the international center here today bear his name, still 70 years later and the simple answer is that he lived at the hinge of history.

Having joined the Army, George Marshall was sent off to fight in a catastrophic conflict World War I in which 1.2 million dough boys came to pay America's debt to Lafayette.  He lived war and he lived all of its injustices.

When the armistice came, Marshall went home to America and lived through the Great Depression seeing grown men and women with despair in their eyes.  For 20 years, he learned and he matured watching the storm clouds gather again over the continent he had left behind.  When the storm broke in 1939, he witnessed the Failed Peace of 1918.  Fourteen percent of Europe's pre-war population was killed or displaced during the Second World War.

Our nations experienced the horrors that can only happen when freedom is impaired, when peaceful pursuits of civilized life are suspended when deterrents fails and our societies are engulfed in total war.  When an enormous cost, the force of arm had restored peace to this continent, the peoples of our nations caved on that destruction and the U.S. Secretary of State would be George Shultz, not yet the Secretary, but coming home, a young officer who had served in our World War II Pacific Campaign, he spoke for a generation when he said that they look back on world wars, a generation that saw 61 million killed, that saw the depression and they said to themselves, "What a crummy world and we are part of it whether we like it or not."

Longing for a safer future, the greatest generation as we call them, saw their own security in the security of others.  They had the courage to recognize all collective efforts that had to be taken to avoid repeating mistakes that opened the door to war and should freedom be threatened and war truly unavoidable, then all efforts had to be taken to bring war to a decisive end as swiftly as possible.

They also had the courage to act, not just to look at it, not just to talk about it.  To make the necessary sacrifices and to make genuine commitments to keep the peace.  That generation schooled by life's cruelties, by severe economic deprivation and the death of friends and family members stood face to face with the competitive zero sum side of life.  The vileness of the Second World War waged on a scale unimagined perhaps other than by those with memories of having lived through it, nevertheless left the generation aware that there is more to life than war and competition alone.

In 1947, Europe lay in ruins.  Starvation, poverty, desperation and chaos clamored to dictate the future, and entered Marshall who saw his generation's moment and transcribed its lessons.  It is logical he said that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist and return of normal economic health in the world.  Without which, there can be no political stability and no assured peace.

Under the Marshall Plan, the United States provided billions in aid to Europe after the war as part of a larger effort to rebuild and secure the continent.  Marshall knew history swings on a hinge and the Marshall Plan permitted hundreds of millions to keep their humanity confident of the basic social order from food to security, rule of law and essential political freedom.  Twenty years after the plan took effect, the per capital gross domestic product of UK, France, Italy and Germany had more than doubled.

But to keep the peace, a resuscitated Europe had to become a partner in it as Marshall said and as Minister von de Leyen just pointed out.  It is neither fitting nor officious he said for the U.S. government to draw up unilaterally a program to place Europe on its feet economically.  This is the business of the Europeans.  The initiative must come from Europe.

As Marshall told the UN General Assembly in Paris in 1948, international organizations cannot take the place of national and personal effort or of local and individual imagination; international action cannot replace self-help.

And so out of destruction and unified by that notion, our peoples built a great new world, the Bretton Woods Institutions, the IMF and the World Bank, the United Nations, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Marshall's generation built these tools to help underwrite stability and prosperity.  The last seven years have proven the value of these institutions and the wisdom of that generation.

Europe transformed from a security consumer into a security provider.

Something Marshall ardently desired for he never envisioned that America would carry the burden alone.  He knew from experience it had to be shared, both its benefits and its burdens.  Since World War II, European allies from contributed to large scale U.S. led global operations, had peak contributions 39,000 allies fought with the United States in Afghanistan and 59,000 allies fought with us in Iraq.

We must not allow the years passed since 1947 to blind us to the reality of today.  For those of us who grew up with freedom from fear, from starvation, and the burden of World War, we cannot turn away from the responsibility to pass these same freedoms intact to the next generation.  Allies stick together as we did 69 years ago this week when the Soviet Union blockaded Berlin and the United States refused to abandon it.

U.S. Air Force Captain Billy Phelps flew 167 flights into that stranded city bringing food in the cold to save its inhabitants from starvation and bitter cold.  Captain Phelps was 26 years old the night his cargo plane crashed a mile from the end of the runway.  A German boy named Wolfgang Samuel saw it happen.  Wolf wrote, "They fell like a rock out of the sky.  The two pilots were killed."  And then the child had a flash of insight.  He said, "Only three years ago, they were fighting against my country and now, they were dying for us.  I wondered, he said, what made these people do the things they did."

Captain Phelps knew he owed future generations the same freedom he had and what young Wolfgang, a little German kid saw that cold December night in 1948, we can see clearly today in 2017.

We can see foreigners putting their lives on the line for others, whether Captain Billy Phelps or the Berlin Airlift or the men and women of NATO's enhanced forward presence under German leadership in the Lithuanian woods right now.  We can see U.S. support for NATO's forward presence extended out to 2020 for the security of the United States and all NATO nations.

We can see the $4.8 billion requested by President Trump last month for the European reassurance initiative, an increase over our commitment last year.  Beyond any words in the newspapers, you can judge America by such actions.  This is who we are.  America, Germany, Europe, the West.  Why we risk life so a child in Berlin can eat, we hunt terrorists in the dark so that they cannot murder innocents at concerts and our nations stand together -- democratic islands of stability in a world awash with change.

The Marshall Center embodies this cooperative mission.  It is the only one of the U.S. Defense Department's five regional centers to operate jointly with a foreign government.  It is one of many tangible manifestations of the enduring alliance between Germany and America.

In October last year, Germany and the United States signed a Memorandum of Agreement and reinforced the strong U.S.-German partnership here as Germany assumed an even greater role in the operation of this highly influential security study center.

As the Minister noted, over the years, over 12,000 individuals -- civilian and military -- from more than 150 countries have come to Garmisch to transcribe the lessons of history and apply them to today's challenges, from organized crime to terrorism, cybersecurity and regional threats.

The Marshall Center alumni comprise of network of thought leaders and practitioners serving as resources to one another and decision makers worldwide recognizing that no nation alone can provide for its security.

In 2014 for example, Romanian and Greek alumni contributed together to one of Europe's largest drug seizures prevented $220 million in heroin from poisoning children and families across this continent.  The Marshall Center faculty have also assisted Albanian Moldova in drafting their first ever national security strategy documents, critical for enabling security integration and contributing to regional stability.

The Center's faculty, staff, student and alumni carry the legacy of this Center's namesake and for you, students here today, when you return home, you have a golden opportunity to operate on history's hinge as well just like George Marshall did.

To close the door to war, exercising your moral authority and your generation's responsibility to protect freedom.  Western values, respect for a rules based order and for national sovereignty, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the dignity of the human person -- these are values worth defending.  Marshall said ideals have power to inspire and he also said discouraged people are in sore need of the inspiration of great principles -- principles represented today by you in this room.

I will conclude with a message to the nation choosing to challenge this secure and peaceful order. The United States seeks to engage with Russia and so does the NATO alliance but Russia must know both what we stand for and equally, what we will not tolerate.  We stand for freedom and we will never surrender the freedom of our people or the values of our alliance that we hold dear.

I mentioned a moment ago that discouraged people are in need of inspiration and there are millions of people like that who live today in Russia.  Their leader making mischief beyond Russian borders will not restore their fortunes or rekindle their hope.  And while we will meet with any aggression with what Danish Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said was determination, deterrence and purpose, we will also watch for a Russia that honors its people enough to abide by international law and so wins for them peace the we all offer.

NATO's troops are deployed right now as we speak in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland and they demonstrate NATO's resolves.  I am grateful to those host nations as well as to the framework nations, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and of course, Germany for sending their fine troops to lead in this wholly defensive mission, augmented by troops from ten other NATO nations.

This is a profound example of a United NATO.  Our alliance is long been a stabilizing force in Europe and it helps preserve the rules based international order today, and it serves again now to keep the peace and defend the shared values that grew out of the enlightenment.

In closing, ladies and gentlemen, in 1961, a young academic and German immigrant to America, one who had served in the U.S. Army and was a veteran of World War II paid a visit to the Missouri home of former President Harry Truman.  The president was in his late 70's and long since retired. The academic was none other than Henry Kissinger and he asked Truman, what in his presidency had made him the most proud?

Without a moment's hesitation, President Truman said to him that we defeated our enemies and then brought them back to the community of nations as equals.  Today, we make our adversaries the same promise.  Enemies of freedom will be frustrated or defeated.  Supporters of international law will be brought into our community as equals.  Our hands rest purposely on history's door and it depends on us to push it in the right direction.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

STAFF:  Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's events.  We ask that everyone please remain seated until after the departure of the distinguished visitors and their staffs.

Thank you.