Shaheen & Tillis Announce Re-establishment of Senate NATO Observer Group

February 28, 2018

Shaheen and Tillis’ Senate NATO Observer Group will include an expanded mission to monitor NATO’s rapidly developing needs and capabilities.

In a press conference this afternoon, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) announced the re-establishment of the Senate North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Observer Group. This re-established Observer Group, which will be co-chaired by Senators Shaheen and Tillis, will have an expanded mission to closely monitor and inform Senators outside of national security committees about defense spending commitments of Alliance members, the process of upgrading military capabilities, the Alliance’s counter-terrorism capability, NATO enlargement and the ability of NATO member states to address non-conventional warfare. The Senators were also joined by NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Curtis M. Scaparrotti and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Wess Mitchell.

"Now more than ever, it's imperative that the United States work closely with NATO to respond to the ever-evolving threats to western democracies, particularly from the Kremlin,” said Senator Shaheen. “This new Senate NATO Observer Group will serve as a focal point for engagement between NATO and the Senate as these institutions seek to strengthen transatlantic bonds and modernize NATO to respond to hybrid warfare and other threats. I'm looking forward to this important work and extend my thanks to Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, General Scaparrotti, and Ambassador Hutchison for their support for this effort."

“In today’s day and age, we face an endless amount of threats, both known and unknown. I look forward to using the platform of the NATO Observer Group to discuss how our alliance can better prepare for hybrid, and in particular, cyber threats from Russia and other adversaries,” said Senator Tillis. “Re-establishing this group would not have been possible without the support of General Scaparrotti, Ambassador Hutchison, and Senate Leadership. I also want to thank Senator Shaheen for her partnership as we stand with many of our Senate colleagues to recognize the importance of a strong and committed NATO alliance, as our community of democracies continues to expand and thrive.”

“I am delighted that my former colleagues in the Senate have re-established the Senate NATO Observers Group. I believe the reconstitution of this Observers Group demonstrates the deep and bipartisan support the Alliance enjoys across our nation,” said Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO. “I wholeheartedly support this initiative and pledge myself and our staff at the U.S. Mission to NATO to assist Senators Shaheen and Tillis and the other members of the group to obtain timely and pertinent information on the Alliance and the important decisions that it is dealing with. I welcome the Observer Group members to Brussels for regular consultations at NATO headquarters and stand ready to brief members whenever I am in Washington. NATO remains the most successful security alliance in history.  I am proud of the leadership our Administration has brought to the Alliance and look forward to continuing our role in NATO on behalf of the American people.”

Senators Shaheen and Tillis received support from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to re-establish the Observer Group. Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison and General Scaparrotti were also integral in the re-establishment of the group and have pledged their participation to ensure the Group receives timely and important updates on NATO developments. The Senate NATO Observer Group was first established over twenty years ago in 1997 by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) to serve as a connection between the Administration, NATO and the U.S. Senate. The Senate NATO Observer Group has been re-established since, in 2002, but was disbanded in 2007 due to a lack of NATO enlargement rounds.