by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Lockheed Martin Facility in Troy, Alabama

  • 31 Jan. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 01 Feb. 2024 00:07

(As delivered)

It is important for me to tell you that what you produce here, what you do here every day, is making NATO stronger and all of us safer and more secure. 

That has always been the case, but it’s even more so now with a full-fledged war going on in Europe, a war of aggression launched by President Putin and Russia.
And where weapons produced by Lockheed Martin, by you, has made a huge difference on the battlefield.

I just saw how Javelins are produced. And that was important for me.
But it is important that you fully realise how important those missiles were, especially at the beginning of the war, because when the invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022. Most experts feared and believed that Russia would take control over Kyiv the capital of Ukraine and the rest of Ukraine within days or weeks. That didn't happen.

The Ukrainians were able to push back the Russian invaders, not least because they had the Javelins and they played a critical role in those opening weeks of the war.

Weapons, HIMARS, interceptors, Javelins and other weapons systems produced by you here and also at other sites in the Lockheed Martin company, continues to make a huge difference.
And maybe you sometimes believe it is far from here, Pike County to the forests in Ukraine.  But it’s a very close link, what you do here makes a difference there every day. 
So I'm here to thank you for that and to express the gratitude on behalf of NATO, on behalf of all Allies, and also the brave men and women in uniform in Ukraine.

The name “Lockheed Martin” is synonymous with innovation and technical brilliance.

For decades, you have helped American and NATO forces maintain their technological edge.
Vital for our freedom and our security.

So I come here with a simple message.
On behalf of the one billion people across NATO Allied countries in Europe and North America. Thank you for everything you do.

Will live in dangerous times.
China is the most serious long-term challenge.
It is modernising its military without limits.
Trading unfairly.
Bullying its neighbours – not least Taiwan.
And seeking to dominate the South China Sea.

But China is not the only challenge.
Russia is the most immediate one.

It has invaded Ukraine, a free, sovereign nation.
Causing immense death and destruction.

We need to remain decisive and strong in our support to Ukraine as it defends itself and our values.

The Ukrainian people want the same as you.
To care for their families.
Earn a decent living.
And to live their lives in peace and freedom.

So when Russian tanks rolled over the border, the people who came did what you would have done.
They fought back.
With courage and determination.
And with your weapons.

Not least with the Javelin anti-tank missiles made right here in Pike County.
From your hands to theirs.

The United States leads the way in supporting Ukraine.
But the United States is far from alone.
Combined, European Allies and Canada actually provide more in terms of military, financial and humanitarian aid than the U.S.
And measured as a share of GDP, most Allies provide more than the United States.

Over many years, the United States has criticised NATO Allies for not spending enough on defence.
And rightly so.
And I commend U.S. leadership on this important issue.
But things have changed.

All Allies have increased defence spending.
Adding an additional 450 billion US dollars.
NATO Allies have committed to spending at least 2% of their GDP on defence.
And many are already exceeding that target.

With more money for defence, we are boosting our defence industry.
NATO creates a vast market for defence production and sales.
Over the last two years alone, NATO Allies have agreed to buy 120 billion dollars’ worth of weapons from U.S. defence industry.
And that also includes also from you.
Including thousands of missiles to the U.K, Finland and Lithuania,
Hundreds of tanks to Poland and Romania,
And hundreds of F-35 aircraft across many Allied nations.

So from Arizona to Virginia,
Florida to Washington State,
And right here in Alabama,
American jobs depend on American sales to defence markets across Europe and Canada.

What you produce keeps people safe.
And what Allies buy, helps keep American business strong.

NATO unites 31 nations from Europe and North America.
We stand together.
And we are committed to defending each other.
To standing up for our values and our democracy.
And keeping our economies resilient and strong.

So once again, it’s great to be in Alabama.
It’s great to be here in Pike County, in Troy, and to thank you for what you do because you make a difference and we are extremely grateful.

So thank you for having me here today.