WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2017 - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hailed Portugal as a longstanding, reliable U.S. and NATO ally during his Pentagon meeting today with Portuguese Defense Minister Jose Alberto Azeredo Lopes, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said in a statement. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with Portuguese Defense Minister Jose Alberto Azeredo Lopat the Pentagon, Sept. 12, 2017. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr Mattis Meets Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with Portuguese Defense Minister Jose Alberto Azeredo Lopat the Pentagon, Sept. 12, 2017. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr Download Image Image details page
Mattis also thanked the Portuguese minister for his country's continued support in NATO's security efforts along its southern flank, and discussed Lopes' concept for an Atlantic Security Center of Excellence.
According to NATO, a Center of Excellence "is a nationally or multi-nationally sponsored entity, which offers recognized expertise and experience to the benefit of the alliance, especially in support of transformation. It provides opportunities to enhance education and training, to improve interoperability and capabilities, to assist in doctrine development and/or to test and validate concepts through experimentation. A COE is not part of the NATO command structure, but forms part of the wider framework supporting NATO command arrangements." VIDEO | 01:09 | Mattis Meets Portuguese Minister of Defense
Also according to NATO: "Any allied nation can offer to establish a COE on its territory. Such a nation will then be recognized as a host or framework nation for its particular COE. A proposal to establish a new COE may arise either from NATO itself, or a member state, or even a group of member states. Additionally, if a [multi]national organization already exists, it might nevertheless be offered to the alliance as a COE in order to gain additional NATO accreditation."
Mattis emphasized the United States' steadfast commitment to NATO, and he praised Portugal for its continued support of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq. He also welcomes Portugal's commitment to meet the Wales Defense Investment Pledge to invest at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense and to invest in military modernization.
Both leaders stressed the importance of standing shoulder to shoulder against threats to freedom and security.