Sharing European Security Costs – A Job for All NATO Allies
NATO today is the most capable military alliance in the world, able to field forces that operate together in an integrated military command structure and with core capabilities few Allies could afford on their own.
Yet, as U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder explained in a recent interview, these core capabilities will be undermined unless there is a major change in the current trend of European defense spending. “If the current trends continue, in ten years this alliance would not have been able to mount the kind of campaign it did in Libya,” he said.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon reiterated these concerns during a media roundtable January 8 in the Netherlands. “While it’s absolutely clear what contributions NATO can make to Europe and that Europe can make to NATO now, we’re worried that on current defense spending trends, that will be less clear in the future,” Gordon said.
One major challenge for the Alliance is how to reverse the growing gap between U.S. and European spending, so that NATO remains capable of conducting operations without relying disproportionately on a single Ally. In a June 2011 speech, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates emphasized that while NATO members can and should do more to pool military assets, there is no substitute for nations providing the necessary resources to preserve the military capabilities that the Alliance needs.
“If we don’t start soon in investing in those capabilities,” Ambassador Daalder said, “then the gap between the US and the rest is going to grow. And if it is bad now, then it will be worse.”