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View Full Version : Gates on future of NATO


Ky-Fi
06-10-11, 12:10 PM
Pretty blunt speech from Gates:

Gates parting shot warns NATO risks irrelevance

BRUSSELS (Reuters) Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a sharp parting shot at European allies on Friday, saying NATO risks "collective military irrelevance" unless they bear more of the burden and boost military spending.

In a final policy address before retiring at the end of the month, Gates said NATO-led operations in Afghanistan and Libya had exposed significant shortcomings in military capabilities and political will among the allies.

With the United States facing painful budget cuts at home as President Barack Obama grapples with a $1.4 trillion deficit, he warned that lawmakers may begin to question the 75 percent share that Washington pays in NATO defense spending.

This meant there was "a real possibility for a dim, if not dismal future for the transatlantic alliance," he said.

"The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling (U.S.) appetite and patience ... to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense," Gates said.

"If current trends in the decline of European defense capabilities are not halted and reversed, future U.S. political leaders -- those for whom the Cold War was not the formative experience that it was for me -- may not consider the return on America's investment in NATO worth the cost."

Despite having more than 2 million troops in uniform, non-U.S. NATO states struggled to sustain 25,000 to 45,000 troops in Afghanistan, "not just in boots on the ground, but in crucial support assets such as helicopters, transport aircraft, maintenance, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance."

Gates said the air operations against the forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had further exposed limitations, with an air operations center designed to handle more than 300 sorties a day struggling to launch about 150 and the United States having to make up shortages of munitions.

Gates said the problems with defense investment boded ill for ensuring NATO had key, up-to-date common capabilities.

"To avoid the very real possibility of collective military irrelevance, member nations must examine new approaches."

"DRIFT CAN'T CONTINUE"

Gates said the United States was facing a deep economic crisis and defense would have to be included in dramatic spending cuts.

"Choices are going to be made more on what's in the best interest of the United States going forward," he said.

"My hope is that the fact that the reality is changing in the United States will get the attention of European leaders to realize that the drift of the last 20 years can't continue, not if they want to have a strong transatlantic partnership."

Gates's remarks followed two days of NATO meetings at which he said too few nations were bearing the bulk of the burden in Libya, and singled out five that he urged to do more.

Officials said he asked Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands to fly strike missions in addition to the air operations they currently undertake. He urged Germany and Poland, which are not contributing, to find ways to help, the officials said.

Gates singled out Norway as a small country punching above its weight by joining air strikes in Libya, but Oslo said on Friday its mission would end on August 1 and it would reduce its contribution of six F-16 fighters to four on June 24.

"Our allies should understand that Norway's small air force cannot sustain a great effort over a long period of time," Defense Minister Grete Faremo said in a statement.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said alliance Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen shared Gates's concerns.

"There is clearly a long-standing concern about the transatlantic gap in defense spending. There is a risk that European allies may fall even further behind in terms of technological developments," she said.

Former NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer warned the forum the current imbalance was "not sustainable."

"Europe has a rather pale face as we speak," he said, criticizing "totally uncoordinated budget cuts" and urging his own nation, the Netherlands, to join strike missions in Libya.

Gates said non-U.S. allies' $300 billion annual defense budget could buy significant capabilities if spent strategically, but this was not happening.

"Too many allies have been unwilling to fundamentally change how they set priorities and allocate resources," he said.

Gates said just five of the 28 allies -- the United States, Britain, France, Greece and Albania -- spend the 2 percent of GDP on defense required by NATO.

He said more effective coordination of spending would go only so far and allies eventually would need to step up their military investments. "Ultimately, nations must be responsible for their fair share of the common defense," he said.

Obama has nominated outgoing CIA chief Leon Panetta to take over from Gates at the Pentagon.

(Additional reporting by Gwladys Fouche in Oslo; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110610/pl_nm/us_usa_nato#mwpphu-container

Dr Mabuse
06-10-11, 12:14 PM
It needs to be said, but no one who needs to hear will listen and change anything.

al_bundy
06-10-11, 12:44 PM
why exactly is NATO in libya anyway? who is the current security threat to NATO these days?

WW2 was the last in a series of european wars going back to the middle ages where the english, french and germans fought each other with the sides changing once in a while. for 50 years there was the USSR threat which is now gone and the europeans seem to be all friends now

Ky-Fi
06-10-11, 12:52 PM
why exactly is NATO in libya anyway? who is the current security threat to NATO these days?

WW2 was the last in a series of european wars going back to the middle ages where the english, french and germans fought each other with the sides changing once in a while. for 50 years there was the USSR threat which is now gone and the europeans seem to be all friends now

I agree completely. USSR was the reason for NATO. Even if we're not all exactly friends with Russia, Russia doesn't represent an ideological, existential threat to the US the way the Soviet Union did, IMO.

kvrdave
06-10-11, 12:55 PM
Dissolve it, I say. Europe has the mentality of letting others pay for the group, and this will not change. And with us paying, they begin to decide that things like Libya are a legitimate situation for NATO. Who was being invaded by Libya?

classicman2
06-10-11, 01:01 PM
The reason for the existence of NATO no longer exists.

Barney Frank is right - get rid of it.

kvrdave
06-10-11, 01:04 PM
And it would take a serious threat of disbanding it to get the other nations to maybe think twice.

Nazgul
06-10-11, 01:15 PM
I agree completely. USSR was the reason for NATO. Even if we're not all exactly friends with Russia, Russia doesn't represent an ideological, existential threat to the US the way the Soviet Union did, IMO.

While the Russians may no longer be an overt threat in the way the USSR was, they must be very hopeful by these statements. I'd imagine they'd welcome the dissolution of NATO with open arms.

Since they've shown a willingness to punish their neighbors by withholding gas deliveries, a collpase of NATO would serve them well since they view Eastern Europe as their sandbox.

Perhaps a reconstituted alliance, with Russia dominating the alliance.

BearFan
06-10-11, 01:19 PM
I would agree that NATO no longer has the same purpose it did before. I possibly has some use for joint training/operations where the interests of Europe/US/Canada meet one another. Europe no longer needs us to be involved in defending itself, we really have been carrying a great financial burden for the common defense, it is time they (and Japan for that matter), pick up more of this. If the EU can have a common currency, perhaps at some point they can have a common army.

al_bundy
06-10-11, 01:44 PM
While the Russians may no longer be an overt threat in the way the USSR was, they must be very hopeful by these statements. I'd imagine they'd welcome the dissolution of NATO with open arms.

Since they've shown a willingness to punish their neighbors by withholding gas deliveries, a collpase of NATO would serve them well since they view Eastern Europe as their sandbox.

Perhaps a reconstituted alliance, with Russia dominating the alliance.

so the russians are going to invade easternn europe again?

it's one thing to still have the alliance on paper, but the US has a lot military forces in Europe that cost a lot of money to maintain. and in the new world europe is not exactly a strategic location

Nazgul
06-10-11, 02:00 PM
so the russians are going to invade easternn europe again?


I don't think it's high on their list of things to do, but they've already used economic pressure on a few of their 'old' allies. They still see their immediate neighbors as inside their 'sphere of influence'.

This was the whole reason the Germans and Russia built Nord Stream. Western Europe could get it's natural gas without interruption, so if Gazprom (Russia) wants to punish Ukraine, Western Europe won't suffer.

al_bundy
06-10-11, 02:21 PM
and what has NATO done about the economic pressure?

Mabuse
06-10-11, 05:07 PM
so the russians are going to invade easternn europe again?

Nazgul's right. What Russia could concievably do is starve Eastern Europe into capitulating on any issue. Starve them by cutting off the energy. They could amass their empire and move on their oldest enemy, Germany, who just happens to have the world's 4th largest economy.

kvrdave
06-10-11, 07:44 PM
Just heard on the news that part of the problem is that many nations additionally put huge restrictions on what they will allow their troops to do. For example, in Afganistan, Spain's 1500 troops can only fire a weapon in self defense and cannot be used during the night.

So be it. Get rid of NATO and let Spain fight like France at their leisure.

al_bundy
06-10-11, 10:34 PM
Nazgul's right. What Russia could concievably do is starve Eastern Europe into capitulating on any issue. Starve them by cutting off the energy. They could amass their empire and move on their oldest enemy, Germany, who just happens to have the world's 4th largest economy.

the russian economy is heavily dependent on energy revenue. no sales means no money coming in to pay foreign bonds and other bills.

it's not 1945 or 1990 anymore. the russian army is a fraction of it's size and no more warsaw pact. i doubt they can invade germany since most of their eastern european bases have been shut down

focker
06-10-11, 11:30 PM
Just heard on the news that part of the problem is that many nations additionally put huge restrictions on what they will allow their troops to do. For example, in Afganistan, Spain's 1500 troops can only fire a weapon in self defense and cannot be used during the night.

So be it. Get rid of NATO and let Spain fight like France at their leisure.WTF? They can only shoot when shot at, except at night when they're supposed to run and hide? That's insanity.

kvrdave
06-10-11, 11:35 PM
It is pretty obvious that some countries, like Spain, do the very least amount possible to stay in NATO, but don't actually want to contribute. Like I said, European mentality. Probably feel they are owed.

DVD Polizei
06-11-11, 09:52 AM
While the Russians may no longer be an overt threat in the way the USSR was, they must be very hopeful by these statements. I'd imagine they'd welcome the dissolution of NATO with open arms.

Since they've shown a willingness to punish their neighbors by withholding gas deliveries, a collpase of NATO would serve them well since they view Eastern Europe as their sandbox.

Perhaps a reconstituted alliance, with Russia dominating the alliance.

OPEC is punishing a lot more neighbors. I say dissolve their fucking asses.

kvrdave
06-11-11, 11:05 AM
They are actually effective and have a fairly even partnership that benefits them all. If we leave NATO, there is no NATO.