NATO Defines Its Future in Times of Austerity

By Dialogo
October 15, 2010



Ministers met Thursday, 14 October, to outline NATO’s trajectory for the next
decade, hoping to reach agreement on new policies on missile defense and cyberwar
and on a mandate for global missions, despite the decrease in European military
budgets.

NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen is seeking contributions from
member countries’ foreign and defense ministers in order to agree on a new NATO
Strategic Concept – or declaration of intentions – at an alliance summit
to be held on 19 and 20 November in Lisbon.
“NATO’s core mission, to protect the 900 million citizens of NATO countries
from attack, must never change – but it must be modern defense, against modern
threats,” Rasmussen said.

The Strategic Concept will define the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s
central task of defending its territory and its commitment to collective defense, as
well as the mandate for operations like the costly mission in
Afghanistan.

It will also underline the need to modernize national forces in order to
confront twenty-first-century security threats, including cyberattacks and missiles,
but it also encourages collaboration in order to make the best use of resources in
times of budget cuts.

The document will also ask NATO members to engage more actively with
countries that are not members of the alliance. Rasmussen has underlined the
importance of ties with countries such as Russia, India, China, Japan, and
Australia.

He also warned against excessive cuts in defense spending and pointed out
that Washington will turn to other allies if Europe does not make the necessary
efforts in security matters.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that he is concerned because the
cuts in Europe could increase the pressure on an already-stretched American
army.

Great Britain is expected to cut ten percent from its budget of 36.9 billion
pounds (58.4 billion dollars).
Rasmussen and Gates will urge their allies to invest 200 million euros in
linking their current missile-defense capabilities with the interceptors Washington
is planning to deploy in Europe.



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