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NATO Allies Urged to Spend More, Develop New Capabilities

NATO Allies Urged to Spend More, Develop New Capabilities

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service.

Brussels, Belgium -- (AFPS), December 18, 2001 - "You can't get defense on the cheap," was the message Lord George Robertson delivered to NATO defense ministers at their meeting here. Robertson and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stressed that one lesson of September 11 is that all nations are vulnerable to these asymmetric attacks.

Left to right: General Volodymyr Shkidchenko (Minister of Defence, Ukraine); NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson; Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense.

NATO Photo

"Before September 11, we faced the same problem all democracies face in peacetime - the challenge of explaining to our publics why we need to spend more on defense in a time of apparent peace and prosperity," Rumsfeld said during a statement to the ministers.

But after September 11, he said, it became apparent that the armed forces are not a drain, but the foundation of that peace and prosperity. "The global economy is underpinned by the security and stability they provide," he said.

Now is the time for countries to increase their defense spending. This is in addition to the already agreed upon NATO Defense Capabilities Initiative. NATO allies signed on to this following the Kosovo air war, when it became apparent that there was a growing military gap among NATO allies. The DCI calls on all allies to improve communications capabilities, procure more airlift and sealift, add more air-to-air refueling capability, and invest in precision munitions.

Rumsfeld called on NATO allies to develop capabilities to combat terrorism and other asymmetric threats. He said NATO must improve chemical, nuclear and biological defenses, protect space-based assets, and guard against cyberattacks.

Specifically, the alliance must guard against terrorist organizations and rogue states seeking weapons of mass destruction. "I expressed our concern with the listed states that sponsor terrorism and terrorist networks, given the fact that a large number of terrorist states have active chemical, biological or nuclear programs," Rumsfeld said during a press conference.

"The nexus between states and terror networks raises the danger that September 11 could be a preview of what could come if the enemies of freedom gain the ability to strike our nations with weapons of increasingly greater power."

But developing this new capability does not mean the alliance should ignore more traditional threats. "The reason we are not attacked by armies, navies and air forces is because we have effective armies, navies and air forces," Rumsfeld said.

It is logical that enemies would seek to attack NATO via vulnerabilities. "They'll look for vulnerabilities in our dependence on communications," he said. They might attack using cruise or ballistic missiles. "That requires that we address those threats … but it does not suggest that it allows one to forget more basic threats," he said.

Rumsfeld said the ministers also discussed ways to bring Russia into a closer relationship with NATO. "I emphasized that President Bush and President Putin both agreed that our differences over the (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty would not affect our other areas of cooperation, and we discussed the progress the two presidents have made in forging our new security relationship that puts the Cold War animosities behind us and embraces 21st Century cooperation," he said.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).