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Robertson Calls for Europe to Do More

Robertson Calls for Europe to Do More

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service.

Munich, Germany, Feb. 8, 2000 -- The need for more modern, more mobile forces was the first lesson of Kosovo, said NATO Secretary-General George Robertson.

Robertson, speaking at an international security conference here, said that with all the shortcomings uncovered by Operation Allied Force people must remember that, "We won."

"Kosovo was … a test of how our forces have evolved in the years since the Cold War ended," he said. While the forces did well, the conflict "revealed that many of our militaries have not made all the adjustments necessary" to be effective.

Robertson said all the NATO militaries must get away from the Cold War idea of using heavily armored forces to deter other heavily armored forces. "Today, we need highly mobile -- highly mobile -- forces to go to the conflict," he said.

During the Cold War, NATO would have fought on its own soil. Now, NATO forces would probably deploy and the allies would have to sustain those forces, he said.

"Whereas in the past, technological innovation was something that helped us work effectively together, today technology is moving so fast that some of NATO's members are at least in danger of being left behind," Robertson said. NATO members must "invest wisely" in improving their military capabilities, he said.

"Today, the European allies spend about 60 percent of what the United States spends on defense, but the European allies get a fraction of the capability," he said. "We need to improve that return on investment, through innovative management techniques, identification of priorities and courageous decisions," he said. "And, where it proves necessary -- and it will, new money will have to be allocated."

Robertson said another lesson of Kosovo was there must be a more equitable division of labor within NATO. "It is neither fair nor politically sustainable to ask the United States to continue to assume a disproportionate share of the costs and the burdens of addressing security challenges in Europe," he said.

Robertson called on the Europeans to improve their defense capabilities to handle purely European crises the United States does not wish to get involved with. This push, dubbed the European Security and Defense Identity, concerns many who contend the program would cause divisions within NATO.

"My answer [to them] is blunt -- it is nonsense," he said.

Such "decoupling" is impossible, he said, because NATO needs U.S. strategic capabilities and because nobody wants decoupling. The Europeans' developing greater capability "is about adding more military options to our menu when responding to crisis, not reducing them," Robertson 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).