News / Europe

Gates Calls for Major Changes at NATO

Multimedia

Audio

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called on the NATO alliance Tuesday to chart a clear path toward relevance and enhanced capability as it faces a different set of threats than it was founded to address more than 60 years ago.  Gates wants a key NATO document being drafted this year to advance a transformation theme U.S. leaders have been pressing for a long time.

Secretary Gates told a NATO conference in Washington that the new Strategic Concept officials are set to write this year needs to address a wide range of issues in what he called a "succinct,... comprehensible and compelling" document that impresses Europeans raised in a post-Cold War and post-September 11 world.

"The demilitarization of Europe - where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it - has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st [century]," he said.

Secretary Gates said Europe's people must come to understand the importance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as an international security alliance, not just an organization for the protection of Europe's territorial integrity, as it was at its founding in 1949.

"Threats are more likely to emanate from failed, failing or fractured states than from aggressor states, where dangerous, non-state actors often operate from within nations with which we are not at war, or from within our own borders, and where weapons proliferation and new technologies make possible the specter of chaos and mass destruction in any of our capitals," he said .

Gates said NATO needs to change the way it operates - improving its budget process, investing in future capabilities and closing bases it no longer needs.  He noted that for many years, the member-nations have not been willing to meet requirements for cargo planes, refueling aircraft, helicopters and intelligence capabilities.  The secretary said the alliance needs to "fundamentally change how it sets priorities and allocates resources," so it can remain "relevant" in a changing "strategic landscape."

U.S. officials have pressed those points many times in recent years, urging Europeans to spend more on defense and be more supportive of NATO efforts - ranging from missile defense to the war in Afghanistan.  U.S. officials say there has been progress, particularly in getting more European troops for Afghanistan.

But British researcher Sally McNamara of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation doubts whether a new document from the alliance will change what she calls the "pacifistic" trend in many European countries.

"If we look at the problems that NATO has, [such as] burden sharing, it's Afghanistan.  We're in Afghanistan right now and there is nothing about a piece of paper or a treaty that is going to more equitably share the burden in Afghanistan.  And that is the problem, she said."

A defense expert focusing on NATO issues, McNamara says she was initially quite enthusiastic about the plan for a new alliance Strategic Concept document.  But as the process has developed, she says she has come to believe that the alliance's 28 nations will be unable to draft the kind of document they need.

"If you look at NATO's last strategic concept in 1999, it was widely regarded as one of the most useless documents because it was too long [and] it had a bit of something for everyone," she said.  "This document will almost certainly do that, and that will be a shame because it won't be clear; it won't give any message about the future," said McNamara.

Secretary Gates also mentioned that concern Tuesday, speaking to NATO officials at the National Defense University in Washington.

"NATO needs serious, far-reaching and immediate reforms to address a crisis that has been years in the making.  And unless the Strategic Concept spurs operational and institutional changes like those I just mentioned, it will not be worth the paper it is printed on," said Gates.

The conference is expected to be the last public discussion of issues related to NATO's new Strategic Concept.  In the next phase, experts will draft a document, circulate it among NATO members and make changes needed to get the required approval from all of them, and then put it up for formal endorsement at the next NATO summit, which is expected to be held in Lisbon late this year.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid