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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs