NATO Members Discuss Greater Defense Integration Before Chicago Summit

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, April 18, 2012.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, April 18, 2012.

NATO's chief is urging members to coordinate their security policies more closely in this period of budget cuts.  NATO foreign and defense ministers are holding a rare joint meeting in Brussels.

Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the goal is to ensure the alliance “has the right defense capabilities” despite financial constraints in Europe and America.  

At a brief news conference between meetings, Rasmussen said keeping NATO strong will require “real effort and real determination,” as the 26 member states develop their defense-spending plans.

"It demands real willingness to consult with allies on possible changes to our defense programs and budgets before firm decisions are taken," he said.

Chicago Summit

The secretary-general said the NATO summit in Chicago next month will adopt new initiatives to improve inter-operability among alliance military forces.

But some NATO experts believe more is needed.  

Professor Sean Kay at Ohio Wesleyan University in the United States, says recent operations in Afghanistan and Libya revealed major shortcomings in NATO's capabilities.

“The temptation is always to say, 'This is the greatest, most successful alliance in the history of the world.'  And that is true.  But it also has serious, serious fundamental problems - operating problems, political commitment problems - that come out of the Afghanistan war (and) were exacerbated in Libya," said Kay. "If NATO just comes to Chicago, pats itself on the back and says 'We are on plan and we are just doing great,' they have not made the kind of deep seated changes that need to be made."

NATO at crossroads

An internal NATO report cited specific problems in the Libya operation, particularly related to a shortage of high-technology weapons and surveillance capabilities only the U.S. military can provide.  Alliance officials say the report is part of the usual "lessons learned" process after any operation.  But Professor Kay and other experts say the problems are deeper than that.

"NATO is in a really crucial crossroads at this stage because the Libya conflict really exposed a fundamental disconnect in terms of NATO's military operating capabilities," he said.

Meanwhile, NATO continues to implement its transition plan in Afghanistan, where recent Taliban attacks have cast doubt on claims of progress.  But officials say although the Taliban can launch spectacular attacks, its overall capabilities have been significantly degraded in recent years.

Secretary-General Rasmussen says the alliance and its partners are on track to hand over most combat operations to Afghan forces next year, and to end the large-scale foreign military role by the end of 2014.

This forum has been closed.
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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs