News / USA

NATO Members to Discuss Burden Sharing

Dozens take part in a variety of protests leading up to this weekend's NATO summit in Chicago, May 16, 2012.
Dozens take part in a variety of protests leading up to this weekend's NATO summit in Chicago, May 16, 2012.
WASHINGTON -- Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nations meet in Chicago this weekend to address two major challenges -- how to dial down their involvement in Afghanistan and, perhaps more vexing, how to maintain military readiness in the face of sharp budget restrictions.
 
The heads of state and government from the 28 NATO nations want to make sure the alliance continues to develop and maintain military capabilities needed to fulfill all possible future missions. To make that happen, the NATO leaders will be looking Sunday and Monday at their member nations’ military infrastructure, the level of their firepower, logistical support, intelligence and reconnaissance operations.

Charles Kupchan, a military expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, says NATO leaders also will focus on how to make sure the European powers carry their fair share of NATO’s military burden. He says the issue of burden-sharing takes on a new importance for several reasons.

“One is that the United States is pivoting out of Europe, putting more emphasis on the Middle East and East Asia,” Kupchan says. “Our footprint in Europe is going down to about 30,000 troops."

A second factor, he says, is that Washington is now operating under tight budget restrictions that are likely to get even tighter, including reduced defense spending.

“And that makes the U.S. more sensitive to what its partners in the NATO alliance are doing,” Kupchan says. “And then you have the financial crisis in Europe, which is sapping the strength of the European Union and means that most resources will be going to try to climb out of debt -- not buying new military capability.”

Kupchan and other military experts say this is why burden-sharing among NATO members is so important. A good example of how to share military burdens, he says, is last year’s conflict in Libya, where the Europeans took the lead military role helping the rebels who eventually toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

“But it was also quite clear that the United States needed to stand behind the Europeans on a whole set of important issues, including refueling, intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance,” Kupchan says, noting that the Libyan conflict also disclosed a point of weakness among the European militaries.

“The Europeans started running out of ordinance and the United States needed to resupply them,” he says. “And in that sense, a mission that was relatively brief in duration and not one of high intensity exposed the degree to which the Europeans don’t have a lot of assets in their storehouses.”

To avoid such difficulties, NATO leaders meeting in Chicago are expected to look at ways to pool military resources more efficiently and to integrate multi-national defense structures -- a concept known as “smart defense.”

The alliance’s senior officials will also discuss the notion of partnership with non-NATO countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Korea, Ireland, Sweden and Finland.

But looming behind all these deliberations, says Sean Kay, a NATO expert at Ohio Wesleyan University, is the question of finance -- how to pay for necessary levels of military readiness.

“Because, at the end of the day, when you think [about] what is the biggest challenge or threat to the NATO members today, it’s clearly not military -- there is no conventional military threat to these countries,” says Kay. “But the thing that really matters is the economy.”

And given the economic crisis now hammering the euro currency zone, he adds, it is essential that U.S. and European leaders pay close attention to defense spending and “the dynamics of the relationship between NATO and the European Union.”

“The Europeans should not be spending more on defense, neither should we,” Kay says. “So the question is, how are we going to use this relationship between NATO and the European Union to better recognize these new realities in terms of budgets, priorities and operations?"

Kay says NATO leaders also should consider how the European Union can play a role in helping the Europeans take the lead in their own region “if they have future problems like they did in Libya, or maybe in the Balkans or something like that.

“So the NATO-EU partnership becomes crucial,” he says.

As for the Balkans, regional countries such as Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia aspire to become NATO members. But alliance experts say the NATO summit in Chicago will not deal with enlargement and will not invite new countries to become members.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: popsiq from: flavia
May 18, 2012 6:56 PM
Just because you voted in favor of the party a decade ago doesn't mean your kids have to pay for it to-day, and tomorrow.

Oh! That would be your great grand-kids now.

"Burden sharing" the war makers call it.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More