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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid