Monday, June 13, 2011

The European Members in NATO should just “Declare Victory and Go Home”

In a policy speech given in Brussels, outgoing US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates took umbrage with NATO’s European members’ dismal non-participation in an alliance that they insist on remaining members of.

The U.S. has tens of thousands of troops based in Europe, not to stand guard against invasion but to train with European forces and promote what for decades has been lacking: the ability of the Europeans to go to war alongside the U.S. in a coherent way.

The war in Afghanistan, which is being conducted under NATO auspices, is a prime example of U.S. frustration at European inability to provide the required resources.

"Despite more than 2 million troops in uniform, not counting the U.S. military, NATO has struggled, at times desperately, to sustain a deployment of 25,000 to 45,000 troops, not just in boots on the ground, but in crucial support assets such as helicopters, transport aircraft, maintenance, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and much more," Gates said.
Call it “tough love” if you like, but to be it looks more like a warning that much of Europe’s parasitism is going to have to come to an end if they don’t want to lose American support altogether.

The question is simple: do you want to put in half a loaf and get some? Or will you rationalize some more nonsense about not needing NATO to function as Europe’s continental defense and deterrent and get nothing from the US?

It’s a simple, simple question.
To illustrate his concerns about Europe's lack of appetite for defense, Gates noted the difficulty NATO has encountered in carrying out an air campaign in Libya.

"The mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country, yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the U.S., once more, to make up the difference," he said.
And when it comes to dealing with a third rate thug with aging Soviet and Russian equipment, most of Europe’s over-downsized armed services remain flummoxed.
"While every alliance member voted for the Libya mission, less than half have participated, and fewer than a third have been willing to participate in the strike mission," he said. "Frankly, many of those allies sitting on the sidelines do so not because they do not want to participate, but simply because they can't. The military capabilities simply aren't there."