Bucharest, 8 October 2011 – LAWMAKERS WARN NATO: DEFENCE CUTS RISK UNDERMINING SECURITY
NATO lawmakers warned Allied governments Saturday against making cuts in defence spending that could damage security as they seek to tackle the debt and deficit crisis.
In a draft resolution, legislators from NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly urged NATO governments to, "abstain from making spending cuts at a level that would damage national and international security in this period of fiscal consolidation."
The resolution warns that Europe risks "strategic irrelevance" without more effective defence spending and cautions that the defence gap between Europe and the United States "could undermine the solidarity which has long held together this Alliance."
Members of the Assembly’s Economic and Security Committee voted to approve the draft which is now expected to be adopted by the full Assembly in a plenary session on Monday when Alliance Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is expected to address the over 250 parliamentarians on the defence budget concerns.
"We must not cut spending recklessly in a way that affects our security," said Simon van Driel, the Dutch senator who presented the resolution.
Earlier parliamentarians heard a sober assessment of the impact of the squeeze on defence budgets from Frank Boland, NATO’s Director of Force Planning.
Boland revealed new NATO data showing that 18 of the 28 allies have cut defence spending since 2008; only three are meeting the target of spending at least 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product on defence, while 17 are spending 1.5 percent or less; the US share of NATO defence spending has risen to 77 percent up from 61 percent a decade ago.
"The overall trends are not good," Boland told the Committee. "We are facing a serious situation in terms of burden sharing."
While the ongoing NATO air operation over Libya had revealed several positives, such as the speed of response and ability to minimize civilian casualties, it has also highlighted worrying shortfalls, Boland said. He pointed to an overreliance on the United States in crucial areas such as intelligence, reconnaissance and airborne refueling; a lack of specialized European personnel in the command structure; and insufficient stocks of precision-guided munitions.
In their draft resolution, the NATO parliamentarians urge greater cooperation among allies in areas such as defence research and procurement to avoid costly duplication and to ensure that military spending is used to build up critical capabilities rather than support national companies or local employment.
They called on Fogh Rasmussen to set up three task forces to identify areas of closer defence cooperation; improve consultation on military spending; and deepen collaboration on procurement.