Study urges Europe to pool military resources
October 14, 2005
A report issued this week by two of NATO’s former top generals criticized European nations for not working together militarily and being tight-fisted in defense spending, thus leaving the continent vulnerable and its militaries disorganized.
The report, issued by retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston — a former Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe commander — and retired German Gen. Klaus Naumann — former chairman of the NATO Military Committee — urged the nations to start pooling their resources and focusing on future threats and opportunities.
“It is in America’s interests for Europe as a coherent whole to be able to undertake a wider set of military missions as a full partner,” the two wrote in their report, released Wednesday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonprofit Washington think tank.
Failure to improve Europe’s collective defense capabilities “would have profoundly negative impacts on the ability of European countries to protect their interests, the viability of NATO as an alliance, and the ability of European countries to partner in any meaningful way with the United States to meet shared security challenges,” Ralston and Naumann contended.
Julianne Smith, a lead investigator on the CSIS study, said that virtually every European defense ministry said it’s evolving to meet future threats, but none is talking with each other or with the U.S. military.
“I don’t think there’s been transparency and a full, open and frank dialog on some of these issues,” Smith said. “We were very surprised how little coordination there is out there.”
Smith also said there was no military coordination between the European Union’s and NATO’s respective military arms.
Stars and Stripes was unable to get comment Thursday from NATO’s military commander, Marine Gen. James L. Jones.
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer responded at a news conference by stating that trans-Europe military cooperation is what the alliance has pushed for all along.
“If I see what’s in the report, more deployable and effective forces, new approaches to funding, more common funding, closer cooperation with the European Union, it is as if they have written my agenda,” de Hoop Scheffer said. “So in that respect, I think it’s a support underlying what NATO’s transformation is all about.”
The 99-page report, which took one year to produce, urged European nations to develop a military vision, cooperate in research, development and procurement, pools resources and, for some countries, develop military and security specialties in order to contribute in high-value ways.