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NATO Chief Says Allies Must Spend More for Defense

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 8, 2000 – The same commitment that saw NATO triumph in Kosovo will see the alliance through painful changes that will allow the 19 countries to adapt to a new world, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said here.

Robertson spoke June 8 at a press conference during the NATO Defense Ministerial. He said NATO nations are transforming their militaries, but that some nations need to dedicate more resources to finish the transformation.

At heart is funding for the Defense Capabilities Initiative. The DCI is a road map NATO members agreed to follow to arrive at the goal of new capabilities. While the DCI was in planning before Kosovo, Operation Allied Force last year proved its urgency.

Robertson reviewed the allied record lest, he said, anyone forgets Kosovo was a NATO victory. “We reversed the worst ethnic cleansing seen in the European continent since World War II,” he said. “Over a million refugees are now back home, and after a decade of discrimination the majority Kosovar Albanians are now able to start rebuilding their lives and homes.”

But more needs to be done and NATO has the will and resources to see it through, Robertson said. “Much of Kosovo is peaceful, but we know that tension lies just beneath the surface and the levels of violence are unacceptable,” he said. He also reassured the people of Kosovo that contrary to reports from Serbia, the U.N. Security Council Resolution that authorizes the NATO mission would not run out.

But the Kosovo campaign also exposed some NATO warts. “The United States carried far too much of the load (in Kosovo) and Europe has to shoulder more of the burden -- something Europe has acknowledged openly in setting itself its new, ambitious goals,” he said.

He said NATO must restructure forces to meet today’s threat and shape tomorrow’s future. “The Cold War may be dead and gone, but too many of our armies are structured to fight yesterday's battles,” he said. “We simply do not have enough of the flexible, mobile forces needed for the new century.”

But, he said, NATO's Defense Capabilities Initiative aims to fix these problems. It commits NATO members to improve alliance capabilities in five areas: mobility, sustainment, effective engagement, survivability and communications.

“Several nations are bringing in the kind of radical reforms we need, new equipment is being ordered or developed in key areas such as strategic airlift and precision guided weapons,” Robertson said. But, he added, NATO nations cannot just shift money from one account to another.

“Strong defense means two things for NATO’s nations -- spending wisely, but also spending enough,” he said. “You cannot get defense on the cheap, and there can be no real security without resources.”

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen during a later press conference said seven NATO nations announced during the meetings that they would expect significant defense budget raises over the next two years. Cohen said he, too, stressed that allies must spend more to acquire the capabilities NATO urgently needs.

Robertson said he has sent letters to all NATO leaders reminding them of their pledges at the Washington Summit. He reminded the defense ministers also of their commitments.

“They accepted the challenge to do better,” he said.

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Related Sites:
NATO Defence Ministers Meetings web site
DoD News Briefing: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, Media availability en route to Belgium, June 7, 2000

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