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More Work Needed on Defense Capabilities Initiative

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, Belgium, Dec. 5, 2000 – If NATO received a report card on the Defense Capabilities Initiative, the teacher comments might read, “Decent progress. Must try harder.”

That’s the evaluation NATO officials are giving the alliance in meeting the goals of the initiative designed to build new capabilities or increase existing ones. NATO leaders agreed to the DCI during the 1999 Washington Summit.

Just over half of the defense requirements listed under the DCI have been met, a NATO officials said. “This has led to significant improvements in our defense assets and in our ability to carry out the missions, but we’re still falling short of those goals,” the official said.

The DCI had been under discussion before Operation Allied Force. However, the shortcomings exposed during the campaign gave the initiative more impetus. “Post-Kosovo people are taking the DCI much more seriously,” officials said.

NATO has a considered, worked-out plan of what needs to be done and what the gaps are. NATO allies must provide more airlift and sealift. They must buy more precision-guided munitions. The Kosovo campaign also pointed out glaring weaknesses in command, control, communications, computers and intelligence.

Officials pointed to a series of projects. They said the British are buying roll-on, roll-off ships and other amphibious assets. The British also are leasing C-17 transport aircraft. Many countries are buying Airbus A-400M transport aircraft. Six NATO nations are working together on the F-16 project. They are modernizing the aircraft and its suite of weapons. The Dutch are working with the Germans on airlift.

NATO officials said 11 out of 16 European NATO members plan real increases in defense spending this year. They said even the nations that are not spending more “are doing more in the form of restructuring and reforms. [They are] modernizing their forces to deal with this century’s missions rather than the missions applicable to the Cold War.”

NATO Secretary General George Robertson is sending a letter on the Defense Capabilities Initiative to the member nations so they can evaluate their progress.

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