NATO defence ministers on Wednesday took key decisions on strengthening the Alliance’s collective defence, including by bolstering the NATO Response Force in NATO headquarters in Brussels.
However, in terms of the defence spending topic, “The picture is mixed,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Stoltenberg made the speech at a press conference following the Defence Ministers meeting.
He said NATO defence ministers decided to enhance the NATO Response Force (NRF) to increase the personnel to up to 40,000, from the previous level of 13,000.
They further took measures to speed up political and military decision-making. “Detailed advance planning and rapid decision-making are two sides of the same coin. They mean we are able to respond more rapidly and more effectively to threats,” said Stoltenberg.
NATO Allies also finalized details on the six small headquarters being set up in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. “They will each consist of around 40 people, and will play a key role in planning, exercises, and assisting potential reinforcement,” the Secretary General explained.
In addition, NATO decided to establish a new Joint Logistics Headquarters, to facilitate the rapid movement of forces when necessary.
“We have just taken another step forward in adapting NATO to our changed and more challenging security environment,” said Stoltenberg.
Ministers reviewed defence spending figures, in light of the commitment made by Allied leaders last September to increase defence spending over the coming decade. “The picture is mixed,” the NATO chief said, adding that “while some progress has been made, we need to see more.”
European members of NATO have reduced their defense spending steadily since 1990. There are only five NATO member states spent at least two percent of their GDP on defence in 2014, in accordance with the NATO guidelines, including the United States.
Judy Dempsey, a senior associate at Carnegie Europe said in a article, “Europeans have developed a built-in dependence culture and a sense of entitlement to U.S. defense. Because they assume the Americans will come to their defense.”
“This is as shortsighted as it is dangerous for the transatlantic relationship,” Judy added, “NATO’s sense of collective defense and solidarity will weaken.” Enditem