Deputy SecGen Vershbow: ‘Much remains to be done’ to diminish military capabilities gap in NATO

NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, February 1, 2012

From Alexander Vershbow, NATO:  The U.S. “pivot to Asia” reflects the growing challenges of that region. But it is also an opportunity. Better connectivity with Asia is not only in the United States’ interests. It is also in Europe’s interest.

This “pivot” has raised questions about the European Allies’ ability to do more for their own security, and the financial crisis has only made this task more difficult. A key challenge is to ensure that austerity does not undermine our security by diminishing our military capabilities, or widen the gap between European allies and the United States to the point that it becomes politically unsustainable.

Part of the solution is what we call Smart Defence. It involves Allies prioritising what they need, specialising in what they do best, and cooperating multinationally to achieve common goals that they might not be able to afford individually. In this way, we can become more effective and efficient, while sustaining our level of ambition.

At our Summit in Chicago last May, Allies approved a package of more than 20 ‘Smart Defence’ projects. This included an interim capability for a NATO missile defence system, new initiatives in joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, plus cooperative projects in areas such as countering IEDs, logistics and sustainment. We also agreed an extension of Baltic Air Policing.

This is a good start, but much remains to be done.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if there is one lesson that the 21st century has taught us so far, it is that we cannot choose between security at home and security abroad. They are one and the same.

We need a perspective that is both European and global. We need capabilities that are flexible, deployable, and technologically advanced to meet both traditional and non-traditional threats. And we need partners, both in Europe and around the globe, to expand the community of shared interests, shared values, and shared security that NATO represents. That’s the NATO we need in 2020 and beyond, and that’s the NATO we are delivering.

Excerpt from introductory remarks by the Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Amb. Alexander Vershbow at the 7th annual Riga Conference.  (photo: NATO)

Image: nato%202%2013%2012%20Vershbow%20edited.jpg