It is high time for Congress to focus on the ‘O’ in NATO

The US Capitol dome, December on 17, 2010.

From Sarwar Kashmeri, Huffington Post:  As part of trimming the U.S. defense budget Congress should insist that within 3-5 years the responsibility for the defense of Europe and its periphery be transferred to the EU. Specifically,

  • America should turn over the leadership of NATO to the EU by replacing Americans with Europeans in key NATO positions throughout the Alliance.
  • NATO’s operations and planning division (Allied Command Operations/SHAPE) should be merged into CSDP and serve as the EU’s planning, command, and control staff.
  • NATO’s board of directors, the North Atlantic Council (NAC), made up of ambassadors and their staffs from the alliance’s 28 members is no longer fit for purpose. It assumes a non-EU Europe of separate countries, and being primarily a military structure, cannot forge the political consensus to streamline Europe’s military-industrial complex. The NAC should be recast to include one representative each from the EU, United States, Canada, and non-EU members of NATO such as Turkey. It should also be re-missioned to serve as a security bridge across the Atlantic in case of a conflict that requires a combined European-North American response. Such as the recent alliance decision to deploy Patriot missiles to defend Turkey from Syria.
  • NATO’s third entity, Allied Command Transformation or ACT, located in Norfolk, Virginia largely duplicates the functions of the EU’s European Defense Agency and should be merged with it.
  • Finally, America should take the initiative for this transformation and push the transatlantic allies to set up a high level task-force to redesign the structure of NATO.

The North Atlantic Treaty continues to serve a valuable purpose. It is the "O" in NATO that needs an upgrade. Congress should make this a high American priority in 2013.

Sarwar Kashmeri is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and the author of NATO 2.0: Reboot or Delete?  (photo: Getty)

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