From Leon Panetta, the Department of Defense: The reality is that the United States military alone cannot be all things to all nations. We will maintain our excellence. We will maintain our excellence. We will maintain our leadership. But in the effort to maintain our excellence and our leadership, we also have to meet our security commitments around the world. And in doing that, we must, and we will, sharpen the application of our resources, better — better deploy our forces in the world, and share our burdens more and more effectively with our partners. And frankly, all of our allies need to do the same. . . .
As we look at our global alliances, certainly none has been more successful than NATO, which I consider a real tribute to the decades of investment in capabilities and joint training and the determination of leaders from the trans-Atlantic community, many of whom I’m glad are here today. Revitalizing NATO has been a centerpiece of the Obama administration’s efforts to build stronger alliances and stronger partnerships. . . .
As we look to forge a stronger NATO that draws on our experiences in Afghanistan and Libya, the United States will continue to play a decisive role in safeguarding the shared interests of our NATO partners. Part of doing so is enabling allies and partners to contribute their share to the common defense. To do that, however, the alliance needs to develop new capabilities to keep pace with emerging threats even in an era of fiscal austerity. As I said in Brussels last month, these challenging economic times cannot be an excuse for walking away from our security responsibilities. I refuse to believe that we have to choose between fiscal responsibility and national security.
Instead, we must commit to ensuring that NATO addresses key shortfalls in areas such as intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, precision strike munitions and aerial refueling and lift capabilities. To fill these gaps, allied nations will need to pool their declining defense dollars to more efficiently and effectively, as General Rasmussen has outlined in his smart defense initiative. We are looking to make more progress on this front when our leaders gather next year in Chicago.