SecGen:  “Only NATO can fit the bill”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, October 22, 2010.

From David Brunnstrom, Reuters:  NATO leaders will recommit the alliance to playing a global military role when they meet to agree a new mission statement this week, despite the bruising and demoralizing experience of the war in Afghanistan.

The Afghan mission has been the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s largest combat role in its 61-year history and the first outside the region it was created to defend. It has also prompted the biggest questions about its future.

The difficulties NATO has faced in the conflict and the ill-feeling created by the unwillingness of some members, such as Germany, to share the risk of frontline combat roles, has led some to question the alliance’s long-term viability.

Mounting casualties, growing public opposition to the war and pressure on military spending from the financial crisis have reduced enthusiasm for future "out-of-theater roles" — not least in the United States, NATO’s strongest power.

Even so, a new strategic concept to be approved by the leaders of the 28 NATO states at a summit in Lisbon on November 19-20, will stress the need for NATO to ensure it can mount "crisis-management" missions around the world in future.

"No other organization can marshal, deploy and sustain NATO’s military power," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said last month, dismissing media suggestions that Afghanistan might be the alliance’s last big mission.

"There will be other missions in future for which only NATO can fit the bill. We will have to be ready."  (photo: Getty)

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