NATO-led operations in Libya have exposed significant shortcomings in both the political will to conduct military operations and the military capabilities of the allied nations. Where do we go from here?
(1) The United States MUST reconsider its commitment to fund 75% of NATO defense spending. While the US does get something back from that in terms of foreign orders for US made weapons, that number is not sustainable in light of the current US debt/deficit.
(2) Only the US, France, Great Britain, Albania and Greece spend the 2% of GDP on defense that participation in NATO requires. The other 24 allied nations spend less.
(Reuters) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a sharp parting shot at European allies on Friday, saying NATO risks "collective military irrelevance" unless they bear more of the burden and boost military spending.
"If current trends in the decline of European defense capabilities are not halted and reversed, future U.S. political leaders -- those for whom the Cold War was not the formative experience that it was for me -- may not consider the return on America's investment in NATO worth the cost." (Gates)
The real question is whether or not the NATO allies feel that NATO is in THEIR best interests. When somebody else pays the bill, you find that there are a lot of boutique items that you can buy and look good on the shelf. It changes when you are paying for it yourself. The Libyan gambit was not a US problem. European powers decided it was time for Gadaffi to go. Because of NATO, the US reluctantly went along with it. AND then some, but not all, of the Europeans (Italy) decided not to play in the sandbox.
Former NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer warned the forum that the current imbalance was "not sustainable...Europe has a rather pale face as we speak," he said, criticizing "totally uncoordinated budget cuts" and urging his own nation, the Netherlands, to join strike missions in Libya.