NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday said that the Alliance’s operation in Libya was a success despite the financial crisis forcing governments to reduce defense spending.
“We conducted the operation ‘Unified Protector’ successfully against the backdrop of the global financial crisis,” Rasmussen told legislators from NATO’s 28 member states and partners gathered in Bucharest for the 57th Parliamentary Assembly.
“I am very satisfied with the way the operation has been conducted, it is an example of solidarity,” he added.
Rasmussen stressed that the air war in Libya has also taught members important lessons: “First, that despite economic challenges, European allies with Canada and partners in the region provided the majority of assets and that is a clear response to an often heard American request for more European responsibility within NATO.”
But he stressed that the other lesson that needed to be learned was that “allies need to invest more in critical fields such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. That is what we have to focus on.
“We could not have carried out this operation without the unique and essential assets from the US. This is no breaking news that we need help from the U.S., that is the essence of the alliance and not a weakness," he insisted.
NATO’s chief pleaded in favor of the concept of “smart defense”, crucial according to him in this period of austerity.
“Smart defense can only work if it is done together, it is not an excuse to reduce budgets,” he said, adding that the alternative would be “less defense”.
On Saturday, NATO lawmakers urged governments not to cut defense spending, warning that this could damage security.
NATO’s Director of Force Planning Frank Boland warned that the Alliance was facing “a serious situation in terms of burden sharing.”
He stressed that the U.S. share in NATO’s defense spending had risen to 77 percent up from 61 percent a decade ago, while 18 of the 28 allies had cut defense spending since 2008.