Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen warns of ‘two-tier’ force: Secretary general echoes US concerns about Europe and says UN ‘must be ready’ to step in when Gaddafi falls

Julian Borger
Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Nato’s secretary general has warned that continued disparity in US and European defence spending might lead to a “two-tiered alliance” in which American and European troops would not be able to fight effectively together.

In a Guardian interview, Anders Fogh Rasmussen echoed the fears expressed last week by the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, about the strains being put on Nato by unequal burden-sharing.

“Ten years ago US defence investment represented almost half of all defence expenditure in the whole alliance. Today it is 75%,” Rasmussen said. “This increasing economic gap may also lead to an increasing technology gap which will almost hamper the inter-operability between our forces. The Americans provide … still more advanced military assets and equipment; the Europeans are lagging behind. And eventually it will be difficult to co-operate even if you had the political will to co-operate because of the technological gap.”

He added: “All this may in the long run weaken our alliance.”

Rasmussen said such a decline in Nato was not inevitable, expressing the hope that European nations would “step up to the plate” to increase defence spending. He also said the pooling of resources in bilateral and multilateral arrangements could make up for the decline in defence spending in difficult economic times.

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