Home Featured Without European rearmament, NATO is setting itself up for failure – POLITICO
Without European rearmament, NATO is setting itself up for failure – POLITICO

Without European rearmament, NATO is setting itself up for failure – POLITICO

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However, repeated warnings that, should Ukraine lose, Russia will reconstitute its land forces and be ready to attack NATO have resulted in little more than procrastination and indecisive action. And besides the countries along NATO’s Eastern flank, Europe’s political leaders continue to behave as though not much has changed, as their rhetoric has yet to be matched by commensurate action.

Promises of future spending aren’t the same as actual contracts that would impel European defense contractors to increase production at speed and scale. And without European rearmament, NATO is simply setting itself up for failure.

The U.S. and allied military leadership — both at the U.S. European Command and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe — has worked tirelessly to return NATO to its original role of providing collective deterrence and defense. The alliance now has regional plans, with force generation capabilities requirements that will restore this primary function. But if Europe doesn’t spend the money to expand its defense industrial base and provide real military capabilities to make these new regional plans credible, their execution will be fraught with unacceptable risk. 

And yet, judging by the uneven response from several European capitals regarding spending money on defense, allies seem locked in a culture of talking big while relying on the U.S. to shoulder the lion’s share of the burden. Today, only 18 of NATO’s 32 members are spending — or have promised to spend — the pledged 2 percent of GDP on defense. To put this in perspective, during the Cold War, European countries were spending, on average, 3 to 5 percent of GDP on defense.

Today, only 19 of NATO’s 32 members are spending the pledged 2 percent of GDP on defense. | John Thys/Getty Images

But allies signed on to these new plans at the last NATO summit in Vilnius — which means the capabilities commitments attached to these plans are a binding pledge. Yet, just three months before NATO’s 75th anniversary summit in Washington this summer, the alliance continues to struggle with shortfalls in integrated air and missile defense, deep precision strikes, command and control, and logistics.

Further still, there’s no genuine realization that NATO may fail in a crisis simply because it continues to come up short when it comes to rebuilding itself into a war-fighting alliance.

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