Hold the line on defence spending, Secretary General urges

Allies should hold the line on defence spending and look for ways to close the gaps in their capabilities, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said as he launched his second Annual Report on 31 January 2013.


The Annual Report sets out the Alliance’s achievements in 2012 and the challenges it expects to face in 2013. One of the most pressing concerns is the economic situation and its impact on defence capabilities within the Alliance.


“Our security rests on our prosperity: you can’t be safe if you’re broke. But in turn, our prosperity rests on our security,” the Secretary General told a press conference in Brussels.


“We have to invest to keep our societies safe. Because security threats won’t go away while we focus on fixing our economies,” he underlined.


Overall, NATO investment in modern capabilities has risen in recent years, and most Allies have significantly improved their ability to deploy and sustain forces . However, the development has been uneven, and while total defence spending by the Allies has been going down, the defence spending of emerging powers has been going up.


“If these trends continue, we could face serious gaps that would place NATO’s military capacity and political credibility at risk,” Mr Fogh Rasmussen stressed.


Such gaps could arise between European Allies; between Allies in Europe and North America; and between NATO and emerging powers.


This challenge means the Alliance faces three tasks, the Secretary General said.


“The first is to hold the line on defence investment: there is a lower limit of how little we can spend on defence, while living up to our responsibilities. The second is to start closing the gaps, as our economies start to recover. And the third is to build our strength in depth,” he said.