Allies must be ready for follow-on Afghan mission
BRUSSELS (Pajhwok): US defense secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday said NATO’s European allies must dedicate more money to defence spending, “and all are ready to do their part in the follow-on operation in Afghanistan.
Hagel, who spoke at a news conference after meetings with NATO defence ministers in Brussels that he was able to provide the ministers the details of Obama’s decision last week on maintaining a limited military presence in Afghanistan after the current ISAF mission concludes at the end of the year.
The United States will provide 9,800 service members for Operation Resolute Support, provided the new Afghan president signs the bilateral security agreement.
“My discussions today with ISAF defense ministers underscored that our allies and partners remain committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security, and to the pledges made at the Chicago Summit two years ago,” Hagel said.
The defence ministers also agreed that the alliance must be prepared for the full spectrum of missions, including those against sophisticated adversaries with advanced technologies, and against new, asymmetric threats.
“We need capabilities that balance NATO’s three core tasks: collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security,” Hagel said.
Calling Russia’s actions in and around Ukraine a major concern for the ministers, Hagel said Moscow’s actions “constitute the most significant and direct challenge to European security since the end of the Cold War.”
The NATO allies agreed they must continue to uphold the credibility of the alliance and of the international order that European security has anchored for seven decades. The United States will continue to do its part,” Hagel said.
“Money remains a problem,” he said, noting that the allies discussed Europe’s declining defense budgets. “This decline means the United States has shouldered a more and more disproportionate share of the alliance’s burden,” Hagel said.
“Over the long term, current spending trends threaten NATO’s integrity and capabilities,” the secretary said. The American commitment should be matched by renewed European resolve to invest in its own defense, he said.
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