European NATO Defense Spending- Worst of Both Worlds?
By Taylor Marvin
European NATO members in combat over Libya are rapidly depleting their armament stocks and are tactically hampered by their small number of available strike aircraft. From The Washington Post:
“Less than a month into the Libyan conflict, NATO is running short of precision bombs, highlighting the limitations of Britain, France and other European countries in sustaining even a relatively small military action over an extended period of time, according to senior NATO and U.S. officials.”
This is really just another reminder that European NATO member defense budgets are essentially optimized for nothing. If NATO is a pure defense pact tasked with defending the European continent then the UK, France, Germany and other member states all overspend on their defense budgets and could better use the money somewhere else. But if NATO is a global peacekeeping force that intervenes in foreign humanitarian crises with no direct impact on European security member states’ military spending is insufficient, because their defense budgets don’t support the requirements of fighting expeditionary wars or projecting power internationally. In many ways, major European NATO members’ preference for high but not expeditionary levels of military spending minimizes the practical returns on their defense budgets.
Update: I amended the title of this piece soon after it was posted.