Big Surprise Here

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday urged NATO European allies to step up their defense outlays to support the organization’s operations. “Over the long term, current spending trends threaten NATO’s integrity and capabilities,” said Hagel at a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels during the Alliance’s defense ministerials. He noted Europe’s declining defense budgets and how the United States is shouldering a more disproportionate share of the alliance’s burden. While the United States will continue to do its share, European allies should match that resolve by investing more in their own defense, said Hagel. He called on them to issue a declaration to reverse current trends and rebalance the alliance’s burden-sharing, ideally at NATO’s summit in Wales in September. NATO’s goal is for each member state to spend two percent of its gross domestic product on defense. (American Forces Press Service report by Jim Garamone)