Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called for a new defense ministerial meeting that includes senior budget officials during a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center forum in Washington, D.C., on May 2. Hagel pointed out that the US spends three times more than its NATO allies on defense even though its gross domestic product is less than the combined GDPs of all 27 NATO nations. “Over time, this lopsided burden threatens NATO’s integrity, cohesion, and capability, and ultimately both European and transatlantic security,” said Wilson. He praised Estonia and other smaller NATO members who have recently pledged to increase defense spending, but said all NATO nations must do the same. “Defense investment must be discussed in the broader context of member nations’ overall fiscal challenges and priorities,” said Hagel. Including senior finance officials in defense ministerial meetings would ensure they are up-to-date on the challenges facing the alliance, he added. “In meeting its global security commitments, the United States must have strong, committed, and capable allies. This year’s Quadrennial Defense Review makes this very clear,” said Hagel. “Going forward, the Department of Defense will not only seek, but increasingly rely, on closer integration and collaboration with our allies.” (Hagel transcript.) (AFPS report.)
New F-35s are coming off the production line with the TR-3 upgrade and going right into storage because testing is incomplete. Next lot negotiations are continuing, but talks over a performance-based logistics contract have stalled.