Membership May Have its Privileges

As the United States prepares to join the European-based Air Transport, Air-to-Air Refueling, and Other Exchange of Services, or ATARES, program, some of the 20 current members are reporting cost savings through their participation, reported Government Accountability Office auditors. The Netherlands, for example, claims that it saves “millions” of euros annually, while Norway reaps savings of upwards of 3.5 million euros each year, states GAO’s Oct. 30 report. Under ATARES, member countries use a credit and debt system to share air force-related services, included air transport, air-to-air refueling, maritime patrol, search and air rescue, and strategic air medical evacuation. Pending the approval of the Defense Secretary—and concurrence of the US secretary of state, the Defense Department plans to participate in the program, initially with European-based C-130s, according to GAO. DOD cites more efficient transport of supplies and personnel and the ability to maintain multinational relationships among the reasons for joining. ATARES members currently include 17 NATO European nations, plus Austria, Finland, and Sweden.