NATO Urges Smart Defense

NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said the crisis in Ukraine could lead to some “positive actions after years of declining defense budgets.” Speaking to defense reporters in Washington, D.C., last week, Vershbow said NATO is encouraging larger NATO nations to pair up with three or four smaller allies to produce more affordable deployable forces. Vershbow said the Strategic Airlift Capability consortium at Papa AB, Hungary, is one model that may also be applicable to aerial refueling tankers or to heavy lift transport planes. The consortium is made up of 10 NATO nations and two NATO Partnership for Peace nations that jointly operate a fleet of C-17 transports. In addition, Denmark is leading an effort to pool precision-guided munitions in the hopes of avoiding another “Libya scenario, where there was ad hoc resupply in the midst of the conflict because nations literally ran out of bombs,” said Vershbow. NATO also is buying a commonly funded fleet of Global Hawks, called the Alliance Ground Surveillance System. And, there is “talk of a Reaper users group that could combine economies of scale by combining maintenance, training, even co-location of certain bases, and they would all make use of a new NATO-built and financed architecture” that will be based at NAS Sigonella, Italy, he added.? (See also NATO Ministers Discuss ‘Smart Defense.’)