NATO is Crucial to U.S. SecurityBy Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 13, 2012 - Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told a Senate panel today the NATO alliance is crucial to American security, but that NATO countries need to spend more on defense.
At NATO's summit in Chicago last month, leaders agreed to develop greater capabilities in missile defense, in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and in air-to-air refueling, among other things.
But with Europe going through an economic downturn, the United States has concerns that many European nations will "constantly go back to defense and seek further savings there, which I think would be dangerous," Panetta said.
This has already eroded some capabilities. Panetta said that during last year's Libya operation, the United States provided roughly 60 percent of the support, and that NATO officials told him if the mission were today, the United States would have to pick up about 80 percent.
Leon E. Panetta