NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during a July 2 press conference in Berlin. (Clemens Bilan / AFP)
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WASHINGTON — NATO leaders will push alliance members to adopt a readiness action designed to improve the speed European militaries can respond to crisis during the organization’s September summit in Wales.
The move would better prepare the alliance to respond to a wide array of security threats in regions such as Northern Africa and Eastern Europe, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday.
“We are looking closely at how we deploy our forces for defense and deterrence,” Rasmussen during a speech at the Atlantic Council think tank.
“We are also considering reinforcement measures, such as necessary infrastructure, the designation of bases and prepositioning of equipment and supplies,” he said. “We are reviewing our defense plans, threat assessments, intelligence sharing arrangements and early warning procedures.”
The alliance is also developing an updated exercise schedule “adapted to the new security environment,” Rasmussen said.
The organization wants to strengthen its response force and special forces “so we could respond more quickly to any threat against any member of the alliance,” he said.
Rasmussen echoed US calls for European allies to step up their defense spending.
“Some European nations can and should do more,” he said.
Only the US, UK, Greece and Estonia meet the NATO goal of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Turkey have all committed to boost defense spending.
“If all the European allies spend 2 percent of their national income on defense this year, we would have another $90 billion to spend,” he said.
Still, Rasmussen acknowledged he is “not naive” and “we will not achieve this overnight.”
US defense leaders in recent months have been steadily increasing their calls on NATO allies to step up defense spending, particularly following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in February.
At the upcoming summit, NATO leaders also plan to launch a defense capacity building initiative designed to improve smaller nations’ defenses. ■