UK/Germany — UK Urges Germany To Pull Its Weight More On Defense

Britain urged Ger­many on Wednes­day to beef up its con­tri­bu­tion to Euro­pean defense and secu­ri­ty, in line with its eco­nom­ic might, as the Unit­ed States focus­es increas­ing­ly on the Asia-Pacif­ic region.

British Defence Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond said he did not expect Ger­many, Europe’s largest econ­o­my, to spend more mon­ey in a time of gen­er­al belt-tight­en­ing but said there was ample scope to improve the effec­tive­ness of its forces.

“Due to Germany’s his­toric reluc­tance to deploy and oper­ate over­seas, I think it is self-evi­dent that there is still huge poten­tial in Ger­man defense struc­tures to deliv­er more usable fire­pow­er to the (NATO) alliance,” he told reporters.

Speak­ing after talks in Berlin with Ger­man Defense Min­is­ter Thomas de Maiziere, Ham­mond said Ger­many spent only a lit­tle less on defense in absolute terms than France and Britain but that the amount was much small­er in pro­por­tion to its econ­o­my.

“(It is about) a will­ing­ness to pick up the bur­dens that go with hav­ing a glob­al­ly impor­tant econ­o­my… Ger­many rec­og­niz­ing that it can’t con­tin­ue to be the dom­i­nant econ­o­my in Europe with­out also sig­nif­i­cant­ly increas­ing its mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ty.”

“This is not about the bud­get but about turn­ing the forces it is already pay­ing for into a more deploy­able, more usable force,” Ham­mond said.

The Unit­ed States has long com­plained that most Euro­pean allies, includ­ing Ger­many, fail to spend the two per­cent of eco­nom­ic out­put required by NATO on defense. In Europe, only Britain, France, Greece and Alba­nia meet the tar­get.

But with Ger­many, Britain and much of Europe focused on reduc­ing pub­lic debt, that is unlike­ly to change any time soon.

Ham­mond praised Germany’s move to a pro­fes­sion­al army from one based on con­scrip­tion and its con­tri­bu­tions to over­seas NATO mis­sions in the Balka­ns and in Afghanistan, where the Ger­man con­tin­gent is the third largest after U.S. and British forces.

Last year, how­ev­er, demon­strat­ing the lim­its of its new-found will­ing­ness to engage mil­i­tar­i­ly, Ger­many upset its NATO allies by abstain­ing in a U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil vote autho­riz­ing mil­i­tary action in Libya and it stayed firm­ly on the side­lines dur­ing an aer­i­al bomb­ing cam­paign led by France and Britain.

Ham­mond played down the Libyan issue as a “minor set­back” on the path to what he saw as a more proac­tive and respon­si­ble Ger­many that has over­come its post-World War Two inhi­bi­tions about send­ing troops over­seas.

“I detect a deter­mi­na­tion here that Germany’s role in NATO should con­tin­ue to nor­mal­ize… and that it intends to con­tin­ue to become a more sig­nif­i­cant play­er among the nations in pro­tect­ing our col­lec­tive secu­ri­ty,” Ham­mond said.

This arti­cle is pub­lished with kind per­mis­sion of “Avi­a­tion Week & Space Tech­nol­o­gy


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