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NATO creates task force to spend smarter

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Brussels (UPI) Mar 17, 2011
NATO has set up a task force that's looking for ways to boost its military purchasing power in times of shrinking defense budgets.

Agreed to during a meeting in Brussels last week, the task force is to deliver strategies for "innovative, multinational approaches to capability development" by September, quotes the alliance's supreme allied commander, French Gen. Stephane Abrial, as saying.

"We need to be able to do better with less in the future," the defense news Web site reports Abrial as saying.

While spending is to be curtailed, security can't be compromised, he added.

"Therefore we have to redouble our efforts to see how we can be more effective and more efficient," he said.

This will include closer cooperation between the 28 NATO members when it comes to strategies, procurement and troop training. That doesn't mean that decisions will necessarily be taken by all member states, Abrial added.

"If you try to procure at 28, then it might take quite awhile to get an agreement and in order to get to the agreement, you will have to make compromises and to include some parts of ambiguity, which you will pay at the end in terms of time and cost," he said.

There have been first signs of increased multinational cooperation, one example of which is a wide-reaching agreement on defense cooperation signed last November with Britain.

The powers agreed to launch an Anglo-French joint expeditionary force of around 10,000 troops that could be deployed as soon as next year. Valued for 50 years, the cooperation agreement foresees conduct joint nuclear weapons tests and a sharing of both nations' aircraft carriers.

France in January also called for closer cooperation with Germany and its defense industry, one of the world's best-performing when it comes to sales.

A Franco-German working group was formed to identify areas of cooperation between the armed forces, France said.

This comes as several NATO powers have announced defense budget cuts as a result of tighter government spending after the economic crisis.

Next year's U.S. military budget could be cut by $37 billion, proposals have indicated. Britain, Europe's largest contributor to the crucial NATO mission in Afghanistan, last October decided to cut defense spending by 8 percent, reduce troop numbers and scrap defense equipment such as airplanes, tanks and artillery. Germany, France and Italy also cut defense spending.

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