U.S. Pacific Pivot Raises Concerns On NATO Naval Abilities: Report

The U.S. is refocusing its attention on the Pacific at a time when its NATO partners may need to depend more heavily on American maritime power, an American Enterprise Institute report says.

“The US must recognize that even with its navy declining in size, over time, it will comprise an increasing percentage of alliance striking power,” says the report, “NATO at Sea, Trends in Allied Naval Power,” released this week.

“Absent a crisis or a threat that manifests itself largely as a naval threat, Europe is unlikely to return to large, balanced fleets,” the report says. “With US armed forces increasingly focused on the Asia-Pacific region, there are growing concerns as to whether the navies of America’s continental allies are up to meeting the challenges arising from the general unrest on Europe’s eastern and southern maritime flanks.”

“However, with continental Europe at peace, the drawdown in Afghanistan, the rise of general unrest in North Africa and the Levant, and the American intent to pivot toward Asia, questions are increasingly arising about the capabilities of NATO’s European navies to project power and sustain operations around their eastern and southern maritime flanks,” the report says.

Particularly telling, the report says, is the recent NATO operation in Libya.

“NATO’s reliance on the United States from March to October 2011 to carry out the allied mission in Libya — despite President Obama’s admonition that the United States would not take the lead in the military operation — is the result of two distinct causes: NATO-wide underinvestment in military capability and a lack of political will on the part of uniquely capable countries,” the report says. “Capability is absent in some areas; in others, it is unevenly distributed. When key platforms were present and fielded, they were often numerically too few.”

Full article: U.S. Pacific Pivot Raises Concerns On NATO Naval Abilities: Report (Aviation Week)

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