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BRUSSELS 21-22 Feb 2013 NATO defense ministers meet
At a meeting chaired by Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO defense ministers will wrestle with the Alliance’s growing involvement in Syri

February 21, 2013 - NULL

BRUSSELS 21-22 Feb 2013 NATO defense ministers meet
At a meeting chaired by Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO defense ministers will wrestle with the Alliance's growing involvement in Syria, and probably will restate the decision to keep the 28-nation alliance out of the Mali conflict. At a recent meeting Rasmussen linked the reluctance to step in to buttress French gains in Mali as a problem of budget-related inability and lingering commitments in Afghanistan. Increasingly, debate about NATO's direction once its involvement in Afghanistan ends in 2014 will occupy significant debate at NATO meetings.

Currently, five of six

BRUSSELS 21-22 Feb 2013 NATO defense ministers meet
At a meeting chaired by Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO defense ministers will wrestle with the Alliance's growing involvement in Syria, and probably will restate the decision to keep the 28-nation alliance out of the Mali conflict. At a recent meeting Rasmussen linked the reluctance to step in to buttress French gains in Mali as a problem of budget-related inability and lingering commitments in Afghanistan. Increasingly, debate about NATO's direction once its involvement in Afghanistan ends in 2014 will occupy significant debate at NATO meetings.

Currently, five of six Patriot batteries belonging to Germany, the Netherlands and United States are operating across the border from Syria in NATO-member Turkey as part of an effort to protect Turkish airspace from a potential missile strike from neighboring Syria. A second US Patriot battery is expected to become operational shortly.

During a brief visit to Vilnius on Feb 1, Rasmussen said NATO is not engaged in the Mali operation and he didn't see a role there for the Alliance. In an interview with the Financial Times But he warned that both the current Mali operation and the NATO Libya mission in 2011 have exposed gaps in European defense capabilities. This, he says, is worrying at a time when the United States is focusing on Asian security issues and facing its own budgetary pressures.

France, about to hand over to African forces, is pressing for a United Nations military operation in Mali, and there are other calls to expand the French operation into a full United Nations operation. The African Union, meanwhile, is calling for NATO to step in. Several NATO members -- including the United States, Canada and France -- have offered to help train and supply the West African force bolstering Mali's army, but have not offered troops.

NATO's recent annual report said that allies had agreed that at least 20 per cent of defense expenditure should be devoted to major equipment spending. Yet in 2012, only five allies achieved this target, while nine spent less than 10 per cent.

Asked at the Munich Security Conference in February what NATO plans to do once its Afghanistan involvement is at an end, Rasmussen answered that the Alliance will "continue to respond to crises whenever, and wherever, the Allies judge their security interests are at stake." He said he sees "an arc of crises stretching from the Sahel to Central Asia." (WRITTEN FEB 2013)

KEYWORDS: NATO defense ministers meeting, NATO defence ministers meeting, Brussels, Belgium, Europe, February 2013, Syria, Mali, NATO, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Munich Security Conference, defense news, defence news

RELATED READING:

Carter, Turkish Defense Leaders to Meet on Security Challenges (US Dept. of Defense)
http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119184

Nato chief warns on Europe's gaps in Mali (FT 3 Feb 2013)
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b1d56f0a-6e07-11e2-983d-00144feab49a.html

African Union urges NATO to join Mali force (AFP 8 Jan 2013)
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gUo1-mT3wDJ1DgQM_Ik32htfbY3w?docId=CNG.0c806c84e51c0e9e7a19ea7d71db8675.51

Nato rules out Mali role but backs French intervention (Radio France Internationale 1 Feb 2013)
http://www.english.rfi.fr/africa/20130201-nato-rules-out-mali-role-backs-french-intervention

''NATO after ISAF - Staying Successful Together'' (NATO 2 Feb 2013)
http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/opinions_94321.htm

Date written/update: 2013-02-21