05 May 2014

US Defence Secretary urges NATO to increase defence spend

Summary: US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has called upon NATO members to increase their defence spending budgets and ‘invest in our collective defence’.

His comments come in light of increased global tensions, particularly involving the current situation in Russia and Ukraine and follows recent concern from Washington that European nations, including the United Kingdom, have cut their Armed Forces too far.

Global military expenditure

Global military expenditure has fallen in recent years, with the UK dropping from fourth place to sixth in terms of worldwide defence expenditure. While globally spend is in a decline, there have been significant increases in North African, Asian and Eastern European countries as well as Russia, which has increased spending by almost 5%.

Mr Hagel said: “Talking amongst ourselves is no longer good enough […] Leaders across our governments must understand the consequences of current trends in reduced defense spending, and help break through the fiscal impasse.”

Investing in defence

His comments come after President Barack Obama called on NATO to ‘share the burden’, rather than relying on the US contribution. In March, President Obama appealed to “every NATO member state […] to step up and carry its share of the burden by showing the political will to invest in our collective defense.”

In exchange for studying how each country can contribute more to the alliance, and to help determine how NATO can better spend the money it already has, Mr Hagel announced plans for the US to open up the flow of liquefied natural gas from the US to Europe, with the ultimate goal of providing more than half of what the continent currently needs from Russia.

Emerging defence opportunities

As new markets begin to open up for defence suppliers across the world, it is important to understand where the opportunities lie not just at the moment, but in the coming years.

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