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Thread: NATO Lisbon Summit - general matters and policy

  1. #11

    Nato faces 'dim future', warns Pentagon chief

    Robert Gates blasts 'two-tiered' alliance of those willing to wage war and those who do not share risks and costs

    Ian Traynor in Brussels

    guardian.co.uk, Friday 10 June 2011 12.46 BST

    Robert Gates delivers a speech on entitled Reflections on the status and future of the transatlantic alliance, warning that Nato risks 'military irrelevance' unless spending is increased by members other than the US. Photograph: Jason Reed/AFP/Getty Images

    The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, has launched a blistering attack on European defence complacency, saying Nato has become a "two-tiered" alliance of those willing to wage war and those only interested in "talking" and peacekeeping.

    In his bluntest warning in nearly five years as the Pentagon head under two US presidents, Gates announced that Washington's fading commitment to European security could spell the death of the 60-year-old alliance.

    In a valedictory speech in Brussels three weeks before retiring, Gates bristled with exasperation and contempt for European defence spending cuts, inefficiencies and botched planning, and read the riot act to an elite European audience.

    Nato faced a "dim, if not dismal" future, consigned to "collective military irrelevance", Gates said, warning for the first time that the organisation was living on borrowed time and that a new young generation of US leaders could abandon the key pillar of transatlantic security, established in 1949.

    "If current trends in the decline of European defence capabilities are not halted and reversed, future US political leaders – those for whom the cold war was not the formative experience that it was for me – may not consider the return on America's investment in Nato worth the cost," he said.

    He attacked Europe's conduct of the bombing campaign against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, told the Europeans to forget any notions of pulling their troops out of Afghanistan in a piecemeal manner, and said the big new factor raising questions about Nato's survival was the "political and economic environment in the United States".

    "The mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country," Gates said of the Anglo-French led campaign in Libya.

    "Yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the US, once more, to make up the difference."

    The US share of Nato military spending had soared to 75%, much more than during the cold war heyday when Washington maintained hundreds of thousands of US troops across Europe, he said.

    He warned that the US taxpayer would not stand for it much longer – the US Congress and "the American body politic writ large" would rebel against spending "increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations apparently willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defence budgets".

    Nato had degenerated into an alliance "between those willing and able to pay the price and bear the burdens of commitments, and those who enjoy the benefits of Nato membership but don't want to share the risks and the costs", Gates said.

    Noting that he was 20 years older than President Barack Obama, he said Washington's security guarantees to Europe, embodied in the Nato alliance, were fading. His peers' "emotional and historical attachment" to Nato was "ageing out", he said, adding: "You have a lot of new members of Congress who are roughly old enough to be my children or grandchildren."

    Generational change, economic hardship and European refusal to take responsibility for their own security were all feeding Nato's decline and possible end, he warned.

    "The drift of the past 20 years can't continue," Gates said. "In the past, I've worried openly about Nato turning into a two-tiered alliance, between members who specialise in 'soft' humanitarian, development, peacekeeping, and talking tasks, and those conducting the "hard" combat missions ...

    "This is no longer a hypothetical worry. We are there today. And it is unacceptable."

    In March, all 28 Nato members had voted for the Libya mission, he noted. "Less than half have participated, and fewer than a third have been willing to participate in the strike mission," he said.

    "Frankly, many of those allies sitting on the sidelines do so not because they do not want to participate, but simply because they can't. The military capabilities simply aren't there."

    In a withering attack on the European defence establishment, he blasted allies for slashing defence budgets, but admitted there was little chance of reversing the trend.

    "The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the US Congress to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defence," he said.

  2. #12

    NATO at Crossroads After Blunt Gates Speech

    June 13, 2011

    Associated Press

    PARIS -- Created as a bulwark against Soviet expansion, NATO is facing an identity crisis as its members grapple with just how much its long and often-unpopular mission in Afghanistan and its new air campaign in Libya size up as national interests -- or not -- when many countries' budgets are under strain.

    In an unusually blunt parting speech Friday, outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called on the Atlantic allies of the U.S. to pay and do more to overcome the alliance's military shortcomings -- raising the question: What is NATO today, and what does it need to be?

    The allies will be doing some soul-searching in the coming months, with Osama bin Laden dead, many European state coffers squeezed by high debt and slow economic growth, the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan about to start and tough questions about how long its air campaign over Libya could last.

    The alliance has grappled with diverging internal views over whether NATO should be an instrument of "hard" combat missions -- generally the U.S. view -- or the preference among some in Europe for "soft" power, like "humanitarian, development, peacekeeping, and talking tasks," as Gates put it.

    Ever since the Berlin Wall fell, NATO's raison d'etre has been questioned. Now, with its hands in two military big campaigns in Afghanistan and Libya, the doubts about the alliance's future have hit a new crescendo.

    Gates pointed to the "real possibility of collective military irrelevance" and called on members to look at new ways of raising combat capabilities in procurement, training, logistics and sustainment.

    Michael Clarke, a NATO watcher and director of the Royal United Services Institute in Britain, said the U.S. still needs NATO as a political conduit to Europe -- but admitted the alliance is struggling militarily.

    "There's no doubt that militarily, NATO is approaching something of a crossroads -- it's been approaching this crossroads for some time," he said. Gates, he said, expressed publicly what was long said in private: "that NATO's capabilities risk falling below a threshold where they can be effective."

    Founded in 1949, NATO was aimed to counter the Red Menace of Stalin's Soviet Union. While that threat is long gone, Gates and others say some of the alliance's 28 member states -- all European except for Canada and the U.S. -- remain too comfortable under Washington's security umbrella.

    Gates said the U.S. share of NATO defense spending is now more than 75 percent, and just four other members -- Britain, France, Greece and Albania -- spend more than the agreed 2 percent of economic output on defense.

    The former Soviet specialist all but thumped his shoe on the table at Friday's NATO meeting in Brussels, saying its future appeared "dim if not dismal" because of Europe's alleged penny-pitching and aversion to combat.

    As U.S. military expenditures rose -- notably under President George W. Bush -- its share of NATO defense spending swelled. Gates cited an estimate that Europe's defense spending fell 15 percent since 2001.

    Jan Oberg, a director of the Transnational Foundation, a think tank in Sweden, said the strains are of Washington's own making: by devoting too much money to defense -- or roughly 45 percent of the total $1.7 trillion spent worldwide each year.

    "If the secretary of defense of that country tells the rest of the alliance that they are paying too little, the objective truth is that it's a perverse level that the United States is on, and it can forget about ever having the European countries invest as much -- because we're not having any military troubles within Europe," he said.

    NATO has come a long way from a high-water mark at the end of the Cold War, when Europe was its focus and it succeeded in staring down the Warsaw Pact, and the Soviet Union and allied Communist regimes collapsed.

    After the turn of the new century and the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S., as a geopolitical power, saw its key security threats migrate east and south -- mainly the Middle East and Central Asia. Europeans tagged along eventually in Afghanistan, often begrudgingly, under the NATO banner.

    Washington then eased back from Europe, prodding the continent to shoulder more of its own defense while Washington focused on Iraq and Afghanistan.

    U.S. and European security interests have been diverging for years. Gates reiterated concern about a "two-tiered alliance" -- one built on military might, and another devoted to more political and diplomatic tasks.

    Clarke said NATO's policy is today determined through talks among its biggest players -- Britain, France, Germany and the U.S. -- and smaller countries can choose to follow or not.

    "What we've got now militarily is an ad-hoc NATO, which is that different combinations of the big three or the big four can either make things happen or not," he said.

    After the Cold War, NATO successfully expanded to eastern Europe -- with no shortage of grousing by Russia as former Soviet states fell into the Atlantic alliance. Georgia, which once hoped to join NATO, saw its aspirations evaporate with its ill-fated 2008 war with Russia -- putting any other NATO move eastward, such as to Ukraine, on ice.

    Washington's pitch for such far-afield ventures has been that Europe too faces the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. But it has been an increasingly tough sell, especially in an era of austerity when governments in Europe have to choose between funds for the state pension system or a fleet of F-18s.

    Even in countries like France, which fancies its universal values and considers itself a relatively strong military power with postcolonial interests around the world, public opinion remains sour over the Afghanistan mission.

    The pressure in Europe against the Afghanistan mission could build as President Obama prepares to lay out a timetable for the start to a U.S. withdrawal of forces in a process that's expected to take until 2014.

    There's as much if not more reticence in Germany, which despite its opposition to the Libya campaign remains a key player in NATO by its sheer economic wherewithal -- and despite its postwar aversion to military ventures abroad.

    Smaller states such as Belgium -- one of the underperforming budget contributors to NATO's defense despite its role in Libya -- want to help the Brussels-based alliance remain relevant because of the economic largesse and other spillover benefits its presence confers, Clarke said.

    Nordic countries, he said, harbor simmering concerns about Russia -- which helps to explain Norway's and Denmark's participation to help shore up NATO in Libya.

    Some analysts say that the Libya campaign is really of France and Britain's making: countries eager to show that Europe can be a military player to stop repression by Moammar Gadhafi's forces, support the Arab Spring, and -- in theory -- leave the U.S. a freer hand on its other missions.

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy took political heat at home for allegedly cozying up to now-exiled Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali too long. Loath to be caught flat-footed again, France fired the allies' first missile to help repel Gadhafi's forces besieging rebel-held eastern Libya.

    France sat out of NATO's military command for decades under a decision by an antagonized President Charles de Gaulle in the mid-1960s. Paris has also long urged continental allies to build a "Europe de la defense" apparatus on the sidelines of -- and allegedly a complement to -- NATO.

    Sarkozy finally brought France back into NATO's command structure two years ago.

    "The great irony -- huge irony -- is that the French are now fully reintegrated to the NATO alliance just as it's fading away militarily," Clarke said.

    Ultimately, many Europeans believe the strong-armed U.S. approach to battling enemies -- using force, not persuasion or other less violent tools -- is wrong-headed and costly, and could spell trouble for NATO, Oberg said.

    "If we keep having wars that only a few countries want -- in this case, Libya-France, and other places the United States, and God knows where it will be in the future -- others will ask: Why should we pay for that?"

    © Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

  3. #13

    Italy, Spain Sign on To Bid To Boost EU Defense


    Published: 2 Sep 2011 15:28

    SOPOT, Poland - Italy and Spain have joined a bid by France, Germany and Poland to bolster a common EU defense policy in spite of Britain's refusal, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said September 2.

    "We have signed and sent to (EU foreign policy chief) Catherine Ashton a 'letter from the five' - France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland - on strengthening European defense," Sikorski told journalists.

    "This is the continuation of efforts by Poland to make defense a key issue in European integration," he added.

    The signatories refused to divulge the content of the joint letter, but a diplomatic source said it called for the creation of common defense structures.

    "We must develop these projects even without British support," added the source, who asked not to be identified.

    In July, Britain rejected plans for a permanent EU military headquarters, putting it at odds with its ally France amid stalled efforts to launch a common EU defense policy.

    "The United Kingdom will not agree to such a permanent OHQ (operational headquarters)," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said at the time.

    "We will not agree to it now. We will not agree to it in the future. That is a red line for us," he said after London applied its veto power against the proposal under EU rules.

    Voicing London's traditional attachment to the transatlantic alliance with the United States, Britain's chief diplomat said an EU military headquarters would be costly and create wasteful duplication with NATO.

    The creation of a permanent HQ was part of a report presented to the ministers by Ashton in a bid to breathe new life into EU defense policy.

    But Hague said he was "unable to welcome" the report because of the headquarters plan. The ministers failed to issue any statement on defense policy at the end of their talks.

    In her report, Ashton said the current system posed organizational problems because it relies on five national headquarters spread across Europe: in Germany, France, Greece, Italy and Britain.

    The report also called for sharing defense capacities, improving EU-NATO relations and operational engagements by EU tactical groups.

  4. #14

    NATO Chief: 'Smart Defense' Plan in Works


    Published: 6 Sep 2011 13:16

    BRUSSELS - NATO's Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Va., is working on a "smart defense" concept to identify areas for potential multinational cooperation, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at a Sept. 5 news conference here.

    "We have until May 2012 [the date of NATO's next summit in Chicago] to try to identify areas where groups of countries could pool and share resources," he said. "Hopefully in Chicago we can identify lead nations to carry forward those projects."

    The Libya operation "couldn't have been done without U.S. capabilities such as drones, intelligence and refueling aircraft," he added. "These capabilities are vital to all of us. More allies should be willing to obtain them. That's a real challenge. We'll have to find solutions at the next NATO summit in Chicago."

    Another area for potential cooperation, Rasmussen said, was "transport capability," which he said was "not directly related to Libya". He described this as a "general challenge to ensure European forces become more mobile," adding, this was "one of the weaknesses of European armed forces. We lack strategic airlift capacity."

    However, he pointed out that European allies had provided the majority of the assets for the operation in terms of strike aircraft (Canada, European allies and regional partners) and maritime assets (Canada and European allies).

    He also cited missile defense, cyberdefense and countering roadside bombs as among the areas of "critical capabilities" that NATO identified at the Lisbon NATO summit in November 2010.

    As to NATO's continuing involvement in Libya, he said that "NATO and its partners will be there as long as needed but not a minute longer." He added that he would "appreciate it if the EU could take a major role in assisting the National Transitional Council and Libya in the reconstruction of Libya."

  5. #15


    A Defense Technology Blog

    Horses All Have Four Legs

    Posted by Christina Mackenzie at 9/6/2011 3:45 PM CDT

    My prize for the best speaker at the Summer Defense University goes without question to Stéphane Beemelmans, German secretary of state for defense. Not only did he not pull his punches making some sharp and to the point comments but he did so wittily and, to top it all, in absolutely remarkable French.

    The speakers had been asked to address the issue of “pooling and sharing” and to explore the paths European procurement directors might take towards greater convergence. He told his high-ranking audience – more on that later – that the first thing was to be frank and that “frankness is something we are missing in debates.” And he went on to tell them that “we no longer have the means to be different” and to illustrate his point that “to choose to be different goes against greater convergence” he pointed out that “everywhere 200 years ago horses had 4 legs”.

    Like the other three speakers, including NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Stéphane Abrial, Beemelmans said the current economic climate would have a bearing on western nations' defense budgets. The German 2012 federal budget of €306 billion ($428.3 billion) which will be debated later this week has earmarked €31 billion ($43.3 billion) for defense “which is just €4 billion more than the budget to service our debt of €27 billion,” he said.

    Beemelmans' audience consisted of the largest gathering I have seen in a long time of five, four and three-star generals of the four forces (army, navy, airforce and gendarmerie plus those from the DGA French procurement agency), CEOs of all the major French or part-French defense companies, senators and deputies from France and a number of other European companies and a handful of journalists.

    To give you an idea of who was there I sat at one of about 50 round tables for breakfast to chat with Jean-François Bureau, Contrôleur général des armées at the French defense ministry, former NATO assistant secretary general for public diplomacy and prior to that spokesman for the French defense ministry for nearly a decade, which is how I know him. We were joined by Antoine Bouvier, CEO of MBDA, Patrick Boissier, CEO of DCNS and his number two, Bernard Planchais and General Jean-Pierre Devaux, the DGA's director of strategy. And that was just one table!

  6. #16

    Germany To Boost Defense Budget by 133M Euros


    Published: 7 Sep 2011 17:17

    BERLIN - German defense spending would rise to 31.7 billion euros ($44.5 billion), up 133 million euros, under a 306 billion-euro 2012 federal budget presented to Parliament on Sept. 7.

    Thomas de Maizière said during the parliamentary debate Sept. 7 that the budget would shrink to 30.4 billion euros by 2015.

    Personnel costs in 2012 would account for about 10.3 billion euros, less than one-third of the total and down nearly 1.7 billion from this year.

    The budget includes 200 million euros to help recruit service members into a military that suspended conscription in July, de Maizière said.

    "Germany needs combat-ready and serviceable armed forces, which in quality of equipment and training match the international significance and weight of our country," he said.

    The secretary said he has reviewed ongoing procurement programs and will talk to industry, potentially to renegotiate existing contracts.

    The 2012 budget contains 1.08 billion euros for Germany's current nine operations abroad, up 30 percent from this year's.

    Now the accordant committees of the parliament and the Bundesrat, the parliament's upper house, will discuss the 2012 budget and case final ballots in December.

  7. #17


    A Defense Technology Blog

    NATO Boss Addressess Command and Capabilty Gaps

    Posted by Robert Wall at 9/12/2011 10:39 AM CDT

    The Libya campaign has already yielded important lessons for NATO, both in terms of equipment needs and structure, signals Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance's Secretary General.

    One area where the operational experience has caused NATO leaders to change their thinking is in the structural reform effort. Rasmussen, in an effort to generate efficiencies, has been pushing for streamlining of the organization and reduction in personnel in the military command structure by more than 30%.

    However, he says Libya quickly showcased that in one area NATO needed more, not less capacity. "What we learned from the very first days, within this reduced number of posts, we have to beef up our air commands." To conduct Libya type operations "we need a strengthen air command and control capability."

    Some of the equipment shortages Rasmussen highlights are already well documented, Europe's contribution to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance being one example.

    But Libya did not expose all shortfalls. For instance, the lack of a ground campaign meant airlift strains were not exposed.

    Rasmussen leaves no doubt, though, that the shortfalls exist. Europe needs more transport capability, he says during a meeting with reporters on the sidelines of the Allied Command Transformation's industry day in London. "The Europeans have more soldiers than the United States, but they can't move them," the bluntly speaking Dane points out.

  8. #18

    NATO Chief: Unity Needed To Survive Europe Budget Crisis

    By Carlo Munoz

    Published: September 20, 2011

    National Harbor: Strong, sustained cooperation for future military investments is the only way NATO will survive the massive budget cuts being pushed through by many of its partner nations, a top alliance official said today.

    Cooperation between NATO nations on building and maintaining its arsenal is critical "because there is no other choice", Gen Stephane Abrial, NATO's supreme allied commander for transformation, said during his speech at the Air Force Association's annual symposium here.

    Finding ways to increase cooperation among NATO members will be front and center at the organization's upcoming summit in Chicago, IL next year, he added.

    For many NATO countries, finding additional dollars for defense spending has "become a political difficulty", with a handful of those nations eying reductions upwards of 50 percent to national security coffers, according to Abrial.

    While those cuts will hit hard across NATO's entire slate of capabilities, it will be the alliance's air fleet that will be hurt the most, he said. That said, a number of alliance members have already taken steps to stem that tide, Abrial added.

    The NATO nations the fly the F-16 have banded together to share operations and maintenance responsibilities for those aircraft. That effort, Abrial added, is a perfect example that "things are working already."

    While the NATO transformation chief's call for more unity among the alliance, he did admit the plan had its limits. For example, Abrial noted that there was no way NATO could replicate the way DOD and the services specialize in certain requirements.

    The U.S. model, in which the Air Force, Army and Navy are the main providers for air, land and sea power respectively, simply "does not work" at the country level, Abrial said.

    Since each NATO nation has its own fleet of fighters, ships and tanks, the alliance is forces to "accept a certain level of duplication" of capabilities in its operations, he noted.

    The trick is, according to the NATO general, is to get the level of interoperability "in the broadest sense" among partner nations to the point where that duplication is canceled out. The alliance's recent peacekeeping operations in Libya, he added, was a perfect example of that.

    Despite those recent successes in Libya, NATO has come under fire by the United States for not pulling its weight in other coalition operations like Afghanistan and Iraq.

    However, Abrial said those criticisms did not discount the fact that "the need for collective defense" provided by NATO still remains, even if the threats have changed since the days of the Cold War.

    That said, the United States and its allies could stand "to lose a lot" if the alliance is allowed to falter under the tremendous weight of the budget pressures currently facing its members.

  9. #19

    You have NATO and then you have the EU.............now getting involved with Defence Pooling of resources. Obviously there are not enough quango's already in the over-priced, LAZY bunch of fat bar-stewards sitting in Brussels, they have to go and invent another bunch...........what a worthless organisation occupied by pompous, arrogant and worthless politicians and their equally worthless sycophants..............they should use the place as a bombing range, it would do a service to the rest of Europe.

    Air-to-Air Refueling 'Promising' for EU Pooling


    Published: 21 Sep 2011 12:51

    BRUSSELS - Air-to-air refueling has emerged as one of the "most promising ideas" during a seminar on pooling and sharing among EU member states. The seminar focused on strengthening military cooperation between EU member states, one of the priorities of Poland's EU presidency in the area of Common Security and Defence Policy.

    "The pooling and sharing initiative aims at intensifying such cooperation through launching new multinational programs. Poland shares the opinion that common European projects are a chance to reduce costs of development of military capabilities that Europe needs, which is especially important now in the light of the financial crisis and limitations in defence budgets of many EU member states," said a statement on the Polish Ministry of Defence website.

    One of the participants at the seminar, Ziemowit Waligora, the head of branch for EU and NATO policy at the International Security Policy Department of the Polish Ministry of Defense, said the most promising areas were "air-to-air refueling, medical support, strategic air transport, satellite reconnaissance and communication, and maritime surveillance."

    He said member states had concluded this "must be a member state-driven process" with the European Defence Agency or the EU Military Staff playing a supporting role as facilitators rather than initiators or the driving force.

    In Brussels, an EU source said "there are lots of proposals on the table" for consideration by EU defense ministers at an informal meeting Sept. 22-23 in Wroclaw, and that he expected "concrete results by the end of the year.

    "The momentum is there," he added.

    The source described counterimprovised explosive device and medical as areas of "low-hanging fruit," and that it was also easier to go ahead in areas such as logistics and training.

    "Hard security material is more complicated," he said.

    Those attending the seminar included the adviser to National Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz, as well as chiefs and high representatives of EU structures such as the European Defence Agency, the EU Military Staff and the EU Crisis Management and Planning Directorate.

  10. #20

    Libyan Operation May Redefine NATO Relations: RUSI


    Published: 23 Sep 2011 12:47

    LONDON - Improvisation, innovation and good luck, as well as military professionalism, enabled European and other governments to succeed in the Libyan campaign against Col. Moammar Gadhafi's regime, a leading British think tank has concluded.

    NATO helicopters carry French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron after their press conference in Tripoli on Sept. 15. (Joseph Eid / AFP via Getty Images)

    In a report published Sept. 23 about the operations led by Britain and France, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) said non-NATO forces were integrated into an improvised command structure operated through the alliance; surveillance and weapon systems were adapted and used in different ways; air-to-ground communications were minimal; and special forces played a key role even though the United Nations had explicitly ruled out their use.

    Overall, the campaign could influence future NATO operations as the U.S. pulled out of combat operations at an early stage, although it continued to provide ISTAR assets in theater, RUSI said.

    "The relationship between the U.S. and its other NATO partners is unlikely to remain unaffected by this crisis. Ambiguity over the command arrangements, the extensive back-up support that U.S. assets had to provide and the overt political splits in the alliance, even while it was acting as the military arm of the United Nations in enforcing Resolution 1973, saw NATO acting in a way it had never done before," the report said.

    The think tank warned that if future NATO operations are as ambiguous and vulnerable as the Libyan operation, then bilateral and trilateral defense relations among key European players may loom much larger in the future than their commitment to NATO.

    Michael Clarke, RUSI's director general, said that despite the military success, the operation has been a curious one both militarily and politically and will "offer many pointers for the future and will require careful analysis."

    British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicholas Sarkozy have emerged from the conflict "as accidental heroes in a civil war, justified - unlike most civil wars - on grounds of principle," Clarke said.

    The report highlighted the contribution of special forces from outside NATO and said that Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and principally Egypt all deployed inside Libya to train rebels and to serve other roles.

    Britain, France and Italy also had special forces on the ground, and Bulgaria had a unit deployed for maritime duties, RUSI said.

    The most notable development on the maritime front, given its growing global presence, was the involvement of China and its Navy, led by the frigate Xuzhou, said RUSI naval analyst Lee Willett.

    Another notable development was that for the first time in recent history, a major coalition combat operation was conducted without the presence of a large-deck U.S. aircraft carrier, Willett said.

    That suggests that even the U.S. Navy is struggling to meet its commitments, he said.

    The Libyan campaign may reignite the carrier debate in the U.K. as well as raise renewed questions about future maritime surveillance capability following the axing of the Nimrod MRA4 aircraft, he said.

    Both the air and maritime campaigns demonstrated the success of precision weapons but also their dependency on high-tech ISTAR technologies.

    "Even in this case, however, ISTAR assets among the key allies were almost at full stretch. Their value in this operation has reopened the arguments around last year's [British] defense review since Britain was due to lose some of these ISTAR systems by 2015," the report said.

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