Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his fellow NATO defense ministers held discussions in Brussels on Oct. 9 on how the alliance will adapt as both the United States and Europe face tough fiscal times and changing security priorities. Specifically, the ministers discussed the “Smart Defense” initiative that the NATO heads of state endorsed at the alliance’s May summit. It aims to set procurement and development priorities for the alliance in areas ranging from ISR to joint logistics, maintenance, force protection, and training. NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters that alliance members have already compiled a list of some 24 multinational projects as part of Smart Defense. He said he anticipates adding up to 10 or more new projects to the list in the coming months. “European countries are involved in every one” of the projects “set in motion so far,” said Rasmussen. (AFPS report by Jim Garamone)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.