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NATO members need to step up, says UK defense minister

Philip Hammond said today that Europe needs to take greater responsibility for its own security and be ready to act abroad. But NATO will have to become more efficient first, he warned.

British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond poses for a photograph in front of HMS Victorious, during his visit to the Clyde Naval Base in Scotland on Monday. At a conference Thursday, Mr. Hammond warned that NATO needed to 'do things differently' to maintain the defensive alliance amid European austerity.

Danny Lawson/Reuters

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Britain's secretary of defense warned Thursday that NATO needs to "do things differently" after last year's intervention in Libya laid bare how imbalanced support for the alliance is among its member nations – due in large part to Europe's financial crisis.

The plea by British Secretary of Defense Philip Hammond for European nations to take on more responsibility for security in their "own backyard" follows the sharp rebuke that the outgoing US Defense secretary, Bob Gates, delivered to NATO members in June, saying that the alliance faces “collective military irrelevance” after years of declining spending by most members.

“With the United States reflecting, in its strategic posture, the growing importance of the developing strategic challenge in the Pacific, the nations of Europe must find the political will to take on more responsibility for our own backyard, and fund the capabilities that allow us to do that," Mr. Hammond told a London conference on air power, organized by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank.


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