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NATO Head Says US, Europe Should Increase Intl. Defense Competition

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NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen has called on the U.S. and European countries to open up their defense markets to international competition.

Speaking Monday at an industry event in London, Rasmussen recognized imminent budget cuts and said “we can’t ask the allies to spend more, we have to ask them to spend better.”

For him, that means opening up defense markets that currently see 90 percent of Pentagon contracting dollars go to U.S. firms and Europeans largely spending funds at home.

NATO believes this would make the procurement process more efficient and help prevent an overall decline of the alliance’s military capabilities due to current global financial stress.

“We need equal opportunities for European Union and American defense companies to compete across the Atlantic,” he said.

Rasmussen called for a package of multilateral measures to be ready for consideration at the Chicago NATO summit in May 2012.

Rasmussen praised President Barack Obama’s reform of export licensing programs, which could increase U.S. contractors’ reach in Europe.

Including the U.S., NATO has 28 member countries.

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