‘Biden made NATO look impotent’ says Alastair Campbell
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After witnessing the chaotic fall of Afghanistan, EU officials reportedly pushed for a united European reaction force capable of acting independently and not relying on the US. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general and former Norwegian Prime Minister, told The Telegraph he welcomed “more European efforts on defence” but warned the strategic force would risk overstretching the “scarce resources” of NATO allies.
Responding to reports calling for a unit of up to 20,000 troops to be deployable across the globe, Mr Stoltenberg said the force could “divide Europe”.
He said: “I welcome more European efforts on defence but that can never replace NATO and we need to make sure that Europe and North America band together.
“Any attempt to weaken the bond between North America and Europe will not only weaken NATO, it will divide Europe.”
He added: “This is partly about money – 80 per cent of our defence expenditure comes from non-EU allies…
Jens Stoltenberg warns EU army will ‘divide Europe’ (Image: Getty Images)
Jens Stoltenberg welcomed ‘more European efforts on defence’ (Image: Getty Images)
“It’s about geography – Norway, Iceland in the North, Turkey in the South, the US, Canada, UK, in the West, are essential for the defence of Europe…
“But it’s also about politics.
“Because any weakening of the transatlantic bond will also divide Europe.”
A first draft proposal for a “first entry force” is set to be unveiled in November following the gathering of EU defence ministers in Slovenia last week.
EU senior defence officials met in Slovenia last week to discuss an EU army (Image: Getty Images)
The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has led to an international outcry over the defence capabilities of the US with many critics believing the international reputation of the US had been severely damaged.
A problem with the EU army also comes with what functions they will perform as Mr Stotenberg believes there may be duplication with NATO.
NATO’s secretary general continued: “Any attempt to establish parallel structures, duplicate the command structure, that will weaken our joint capability to work together because with scarce resources we need to prevent duplication and overlapping efforts.
“The specific proposals have not been discussed in NATO, we have not seen any details.”
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Jens Stoltenberg warned the EU army could duplicate NATO functions (Image: Getty Images)
Jens Stoltenberg said there was ‘no clear plans’ to defend Afghanistan (Image: Getty Images )
NATO was a critical force in the evacuation efforts of Afghan and Western forces from the Taliban-controlled state.
Mr Stoltenberg also acknowledged the Taliban takeover was “of course… related to the fact that NATO allies decided to end this military mission in Afghanistan”.
But he added: “I think the lack of logistics support for the Afghan security forces was one of the main reasons why we saw this sudden collapse.
“And that’s a leadership responsibility.
“The brave soldiers, many of them trained by NATO so we know them very well, who have proven again and again that they’re willing to risk their lives in combat against the Taliban, they didn’t get paid, they didn’t get ammunition, there were no clear plans to defend the country.”