Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Saudi Arabia
Last month, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke at the Atlantic Council to discuss factors that should be considered as NATO drafts a new “Strategic Concept,” which defines NATO’s purpose, nature, and security tasks.
Among other things, Gates said Europe has underfunded defense budgets for NATO, and consequently, has undermined joint security. He noted the importance of missile defense, as land invasion is no longer a pressing threat. The danger of missile attacks is more critical and “more likely to come from outside NATO’s traditional borders; and more likely to require new approaches that incorporate far more than just military power.”
This week, Gates is visiting Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah to discuss missile defense and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In addition to deploying missile shields to Poland and Romania, the U.S. seeks to expand missile defense capabilities in the Persian Gulf. Specifically, the plan is to place the Patriot missile defense batteries in four Persian Gulf states and Standard Missile-3 missile defense interceptors on Navy ships in the Gulf. Although these steps will permit a defense against shorter-range missiles, they won’t provide a defense to the U.S. or our allies against the longer-range missiles Iran wants to build.
Gates will also discuss tougher sanctions against Iran. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said, “It’s not lost on the Iranians, all of the security cooperation that’s been going on for years now and all the systems that have been purchased over the last several years, (are) all designed to counter-weight and protect against the growing threat posed by Iran.” (Reuters)