Outgoing US Defense Secretary Robert Gates offers his blunt assessment of NATO on June 10, 2011 in Brussels
Source: Press TV
The outgoing US defense secretary says the war in Libya has exposed critical shortcomings in NATO's capabilities, predicting a dim future for the Western military alliance.
Speaking at Security and Defense Agenda think-tank in Brussels, Robert Gates also said many NATO members are running out of munitions only 11 weeks into the war in Libya.
Gates criticized the European governments for shrinking their country's defense budgets and threatened the alliance with a reduction in US contributions.
"Those willing and able to pay the price and bear the burdens of alliance commitments, and those who enjoy the benefits of NATO membership, be they security guarantees or headquarters billets, but don't want to share the risks and the costs."
He also noted that NATO faces a "dim, if not dismal future."
The US share of NATO defense spending stands at 75 percent.
His remarks come amid reports that the cost of the US military operations in Libya has already exceeded the Pentagon's estimates.
The US and NATO have unleashed a punishing, UN-mandated offensive against beleaguered Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi to pressure him into relinquishing power.
However, the NATO airstrikes have killed scores of civilians as well as revolutionaries.
Libya has been the scene of fierce fighting between pro-Gaddafi troops and anti-regime forces since mid-February.
Revolutionary forces want an end to Gaddafi's decades-long rule