Panetta presses NATO allies to address defense needs

BRUSSELS - NATO allies must address a shortage of critical assets such as aerial refueling aircraft and surveillance drones despite tighter defense budgets on both sides of the Atlantic, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday.
Panetta, in his first speech in Europe since becoming Pentagon chief, prodded the North Atlantic treaty allies to hold defense spending at current levels and said at a minimum they should coordinate any cuts to "avoid surprises" that could endanger each other.
"We cannot afford for countries to make decisions about force reductions in a vacuum, leaving neighbors and allies in the dark," he said in an address to Carnegie Europe, the Brussels branch of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank.
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