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Some Say NATO’s Very Survival Is In Doubt

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A military official holds a NATO flag on April 4, 2009 during the NATO summit in Strasbourg, eastern France. (MICHAEL URBAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A military official holds a NATO flag on April 4, 2009 during the NATO summit in Strasbourg, eastern France. (MICHAEL URBAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Not everyone is happy with NATO, and some experts say its very survival is on the line as the Alliance prepares to meet in Chicago.

One year ago, outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates made no bones of his displeasure with NATO. Questioning the future viability of the Alliance, he said it faces a “dim if not dismal future.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Grzanich reports

“NATO has struggled, at times desperately, to sustain a deployment of 25,000 to 45,000 troops, not just in boots on the ground, but in crucial support assets such as helicopters, transport aircraft, maintenance, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and much more,” said Gates.

CBS News Military Analyst Mike Lyons served in a combat role under a NATO Command and says the U-S accounts for about 75 percent of NATO spending.

“With the end of the Cold War we continue to fund our normal military operations,” Lyons said. “The other countries within NATO decided to scale back. It’s been almost 20 years since that happened and now we’re seeing the results of that.”

Lyons says the future of NATO is going to depend on how much the European nations support it financially. With governments facing fiscal crises, Lyons says that’s going to be a challenge and could cause NATO to collapse if countries pull their support.

So what should NATO’s immediate goals be?

“They’re going to have to for example get non-government organizations involved and have more results and commitment from them. Not everything is going to be military related. In fact that should be that last piece of the process that’s taking place,” Lyons said.

And from a military perspective?

“Smart defense and that go with a deterrence system, a missile defense system, some kind of training and some kind of aspect of keeping all these countries on the same line from a competency perspective,” Lyons said.

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