Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates repeatedly warned NATO members that they had to modernize their forces and not expect the United States to fill in all the gaps. The Libyan intervention exposed some weaknesses. Deeper intervention in Syria is limited by U.S. caution and European deficiencies. And now Mali is providing new evidence of at least French deficiencies.
According to the Financial Times, the French are complaining that U.S. officials are "dragging their feet" about providing three aerial refueling tankers. The FT says the United States, after first demanding that the French pay the $20 million cost, has now agreed to use C-17s to ferry French troops into Mali at no cost.
As an American taxpayer, I have no problem with the U.S. government seeking reimbursement for services and equipment provided to allies except in very special cases. [In the 1991 Gulf War, allies provided funds offsetting U.S. costs.] But we should be cautious about being sucked into conflicts we might otherwise avoid. And our allies should learn that they need to have more capability if they wish to play in thebig leagues.