NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned that defense cuts amid global economic troubles could undermine the military alliance's power.
Presenting NATO's annual report at a press conference on January 31 in Brussels, Rasmussen said that "security threats won't go away" while alliance members try to fix their economies.
He said that overall, NATO investment in modern capabilities had risen in recent years and most allies had significantly improved their ability to deploy and sustain forces.
But he also noted that growing inequalities among alliance members could limit the allies' abilities to work together.
He warned that if defense spending by NATO allies continued to go down while emerging powers spend ever more on their armed forces, NATO's military capacity and political credibility could be put at risk.
According to the report, only a few of the 28 NATO allies -- the United States, Britain, and Greece -- last year spent more on defense than the 2 percent of gross domestic product target set by NATO.
With reporting by dpa and Reuters