Allen West: The Cost of Freedom 

The cost of freedom is not just about numbers and dollars.

As Written By Allen West for Townhall:

The cost of national security and defense policy are the focus of increasing and heated debate. Many argue that national security should be determined by the dollar amount and rather than deterring the threat’s goals and objectives. I believe that if we go back to a Reagan mantra of “peace through strength” we, with our allies, will be able to develop a defense structure that will enable us to create a global security environment more stable than the current state of chaos.

The responsibility of NATO members is frequently drawn into question. I am reminded of my first duty assignment in the U.S. Army as a young Second Lieutenant. From 1984-1987, my posting was in Vicenza, Italy with the 325th Airborne Battalion Combat Team (ABCT). We were the only airborne unit in Europe and our mission was distinct. We were part of what was known as the Allied Mobile Force (Land), AMF(L). This was a Brigade/Regiment size unit comprised of similar rapid-deployment, airborne units from several NATO member states. Our responsibility was to provide an immediate force structure to contingency areas within the NATO footprint and we trained for a variety of operations. Imagine a young fella from the inner city of Atlanta, Georgia learning to ski and conduct operations in high altitude, harsh winter environments using cross-country ski techniques.

We also deployed and conducted contingency operations, such as border patrols. One of our missions deployed to Turkey for almost 45 days, patrolling along the Bulgarian border. This was when the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc still existed. We worked with our NATO allied units and conducted various small unit exchanges, enabling team building.

Some question the validity of a NATO in these times. I say it is more needed than ever. However, what all the member nations must embrace is their sense of responsibility to this collective security organization. For so many years, the United States provided the security blanket for Europe while the preponderance of the European nations focused their economic resources on providing more social welfare programs. I believe that the greatest social welfare program that the state provides is a secure environment for its citizens.

Currently, there are only five NATO nations meeting the goal of 2% GDP commitment to defense: United States (3.6%), Greece (2.4%), United Kingdom (2.2%), Estonia (2.2%), and Poland (2%). France, Turkey, Norway, Lithuania, Romania, and Latvia follow, ranging from a 1.5-1.8% GDP contribution to defense. I find it interesting that the Baltic States are meeting the requirement, along with Poland and Romania. These ……

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The Cost of Freedom – Allen West

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