In Brief: Europe Told to Pay up; Massacre Soldier in Court; Lockheed’s Dire Warning

Mike O'Brien

NATO has become too dependent on the U.S., and Europe needs to invest more in defense spending, says the coalition’s supreme allied commander.

Admiral James Stavridis, the head of U.S European Command, said in a blog post on Monday: "The declining European defence budget and the fact that the U.S. accounts for nearly 73 percent of total NATO defense spending is unbalanced and unsustainable over time. American taxpayers will begin to feel that the European Allies and partners are ‘getting a free ride’ as some already say in the U.S."

Mr. Stavridis, who is stepping down from NATO in the coming weeks, said the biggest challenges awaiting incoming commander U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove will by cyber threats and the potential growth of weapons of mass destruction from countries such as Iran and Syria.

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He described the field of cyber threats as the "greatest mismatch between the level of potential threat and our preparation for it," reports.

ROBERT BALES, the U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians during a 2012 rampage, is scheduled in court at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Tuesday for a hearing.

Bales, 39, from Ohio, is to be court-martialed on premeditated murder and other charges. He is accused of killing mostly women and children during raids in March 2012 and has yet to enter a plea.

The Army is seeking the death penalty. The U.S. military has not executed anyone since 1961, the Associated Press reports.

The killings led to the U.S. temporarily halting combat operations in Afghanistan, and it was three weeks before American investigators could reach the crime scenes.

LOCKHEED MARTIN has become one of the first big military contractors to put a figure on sequestration by saying U.S. government spending cuts by the US government would reduce its sales for the year by $825m.

The defense giant said on Tuesday that the revenue cut would leave sales for the year at the lower end of its previous $44.5 billion to $46 billion estimate.

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Like most other big contractors, Lockheed published full-year projections in January on the basis that the sequestration would not happen, reports.

Chief Executive Marillyn Hewson said: "While the impact of sequestration on our business has been limited to date, we continue to work closely with our customers to better understand the future impact sequestration may have on our programmes."

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