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Gates: Europe must fight extremism

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  • U.S. defense secretary urges allies to commit more troops to Afghanistan
  • Robert Gates warned Europeans: Islamic extremism is a real threat to them
  • Allies must not be able to opt only for stability and civilian operations, he said
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MUNICH, Germany (CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has urged European nations to commit more troops to help fight extremism in Afghanistan or risk the survival of the NATO alliance.

Gates has recently complained that countries like the United States, Britain, and Canada are doing the bulk of the fighting while others -- specifically Germany, France, Italy and Turkey -- are not doing enough.

Addressing the Munich Conference on Security Policy, where Afghanistan was a central topic, Gates said on Sunday he was speaking "directly to the people of Europe" with a warning that Islamic extremism is a real threat to them that will not go away.

"You know all too well about the attacks in Madrid and London," Gates said. "But there have also been multiple smaller attacks in Istanbul, Amsterdam, Paris, and Glasgow, among others. Numerous cells and plots have been disrupted in recent years as well -- many of them seeking large-scale death and destruction."

U.S. Army Gen. John Craddock -- NATO's supreme commander -- said in an interview at the conference that NATO's ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) does not have all of the needed resources to get the job done in Afghanistan. Video Watch as Gates urges Europe to fight extremists »

"Give us the resources, give us what we were told," Craddock said.

He said it was "kinda like we're a soccer team that's two players short and I can't move the defenders forward of midfield to attack, and I can't move the forwards back to defend because I'm short people."

"I said it before, we're not losing, we're just not winning fast enough," Gen. Craddock said.

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Gates said all of the allies were meeting their commitments, but added: "The problem is that the alliance as a whole has not fulfilled its broader commitment from Riga to meet the force requirements of the commander in the field." NATO leaders met in Riga, Latvia, in 2006.

Gates said NATO must "look more creatively" for ways for nations to share the burden in Afghanistan.

"But we must not -- we cannot -- become a two-tiered alliance of those who are willing to fight and those who are not," he said. "Such a development, with all its implications for collective security, would effectively destroy the alliance."

"Some allies ought not to have the luxury of opting only for stability and civilian operations, thus forcing other allies to bear a disproportionate share of the fighting and the dying," he said.


NATO, he said, must remove "bureaucratic hurdles" that slow progress in Afghanistan and implement "a common set of training standards" for all troops sent there.

Later on Sunday Gates flew to the Iraqi capital for an unannounced visit. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.

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