The scaling down of European defence forces has initiated long ago only to be made worse by the current austerity drive.
My view is that it is a political (choice) issue much before it gets to public budgets and their increasingly difficult bargaining.
A loose and detached view of military needs, mission and purpose has long taken hold in Europe. Many choose to adopt an unwarranted 'peace and love' attitude to international relations.
There would be plenty of worthy arguments to trade but when a country cannot achieve a meagre 2% of GDP on military spending - or even attempt to get there despite NATO's standing recommendation - the message and consequence is one of permanent weakness.
Indeed now is the time for national governments to seriously decide on the armed forces and their permanent role.
In peacetime as well as when called upon to flex their muscles.