By Michelle Nichols
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United Nations needs rapid response forces, equipment and training to bolster peacekeeping, the United States' top general said on Tuesday ahead of President Barack Obama's planned summit of world leaders in September to win new commitments.
Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power met with dozens U.N. ambassadors and military advisors in New York at the 69th Regiment Armory.
"The U.N. requires commitments from member nations to provide rapid response forces for emerging crises," he said. "The rapid deployment of units within 30, 60, or 90 days – for a finite period – can help resolve developing crises, prevent expanded conflict, and in the process save more innocent lives."
Dempsey said more highly skilled police and military were needed, and more equipment. U.N. officials have said they need equipment ranging from intelligence and communications to armored vehicles, attack helicopters and transport aircraft.
Obama is due to convene a summit of world leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in September to secure new commitments to peacekeeping. In March, Power urged European countries to contribute more troops.
"The complex array of threats and, let's call it geopolitical jockeying, requires all of us to contend with an unpredictable landscape," Dempsey said, "and our support to peacekeeping operations must keep pace with that unpredictability."
He said troop and police contributing countries benefit from deployments to U.N. peacekeeping missions which "help to reinforce readiness, test battlefield mettle, hone skills, and gain operational and, especially, leadership experience."
There are currently 16 U.N. peacekeeping operations, more than half in Africa, made up of more than 105,000 people.
The United States pays for more than 28 percent of the more than $7 billion U.N. peacekeeping budget. According to the U.N. website, the United States provides 80 troops, police and advisers to peacekeeping missions.
Dempsey, who is due to step down from his role later this year, said that with 60 million people displaced from their homes globally in the past year due to violence, he worried that the world was close to becoming immune to the problem.
"It will be a shame if we don't realize that we may be at that point, and shake ourselves back into the reality that we can do something about it," he said.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)