A Sight on European Defence

Thanks O. Kempf and his blog, I could get some insight in Mrs Albright’s report on NATO 2020. Well, the group of experts is really impressive, as they encourage the NATO to do all what it could not achieve in the past 20 years.

Depending on the time available I will try to demonstrate that the reform of the NATO that the group of experts is promoting will surely fail, or at least become reality not earlier than in 2040. When writing ‘reality’, I mean an effective ‘reality’, not the reality of the political statements. That is a different organization, with less headquarters, stronger defence forces within the European countries. In a way, a defence organization which gives our nations the tools to implement their policy.

Although the conclusions of the expert start like the homework of a college student (“the world has changed significantly since 1999”; for sure, it will be of great help to Mr Rasmussen), page after page it becomes more interesting.

For the time being, let us focus on the military capabilities. In a subsequent post, I will look at the political organization.

The main quote I will use is that one: “The primary limiting factor hindering military transformation has been the lack of European defence spending and investment.

Contributing to the problem is the fact that, in the past twenty years, European defence spending has been consumed disproportionally by personnel and operational costs. As a result, European national forces generally do not have nearly enough transformed forces.” (P. 38)

Indeed, I fully disagree with that belief that Europe does not spend enough on defence. In contrary, I support the statement that the money was and is not properly spent. Let us have a look at the defence expenditure of European Union countries (including the UK). Every year, the EU state members spend 200 billion Euros for their defence (Source: EDA). For what result? Out of 1.800.000 soldiers, a maximum of 80.000 is deployed. What the hell the other soldiers are doing all year long? Simply they guard borders that no enemy will cross within the next 20 years, because those very countries will not and will never accept to put down their armies, still largely inherited from Cold War time, and build up lean and expeditionary forces.

A good example is Poland: a few years ago, in 2002, they bought, with a strong US support, F-16. Against whom? Russia? Impossible, the same year, the NATO-Russia Council was set up. Since then, the Polish F-16 have not been deployed yet.

As well, I don not support at all the promotion of Research and Development that is expressed throughout the report: currently, only the USA would take profit out of it through programs like the Joint Strike Fighter, for which only a very few countries, mainly the UK can really get access to the most sensitive data.

Thirdly, regarding current needs in Afghanistan, the NATO asks regularly for more boots on the ground. Well, you do not need high-tech, Robocop style soldiers for those missions. You rather need well-trained troop, ready for patrolling in villages. The issue is that such soldiers do not match with the US technologic approach of military operations.

Therefore, the proposition for a greater effort in R & D or for more versatile and lean defence organizations is not the expression of an operational need. This is the expression of a US desire to see the European build a system, which fits to their own objective, including their industrial development, like in the F-16, the JSF and now the ballistic missile defence.

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