29 August 2018

NATO-EU Bulletin

Ştefan Oprea

Image source: MAS

Summary:

 

  1. NATO

- NATO’s enlargement, a benefit or a drawback?

- Change of command at NATO’s Allied Land Command (LANDCOM);

- NATO - Industry Forum

2. European Union

- Military mobility in Europe - impact on defense and deterrence

3. The Defense Industry

- Pentagon wants to reduce taxes for nations intending to buy US military equipment;

- NATO involvement in refurbishing of Afghanistan's combat equipment;

- Diplomatic controversy jeopardizes a $1.5B deal between Turkey and Pakistan

 

  1. NATO

- NATO Headquarters, Brussels

NATO’s enlargement, a benefit or a drawback?

One of the subjects where consensus was reached at the recent NATO summit (Brussels, 11-12th of July) was NATO’s enlargement. A controversial subject, in context of highlighted during the debates that Russia is the main source of threats and challenges for the Alliance. The enlargement has been a goal for NATO for identifying and reasoning to be in the post-Cold War world. Although analysts believe that Russian aggression is the secondary effect of NATO enlargement in the Balkans and in former Soviet countries, there are voices, some of which are very aggressive (former Warsaw Pact countries), calling for enlargement because they feel unsafe in the current context of the Russian Federation’s actions.

Without treating superficially this desire (and without the illusion that NATO’s enlargement could reduce Russia’s aggression) a deeply analysis of the political and ethnical cleavages left by the Soviet Union in its ex-republics, as well as with Russia’s extremely aggressive and cynic leadership, under Vladimir Putin’s mandate, shows that such a situation becomes unacceptable.

These arguments are sufficient to discuss the sensitive issue of Alliance expansion with great care because NATO enlargement in order to respond adequately to today's security challenges, could create far more challenges for transatlantic security.

Even though former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia[i] can provide only a symbolic contribution to NATO's collective defense, its invitation to NATO goes beyond the logic of purely transactional arrangements and is part of strategic logic.

The experience of Montenegro's accession to NATO, with no particular emphasis on its contribution to increasing NATO power, has strategic advantages for the Alliance by facilitating access to the marginal strategic ports of the Adriatic Sea and contributing to ensuring the southern flank vulnerable to the humanitarian crisis generated by the wave of migration in Europe.

For the same strategic reasons, Macedonia, at the crossroads of multinational transit routes, becoming full member of NATO, will close the Balkan Arc of the Alliance.

In the case of Georgia, even if its significant participation in NATO and US operations over the past decade has recommended it for a clear way to join this collective security organization, NATO is still in a position to convince its partners who want to became member of the Alliance, that this is achievable for all which share the values of our Alliance, which are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, which are in a position to further the principles of the Treaty, and whose inclusion can contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area but at the right political moment.

The strategic reasons in support of Georgia's NATO accession (the important contribution to securing Western security, maintaining a Western strategic presence in the South Caucasus potential volatile area, central part of the East West's energy corridor, etc.) make this desirable permanently endangered by Moscow's stance. President Putin's position to warn NATO against growing closer ties with Ukraine and Georgia, saying that this policy was irresponsible and would have unspecified consequences for the alliance was recently completed by the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev who said that any NATO's future decision to admit Georgia to its ranks could trigger a "terrible conflict."

 

- Allied Command Operations (ACO), Mons

Change of command at NATO’s Allied Land Command (LANDCOM)

Friday, 3 August 2018, in Izmir, Turkey, in the presence of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, general Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the U.S general lieutenant John C. Thomson III assumed command of NATO’s Allied Land Command 

After a long period of acting command, Lieutenant General Paolo Ruggiero returned to his initial position as deputy commander at the same command. The appointment of the new commander, even if it appears to be a routine activity, cannot be broken by the controversial context of Turkey relations with NATO and the US.

 

- Allied Command Transformation (ACT), Norfolk

NATO - Industry Forum

This year, the NATO Industry Forum will take place from 12 to 13 November in Berlin. The Forum is sponsored by the NATO Secretary General and co-organized by the Commander of the Supreme Allied Transformation and Assistant Secretary General for Defense Investment. The event will take place in a time when international crises require more political determination, military strength and more technological input than ever. In the context of exponential technology development, progress is being made in the industry as well as in companies that are not profiled on this type of equipment. For this reason, the Forum aims to ensure a dynamic and open dialogue with the specialized industry or not, in order to improve NATO's defense and deterrence capabilities, logistics, equipment resilience as well as its ability to adapt to the new strategic challenges.

From that perspective, Romania's participation in this Forum could facilitate the relationship with the issues in this domain in a critical time for the domestic defense industry, as well as for strategic military acquisitions that take place in the next period.

 

  1. European Union

Military mobility in Europe - impact on defense and deterrence

The recent NATO decisions have focused on supporting the ability to assure the supply and mobility of forces at the strategic, air, land and maritime levels into and within Europe.

The last NATO summit declaration acknowledged the need to deepen and to find solutions to important operational and tactical issues such as identifying alternative supply routes and securing transport capacities appropriate. The creation of a logistics command structure in Ulm, Germany and an integrated approach to the mobility of forces in Europe demonstrate the firmness of the decision to solve this problem. Consistent with this decision, key aspects of military mobility, such as legal and administrative, transport infrastructure status and multinational coordination, have become a priority at EU level.

From this perspective, the EU will have a special role to play in legislative and interinstitutional harmonization due to the role of civilian institutions and organizations in managing infrastructure and transport capacities.

The state of the transport infrastructure (height, load, rail loading capacity, etc.) is thus a concern for European structures. The recent tragedy in Italy (45 deaths to date), when the Morandi road bridge collapsed in the city of Genoa, has triggered a public crisis on the state of the country's road infrastructure and the way it endangers the lives of citizens.

It is expected that by the next year, the EU will create a priority list of upgrades and development of the transport network, exploring, together with NATO, current gaps and translating military requirements into an accessible format for dual-use infrastructure developers. Also, efforts to standardize the rules and procedures should be completed no later than 2024, time which is considered sufficient to meet the requirements of contracting and execution of works.

It is important to note that, for the first time, the European Commission allocates significant defense funds. These funds will contribute to national funding to alleviate the deficiencies in military capabilities.

At the beginning of May, the European Commission proposed allocating resources for the European Defense Fund (EDF) of € 13 billion and € 6.5 billion for the Military Mobility Project from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

Accessing these funds implies the fulfillment of certain conditions, and the priority of which is the establishment by each nation of common strategic priorities for improving military capabilities.

 

  1. The Defense Industry

Pentagon wants to reduce taxes for nations intending to buy US military equipment

The US State Department cleared Latvia as a beneficiary of a contract involving the purchase of four UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters.

These UH-60 helicopters will allow for interoperability with U.S. and NATO forces in rapid response to a variety of missions, and quick positioning of troops with minimal helicopter assets.

The transaction is intended to be part of a support of NATO nations effort aimed in improving their defense capabilities. These helicopters will allow interoperability with US and NATO forces in rapid response to a variety of missions and quick positioning of troops with minimal helicopter assets.

The deal, which includes four helicopters, ten engines and associated equipment, has an estimated $ 200 million and will benefit from US policy to cut costs for those who want to buy US military equipment but will not benefit from offset.

 

NATO involvement in refurbishing of Afghanistan's combat equipment

While the United States continues to build the Afghan Air Force UH-60 Black Hawk capacity, Mi-17 helicopters declared unfitted for service and heavily damaged will be repaired and rebuilt by NATO in Europe.

At the request of the US Department of Defense, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) committed to carrying out repair and overhaul services for those aircrafts at the request of the US Department of Defense and ensured the aircrafts would be returned to service to the Afghan Air Force as quickly as possible. For that, NSPA entering into contacts with European suppliers such as Bulgaria, The Czech Republic and Slovakia, all NATO members.

The 63 Mi-17 helicopters were bought by the US for the Afghan Air Force since 2005.

The annexation of the Crimea by Russia in 2014 has made this contract subject to restrictions on doing business with Russian arms manufacturers, reason for which the US has focused on replacing the Afghanistan Mi-17 fleet with the UH-60 Black Hawks.

This transition period to the new helicopter meant an excessive use of the Mi-17 aircrafts, without periodic inspections and necessary maintenance, thus accelerating the major refurbishment requirement.

This approach to the needs of maintenance and refitting of Afghan military equipment can be used as a model for all countries, former members of the Warsaw Treaty, which have specific capabilities for this kind of intervention.

 

Diplomatic controversy jeopardizes a $1.5B deal between Turkey and Pakistan

Motivated by the fact that their own AH-1F Cobra gunships lack the ability to perform adequately over the altitude of the Hindu Kush mountain range separating Afghanistan and Pakistan, Turkey and Pakistan signed a deal for 30 T129 ATAK helicopter gunships worth 1.5 billion dollars.

The T129 is produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) under license from the Italian-British company AgustaWestland.

Since the T129 is powered by two LHTEC T800-4A turbine engines (Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company T800 - LHTEC is a joint venture between American company Honeywell and the British company Rolls-Royce), for components made in US, TAI will need the US export licenses to materialize the transaction.

Combined with the ban on the delivery of the F-35 stealth combat aircraft to Turkey (the $ 716 billion defense spending bill, includes an amendment banning the sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey until the Pentagon issues a report on Turkish-American relations), the troubled deal between Turkey and Pakistan demonstrates the precariousness of diplomatic relations between Washington and Ankara, two NATO members and their effects on Turkey's economy.

  


[i] Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.