18 September 2018

NATO-EU Bulletin (September 2018)

Ştefan Oprea

Image source: Mediafax

NATO

  • From “Arab NATO” to a world without NATO?
  • Could NATO rename new Headquarters after McCain?
  • Trident Juncture 18
  • Croatian Navy joins NATO's Operation “Sea Guardian”

The European Union

  • The informal reunion of the defense ministers;
  • The informal reunion of the foreign affairs ministers

Defense industry

  • NATO makes its first common acquisition of air-to-ground PGM's munition, dedicated to allies’ air forces;
  • Czech’s army-modernization program

NATO

From “Arab NATO” to a world without NATO?

Lately, the American idea1 of creating a new security alliance comprised by six Arabian states from the Gulf (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain), plus Egypt and Jordan, unofficially known as the “Arab NATO,” and also dubbed the “Middle East Strategic Alliance," or MESA, became a subject as interesting, as so controversial. The idea of creating a new Arabian alliance came from the beginning of the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011 and remained, until now, equally unconvincing.

Although there is, as the analysts think, the idea that such an alliance could bring the Gulf countries closer than ever, the actual cooperation between the states and the U.S and the states themselves, show that, in the Syrian, Iranian and Yemeni problem, it failed. Furthermore, the politic and diplomatic crisis between the Saudi Arabia and Qatar blocks an inter-Arabian communication, but also an appropriate coordination with Washington, in order to update the American vision regarding a new coalition.

In the context of such concerns, the idea of demising NATO - for now as an analytic hypothesis - becomes even interesting.  Without representing Alliance’s position or official policy, “NATO REVIEW Magazine” was publishing, at the end of August, under Michael Ruhle’s signature, head of the Energy Security Section in NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division, the article “A world without NATO?”.

The subject is not new but, considering that at the last NATO summit, the leaders of the 29-member states have met to define Alliance’s future for the next years, becomes quite thought provoking.

In a world which is overwhelmed by crisis, when the global problems do not find their way anymore, and the nationalism is threatening diffusing, the hypothesis of NATO’s disestablishing enrolls in the ill-fated concerns tendency, which are surpassing the academic concerns. The subject disturbs the minds of the euro-enthusiastic, of the ones who are looking, for a long time, Europe’s emancipation against the U.S

Conversely, for those who consider the transatlantic community a unique and indispensable realization, this sudden approach looks like a nightmare.

For the cerebral individuals, Europeans and Americans, the end of NATO would mean more than just the disappearance of some Brussels bureaucracy. For these would mean the end of a politic and military institutionalized connection between Europe and North America.

The military and political consequences of such a development would be many and dangerous:

  • The end of collective defense. U.S’s leave would mean dramatically increases in defense spending and a radical overhaul of European arms development and procurement procedures and, not least, a genuine European security policy, hard to realize considering that the nation-states want more and more to get separated from the European community;
  • The regionalization of security. NATO’s demising would generate, inevitably the regionalization of security. Without the Alliance, a capable organism to assure the regional security interests’ exceedance, the south-European countries will concentrate on Maghreb and the Middle East, meanwhile the countries in the East Europe will concentrate more on Russia. As none of these groups have politic cohesion, but neither the necessary military forces to develop a durable influence over their interest regions, the result would be Europe’s decline as a strategic actor;
  • An increase of Russia’s power in Europe. NATO’s ending would dramatically increase Russia’s position in the European security domain. For many countries from the post-Soviet space, which want to show their independency against Russia through their relations with NATO, the end of an American security role in Europe would be a terrible disaster, and the new energetic and strategic “post-american” equilibrium from Eurasia will force them to permanently stay in Russia’s influence zone;
  • The disappearance of the legitimacy framework in using the military power for the Europeans, as well as for U.S. Without NATO’s legislative framework, the politic decision and the military force necessary for deploying stabilization missions on long term, like Afghanistan, would not be able to be generated;
  • The disappearance of NATO’s partnerships and the apparition of difficulties for the non-EU and non-NATO countries. NATO’s partnerships disappearance will have consequences over the bilateral relations. Canada and Turkey do not have the possibility to organize the relations with Europe by adhering to the European Union, and Finland and Sweden will face the consequences of the significant change of these countries’ strategic environment;
  • Reducing the military interoperability. In time, the U.S and the majority of the ex-allies would lose their capacity to military cooperate without NATO’s standards used in operation, tested and improved over time; also, NATO’s common plan disappearance, in the defense domain, and forces’ training through exercises;
  • The consequences will be dramatic also for the U.S. Washington will lose allies, military bases and the established politic predictability through the daily multilateral meeting across the Alliance, and U.S.’s role in supporting the international order will debilitate China and Russia against the geopolitics competitors;
  • To sum up, a world without NATO will be an option with hard to handle consequences for the U.S, for its allies and for the partners in Europe and the Euro-Asiatic space.

Could NATO rename new Headquarters after McCain?

The british conservative parliamentary, Tom Tugendhat, through a letter addressed to NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, asked to rename the new Alliance's headquarters of “McCain”.

The process is based on the thought that John Sidney McCain III was one of the few people who represented the values that NATO is based on.

Seen as an internationalist who believed that the West, in general, and the U.S, particularly, have the duty to join the smaller countries in the fight against the illiberal intolerance, McCain can be associated for posterity with West biggest alliance.

Giving NATO’s headquarters the name of the american senator would be an admission of his assumed career and values, but also a message that NATO could send in these moments of global tension.

Trident Juncture 18

With 40.000 participants from over 30 nations, 130 aircrafts, 70 fight ships and around 10.000 fight vehicles, the NATO exercise “Trident Juncture 18” will be held on 25th of October-23th of November in Norway, the adjacent area from North Atlantic and Baltic Sea, including Iceland and the airspace of Finland and Sweden. The exercise will be based on scenario of the article 5 (collective defense) of the North Atlantic Treaty and will be leaded by Allied Joint Force Command from Napoli.

The “Trident Juncture 18” exercise will certify NATO’s 2019 Response Forces (NRF) and will test the deployability and action capacity of Very High Readiness Joint Task Force-VJTF (part of NRF) along NATO Forces.

Also, the activity will include operations and activities to identify Alliance’s capacity to act together with Finland and Sweden as partners. Through an exceptional logistic organization and planning, the first equipment batches which belong to the Ariete armored Brigade (Italy) already got to exercise’s deployment area.

Croatian Navy joins NATO's Operation “Sea Guardian”

In November 2016, NATO launched a maritime security operation (MSO) - called “Sea Guardian” in the Mediterranean Sea. Among its missions, we can mention the acknowledgement of the maritime condition and combating maritime terrorism, maintaining the free navigation, maritime interdiction, the fight against mass destruction weapons’ proliferation and protecting the critic infrastructure. With the “Sea Guardian” operation, NATO contributes to maintaining a secure maritime space, collaborating at the same time with other actors, like EU, offering support for the “Sophia” Operation.

“Sea Guardian” is the successor of the “Active Endeavour” Operation and is under the operational command of the Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM), Northwood, the United Kingdom.

The participant forces at the operation are deploying their missions, at the moment, in the Mediterranean Sea with a rhythm of three consecutive weeks at every 2 months.

For the first time in the history of the Croatian Army, the missile boat "Vukovar" (RTOP-41) joins NATO Sea Guardian operation on September 5.

 

The European Union

The informal meeting of the defense ministers

Between 20-30th of August, in Wien, held the informal ministerial meeting of the defense ministers from the EU states, under the patronage of the Austrian presidency and organized by the federal defense minister, Mario Kunasek.

The reunion, according with Austrian presidency’s motto of EU’s Council “A Europe that protects” had the purpose to approach the specific issues regarding the main security challenges that the European Union is facing now.

The main topics debated in the presence of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini, included the review of military planning and leadership capability, future actions for the implementation of permanent structured cooperation, the European Defense Fund, European Peace Facility, the stage of the strategic review of Operation Sophia.

  • Military Planning and Conduct Capability, created in June 2017, now responsible for leading all the un-executive military missions in Africa (EU’s instruction mission in Mali, Centre African Republic and Somalia) will follow, in the next years, a consolidation phase of the role through a military and civil approach;
  • Activity’s improvement and continuation regarding the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) was the subject where there were noticed the progresses made and it was remarked that, at the moment, 33 new PESCO projects are analyzed, which will be added, at the November reunion, to the 17 existent ones. Also, the debate included also the participation issues of the third countries at the PESCO projects;
  • The “Sophia” Operation strategic review phase. The operation expired at the end of the year and there is a full support of all the member states for continuing it after 2018, if its mandate will be revised. An incident2, with consequences over the Italy-EU relation, demanded an acceleration of the “Sophia” Operation review, simultaneously with the process to apply the European’s Council proposal from June regarding the division of EU’s tasks in the migration and asylum matter. Also, the Italian proposal to increase the harbors number from other states (France, Spain etc.), with the necessary logistic to receive the immigrants, will be an analysis subject in the debates of the European forums.

The informal reunion of the foreign affairs ministers

On the 30-31th of August period, EU’s foreign affairs ministers, at the common invitation of Austria’s federal minister for Europe, integration and foreign affairs, Karin Kneissl, as well as of the High Representative and Vice-president of the European Committee, Federica Mogherini, met in Wien for the informal meeting, known also as the “Gymnich” meeting.

The discussed themes included also the actual evolutions in the Middle East, the transatlantic relations, the perspective of the situation evolution in South-East Europe and EU’s extension issue in this area.

At the debates, the session regarding the efficient multilateralism consolidation deployed together with the foreign ministers of EU’s partner countries, Albania, the Ex-Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

One of the controversial issues that got the attention of the participants was the possible territorial exchange between Kosovo and Serbia.

At this subject, European Union’s foreign ministers joined Germany in expressing their concerns about a possible exchange between Kosovo and Serbia, warning that this may bring back the old ethnical tensions.

The controversial idea of the territory and border exchange that would show more ethical populations, was suggested in August by the Kosovar president, Hashim Thaci, in order to unify the southern region of Presevo, from Serbia, with Kosovo. In return, Serbia will receive a part of the Mitrovica region from the North of Kosovo, which is inhabited by a Serbian ethnic majority.

Reflecting the sensitivity of the issue, the idea of this exchange of territories is not unanimously supported neither by some of the leaders of the involved countries (the Kosovar Prime-Minister, Ramush Haradinaj refused on 31th of August Thaci’s suggestion saying that any border change would bring “new tragedies in the Balkans”).

As there are also positions in the West, like the U.S one, which accepts a territorial exchange with the condition for Pristina and Belgrade to make a “satisfying mutual agreement” between them, or Belgium’s one, which admits the competence between the two countries of deciding over the exchanges, the discussion will be retaken in 7th of September, in Brussels.

This time, at the discussion will take part the presidents of the involved countries, through a supplementary effort in solving their disputes, a necessary condition established by EU for the eventual accession.

 

Defense industry

NATO makes its first common acquisition of surface-to-air guided munition, dedicated to allies’ air forces

As we were writing down in a previous article, NATO’s Operation in Libya (2011) showed a major deficiency regarding the use of air-to-ground Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs). The ran out of their stockpiles of munitions and the incapacity to use, in proper time, the munition of other air forces, determined the Alliance to launch a new, flexible approach to the provision of air-to-ground precision-guided munitions across NATO.

Initiated by Denmark, at the project joined the Czech Republic, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Spain. The initiative was launched at the Wales NATO summit (2014), after the 6 ministers of defense signed a letter of intention.

The project was considering a large specter of multinational arrangements in the PGMs, which included reciprocal loan agreements, joint storage, acquisitions and the creation of multinational stocks, with the purpose to assure an efficient contribution for the future operations of the European states. The U.S does not participate at the program, but supports the project by approaching the issues regarding the exports control from the U.S for the american type PGMs.

Ulterior at the project joined also Belgium, Hungary, The Netherland, Poland, the United Kingdom and Finland (NATO partner).

The project is managed, in the name of the allies, by NATO Support and Procurement Agency- NSPA.

The agency has already received the first batch of guided munitions and will be delivered to the final recipients, Belgium and Denmark, in the coming weeks (August - September, a.m.).

Ammunition is produced in the United States, and the worth of this initial purchase is about 20 million US dollars.

Following the example of this cooperation framework, NATO will continue to extend it to other categories of force (Army and Navy), amplifying the effort of joint investment in the critical capabilities faced by the Alliance.

Czech’s army- modernization program

Czech’s army-modernization program

Through a modernization program of Czech’s Army, which will be deployed until 2017, worth 100 billion korunas (4,5 billion dollars), the government wants the soldiers must feel that the situation starts to improve.

Seen by the Chief of Defense, general lieutenant Ales Opata, as the biggest military modernization program from its country history, this will allow Czech’s Forces Army to replace an important part of the soviet origin equipment.

The main technique categories proposed for acquisition are fight infantry vehicles, self-propelled artillery systems, multifunctional helicopters, transport aircrafts, radar, air defense systems with short range of action and fight vehicles.

Increasing the budget allocated for the military equipment with 12% comparing to 2017 (58,9 billion koruna) shows the viability of this modernization program.

Moreover, Czech’s government concern for the regenerating and supporting their own defense industry is also confirmed by the recent provision contract of TITUS armored vehicles, adjudicated by the local company Eldis Pardubice (the lack of a security authorization for TATRA Export and a license from Nexter Systems).

The TITUS armored transport (6x6), is a product developed by Nexter group from France and by the Czech constructor Tatra Trucks. The contract will be developed in the next period, the delivers being made between 2020-2025, and the worth is estimated to 6,7 billion korunas (303,1 million dollars).  

 



1 https://eurasiantimes.com/7386-2/

2 Operation EUNAVFOR MED Sophia is an element of the European response to the migration issue. The mandate of the mission is to identify and capture ships used by smugglers or traffickers for the illegal transport of immigrants in order to disrupt smuggling and human trafficking networks in the Southern Mediterranean and to prevent loss of life at sea. Shipwrecks of immigrant’s ships, since the mission was launched in June 2015, have done vessels participating in the operation, for humanitarian reasons, to be involved in rescuing shipwrecks and transporting them to Italian harbors (Operation "Sophia" is under Italian command). All these deficiencies in the fulfillment of the basic mission culminated in the incident at the end of August. On the Italian coastal ship Diciotti, 137 Libyan immigrants, abused, tortured, victims of trafficking in human beings, after ten days at sea, finally land in the port of Messina. Unfortunately, they spent two days on the ship without the Italian authorities accepting asylum applications. Finally, under the pressure of international bodies and the local population, the Italian authorities approved the landing of refugees and their transfer to the local dioceses that have shown their readiness, but also to Albania and Ireland that have been involved in solving this humanitarian issue.