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12 iunie 2019 - Special reports - NATO - UE

NATO-EU political military events- April

Ştefan Oprea

Summary:NATO: -NATO anniversary; -Terminal High Altitude Area Defence System - THAAD will support, this summer, the NATO Ballistic Missile Defence; -The first Baltic country to ever sign a US Cooperation Plan in defence.European Union: -European parliamentary elections, a challenging electoral process for cyber interferences.Military acquisitions and the defence industry:- European Defence Industry- opportunities and challenges.

Sursă foto: Mediafax


NATO anniversary

The NATO’s countries effective foreign ministers have celebrated, on 3rd of April 2019, 70 years since transatlantic Alliance’s foundation, in the “Mellon” court, the same court the 12 foreign ministers of  the allied founders met, on 4th of April 1949, to sign the North Atlantic Treaty.

The Alliance is facing new challenges and disputes and now, within this anniversary, shows its fierceness in adapting to this environment and continuing to generate values for its members, given this new global security context.

Although there are many talks on this topic, NATO is far from beign an “old-fashioned” Alliance. It is the most successful alliance in human’s history, however, now, it is facing many internal and external challenges, wherefore it must quickly find solutions: the common strategic perspective, common defence costs and common values defence and identification.

The current military breach between Europe and the US is creating huge problems within NATO, and for this to stop, the US must encourage Europeans to do more. Also, America must support the EU cooperation increase in defence, which already enjoys popular support in all EU member states. As for the other major topics, there is a certain concurrent approach.

If China is, for Washington, America’s most important enemy, Europe also starts to consider the risks the Chinese investments could come with.

As for Russia, although it is an immediate threat against East Europe’s security, Europe still has many opinions about it. On one hand, some want Vladimir Putin’s belligerence to be controlled, on the other hand, others want for businesses with Russia to continue, as if Crimea’s annexation and the war against Ukraine would not exist.

In terms of this issue, the Alliance has no option but to find a common strategic perspective, wherein the European continent plays a major role. All NATO members must respect this quality, and their Alliance membership must become a privilege, for all members to have an active and constructive role. Autocratic regimes or authoritarianism should not be shared, hence, they must create a common gradual sanctions system, to lead to these regimes exclusions. The call on Treaty’s provisions is possible only if each member embraces the same values.

Among Alliance’s long term-values, the biggest and also the most difficult is, by far, US’s small will on continuing being Europe’s security guarantor. Given that a multipolar future is closer and closer, being something in between competition and conflicts, wherein the non-liberal powers will play a key role, the transatlantic cooperation is urgent. Hereof, for this cooperation to continue, Europe must take a greater responsibility in defence, and America must have greater respect for the European autonomy. Considering these circumstances, any division tendency will undermine Alliance’s political unity, an organization which relies on common decisions and consensus.

In order to stay relevant, NATO must, first of all, identify its role within the global order’s significant changes context, wherein the competition for power is more and more intense. From this perspective, the cohesion and cooperation between the US and Europe, wherein the latter must take a bigger responsibility, including Europe’s defence against Russia, will be a decisive method to establish Alliance’s mission and its ambition level.

But that’s not enough. NATO member states must eliminate the self-sufficiency and invest in technologies that can defend their citizens against online interferences and attacks on this specific infrastructure. In order to strengthen the Alliance and take advantage on its military capabilities and personnel, they must create resistant governmental structures against blackmail and compromises, as well as member states’ critical IT systems’ security.

NATO’s relevance will start from its capacity to continue to react, adapt, modernize and reflect allies’ common interests.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defence System - THAAD will support, this summer, the NATO Ballistic Missile Defence

After years of talks on the chance to use the THAAD systems outside US, until now, only the Pacific region (Guam, Korea Peninsula) and, recently, the Middle East (United Arab Emirates, Israel) had the opportunity to have operational disposals with this performant missile defence system. On the use of this system in Europe, talks were useless, and after Crimea’s annexation by Russia, such a possibility was increasing the already created shortcomings between US, Europe and Russia.

Maintenance’s need for the Aegis Ashore missile defence operational system asks to complete this capability with the THAAD system, because it’s planned maintenance period and upgrades is limited.

According to the European Phased Adaptive Approach-EPAA, launched in 2009, the Aegis Ashore system had four planning phases, and the interceptors should have been located in Rota, Spain, in the Mediterranean Sea, the naval option for Deveselu, Romania, and the air base to Redzikowo, Poland (planning deadline, 2020), the terrestrial option. Also, the system has AN/TPY-2 radars to detect the ballistic missiles, in Kurecik, Turkey. System’s command and control is being made by the NATO Allied Air Headquarter, from Ramstein, Germany.

Hence, it is the first time in Europe, when the THAAD system gets to Romania, within the Aegis Ashore system’s planned upgrade, part of the periodical upgrades made for all Aegis systems.

The system to be dislocated in Deveselu belongs to Brigade 69 Air Defence Artillery, the 32 Air Defence Headquarter and the Terrestrial Forces’ Missile Defence, from Fort Hood, Texas.

THAAD is part of US’s Army missile defence systems capabilities and it can neutralize the ballistic missiles in flight’s terminal phase. During its dislocation in Romania, its operational command will belong to NATO’s Allied Air Headquarter.

The first Baltic country to ever sign a US Cooperation Plan in defence

The US security cooperation with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is being developed within a firm and durable security partnership, which aims at solving the security shortcomings across the entire Baltic area.

In 2017, US signed the Treaty on NATO’s forces status, offering the necessary legal framework for American forces operating in the Baltic countries.

During the strategic dialogue between US and the Baltic Countries from November 2018, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have agreed on developing a strategic bilateral “roadmap” on security cooperation with US.

On 2th of April 2019, the Deputy Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs, Kathryn Wheelbarger, and Robertas Sapronas, the Defence Policy director of Lithuania’s National Defence Minister, have signed, at the Pentagon, the Cooperation Plan in Defence.

This plans’ priorities, agreed for the 2019-2024 period, include:

  • Consolidation of the effective cooperation in defence, through exercises and bilateral exchanges;
  • Cooperation on Baltic Sea’s region deterrence and security;
  • Cooperation in multinational operations and focus on cyber-security efforts in order to build deterrence and defence capabilities against cyber-attacks.

According to the Defence Department, the US has invested, since 2014, around $80 million in Lithuania, in defence, meanwhile Lithuania has acquired US equipment worth of $200 million.


European parliamentary elections, a provocative electoral process for cyber interferences

Three years after the Russian disinformation campaigns that have troubled the US 2016 presidential elections and, most likely, have also influenced the Brexit vote, the European community faces a great concern.

The “European elections” are, in fact, some concurrent elections to take place between 23-26th of May, wherein vote’s integrity depends on how all 28 national governments are fighting hackers and other threats. Governments’ different readiness level can create security breaches and vulnerabilities that, if exploited by malicious actors, can alter vote’s result.

Elections’ disperse and long duration nature represents a tempting target for hackers, trolls and foreign agents, asking for each member to take responsibility over their own security systems.

Any disinformation campaigns, cyber-threat or digital manipulation success over votes’ results will lead to compromising the electoral process, influencing European Parliament’s unity capacity, but also EU’s future functioning.

European Commission’s concerns in this field have been materialized since September 2018, when it created a set of concrete measures to approach the possible threats against electoral processes. This set of measures came with Commission’s recommendation regarding the electoral cooperation systems, online transparency, disinformation combat and protection against cyber security incidents. Starting from these measures and recommendations, at the beginning of April, across the EU ELEXI19 exercise, it was tested EU’s readiness in terms of cyber security, in order to ensure free and fair European elections in May. Concurrently, there are being developed specific activities across the Plan of action against disinformation, adopted by EU in December, last year.

Exercise’s objective was testing EU member states’ profiled structures effectiveness and EU’s response practices, in order to identify prevention, detection and mitigation methods for the cyber-security incidents, which could affect the future EU election strategy.

More than 80 representatives from EU’s member states, along with European Parliament, European Commission and EU’s Agency for intelligence security observers, based on different threats and cyber incidents scenarios, the participants have tried to consolidate the electoral authorities’ readiness and their cyber security against digital hybrid threats.

Exercise’s end gave participants, besides other conclusions, the big picture of EU’s electoral systems’ actually resilience level, including an evaluation of other interested parts’ readiness (for example, the political parties, electoral companies’ organizations and IT equipment providers).

Concurrently with these concerns, EU has also elaborated a procedure to sanction the individual hackers and groups to have state governmental connections, when they enter the intelligence systems or are trying to weaken the electoral processes.

Military acquisitions and the defence industry

 European Defence Industry- opportunities and challenges.

A recent study, made at Sweden’s Defence Minister’s request, gives us an image of the global military costs and the military equipment’s, the defence industry and the macro-economic conditions. Defence Economic Outlook’s first report, published in 2016, was analyzing the military costs just to reveal the power relations between states. Unlike this one, the 2018 report underlined how and how much states committed in increasing their military costs are actually using their own financial contribution. Without talking too much about the information found in this report, some of the European defence industry aspects described in it are:

- the European defence industry has few big contractors, some of them small producers and around 2500 SMEs;

- great companies in the defence field are BAE Systems, Airbus, Leonardo, Thales and Rolls Royce. SME’s producers are mainly located in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Great Britain. Most of them have many concerns, both civil and military, and a small defence production as exclusive business;

- as for property, there is a mixture between private and public property and some, few of them, trans-European. We should bear in mind that big companies, and not only, have a significant international presence, and American defence companies are really important in Europe;

If we also add security’s environment deterioration and the NATO summit’s objectives from Wales, we understand that the European defence industry will, most likely, face an increased equipment request. On a first sight, this can be an opportunity. However, a closer look shows a series of challenges that will put more pressure over the defence industry.

First of all, it will have to answer to an increased request, after decades of reduced budgets in the defence industry. Furthermore, the unitary costs’ increase has imposed productions’ volume. Another challenge is European defence industry’s fragmented nature. All these factors are limiting the capacity to gather resources, for example, in terms of research and development.

As for the European defence market, the report reveals that is it mostly a national market and each state’s industry relies mostly on their internal national market. Its fragmentary nature led to military systems’ diversification. From this point of view, their decreased number will involve supplementary costs and, also, will limit European states’ capacity to join forces, affecting the global European defence industry competitiveness.  

From this perspective, the cooperation efforts across EU Common security and defence policy (CSDP) have received an impulse lately, because there were many opened collaboration channels. These include the European Defence Fund (EDF) and Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), both introduced in 2018. If we add to these efforts also some fusions between the specialized companies in defence, both trans-European (Airbus and MBDA) and European (KWM in Germany and Nexter in France), there are enough hints to state that, in the last decades, the European acquisitions were rather European than national.

All in all, without referring to report’s entire content, we can conclude, indeed, that the European defence industry has a quite increasing request. Consequently, most of the European defence companies have already started to get adapted to this increased requests, meanwhile others are more cautious and do not want to increase the production capacity before making sure it will be a feasible one. Partnerships are more and more needed, especially in distributing the financial effort between partners, but also to face the competition. Labor force’s identification can barely be eliminated for SMEs, usually the sub-contractors. All these factors involve a continuous and increased coordination, cooperation and consolidation.

The global challenges and tendencies identified within this report highlights cooperation’s continuous stimulation, but also its unexpected consequences, across the European defence industry.

Translated by Andreea Soare