12 October 2018

NATO - EU Political - Military Events / October (I)

Ştefan Oprea

Image source: Mediafax

Content:

NATO

  • NATO Military Committee reunion in Chiefs of Defence format;
  • NATO meetings at Defence Ministers level

European Union

  • Extending the European imprint across NATO;
  • European Union could accept UK and US in the development of military projects

Defence Industry

  • Bulgaria's Defence Industry is encouraged to participate in the upgrading of the armed forces

 

NATO

NATO Military Committee reunion in Chiefs of Defence format

In Warsaw, between 28-30 September 2018, NATO's highest military authority, the Military Committee, met in Chiefs of Defence format. The meeting was hosted by Chief of Polish General Staff, Lieutenant General Rajmund Andrzejczak.

The conference, chaired for the first time by Air Chief Marshall Sir Stuart Peach (RAF-UK) as chairman of the NATO Military Committee, had in debated topics focused on availability, responsiveness and modernization of forces, future operations recommendations, exercises and NATO activities, including closer cooperation with international organizations.

At the end of the talks was the election of the next Director of the NATO International Military Staff, who will take office in 2019.

As always, at the opening of the conference, Allied chiefs of defence paid tribute to the over 20,000 military personnel are engaged in NATO operations, missions, and activities around the world, and remembered the sacrifice of those men and women killed or wounded in the line of duty.

With the mission to safeguard the security of 1 billion citizens on both sides of the Atlantic, the Alliance faces an unpredictable and fluid environment, with many challenges and developing threats posed by state and non-state actors in the traditional domains of land, sea and air, as well as hybrid warfare and cyberattacks

Even if the security situation remains a challenge, the Alliance is firmly committed to the two-main effort in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Together with Afghan national security forces, the joint effort aims to secure their country and deny a safe haven to terrorists.

In Iraq, NATO continues to support the Iraqi government and its efforts to stabilize the country and fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Regarding the NATO Military Strategy, the Heads of Defence agreed on the need to focus both on the means and on the current capabilities contribute to projecting stability and the strengthening security outside its territory.

As the Alliance adapts and modernises, in line with political decisions, the Military Committee must provide the overall framework to promote a common understanding of NATO's military objectives, intentional approaches and resource requirements.

The preparation and enhancement of the forces' reaction capability has been another topic of debate. From this perspective, the heads of defence look to ensure member states the alliance's deterrence and defence position remain credible, coherent and resilient.

An important point was the analysis on the decision of the Heads of State and Government at the last NATO summit in Brussels on the “Four Thirties” Readiness Initiative, reviewing the progress with Allies committing to having 30 mechanized battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 combat vessels, ready to use within 30 days or less, by 2020.

Under a continuous process of modernization, the Alliance continues to pursue a 360-degree approach to security and effectively fulfil all three core tasks as set out in the 2010 Strategic Concept: collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.

In the same session, the command structure adaptation, including acceptance of national offers to develop command and control capabilities at corps level, highlighted their contribution to the operational coherence and effectiveness of command and control in the region, including the Allied Forces submitted.

Following the vote at the end of the Military Committee Conference, Lieutenant General Hans-W. Wiermann, of the German Armed Forces, was elected the next Director of the NATO International Military Staff. Since 2015, General Wiermann is the German Military Representative to NATO and the EU.

NATO meetings at Defence Ministers level

Between 3-4th October, in Brussels, held the meeting of NATO defence ministers. The aim of this meeting was to implement the forward decisions taken in July 2018 by the Heads of State and Government of the Alliance, focusing on NATO's further adaptation and consolidation, in response to an increasingly provocative Russia, ongoing instability in southern Europe, as well as to discuss allies' efforts to reinforce the need for equitable burden sharing within the Alliance.

Inevitably, the most discussed topic was the need to invest of 2% of GDP on defence. This topic highlighted the need for credible national plans to achieve this goal, and last but not least, that European allies and Canada have spent cumulative $ 41 billion more on defence over the last two years. This was considered a significant progress.

The second issue was the strengthening of NATO's deterrence and defence posture. From this perspective, the Nuclear Planning Group meeting, part of the allies’ regular consultations, reinforced their conviction to keep NATO's nuclear deterrence safe, secure and effective. Another issue on this topic was represented by NATO's concerns about Russia's violation of the INF Treaty (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces - Treaty). NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg highlighted the fact that Russia's new missile system "destabilizes" and represents "a serious risk for our security," stating on behalf of NATO: "We are asking Russia to seriously address our concerns."

During the meeting, the Dutch defence minister made an update on disrupted an attempt in April by Russian intelligence agents to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (The Netherlands). Regarding this issue, the NATO Secretary General referred to a global campaign, which is why NATO, in response, will continue to strengthen its defence and deterrence in the cyber field. The effort of several Allies to put cyber capabilities at NATO's disposal has been welcomed with great satisfaction, as these offers allow NATO to be as powerful in cyberspace as on land, sea and air (the United States intends to announce in the coming days, to provide NATO its cyberwar capabilities amid concerns over Russia's attacks on its own cyber capabilities).

The adaptation of the NATO Command Structure, another key decision of the July Summit, provides for the setting up of the two new commands to improve the troop movement across the Atlantic and Europe, as well as the new Cyber ​​Operations Centre. This will include over 1,200 additional personnel for the NATO Command and Control Structure.

The partnership relationship with non-NATO countries was another topic of the meeting. The partnership plays a key role in the Alliance's efforts to project stability in our neighbourhood. The NATO-Georgia Commission meeting demonstrates that Georgia is one of the closest partners and a country aspiring to NATO membership. The Allies reaffirmed their full support for Georgia's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. The same committee also addressed the issue of security in the Black Sea, NATO member states considering that the Black Sea is of strategic importance.

The instability of the southern borders was another subject of analysis. About the training mission in Iraq, ministers highlighted the fact that it will include more than 500 troops and help the country preserve the gains made by the Global Coalition to defeat ISIS.

A distinct meeting, which has become usually lately, it was with the EU High Representative / Vice President, Federica Mogherini, and the defence ministers of Finland and Sweden. Topics discussed included NATO-EU cooperation in areas such as military mobility and managing hybrid threat. Ministers were also briefed on the EU's defence initiatives, contributing to fairer burden-sharing between Europe and the USA / Canada.

It is worth noting that US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, before attending the ministerial meeting, made a stopover in Paris in an effort to reaffirm the long-standing U.S.-French defence relationship and Allies about the US commitment to NATO and the willingness to engage with Europe in security and defence matters. The meeting was not a coincidence, knowing very well that France and the United States are collaborating in joint security operations in Syria and Africa.

EUROPEAN UNION

Extending the European imprint across NATO

The perspective of some major changes at the European geopolitical level regarding US’s geopolitical priorities demands a reconfiguration of the European position across NATO, not only regarding the budgets, but also the politic influence.

The sudden steep approach in president’s Trump speech, adopted at the last NATO summit and during its European journey, created confusion among the Europeans regarding the importance of this specific speech (just to get advantages in negotiation?) and the fact that there may a possible misunderstanding, at US level, of some countries’ role (example Germany) in European and euro Atlantic’s geopolitics.

The alternative of this choice will be the perspective of the partial transatlantic disconnection and of a comeback to European geopolitics, with consequences over collective, continuous defence for the entire Europe (an obvious difference between West and East Europe).

In these circumstances, the European leaders will probably try to adopt a restriction solution of the large-scale Europeanization tendencies in security and defence problems, ensuring NATO’s continuity, through a permanent commitment coming from US. Also, will stimulate a stronger European imprint inside NATO, where the European allies will invest more in common programs, with NATO’s European members taking more tasks and this way creating a fair partnership. Easy to say, hard to do.

The challenge for the Europeans will be diplomacy’s use across a European institutionalized cooperation format, and from this point of view, France and Germany will still have an important role for up keeping these institutions working.

Great Britain will still have the leader role in a Europeanized NATO, actually taking the off-shore from the US but, being concerned about solving Brexit and the ulterior verbalization of the long-term interest, to undertake from different positions, the European Union led by Germans and Frenches.

Unfortunately, NATO states from the European eastern flank will remain deprived of these institutional constructions, having distinct forms of partnerships with US.

From this perspective, raises the natural question about East Europe’s place and role across European security and if West Europe can reorganize and extend its security to east as NATO is today capable of doing it.

All of these debates took place because EU developed, until now, in the shadow of a transatlantic NATO. Debating these alternatives contributes at the better understanding of the effects of such decision with European geopolitical content, but with transatlantic echoes. Furthermore, all of these debate subjects have created the possibility to expose the geopolitical challenges against NATO, as well as the consequences of an irremediable perturbation of the transatlantic cooperation.

Concluding, a Europe with more tasks can become a stronger voice in an alliance whereat US remains committed.

European Union could accept UK and US in the development of military projects

Permanent Structured Cooperation - PESCO, a program launched last year with the aim to intensify European Union’s activity in defence domain and the cooperation for defence capabilities’ development, but also and the newly founded European Defence Fund – EDF, are important steps taken by the Union.

Since the launch, the difficult question - whether and to what extent it may be possible to involve allies outside the Union bloc in this program, has remained unresolved. Since then, there is a concern of some EU member states to find a compromise solution to give non-EU countries access to this project, especially for the United Kingdom and the US, already involved in developing current projects and whose license depend on mostly, the commercialization of finite products.

There are voices and information that these two countries could participate in projects, on a case-by-case basis. In May, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, representing a group of EU countries, presented a document proposing that PESCO be open to non-EU countries as well. With the opposition of some Member States, a compromise was agreed for which a case-by-case analysis would be required at EU level, as the implications of these general conditions will vary according to the particularities of each project.

The decision of such participation must be unanimously supported and the Council will then confirm that the invited third country meets the general conditions and which should be the individual contribution that provides substantial added value for the achievement of the objectives of each project (resources or expertise).

It is also specified that the participation of a non-EU country should not lead to dependence on the realization, use or operational exploitation of the capacity developed in an individual project.

For the time being, these steps are concerns at an informal level, and the Council will take a final decision in the next period.

The need to ensure consistency between the European Defence Fund (EDF) and other EU defence initiatives, in particular the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) requires that the Capability Development Plan (CDP) be considered the coordination tool for all three initiatives.

The EU High Level Conference “European Defence Fund-Driving Factor for defence Research and Innovation”, held in Vienna on October 1-3, and organized under the auspices of the of European Council’s Austrian presidency, highlighted and supported this approach, agreed by the majority of participants. From this perspective, the topics debated during the conference may be a reference point for establishing potential action directions, with a view to the takeover of the rotating presidency by Romania from 1st of January 2019, of the revolving presidency.

DEFENCE INDUSTRY

Bulgaria's Defence Industry is encouraged to participate in the upgrading of the armed forces

Recently, a national conference with international participation entitled “The Defence Industry as a Leader of Innovation in Bulgaria”, took place in Sofia.

Organized by the Bulgarian Defence Industries Association under the joint patronage of the ministers of defence and economy, the conference was opened by Anatolii Velichkov, Deputy Minister of Defence. Some of his statements could be remarked especially from the perspective of encouraging the Bulgarian defence industry to play the leading role in projects where possible.

There is a desire to create conditions for the Bulgarian defence industry and autochthonous producers to be active participants and to become involved in the modernization of the Armed Forces approved by the National Assembly. Another measure noted and remarked at the same time was the elimination of the possibility to monopolize the logistical maintenance of the products, starting from the finding that the intermediation of the services between the Ministry of Defence and the major suppliers are not the best commercial practices.

Also, the Ministry of Defence aims to involve the national defence industry in specific projects to develop the capabilities of the Bulgarian armed forces (a major project is the acquisition of combat vehicles for future battalion-sized battlegroups within a mechanized infantry brigade, has met with particular interest from the Bulgarian defence industry in view of its capacities). One of the main criteria for evaluating the contract bids for this project is industrial cooperation, which creates ample opportunity for Bulgarian industries to participate in the project.

At this conference, Deputy Economy Minister Luchezar Borissov said Bulgaria exported 1.219 billion euro worth of defence products in 2017, which was 200 million euro more than in 2016. It also highlighted that the Bulgarian Defence Industries Association has more than 30,000 employees and the defence industry is considered a key sector in terms of employment.