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Posted: 3/15/2002 11:58:32 PM EDT
March 16, 2002 MILITARY ANALYSIS Military Gulf Separates U.S. and European Allies By STEVEN ERLANGER LIETZ, Germany — In live-fire exercises here, the German heavy infantry battalion, the 421st Panzergrenadiers, look terrific, scooting out of Marder armored personnel carriers with new G-36 rifles, while the gunner clobbers a tank on the horizon with 20-millimeter shells. But even the tank-heavy, conscript German Army knows that the collapse of Soviet Communism and high technology have changed warfare irrevocably. Some European countries — notably Britain and France — have worked to modernize their armies and make them more mobile; Germany, too, is finally engaged in reform, even as 10,000 German troops help keep the peace in the Balkans and Afghanistan. But the real problem is that only 1.5 percent of Germany's gross domestic product goes to the military, half the proportion allotted by the United States. "The German military knows what has to be done," said Margarita Mathiopoulos, executive director of the Potsdam Center for Transatlantic Security and Military Affairs. "But they don't have enough cash to do it." With the war in Afghanistan exposing the disparities between the United States Army and those of the other NATO allies, Europe's perennial unwillingness to spend more for defense has undermined its credibility with the United States and damaged NATO as a military alliance, senior American and European officials say. America's global responsibilities, matched with sizable and growing investments in high-technology warfare, from satellite communications to Predator drones, are leaving even NATO's most gung-ho European members farther behind. Even after the 1999 Kosovo war, when America's superior power was powerfully on display, Britain and France found they could not jump-start their effort to build a more effective European rapid reaction force. cont'
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 12:00:25 AM EDT
European governments sense that they are increasingly becoming second-rank powers, unable to affect American foreign policy goals because they can bring too few military assets to the table. Even NATO's secretary general, Lord Robertson, warns the Europeans of a choice between "modernization or marginalization." The American ambassador to NATO, Nicholas Burns, said recently, "Without dramatic action to close the capabilities gap, we face the real prospect of a two-tiered alliance." There is a risk, he said, that the alliance "is so unbalanced that we may no longer have the ability to fight together in the future." Kori Schake, a professor at the National Defense University who is joining the German National Security Council as director of defense policy, says the gap between the Americans and the Europeans is reaching a critical point. After Sept. 11, she said, "American defense spending will increase dramatically, the changes in American forces will accelerate, and U.S. interest in and support for crisis management missions will decline further." The Europeans, everyone agrees, must concentrate on some obvious improvements. They need to be able to move troops quickly by air, refuel planes in flight, deploy precision- guided munitions and operate with battlefield radar from the sky. Their inability to do so now stems at least in part from an increasingly diverging view, compared with Washington's, of what is needed to combat the threats and poverty of the developing world. Devastated by military conflict in the 20th century, Europe prefers to spend its money on social welfare at home and aid to poor countries abroad. The European Union provides 56 percent of the world's aid and 36 percent of the budget of the United Nations. cont'
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 12:01:10 AM EDT
Britain and France are serious military and nuclear powers, but the United States is about to move into warp speed. President Bush wants to increase the Pentagon budget by $120 billion over the next five years, including a $48 billion increase next year, which would bring the military budget to $379 billion. That figure exceeds the total military budgets of the world's next 14 biggest defense spenders put together. Even more troubling to some, there is an implicit division of labor within NATO — the Americans fight, and the Europeans clean up and keep the peace — that is eroding the ideal of a collective alliance. The European effort to develop its own forces that can operate with NATO's aid but outside NATO is progressing only slowly. "Sept. 11 was not good, either for NATO or for the European defense project," a senior French official said. "When American security was at stake, Europeans expected to be called on to help, but the phone didn't ring." In Kosovo but even more now in Afghanistan, European offers of military aid were largely spurned by the Americans as of little benefit. "It's all about capabilities," a senior European Union foreign policy official said. "The United States has to balance the aggravation of military partnership with its benefits, and if the benefits aren't very sizable, why bother with the aggravation?" A senior American official said: "The reality is that we don't need the Europeans to do all that we do. We want a couple of crack divisions that can fight with us in nasty places if necessary. And they can do that by focusing their money and spending it better." Lord Robertson, the secretary general, said in an interview that there was a need for a serious European rapid reaction force, better special forces, better communication and encryption. In particular, he said, the Europeans need strategic lift and precision-guided weapons like cruise missiles and smart bombs, "which are the only things you can now use to satisfy international law and international public opinion."
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 12:01:51 AM EDT
The problem can be as basic as transportation. A country as rich as Germany is still unable to deliver more than a third of the troops it promised for peacekeeping in Kabul on schedule because it must rent Russian or Ukrainian transport planes on the commercial market. One country, which NATO officials refused to identify, discussed moving troops to Kabul by railroad. Yet a European troop transport plane, the A-400 M, a variant of the European-owned Airbus, is stuck in a financing dispute in Germany. Even worse, the plane will take 8 to 10 years to deliver. Europe spends about $140 billion a year on the military, but on average only about $7,000 per soldier — compared with $28,000 per American soldier — on research and development. Some fixes would be simple and not terribly expensive, officials and other experts say. To create a smart bomb out of a dumb one involves slapping on an $18,000 guidance package, said William Schneider Jr., chairman of the Defense Science Board, a Pentagon advisory panel, and providing sophisticated data links that have already been developed. "There is no technology transfer needed in this case," he said. "People just need to do it." European aircraft would then be able to benefit from American airborne battlefield surveillance. Soldiers could easily have better gear able to communicate with American satellites or Predators. A Rand Corporation study suggests that the Europeans can do enough to fight effectively alongside the Americans by spending some $25 billion to $56 billion more in the next decade, a senior French official said. Javier Solana, the European Union's chief of foreign and security policy and before that NATO secretary general, said the Europeans could restore and maintain political credibility only by living up to their promises of increased military strength. "We do not set out to rival the United States as a military power, but where we decide to set goals, we must realize them," he said. Now, in a phrase that has become almost a cliché, the United States is the power that fights, the United Nations feeds and the European Union finances, while European soldiers, as in Afghanistan and the Balkans, keep the peace. "This kind of complementarity is fine in the short term," the senior French official said. "But George Robertson is right. It must be a partnership or it's not stable in the long run.." Lord Robertson complains with some bitterness that Germany is the only European country that has increased its military spending at all — $780 million from a special tax to fight terrorism — since Sept. 11. Yet he remains convinced that, in the end, "the European allies will do it — they know they have to do it." The German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, also seems to recognize that the Europeans must pool more power to remain relevant for America. "We don't have too much America," Mr. Schröder recently told the newspaper Die Zeit. "We have too little Europe."
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 12:05:44 AM EDT
Would have done a link, but you have to register, and I know some of you would rather play with gerbils than register with the NY Times website.
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 12:11:26 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Buddha: Would have done a link, but you have to register, and I know some of you would rather play with gerbils than register with the NY Times website.
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Good read! And you are correct about the gerbils... [img]http://www.stopstart.fsnet.co.uk/smilie/biggrin2.gif[/img]
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 12:18:10 AM EDT
Thank you, Buddha - good article.
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 6:00:23 AM EDT
Whenever they want you to register to get to an article I just type in bogus info. I think the last time I gave my address as 1234 Dingleberry Lane, etc. and my email as brassballs@hotmail.com. They don't seem to check, so I get to read the article without being hassled later. [;)]
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 6:27:59 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 6:45:36 AM EDT
This sounds better than a couple years ago when the military ran low on ammo and had to cut back on their target practice.
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 6:52:59 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Paul: Sounds like we're the best at something. I would have liked to see how China's spending compares with ours. It would seem that there are a nummber here that fear the Chinese army but I would assume that their numbers and situation are far worse than the Europeans.
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Meaningless apples and oranges comparison. Translating military spending - worldwide - into US$ creates a false impression of the conventional and strategic military balance. Every PLA tanker, pilot and footslogger isn't being paid in US$, nor anything like our soldiers are in yuan. If they were then the PRC would only be able to field a few divisions!
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 7:00:47 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Oslow: This sounds better than a couple years ago when the military ran low on ammo and had to cut back on their target practice.
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Only marginally so. The numbers of men and women in uniform has been dwindling since the second world war, all the while the world's population and capabilities have been growing. We have what, a hundred ships less than we did in the [b]80s[/b]. Same with planes. Don't make tanks anymore. A couple divisions less in ground troops than then. Are totally dependent on going to the reserves and guard should fighting break out anywhere. Hell, in the past year they've thrown out the concept that we need to be able to fight two wars at the same time. Just not enough resources to go around.
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 7:08:40 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/16/2002 7:55:02 AM EDT by shooter69]
Now, the Europeans are a disaster. We have been subsidizing them for the past half century, and they don't know any other reality now. They need to take some of the money our nato commitments have allowed them to spend on social programs (generous ones that we don't have btw), and become a true partner. Or cut their foreign aid budget. We protect them, they give 10s of billions of euros away... Just think... all the great powers of Europe: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Benelux countries together can't deal with little Serbia on their own. Europe [u]is weak[/u]! [Edited to add: Thanks for the article, Buddha!]
Link Posted: 3/16/2002 7:20:29 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Paul: Sounds like we're the best at something. I would have liked to see how China's spending compares with ours. It would seem that there are a number here that fear the Chinese army but I would assume that their numbers and situation are far worse than the Europeans. What good is an army that you can't deploy? What good is an air force that can't be refueled? What good is a navy without blue water experience?
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Paul, toward the end of the Soviet Union their truly excellent spying apparatus could still steal the plans for the new micro processor but finally Soviet technology was so far behind they had no means to fabricate/produce the chip. The Chinese are behind the former Soviets. Countries such as China, Iraq, Iran, etc., are always caught in a quandary. If enough money is allocated to properly train and equip their military forces, will those forces turn against the leadership ? Most countries of this type have chosen to have a relatively poorly equipped military and piss poor training. So far as the Europeans, they must continue to deal with strong-left wing factions and may, politically, not be able to allocate the needed funds and remain in power. Or may not be able to get the needed funding through their various parliaments. In my opinion, we must increase our ability to deliver troops and material to the likely battlefields of the future. Here I refer to both forward staging and the actual improvement of the delivery vehicles.
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