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'Old Europe' plans EU army

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#1 Palisades

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 09:00 AM

Telegraph

Quote

'Old Europe' presses ahead with plans for an EU army
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels
(Filed: 30/04/2003)

"Old Europe" threw down the gauntlet at the feet of Britain, the United States and the Atlantic Alliance at a mini-summit yesterday, unveiling plans for a new Euro-army with its own military headquarters.

France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg - described by some in the US as the "Axis of Weasel" - vowed to press ahead with a full-fledged defence union, brushing aside warnings that the move would entrench the European Union's bitter divisions over Iraq and could lead to the break-up of Nato.

A new rapid reaction force would be built around the existing Franco-German brigade, taking in Belgian commandos and units from Luxembourg. It would answer to a headquarters in the Brussels suburb of Tervuren and be ready for joint operations next year.

Jacques Chirac, the French president, insisted that the plans would bolster Nato by making Europe a more credible partner for Washington, and denied there was an attempt to set up a rival to Nato's operational command. "The aim is not to decouple European Union and Atlantic Alliance defence efforts," he said.

But M Chirac gave out mixed signals when he gently rebuked Tony Blair for advocating a "one polar world" and warning of a new Cold War if Europe tried to become a rival power to America.

"Quite naturally a multi-polar world is being created, whether one likes it or not. It's inevitable. For balance to exist, there will have to be a strong Europe. Relations between the European Union and the United States will have to be a partnership between equals," said M Chirac.

He invited all 25 of the EU's current and future states to join the new defence core, but the so-called New Europe camp - led by Britain, Spain, Italy and Poland - has reacted with deep suspicion. Ana Palacio, the Spanish foreign minister, said the proposals were "counter-productive" and would cause needless division at a delicate time.

<additional details snipped>

CJ AEGIS, tennyson, jon, and others, how effective of a counterweight to the US is this likely to be?

Edit: Added jon

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#2 G1223

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 09:09 AM

Well I think as soon as the EU's done working this out it can take over peacekeeping in Koslovo.  Then again it stood around and got fiddle lessons rather than lessons  about stopping ethnic cleansing the last time around.
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#3 Enmar

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 09:16 AM

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A new rapid reaction force would be built around the existing Franco-German brigade, taking in Belgian commandos and units from Luxembourg. It would answer to a headquarters in the Brussels suburb of Tervuren and be ready for joint operations next year.

Belgium and Luxembourg aren't exactly super powers :p

And I find the idea of headquarters in Brussels very lame. Belgium is having problems and I believe it will split to two sooner or later. Having your headquarters at the center of that mess isn't promising :unsure:
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#4 jon3831

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 10:16 AM

Argh... I should be studying for my midterm tomorrow...

At first glance, I'm wondering if this won't violate Article 8 of the NATO Treaty

I wonder how their command and control is going to work...

One of the biggest problems I see with this is the lack of ability to project power. Until they have some airlift or sealift, operations will be limited to Europe or Africa.

Money quote:

Quote

"European Command for strategic air transport" by 2004. The new force would have to rely on US airlift or leased Ukrainian planes until the Airbus A400M military transport aircraft was ready for service later in the decade.

That places this alliance in a touchy position if they want to go do something that the United States disagrees with. Of course, once they build their transports, that won't be as big of a problem, but then they still have to have places to land them...

Also, the rumblings of the French government toward building new aircraft carriers is interesting. Aircraft carriers and the like give you the ability to project power by giving you a mobile base to conduct operations from. Case in point with the current Iraq War, a great number of the sorties were conducted from carriers.

This, coupled with the French strategic submarine force and the size of the German army makes this a concern.

So, will this be an effective counterweight?

Based on everything I've seen thus far, this force will only be about 6000 strong, and it seems to be more of a special operations force. Will it remain at 6000? That's something that time will tell. I suspect that we'll find out either way within 10 years.

Questions, though:

1) Does anyone have any idea precisely what units this force will be made up of?
2) How will command and control work? Will individual countries have control over their own troops, or will command be under the new EU executive? (Making another potential issue, depending on which country is the executive, and whether or not they signed on with this plan)
3) Will the size of this force be limited by statute or treaty?

That's all for now... It's getting late, and I need to get back to it...
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#5 the Pill

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 10:38 AM

Germans:  I say we blitzkrieg them.

France:  I say we surrender.

Belgium:  I say we make waffles.

Luxembourg:  I say... I say we're a country the size of a city.

Well, that sounds like a split decision to me...

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#6 Ilphi

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 11:00 AM

Quote

A new rapid reaction force would be built around the existing Franco-German brigade

What, so they can do nothing even quicker?  :p

Thats certainly my knee jerk reaction. There are some other things that spring to mind as well:

~ The EU welcomes a great deal of new countries next year. Is this nothing more than a petty attempt to increase these countries standing in the EU?

~ The German military has long had a dubious past. It was built strictly for defence and the prospect of waging a war outside their borders always sends shivers down the spines of history books. This way, they are allowed to have an army bigger than their nation.

Edited by Ilphi, 05 May 2003 - 11:10 AM.

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#7 Rov Judicata

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 04:55 PM

Think of all the military innovations that have come out of the US in the past ten years. It's not hard to think of a whole bunch. Think of what we have in the pipeline that's publicly knowable.

Now, do the same thing for those htree countries.

Then, factor in that these countries don't always agree, especially on important matters like this.

Then, factor in multiple chains of command, different hardware, different ways of communicating, and different ways of thinking (which the military trains into its soldiers). In this era of machine warfare, that's more important than ever. The United States military, conversely, has none of these problems.

Bottom line: If they were willing to make a real investment in defense, they may someday be able to counterbalance a US force. I haven't seen that commitment from any of these countries.
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#8 MuseZack

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 06:57 PM

I actually think it's a good idea for the Europeans to develop an independent military force capable of dealing with problems in their neighborhood.  It's an embarassment that the Bosnia war dragged on for years before the U.S. and NATO finally got involved.  

As far as the force being a counterbalance to the US, my question is, for what purpose?  It's not like the US and the EU are ever going to war over, say, farm subsidies.  Despite what some ideologues on both sides think, we need each other too much for that kind of nonsense.

If anything, we should be supportive of another, basically friendly entity developing the capability to project power.  It takes some of the burden off the United States, and I don't think a unipolar world is a good thing for the US in the long run.  
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#9 Ilphi

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 07:13 PM

There is a little known organisation that most people don't know of. Its called Western European Defence or something. I can't even remember its name, but it still meets, and is basically NATO without the US in case there was ever the possibility Europe fell out with the USA.

I don't see any need for this new one. They could just put a bigger emphasis on the old one.
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#10 Christopher

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 09:08 PM

MuseZack, on May 5 2003, 11:47 AM, said:

If anything, we should be supportive of another, basically friendly entity developing the capability to project power.  It takes some of the burden off the United States, and I don't think a unipolar world is a good thing for the US in the long run.
I agree -- it isn't a good thing for anyone.  If we keep trying to take care of every problem in the world ourselves, we'll just stretch ourselves too far and "burn out" as a global political/economic power.

But having a bunch of independent, even rival military powers isn't a good thing either.  What the world needs is a global federation with real clout to it, more so than the UN -- something that has the power to enforce international law and keep the peace, but something truly representative, in which every nation or cultural region has a say in determining the proper use of that power, so that nobody will see it as one culture imposing its will on another.

Heck, what we need is a Commonwealth.  Where's Season 1 Dylan when we need him?  (Then again, Zack, you wrote a lot of the material about how the Commonwealth worked.  Ever consider a career in politics...?) :D
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#11 Guest-AleisterCrowley-Guest

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 11:38 PM

Well, I'm certainly intimidated.

#12 tennyson

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 12:02 AM

Well, from a strictly military viewpoint this doesn't mean a whole lot, at least not for the next decade or so at least. Belgium recently unified thier entire military under a single command to save money and is still going to decrease thier standing forces by another 1/4 across the board by 2015. Aside from the special forces I don't really see what the Belgians can contribute aside from a base.
The Germans don't have any amphibous ships or heavy transports at all as you'll see in my thread on thier military and without those they can't project power very far beyond thier own country.
Luxembourg is a nonissue, even in the dark days of the Cold War all they could comeup with was 720 men and 4 armoured vehicles so I think about all they could offer would be moral support.
As I detailed in my French military thread the French are the best equiped of this grouping for rapid deployment with Landing Ship Docks, helicopter carriers, an actual carrier and enough transports to at least bring the Mediterranean into easy deployment distance. They will pretty much be the dominant partner in this for the forseeable future and given enough time I'm sure the lesser powers that have to rely on French sips and aircraft will become just as dissillusioned with them as the French seem to be with the US because essentially this whole thing is France's show.
As for the larger ramifications, if they can make it work somehow then I'm for it. Hopefully it will take he burden of policing the Balkans and dealing with other problems in the Med off the US and NATO's hands.

#13 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 05:58 AM

I donít see why this force is needed and the existience of it compromises the integrity of NATO.  As noted by Jon depending how they setup this alliance it could easily violate Article 8 of The North Atlantic Treaty.  Zack mentions that it would be an independent military force to solve problems arising in Europe.  Yet that is the very role that NATO has undertaken in recent years as demonstrated in Kosovo NATO can and will intervene to stop a conflict.  Furthermore NATO as a force enjoys a much more broad base of support among EU and non-EU members than this EU Defense Pact.  I see some of the same people who said that the US should have formed a larger coalition saying that this thing is a good idea.  Yet compared to NATO the EUDP enjoys neither the popularity among EU members or on as large of a scale as NATO.  

In addition NATO has a lot more slugging more than this alliance will and likely ever have.  Iíll note now that Spain and the UK both major military powers have spoken out against this pact.  NATO has more members and in addition has the US within it.  If the interests of the US and EU are so in toe than I see no reason why NATO canít handle the role that it has demonstrated expertise at.  NATO has a higher level of skill, legitimacy, and more popular backing from more countries than what this EU defense pact.  Rather than splintering efforts more NATO should be given a more active, engaged, and progressive role in Europe and the world.  

Quote

QF: CJ AEGIS, tennyson, jon, and others, how effective of a counterweight to the US is this likely to be?

Working on the basis that this would be one of their goals from how you worded your question they could be a pretty big proverbial pain in the butt.  As noted by Jon the main issue here is the lift capacity/power projections of the EU, which isnít even near approaching that of the US.  They would really need to start a major effort toward building transports if they wanted to do anything other than make large amounts of noise.  The German and French Army combined would be major force to have to deal with but again you have to get them somewhere to do something.  As can be picked up by Tennysonís post it isnít on the level or size of the US Army but it would make one large bump to get around.  

As noted by Jon, carriers are really the way to go in terms of power projection.  The CdG gives the French Navy a fair amount of capability compared to most other countries but Iím very dubious about her capability to standoff a USN CVBG.  Her airwing in my opinion is just is not up to the level of even the reduced airwings that USN carriers are carrying.  In addition the CdG suffers from being significantly slower than USN carriers.  In general the escorts of a USN battlegroup would have an advantage of their French counterparts.  Though if France and Germany who both have rumblings of wanting more carriers go ahead and construct them they could potentially have a fair force for power projection.  Jon notes the French boomers but Iím dubious of their utility in the event of a real conflict.  These boats are based in a shallow water port and then have to make a long run very vulnerable run until they reach deep water to hide.  Once in deep water the general consensus tends to be that the French boomers are actually louder and inferior to Russian boats.  So all together Iíd say the alliance could be a major pain but it would be years of building up forces before it could be anything approaching an even up counterweight for the military strength of the US.
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