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NEWS IN BRIEF

EUROPE

20 Mar 06. ABRO Restructuring. An MoD requirement has however emerged for a major extension to the overhaul programme of the FV430 family of armoured vehicles. As this will be carried out at Bovington, the MoD will leave current Donnington CVR(T) and Warrior armoured vehicle lines in place. The job losses previously planned for Donnington will therefore be reduced. the MoD commitment to the Land District Load (Garaging) business remains strong and it wishes to make it leaner and more efficient with delivery as close to our customers as possible. We will therefore go ahead with the creation of smaller, purpose built workshops at Warminster and Colchester, closing the existing facilities. At Warminster the new facility will potentially be on part of the existing site. At Colchester the MoD is currently in the city centre with attendant problems of HGV access etc. The new facility will be in a considerably better location with easier access for vehicles from the new Army Super-Garrison and for commercial customers. In parallel the MoD is creating small, flexible, deployed units which will work alongside its customers, in their own workshop facilities. At present the MoD foresee these efficiency improvements resulting in up to 339 redundancies over the next 2 years. The MoD is committed to developing ABRO’s competitiveness and ensuring its business processes are as customer focussed as possible and therefore continue to review its other businesses and the shape and size of its Head Office.

16 Mar 06. Europe must play bigger part in Nato. Nato has not found a convincing role in the present security system. It was sidelined in recent international crises. After September 11 2001, the Bush administration in effect turned down the invocation by the allies of article five of the Nato treaty, which declares an attack on one member as an attack on all. During the run up to the Iraq war in 2002-03, Nato not only played no role in the preparation for the conflict, but was unable even to discuss effectively the opposing positions of its members, let alone bring them to a consensus. The action – such as it was – was at the United Nations Security Council. Nato was a sideshow. Perhaps as a result, Nato is now attempting to do too much. George W. Bush, US president, recently suggested it take part in a humanitarian rescue operation in the Darfur region of Sudan. In Pakistan last December, Nato was called in to mitigate the consequences of the earthquake. However worthy these missions may be, they smack of desperation to find a function for an ill-defined body. The question remains: what is Nato for? This is not to suggest that Nato should never help in emergencies, but this cannot be a substitute for its core function – to be an instrument at the service of its members’ security. Similarly, Nato has used its post-cold war enlargements to try to save itself. This becomes perplexing when Ronald Asmus, former senior Clinton administration official who played a significant role in the last two Nato enlargements, now calls for Nato expansion to Israel and a future Palestinian state. Where will it stop? What definition of Nato’s role lies behind such proposals? How would it be compatible with Nato’s original function of self-defence? Should the present or a future US administration pursue this line, it would profoundly divide the west.
The reason Nato is groping for a role is that it is threatened by US ambivalence. America is reverting to its original suspicion of permanent alliances, cutting at Nato’s core function. Geographically remote from threats and largely self-sufficient, the US prefers what it calls “coalitions” to a compulsory alliance such as Nato. In other words, the US reserves the right to use Nato, or not, as it sees fit. The rather inelegant formula “the mission defines the coalition” of Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, recalls George Washington’s 1796 exhortation that “it is our policy to steer clear of perm

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