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30 Sep 18. Chiefs Reaffirm Commitment to NATO Missions, Look to Future Needs. The NATO Military Committee reaffirmed the alliance’s commitment to Afghanistan and Iraq and moved ahead with plans to restructure NATO to improve its military capabilities, the committee’s chairman said here last night. This was British Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach’s first meeting of the alliance’s defense chiefs as the chairman of the Military Committee. He said the discussions among the 29 chiefs of defense – including Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – “were frank and thought-provoking throughout.”
Peach spoke alongside Lt. Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczak of the Polish army, Poland’s top military officer, who hosted the meeting. The chiefs have given their guidance on a number of issues facing the alliance, Peach said, and that guidance will be discussed further at the meeting of NATO’s defense ministers in Brussels this week. The chiefs support current NATO operations and looked for better coherence and coordination with organizations operating in the same regions with similar goals, the committee chairman said.
The chiefs understand that Afghanistan still faces significant challenges, but they still support the fight in that country, Peach said, acknowledging that the Taliban and terror groups continue to visit violence on the people of Afghanistan and continue to challenge Afghan forces.
“But in the face of these challenges, Afghan security forces are doing an outstanding job,” the air marshal said. “They have now been in the lead for three years, and we welcome their determination and commitment to improve their ability to conduct offensive operations, to develop their special forces, their air force and other capabilities — and above all, to deny the Taliban their strategic objectives.”
Peace Through Reconciliation
The NATO mission in Afghanistan is to support, train, assist and advise Afghan forces. The ultimate goal for the country is peace through reconciliation. “An Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process is essential to a long-term, inclusive political settlement,” Peach said.
The NATO mission in Iraq will be modest and scalable and complement the efforts of coalition nations in the country, he said.
The chiefs looked at current means and capabilities and what will be needed in the future, Peach said. This included a look at the deterrence posture today and what forces in the future will need to ensure security and stability in the future.
“We stressed the need to look to the future, and where possible, anticipate future requirements, based on the analysis provided by our strategic commanders,” he said. “We emphasized that the strategy should guide all current and future military work strands, including emerging domains.”
The chiefs doubled down on support for the NATO Readiness Initiative. This grew out of the alliance’s summit in July, and it looks to increase responsiveness, heighten readiness and improve reinforcement across the alliance, he said.
Wide Range of Threats
The committee chairman noted that the alliance faces a wide range of threats and challenges from existential problems, including Russia, terrorism, criminal gangs and individuals. “The chiefs of defense highlighted the importance of keeping pace with technological advances through a focus on innovation,” he said.
Questions from reporters for the air marshal were all about Russia, not surprising, given where this meeting occurred. Peach addressed the risks emanating from the country, but he noted that NATO is a large and capable military organization.
“NATO has the capability to understand the risk picture it faces, and sometimes those risks can turn into threats, but NATO studies the risks that are out there as they evolve and continues to adapt to them,” he said.
He noted that the alliance’s Enhanced Forward Presence initiative in the Baltic Republics and Poland is a response to Russia illegally annexing Crimea from Ukraine and fomenting war in eastern Ukraine. “And in that sense, NATO continues to deter,” the air marshal said.
But there are threats to the south, too, , and there are different threats and perceptions, depending on where one stands.
“We do not have the time to go through all of them, but they will vary with the geography of the alliance,” Peach said. “At the moment, we have a series of risks that we have identified, and we respond with presence, with training, with exercises in order to generate deterrence. … That is what the alliance is for. And that provides the sense of collective security for the people of Poland and the people of the other NATO allies.” (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
30 Sep 18. Gavin Williamson commits to keeping amphibious landing ships. Defence secretary pledges to safeguard vessels but is under pressure over costs. UK Defence secretary Gavin Williamson on Sunday announced he is to safeguard the future of Britain’s two amphibious landing ships, allaying fears they could be mothballed or scrapped as part of a review of the armed forces. In a speech to the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, Mr Williamson said HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion were crucial to preserving the punch of the Royal Marines, the UK’s elite commando force. “To deliver what seems impossible, the Royal Marines need to be able to bring the fight from the sea to the land,” he told the conference. “As such, I am happy to announce today that I am protecting their vital landing platforms HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark.” The UK and France are the only two European nations with large-scale amphibious capability: the means to launch attacks on enemy beaches using troops and armoured vehicles deployed from ships offshore. The future of Britain’s two amphibious landing ships was thrown into doubt last year when it emerged that officials conducting a national security capability review were considering mothballing them to help reduce pressure on the Ministry of Defence’s equipment budget, which is facing a £20bn shortfall over the next decade. The news provoked a backlash from military commanders and MPs, who argued that maintaining the UK’s capability of landing forces from the sea remained essential in the face of a growing threat from adversaries such as Russia. A report by the Commons defence select committee in January said it was “strongly opposed” to the withdrawal of the two ships ahead of their planned withdrawal from service in the early 2030s. Recommended UK defence spending Williamson wins reprieve in defence budget battle Since then Mr Williamson has initiated a separate review which is expected to press chancellor Philip Hammond to release more money for defence in the Budget due on October 29. Defence officials declined to comment on whether Mr Hammond had signed off on Mr Williamson’s conference announcement regarding the two amphibious landing ships. Labour MP Ruth Smeeth said that while Mr Williamson’s commitment was welcome, there were question marks over the timing. “Politically it’s hard to see how Gavin Williamson could have come to any other conclusion,” she added. “But how can he make this announcement without knowing the financial settlement with the Treasury?” Julian Lewis, the Tory MP who chairs the defence committee, said Mr Williamson deserved credit for safeguarding the amphibious landing ships but added: “The fundamental problem remains that we are not spending anywhere near what we need to spend on defence.” (Source: FT.com)
29 Sep 18. NATO Moves to Combat Russian Hybrid Warfare. Russia is disturbing the peace, and NATO countries must combat its hybrid strategy, the alliance’s supreme allied commander for Europe said here today. Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, who also commands U.S. European Command, spoke to reporters covering the NATO Military Committee meeting here, alongside Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Scaparrotti said Russia already is a competitor that operates in domains “particularly below the level of war,” the general said, but in an aggressive way, noting that the Russians use cyber activity, social media, disinformation campaigns and troop exercises to threaten and bully other countries. Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its actions Eastern Ukraine show their determination to continue to intimidate neighboring countries.
Undermining Western Values, Governments
“[They are] operating in many countries of Europe in that way, with basically the common theme of undermining Western values and the credibility of Western governments, in my view,” Scaparrotti said.
Short of conflict, Russia sends money to organizations in Europe at both ends of the ideological spectrum, the general said. “Really, their view is — I call it a destabilization campaign. That’s their strategy,” he added. “If they can destabilize these governments, if they can create enough questions, then that is to their benefit.”
The Russians’ doctrine looks to achieve their ends without conflict, Scaparrotti said. “They have the idea that ‘I don’t have to put a soldier there or fire a shot, but if I can undermine the government, then I’ve achieved my ends,’” he explained. “That is particularly true of the countries that are in the Eastern part of the alliance that are on their border.”
The Soviet Union subjugated those countries after World War II, and Russia sees those countries as areas where it should still have privileged influence, he said. “They want to keep those governments in the position that they could influence them, and this is a tactic for doing that.”
The environment surrounding t has changed, he noted. “They were ahead of us in terms of changing their posture with respect to NATO,” he said, and the Russians have maintained a purposeful military modernization program that they have maintained even as their economy strains.
“It took us some time in NATO to recognize that [Russia] is not our friend, not our partner right now, and we have to pay attention to what’s happening in our environment and how they are acting,” he said. “Of course 2014 was a real wake-up. Russia violated international law and norms, which I will tell you they continue to do in other ways.”
Scaparrotti said he has no doubt that Russia would repeat its actions in Crimea and Ukraine “if they saw the opportunity and they thought the benefits exceeded the costs.”
This strategy is called a hybrid war, he said, and NATO is coming to grips with the concept. “One of the things about hybrid war is defining it. What is it?” he added. “It’s a lot of things, and most of it is not in the military realm.”
Planners need to determine what the military can do as part of a counter-strategy and what other agencies, branches efforts can contribute, he said. “And then [you must decide] how should you work with them, because we can’t just work on this on our own,” he said. “This really does talk about the whole-of-government approach and bringing others into it and deciding what needs to be done.”
In each NATO nation that approach has got to be different, Scaparrotti said, because the nations themselves have different strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They also must factor in what Russia’s interest or activity is.
“We are working in this realm with military capacity as well,” the general said. “We have special operations forces, and this is their business. They understand it. To the extent that they can identify hybrid activity, they can help our nations build their ability to identify and counter it.”
NATO can, for example, reinforce each nation’s capacity for understanding disinformation and how to counter it, he said, noting that these issues are among the Military Committee meeting’s topics.. The bottom line is that Russian leaders need to understand that a conflict with NATO is not what they want, Scaparrotti said. “We are 29 nations. We’re strong. I am confident of our ability to secure the sovereignty of our nations in NATO,” he said.
Readiness Critical to Deterrence
NATO readiness is crucial to the deterrent success of the alliance, and Scaparrotti now has the tools to work on this aspect. Readiness in NATO means the commander gets a specific capability, and that capability is available on a timeline that’s useful given the environment, he explained.
“Then, of course, [readiness] is a mindset, which is perhaps the most important thing that has changed,” he said. “It is changing now.”
The NATO summit held in Brussels in July gave Scaparrotti the authority and directive to deal with alliance readiness.
“We are back to establishing force where I, as the commander, now have the authority to require readiness of units on a specific timeline and the ability to check them to ensure they can actually do it,” he said. “This all comes together with our ability to move at speed to meet the environment to do what we need to do.” (Source: US DoD)
21 Sep 18. Mali: Deployment Update. The RAF provided (21 Sep 18) an update on the deployment of three Chinook helicopters in support of French operations in Mali. The helicopters are being used to transport French troops and supplies around the country providing vital logistic support in the campaign against insurgents. 30 sorties had been completed, moving over 700 French troops and more than 70 tons of equipment.
Comment: The Defence Secretary confirmed the deployment of three RAF Chinook to Mali, along with 90 British troops, in a Written Statement on 18 Jul 18. The contribution to operations in Mali formed an important element of commitments made during the Sandhurst Summit with France on 18 Jan 18. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/34, 01 Oct 18)
27 Sep 18. South Sudan: UN Field Hospital. The RAF reported (27 Sep 18) that, having just taken charge of the UN field hospital at Bentiu in South Sudan, RAF Medical Services had to manage a major medical incident when a Ghanaian troop-carrying vehicle was involved in a road traffic accident and overturned into a waterway. A number of Ghanaian peacekeepers were injured and three were transferred by helicopter to the field hospital for treatment. A further six casualties were treated at the scene.
Comment: The UK-led field hospital at Bentiu was initially established in early 2017 to provide secondary healthcare treatment, stabilise ill or injured UN personnel and conduct Damage Controlled Surgery in the event of traumatic injuries. The RAF Medical Services have taken over from the Royal Navy Medical Services which took charge of the field hospital in January 2018. As part of the UK’s contribution to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Royal Engineers are building a permanent medical centre in Bentiu Camp, next to the current tented field hospital, to care for over 1,000 peacekeepers. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/34, 01 Oct 18)
18 Sep 18. Japan: Foreign Secretary’s Visit. As part of the annual Strategic Dialogue between Japan and the UK, the Foreign Secretary held talks with his Japanese counterpart during a two-day visit to Tokyo (17 to 18 Sep 18). Discussions included economic relations, security and Defence and foreign policy issues such as the Korean Peninsula.
Comment: At the end of August 2018 the Japanese warships JDS KASHIMA and JDS MAKINAMI undertook a PASSEX (passage exercise) with HMS NORTHUMBERLAND in the North Sea, off the coast of Lincolnshire. An RAF Typhoon and a Hawk aircraft were also deployed for the manoeuvres. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/34, 01 Oct 18)
26 Sep 18. HMS SABRE: Back in the Water. The RN reported (26 Sep 18) that HMS SABRE has returned to the water, “following successful completion of her annual maintenance package”. The 24-tonne patrol vessel, part of the RN Gibraltar Squadron, was craned back into the water following her annual Survey and Repair Period. The annual 30-day maintenance period covers extensive deep cleaning in order to ensure that the ship remains safe to go to sea.
Comment: The Scimitar Class vessels (HMS SCIMITAR and HMS SABRE) were originally built for use on inland waterways in Northern Ireland and were first brought into service in 1993. Both vessels are due to be replaced within the next two years, but details have yet to be released. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/34, 01 Oct 18)
21 Sep 18. South America: Defence and Security Co-operation. The MoD reported (21 Sep 18) that the Armed Forces’ Minister recently visited Belize, Chile and Mexico. During his travels, the Minister signed a letter of intent between the UK and Chile on cyber co-operation and attended a UK-led cyber defence workshop that was jointly supported by the MoD, the Department for International Trade, the National Cyber Security Centre and GCHQ. The Minister also signed a Treaty and memorandum of understanding concerning the status of UK Forces in Belize and was given a tour of the British Army Training and Support Unit Belize.
Comment: During the above trip, the Minister was a special guest at Mexico’s independence celebrations. He also had the opportunity to discuss the role of Latin American nations, working alongside NATO and the UN, with Mexico’s Defence Minister. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/34, 01 Oct 18)
24 Sep 18. Artificial Intelligence (AI): Urban Environment Sensors. The MoD reported (24 Sep 18) on UK AI technologies tested during the Contested Urban Environment 18 (CUE 18) experiment which has been taking place in Canada. Developed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) SAPIENT (Sensors for Asset Protection using Integrated Electronic Network Technology) is able to make autonomous decisions, such as which activities should be monitored and how, within contested urban environments. This relieves troops from having to man live information feeds (e.g. CCTV) as well as reducing the risk of human error and the number of personnel in the Operations Room.
Comment: CUE 18 brought together the Five Eyes allied nations (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US) to test and demonstrate a range of advanced technologies including robotic exoskeleton suits, night vision and surveillance systems. The first CUE event took place in Australia in November 2017. Further experiments are planned for 2019 (US) and 2020 (UK). Technologies tested during this time could be available to military personnel by 2025. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/34, 01 Oct 18)
27 Sep 18. Chemical Weapons: ‘Don’t Blow It!’ Competition. The MoD announced (27 Sep 18) the launch of a £2m joint UK-US competition to develop the means for safely eliminating chemical and biological devices on the battlefield. The ‘Don’t Blow It!’ competition, run by the Defence and Security Accelerator (part of DSTL), is being funded by the MoD and US Department of Defense. Competitors have been asked to identify innovative concepts or adaptations of current technologies to access, disable and destroy chemical and biological devices, including: chemical and biological munitions, improvised explosive devices containing lethal agents or containers of bulk quantities of chemical or biological agents.
Comment: The competition is seeking innovative ideas from non-traditional suppliers which will: enable rapid and flexible destruction; reduce logistical support requirements; maximise ease of operation and transportability and address a greater breadth of threats. £500,000 is being made available to fund proof-of-concept proposals with an additional £1.5m available, depending upon the outcome of the initial funding phase. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/34, 01 Oct 18)
28 Sep 18. Army: In-Service Physical Employment Standards (PES). The Army demonstrated its new In-Service PES for all ground close combat roles, due to come into effect from 2019. The new physical fitness standards are said to be “objective, measurable, role-related and gender-free…”. PES is to be incorporated into a new set of Army Role Fitness Tests, a series of tests to assess whether personnel are fit for a specific role. Tests will include casualty extraction from a vehicle, repeated lift and carry and fire and manoeuvre.
Comment: Scientific research conducted by the University of Chichester is said to support the new findings. How such physical testing can be ‘gender-free’ remains a mystery. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/34, 01 Oct 18)
28 Sep 18. Critics point out holes in Swiss government’s $8.2bn ‘Air 2030’ plan. The Swiss are choosing sides over how to shepherd an $8.2bn package of new combat aircraft and air-defense equipment through the country’s unique political process. Defence Minister Guy Parmelin favors subjecting the “Air 2030” program to a public referendum, eyed for 2020. If approved, that step could secure the population’s thumbs-up for a blank check covering the cost of the entire project while leaving the administration to sort out the details of which planes to buy and how to split the aerial and ground components. This course of action is still preferred, a defense department spokesman told Defense News on Thursday, even though opposition to the plan became increasingly evident as the public feedback period ended Sept. 22.
For now, there appears to be support across the major political parties for the main objectives of Air 2030, which aims to replace the country’s aging fleet of F-18 and F-5 combat aircraft and install new ground-based weapons against aerial threats. But critics in parliament contend that the risk of a referendum defeat is too high, arguing nothing less than that the very future of the Swiss military is at stake.
Depending on which political party is asked, some prefer putting the project out for separate votes for the larger aircraft portion, estimated at roughly $6 billion, and the ground segment. But others want the government to proceed without any referendum at all, arguing that the program — despite its hefty price tag — should be treated like other critical government purchases. The government’s strategy of seeking popular approval only for the broad contours of Air 2030 follows the still-fresh memories of a failed attempt to replace the Swiss air-policing fleet. The population in 2014 voted against a measure to buy 22 Saab Gripen planes in a referendum that some analysts said was muddied by questions over the aircraft’s specific capabilities and drawbacks.
Swiss defense procurement agency Armasuisse on Monday invited bids for the ground-based program segment from the military sales offices of the United States, France and Israel. Those countries’ anti-missile systems — Raytheon’s Patriot, Eurosam’s SAMP/T and Rafael’s David’s Sling — are expected to go toe-to-toe in a competition.
For the aircraft portion, the Swiss in July invited bids from the Airbus Eurofighter, the Dassault Rafale, the Saab Gripen E, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-35A. Armasuisse requested pricing proposals for a fleet of 30 or 40 planes. Meanwhile, government officials will sift through the fresh feedback from Swiss stakeholders — including political parties, regions and trade unions — in the coming months and formulate a measure for parliamentary debate by year’s end, defense department spokesman Renato Kalbermatten told Defense News. And while the course of putting the entire investment plan out for a referendum remains the goal, there appears to be a willingness to adjust in case the risk of rejection is deemed to high. “We will put forward the best solution,” Kalbermatten said. (Source: Defense News)
28 Sep 18. Fast fighter jets are once again flying from a Royal Navy aircraft carrier as the first F-35s have landed on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Royal Navy Commander Nathan Gray and RAF Squadron Leader Andy Edgell were the first pilots to make history by landing their F-35 Lightning stealth jets on the flight deck of Britain’s newest carrier. Shortly afterwards, Cdr Gray became the first pilot to take off using the ship’s ski ramp. The flying operations mark the start of more than 500 take-offs and landings set to take place from the mammoth warship over the next 11 weeks. Speaking shortly after the first landing on Tuesday (25 Sep 18), Cdr Gray said: “No words can explain how it felt to turn the corner at 500mph and see HMS Queen Elizabeth awaiting the arrival of her first F-35 jets. I feel incredibly privileged.
“For a naval aviator it is always a special moment when you spot the carrier in the distance, hidden within a grey expanse of ocean. HMS Queen Elizabeth is a floating city, home to hundreds of fellow sailors and Royal Marines, and it’s been a particularly poignant day.”
Able to embark up to 24 of the supersonic jets, HMS Queen Elizabeth provides the Royal Navy with a capability possessed by few others.
Sqn Ldr Edgell added: “It has taken an indescribable level of dogged determination and perseverance to achieve this incredible moment. We have written a little piece of history today, but look beyond this and are focusing now on what will be an extensive period of F-35 testing at sea.”
The jets will be put through their paces over the coming weeks in a range of sea and weather conditions. Having then completed the trials, which are taking place off the east coast of the United States, the giant aircraft carrier is expected to visit New York.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Captain Jerry Kyd, said: “I am quite emotional to be here in HMS Queen Elizabeth seeing the return of fixed-wing aviation, having been the captain of the aircraft carrier which launched the last Harrier at sea nearly eight years ago. The regeneration of big deck carriers able to operate globally, as we are proving here on this deployment, is a major step forward for the United Kingdom’s defence and our ability to match the increasing pace of our adversaries. The first touch-downs of these impressive stealth jets shows how the United Kingdom will continue to be world leaders at sea for generations to come.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth left her home port of Portsmouth in August, crossing the Atlantic to conduct the flying trials as well as training with the US Navy. The deployment has also provided an opportunity for the UK’s Carrier Strike Group headquarters team to sharpen their skills in a task group, having been joined on the deployment by Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth, and a US Arleigh Burke-class destroyer the USS Lassen. More than 1,400 sailors, flight crew and Royal Marines have been working on board the carrier during her deployment.
Commodore Andrew Betton, the commander of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, said: “The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers have been specifically designed and built to operate the F-35, offering an immensely flexible and potent combination to deliver military effect around the world. Conducting these trials is a critical and exciting step on this journey and I applaud the many thousands of civilian and military personnel who have played a part in bringing the strategic ambition to reality.”
The Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, will project British military power across the globe for the next half a century. Construction work continues at a pace on board HMS Prince of Wales, the second aircraft carrier in the class, which nears completion at the Rosyth shipbuilding yard.
They will be used to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, strengthen defence relationships with our nation’s allies, and support British armed forces deployed around the world. In recent operations, US aircraft carriers including the USS George HW Bush and USS Harry S Truman have played a central role in the Gulf and Mediterranean, conducting strikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is on track to deploy on global operations from 2021. Meanwhile, the UK has now taken delivery of 16 out of a planned 138 F-35 jets as part of its world-leading fleet of military aircraft for use by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
26 Sep 18. Insider favoured as Airbus speeds CEO search: sources. Airbus is moving swiftly towards appointing planemaking head Guillaume Faury as its next chief executive after accelerating the search for a successor to outgoing Tom Enders to address a growing leadership vacuum, people familiar with the matter said. The board could announce a decision within weeks, ahead of its end-year target, as the European planemaker juggles a trio of pressures from management changes, industrial delays and a paralysing corruption probe, they said. Airbus declined comment. Faury, 50, was appointed head of the core planemaking business last December after Fabrice Bregier agreed to quit following a power battle with Enders, in a shake-up that also saw Enders draw back from plans to seek a third term in 2019.
The main external candidate, Thales Chief Executive Patrice Caine, is reluctant to leave the French defence company but could do so if asked to by the French government, reports say.
The timing of the transition was not immediately clear, but two sources familiar with the company said it had not been excluded that Faury would become CEO as early as this year, advancing plans for a handover at a May 2019 shareholder meeting. The board could make a final decision by a Nov 13 meeting. (Source: Reuters)
26 Sep 18. Swiss lawmakers oppose government push to relax arms exports. After an uproar over Swiss-made hand grenades found with Islamist militants, lawmakers on Wednesday voted to block the government from forcing through new weapons export rules aimed at allowing sales to nations fighting civil wars. The lower house of the Swiss parliament voted 97-82 to stop the government from unilaterally deciding on criteria governing the sale of Swiss-made weapons abroad. Though the vote is not the final word, parliamentary opposition makes it unlikely the government can follow through on its proposed changes.
Foes of looser rules said the proposed changes open the door to weapons landing in the wrong hands and pose a reputational risk.
“This doesn’t just have to do with whether a company is allowed to deliver to just any old country, it has to do with our values, the values of a humanitarian Switzerland,” parliament member Martin Landolt said.
Under the government’s proposal, countries fighting civil wars would be able to buy Swiss arms, provided there was no reason to believe the weapons would be used in the conflict. The Swiss weapons industry pushed for the concession, on the grounds that existing restrictions make it tough for them to compete with weapons producers in other countries. Switzerland’s defence industry includes state-owned RUAG Holding, as well as subsidiaries of General Dynamics and Germany’s Rheinmetall. Swiss newspapers reported earlier this year that grenades made by RUAG, a German acronym for “Weapons Enterprise Corporation,” were seized from an Islamic State cache in Syria. RUAG acknowledged the grenades may have been among 250,000 delivered to the United Arab Emirates in 2003/2004. Grenades from the UAE shipment were also discovered in 2012 with the Free Syrian Army fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Proponents of looser export rules had previously dismissed the furore over the grenades, calling it “purely emotional”.
They contend Switzerland needs robust domestic weapons makers for security, yet cannot buy arms in numbers sufficient to prop up the industry by itself. As a result, Swiss-based groups need more flexibility to seek clients abroad, they said.
“The government — past, present and future — has had a responsibility…to do what is right for the country,” Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, a supporter of looser rules, told parliament. “And what is right for the country, among many things, is to always be able to protect our sovereignty through armed neutrality.”
In 2017, Swiss companies exported 446.8m Swiss francs ($461.5m) in weaponry to 64 countries, up eight percent from 2016. Nearly 50 percent went to Europe, with exports to the Americas and Asia on the rise. (Source: Reuters)
26 Sep 18. France to bolster defense spending by $2bn. Here’s the military equipment already on order. France plans to boost the 2019 defense budget by €1.7bn to €35.9bn (by U.S. $2bn to $42.2bn), up 5 percent from the present year, the Armed Forces Ministry said. That spending increase excluded pensions and will represent 1.82 percent of gross domestic product, part of a French bid to hit a target of 2 percent of GDP by 2025, the ministry said Sept. 25. Next year will be the first year of the 2019-2025 military budget law.
“This is a major financial effort desired by the president, being adopted in the first year of the military budget law,” the ministry said.
The increased spending was expected, as the government has formally adopted the multiyear budget law, which seeks to meet the NATO target for military spending. Of that total budget, €850m has been earmarked for overseas deployment, up €200m from 2018. The budget is expected to rise to €1.1bn in 2020. Previously, the Armed Forces Ministry shared some of that cost with other ministries, but it must now fund its foreign operations on its own.
Among the weapons to be ordered next year are a Barracuda nuclear-powered attack submarine, three fleet auxiliary tankers and two aircraft fitted for gathering electronic intelligence. The tanker ships will be bought in cooperation with Italy. Other orders include upgrades for 10 Mirage 2000D fighters; 125 firing posts for the MMP anti-tank missile; 60 Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles; and six patrol boats for overseas deployment. Some €758m will be set aside on research and development studies, a step toward a pledge to spend €1bn on R&D annually. Some €4.2bn will be spent on service support, mostly dedicated to aircraft maintenance. A six-strong batch of Reaper drones is due to be delivered next year. (Source: Defense News)
25 Sep 18. Top EU security chief emphasizes ‘shared self-interest’ in defense cooperation after Brexit. The European Union security chief Julian King has called for the “closest possible cooperation” on defense and security issues after the U.K. leaves the 28-member bloc.
“On some issues there will be winners and losers, but there is a mutual, shared self-interest when it comes to security and defense,” King said.
Despite the failure of last week’s EU summit in Salzburg, Austria, to back British Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest Brexit proposals, King remains “optimistic” the U.K. and EU could continue to work together on security and defense. Some have questioned the effectiveness of European defense and security after the departure of the U.K. Britain is the second-largest net contributor to the EU, and its exit will result in an income shortfall of about €84bn (U.S. $99bn) for the EU’s next spending period from 2020. Another problem, according to U.S. President Donald Trump, is the continued “unwillingness of some member states to contribute more” to NATO. Speaking at a security debate in Brussels, King highlighted cyber and the ongoing threat from terrorism as key areas where the two sides must cooperate post Brexit, which will occur at the end of March 2019.
“Of course, there are still a few things still to resolve between now and March, and the economic side will be tough. But we need the closest possible cooperation in tackling the security challenges we both face, and I am optimistic we can do this,” he said. “Those people who are trying to harm us do not make a distinction between member states. We are facing shared threats, which are best tackled if we act together. This is true today, and it will be true after March 2019. It is this shared self-interest that I believe will drive cooperation on the security side,” he added.
There was “no dispute” on the need to support member states in the security and defense field, according to King, but rather the challenge is finding ways to strengthen such collaboration.
He praised recent EU investment in new security and defense initiatives, such as the Permanent Structured Cooperation and the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence, which, he pointed out, involve “tens of billions of euros.”
While the EU was “doing OK” in tackling the twin threats posed by cyberwarfare and terrorism, he conceded that there is “an enormous amount still to do.”
One example, he said, involves addressing artificial intelligence. This could be a force for both good and bad, he suggested, but the EU has been “slow” in responding to the challenges posed by AI.
King’s comments were echoed by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO secretary general from 2004-2009, who said he also hopes that, post Brexit, the EU and U.K. will enjoy the “closest possible cooperation” on defense and security issues. “Yes, we all want the EU to take more responsibility in the defense sphere, but you have to ask: ‘What is European defense without the U.K.?’”
Both were speaking during “A Brave New World,” a debate organized by Friends of Europe, a leading Brussels-based think tank.
Elsewhere, a leading U.K.-based academic warned that the “Salzburg impasse” puts EU-U.K. security cooperation at risk. Last week’s summit of EU leaders in Salzburg ended acrimoniously with the EU saying May’s trade proposals “would not work.” This has led May to demand “more respect” from the EU side.
Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, a professor at the University of London, said that “reaching a new security agreement independently of the main Brexit negotiations will be easier said than done.”
“The threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit would seriously disrupt U.K. and EU capabilities in the fight against terrorism and organized crime, at a time when the EU is committed to stepping up its efforts to improve judicial and police cooperation in Europe,” he said.
Speaking separately, Gordon Sondland, the new U.S. ambassador to the EU, has pledged to work with the EU “honestly and constructively to address the global security threats that seek to destroy our shared history, values and culture.”
“Whether defeating the Islamic State, countering North Korea’s belligerency or ensuring energy supplies will never be used for political coercion, we will stand together,” the diplomat said. “There are a wealth of issues we can tackle together. From malign Russian activity (ranging from disinformation campaigns to invasion and occupation of sovereign nations), to data privacy, to Iran — yes, even Iran — we work best when we work in tandem.” (Source: Defense News)
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