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06 Dec 19. Britain’s top military officer wants unvarnished look at the state of UK forces. Britain’s top military officer says any future defense review needs to be upfront about the state of the military, taking stock of the risks in readiness and resilience previously taken for the sake of efficiency gains.
“A defense review will need to be honest about the true state of our forces. This involves mobilizing ourselves to improve readiness and enhance resilience; to protect our critical national infrastructure; and to think laterally about how to outmaneuver our opponents and communicate our actions,” Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Nick Carter said during his annual speech to the Royal United Services Institute Dec 6.
“Our starting point for a review should be a proper assessment of the threat, and this should take the form of a net assessment that determines where our current trajectory will take us in 2030 relative to those of our competitors. We might deduce from this that our approach to deterrence needs updating, for the form of authoritarian political warfare that we are confronted with requires a more dynamic approach,” he said.
Both the Conservative and Labour parties have committed to hold a defense review if they win next week’s general election. It’s not guaranteed, but in theory 2020 would be the most likely time frame in the current quinquennial cycle for such an assessment.
The 2010 strategic defense and security review slashed military capabilities in order to balance the budget, and while some of that equipment was replaced in the 2015 review funding was dependent on finding significant efficiencies elsewhere in the armed forces. That’s a requirement which has posed a major challenge.
Britain’s armed forces have been in the grip of constant budget pressures since the end of the Cold War, and the efficiency initiatives mentioned by Carter have often been used to mask issues like reductions in weapon stockpiles.
Earlier this year the then-Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt highlighted the obsolescence of much of the British Army’s armored-vehicles fleet.
Last week RUSI claimed lack of modern artillery would see the British military facing defeat in any fight with the Russians.
“What worked for the predictability of stabilization and counterinsurgency operations in the last 20 years or so won’t work in today’s context,” said Britain’s top soldier. “The efficiency initiatives of the last 25 years have taken risk against readiness and resilience. We have looked to optimize our logistic infrastructure, reduce inventory, rationalize stock, and outsource whatever we can to industry.”
Carter said the drive for efficiency has posed a number of questions that the next government will need to answer in any upcoming defense and security review.
“Do we know what ‘just-in-time logistics’ has done to our supply chains? Have we assured sovereign capability where we need it? Has our competitive procurement process shared risk with our suppliers as well as it might for our support solutions? And how do we improve the availability of our key platforms?” he asked an audience of leading defense sector personnel.
Carter said the military will hold an exercise next year to assess the impact on industry of mobilizing reserve forces.
With the general election just days away, the defense chief avoided mentioning the budget required to fund any future significant shift in military capacity.
Small, above-inflation rises have been promised by the Conservatives but that’s unlikely to be sufficient by itself to fund requirements.
The parliamentary Defence Select Committee has argued for some time that Britain needs to invest 3 percent of its gross domestic product in defense, rather than the 2 percent it currently does to meet its NATO commitments.
Alexandra Ashborne-Walmsley, of London defense consultants ASC, said she was surprised so close to the election that the Chief of the Defence Staff presented such a detailed view of what he was looking for in the next strategic evaluation.
“He has clearly given the matter considerable thought and is examining the UK’s future security needs with a much broader perspective and a multiplicity of domains than has been done in some previous defense reviews,” she said. “It’s not going to be just about numbers of ships, tanks and planes.”
There’s no shortage of ideas on where to where Carter would like spend his modernization money, particularly in the area of battlespace connectivity and ever more sophisticated networks of systems.
“We need better intelligence and warning to inform genuine insight and understanding, and therefore further investment in persistent and forward engagement to establish networks, identify opportunities and develop relationships with allies and partners,” he said.
“Modernization will require us to embrace information-centric technologies, recognizing that it will be the application of combinations of technology like processing power, connectivity, machine learning and artificial intelligence, automation, autonomy and quantum computing that will achieve the disruptive effect we need,” he added.
Carter said the review “requires a strategic response that integrates all the levers of national power – a ‘fusion’ approach that brings coherence and consistency to our UK strategy.”
Conservative leader Boris Johnson made a similar point in his defense review statement last week by announcing the intention to fuse defense, security and foreign policy together in any future strategic update.
The British general also said a review should also include defense-industry considerations.
“This would look across the defense and security sectors to identify how we can enhance our strategic approach to ensure we have competitive, innovative and world-class defense and security industries that drive investment and prosperity as well as underpinning national security. Research and development must feature in this, too – we must embrace open, outwardly facing innovation – in recognition that nobody does it all in-house any longer,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
06 Dec 19. France orders six patrol ships, equipped with drones and able to secure prisoners. France has ordered six 70-meter-long (230-feet-long) offshore patrol vessels from Socarenam, a shipyard in Boulogne-sur-Mer on the country’s northern coast, to patrol its vast economic exclusive zone.
The announcement was made earlier this week by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Maritime Economy Congress in Montpellier, southern France. These kinds of announcements are usually either made by the minister for the armed forces or by the DGA procurement agency.
Following the president’s announcement, the Armed Forces Ministry said in a statement that the ships had been ordered “in a context of increasing threats to our fishing resources, biodiversity and international maritime rules.”
“France intends to fully exercise her sovereignty and responsibilities both in her metropolitan and overseas territories,” the statement continued. France has the largest economic exclusive zone in the world, at about 4,514,000 square miles. By comparison, the United States’s EEZ comes in at about 4,383,000 square miles.
Each vessel’s draft is no more than 3.8 meters, has a maximum speed of at least 22 knots that it can hold for 24 hours but with a normal cruising speed of between 12 to 14 knots, and has a range of 5,500 nautical miles. This enables the ships to stay at sea for a month.
French media reports the ships are likely to carry a 20mm remotely controlled gun and machine guns, but no official weapons specifications have been published. The tender and the technical specifications, issued by the DGA in 2018, called for the ships to be able to deploy a 700-kilogram-class rotor-blade drone, and to be able to keep it under cover. The tender also said the ships should be able to deploy divers and two high-speed intervention boats, as well as keep six prisoners secure.
The ships will be delivered to the French Navy between 2022 and 2025. That time frame is two years ahead of the schedule laid out in the 2019-2025 Military Program Law. The value of the order has not been disclosed.
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
“I have decided, as is specified in the Military Program Law, to further strengthen the protection of our maritime spaces. The order for six new overseas patrol boats was officially launched last week by the armed forces minister,” Macron said. “With these ships we will acquire a capacity that we have never yet had on the maritime front to protect our spaces and take on this mantle as a balance of power in the maritime sector.”
“We are building a European maritime capacity,” he added, noting that he assumed “responsibility for France taking the leadership.”
The ships, known in France as POM (patrouilleur outre-mer), will be based in France’s Pacific Ocean territories of New Caledonia and French Polynesia, and the French overseas department in the Indian Ocean, Réunion. Some of the ships will join the Pacific fleet at the Nouméa naval base in New Caledonia and at Fare Ute Papeete in Tahiti. Others will join the Indian Ocean fleet at Port Réunion.
A naval spokesperson told Defense News that the exact destination for each ship had not yet been officially announced.
The order for these six ships is a continuation of a program to bolster France’s protection of its maritime regions. Three patrol vessels were delivered between 2016 and October 2019 to the Caribbean region and Guyana on South America’s northeastern coast. The three vessels were also built by Socarenam, which has sites in Calais, Dunkirk, Étaples and Saint-Malo. (Source: Defense News)
05 Dec 19. Erdogan says allies must support Turkey after it approved NATO plan – NTV. NATO allies should support Turkey in its conflict with Syrian Kurdish fighters after Ankara dropped its objections to the alliance’s defence plans for Poland and the Baltics, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Thursday.
Ahead of Wednesday’s summit, Turkey had angered other NATO members by saying it would block the defence plan until they designated the Kurdish YPG militia, against which Ankara waged a military offensive two months ago, a terrorist organisation.
Speaking to reporters in London, Erdogan said that Turkey dropped its objection to the Baltics plan after NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg and the leaders of Germany, France and Poland asked for Turkey’s backing.
“They all called us and asked us for support on this. After talks with my colleagues, we said yes to this, but you must not abandon us in the fight against terror,” broadcaster NTV quoted Erdogan as saying.
Stoltenberg told reporters after the summit that allies had not discussed how to designate the YPG during their talks.
Ties between Turkey and its NATO allies have soured over a host of issues, ranging from Ankara’s decision to procure Russian air defence systems to Syria policy. Ankara accuses its allies of not providing enough support against the threats it is facing and in hosting more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees. Turkey says it aims to establish a “safe zone” in part of northeast Syria after clearing the region of the YPG, and says that Syrian refugees can be settled there.
Erdogan has also urged allies to provide funds for its plans, which he discussed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the summit.
Erdogan said that only one country, which he did not name, has so far pledged support for Turkey’s Syria plans. He said the four leaders had agreed to meet again in Istanbul in February and to hold talks annually. (Source: Reuters)
05 Dec 19. Germany plans to spend EUR8.9bn on armaments in 2020. Germany plans to spend EUR8.9bn (USD9.9bn) on armaments in 2020, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on its website on 5 December upon publication of its latest armaments report. In 2019, the Bundeswehr received an F125 frigate, 45 Puma infantry fighting vehicles, four Eurofighter combat aircraft, and six A400M transports, among other systems, the ministry said in its 10th biannual armaments report. In addition, the Bundestag authorised spending EUR5.9 bn on new armaments projects in 2019, according to the MoD. Germany’s EUR45.1bn defence budget for 2020, representing a 4.2% increase from 2019, will be broken down into EUR7.4bn for procurement, EUR1.5bn for development and testing, EUR4.5bn in equipment and vehicle maintenance, and EUR3.2bn in services for the Bundeswehr. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Dec 19. NATO Leaders Downplay Divisions Threatening Military Alliance. Although the summit was meant to mark the military alliance’s 70th birthday, tensions among the allies overshadowed the party. The celebration of unity was marked by clashes between the US and French presidents. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the leaders of the 29-member military alliance in London on Wednesday, as the uneasy allies met to celebrate the organization’s 70th anniversary. Following a tense start to the two-day summit on Tuesday — marked by clashes between US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron — leaders turned their focus to current and future threats. On Wednesday, NATO leaders agreed on the importance of mutual defense and the need to assess China’s place on the world stage.
“We reaffirm the enduring transatlantic bond between Europe and North America … and our solemn commitment as enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that an attack against one ally shall be considered an attack against us all,” they said in a joint statement.
The statement also refers to the need to address the “opportunities and challenges” presented by “China’s growing influence and international policies.”
Other key summit takeaways:
— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson emphasized unity in remarks at the summit, saying that 70 years on, “we are rock solid in our commitment to NATO,” adding that “peace cannot be taken for granted.”
— It appeared that a spat with Turkey over defense plans for the Baltic states and Poland was resolved, although Stoltenberg did not specify how President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was brought on board. He had been withholding approval over disagreements about how to label Kurdish militias operating in Syria.
— Ahead of the final day of meetings, DW’s Teri Schultz noted that due to simmering tensions and Trump’s unpredictability, “the standards are not very high” for Wednesday’s summit, which had been scaled back to a three-hour meeting.
— Trump suddenly canceled a press conference scheduled for the end of the day’s proceedings after footage leaked that appeared to show other world leaders mocking him behind his back.
What happened on Day 1?
The first day of the summit was marked by a series of tense bilateral meetings and press conferences in London, including contentious meetings with Trump. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also met for high-stakes talks with Macron, Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel following Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
Queen Elizabeth II held a lavish reception for leaders at Buckingham Palace in the evening — where several leaders were caught on camera talking about Trump’s long-winded remarks to reporters during bilateral talks.
Asked about the incident later, Boris Johnson said “I really don’t know what is being referred to there.” Trump later called Trudeau “two-faced” and Macron “nasty.”
During a press conference, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg was asked how he felt about Macron’s calls for dialogue with Russia. Stoltenberg replied that “NATO and I, we believe in dialogue with Russia.”
“If we can’t achieve a better relationship in the short term, then we need to manage a difficult relationship.”
The most important thing when dealing with Moscow, Stoltenberg said, was to avoid a new arms race.
— Macron and Trump trade barbs:
Trump kicked off the summit by criticizing his French counterpart for saying that NATO was “brain dead.” Trump, who himself once called NATO obsolete, said the French leader’s remark was “nasty” and said he could imagine France leaving NATO. Trump later softened his stance during a bilateral meeting with Macron, although the French leader said he stood by his comments and criticized allies in the alliance for having differing views on what constitutes “terrorism” — a not-so-veiled criticism of Turkey and the United States.
— NATO recognizes China’s influence:
NATO leaders are to raise concerns about China’s growing influence for the first time in a joint leaders’ declaration. Their statement recognized that China’s rise “has security implications for all allies,” NATO leader Stoltenberg said — including missiles that can reach the US and Europe.
— Military spending:
Trump continued to lash out at European allies over defense spending, the topic weighing heavy during bilateral talks with the US leader on Wednesday. He has frequently called out Germany overspending, but might receive some pushback since Berlin has increased its defense budget. French President Macron has also urged for less of a focus on increasing spending and more attention to countering new military threats. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Deutsche Welle German Radio)
03 Dec 19. Plans for Three Control and Reporting Centres in Baltic Region to Enhance NATO Air Posture. The scheduled re-structure of the Baltic Air Surveillance Network or BALTNET will see the activation of three national Control and Reporting Centres (CRC) in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This allows for improved capabilities and interoperability of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System in the region to help safeguard Allied airspace.
The three Baltic Allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have launched the cooperative project of the BALTNET future configuration to further enhance their air surveillance and control capabilities in the region and thus their contribution to NATO’s collective defence effort and architecture.
“By establishing a CRC in each of our three countries, we achieve a joint and combined capable network. The individual functional units will eventually provide a more robust package for the region. We are confident and proud that this will markedly increase our capabilities especially as we contribute to controlling NATO aircraft in support of the Alliance’s Baltic Air Policing mission,” said Major Tõnis Pärn, senior Estonian officer at Baltic CRC Karmelava, one of the stakeholders in the project.
“A before-and-after comparison clearly shows that we are moving from peacetime construct with just one joint Baltic CRC to the crisis-and-conflict-capable architecture of three Control and Reporting Points,” Major Pärn continued to say, “including back-up capabilities and clear responsibilities increasing support for Allies and enhancing our national skills in special fields such as surface-based air defence, integration of ground forces, intelligence and Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence. Our connections move from serial to parallel which avoids any potential single points of failure,” Major Pärn concluded.
The final concept foresees the establishment of three identical CRCs in Tallinn, Lielvarde and Karmelava tailored to national airspace surveillance. The system will allow assigning fighter controllers to Allied flying assets on a rotational basis among the three CRCs and enhance the data exchange with the NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany and other entities of the Alliance.
“With back-up capable regional air surveillance and control capability we are heading to provide better survivability, enhanced opportunities for future peacetime and defensive operations. At the same time advanced structures imply complexity and more responsibility that we will ensure through enhanced regional cooperation” Colonel Dainius Guzas, Commander of Lithuanian Air forces said.
The BALTNET co-operation project was launched in 1998 as a system for acquisition, coordination, distribution and display of air surveillance data within the three Baltic States. Its objectives encompass international co-operation between civilian and military air traffic authorities and the development of the respective functions in all participating states. As such, BALTNET was a major stepping stone for helping to the Baltic States to contribute to and to integrate with NATO structures.
Since 2004, when the Baltic States joined the Alliance, the system has been an integral component of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System. Within this framework, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania established and jointly manned the Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) at Karmelava, Lithuania, which reported to CAOC at Uedem.
This one centre will now be replaced by three national CRCs in each of the Baltic States. As a next step it is planned to equip these units with NATO’s Air Command and Control System (ACCS) Software Based Element (ASBE) to further improve capabilities and interoperability. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Lithuania Ministry of Defence)
05 Dec 19. U.K. Government’s ECJU Issues Notice to Exporters 2019/16 on Update of Numerous OGELs and OGTCLs. The U.K. Government’s Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) has issued Notice to Exporters 2019/16 on its update of numerous Open General Export Licences (OGELs) and Open General Trade Control Licences (OGTCLs). Following the U.K. Secretary of State’s statement to Parliament on 26 September 2019 about inadvertent breaches of the Order made by the Court of Appeal and the commitment given to Parliament on 20 June 2019, ECJU has reviewed OGELs and OGTCLs permitting exports to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners carrying out military operations in Yemen. Until further notice, ECJU will not accept registrations for a number of OGELS and OGTCLs for exports and brokering to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates. In addition, following the recent incursion by the Turkish military in northeast Syria, ECJU is monitoring the situation in Syria very closely and considering the licensing position. No further export licences to Turkey for items that might be used in military operations in Syria will be granted while it does so. In light of this, ECJU has reviewed OGELs and OGTCLs where exports or brokering to Turkey have been permitted. Until further notice, it will not be possible to register for a number of OGELS and OGTCLs for Turkey. See this Notice to Exporters for further details on the specific OGELs and OGTCLs involved in this action.
04 Dec 19. Denmark to contribute more planes to NATO after talks with Trump. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said her country would provide four more planes to NATO after holding “positive” talks with U.S. President Trump at an alliance summit in London on Wednesday.
“Regarding NATO, there is a wish for an additional Danish contribution on plane capacity, and we have said ‘yes’ to accommodate that,” Frederiksen told a news briefing.
The planes would be added to NATO forces in 2020 and 2021, Frederiksen said, without specifying the type of aircraft. Frederiksen also said she did not sense conflict between the United States and Denmark over Greenland, after she had rebuffed Trump’s idea of buying the island in August.
She said Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands were working to establish greater strategic cooperation in the Arctic region together with the United States, in an area where she said a stronger security focus was needed.
“There is a major power rivalry, which we are starting to see in the Arctic. We also see an increased Russian presence with submarines, and here we also need a closer cooperation,” she said.
In an interview with Danish daily Berlingske published ahead of the summit on Tuesday, Frederiksen suggested increasing surveillance of the Arctic sea and airspace with radars and satellites in response to increased Russian activity there. (Source: Reuters)
04 Dec 19. Trump says Huawei is a security risk as NATO seeks secure 5G. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Chinese telecommunication firm Huawei was a security risk after NATO said it needed secure next-generation 5G technology.
In what some have compared to the Cold War arms race, the United States is worried that 5G dominance would give any global competitor such as China an advantage Washington is not ready to accept.
“I do think it’s a security risk, it’s a security danger,” Trump said. “And I spoke to Italy and they look like they are not going to go forward with that. I spoke to other countries, they are not going to go forward. Everybody I’ve spoken to is not going to go forward,” Trump said.
NATO leaders said on Wednesday that it needed secure 5G communications.
“NATO and Allies, within their respective authority, are committed to ensuring the security of our communications, including 5G, recognising the need to rely on secure and resilient systems,” NATO said in a summit declaration. “We have declared space an operational domain for NATO, recognising its importance in keeping us safe and tackling security challenges, while upholding international law.” (Source: Reuters)
04 Dec 19. Not so nasty: NATO avoids a car crash summit. It was shaping up for a repeat of NATO’s disastrous summit of July 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed a tirade against European allies and threatened to pull America out of the transatlantic military alliance forged after World War Two.
French President Emmanuel Macron had stunned other leaders in the run-up to Wednesday’s meeting in a country estate on the outskirts of London by declaring that NATO was “experiencing brain death”, a comment Trump branded “very, very nasty”.
But at their three-hour session, the leaders agreed to appoint a group of experts to conduct a strategic review over two years to prepare the Western alliance for the future – and as they headed home there was little evidence of the public acrimony that had preceded their summit.
Diplomats said the “brain-death” debate was key to avoiding a bust-up, possibly spurring Trump to take a more positive view of the alliance than he has in the past.
Amid the consternation over Macron’s comment, France and Germany last month proposed a study of NATO’s future by a group of “wise men”. Their idea was vague but, according to a senior NATO diplomat, alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg seized on it to take some heat out of the summit.
“It was very useful,” an adviser to Macron said. “Had he not sparked this debate, they would have come here, raised a toast to the Queen and … gone home even though we’re going through a challenging international moment.”
Macron himself told reporters the outcome of the summit had “demonstrated the usefulness of our comments”, and likened himself to an ice-breaking ship cutting through frozen seas.
“It leaves broken ice but it also opens a passage,” he said.
“A MILDER TRUMP”
Diplomats put the meeting’s relative success down to the behaviour of Trump, who throughout the 2018 summit had questioned the value of NATO in tweets and berated allies for not spending enough on defence.
Aside from a complaint that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was “two-faced” after a hot mic caught him mocking the U.S. president, diplomats said Trump was unusually conciliatory.
In a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel he complained mildly that Berlin was “a little bit under” the target for NATO allies to spend 2% of their GDP on defence.
“I can only say that we had a good discussion on substance,” Merkel told reporters. “We had room for other, more strategic questions. I had the impression that mutual understanding of the different geographical situations is growing.”
One European diplomat said “we saw a very mild Trump”, and another said he was “more a team-player than a disruptor”.
U.S. officials said Trump has been placated by increases in defence spending by NATO allies, and other leaders appear to have learnt to deal with his mercurial nature at such events.
Trump faces impeachment troubles at home and must gird for what is expected to be a tough battle for re-election next year.
“Would it be in his interest to start international clashes in a context of domestic political campaign? I don’t think that would pay off,” the second diplomat said.
Once a relic of the Cold War, and long criticised for failing to meet security challenges such as global terrorism, the alliance found new resolve on its eastern flank after Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
But Turkey’s October operation into Syria, against allies’ wishes, and Trump’s zig-zagging position on NATO have led diplomats to question the alliance’s broader strategy.
In their final statement, leaders said they were “taking into account the evolving strategic environment” and tasked Stoltenberg to report back, probably next April, with plans “for a forward-looking reflection process”.
Ideas raised by diplomats include developing NATO’s original remit, since its 1949 foundation, of protecting Europe and North America, to potentially encompass new areas such as Syria’s eight-year-old civil war and the Middle East.
Some diplomats said the reflection risks being long and it could turn NATO into another political club with no legislative powers, making statements about conflicts beyond its control.
However, Paris and Berlin say that want an alliance that is more agile, and Trump – who once described NATO as “obsolete” – praised it at the summit as more “flexible”. (Source: Reuters)
04 Dec 19. NATO London Declaration. Issued by NATO Leaders at their meeting in London 3-4 December 2019.
- Today, we gather in London, NATO’s first home, to celebrate seventy years of the strongest and most successful Alliance in history, and mark the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain. NATO guarantees the security of our territory and our one billion citizens, our freedom, and the values we share, including democracy, individual liberty, human rights, and the rule of law. Solidarity, unity, and cohesion are cornerstone principles of our Alliance. As we work together to prevent conflict and preserve peace, NATO remains the foundation for our collective defence and the essential forum for security consultations and decisions among Allies. We reaffirm the enduring transatlantic bond between Europe and North America, our adherence to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, and our solemn commitment as enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that an attack against one Ally shall be considered an attack against us all.
- We are determined to share the costs and responsibilities of our indivisible security. Through our Defence Investment Pledge, we are increasing our defence investment in line with its 2% and 20% guidelines, investing in new capabilities, and contributing more forces to missions and operations. Non-US defence expenditure has grown for five consecutive years; over 130bn US dollars more is being invested in defence. In line with our commitment as enshrined in Article 3 of the Washington Treaty, we continue to strengthen our individual and collective capacity to resist all forms of attack. We are making good progress. We must and will do more.
- We, as an Alliance, are facing distinct threats and challenges emanating from all strategic directions. Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security; terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a persistent threat to us all. State and non-state actors challenge the rules-based international order. Instability beyond our borders is also contributing to irregular migration. We face cyber and hybrid threats.
- NATO is a defensive Alliance and poses no threat to any country. We are adapting our military capabilities, strategy, and plans across the Alliance in line with our 360-degree approach to security. We have taken decisions to improve the readiness of our forces to respond to any threat, at any time, from any direction. We stand firm in our commitment to the fight against terrorism and are taking stronger action together to defeat it. We are addressing and will continue to address in a measured and responsible way Russia’s deployment of new intermediate-range missiles, which brought about the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and which pose significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security. We are increasing action to protect our freedoms at sea and in the air. We are further strengthening our ability to deter and defend with an appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional, and missile defence capabilities, which we continue to adapt. As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. We are fully committed to the preservation and strengthening of effective arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation, taking into account the prevailing security environment. Allies are strongly committed to full implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in all its aspects, including nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We remain open for dialogue, and to a constructive relationship with Russia when Russia’s actions make that possible.
- We work to increase security for all. We have strengthened partnerships in our neighbourhood and beyond, deepening political dialogue, support, and engagement with partner countries and international organisations. We reaffirm our commitment to long-term security and stability in Afghanistan. We are increasing our cooperation with the United Nations; there is unprecedented progress in NATO-EU cooperation. We are committed to NATO’s Open Door policy, which strengthens the Alliance and has brought security to millions of Europeans. North Macedonia is here with us today and will soon be our newest Ally. We are committed to the success of all our operations and missions. We pay tribute to all the men and women who have served for NATO, and honour all those who have sacrificed their lives to keep us safe.
- To stay secure, we must look to the future together. We are addressing the breadth and scale of new technologies to maintain our technological edge, while preserving our values and norms. We will continue to increase the resilience of our societies, as well as of our critical infrastructure and our energy security. NATO and Allies, within their respective authority, are committed to ensuring the security of our communications, including 5G, recognising the need to rely on secure and resilient systems. We have declared space an operational domain for NATO, recognising its importance in keeping us safe and tackling security challenges, while upholding international law. We are increasing our tools to respond to cyber attacks, and strengthening our ability to prepare for, deter, and defend against hybrid tactics that seek to undermine our security and societies. We are stepping up NATO’s role in human security. We recognise that China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance.
Comment from Ken Peterman, president, Viasat’s Government Systems
“With threats to satellites escalating quickly, we commend NATO for declaring space as the fifth domain in its collective-defense commitment. As commercial and military space assets become more interwoven, it will be critical for NATO allies to work together to deter threats from near-peer adversaries. The space domain also enables collaboration on a global scale among global partners, and offers new and effective ways for NATO allies conduct missions. This declaration is the next logical step in delivering access to hybrid, satellite communications (SATCOM) network capabilities that will empower the warfighter with cloud-enabled technologies that will make the world a safer place.”
- Taking into account the evolving strategic environment, we invite the Secretary General to present to Foreign Ministers a Council-agreed proposal for a forward-looking reflection process under his auspices, drawing on relevant expertise, to further strengthen NATO’s political dimension including consultation.
- We express our appreciation for the generous hospitality extended to us by the United Kingdom. We will meet again in 2021.
- In challenging times, we are stronger as an Alliance, and our people safer. Our bond and mutual commitment have guaranteed our freedoms, our values, and our security for seventy years. We act today to ensure that NATO guarantees those freedoms, values, and security for generations to come.
03 Dec 19. Trump Begins NATO Summit with Criticism, Promises. U.S. President Donald Trump began his London visit with a promise to stay out of Britain’s general election, scheduled to be held on December 12.
“I have no thoughts on it, It’s going to be a very important election for this great country, but I have no thoughts on it,” Trump said Tuesday, speaking alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after their bilateral meeting, as leaders of member nations gathered for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit.
But the U.S. president could not resist giving his opinion about the British prime minister, saying, “Boris is very capable and I think he’ll do a good job.”
In a recent interview, Johnson warned Trump against giving him an endorsement, saying it was best “for neither side to be involved in the other’s election campaigns.”
In October, Trump praised Johnson as “the exact right guy for the times” and said that the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn would be “so bad” as prime minister
Leaders rarely violate diplomatic norms and wade into other countries’ elections. Trump also said the United States has no interest in the Britain’s National Health Service.
“We have absolutely nothing to do with it and we wouldn’t want to if you handed it to us on a silver platter,” Trump said.
Trump’s interest for the privatization of the NHS has been a key focus of the British election, with Corbyn accusing Johnson and the Conservative Party of including it in a post-Brexit deal with the United States. Johnson has denied the accusation.
Trump and the British prime minister will meet in group events with other NATO leaders but so far it is still unclear whether the two will have a one-on-one meeting. Other than his meeting with Stoltenberg, Trump is scheduled to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Criticism of Macron
Prior to his meeting with Macron later Tuesday, Trump criticized the French president for his recent statement describing NATO as experiencing “brain death,” saying the comment was a “nasty statement.”
Trump said Macron’s remark was “insulting” to other members. “You just can’t go around making statements like that about NATO.”
In the past Trump has said that NATO is “obsolete” and has repeatedly expressed his desire to leave the alliance. Macron’s comments came in an interview with the London-based magazine The Economist published last month. The French president has since defended his words, saying NATO “needed a wake-up call” and should be focused on issues other than the amount of money each member spends on its military.
Defense spending has been a focus for Trump since he took office in 2017 and complained the United States was taking on an outsized financial burden, when it comes to NATO. Stoltenberg praised Trump on Tuesday, saying his leadership on the issue is “having a real impact.” He cited a $130bn increase in defense budgets among the non-U.S. NATO members and said that would go to $400bn by 2024. In addition to budget discussions, NATO’s secretary general said leaders would be talking about counterterrorism efforts, arms control, relations with Russia and the rise of China. The summit comes as Trump faces an impeachment investigation back home. He repeated his criticism Tuesday of Democrats who control the House of Representatives, saying it is unfair to hold hearings while he is attending the summit. But when asked if the proceedings weaken his position as he meets with other leaders, the Trump said, “I don’t think so.”
Trump is not the first U.S. president to attend a NATO summit under the cloud of impeachment. In 1974 Richard Nixon went to NATO’s 25th anniversary meeting in Brussels while the U.S. House of Representatives was concluding its impeachment inquiry. Nixon stepped down a few weeks later.
Meeting with supporters
In between meetings with Stoltenberg and Macron, Trump met with supporters in a closed press event. Tuesday’s fundraiser was expected to raise $3m for his re-election campaign. Trump is also scheduled to meet with members of the royal family later Tuesday. He and first lady Melania Trump will have tea with Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall before joining other NATO leaders at a reception hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Voice of America News)
02 Dec 19. Ankara Slams Europe’s Delays In Defense Trade. Some Western countries have imposed a “covert embargo” on Turkey due to its military offensive into Syria, İsmail Demir, the head of the Defense Industries Directorate, has told daily Hürriyet.
“You have seen what kind of explanations came from various countries following ‘Operation Peace Spring.’ Even in a multinational project like the A400M, restrictions have been claimed. We’ve known for some time that there are some implicit restrictions,” Demir said.
“They did not officially recognize any sanctions, but Turkey has seen a slowdown in demands, the extension of deadlines, and attitude of rejection by some companies for the delivery of some equipment,” he said.
But this manner has helped Turkey to step up to replace this equipment with domestic production, Demir stated. He was referring to the Airbus A400M military transport planes which were developed for seven European NATO nations: Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, and Turkey. Elaborating on Turkey’s procurement of the Russian-made S-400 defense systems, Demir said that Ankara stipulated credit loan, joint production, and technology transfer in the purchase of two systems. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Hurriyet Daily News)
04 Dec 19. HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group returns home from jet trials. The bulk of the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group today returned to their respective homes after three months in the USA.
Following HMS Dragon’s return to Portsmouth earlier this week, the aircraft carrier made her way into Portsmouth – where she was greeted by sister ship HMS Prince of Wales.
At the same time two of her escorts, HMS Northumberland and RFA Tideforce, returned to warm welcomes in Devonport. The ships’ flights made their way to their respective homes at RNAS Culdrose and Yeovilton.
The carrier strike group sailed from the UK in August to conduct operational tests with UK F-35 jets from the UK Lightning Force for the first time.
Supporting the strike group units throughout were Merlin helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron based out of RNAS Culdrose, providing anti-submarine protection and search-and-rescue (SAR) capability.
Commando Merlins from 845 Naval Air Squadron acted as the aviation workhorses, transporting stores and equipment, providing SAR cover and also landing Royal Marines from 42 Commando’s Lima Company to rehearse how to rescue downed pilots. Merlins from 814 NAS and Wildcat from 815 completed the air group.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Captain Steve Moorhouse said: “Homecomings are always a special occasion, but to be returning to Portsmouth with HMS Prince of Wales welcoming us home makes this a particularly special occasion.
“This has been an extremely successful deployment for HMS Queen Elizabeth. Embarking UK F-35 Lightning jets for the first time and integrating them within the carrier strike group is a significant milestone and we are well set for an equally demanding 2020 and our first operational deployment in 2021.”
Commander of the Air Group, Captain James Blackmore, added: “The five-week period of operational tests with UK F-35s from the UK Lightning Force was significant and historic. As the last pilot to fly Harrier from the deck of HMS Ark Royal in 2010, it filled me with tremendous pride to see UK fixed wing aircraft operate once more from a British carrier.”
HMS Northumberland, which deployed ahead of the rest of the strike group, first encountered Hurricane Dorian as she arrived in Halifax. She went on to play a key role in the NATO Exercise Cutlass Fury, which involved 20 ships and 36 aircraft.
Commanding Officer of HMS Northumberland, Commander Ally Pollard said: “It has been an exciting challenge for my ship’s company, some of whom have never been to sea or deployed, and while only a short deployment it has nevertheless been demanding.”
HMS Northumberland’s Deputy Marine Engineering Officer, Lt James Jeffcoate, added: “Having served in HMS Monmouth for Westlant 18, it’s been fantastic to see the development of UK Carrier Strike. Seeing HMS Queen Elizabeth close up while HMS Northumberland escorted her has enabled us all to appreciate what an amazing piece of British engineering she really is.”
The Commanding Officer of RFA Tideforce, Captain Terrence Barke, said: “Ground-breaking milestones, first-of-class trials and unwavering professionalism of the ship’s company has truly demonstrated the capability of RFA Tideforce and her ability to extend the limits of the Royal Navy and our NATO Allies, ensuring their operational effectiveness 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
RNAS Yeovilton welcomed back 815 NAS’s 212 Flight from HMS Dragon and 201 Flight from RFA Tideforce.
“The deployment has been my highlight as a flight commander,” said Lieutenant Jim Carver, of 201 Flight. “I joined the navy as an air engineering technician in 2005, and never for one minute thought I would become a pilot, let alone a small ship’s flight commander. It has been a privilege to lead such a well-motivated, enthusiastic and professional group of people in support of the regeneration of UK carrier strike.” (Source: Royal Navy)
03 Dec 19. NATO to define plan to counter Russia’s hybrid warfare tactics. NATO will agree on a plan to respond to the new weapons and tactical threat posed by Russia and others when alliance leaders meet here on Dec. 4, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said opening the NATO Engages think tank event in London.
“When leaders meet tomorrow they will agree a plan for NATO’s response to emerging and disruptive technology, recognising two new operational domains in space and cyber, and develop plans to confront and deter hybrid tactics,” Wallace told an international audience of defense analysts and policymakers.
Emerging technologies like hypersonic missiles and quantum computing are changing the threat landscape, the defense secretary said, urging that NATO must to understand the challenges and adapt accordingly.
Wallace stayed away from responding to French President Emmanuel Macrons controversial view that the alliance was “brain dead,” but he, like others in NATO, accept the need for continuing change.
“It starts with investment in both our conventional forces which are so important to effect deterrence and in those new capabilities needed to address the challenges that lay ahead,”he said.
Some $400bn will be spent on defense investment by European nations and Canada by 2024, but more needs to be done, he said.
“Maintain technological edge is the only way we can avoid obsolescence,” he warned. “We must be on the hunt for the next great geopolitical disrupters like climate change, or the next technological advancement that changes the game completely,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
03 Dec 19. U.S. ‘Very, very nasty’: Trump clashes with Macron before NATO summit. U.S. President Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron clashed over the future of NATO on Tuesday before a summit intended to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Western military alliance.
In sharp exchanges underlining discord in a transatlantic bloc hailed by backers as the most successful military pact in history, Trump demanded that Europe pay more for its collective defence and make concessions to U.S. interests on trade.
Macron, the French president, stood by comments he made last month describing NATO as suffering from a lack of strategic purpose akin to “brain death”, and criticised fellow NATO member Turkey, which he accused of working with Islamic State proxies. Washington and Paris have long argued over NATO’s purpose – France opposed the 2003 Iraq war – but the new tensions will add to doubts over the alliance’s future that have grown with Trump’s ambivalence over U.S. commitments to defend Europe.
Trump said Macron’s criticism of NATO was “very, very nasty” and questioned whether the U.S. military should defend any countries that were “delinquent” on alliance targets for national military spending.
“It’s not right to be taken advantage of on NATO and also then to be taken advantage of on trade, and that’s what happens. We can’t let that happen,” Trump said of transatlantic disputes on issues ranging from the aerospace sector to a European digital services tax on U.S. technology giants.
All 29 member states have a target of spending 2% of their gross domestic product on defence and Trump has singled out Germany for falling short of that goal.
But Macron stood by his criticism of NATO and said its real problem was a failure to forge a clear purpose since the end of the Cold War.
“If we invest money and put our soldiers’ lives at risk in theatres of operation we must be clear about the fundamentals of NATO,” he said in a tweet at the end of a day overshadowed by tensions between the French and U.S. leaders.
A French presidency official said Trump often makes strident statements ahead of bilateral meetings and cools his rhetoric later. He noted that Macron and Trump “exchanged jokes and were very relaxed” at a joint news conference in London.
COLLECTIVE DEFENCE AT STAKE
Turkey threatened to block a plan to defend Baltic states and Poland against Russian attacks unless NATO backed Ankara in recognising the Kurdish YPG militia as terrorists.
The YPG’s fighters have long been U.S. and French allies against Islamic State in Syria. Turkey considers them an enemy because of links to Kurdish insurgents in southeastern Turkey.
“If our friends at NATO do not recognise as terrorist organisations those we consider terrorist organisations … we will stand against any step that will be taken there,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said before travelling to London.
Erdogan has already strained alliance ties with a move to buy Russian air defence systems. Trump said he was looking at imposing sanctions on Ankara over the issue.
The uncertainty over the plan for Poland and the Baltic states, drawn up at their request after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, raises issues about security on all of NATO’s frontiers.
Under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s 1949 founding treaty, an attack on one ally is an attack on all its members, and the alliance has military strategies for collective defence across its territory.
The summit, in a hotel in Hertfordshire just outside London, begins on Wednesday.
On Tuesday evening, alliance leaders attended a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.
The British monarch, in a teal-coloured matching jacket and skirt, greeted the summiteers and accompanying partners, including former fashion model Melania Trump, who was wearing a bright yellow dress with matching cape and purple sleeves.
They were then welcomed to 10 Downing Street by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, host of the summit a little over a week before the country faces an election.
Several hundred protesters gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square, holding placards reading: “Dump Trump” and “No to racism, no to Trump”. A police line divided them from a small group of Trump supporters wearing Make America Great Again caps, waving American flags and shouting: “Build the wall”.
In Washington on Tuesday, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives laid out their impeachment case against Trump, accusing him of using the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election.
Hoping to placate Trump, Europe, Turkey and Canada will pledge at the summit some $400bn in defence spending by 2024, and agree to a reduction of the U.S. contribution to fund the alliance itself.
The allies will approve a new strategy to monitor China’s growing military activity, and identify space as a domain of warfare, alongside air, land, sea and computer networks. Trump said he believed Russia wanted deals on arms control and nuclear issues, and that he would be willing to bring China into such accords. (Source: Reuters)
03 Dec 19. NATO shakes off infighting amid public rifts. NATO has insisted it is continuing to deliver on its defence commitments despite public comments from partner nations that suggest a number of high-profile disagreements are severely disrupting the alliance.
Defending the organisation during the NATO Engages conference in London on 3 December, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general, said that ‘unity should not be questioned,’ in light of recent criticism from Emmanuel Macron that the ‘brain death’ of NATO is at hand.
Reports that Turkey is unwilling to support a new NATO managed defence plan for the Baltic region and Poland due to a lack of support from allies for the country’s fight against the Syrian Kurdish YPG have also heightened tension, but Stoltenberg put forward a strong defence of the organisation in spite of those developments.
‘It is well known that there are issues with the YPG and how various NATO allies think about them, but we have plans in place to protect all the Baltic countries…more than that, the fact that we already have forces in the region sends a very clear message [to adversaries] about our readiness to defend our allies,’ he explained.
‘We have tripled the size of the NATO defence force which can be reinforced if needed, invested in high end capabilities, stepped up in the fight against terrorism with a new training mission in Iraq and European allies are investing more in defence.’
Professor Gulnur Aybet, foreign policy senior advisor to President Erdogan said however that the initial ‘leak’ of the Baltic region defence plan had led to ‘misunderstandings’ and made clear that the plan itself was part of an internal NATO debate, though neither she or Stoltenberg spoke of how the issue could be solved.
Despite Turkey’s partnership with Russia continuing to cause unease, particularly with the US, Aybet maintained that it has a ‘compartmentalized’ relationship with Moscow and said that the decision to buy the S-400 land system had been taken because of existing requirements – following a failure to agree terms with the US on the acquisition of Raytheon’s Patriot system.
Seperately, addressing how NATO can counter Russian threats, Stoltenberg admitted that ‘new ways’ to conduct ‘credible’ arms control measures are needed in order to prevent Moscow from developing nuclear capabilities. (Source: Shephard)
03 Dec 19. U.S. defense chief calls on Turkey to stop holding up NATO readiness plan. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper urged Turkey on Monday to stop holding up support for a NATO defense plan for the Baltics and Poland, as Ankara presses the alliance to support its fight against U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG militia in Syria.
In an interview with Reuters ahead of the NATO summit, Esper warned Ankara that “not everybody sees the threats that they see” and added he would not support labeling the YPG as terrorists to break the impasse.
He called on Ankara to focus on the larger challenges facing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
“The message to Turkey … is we need to move forward on these response plans and it can’t be held up by their own particular concerns,” Esper said as he flew to London.
“Alliance unity, alliance readiness, means that you focus on the bigger issues – the bigger issue being the readiness of the (NATO) alliance. And not everybody’s willing to sign up to their agenda. Not everybody sees the threats that they see.”
NATO envoys need formal approval by all 29 members for the plan to improve the defense of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia against any threat from neighboring Russia.
The dispute, as NATO prepares to hold its 70th anniversary summit, is a sign of deep divisions between Ankara and Washington over everything from the war in Syria to Turkey’s growing defense relationship with Russia.
Turkey wants NATO to formally recognize the YPG militia, the main component of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as terrorists and is infuriated that its allies have given the militia support.
Ankara has blamed Washington for the current impasse, saying it was caused by the U.S. withdrawal of support from a separate defense plan for Turkey, covering any possible attack from the south where it borders Syria.
Asked whether Washington might agree to branding the YPG as terrorists in order to break the deadlock, Esper said: “I wouldn’t support that.”
“We’re going to stick to our positions, and I think NATO will as well,” Esper said.
The issue is the latest source of friction between the NATO allies, which have also been at loggerheads over Turkey’s purchase of advanced Russian air defenses, which Washington says are incompatible with NATO defenses and pose a threat to Lockheed Martin Corp’s (LMT.N) F-35 stealth fighter jets. (Source: Reuters)
02 Dec 19. UK Conservatives propose far-reaching defense review if elected. The British government will conduct an extensive review integrating defense, security and foreign policy if the Conservative Party wins the upcoming general election, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says. The Conservatives are offering what appears to be a fundamental review of Britain’s armed forces, with Johnson saying the initiative will lead to a “huge technological upgrade of security forces to keep Britain safe and strengthen NATO.”
The review is scheduled to get underway next year and be led by the Prime Minister’s office, said Johnson.
Johnson’s promise of a strategy shift in policy comes as London prepares to host NATO’s 70th anniversary summit on Dec. 4, dubbed by alliance officials as a “leaders’ meeting.”
National media here reported Johnson as saying it would be the “deepest review of Britain’s defense, security and foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.
“It will extend from the armed forces to the intelligence services, counter-terrorism forces and serious organized crime. It will also consider Britain’s foreign policy, how we can best use our huge expenditure on international development, and the role of technology,” he said.
“We must use money better, undertake a huge technological upgrade of all our security forces so they are ahead of hostile powers, terrorists and organized crime — and unlike previous exercises, we must develop an integrated plan for all forces engaged in security,” he is reported as saying.
Investment in space capabilities for the Royal Air Force appears to one of the big items on Johnsons agenda according to the reports.
Creating a space command was one of just a small handful of defense policy initiatives announced in the Conservative manifesto released just over a week ago.
Britain has held two full strategic defense and security reviews and a mini review, known as the defence modernization program, since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
The precedent now is to hold a review every five years. The last review, in 2015, restored capabilities like equipping the Royal Air Force with maritime patrol aircraft but failed to fund the uptick in equipment programs adequately.
A review was expected next year whoever wins the election. The rival Labour Party has promised the same in their election manifesto.
John Louth, the director of the defense, industry and society program at the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London, said Johnson’s proposed review appears to lay the ground for a far more radical rethink than previous strategic defense and security proposals.
“He’s talking about a once-in-a-generation review with everything on the table. Ideas on re-rolling the RAF more toward space, that sounds like something quite profound. Whether that becomes a reality – who knows, but for the moment everything could be in the mix. From what we know they are almost talking about a zero-based budgeting exercise with everything up for grabs,” said Louth.
“Whether it is political rhetoric which will be quickly forgotten is difficult to say, but what will be interesting is to see who is actually undertaking the review and what are their terms of reference,” he said.
The RUSI analyst reckons a comprehensive review will need to take the long view.
“What does technology look like over the next 15-20 years, how do we fund and how do we access those technologies? Also, if we are going to be potentially short of thousands of personnel, how might initiatives like sponsored reserves help fill the gap?” said Louth.
Johnson’s review announcement comes against a background of rising tensions in the Ministry of Defence where service chiefs are already said to be fighting amongst themselves over future funding levels for the military.
One government relations consultant, who asked not to be named, said there was nothing unusual about infighting among the services for funds but the backstabbing was fiercer and earlier in the budget cycle than usual.
Louth said what was challenging now is the “funding doesn’t allow everything on the shopping list, and the personnel numbers in the armed forces don’t allow them to man the equipment they are already committed to, so something will have to give.” (Source: Defense News)
29 Nov 19. NATO Seeks to Head Off Budget Row Saying Spending is Rising. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that European allies and Canada are spending even more than previously thought on defense, just days before U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to demand once more that other leaders boost their military budgets. Trump meets with his NATO counterparts in London on Dec. 3-4. The previous two NATO summits were dominated by his allegations that other allies are not pulling their weight. While they do not owe the United States any money, Washington does spend more on defense than all its allies combined.
In what appears to be a pre-emptive political strike, Stoltenberg said that European allies and Canada are now projected to increase spending on their national military budgets by around $130bn between 2016 and 2020. Previously, the figure was forecast to be “more than $100bn.”
“The trend is up. Year by year we are increasing, and year by year we are adding billions to our defense spending,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels, where the 29-member trans-Atlantic military alliance has a new bn-dollar headquarters.
NATO countries agreed in 2014 to halt the defense spending cuts they introduced after the Cold War and boost their budgets in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to unilaterally annex the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine. The aim was for each ally to be spending at least 2% of their GDP on defense by 2024. Stoltenberg said that Bulgaria has now joined a list of nine member countries that respect that target.
It’s the third day in a row that NATO has announced some new budget or defense measure likely to please Trump. On Wednesday, Stoltenberg unveiled a new contract for an upgrade of the alliance’s aging fleet of U.S.-made surveillance planes worth $1bn.
Then on Thursday, he said that Washington will in future pay less into NATO’s common budget for running its headquarters and other operations. That budget is worth about $2bn. Germany and Washington will from next year each pay 16% — a 6% bonus for the U.S.
Germany, often a target of Trump’s ire, is forecast to reach just 1.5% of GDP by 2024 but does intend to move to 2% by around 2031. Indeed, Berlin’s hike in contributions to its national defense budget accounts for around 20% of the $130bn increase trumpeted by Stoltenberg.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said he hopes NATO leaders can move beyond the seemingly endless spending debate next week and focus on important strategic interests, like who the alliance’s adversaries are, how to cope with an unpredictable member like Turkey and improve ties with Russia. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Voice of America News)
03 Dec 19. Trump claims credit for Nato spending boost US president tweets as he heads to London for summit of transatlantic alliance. Donald Trump suggested that his pressure campaign has spurred Nato allies to boost defence spending, in a tweet sent as he flew to London to attend the 70th anniversary summit of the transatlantic alliance. “In the 3 decades before my election, NATO spending declined by two-thirds, and only 3 other NATO members were meeting their financial obligations,” the US president posted from Air Force One. “Since I took office, the number of NATO allies fulfilling their obligations more than DOUBLED, and NATO spending increased by $130B!” Mr Trump has consistently slammed Nato allies for not spending more on defence, in attacks that have complicated relations with the other 28 members. European allies are hoping that he will not use the London summit to repeat the aggressive approach he took at the 2018 Nato summit in Brussels, when he stunned participants with direct attacks on Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.
His abdication of America’s traditional leadership role could not come at a more critical moment Joe Biden, former US vice-president and Democratic presidential contender While Mr Trump touted the lift in the number of Nato nations that have met a previously agreed pledge to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence by 2024, some members worry that he will lash out during the two-day summit, particularly since his visit comes as the impeachment inquiry moves into a higher gear in Washington. The House intelligence committee will on Monday give members the Ukrainegate report that investigators compiled after dramatic public hearings on Capitol Hill. The judiciary committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday — the final day of the Nato summit — to help determine if the evidence rises to the constitutional standard for impeachment of “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanours”.
As Mr Trump was flying across the Atlantic, Joe Biden, the former vice-president and Democratic presidential contender, said US leadership had been the “backbone” of Nato “until President Trump”. “His abdication of America’s traditional leadership role could not come at a more critical moment for the alliance. Russia continues to intimidate our European allies, undermine transatlantic unity, take aggressive actions against countries like Ukraine and interfere in the democratic processes of Nato member states,” Mr Biden said. Heather Conley, a European foreign policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that while Mr Trump had helped to force Nato to spend more, his approach had hurt the alliance. Recommended EU defence Merkel warns Europe cannot defend itself without Nato “President Trump’s laser-like focus on Nato’s defence spending has been an important catalyst for Nato countries to move toward and explain how they will reach their 2024 commitment,” Ms Conley said. “Unfortunately, it took some very damaging public comments by President Trump to move the alliance in the right direction.” But Ms Conley added that Mr Trump’s tweet on Monday was “good news” for the summit because it suggested that the US president “now views Nato’s increased defence spending as ‘his’ foreign policy success”. (Source: FT.com)
03 Dec 19. Turkey to oppose NATO plan if it fails to recognise terrorism threats – Erdogan. Turkey will oppose NATO’s plan for the defence of Baltic countries if the alliance does not recognise groups that Turkey deems terrorists, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, ahead of a NATO alliance summit in London.
Relations between Turkey and its NATO allies have been strained over a host of issues, ranging from Ankara’s decision to procure Russian air defence systems to Syria policy. Several NATO members condemned Turkey’s decision to launch an offensive into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia.
Ankara has refused to back a NATO defence plan for the Baltics and Poland until it receives more support for its battle with the YPG, which it views as a terrorist organisation.
Ahead of his departure from Ankara for the NATO summit, Erdogan said he had spoken to Polish President Andrzej Duda on the phone on Monday and had agreed to meet with him and leaders of Baltic countries in London to discuss the issue.
“With pleasure, we can come together and discuss these issues there as well,” he said. “But if our friends at NATO do not recognise as terrorist organisations those we consider terrorist organisations … we will stand against any step that will be taken there.”
A Turkish security source said on Monday that Turkey is not “blackmailing” NATO with its rejection of the plans and that it has full veto rights within the alliance.
Turkey, France, Germany and the United Kingdom are expected to hold a separate meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit. Erdogan said they would mainly discuss Turkish plans to establish a safe zone in northeast Syria, which has until now been met with criticism from Ankara’s European allies.
Separately, Turkey has been at odds with Greece and Cyprus over ownership of offshore natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Erdogan said he will also meet with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in London. (Source: Reuters)
29 Nov 19. NATO praises Europe defence spending boost as summit looms. European members of NATO have increased their defence spending for four years in a row, secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said on 29 November, ahead of next week’s summit.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused Washington’s allies of failing to pay their fair share, straining ties in the alliance as it celebrates its 70th birthday.
Officials are worried that Trump’s frustration – combined with doubts about the direction of the alliance expressed by France’s President Emmanuel Macron – will overshadow next week’s summit. So NATO has coordinated a week of spending announcements in Brussels to encourage a display of unity in London.
On 29 November, Stoltenberg said European countries and Canada would increase defence spending by 4.6% in 2019, stressing that they would have spent a combined $130bn between 2016 and the end of next year.
This would keep the countries on course to spend two percent of their GDP on defence by 2024. But only nine countries have hit the target so far, and Germany admits it will not do so.
‘President Trump is right about the importance of the European allies and Canada spending more and he has conveyed that message very clearly to allies several times,’ Stoltenberg told reporters.
‘But European allies and Canada should not invest in defence to please President Trump. They should invest in defence because we are facing new challenges, our security environment has become more dangerous.’
Stoltenberg said the NATO members apart from the US had mainly been cutting defence budgets before 2014, when they signed up to a pledge to ‘move towards’ the two percent of GDP target by 2024.
But Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted this week that Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse and a frequent target of Trump’s ire, will not hit the goal until ‘the early 2030s’.
France’s Macron outraged the allies this month by demanding a new strategy that focused more on terrorism and less on deterring Russia, complaining that NATO was experiencing ‘brain death’.
Stoltenberg, meanwhile, is attempting to mollify Trump ahead of the summit by talking up a billion-dollar contact with US manufacturer Boeing to upgrade NATO reconnaissance planes.
And the allies have agreed to lower the cap on US support for NATO’s relatively small $2.5bn operating budget, meaning Germany and other Europeans – but not France – pay a bigger share. The 29 NATO leaders will gather in Watford near London on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. (Source: Shephard)
29 Nov 19. Britain’s defense ties to the EU are still up in the air post-Brexit. The Dutch chief of defense says it would be “stupid” if the UK did not continue to be closely involved in EU-funded defense projects even when it is no longer a member of the bloc. But British future involvement in EU-led initiatives such as the European Defence Fund and PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) remains unclear, with EU member states yet to decide on a legal framework for third-party participation.
With Brexit, the UK will technically become an outsider to the European Union’s push for greater defense autonomy. That means London will no longer take part in EU decision-making or operational entities, and any British contribution to an EU operation will be subject to the rules that apply to third countries.
Adm. Rob Bauer, chief of defense in The Netherlands, told Defense News he believes it is “imperative” that the UK remains “very closely” involved in such projects.
Speaking at the sidelines of the annual European Defence Agency conference in Brussels on Thursday, Bauer said, “Remember, from a military point of view, the UK, even after Brexit, will still be a member of NATO and part of Europe. It is leaving the EU, not Europe. If the focus in Europe is on security then the UK should be part of that. To do otherwise would be stupid.”
The PESCO initiative aims to develop and deploy forces at the EU level. Nearly 50 projects have been unveiled to date with the aim of pushing member states to work more closely together in the area of security and defense.
So far, €13bn has been allocated to the EDF which seeks to promote cross-border collaboration on defense research and technology projects, plus another €6.5bn in the pipeline to upgrade roads, bridges, rail lines, ports and airports for military mobility, and €16bn on space programs.
Formal rules on third-party access to PESCO projects and the EDF are still being decided. Discussions are continuing at EU member state level, and no final decision is expected until the UK formally exits the EU, officials here said. London’s departure has been delayed for the third time until Jan. 31, 2020.
Bauer said, “I have spoken to the Brits about this and they have told me how difficult these discussions have been and continue to be. It is clear that agreement on access is certainly not a done deal.”
“But we need to be pragmatic about this and continue to work together in the future.”
His comments were broadly echoed by Lieutenant General Franz Leitgeb, Austria’s Military Representative to the EU and NATO, another attendee at the EDA summit who told Defense News, “After Brexit, the UK will have third-party status, so third-party partnership rules will apply regarding its contribution to and participation in EU-funded projects like PESCO.
“We still need to decide what precisely this means in the UK case but, whatever transpires, the UK has to realise this is a two-way street. That means that if the UK and its defense industry is to have access to EU-funded schemes and projects it has to contribute to these.”
“Whatever happens we’re going to need the current close relations on defense between the two sides to continue.”
Further comment came from Benedikt Zimmer, state secretary at the German defense ministry, who took part in a session on PESCO and the EDF and said, “The more open cooperation is after Brexit, the better.”
In a keynote address, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, warned that UK involvement in EU defense and security would only become clearer once discussions start, probably at the start of 2020, on a political agreement between the two sides.
Barnier told the packed audience, comprising senior military officials and personnel, that reaching agreement will be an “enormous challenge,” adding, “I do not want to interfere in the current UK election campaign but I am sure the Brits will still have an appetite for continued cooperation in the defense field. But, even so, they have to realize it will no longer be business as normal. I hope that UK defense companies, providing the rules are met, will still participate in European defense. We have the tools to make it happen but we still need to find a new framework for future cooperation.”
More than 50 non-EU states have participated in Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations since its first mission in 2003, including four regional powers – namely Turkey, Russia, Brazil and South Africa.
The official British position on security and defense is ambitious about the possible scope of the UK-EU relationship post-Brexit, talking about a “deep and special partnership” that would go “beyond existing third country arrangements.”
However, little in the recent past suggests the UK would seek much CSDP involvement once no longer a member: the UK has not been the most enthusiastic supporter of the EU’s defense agenda thus far, and it’s questionable if this would change after Brexit. (Source: Defense News)
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