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08 Jan 20. EDA deploys first civilian, fixed-wing aeromedical evacuation services. On 1 January 2020, EDA commenced its first deployment of civilian, fixed-wing Aeromedical Evacuation (AIRMEDEVAC) services to support Belgian Armed Forces operations in Niger in Africa. Belgian forces are active in several areas throughout Africa, including: Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. In Niger, they are delivering training and operational advice to the Forces Armée Nigériennes (FANER) and operate in austere conditions with only limited medical support facilities.
To provide appropriate medical oversight, the deployment provides an aircraft based, primary life support capability, available 24/7 throughout the designated operational theatre, to move injured personnel from the main Damage Control Surgery Unit in the city of Maradi to definitive care facilities in neighbouring Gao, Chad or, in extremis, for repatriation to Europe.
EDA is no stranger to providing direct support to operations and maintains an entire unit dedicated to operational support, training and exercises. The niche services provided by the Agency, such as those within the EU SatCom Market, offer an attractive and easily accessible turn-key capability to many Member States’ planners. In national and CSDP operations and missions, the provision of certain key capabilities can be challenging. Typically operations or missions are deployed on short notice, in remote areas. In many cases, capabilities are not available and outsourcing is necessary to provide services from private companies. Experience has shown that contracting on the spot under time pressure is not a cost-effective solution. Having in place ready-to-use arrangements is very beneficial in order to reduce the administrative burden and achieve economies of scale.
In 2019, EDA concluded several framework contracts with international aeromedical providers to cover fixed and rotary wing AIRMEDEVAC services in Africa and Europe. The project’s objective was the provision of in-theatre AIRMEDEVAC services to evacuate patients from the point of injury to an initial Medical Treatment Facility (Forward AIRMEDEVAC normally conducted by rotary wing platforms) or fixed-wing transfer between in-theatre Medical Treatment Facilities (Tactical AIRMEDEVAC) to be used in frame of national and/or international defence and/or security operations. The project is designed around military technical requirements developed by EU Military Staff and Member States experts and endorsed by the EU Military Committee.
The EDA AIRMEDEVAC contracts will run until January 2023 for a maximum value of 120m Euro. The project currently involves four participating Member States (AT, BE, DE and NL) but is also attracting interest from other EU agencies and bodies and look set to grow with further work in hand to examine the provision rotary wing Forward AIRMEDEVAC services later in the year.
The Belgian Defence Staff offered their own comment on the new capability: “This type of contractual vector offers ‘ready-to-use’ solutions allowing quick response to operational needs. EDA is advantageously taking care of procurement process, contracting, invoicing, etc. whilst the customer still keeps the right to take part in the evaluation of tenders by each reopening of competition and also remains responsible for controlling the performance of the contract once signed. The process with EDA is highly professional and quick, offering time and budget savings”.
Aside from direct support to operations, the unit also supports fixed, rotary and unmanned training and exercise activities. Since 2009, it has developed a wide portfolio of advanced tactics courses for European helicopter crews, employing simulator based and live training events covering hot and cold weather operations, both day and night, including weapon drops and support to special forces. Similarly, the Agency continues to support fixed-wing air transport operations under the banner of the European Air Transport Force (EATF) Programme, including capacity building activities for specific fleets (C-295, C-130) and initial training of Medium Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) drone pilots and operators. (Source: EDA)
16 Dec 19. Defence expenditure up but spending in key areas falling short, finds EDA report. The European Defence Agency has today published its annual Defence Data report for the year 2018, detailing spending by the 27 EDA Member States. Total defence expenditure stands at €223bn, representing a 3% increase on 2017 and marks the fifth consecutive year of increased defence spending. EDA’s report also finds that Member States are not meeting spending commitments in key areas.
Total defence expenditure returns to pre-financial crisis levels
The year’s report finds that overall defence spending by the 27 EDA Member States has almost returned to pre-financial crisis levels, €225bn in 2007 compared to €223.4bn in 2018. This level of spending represents 1.4% of GDP and 3.1% of total government expenditure. Although overall spending fell by 11% between 2007 and 2013, since 2014 Member States defence expenditure is increasing in line with economic growth.
“It is extremely positive that defence budgets have almost fully returned to pre-financial crisis levels, with 2018 marking the fifth consecutive year of increased spending. Our report is evidence that Member States have put a renewed impetus into defence spending after suffering heavily in the years following the financial crisis. Nevertheless, EDA’s findings do paint a mixed picture in terms of European collaborative defence, with a worrying fall in both equipment procurement and R&T spending in a European context. While European collaborative defence R&T still remains significantly below 2008 levels, it is encouraging that the value and number of ad-hoc R&T projects under EDA is increasing”, Jorge Domecq, EDA’s Chief Executive, commented.
Shortfalls on collective spending commitments
Despite the rise in total defence expenditure, spending on fulfilling collective benchmarks has failed to keep pace. Spending on areas where collective benchmarks have been agreed namely: Defence Investment; Defence Research and Technology; European Collaborative Defence Equipment Procurement; and European Collaborative Defence R&T all still remain below 2008 levels. EDA’s report provides detailed analysis of how current spending relates to these four collective benchmarks agreed at the EDA Steering Board in 2007, as follows:
- €44.5bn on Defence Investment (procurement of new equipment and R&D), representing 19.9% of Total Defence Expenditure against a collective benchmark of 20%;
- €6.4bn on European Collaborative Defence Equipment Procurement, representing 17.8% of Total Defence Equipment Procurement against a collective benchmark of 35%;
- €2.1bn on Defence Research and Technology, totalling 0.9% of Total Defence Expenditure against a collective benchmark of 2%; and,
- €153m on European Collaborative Defence R&T, totalling 7.3% of Total Defence R&T against a collective benchmark of 20%.
However, among the 27 EDA Member States some disparities in achieving these benchmarks can be observed:
- 14 Member States spent 20% or more of their defence budget on investment in 2018, up from 7 states in 2014;
- 21 Member States now dedicate more than 10% of defence budget on investments;
- 8 Member States combined account for 96% of total defence research and technology spending, with the largest four accounting for 85%.
EDA collects defence data on an annual basis, and has done so since 2006, in line with the Agency’s ministerial Steering Board decision of November 2005. The Ministries of Defence of the Agency’s 27 Member States (all EU Member States except Denmark) provide the data. EDA acts as the custodian of the data and publishes the aggregated figures in its booklets.
All data is collated (“Total incorporates 27 EDA Member States”), and it has been rounded. Defence expenditure figures are provided in constant 2018 prices in order to take inflation into account and allow for a comparison across years. (Source: EDA)
14 Jan 20. NATO Nations Cannot Be Complacent, Milley Says. NATO nations cannot afford to become complacent, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said during a break in his first alliance Military Committee meeting in Brussels. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley said people need to remember why NATO began in 1949.
The defensive alliance was put in place to prevent the outbreak of great power war, and that’s still a valid task, the chairman said. “Sometimes, people can become complacent and assume that peace is the state of nature,” he added. “Peace doesn’t happen by accident: It happens because of effort, resources, commitment, allies banding together … to maintain a strong, cohesive alliance.”
This alliance is important. … It’s important to Europe, it’s important in the United States and we should not become complacent about it.”
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The chairman said it has been obvious for a long time that Russia wants to divide NATO and make it weaker, if not destroy it. “That would be to their advantage,” he said. “It’s to the disadvantage of Europe and the United States if NATO would just collapse and fall apart.”
It’s worth noting that there were two big periods of continental peace in Europe before NATO, Milley said. “One was following the Treaty of Westphalia [in 1648)] after the 30 Years War, where Europe tore itself apart,” he said.
The great power peace following it lasted about 100 years. Great power wars returned with the Napoleonic wars that ended in 1815, Milley pointed out. The countries of Europe put in place a balance of power so no great power fought another great power, he explained. “That lasts 100 years until 1914, and it breaks down,” he said.
The world faced great power wars through World Wars I and II, slaughtering between 145 million and 155 million people around the world, the chairman said.
“NATO was put in place, and the structures of the international order were put in place, at the end of World War II to prevent a great power war,” he said. “They weren’t put in place to prevent terrorism. They weren’t put in place to prevent Vietnam or Korea. They were put in place [to prevent] that great power war.”
The chiefs of defense spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Milley said the NATO leader spoke about the situation in the Middle East and his conversation with President Donald J. Trump about increasing NATO support to the training mission in Iraq. The chairman said he saw support from his counterparts for the alliance doing more in the Middle East.
The NATO Military Committee has to come up with capabilities that would be needed, the general said. “I think you’ve got to look at what capabilities nations can provide,” he added. “So, one for example, kind of an obvious one, would be maybe some ballistic missile defense support, because there are NATO allied troops at these various camps that just took Iranian ballistic missiles. So that’s a possibility.”
He said he also can see providing logistics support, and possibly additional military training teams, to increase the volume and capacity of the Iraqi security forces. “Right now, the NATO mission in Iraq is somewhere around 500 guys,” Milley said. “It’s a noncombat train, advise, assist role … building [Iraqi] capacity to secure themselves. The United States still thinks, and NATO still thinks, that’s a valid mission and will continue that mission. We have no intention of not continuing that mission.”
NATO is a force for peace, Milley said.
“This alliance is important,” he said. “It’s important to Europe, it’s important in the United States and we should not become complacent about it. And things like defense spending and working together and interoperability and maintaining commitments to each other is important for preventing a great power war and in order to maintain peace and stability.” (Source: US DoD)
13 Jan 20. Poland takes over NATO VJTF lead. On 1 January 2020 the Polish Army took over the lead of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) from Germany. The core of the VJTF in 2020 will be Poland’s 21st Podhale Rifles Brigade, supported by units from Poland’s 12th Mechanized Division, the 3rd Transport Aviation Wing, Military Police, as well as logistics and Counter-Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear specialists. Around 6,000 soldiers will serve on the Spearhead Force, including around 3,000 from Poland. Units from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Turkey and the UK will also serve on the force, with the US ready to provide airpower and other combat support.
As part of the NATO’s 40,000-strong NATO Response Force, the VJTF is made up of land, air, maritime and special forces. Exercise Trident Jupiter 19, which took place in November 2019, certified the forces and commands for the 2020 NATO Response Force.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, said: ‘I thank Poland for leading NATO’s high readiness forces this year. The VJTF, our Spearhead Force, is a substantial contribution to our collective defence and a strong display of Poland’s capabilities.
‘This force is available to move immediately to defend any Ally against any threat. At a time of unprecedented security challenges, it is more important than ever.’ (Source: Shephard)
12 Jan 20. Ben Wallace interview: We can’t rely on US. The defence secretary says it is important for Britain’s armed forces to ‘diversify’ in the Trump era, while online encryption presents a host of new threats
Britain must prepare to fight wars without America, the defence secretary has warned, amid concerns that President Donald Trump will pursue an ever more isolationist foreign policy.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Ben Wallace admitted that the prospect of America withdrawing from the world “keeps me awake at night”.
He said the government needed to rethink military assumptions, in place since 2010, that the UK would always be fighting alongside the Americans — and should use the upcoming defence review to buy new kit to ensure that the armed forces do not have to rely on US air cover and spy planes in future conflicts.
“I worry if the United States withdraws from its leadership around the world,” he said. “That would be bad for the world and bad for us. We plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
In the most pointed comments by a minister about the Trump administration, Wallace said: “Over the last year we’ve had the US pullout from Syria, the statement by Donald Trump on Iraq where he said Nato should take over and do more in the Middle East. The assumptions of 2010 that we were always going to be part of a US coalition is really just not where we are going to be.
“We are very dependent on American air cover and American intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. We need to diversify our assets.”
With Britain about to embark on a sweeping review of foreign policy, defence and security, Wallace has concerns that recent events in the Middle East mean the UK needs to reconfigure its armed forces.
Wallace says the defence review must give British forces the ability to defend themselves and detect threats that are currently more often the preserve of US spy planes.
“Regardless of what the US does,” he says, Britain, like France and Germany, will remain a target for Islamist terrorists from Isis and al-Qaeda. “It means we are going to have to make decisions that allow us to stand with a range of allies, the Five Eyes [intelligence partnership with America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand] and our European allies where our interests converge.”
The defence secretary is surprisingly outspoken about how aggressive the Trump administration has been about Huawei, the controversial Chinese telecoms company angling for a role in Britain’s 5G phone network.
Wallace says Trump, his national security adviser and his defence secretary have all threatened to cut off some intelligence to the UK if the National Security Council gives Huawei a green light.
“They have repeatedly said that. They have been clear about that: President Trump, the national security adviser. The defence secretary said it personally to me directly when we met at Nato. It’s not a secret. They have been consistent. Those things will be taken into account when the government collectively decides to make a decision on it.” He adds: “Friends and enemies that are independent make you choose.”
Wallace, a former security minister who signed off on missions against terrorists, says he thinks the Iran nuclear deal still “has life in it”. But he backs America on the assassination of the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and says he “did not jump up and down” because the UK was not told about it in advance.
“The intelligence information I have seen, under the right to defend yourself against an imminent threat, that would have been met.”
Wallace dismisses concerns that the armed forces will end the review much smaller but makes clear they will have to change to “reflect the 21st century”.
That could mean the army replacing infantry soldiers with “1,000 hackers” or training more specialists with skills once seen as the preserve of the special forces. “How we deliver better defence cannot be dominated by sentimentality,” he says. “We have to really embrace the new technology.”
He hopes the review will mean post-Brexit Britain is more proactive in advancing its interests using aid and diplomacy as well as the military: “President Putin [of Russia], with an economy half the size of ours, is proactive. The French are proactive in a way we want to be again. I know Boris does.”
So what else keeps him awake at night? Up there with proactive enemies and allies of indeterminate reliability, Wallace places Facebook’s insistence on encrypting messages. “That will add to the ability of everyone from paedophiles to terrorists to spread their evil and increase their capabilities,” he said. “That keeps me awake at night. That’s massive.”
The other uncertainty is Boris Johnson’s reshuffle next month. Wallace wants to stay where he is: “I would love to finish that piece of work. I’m a great believer in security delivered through soft power and the crunchy end.”
He had better hope that the prime minister is a more reliable ally than Trump. (Source: The Sunday Times)
12 Jan 20. MI5 head shrugs off risk to intelligence sharing from Huawei links. UK set to decide on allowing Chinese equipment into 5G network in face of US lobbying. Washington and Beijing are both putting pressure on London over the role of Huawei in the UK’s 5G network. Andrew Parker, head of MI5, says he has “no reason to think” that the UK’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the US would be hit if Britain adopted Huawei technology in its 5G mobile phone network, as a key decision on the issue looms. Sir Andrew’s comments will increase expectations in UK government and industry circles that the Chinese company’s equipment will be permitted for use in some “non-core” parts of the network. Boris Johnson’s government will on Monday face last-minute lobbying from Washington to exclude Huawei from the country’s 5G network, as the prime minister prepares to make a decision — expected this month — with huge geopolitical and economic consequences. Washington has warned that if Chinese technology is used by the UK then intelligence sharing could be undermined. But blocking Huawei would be costly to the telecoms sector and deal a heavy blow to the rollout of the new data technology in Britain. Beijing has also been putting pressure on Mr Johnson not to jeopardise the UK-China relationship and the decision will be seen as a key indicator of how the prime minister intends to position Britain in a post-Brexit world. A US delegation comprising representatives from the National Economic Council and National Security Agency will arrive in London for a last-minute lobbying effort with UK officials on Monday. But in an interview with the FT, Sir Andrew, who is stepping down as director-general of MI5 in April, said the links in the “five eyes” intelligence partnership between Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were “the strongest they’ve been”. He said the US-UK partnership was “very close and trusted”, adding: “It is, of course, of great importance to us. And, I dare say, to the US too, though that’s for them to say.
When asked specifically whether he thought that the UK would lose out on intelligence relationships if the government decided to go ahead with Huawei, he said he did not think this was a danger. “I’ve no reason today to think that,” he said. Sir Andrew acknowledged that security concerns alone should not always “dominate and dictate” a decision, and that Mr Johnson and his national security council had been left with a difficult decision because there were so few suppliers in the market. All four mobile networks in Britain have now launched 5G with Vodafone, BT, EE and Three all using the Chinese company’s equipment at the so-called non-core level — such as the antennas and base stations used on masts and rooftops — but not in the “core” network operations where customer details are held and calls are routed. “Perhaps the thing that needs more focus and more discussion is how do we get to a future where there’s a wider range of competition and a wider range of sovereign choices than defaulting to a yes or no about Chinese technology,” Sir Andrew said. British government officials admit that blocking Huawei now would deal a blow to consumers, noting that Huawei was being used because its equipment was seen as good value. In spite of US pressure, some inside the UK government and within the telecoms industry expect Mr Johnson to arrive at a similar decision to the one taken by Theresa May’s national security council in April 2019, when ministers agreed to allow Huawei to build some “non-core” parts of the network. A subsequent decision to review the issue — following pressure from the Trump administration — has created great uncertainty in the industry. Downing Street insiders stress that no decision has been taken and that the ministers making the decision this month — including Mr Johnson — were “a new cast” who were looking at the evidence afresh. Only Sajid Javid, now chancellor but then home secretary, remains of the ministers on Mrs May’s NSC in April 2019. (Source: FT.com)
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