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06 Aug 20. Germany floats a new NATO spending yardstick: 10 percent. German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is pushing for a new yardstick to measure Berlin’s contributions to NATO, suggesting the country could shoulder 10 percent of alliance requirements.
The figure is meant to reflect the share of NATO’s total “planning targets,” which are tabulated periodically, a defense ministry spokesman told Defense News. Such math would be able to more accurately capture Germany’s efforts across the categories “cash, capabilities and commitments” than the current defense-spending objective of 2 percent of GDP, according to the spokesman.
Kramp-Karrenbauer has tried to sink the 2-percent target for some time, buoyed by the expected economic aftershocks of the coronavirus crisis. With global economies taking a major hit, any objectives tied to national economic output are too volatile to express members’ actual utility to the alliance, her argument goes.
Defense officials outlined their thinking in a written response to members of the FDP party last month, as reported by the TAZ newspaper here. A follow-up request by the far-left Die Linke failed to bring clarity, however, about exactly how much money the defense ministry’s vision would translate into, the paper reported.
Germany’s defense spending was almost $50bn in 2019, following consecutive years of sizable increases. The figure amounts to roughly 1.3 percent of GDP, possibly hitting 1.6 percent once the post-pandemic economic damage has fully set in.
Berlin distance from the official NATO goal has been a thorn in trans-Atlantic relations for years. Most recently, U.S. President Donald Trump justified the planned withdrawal of almost U.S. 10,000 troops from Germany as a means to punish the country.
Proponents of the 2-percent target have praised the yardstick for its unforgiving impartiality. No other measure is so immune to bartering and interpretation, the thinking goes.
So far, it appears that defense officials in Berlin are hard-pressed to answer to that argument, acknowledging that because NATO planning targets extend so far into the future, matching the process up with concrete numbers would be a squishy endeavor. (Source: Defense News)
06 Aug 20. Awash in technology hook-ups, Team Tempest longs for steady partners. What few headlines were generated by the recent virtual Farnborough International Air Show centered on Britain’s next-generation Tempest fighter and the efforts to build a business case for the program.
The real Farnborough air show may have fallen victim to COVID-19, but with the Tempest team scheduled to deliver an outline business case for the next stage of the program to the government later this year the event provided a platform stress the importance of the project to jobs, the technology base and sustainment of operational sovereignty here.
Britain launched the effort to look at developing the technologies required to build a sixth-generation combat jet two years ago under the name of Team Tempest, with BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce partnering with the Ministry of Defence in the effort.
Since then Sweden and Italy have also been recruited to study potential involvement in future combat air systems development and the Tempest program itself.
Neither nation has committed itself yet, though, and a drive also continues to find other potential partners.
Opening the virtual show, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace flagged the country’s interest in securing the signatures of other nations in development of a future combat aircraft.
“The U.K. is keen to see more international partners join us. … There is room for a broad range of other partnerships,” Wallace said.
Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo said in a show webcast a number of countries had shown an interest in the program.
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“Time remains for other partners to join Tempest. You have seen other nations express an interest and we are extremely positive for the future,” Profumo said.
Japan, India and Saudi Arabia are among countries that have previously been mentioned as potential partners.
It is also too soon to rule out the possibility of a realignment of some description with the rival Franco-German-Spanish future combat air program, said Doug Barrie, the senior air analyst at the International Institute of Strategic Studies think tank in London.
“I think there’s still a considerable period to go where alignments could change – with the possibility members could join or leave,” he said.
Howard Wheeldon, of consultants Wheeldon Strategic Advisory, sees no chance of the two programs merging but reckons national line-ups could change.
“I would rule out any thought of a merger between the two European projects, although I would never rule out the possibility of Germany jumping ship,” he said.
With or without additional partners, always assuming Swedish and Italian Governments sign up for some sort of deal, Wheeldon reckons the British will stick with Tempest.
“While the ideal situation would be an increase in the number of Team Tempest partner nations, such is the importance now being placed on future combat air systems and Team Tempest by the government I take the view that even if no other partners arrive the U.K. will not walk away from Tempest,” he said.
For the moment, though, attention is focused on Team Tempest and the progress being made with its current would-be partners to study a potential tie-up around development of future combat air systems for the British and Italian operated Typhoon and Saab Gripen E combat jets and, ultimately, the building of the sixth-generation Tempest to be ready sometime between 2035 and 2040.
The British have over 60 combat air technology demonstrations underway co-funded by the government and industry.
Talks between the industrial partners of Britain, Italy and Sweden,which had previously been on a bilateral basis, have now been ratcheted up to trilateral discussions, strengthening potential research and development collaborations.
“We’ve made good progress with Saab and Leonardo in identifying shared goals and expertise and through this new framework, we can build on this collaboration to unlock the huge potential across our three nations,” said BAE CEO Charles Woodburn.
The three national industries comprise BAE, Leonardo UK, Rolls Royce and MBDA UK from Britain; Leonardo, Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italia from Italy; and Sweden’s Saab and GKN Aerospace Sweden.
Additionally, Saab also used the virtual show to announce it was investing £50m in the creation of a future combat air system hub and other activities in the U.K.
The location and timing of the investment have not yet been declared by Saab but there is talk here that the center could be close to BAE’s combat jet operations in northwest England.
Saab CEO Micael Johansson said the move signaled the company’s commitment to combat air development and the growth of its interests in the U.K.
Tempest itself didn’t rate a mention in the Saab statement, with the company only referring to future combat air system development work.
“Saab took the decision to create a new future combat air system centre so that we can further develop the close working relationship with the other future combat air system industrial partners and the U.K. MoD. This emphasizes the importance of both future combat air systems and the U.K. to Saab’s future,” said Johansson.
The Tempest industrial effort has also been further broadened with the signing up of a clutch of systems suppliers.
Bombardier in Northern Ireland, GKN, Martin Baker and Qinetiq, alongside the U.K. arms of Collins Aerospace, GE Aviation and Thales have signed up to collaborate on the demonstration program.
So far only Collins Aerospace Systems has declared its hand on the nature of the work they will be undertaking. The company said it had been awarded a contract by BAE to provide advanced actuation capabilities, including for use on Tempest.
Separately, GKN Aerospace in Sweden revealed July 22 it is participating in a future fighter engine feasibility study along with Rolls-Royce and Avio Aero of Italy.
Richard Aboulafia, vice president at the Teal Group, said progress signing up the systems suppliers was a significant move.
“My big take away from virtual Farnborough is that Tempest increasingly looks like a real program, with a very heavy level of involvement from subcontractors, who of course need to start developing systems,” said Aboulafia.
Despite the fact COVID-19 has pretty much sucked the life out of the U.K.’s finances for now, the feeling among analysts is that Tempest will survive a potentially perfect storm of severe defense budget restrictions and an integrated defense, security and foreign policy review ordered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and due to report next year.
In an opinion piece for the Sunday Telegraph July 26 Defense Secretary Wallace said the Government would be “pivoting away” from traditional equipment capabilities with the armed forces reshaped to operate “much more in the newest domains of space, cyber and sub-sea.”
But he also made the point that a sharper technological edge and a relentless focus on innovation was required to outmaneuver adversaries. The policy would unlock opportunities in jobs, skills and in exports, he said.
Wheeldon said that sort of language was right out of the Tempest playbook.
“The government has made it abundantly clear that it views development of new technologies as being the absolute priority for the U.K. Tempest is not only a test case of that commitment but is also its flagship. Bottom line is my belief that the government is even more behind the program than it was two years ago.,” said Wheeldon.
“My sense is that despite the expectation of capability, manning and base cuts emerging from the integrated review process the government will continue to back major development projects such as Team Tempest,” he said.
IISS’s Barrie reckons that without the need yet for massive spending on the program Tempest and future combat air developments could ride out the COVID-19 storm, and maybe even benefit.
“So far the program looks secure-ish, even with the pending outcome of the Integrated Review, given that the near-term levels of investment are manageable. There is also the argument that with the commercial aerospace sector being battered by the pandemic, any support the government could provide to the wider sector would be welcome – the future combat air system provides such a vehicle,” he said.
Aboulafia reckons that while there may be a risk of delay it’s unlikely the economic impact of COVID-19 on Tempest will be significant.
“These programs are certainly at risk of being delayed, but the bulk of the heavy spending bill is due well after the pandemic recovery period, so it’s unlikely that this crisis will force any tough decisions. And the whole point of Tempest of course is to avoid getting involved with a program led by France,” he said.
Paul Everitt, the CEO of the ADS industry lobby organization, said the future combat air effort fitted the government’s plans to boost the manufacturing economy to a tee.
“The Tempest program is the government’s prosperity agenda in action,” said Everitt.
One of the key issues yet to be announced by the British is whether they see Tempest as piloted or optionally piloted.
Wallace seemed to signal his preference for an optionally piloted machine when he told virtual-Farnborough viewers that while ninety percent of combat jets are crewed today, he expects a “major reversal of these proportions by 2040.”
In a report on Britain’s combat air choices released late July, Royal United Services Institute analyst Justin Bronk said the decision was of huge importance for Tempest.
“The decision of whether or not to develop a piloted or optionally piloted solution as part of Tempest will have critical implications for the nature, cost implications and minimum viable scale of the program,” he said.
“While it remains an operating assumption for many, the outcome of the Team Tempest next-generation combat air development program is not necessarily going to involve a new (optionally) piloted fast jet fleet to directly replace Typhoon. If that ambition is the choice made, it will have major budget implications for an already stretched combat air equipment program between 2024 and 2040,” said the analyst.
Bronk says in the report that a decision to go for a piloted Tempest only could have ramifications elsewhere in Britain’s combat jet force.
“Barring a massive increase in overall defense spending, significant F-35 purchases beyond 2024 remain financially incompatible with a full-scale piloted vehicle-centric Tempest program to replace Typhoon, even if some additional combat air funding can be found,” Bronk warned.
The British have pledged to buy 48 F-34Bs by 2024 out of a total commitment for 138 aircraft. (Source: Defense News)
05 Aug 20. UK facilities for American F-35 jets are delayed and over budget. The U.S. Air Force is on track to begin permanently basing its F-35 jets abroad next year, with RAF Lakenheath in England set to become the service’s first international F-35 base. But construction on new hangars and facilities necessary for supporting the high-tech stealth jet have gone over budget and over schedule, and many buildings won’t be ready when the first planes arrive in November 2021.
On average, construction projects associated with the F-35 beddown at Lakenheath are about 25 percent over the initial $480m budget estimated in 2015, said Lt. Col. Clinton Warner, who leads the 48th Fighter Wing’s F-35 program integration office.
“The overall trend has been projects are late and also over budget,” he told Defense News during a July interview. “A lot of the assumptions that were made back in 2015 weren’t necessarily valid. There’s been cost growth that was outside of the planning assumptions that were made back in 2015.”
The cost increase is not the only problem. As RAF Lakenheath’s first F-35 squadron stands up, neither the hangars planned to house the jets nor the headquarters building used for planning operations and maintenance will be ready, Warner said. A training simulator building will also be late.
Despite the delays, the Air Force still plans to move forward with the beddown of the jet. Warner said the service is exploring options to keep operations on track, such having the new F-35 squadron share space with existing units — which include three American F-15 squadrons — or potentially leasing additional facilities on base from the United Kingdom.
“In terms of getting here and flying the aircraft, we will still do that. [There is] really no difference in terms of the capability is going to be delivered, but it’ll just look different in how we do it,” Warner said. “It will be some strain on the units here at the base, as there’s more crowding and with waiting for those facilities to come online.”
The arrival of U.S. Air Force F-35s in Europe has been a long-awaited milestone for the service, which announced in 2015 that RAF Lakenheath would become the first international location to get the jets. Since then, F-35s temporarily deployed to the base in 2017.
“Having a fighter with the capability of the F-35s one hop closer to a part of the world that’s seemingly less stable certainly will have a deterrent effect,” said Frank Gorenc, a retired four-star general who commanded U.S. Air Forces in Europe from 2013 to 2016.
“Being able to daily train with the partners that have F-35s will have a deterrent effect,” Gorenc told Defense News. “It will cause interoperability to soar both on the maintenance side and on the operations side. I think the benefits of having that equipment — the demonstration of having a fifth-generation [fighter jet] in theater combined with F-15Es and F-16s — I think is the right signal.”
Under the current plans, F-35 pilots and maintainers will begin to arrive at RAF Lakenheath in June 2021, with the first aircraft to follow in November. The base will eventually be home to two F-35 squadrons, each with a total of 24 jets.
That beddown will follow more than five years of planning and development on the part of the Air Force, which stood up a team in 2015 to get the base ready for the incoming jets.
In 2018, the U.S. Air Force chose Kier-Volker Fitzpatrick, a joint venture of U.K.-based design and construction firms Kier Group and VolkerFitzpatrick, to build and renovate all installations associated with the F-35 presence at RAF Lakenheath. Construction began in July 2019, with seven of 14 new facilities — which will include new hangars, a building for flight simulation, a maintenance unit and storage facilities — currently either being built or already complete.
As unforeseen costs have mounted, the base’s program integration office has had to request $90m in additional funding from Congress, as well as permission from the Pentagon to revise the scope of the projects, Warner said.
But there’s no overarching answer for why costs have ballooned.
“Each individual project had a different set of assumptions, a different set of risk profiles, and some were correct and some are not correct,” Warner said.
With only a few years between the decision to base F-35s at Lakenheath in 2015 and the original planned start of operations in 2020, the U.S. government wanted to put a construction firm under contract sooner rather than later, said Stephen King of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, a U.K. government agency charged with overseeing the building and maintenance of military facilities.
But workforce costs grew as the project was discovered to be more complex than originally anticipated.
“When the workers are tendered, the prices that are coming back in are found to be different from those originally estimated, and it seems to be the price of doing business on a military establishment. There seems to be an ‘add-on’ to the outside market,” King said.
Because the F-35 is a stealth jet that processes large amounts of classified information, many of the installations linked with its operations must meet certain security specifications. Building those structures to both U.S. and U.K. standards while using a foreign workforce of U.K. citizens posed challenges that the U.S. Air Force did not foresee during the design process, Warner said.
“Luckily most of these problems are behind us, but they did cause delays in terms of when we were programming out in the schedule and looking at what we thought it would look like,” he said. “Some of the challenges associated with building those secure facilities were not fully understood.”
Air Force officials have said keeping the projects on track was always going to be a challenge. In 2016, Col. Robert Novotny, who was then the commander of the base’s 48th Fighter Wing, predicted construction projects could face troubles getting funding or finding a skilled workforce to build the new facilities, and that F-35s likely wouldn’t begin to arrive on base until at least 2021 or 2022.
“For me, the concern I have when I look at Lakenheath is not the F-35,” he told Defense News in July 2016. “For me, the concern I have is: Are we going to be able to build enough stuff fast enough?” (Source: Defense News)
31 Jul 20. Spain agrees investment plan with Airbus in exchange for fewer job losses. Spain’s government and Airbus (AIR.PA) said on Thursday they had agreed measures aimed at propping up the aerospace sector and minimising job losses after a meeting between Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury.
“Both parties consider it essential to promote a series of initiatives to strengthen the whole sector in Spain and its auxiliary industries,” Airbus and the government said in a joint statement.
Battered by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbus, which is 4% owned by the Spanish government, has said it will lay off about 900 workers in Spain as part 15,000 cuts worldwide, prompting large protests outside its factories.
Included in the measures are a 185m euro ($219m) investment plan to be financed by the European Union recovery fund and a commitment from Spain to order several military aircraft.
Spain will also help support Airbus in negotiations to help persuade the United States to lift sanctions on the company.
In exchange, Airbus said it would aim to minimise job cuts in Spain and find solutions for plants with lower workload. (Source: Reuters)
27 Jul 20. OP CABRIT ~ Royal Yeomanry Reserves To Join US 2ND Cavalry. British Army Reserves from the Royal Yeomanry are deploying to Poland to join the Toujours Prêt Second Dragoons of the US 2nd Cavalry Regiment. Army Reserves from the Royal Yeomanry will deploy to Poland as part the UK’s commitment to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Eastern Europe.
They are pictured [24th July] conducting pre-deployment training at Warcop Training Area in Cumbria and are undertaking a series of live-fire tests. These take place day and night, both on foot and from the latest Jackal 2 vehicle to practice their fire and manoeuvre skills.
The 70 mobilised soldiers will be joined by 27 soldiers from 1st The Queen’s Dragoons Guards and will deploy in the Autumn, taking over from C Squadron, The Light Dragoons. The six-month tour will see them become part of the United States 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment Battlegroup – one of four NATO multinational battlegroups currently deployed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
The Jackal 2 weapons platform is designed to protect personnel against roadside explosions and mine attacks and is armed with a General-Purpose Machine Gun for crew protection. It can also be fitted with either a Heavy Machine Gun or a Grenade Machine Gun.
The Royal Yeomanry’s primary role is reconnaissance, operating in front of other friendly forces to gather intelligence, often at night and in poor weather conditions. (Source: joint-forces.com)
04 Aug 20. Offering £1bn Fleet Solid Support (FSS) Ship Contract To Overseas Bidders ‘Cold-Hearted Betrayal Of British Workers’ – GMB.
At a time when we desperately need to rebuild the UK economy, this Government offers other countries the chance to build Royal Navy support ships overseas says GMB Union.
GMB, the union for shipbuilders, has called out the Government over its decision to put out a pre contract invitation to overseas shipyards to design and build the FSS programme.
Ross Murdoch, GMB National Officer and CSEU Chair, said:
“It is unbelievable at a time when we desperately need to rebuild the UK economy with good, well-paid jobs that bring significant tax returns to the UK Treasury, this Government offers the opportunity to other countries to help rebuild their own economy by building Royal Navy support ships overseas.
“These orders will be vital in safeguarding thousands of British jobs and bringing prosperity to shipbuilding communities.
“Yet despite the PM’s rhetoric of ‘build build build’, here is a golden opportunity missed.
“Before Brexit, the Government said EU rules meant it had to have an international competition to build these ships.
“In the context of sovereign defence capability GMB consistently challenged this position.
“Well, we’ve left the EU now and the Government still invites overseas companies to take part in a pre-contract engagement. It’s a cold-blooded betrayal of British workers.
“GMB and its sister unions fought hard to save a number of yards that either closed or went to the wire on possible closure.
“GMB will be calling on Team UK to ensure they submit an expression of interest for this stage of the contract and again we call on the Government to stand by its own National Shipbuilding Strategy in ensuring a steady drumbeat of orders to prevent a repeat of this by ensuring these ships are built in the UK.”
03 Aug 20. Serbian purchase of missile defence system shows ties deepening with China. Serbia has bought a new generation of medium-range, radar-guided surface-to-air missiles from China in a new sign of deepening cooperation between Beijing and Belgrade.
The purchase of the FK-3 missile defence system was included in state-run arms company Jugoimport SDPR’s annual report, submitted to the state Business Registers Agency last week and seen by Reuters.
Jugoimport SDPR said it made 163 import deals with 31 countries for $620.3m in 2019. The weapons purchases included armed drones from China and Europe’s first known purchase of the FK-3.
“The biggest part of imports is related to the modernisation of MIG-29 planes, the procurement of drone systems, … (and) air-defence system FK-3,” it said.
Beijing sees Serbia as part of its One Belt, One Road initiative, which is aimed at opening new foreign trade links for Chinese companies.
In 2018, the Jugoimport SDPR made 162 import deals with 32 countries, worth $482.7m, including purchases of Russian-made helicopter gunships and transport helicopters.
China has invested billions of euros in the Balkan country, mainly in soft loans, infrastructure and energy projects.
In late June, Serbia’s air force received six CH-92A combat drones armed with laser-guided missiles, the first such deployment of Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles in Europe.
Serbia, which hopes to join the European Union, declared military neutrality in 2006 and joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme, though it does not seek full membership in the Western defence alliance.
Serbia’s military is loosely based on former Soviet technology and in recent years Belgrade has procured MiG-29 fighter jets and missiles, helicopters, tanks and armoured personnel carriers from Russia. (Source: Reuters)
03 Aug 20. Secretary of Defense Statement on Completion of the U.S.-Poland Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement Negotiations. The United States and Poland have completed negotiations on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), building on our existing security cooperation and cementing our long-standing defense partnership.
The EDCA reflects the shared vision outlined in the Joint Declarations signed by Presidents Donald J. Trump and Andrzej Duda in 2019. Specifically, it provides the required legal framework, infrastructure and equitable burden-sharing essential to deepening our defense cooperation.
The EDCA will enable an increased enduring U.S. rotational presence of about 1,000 personnel, to include the forward elements of the U.S. Army’s V Corps headquarters and a Division headquarters, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, and the infrastructure to support an armored brigade combat team and combat aviation brigade. This is in addition to the 4,500 U.S. personnel already on rotation in Poland.
Alongside the recently announced European strategic force posture changes, the EDCA will enhance deterrence against Russia, strengthen NATO, reassure our Allies, and our forward presence in Poland on NATO’s eastern flank will improve our strategic and operational flexibility. We congratulate the negotiators on this important milestone for U.S.-Polish relations and our collective transatlantic security. (Source: US DoD)
31 Jul 20. Poland Wraps Deal For Permanent US Troops, Drones, Special Ops. Poland is excited to have more US troops on the way, but military leaders warned this week that the effort to move 12,000 US troops out of Germany will take months for the planning along.
The United States will station a permanent garrison of troops in Poland, according to an agreement reached today between Washington and Warsaw. The announcement of the pact came just days after the Pentagon announced it was pulling 12,00 troops out of Germany.
It’s not clear how long it will take to implement the growth of the US footprint in Poland from the current 4,000 troops to 5,500. But the move will require some heavy logistical lifting, including new facilities for US drones, helicopters, an armored brigade combat team, and special operations forces.
Details remain scarce, but the Polish government has long pushed for a larger American footprint, and the Trump administration’s frustration over Germany’s failure to reach NATO-suggested funding goals has forced the Pentagon to look elsewhere for basing options.
“A deeper, more collaborative U.S.-Poland security partnership is critical in meeting current security threats and challenges,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Jessica Meyeraan, European Command’s deputy director of partnering, security cooperation and missile defense.
Poland’s Minister of National Defense Mariusz Blaszczak emphasized the importance of this agreement, saying Friday, “we’ll soon sign a final agreement on the endur[ing] presence of U.S. troops in Poland.”
There were expectations that the deal would be signed with Policy President Andrzej Duda visited Washington last month, but negotiations stretched on longer than anticipated.
Agreements like this are difficult to hash out, given the complex legal considerations that require host nations to accept having US government-run facilities off-limits to its citizens, along with the safety, force protection, logistics, and housing requirements of the US military.
Under the agreement, a division command will be housed at Poznań, while a training center will be located at Drawsko Pomorskie, a frequent host of multinational NATO exercises. There will also be an Air Force logistics hub, a headquarters for a rotational Combat Aviation Brigade, two separate special ops facilities, and another base near the German border that will house an Armored Brigade Combat Team.
The new bases come in addition to the work that will need to be done by European Command in the coming months to begin moving 12,000 US troops out of Germany to bases in Belgium, Italy, and the United States. An outline of the German pullout plan was delivered by Defense Secretary Mark Esper this week, calling for 2,000 troops from the EUCOM and special operations headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany to relocate to Mons, Belgium.
In addition, 4,500 members of the Second Cavalry Regiment in Germany will return to the US, and then begin rotations in the Black Sea region. Elsewhere, the 2,500 airmen scheduled to deploy to Germany from the U.K. will remain in the U.K., while an F-16 squadron will be sent to Italy.
Despite the urgent tone of Esper’s address, it doesn’t appear much of this movement will happen soon.
“Coordination, approval, funding and execution will take time,” European Command head Gen. Todd Wolters said in a memo to the force Friday.
AFRICOM commander Gen. Stephen Townsend also issued a statement Friday affirming the process is in its infancy, and decisions are months away. “It will likely take several months to develop options, consider locations, and come to a decision,” on where the Stuttgart-based command will move, though “the command has started the process.”
The statements track with comments made by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. John Hyten, earlier this week, where he underscored the reality that no movement will happen quickly.
“What we have right now is really a concept ― a concept that we’ve shared with our allies, shared with the Congress, and we shared inside the department fairly widely. We now have to turn it into plans. As you turn [it] into plans, we have a very structured process involving the Joint Staff, the office of the secretary, and the combatant commands and the services, to make sure we understand what those are, then we’ll lay in the costs.”
While Esper estimated the costs to be less than $10bn, the movement of so many forces will be time-consuming, complicated, and expensive. Moving to Mons will likely require building entirely new facilities to replace or add to the handful of aging, 1960s-era buildings that exist there now.
Former DoD official Jim Townsend, senior fellow in the CNAS Transatlantic Security Program, said that the proposed movements to Belgium and Italy — if they’re possible — will be unlikely to happen quickly, and will have to wait on political agreements to be signed first.
Mons “is a village where they’re going to have to do a lot to account for all these people coming,” he said. “The Pentagon hasn’t even put out an RFP [Request For Proposals] to build a new housing and facilities.” Without those basic logistical hurdles, any larger movements are years away, he said.
Likewise, he said, moving the air wing from Germany to Aviano, Italy, “will require new hardened shelters, fuel storage facilities, and additional housing at the base.” None of that planning has happened yet.
The words of caution from the uniformed military about the proposed moves underscore the massive political, logistic, and physical lift the movement will entail. And as shown by the two-plus years of negotiations with Poland to move 1,000 more US troops there, forging new legal agreements with the Belgian and Italian governments will take time, with no guarantee that an agreement can be reached. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
30 Jul 20. U.K. Charges Airbus Subsidiary Over Saudi Deal. The U.K.’s major economic crimes investigator has charged an Airbus SE subsidiary and three individuals in connection with a defense contract the country arranged with Saudi Arabia. GPT Special Project Management Ltd.; former GPT Managing Director Jeffrey Cook; and John Mason, the partial owner of two GPT subcontractors, have jointly been charged with one count of corruption, the Serious Fraud Office said. Mr. Cook, a former U.K. Ministry of Defense official, also was charged with misconduct in public office. A third individual, Terence Dorothy, was charged with aiding and abetting that offense. A spokesman for Airbus said the SFO’s investigation related to contractual arrangements that predated the plane maker’s acquisition of GPT. The charges represent a step forward in one of the SFO’s most politically sensitive cases. Launched in 2012, the investigation was viewed as a potential threat to the country’s relationship with a key ally in the Middle East. The case has echoes of another high-profile corruption investigation into a 1980s arms deal between Saudi Arabia and U.K.-based BAE Systems PLC. Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2006 called the SFO off the case, saying it threatened the U.K.’s national security interests. (Source: glstrade.com/WSJ)
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