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23 Oct 20. Erdogan says Turkey tested Russian S-400s, shrugs off U.S. objections. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan confirmed on Friday that Turkey had been testing the S-400 air defence systems that it bought from Russia and said U.S. objections on the issue did not matter.
Washington says Ankara’s purchase of the Russian systems compromises NATO defences, and has threatened sanctions. An apparent firing test of S-400s test last week prompted a furious response from the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon.
“(The tests) have been and are being conducted. The United States’ stance absolutely does not concern us. If we are not going to test these capabilities at our disposal, then what are we going to do?” Erdogan told reporters.
The two NATO allies have long been at odds over the S-400s and Washington reacted last year by suspending Turkey from its F-35 jet programme. Turkish officials have said the systems will not be integrated into NATO’s defence infrastructure.
Turkey signed the S-400 deal with Russia in 2017. Deliveries of the first four missile batteries, worth $2.5bn, began in July last year.
Erdogan said Turkey will continue testing military equipment including light, medium and heavy weapons, including many bought from the United States.
“It seems that the gentlemen (in the U.S.) are especially bothered that this is a weapon belonging to Russia. We are determined, we are continuing on our path as always,” he said. (Source: Reuters)
23 Oct 20. Are troops really leaving Germany? It’s not totally clear. Almost as soon as Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced over the summer his plan to move about 12,000 troops out of Germany, a bipartisan group of lawmakers stepped in.
An amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act could put a hold on the repositioning of forces, but that’s if the plan survives beyond October at all.
“I do believe that if there’s a change in the administration, that this will not happen,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., told Military Times on Oct. 15 during a press call.
From the beginning, the plan was mired by politics.
President Donald Trump had been threatening Germany for years, questioning what more than 40,000 permanent troops were doing in that country.
In fact, minutes after Esper made a rare Pentagon briefing room appearance to unveil the plan on July 29, Trump insinuated to reporters outside the White House that Germany had it coming.
“Germany is not paying their bills,” he said. “They’re delinquent. It’s simple.”
He was referring to a goal NATO’s member nations set for themselves, to be contributing 2 percent of their gross domestic product by 2024. A handful of countries have met that benchmark ― including Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Poland ― but Germany is among the majority of countries who haven’t.
“They owe NATO billions and they know it,” Trump told reporters a month earlier. “Why should we be doing what we’re doing if they don’t pay?”
American troops have been stationed in Germany since the end of World War II, for an evolving set of reasons. The physical defense of Germany is not at the top of that list. Since World War II, most of that presence has existed to deter the Soviet Union from attacking or invading its neighbors.
U.S. bases have also provided a lily pad for troops deploying to the Middle East and Africa, as well as a crucial battlefield trauma center at Landstuhl, where thousands of wounded troops have had their life-threatening injuries tended to.
More recently, as Russia has increased its own military activity along its western border, American troops have been training and exercising with local forces from the Balkans to the Baltics, lest Soviet Union history repeat itself.
Esper’s plan acknowledged this current reality, offering that though thousands of troops would be returning stateside from Germany, they would “begin continuous rotations farther east in the Black Sea region, giving us a more enduring presence to enhance deterrence and reassure allies along NATO’s southeastern flank.”
The plan involves moving 11,900 troops total of out Germany. About 5,600 would move to other parts of Europe, like Belgium and Italy. That number also includes 2,500 Air Force personnel who will stay at RAF Mildenhall, England, rather than complete a long-planned transfer to Germany.
Another 6,400, including the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, would head back to the States and become part of a rotational force that would deploy to Eastern Europe.
But critics have asked the Pentagon where that 12,000 number came from, and whether ideas like moving the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command headquarters to Belgium are just to make the math work.
“I don’t think this plan was particularly well thought out and I worry about a number of aspects of its implementation,” Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., HASC’s chairman, said during a hearing Sept. 30.
As an insurance policy, Gallego and his fellow House Armed Services Committee member, Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., added an amendment to the House’s version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which would block the Pentagon from reducing troop levels in Germany.
“Part of what our military does is build those alliances and makes sure we don’t have to actually use the military,” Smith said during a mark-up of the bill. “All of those things should be thought about before we announce we’re going to yank 10,000 troops out of Germany. By the way, the president has not yet been clear on what he’s doing.”
The amendment passed 49-7.
“The president may have his feelings, but this conversation also involves Congress, and Congress has a very different perspective when it comes to NATO,” Gallego said. “I did not want this to happen quietly in the night.”
Esper told reporters during his July briefing that some units would be ready to start moving out of Germany in a “matter of weeks,” but by all accounts, everyone has stayed put.
Two Pentagon officials who testified before HASC on Sept. 30 could not provide further details on the plan ― including a timeline or a cost analysis.
“I’m really having a problem connecting the dots with whether this is going to solve a problem, that I don’t think exists,” Jim Langevin, D-R.I., said. “In fact, I think it’s going to create more problems than anything it’s going to solve.”
A Pentagon spokesman told Military Times on Tuesday that, three months later, those concrete transfers of personnel are still nascent.
“We are currently developing plans for the projected moves, which includes consultations with our allies and partners in the region, as well as members of Congress,” Army Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell said in a statement. “The planning process is expected to take several months to complete.”
And once the plans are laid, the physical movements will also take a while.
“It is a physics problem,” Retired Gen. Mark Hertling, formerly of U.S. Army Europe, said during Gallego’s press call. “You can’t do that quickly.”
In addition to moving thousands of troops and their families, their equipment ― heavy ground vehicles, its air component’s helicopters ―would also have to come home. They, they have to go somewhere.
Many of the Army’s heavy armored units are at Forts Hood and Bliss in Texas, or Fort Riley, Kan. They would be a natural fit in terms of posts that have the space for training on those vehicles, but housing, schools, daycares and more will require enough capacity to absorb thousands of families.
Despite the long lead time, DoD is not hedging on the plan in case Trump loses re-election and the withdrawal is no longer a priority, according to Campbell.
“The election is having no impact on the pace of planning,” Campbell said. “This is a very complex series of moves and we want to make sure the plans are right, in order to execute them in a way that meets Secretary Esper’s intent of enhancing deterrence against Russia and strengthening NATO, while ensuring we take care of service members and their families.” (Source: Army Times)
23 Oct 20. Defence Secretary reaffirms UK commitment to leadership on Euro-Atlantic security at NATO Defence Ministerial.
In a virtual session of NATO Defence Ministers, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace held discussions on a number of issues impacting the alliance.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his counterparts held discussions on fairer burden-sharing across the alliance, strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defence posture and the NATO missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The two-day meeting also provided the Defence Secretary with the opportunity to update Allies on various aspects of the UK’s continued commitment and offering to NATO.
Recent weeks have seen the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, featuring vessels from the USA and the Netherlands, assemble for the first time and contribute to the UK-led NATO exercise Joint Warrior in the North Sea.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “The UK’s leading role in NATO and our reputation as a trusted ally of choice is one of the foundations upon which our status as a global military power is built. I was pleased to update my counterparts on one of the latest examples of our leadership; the success of the new UK Carrier Strike Group, which sailed for the first time as part of a 6,000-person, 28-ship-strong major NATO exercise in the UK earlier this month.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace underlined to Allies that the UK remained committed to playing a leading role in the Alliance, to staying above the 2% GDP commitment and increasing UK defence spending in real terms each year, and to supporting its ongoing adaptation to better face the threats of tomorrow.
Mr Wallace welcomed NATO’s ongoing adaptation across new domains, including the announcement of the establishment of a NATO Space Centre at Allied Air Command in Rammstein, Germany. This follows the agreement made at last year’s London Leaders’ Meeting in which space was declared a new domain of operations.
Despite the financial pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, NATO is expected in 2020 to benefit from a sixth consecutive year of increased defence spending by European Allies and Canada. The Defence Secretary joined NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in calling for Allies to maintain this positive momentum.
The Defence Ministerial also provided the Defence Secretary with the opportunity to consult with his counterparts on the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, to which the UK contributes 750 people, and to agree on next steps for the non-combat NATO Mission Iraq. The Defence Secretary encouraged further engagement between Allies to recognise security concerns in Iraq while ensuring NATO’s training mission has a sustainable and long-term future.
Along with other ministers, Mr. Wallace marked the twentieth anniversary of the historic United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS), taking stock of progress made so far and what more needs to be done to ensure the success of the WPS agenda. UNSCR 1325 affirmed that security efforts are better placed when womens’ perspectives and contributions are included. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
22 Oct 20. European nations should shape their air-combat fleets to support the F-35, US analysts say. European NATO nations without the fifth-generation F-35 combat jet should mold their fleets to complement the U.S.-developed aircraft in future operations, according to a new report commissioned by U.S. European Command.
The analysis, done by the think tank Rand and published Oct. 22, ascribes such a vital advantage to the F-35′s stealth and sensor-fusion features that the jet would be the only aircraft suitable for an initial contact with Russian forces in the event of a conflict.
Following that logic, European nations that have already signed up for the Lockheed Martin-made jet should hone their tactics toward that initial engagement, and countries with less advanced aircraft should strive to maximize their ability to complement such an operation, the authors argued.
The United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Italy are European NATO members in various stages of getting F-35 aircraft. One tier below that, in the eyes of Rand analysts, are countries like Germany or France whose Eurofighter and Rafale fleets, respectively, have sensors advanced enough to be considered “fourth-generation-plus” aircraft.
The report’s recommendations are based on the hypothetical premise of a Russian land grab on the alliance’s eastern flank.
“One common scenario considers a calculation by the Russian government that Russia could leverage a regional imbalance in ground forces to occupy some slice of NATO territory, employ air defenses to stave off allied air forces, present a fait accompli similar to that seen in Crimea, and politically divide NATO by calling for negotiations,” the document stated.
“The ability of European fifth-generation fighters to penetrate Russian air defenses and make significant combat contributions from the opening hours of a response — at the vanguard — would most likely challenge the logic behind this scenario, improving deterrence by increasing the Russian risks associated with this approach.”
The observation follows the belief, which the authors propose is shared by Russia, that NATO forces have the upper hand in air-combat capability, whereas Moscow has the lead in ground forces.
To be sure, the Rand analysis covers only one dimension in a potential confrontation with Russia. Air and naval assets as well as cyber weapons for information warfare would also shape the battlefield in potentially unpredictable ways, not to mention any surprise capabilities that either side could throw into the mix to nullify the opponent’s technological advantage.
The problem for European nations’ fourth-generation and “fourth-generation-plus” aircraft, which lack stealth capabilities, is the inability to get close enough to targets without getting shot down by sophisticated air defense weapons, according to Rand.
The key to making the best of the continent’s aircraft mix is developing the fleets with greater interoperability in mind, the analysts argued. In that sense, non-stealthy combat planes, which typically can carry more weapons than the F-35, still have an important role to play after more advanced fighters clear any ground-based threats.
European nations are studying two versions of a sixth-generation weapon for air combat, namely the Tempest project (led by the U.K.) and the Future Combat Air System (led by France and Germany). Those aircraft ideas are slated to come online around 2040, which puts them outside of the scope of the Rand analysis. (Source: Defense News)
22 Oct 20. More Afghan interpreters to move to the UK as scheme extends. Many more Afghan interpreters who served bravely alongside British Armed Forces in Afghanistan can relocate to the UK thanks to new legislation announced today. Courageous Afghans worked side by side with British forces as translators in extremely dangerous situations on the frontline in Helmand Province between May 2006 and December 2014.
The Ex-Gratia Scheme was initially set up in June 2013 to recognise the Government’s huge debt of gratitude for the service of Afghan interpreters. Under the scheme, interpreters could choose to either relocate to the UK, receive 5 years of training and a monthly stipend, or receive the equivalent of 18 months’ salary.
Through the Ex-Gratia Scheme, 445 former staff and their families have chosen to relocate to the UK, meaning a total of 1,319 Afghan interpreters and their families have already been supported as they create new lives here.
Over 100 former translators are expected to be eligible to come to the UK once the existing scheme is broadened under new legislation announced today by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “Interpreters played a vital role in supporting our Armed Forces in Afghanistan and we owe it to them to make sure their sacrifice is properly rewarded. For the first time, today’s legislation puts in place similar requirements for those who resigned and were made redundant, recognising the unique pressures and circumstances faced by locally employed Afghans. This fair and simple system will offer dozens more courageous individuals who served alongside British troops the chance to build a new life in the UK.”
Last month, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed more former interpreters would be eligible to apply for an existing relocation scheme in recognition of the Government’s huge debt of gratitude for their service.
It was announced that an additional cohort of interpreters – those who resigned on or after 01 May 2006 after serving a minimum of 18 months on the frontline – would be allowed to apply to move to the UK.
Today the Government has gone even further and laid legislation to allow those who resigned after serving a minimum of 12 months to apply.
This brings the length of service required for those who resigned in line with those made redundant.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We are committed to righting wrongs when we see injustice in our immigration system and are making the necessary changes to fulfil our promise to the courageous Afghans who worked side by side with our Armed Forces. Today we are giving those who supported our armed forces overseas the thanks they deserve by helping them relocate to the UK with their families. The Ministry of Defence and the Home Office will continue to seek ways to go further to support this cohort and others who have supported the British Armed Forces.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
21 Oct 20. Italy’s Navy-Air Force tussle over the F-35 comes to a head. A long-running tussle between Italy’s Air Force and Navy over the F35-B jet is coming to a head as deadlines approach for deciding who gets the next aircraft to roll off the production line and where it will be based.
Italy’s planned order for 30 of the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing aircraft is to be split by the services, with each receiving 15, in addition to the 60 F35-As ordered for the Air Force.
After the first two of Italy’s F35-Bs went to the Navy and the third to the Air Force, a decision is due, possibly within weeks, on who gets the fourth one next year as the two military branches jostle for primacy on the program.
The Navy sees the “B” version as essential for replacing its aging AV-8 jets on its Cavour carrier, while the Air Force wants the jet for expeditionary missions overseas where it can be flown off short runways.
“There has been a tug of war between the Navy and the Air Force over who gets the jets first, but from a practical point of view the navy may have a right to the next one,” said Alessandro Marrone, senior fellow at the IAI think tank in Rome.
“Once the Navy gets it, it will have three F35-Bs and can start operations from the Cavour, which will immediately boost its capabilities and make a difference to Italy’s military capabilities,” he added.
A senior defense source who backed the Navy to get the next jet said: “The Cavour already faces challenges deploying with the AV-8s, which do not have Link 11 and are due to end their operational life in 2025.”
He added: “Carriers are often brought in at the very start of military operations and have to have maximum efficiency, and with Brexit approaching, Europe will lose U.K. carriers and can only rely on France’s Charles de Gaulle and Italy’s Cavour, which hosts obsolete aircraft.”
Italy’s F35s are currently rolling off the country’s assembly line at Cameri in northern Italy, which is now assembling jets for the Netherlands as well as Italy.
The two Navy F35-Bs were sent after delivery to the United States to participate in training at Beaufort Air Base in South Carolina and are due back in Italy at the end of 2021, the defense source said.
In the meantime, the Cavour was due at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, in the United States in November to attain certification for hosting the F35-B with the help of U.S. test aircraft.
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the visit back to the spring of next year, the source said.
Back in Italy, apart from deciding on who gets the fourth aircraft, officials are also continuing to discuss whether all of Italy’s F-35Bs, including the Air Force and Navy jets, should be grouped at one base to save on logistics, and if so, who should run it.
The choice is between the Navy’s base at Grottaglie in Puglia in the southern heel of Italy where it bases its AV-8s, or the Air Force’s Amendola base, also in Puglia, to which F-35As are already assigned.
Analyst Marrone said that if the Navy gets the next F-35B, it would have a better argument for bringing all its jets to Grottaglie. “If you prioritize the delivery of aircraft to go on board the Cavour, you automatically prioritize Grottaglie,” he said.
“The Navy has limited personnel, which will continue to be needed to maintain the AV-8s at Grottaglie for a while. It cannot send other personnel to the air force base at Amendola to look after F35-Bs,” said the defense source.
Arguments for basing all Italy’s F-35Bs at Amendola to take advantage of the Air Force’s F-35 infrastructure are also convincing.
“Amendola is the logical choice since the base boasts a high degree of professional capability on the F35,” said retired Gen. Leonardo Tricarico, a former head of the Italian air force and now chairman of the ICSA think tank in Rome.
An added selling point for Amendola is that the air force’s first F35-B did not fly to the United States for pilot training as it was meant to, but has spent months at Amendola allowing Air Force personnel to get used to it.
The reason? Coronavirus. “The F35-B was due to fly to the U.S. in February, but we were asked to delay sending it due to the virus so it went to Amendola,” said an Air Force source.
“We have since shown we are able to host and operate the ‘B’ there. Having the ‘A’ allowed us not only to test the ‘B’ but also test having a mixed fleet. It has vindicated our decision to have both aircraft,” the source added.
In July, the Air Force flew the jet to the Italian island of Pantelleria in the Mediterranean as part of an exercise to test its ability to mount an expeditionary mission.
“Having operated the ‘A,’ we can now move faster on the ‘B,’” the Air Force source said. (Source: Defense News)
21 Oct 20. Esper, Fellow NATO Ministers Assess Alliance Progress. NATO defense ministers are meeting virtually to chart the course of the alliance. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper will attend the meeting from his office in the Pentagon.
Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg briefed the news media from around the world on the agenda for the defense ministers saying he expects them to discuss strengthening deterrence, fairer burden-sharing and the NATO missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Stoltenberg released alliance defense spending estimates for 2020, and they show clear progress toward the alliance goal of each country spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. The estimates “show that this year will be the sixth consecutive year of increased defense spending by European allies and Canada with a real increase of 4.3 percent,” he said. “We expect this trend to continue.”
NATO figures show that 10 countries have reached the 2 percent goal. The United States leads all nations with 3.87 percent spent on defense followed by Greece, the United Kingdom, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, France and Norway.
What the allies are investing in is also as important as the amount of money. “Allies are also investing more in major capabilities and continue to contribute to our missions and operations,” Stoltenberg said. “We will also address NATO’s strengthened deterrence and defense posture, including our response to the Russian missile challenge, which is growing in scale and complexity.”
The allies are also paying attention to the nuclear deterrent to ensure it remains safe, secure and effective, even as they remain committed to arms control and disarmament. “We have a long track record on nuclear disarmament,” the secretary general said. “We have reduced the number of NATO nuclear weapons in Europe by more than 90 percent over the last 30 years.
Stoltenberg addressed the future of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires early next year. “The allies support the extension of New START by the United States and Russia, and I welcome progress on this issue in recent days because we should not find ourselves in a situation where we have no treaty governing the number of nuclear weapons,” he said.
The alliance continues to adapt in all domains, including space. He said space is becoming a “crowded and competitive” domain. “Some nations – including Russia and China – are developing systems which could blind, disable or shoot down satellites,” he said. “Space is essential for our ability to navigate, communicate and detect missile launches and fast, effective and secure satellite communications are vital for our troops.”
He expects the defense ministers to agree to establish a new NATO Space Center at Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany. “This will be a focal point to support NATO missions with communications and satellite imagery; share information about potential threats to satellites; and coordinate our activities in this crucial domain,” he said.
He stressed the alliance does not want to militarize space, but rather to increase NATO’s “awareness of challenges in space and our ability to deal with them.”
The ministers will spend time discussing the NATO missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, NATO has around 12,000 troops. The alliance members have adjusted the numbers in light of the peace process, but, he stressed, any further adjustments in the numbers remain conditions-based.
“The Taliban must live up to their commitments, to significantly reduce the levels of violence and pave the way for a ceasefire,” he said. “They must break all ties with Al-Qaida and other international terrorist groups, and they must negotiate in good faith.”
The inter-Afghan talks in Doha, Qatar, offer the best chance for peace in a generation, he said. “They must preserve the gains made at such high price over the last two decades, including for women and girls.”
In Iraq, the security situation remains challenging, and NATO stands with Iraq in the fight against international terrorism, the secretary general said. “So, we will decide to step-up our training mission and enhance our support, in full coordination with the Iraqi government and the global coalition to defeat ISIS,” he said. The meeting ends Friday. (Source: US DoD)
21 Oct 20. France to reach NATO spending target in 2020, but most allies fall short. France, one of Europe’s biggest military powers, will reach a NATO spending goal of 2% sought by the United States this year, the alliance said on Wednesday, but most member states still lag behind in a continual sore point for Washington.
France is estimated to spend 2.1% of its economic output on defence in 2020, NATO said in a report, attaining the goal set by NATO leaders at a 2014 summit after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said 2020 would be the sixth consecutive year of increased defence spending by European allies and Canada, up by 4.3% in real terms.
“We expect this trend to continue,” he told reporters.
While France was joined by Norway for the first time in reaching 2%, despite the coronavirus crisis that has sapped economies, only 10 of the 30 allies will hit the target this year, including the United States, the NATO report said.
Italy, Spain and Belgium are among the lowest spenders.
The issue of defence spending is likely to remain an issue for the United States whoever wins the presidential election on Nov. 3, diplomats, officials and experts say.
European reluctance to spend more on defence, despite several countries hosting U.S. troops in Europe, has been a major grievance of President Donald Trump, who has openly questioned NATO’s continued value to Washington.
That has eroded faith in a pillar of post-war European security – that U.S. forces would defend alliance members against any Russian aggression. European allies hope a victory for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, a former vice president and strong supporter of Washington’s traditional alliances, in the Nov. 3 election would restore confidence.
Only the United States, Britain, Greece, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, France, Norway and Romania will spend 2% or more in 2020, although Turkey, Bulgaria and Croatia are close.
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, has pledged to reach the NATO defence spending target by 2031. (Source: Reuters)
21 Oct 20. Defence Expenditure of NATO Countries (2013-2020). NATO collects defence expenditure data from Allies on a regular basis and presents aggregates and subsets of this information. Each Ally’s Ministry of Defence reports current and estimated future defence expenditure according to an agreed definition of defence expenditure.
The amounts represent payments by a national government actually made, or to be made, during the course of the fiscal year to meet the needs of its armed forces, those of Allies or of the Alliance. In the figures and tables that follow, NATO also uses economic and demographic information available from the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs of the European Commission (DG-ECFIN), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
In view of differences between both these sources and national GDP forecasts, and also the definition of NATO defence expenditure and national definitions, the figures shown in this report may diverge considerably from those which are quoted by media, published by national authorities or given in national budgets. Equipment expenditure includes expenditure on major equipment as well as on research and development devoted to major equipment. Personnel expenditure includes pensions paid to retirees.
The cut-off date for information used in this report was 5 October 2020. Figures for 2019 and 2020 are estimates.
- Download the full document in PDFhttps://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/2020/10/pdf/pr-2020-104-en.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Press%20Release%202020104&utm_content=Press%20Release%202020104+CID_01728afcfa5beef742ff73a17567a151&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Download%20the%20full%20document%20in%20PDF
- Download the tables in Excel formathttps://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/2020/10/pdf/pr-2020-104-en.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Press%20Release%202020104&utm_content=Press%20Release%202020104+CID_01728afcfa5beef742ff73a17567a151&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Download%20the%20full%20document%20in%20PDF
20 Oct 20. The US and UK navies prepare to sign agreement to merge their tech futures. The U.S. Navy and British Royal Navy are preparing to more closely align their futures in a whole host of warfare areas, the U.S. chief of naval operations announced Tuesday.
The U.S. Navy’s chief of naval operations and First Sea Lord Adm. Tony Radakin intend to “sign a future integrated warfighting statement of intent that sets a cooperative vision for interchangeablty,” CNO Adm. Mike Gilday announced at the virtual Atlantic Future Forum, being held on board the RN’s new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth.
“We will synchronize pioneering capabilities, strengthen operating concepts and focus our collective efforts to deliver combined sea power together. By organizing our cooperation on carrier strike, underwater superiority, navy and marine integration and doubling down on future war fighting like unmanned and artificial intelligence, we will remain on the leading edge of great power competition.”
It is unclear what the specifics of the statement of intent will be, but the U.S. and Royal navies have been focusing heavily in recent years on aligning its capabilities to be useful to each other in combined maritime operations. The message from both navies is that this will continue into the future.
Throughout the Royal Navy’s effort to get the Queen Elizabeth ready for deployment, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have been working closely with the service, training British pilots on the F-35B and getting the ship certified to operate them. The Marine Corps’ Fighter Attack Squadron 211 embarked on Queen Elizabeth earlier this month during the ship’s group exercise ahead of a deployment next year.
The Marines will also mix in with Royal Air Force F-35Bs during the QE’s 2021 deployment.
In remarks at the forum, Radkin echoed Gilday’s remarks, saying the two forces needed to continue to work to align efforts.
“Throughout our careers we have had a drive for interoperability with allies,” Radkin said. “But increasingly it feels to us that bar has to be raised. … The obvious example is the U.S. Marine jets on board the QE carrier. That is an obvious example of interchangeability.
“So, we are trying to drive a new standard. Partly to drive all of us to strengthen our interoperability but to go even higher and recognize that interchangeability is going to be an even stronger feature in the future.”
Radkin said the services would focus on four areas to grow this “interchangeability”: undersea warfare; carrier operations; aligning the efforts of the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy to become a cohesive fighting unit; and on advanced warfighting programs such as artificial intelligence and cyber.
The United Kingdom is in the middle of an integrated defense review, initiated after Boris Johnson was elected prime minster. It was interrupted during the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak but appears to be running again. The review could have sweeping impacts on the British defense budget, but it is unclear where the budget ax will fall.
When the review was announced, however, the government promised a “radical reassessment” of Britain’s place in the world. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
21 Oct 20. UK Spending Review to conclude late November. The Chancellor has decided to conduct a one-year Spending Review in order to prioritise the response to Covid-19, and our focus on supporting jobs. In order to prioritise the response to Covid-19, and our focus on supporting jobs, the Chancellor and the Prime Minister have decided to conduct a one-year Spending Review, setting department’s resource and capital budgets for 2021-22, and Devolved Administration’s block grants for the same period.
Multi-year NHS and schools’ resource settlements will be fully funded, as will priority infrastructure projects.
The government has been clear that we would keep plans for the Spending Review under review given the unprecedented uncertainty of Covid-19.
While the government would have liked to outline plans for the rest of this Parliament, the right thing today is to focus entirely on the response to Covid-19 and supporting jobs – that’s what the public would expect.
The government has put in place considerable support for businesses, families and the economy throughout the current crisis and will continue to show flexibility and creativity in our response.
The Spending Review will build on that support and focus on three areas:
- Providing departments with the certainty they need to tackle Covid-19 and deliver our Plan for Jobs to support employment;
- Giving our vital public services enhanced support to continue to fight against the virus alongside delivering first class frontline services; and
- Investing in infrastructure to deliver our ambitious plans to unite and level up the country, drive our economic recovery and Build Back Better.
- That means the government will continue to deliver on our commitments and the priorities of the British people – and to do so the Spending Review will confirm multi-year capital spending for key programmes where certainty is needed to ensure no time is lost in delivery.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “In the current environment its essential that we provide certainty. So we’ll be doing that for departments and all of the nations of the United Kingdom by setting budgets for next year, with a total focus on tackling Covid and delivering our Plan for Jobs. Long term investment in our country’s future is the right thing to do, especially in areas which are the cornerstone of our society like the NHS, schools and infrastructure. We’ll make sure these areas crucial to our economic recovery have their budgets set for further years so they can plan and help us Build Back Better.”
- As outlined in July in the interest of fairness we must exercise restraint in future public sector pay awards, ensuring that across this year and the spending review period, public sector pay levels retain parity with the private sector.
- The precise date for the Review will be confirmed shortly but it will be in the last weeks of November.
- Hospital building and HS2 are examples of the kind of capital projects which require multi-year capital allocations. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
20 Oct 20. Russia to open defence ministry office in Serbia in push to deepen military ties. Russia has authorised its defence ministry to open an office in Serbia, a government document showed, as Moscow pushes to expand military ties with its traditional Balkan ally even as Belgrade seeks to join the European Union.
Serbia last month suspended military drills with foreign troops for six months, citing pressure from the EU to withdraw from joint exercises with Russia and Belarus.
The Russian government order, dated Oct. 15 and signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, said the head of the proposed office would assist in resolving military and technical questions over Russian-Serbian cooperation.
The agreement, once signed by both parties, would give the Russian official in Serbia the right to visit Serbian divisions that use Russian weapons and military equipment, provided prior notice and consent were given.
In a short statement later on Tuesday, Serbia’s defence ministry said “a legal procedure that precedes the concluding of the agreement” had already been launched.
Serbia, whose military mainly uses ex-Soviet weapons technology, has procured MiG-29 fighter jets as well as Mi-35 helicopter gunships, T-72 tanks and armoured personnel carriers from Russia in recent years.
On Oct. 10, in a show of revamped military power, Serbia’s army staged a major training exercise, demonstrating combat use of Russian-made weapons, including the Pantsir anti-aircraft system. It also displayed combat drones recently acquired from China.
Serbia is performing a delicate balancing act between its ambition to join the EU and traditional ties with Russia and China, which support its refusal to recognise the independence of its former southern province Kosovo.
Russia, meanwhile, is vying to keep fellow Orthodox Christian, Slavic Serbia within its sphere of geopolitical influence, with the opening of a defence ministry office a signal of Moscow’s intent. (Source: Reuters)
20 Oct 20. Boris Johnson’s 3-year UK spending master plan set to be ditched . Sunak tells No 10 comprehensive review should not go ahead amid Covid, dealing blow to PM and defence plans. Boris Johnson’s hopes of regaining the political initiative this autumn by setting out a three-year spending master plan for the rest of the parliament are set to be abandoned. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has told the prime minister that plans for a comprehensive review — setting out spending totals across Whitehall — should not go ahead amid the chaos of Covid-19. The issue has created tensions between the two neighbours in Downing Street and intensive negotiations have been going on over the past week, including on Tuesday night, on whether any compromise could be found. A decision to scrap the three-year review in favour of a stopgap single-year settlement would be a setback for Mr Johnson, who saw the event as a chance to map out his priorities for a post-Covid world. It would also be a disappointment for defence chiefs, who wanted certainty on how to plan for a new era of changing threats against the backdrop of tight budgetary constraints.
Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak have been discussing whether anything can be salvaged from the aborted exercise and whether any key departments — such as the Ministry of Defence — could still be given a multiyear settlement. Without this certainty, you lose all the longer-term financial planning that will put us at a strategic advantage UK defence official Mr Sunak does not want to commit to big spending totals when the economy is in crisis, but is considering approving longer-term budgets for key projects within individual departmental budgets. One option would be to publish the separate “integrated review” of defence and foreign policy — setting out the UK’s priorities — without fixing a multiyear defence budget. News of plans to scrap the multiyear spending review were confirmed by several people close to the process on Tuesday night. Downing Street and the Treasury declined to comment. Last month Mr Sunak was forced to scrap plans for an autumn Budget, also because a resurgence of coronavirus had thrown economic planning into chaos.
One person briefed on the talks said: “You could have a one-year ‘health and prosperity’ focused spending review. But it’s a disaster for the military who are already running billions short of cash.” Launching the integrated review in February, Mr Johnson called it the biggest analysis of the UK’s defence policy since the end of the cold war, promising it would set a new strategy for “global Britain” while revolutionising procurement. The MoD, which is grappling with a £13bn shortfall in its equipment budget, is agitating for a multiyear financial settlement alongside the review that would rebalance its spending commitments and allow for military modernisation to take the armed forces into a new era of technological warfare. Coronavirus: could the world have been spared? The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 1m people across the globe. But could it have been averted? A unique FT investigation examines what went wrong — and right — as Covid-19 spread across the world. Explore the series Service chiefs are keen for political leaders to sign off a costed plan that would retire some traditional equipment to allow investment in autonomous ships, drones and cyber defences. Defence officials say they need to be able to budget for the long term. “Without this certainty, you lose all the longer-term financial planning that will put us at a strategic advantage,” one defence official said. Publishing a high-level version of the integrated review even without spending plans would allow Downing Street to articulate a clear post-Brexit foreign policy at a time of significant international uncertainty.
The Covid-19 pandemic, growing espionage threat from hostile powers and rising tempo of cyber attacks that fall below the threshold of formal armed conflict have all increased the risks to UK security, say defence and intelligence officials. Aerospace and aviation executives have been lobbying government for a dedicated support package both to survive what will be a difficult winter and to help the industry meet the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Recommended Robert Shrimsley Brexit Britain adopts the Microsoft model Both France and Germany have bailed out their national airlines and, in addition, announced longer-term multibillion-euro aid packages for the development of electric and hydrogen technology. Meanwhile, the UK has not provided any sector-specific support, prompting fears that British companies will lose competitiveness at a time when aircraft technology is changing rapidly. The UK has already slipped from having the second biggest share of the global aerospace market to third place behind France. The MoD put its bids into the Treasury 10 days ago and is now in tense negotiations on the terms of its deal. Ministers privately have made clear that since defence equipment plans can last anywhere between a year and 25 years, a multiyear settlement is crucial for procurement and effective planning. One industry executive involved in talks with ministers on an economic recovery plan said: “The problem with delaying [the spending review] is that it will completely stall any of the midterm investments that will enable business to recover.” Those could include some of Mr Johnson’s longer-term green energy plans. (Source: FT.com)
19 Oct 20. Britain unveils strategy to gain a technological advantage over adversaries. British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced a new science and technology strategy aimed at competing with potential adversaries.
“We are in a very real race with our adversaries for technological advantage. What we do today will lay the groundwork for decades to come. Proliferation of new technologies demands our science and technology is threat-driven and better aligned to our needs in the future,” Wallace said Oct. 19 during a visit to the British Army’s Salisbury Plain training ground in the west of England ahead of a war-fighting experiment there.
The latest strategy launch comes weeks after the MoD rolled out a new integrated operational concept to shape how Britain adapts its future military effort to the changing security threat posed by the likes of China and Russia.
With the rollout of a defense and security review fast approaching, the MoD has been revealing busy some of the key supporting strategies that will likely underpin what is being touted as Britain’s most fundamental military shakeup in generations.
Both the science and technology strategy and the integrated operational concept are key elements of an integrated defense and security review planned to link defense, security, foreign policy and international development aid. The review, expected by the end of November, is meant to signal big cuts to conventional capabilities as the Conservative government invests in high-tech areas like space, cyberspace, artificial intelligence and undersea capabilities.
The initial response from industry appears positive.
“I welcome this MoD innovation initiative and hope that it translates into more conversations and activity with industry,” said Steve Beeching, the managing director of the U.K. arm of American communications company Viasat, which has a growing defense presence in Britain. “We want to work collaboratively in supporting the rapid implementation of future mission capabilities to empower our defense and security forces in the constantly evolving adversarial environment.”
Future military development would focus on five emerging technology areas that have posed the most significant enduring capability challenge, according to the new S&T strategy document. Technology areas listed are:
- Pervasive, full-spectrum, multidomain intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
- Multidomain command and control, communications, and computers.
- Improvement of the U.K.’s ability to compete against adversaries below the threshold of conventional conflict while addressing vulnerabilities, especially in the information environment.
- Develop systems to target adversaries in new ways across all domains.
- Generate affordable, survivable capabilities that can rapidly address evolving threats and can operate within a denied electromagnetic environment.
“They have been recognized as the key drivers for science and technology and research and development within the MoD,” the document read. “The Department will continue to have an enduring requirement to maintain investment in science and technology capabilities and programs beyond these.”
The country noted it isn’t dismissing other equipment areas; it has also pledged to invest in the areas of cyberspace; chemical, biological and radiological technology; novel weapons; and system of systems integration.
The document does not mention how Britain will afford the strategy, but it does talk about new approaches to funding. The MoD said it plans to invest in new, riskier activities in hopes of developing technologies by using demonstrators, experimentation and better exploitation processes.
It also hopes to make rapid progress on the strategy by the end of the first year. The progress includes creating a strategy implementation plan, giving clear policy positions on the critical capabilities that the government must sustain, providing direction to academia and industry on priority areas, and revitalizing the government’s technology incubation program. (Source: Defense News)
16 Oct 20. Brexit Britain adopts the Microsoft model. After leaving the EU, the country is about to have another go at defining its global role. How does a nation with an outsized ego adjust to life as a midsized power? For the UK, the answer has always been, with difficulty. But, post Brexit, the country is about to have another go at defining its global role. Leaving the EU is a hit to its clout. But Brexit is now a fact. As a Nato and UN Security Council member, G7 economy and nuclear power, the UK still matters. The new role, to be set out in the imminent security and foreign policy review, draws on Brexiters’ twin belief in UK exceptionalism but also that leaving the EU was the shock therapy needed to make a sluggish economy more competitive. In Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s words, the UK is “a nation that is now on its mettle”. There is a model for a once-mighty empire, eclipsed by newer powers, finding a way to rise again. It is not a country, but a company: Microsoft. Crunched between Apple and Google, Microsoft switched from a failing strategy of desktop domination to services built around customers. For Brexit Britain, the Microsoft model is instructive. Inevitably, money is a main driver.
The spending review will tackle defence costs, and resources will shift from the army into drone technology and cyber security. One person close to the review predicts a cut in troop numbers from 82,000 to about 75,000. Many of the principles will be familiar, not least the centrality of the US alliance. But key to the new diplomatic and commercial approach is marketing British values as a comprehensive service, one with limitless chances to upgrade. Buy a Microsoft license and you get the Office suite, Teams, cloud services and so on. Buy into the UK and you get a champion of world order plus legal and education services and fintech expertise (of special interest to nations disconcerted by the spread of China’s Alipay). On defence, the UK has pushed weaponry that is too high end. “Most places don’t need challenger tanks; they want small armoured patrol vehicles,” says one minister. Having more tailored products allows for upsell later on. Underpinning the package is a UK that champions free trade and a rules-based order (an easier sell before the government’s threat to breach an international treaty). “British values are at the centre of all this,” says a minister. Imposing Magnitsky-style sanctions for human rights breaches underscores the UK’s desire to be seen to be a good actor. It is pushing the case for turning the G7 into a “D10” group of wealthy, major democratic nations (adding India, South Korea and Australia). The theory is a virtuous circle of commercial and diplomatic goals. This leads us to the review’s buzz phrase, the “Indo-Pacific tilt”. Next year will see a formal push to join the CPTPP, the trade pact that includes Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Vietnam. This would place the UK in an expanding trade bloc. But the tilt goes further. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, has put effort into courting Vietnam, though its current appetite for UK exports is tiny. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are also a focus. He laments “the intellectual laziness” of looking only at the major players. The tilt will inform defence decisions, boosting funds for the navy — maritime support for premium clients. It is a decent notion and one that offers Brexiters a story to tell. Asia is the rising market. To adapt a Microsoft slogan, the UK wants to be “where’s next”. How far this can be taken is arguable. The economic benefits of a tilt from Europe will take years to materialise. The UK is not a military power in the region, nor the only western country targeting a rising Asian middle class. The export opportunities outside Japan and China are real but small. The UK is also wary of going too far in souring relations with China, fear of which is the glue uniting the other nations. Decisions such as pushing Huawei out of its 5G development, defiance over Hong Kong and the moves to cut reliance on strategic Chinese investment and goods are already alienating Beijing. And the tilt must not become a reason to neglect Europe or its markets. A prime policy goal must be ensuring stability in the UK’s backyard. History shows few European crises stop at the Channel. Ministers seem to see Nato as the only relevant vehicle here. German overtures to maintain something akin to the E3 security grouping of France Germany and the UK have been rebuffed by London, which prefers ad hoc co-operation. This is a mistake. Influence comes not only from makeshift alliances but from routine collaboration. A tilt is good but it must not unbalance the entire edifice. Britain as a service should be competitive in all markets, especially its nearest one. (Source: FT.com)
16 Oct 20. Meeting of Secretaries of State for Defense on the European Next Generation Weapons System (NGWS / FCAS). The Secretaries of State for Defense of Germany, France and Spain have signed the addendum to the Implementation Agreement 2 of the integration of our country in Phase 1A of the NGWS / FCAS project.
The Secretary of State for Defense, Esperanza Casteleiro Llamazares, participated this afternoon together with her counterparts from France and Germany, Joël Barre and Benedikt Zimmer respectively, in a meeting by videoconference framed within the framework of the Next Generation Weapons System (NGWS) development project which is part of the Future Air Combat System (FCAS).
In addition to reviewing the status of the project both in the phases currently contracted (Joint Concept Study and Phase 1A of R&D activities and demonstrators), as well as those that are being negotiated (Phase 1B and 2 of the R&D and demonstrators), special attention has been paid to the selection of system architectures, a critical point to continue making progress in all definition and design activities.
This status of this architecture selection process was presented by a delegation of the leading companies of each country headed by Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defense and Space, and Ignacio Mataix, CEO of Indra Systems.
The Secretaries of State for Defense of the three countries then signed the addendum to the Implementation Agreement 2 of the integration of Spain in Phase 1A of the NGWS / FCAS project.
This document constitutes a fundamental milestone for our country since it represents the full incorporation of Spain into the project since it was signed on February 14, 2019 by the Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles and her French and German counterparts, the Letter of Intention for the adhesion of Spain to the Franco-German project of the Future Combat Air System (NGWS / FCAS).
With the signing of the contracts that will be formalized under the protection of this Agreement and that should materialize in the coming weeks, Spain reaches the cruising speed of France and Germany and all activities and decisions in the program will be taken with a position of our country on equal terms with its partners.The NGWS / FCAS project is essential for the future capabilities of our Armed Forces, as well as for the technological and industrial development of Defense and the generation of highly qualified employment. It also applies to many other sectors of the rest of the national industrial fabric, which is why the participation of other ministries in a State program is considered essential. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Spanish Ministry of Defense)
16 Oct 20. Dutch Defence Ministry casts ‘unrealistic’ NATO spending goal. The Dutch Defence Ministry has published a new vision document that can be implemented only if the country were to spend almost thrice as much as its current $13bn annual defense budget.
The document puts a price tag of roughly $30bn annually on a string of vague proposals meant to turn the country’s military into a multiuse, highly networked fighting force by 2035.
Meanwhile, meeting the NATO pledge of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense by 2024 would require an additional $8bn per year from current spending, the document stated.
Both expectations are “quite unrealistic” for the Netherlands, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with the government propping up sections of the national economy, according to Dick Zandee, an analyst with the Hague-based Clingendael Institute think tank.
“The gap is too big, the steps are too large,” he told Defense News.
There are few concrete steps outlined by the Defence Ministry to begin with, Zandee said. The document is meant to be more of a broad-stroke meditation for the next government to use — or not — in its first defense budget in a year or so.
There are national elections on the calendar next March. And while it’s unclear if the new vision document will still have standing after that, there is a political consensus in the mainstream Dutch parties that defense spending should at least hold steady, Zandee explained.
That is the stated objective of many European NATO countries equally far away from the 2 percent goal, like Germany. At the same time, the impact of a second wave of the coronavirus is still hard to gauge, and expectations may have to be tempered amid the fallout. It is also possible that economies will tank so brutally that the percentage target is again within reach, never mind the absolute output in defense capabilities.
Nonaligned Sweden, meanwhile, believes it can dial up its defense spending by 40 percent, or roughly $3bn, between 2021 and 2025. The government unveiled a proposal this week that seeks growth in the country’s undersea capabilities, for example.
“During the period 2021-2025, it is proposed that the submarine division be maintained and developed through an increase in the number of submarines in the war organization from the current four to five,” the Stockholm government’s proposal stated. “The growth takes place by maintaining the third Gotland-class submarine.” (Source: Defense News)
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