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30 Oct 20. New report: NATO’s DNA: The Alliance’s contribution to arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. Looking to arms control as a means of improving relations between NATO and Russia may appear a futile hope when cooperation and dialogue between them is almost non-existent. Yet despite the crumbling framework of arms control, in October last year, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that “arms control is in NATO’s DNA”, suggesting that arms control continues to be a priority for the Alliance.
Prompted by the Secretary General’s remark, this report by ELN Senior Associate Fellows Simon Lunn and Nicholas Williams assesses the contribution made by NATO in the field of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. It finds that although arms control is in NATO’s DNA, it is very much a secondary consideration. Arms control does not occupy a sufficiently visible or influential place in NATO’s approach to security, taking a distant second place behind military strength. A rebalancing is needed.
The report makes 13 policy recommendations for NATO including:
- The active pursuit of arms control has slipped in NATO’s priorities. It should be upgraded and elevated into its proper position partnering military strength as a means of achieving security at the lowest possible level of armament.
- NATO’s current organisational arrangements for arms control are insufficient. NATO should create a Division of Arms Control charged with ensuring that arms control considerations are fully reflected in NATO policies and initiatives.
- NATO’s military should be charged with the constant search for innovative arms control proposals in order to maintain security at the lowest level of armament and to promote military transparency and predictability.
- The integration of arms control fully into NATO policy and action should be among the highest priorities of a new NATO Strategic Concept.
Read the report: https://www.europeanleadershipnetwork.org/report/natos-dna/?mc_cid=5258d2bbc6&mc_eid=f6244e9be7
30 Oct 20. Campaign for co-Chair of the Council for Science and Technology. A campaign to recruit a new independent co-Chair for the Council for Science and Technology has been launched and is open for applications until 22 November 2020.
The Council for Science and Technology advises the Prime Minister on science and technology policy issues across government. It is jointly chaired by the government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, and an independent co-Chair, currently Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice Chancellor of Manchester University, who is stepping down next year.
The Council for Science and Technology is the government’s highest-level advisory body on science and technology, advising on issues that cut across the full range of government’s responsibilities.
Members of the Council are leading figures in the science and technology community, including presidents from the national academies and UKRI (ex officio), and representation from academia and key high-tech businesses.
The government is seeking applicants who are senior figures in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field, with a track record of outstanding achievement as a researcher or innovator, and the ability to provide a well-grounded ‘big picture’ perspective on a wide variety of science and technology policy issues.
The full details of the co-Chair recruitment campaign can be found on the Public Appointments website
The work of the Council has directly influenced the government’s research and innovation strategies and high-profile initiatives including the establishment of the Alan Turing Institute and the 100,000 Genomes Project.
The Council’s current work programme includes:
- the advice on meeting government’s long-term objectives for research and development
- taking a systems engineering approach to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050
- the contribution of science and technology to inform the government’s levelling up agenda
- and science and technology for a sustainable health and social care system.
28 Oct 20. Italy defense budget rebounds despite coronavirus crisis. Italy has announced a major boost to its defense budget even as the country spends millions of euros battling the devastating effect of COVID-19 on its economy.
Overall defense ministry spending is up 9.6 percent this year to €15.3bn (U.S. $18.1bn), with the procurement budget emerging as the big winner as it rises by 26 percent from last year if coupled with top-up spending from the industry ministry.
“This is a very positive budget for the armed forces, especially for procurement during this challenging economic climate,” said Paolo Crippa, a defense analyst at the CESI think tank in Rome.
The figures are included in Italy’s 2020 budget, which should have been released in the spring, but was held up by the COVID-19 crisis which hit Italy hard in March and is now threatening the country again.
This year’s €15.3bn defense ministry spending compares to just under €14 bn last year, signaling a halt in a series of year-on-year falls.
Procurement takes up €2.8bn of the budget, up 50 percent on last year, but for a true picture of Italian procurement spending the annual top-up for domestic procurement provided by the Italian industry ministry must be added, which amounts to €2.64bn, also up from last year.
The total to spend on procurement therefore comes to €5.45bn, up 26 percent on last year’s €4.32bn.
Of the other two other spending categories in the ministry budget, Maintenance and Operations rises 23 percent to €2.15bn, while personnel spending remains stable at €10.4bn.
“The rise in M&O spending follows claims by generals that cuts were damaging military readiness,” said Crippa.
The budget was drawn up by defense minister Lorenzo Guerini, a member of the center-left Democratic Party which governs in a coalition government with the anti-establishment Five Star party. Since first entering government in 2018, Five Star has softened its anti-military stance, which saw it initially push to scrap the F-35 program.
This year, the F-35 program receives €800m to help conclude the purchase of the first 28 of Italy’s planned 90 aircraft buy. A further €126m is also budgeted to get the purchase of the next 27 aircraft underway.
Other ongoing programs that get more funding in 2020 include the purchase of 650 new VTLM 2 vehicles – an upgrade of the army Lince vehicle, as well as a mid-life refurbishment for Italy’s Storm Shadow missiles and the purchase of T-345 and T-346 jet trainers.
Further programs also getting a dose of regular funding are Italy’s new, €1.17 bn LHD vessel the Trieste, a €2bn acquisition of 150 new Centauro II wheeled tanks and a €974m purchase of 16 new CH-47F helicopters.
Comparing the total envisaged price tag of some programs in the budget to the price listed in last year’s budget reveals costs are rising.
A plan to buy four new U-212 NFS submarines has risen from €2.35bn to €2.68bn this year, a hike of over €300 m.
The ongoing purchase of ten PPA naval vessels has risen over €400m to €4.27bn.
Some programs appear for the first time in the budget, including two new “DDX” destroyers for the Navy. No money is earmarked in 2020 but €4.5m is due to be used for a de-risking study beginning in 2021.
A second new entry is a listing for a “multi-mission, multi-sensor” Gulfstream G-550 jet. Without stating how many aircraft Italy plans to order, the budget gives the total price tag of the program as €1.23bn and states that funding will start in 2021.
The capabilities of the platform listed include command-and-control, “electronic superiority” and “electronic protection of forces.”
An Italian analyst who declined to be named said the program was a reprisal of a long nurtured Italian plan for a sensor platform dubbed JAMMS, which would offer signals intelligence, communications relay and radar capabilities.
The Italian Air Force declined to comment on the program.
An illustration of the aircraft in the budget document resembles Israel’s “Shavit” Signals Intelligence Gulfstream.
Italy already flies two Gulfstream 550 Conformal Airborne Early Warning aircraft it purchased from Israel’s IAI in 2012 as part of a swap deal under which Israel purchased 30 M-346 trainers from Italian firm Leonardo.
The budget document states that after getting underway, the new program will take onboard future technology advancements and the benefits of “international cooperation accords.”
The analyst said, “There is a plan to buy the platform now since the Gulfstream G550 is going out of production, then add Israeli systems in return for purchases by Israel from Italian industry.”
Programs on the military’s wish list which do not have any funding earmarked yet also get a mention in the budget document, starting with investment in the U.K.-led Tempest program for a future sixth-generation fighter.
But the absence of cash for the program, which the U.K. and Sweden have already invested in, risked making Italy the weakest partner in the trio, wrote Italian defense publication RID.
“In this way, there is the risk that Italy’s ability to influence the development decreases and it will be weaker when it comes to future talks on the dividing of manufacturing,” the publication stated.
The document also confirms Italy’s interest in joining the U.S. Future Vertical Lift helicopter initiative to build next generation helicopters, which is currently being pursued by the United States only.
Government officials have already mulled investing in the program using funds paid out by the EU to help the Italian economy rebound from COVID-19.
Analysts have suggested that buying into FVL may overlap with work by Italy’s Leonardo to build the AW249, a replacement for Italy’s AW129 Mangusta attack helicopter.
This year, the plan to complete a €2.7bn purchase of 48 of the AW249 helicopters receives funding in the budget.
“There is cash for the successor to the AW129 but seeing the mention of the FVL confirms Italy is also interested in that initiative,” said Crippa. (Source: Defense News)
28 Oct 20. EU to allow Britain, U.S. in on future joint defence projects, envoys say. The European Union will allow non-members such as Britain and the United States to take part in future joint EU defence projects, but only on an exceptional basis, three EU diplomats said on Wednesday.
The decision resolves a long saga over whether Britain, which has left the bloc, could take part in a new EU defence pact, known as Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), which aims to help the EU fund, develop and deploy armed forces together. It will not amount to an EU military.
The breakthrough of an impasse which dates back to June 2018 also helps to revive EU defence integration efforts launched with great fanfare in December 2017, in part to show unity after Brexit, but which ran into bureaucratic hurdles.
In May this year, the European Commission made a long-awaited proposal to earmark 8 billion euros of its next budget on a new, complementary EU defence fund, keeping alive a Franco-German desire to deepen military cooperation among EU nations that have long pursued independent projects.
While the United States, the world’s biggest military power, has 30 weapons systems, the EU has 178. The bloc has 17 types of battle tank, compared to just one in the United States.
“The rules on participation of non-members was the last missing piece of the puzzle,” a senior EU diplomat said of Wednesday’s decision, which will allow Britain and others, such as Norway and the United States, to take part in future projects to develop aircraft, helicopters and weapons.
Non-member participants will only be able to come in on individual projects and must bring substantial know-how, diplomats said. The decision does not affect U.S. defence contractors’ traditional access to bid for individual European military contracts in the EU.
However, Turkey, a NATO member and candidate to join the EU, is unlikely to be able to take part because of requirements in the EU defence pact that call for non members to “support and uphold European values”, a second diplomat said.
The Commission this month said Turkey was undermining its economy, eroding democracy and destroying independent courts, leaving its bid to join the EU further away than ever. (Source: Reuters)
26 Oct 20. Trump administration slams NATO ally Turkey for test-firing S-400 air defense system. The Trump administration on Friday slammed Turkey for taking a new step toward fielding a Russian-made air defense weapon. The U.S. complaint marked a deepening rift that threatens the future of a security relationship that has been central to the NATO military alliance for seven decades.
After Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that his country had tested the S-400 air defense system and brushed off American complaints, saying, “We aren’t going to ask America,” the Pentagon hit back.
“The U.S. Department of Defense condemns in the strongest possible terms Turkey’s October 16 test of the S-400 air defense system,” the top Pentagon spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, said in a statement. “We have been clear and unwavering in our position: an operational S-400 system is not consistent with Turkey’s commitments as a U.S. and NATO ally.”
The State Department separately called Turkey’s test unacceptable and a “clear step in the wrong direction.”
“The United States has been clear on our expectation that the S-400 system should not be operationalized,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. “We have also been clear on the potential serious consequences for our security relationship if Turkey activates the system.”
For months, the administration has warned Ankara that it risks U.S. sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act if the S-400 system is activated.
On a technical level, the U.S. government’s concern is that the S-400 could be used by Turkey to gather data on the capabilities of the American-made F-35 stealth fighter jet, and that the information could end up in Russian hands. More broadly, Washington sees this weapon purchase as a slap at NATO and a violation of allies’ commitment to move away from Russian defense equipment.
The U.S. kicked Turkey out of the F-35 program in 2019 after it took possession of the S-400 system. Turkey was making components for the F-35 and had planned to purchase 100 of the stealth fighters. The Trump administration has held out the possibility of easing the dispute if Turkey decides not to move forward with activating the air defense system, but Erdogan seems ready to go ahead.
“We are determined. We will continue on our path,” Erdogan said Friday.
Turkey, which neighbors trouble spots such as Syria, Iraq and Iran, has long sought to address shortcomings in air defense. It says it was forced to negotiate with Russia for the purchase of the S-400s after the U.S. refused to sell the American-made Patriot system. Turkey has also argued that the S-400 is one of the best available systems and says the deal with Russia involves joint production and technology transfers that meet its long-term goals of defense self-sufficiency.
The United States says talks on a potential Patriot deal failed over Turkey’s insistence on technology transfer rights that would have allowed it eventually to make the missiles themselves. This ran against U.S. manufacturers’ propriety interests in addition to any national security concerns.
The dispute has created unease between allies at a time of heightened U.S. tensions with Russia. Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia and its decision to buy the Russian system also coincides with growing Turkish mistrust of the U.S. over its policies in Syria. Turkey has been angered with U.S. support for a Syrian Kurdish group in Syria that is affiliated with Kurdish rebels fighting Turkey. (Source: Defense News)
26 Oct 20. Germany needs to step up to Europe’s defence. Whatever the US election outcome, the continent requires its own security anchor. Germany has had a lot of nasty geopolitical surprises in recent years. But the worst by far — what strategy wonks call a black swan — wasn’t Russian aggression on Europe’s doorstep, China’s quest for global dominance or Turkey stoking conflict in the eastern Mediterranean. It was the election of Donald Trump as US president. Consequently, the nation is mesmerised by the possibility of his re-election on November 3.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, a dedicated transatlanticist, never established the kind of rapport with Mr Trump that she’d had with his predecessors George W Bush and Barack Obama. Mr Trump is the first postwar US president not to have made a state visit to Germany in his first term. But Berlin’s troubles with Washington go beyond the two leaders and extend across the political aisle. On many points of contention, there is near-bipartisan agreement. Trade protectionists have Germany’s surpluses in their sight. Middle East hawks are upset that Berlin (locking arms with Paris and London) wants to preserve the Iran nuclear agreement. China hawks accuse Ms Merkel of being soft on Beijing. Russia hands are upset at Germany’s reluctance to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. The defence community is deeply underwhelmed that the country spends no more than 1.5 per cent of its gross domestic product on defence. Of course, a second term for Mr Trump would have a wholly different impact on US-German relations than would a Joe Biden presidency. It is conceivable that a victorious Mr Trump would push hard to end US wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and take American troops out of Europe. He might even hope to make an ally of Russia against China. It would almost certainly be the end of Nato. Mr Biden cherishes the transatlantic alliance and appreciates the EU’s economic and regulatory heft.
Yet bogged down by a multitude of domestic challenges, his administration would have to focus urgently on China’s rise. The burden of regional security — from north Africa via the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East all the way to the Caucasus, Ukraine and Belarus — will fall to Europe. In either election outcome, the simple truth is that the onus is on Europe’s most powerful country to turn itself into the continent’s security anchor. Germany is unprepared for this, says Norbert Röttgen, chair of the Bundestag foreign affairs committee. Still, there is a new sense of urgency in Berlin. In the summer, Germany backed a massive debt-financed recovery programme for the pandemic-stricken EU. It has supported new sanctions against senior Kremlin figures after the assassination attempt on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. And while Ms Merkel still appears unwilling to suspend Nord Stream 2, for the first time she has refused to rule it out. The legislature is considering a law that would effectively ban the Chinese telecoms provider Huawei from Germany’s 5G network. As for the US, German defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer gave a forceful speech last week in which she said Germany would have to become a “strategic giver” and play a stronger role in the security of Europe’s neighbourhood. Foreign minister Heiko Maas followed with an op-ed warning that the “profiteers of our differences sit in Beijing and Moscow, but also in Tehran and Pyongyang”. Both emphasised the need to co-operate on confronting Chinese assertiveness — but the fear of being dragged into a confrontation by the US is palpable. Berlin’s dilemma is that it badly wants to reserve the right to agree to disagree with Washington, regardless of who is the next president. But it is a long way from being able to afford to. (Source: FT.com)
23 Oct 20. Ten Allies Agree to Explore Modular Solution for Ground Based Air Defence. The Defence Ministers of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom, signed a Letter of Intent on 23 October 2020 with the aim of delivering an innovative solution against a full range of air and missile threats. The signature was done virtually from the capitals of participating nations in the margins of the meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence.
The project will implement a systematic modular approach. It will equip participating Allies with versatile, scalable solutions, allowing them to create threat-tailored GBAD force packages. These solutions will cover the entire very short to medium range spectrum.
Such an approach will considerably strengthen the participating Allies’ ability to seamlessly integrate individual national modules into multinational GBAD force packages.
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at the virtual signing of Modular Solution for Very Short Range, Short Range and Medium Range Ground Based Air Defence Capabilities (Modular GBAD), 23 October 2020.
“This innovative, modular approach will result in a dramatic increase in operational flexibility, scalability and interoperability among ground based air defence forces,” said the Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană.
The project is part of a growing portfolio of NATO supported multinational High Visibility Projects (HVPs) in response to key capability challenges for the Alliance. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/NATO)
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