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Saturday, 10 November 2012

Join the Euro Army, now!

The Situation
In the middle of its deepest crisis, Europe is trying to redefine itself through its original foundation ideas, which in the long-run would lead to a “United States of Europe”. At the moment, this goal is further away than ever before, so we need new self-definitions.

While Europe is discussing about a fiscal union as a further “evolutionary step” in European integration, one big policy field remains completely out of the agenda. It was an idea in the early stages and it was more or less forgotten until the creation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) through the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 in the so called “second pillar” of the European Union. Essential part of this second pillar was also the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) which was then transformed into the “Common Security and Defence Policy” (CSDP) with the Lisbon Treaty in 2009.

The ESDP/CSDP as a European Defence Regime
The basic idea of the CSDP is the creation of common and independent security and command structures with all European armies providing assets for CSDP missions. Ever since the creation of the ESDP/CSDP, more than 20 missions – civilian and military – have been launched and executed under European mandate, either independently or in cooperation with NATO. The first ones were in the immediate vicinity of the “core” EU with missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and in Kosovo, with its range expanding to Central Africa in Chad and Congo. Currently, the probably most important military CSDP mission is the European Naval Operation “Atalanta” patrolling at the Horn of Africa.
For all past and present security missions it was essential for European policy and decision makers to prove to the rest of the world – an in particular to the US and NATO – that Europe was in the end capable of organizing and executing military missions on their own; something that was seriously lacking at the beginning and that was repeatedly criticized by the US.

The wake-up-call for the Europeans to take action was caused by the atrocities in the Western Balkans in the 1990ies, and specifically the Kosovo War in 1999. With the US launching a military operation by bombing strikes on Serbia in February 1999, it became evident that the EU was unable to conduct a crisis prevention mission on their own. The matter of fact that Europe wasn’t even able to promote peace and stability on its own continent made it even more embarrassing. As a result of this, the EU Council declared on a summit in Cologne in 1999 that the EU "must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to actions by NATO.” This Cologne-Declaration has been regarded as the birth moment for the ESDP.

However, ever since its creation, European military operations heavily depended on the contribution by its member states. Evidently, only the bigger member states with large military resources and capacities were able to provide assets for long-term military missions. But past and currently running missions have shown that even here the true flaws of the CSDP concepts in strategy and planning.

The Design Flaws
Most “out of area” missions, specifically the ones in Africa, did not have a long-term mandate, leading to the termination of the mission after one year already, while some missions on the Balkans are still on-going (such as EULEX in Kosovo and EUFOR Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina). Also, successful military operations can only work with strong leadership. In the case of the Chad mission in 2008/2009 the mission was mainly concentrated on a French commitment with around 2,000 personnel. But on the other hand, exactly this unilateral leadership was criticized due to its unequal resource deployment contribution.

The biggest problem of the European Common Security and Defence Policy has to be found in the security and defence policy competencies of the member states. All security and defence assets are exclusively national policies and the national decision makers have to agree on the deployment of forces for a CSDP mission, also regarding their capacities through the national budgets. The next problem arising from this matter is the on-going cuts of the defence budgets. This is not only caused by a wide-scale reform of the national armed forces (in Germany’s case also through the suspension of compulsory military service and a massive troop reductions), but above all through the notorious and persistent Euro crisis. By default, in case of any fiscal or monetary crisis, the defence budget is the first one to be cut – a dangerous and wrong measure.

Regarding the international obligations of European countries to global security missions – and above all for anti-terror-missions, it is a matter of course that consistent budget cuts on defence and armed forces will have a profound and above all dangerous effect on the striking capabilities of international forces in out of area missions, no matter if under CSDP, NATO, or under UN mandate. As an example, Germany’s recent troop reductions, the budgets cuts and the closing of a notable number of military facilities all over Germany, it is seriously jeopardizing its own global responsibility for global security and its own political strength on the global policy making arena.

It is above all a question of losing reliability. The reason why the CSDP was created is due to the fact that the EU could not be taken serious as a reliable and strong security partner. Europe’s self-limitation to “soft policy” approaches used to be inefficient in the case of the Kosovo crisis and it will not be able to cope with contemporary international threats by persistent budget cuts and self-limitation of its armed forces. Once again, Europe is lacking a strong position for hard policy military structures and determination, with severe consequences for all global security partners.

There is however another, more obvious problem for a European army and you can find this problem in Brussels as well. For more than 50 years, NATO was the main responsible actor for European security during the Cold War and beyond; under supervision of the US, of course. Even though the early attempts of a European Defence Policy (EPC) failed in 1954 due to a veto by the French National Assembly, structures for a European defence community sort of existed with the Western European Union (WEU), although its actual influence to European security was merely academic compared to US dominated NATO. In the end, the WEU was abolished in 2011. At least, the WEU was the main initiator for the drafting of the Petersberg Tasks in 1992.

It is all a matter of security enforcing efficiency. The principle of European subsidiarity and exclusive member states’ national competencies on defence is hindering combined command and deployment structures. Also, it is imperative to create simplified and more efficient commanding channels from the European Army’s central command centres to all the units and de-centralised commanding units.
Furthermore, all national armies have to be subordinated to European central command which should supervise and monitored by the European Union Military Committee (EUMC) and the European Defence Agency (EDA).
Finally, all national armies have to be integrated into the unified European army under unified commanding structures for all ground, naval, and air forces. If all 27 (respectively 28) EU Member States combine their national armies, the Euro Army would have up to 5 million military personnel at its disposal – including reserve and paramilitary forces. In fact, this would be the largest army in the world, more than the US, Russian, and Chinese army combined. But in order to have a strong striking force, the common European military budget has also to be adapted to the new structures, which can only mean that the defence budgets have to be significantly increased, and build capable technical equipment. This includes investments in naval forces, air forces, and modernized ground combat vehicles. Additionally, it requires an efficient cyber army to prevent, deter, and if necessary even launch cyber-attacks, as this will be the future main battle field.

The answer for Europe is not only a political and fiscal union, but above all a military union. In terms of security there is no room for any kind of hesitation, budget cuts, or even personnel reduction. If Europe is on a brink of new self-definition, it should also define itself as a unified and collective security community – more than ever before.

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