A new future for Europe and the US.

November 24, 2007

OK, today’s post.
NATO homogenisation.

The UN is finished. As a source of moral and legal authority, the United Nations has become a sick joke to anyone educated within the philosophical tradition of the West. It has indulged in anti-Semitic tirades, co-ordinated cover-ups of genocide and demonstrated the hatred of the bulk of its members for the West.
The West should therefore seek to resolve upon a new alliance based on the best principles of NATO and the European Union. By proclaiming the principle of mutual defence, whereby an attack (economic, military or electronic) on one member state is regarded by the alliance as an attack upon all and to be responded to with the combined military strength of all. By proclaiming that the legal principles include free trade, human rights and democracy as incumbent upon each member state to honour. By these principled positions, the alliance of the West can finally begin to look to one another as friends and allies, and not remain in the chimerical pursuit of lost empires in the guise of “influence”.
I believe that this new alliance, to be named the Western Alliance, will honour the memories of the founders of defence against aggressive totalitarianism and against the evils of hunger, national chauvinism and anti-democratic politics.

The first step must be to remake NATO into a truly effective military alliance. During the Cold War, only the USA and perhaps Britain, Germany and France actually kept to the bargain of spending 3 percent of GDP on defence. Apparent to all observers was the gap in capability between even the first rank of allies and the United States. The smaller nations gradually abandoned the notion of defence independence and bought their hardware from the big four. Apparent to observers from the late 1980s to the present day is the gap in hardware between the French armed forces and the other three.
Fitful attempts have been made throughout the history of NATO to homogenise equipment: the FH-70 gun-howitzer, the Tornado strike and air superiority fighter, and most successfully the unified ammunition calibres. Less successful have been the MBT-70, the notion of interoperability (the ability of national forces to co-ordinate and work together), coupled with the persistent attempts by the French governments and other mildly anti-American governments to present some form of united front against ‘the great empire’.
What has been apparent to sceptical observers since the 1970s and to many more since the conduct of NATO ISAF operations in Afghanistan has been the incompatibility of much equipment and the unresolved questions of the national “caveats”. German troops are limited to self-defence and moderate policing (with one of the largest armies in Europe. French troops for reasons of pride refuse to engage in combat (with the honourable exceptions of their special forces). Dutch troops will do so and have a proportionately large deployment but require government permission to fight.
The first part of this “hexenkessel” that must change is the writing into the NATO treaty of a clause committing the member states to undertake to provide troops without reserve or legal restraint (the caveats). The member states must also agree to commit to a single legally enabled military command that within a specific mission must have full legal authority over all military, political and humanitarian aspects.
The next and perhaps easier step is to undertake two steps with the same motion. The first of these is the harmonisation of military structures: the army of Estonia amounts to (on its own terms) an infantry brigade. The Italian Army is slightly larger than the British but undertakes far less missions. It should be obvious that the NATO forces are in effect dispersed, incompatible to a very large degree and in certain respects, ineffective. The first step of organisational harmonisation would bring those forces together on an established footing: in 1985, the German Brigade consisted of four battalions, but its armoured forces held a ratio of 3-1 either panzergrenadiers or panzers. By contrast the British brigades consisted of an equal ratio in four battalions. This meant that the two forces could not co-operate effectively, impairing operational efficiency at the price of fixed operating sectors. The harmonisation should establish four-battalion brigades of an equal footing, leading to balanced formations. Also, the international units should be organised into unified divisions, including co-ordinated plans for the call-up of reserves into those formations.
The second step within this motion is the harmonisation, even pooling, of defence budgets and the harmonisation of equipment. Let us take the example of battle tanks: there are any number of MBTs in use in the European militaries. The US Army and Marines (which for the purposes of this discussion, I have labelled European) operate the M1 Abrams, the British the Challenger 2, the French the Leclerc, the Germans, Dutch, Danish, Finns, Canadians, Austrians, Greeks, Norwegians, Poles, Portuguse, Spanish and Swiss armies all operate various versions of the Leopard 2. The eastern nations still operate Soviet model tanks alongside newer western models.
Frankly, this situation is bizarre. These forces cannot operate alongside one another since even the Leopard 2 nations operate different versions, some nearly thirty years old and received second hand! Such an army (if NATO can be so called) would need different sorts of ammunition, spare parts, often fuel and operate according to different requirements! Some nations still have Leopard 1’s designed in the 1960s!
So in all fields, national pride must be set apart, defence industries co-ordinated and single operating models of each type chosen to ensure a single supply of ammunition, spare parts, fuel and to thereby achieve real operational efficiency. Of course this would probably take twenty or thirty years but given that in the case of the Typhoon II (Eurofighter) it would be phased out by then, we in the West could be operating a single type of air superiority fighter, the possibilities for co-ordinated standards of training, single type replacement parts and industrial simplification would lend the West a real edge into the 21st Century.

What would be the political outcome for the West? Western armed forces, harmonised and unified could then project within the alliance, military force potentially to shape the world in a better, more progressive direction, present to the growing Russian threat in the East a real conventional deterrent against blackmail or force and finally, to truly grasp the ability to project force to prevent future Chinese imperial ambition. In sum, the true unification of the aims of NATO and the EU and the progressive West.