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No Rapid Reaction Force for NATO

International Herald Tribune:
NATO is backing away from establishing a combat force that would be capable of moving rapidly into conflict areas because it lacks the money, the troops and the equipment, officials said Thursday. NATO's decision to rethink the Response Force is a blow for the 26-member alliance, which was seeking a way to alter a cumbersome and reactive organization of the Cold War era to field flexible units capable of being deployed within days to carry out a range of operations, including counter-terrorism. (...)
Tomas Valasek, a defense expert at the Center for European Reform, a research institute in London, said: "NATO has a problem that affects the EU as well. There are simply not enough troops. NATO is asking member states to sign up to the Response Force at a time when more troops are needed for Afghanistan. NATO has hit a ceiling. The Response Force is a luxury member states cannot afford." The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has sent 40,000 soldiers to Afghanistan and 17,000 are still in Kosovo, nine years after the alliance deployed troops to the Serbian province. (...)
De Hoop Scheffer said that 7 of the 26 alliance members were meeting the benchmark of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.
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Don S on :

"De Hoop Scheffer said that 7 of the 26 alliance members were meeting the benchmark of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense." This is a surprise given that msot of the membership cannot meet even this very low level of defense spending? The US is spending about 3.5% of GDP on defense. France and the US are lower but still above the 2% benchmark. Everyone else seem to be forcing the US to effectively subsidize them. Won't last, gentlepeople.....

Fuchur on :

The 2 percent argument doesn't hold water. Look at Germany, for example: We don't have an arsenal of nuclear weapons. We don't have a bomber fleet. We don't have nuclear submarines. We don't have aircraft carriers. We don't have a big Navy. And we don't need any of these things. Therefore, it's only natural that we need to spend a lot less money.

Don S on :

"The 2 percent argument doesn't hold water. Look at Germany, for example: We don't have an arsenal of nuclear weapons. We don't have a bomber fleet. We don't have nuclear submarines. We don't have aircraft carriers. We don't have a big Navy. And we don't need any of these things." Germany also doesn't have an effective army for the most part, with the exception of a few formations. Germany doesn't maintain a fleet of transport aircraft. Under most circunstances Germany doesn't need any of these things because Germany relies on the US to provide them. No, sometimes it seems that the ONLY thing Germany cares to provide to the alliance are battalions of lawyers and judges to man war-crime tribunals to send figting men and women to jail for doing what Germany is too good to do - fight. The nukes don't cost much. Neither do the subs cost that much. What always costs ae 'boots on the ground'. Fighting soldiers and sailors. You have the US to provide them, so why do you need to do anything at all? It's not quite that bad yet, but getting there. Germany is utterly exhausted when it has to deploy as many as 11,000 soldiers overseas on mostly undemanding peace-keeping missions (Kosovo, Kabul., etc. I think the tiny defense budget has something to do with that exhastion.

joe on :

Just one more good reason the US should leave NATO. Germany which is not one of the 7 meeting the agreed upon spending benchmarks can work within the framework of the ESDP to provide not only for the defense of the fatherland but all of Europe.. Establishment of such an organization has been a stated goal of Berlin for some time. Besides why should Germany invest in defense when it faces no threats or even sees any threats. Germany has other pressing problems in supporting its social welfare state.

Pamela on :

Hi joe! I just knew you would show up for this thread. I have some questions for those who are more knowledgable of EU military policy than I. It is my understanding that the EU wants to develop its own 'rapid reaction' force. Where does that development stand now? Is the development of said EU rapid reaction force sucking up monies that could be used for a NATO counterpart? What does this 2% of GDP for defense thing actually mean? Can someone point me to documentation of the requirements and what criteria are involved? If France wants to come back to NATO, does that change anything about the plausibility of a NATO rapid reaction force? Thanks in advance...........

Fuchur on :

[i]What does this 2% of GDP for defense thing actually mean?[/i] I did a bit of a quick research on this not so long ago... I think the relevant documents are the '1999 Defense Capabilities Initiative' and the '2002 Prague Capabilities Commitment' (Google should provide the rest - I found a pretty nifty paper back then that explained it very well, but I didn't save it). One thing that is often misunderstood/misrepresented is that the 2% of GDP are just a [i]guideline[/i], not a treaty obligation. I don't know how exactly these percentages are calculated - e.g. money spent for research is included.

Fuchur on :

For the EU rapid reaction forces see e.g. [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EU_Battlegroups[/url]. In practice, the battlegroups and the NATO Rapid Reaction Force indeed have to compete for money and qualified personnel.

joe on :

Fucher, You are correct. In the fussy world of NATO unlike say the UN or the EU agreements as to the level of defense spending are mutually agreed upon but are not formally ratified by the member nations. There is however no misunderstanding as to both the purpose and the intent of the agreed upon spending levels. To think that Germany would actually implement such an agreement on the defense spending is folly. It would remain folly even with a formal ratified treaty. The only nation held accountable to honor commitments such as this is the United States. Just as Germany demands the US provide a nuclear shield for its protection all the while the German public demands the US remove such weapons from Germany. Of course, I am sure you see no need for increased defense spending given Germany faces no conventional threats to the fatherland. Given the lack of a common threat assessment, one has to wonder just what the purpose of NATO is in the 21st Century. I can see none. Any threat the EU might face could be better addressed by the ESDP, which the members of the chocolate summit want to fully implement. The ambiguity of the German White Paper on Defense makes it quite clear Germany wants both NATO and ESDP. While not stated in this White Paper Germany is willing to support either if it means the expenditure of German blood and treasure. The sooner NATO is unwound the safer the United States will be. It will also relieve Germany from any military obligation, which it does not fully support. This would solve many current political problems Berlin faces with other NATO member nations and its citizens concerns its deployment to Afghanistan. On a personal level I do not care if Germany does not send a single euro on defense as long the as the United States is under no obligation to provide defense to Europe.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

"Just as Germany demands the US provide a nuclear shield for its protection" Germany does not make such "demands." We just acknowledge that nuclear deterrence is part of NATO. Therefore Bundeswehr jets at Buechel stand ready to fly US nukes. The US removed its nukes from Ramstein and not a single German has pissed his pants because of lack of protection: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/747-United-States-Apparently-Removes-Nuclear-Weapons-from-German-Base-Ramstein.html[/url] Besides, Merkel just said "No" to Sarkozy: DefenseNews.com - France Wants German Role in Nuclear Defense: Report - 09/16/07 11:06 "President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked Germany to open talks about a possible role the country could play in France’s nuclear defense system, the weekly Der Spiegel reported. But the magazine said in its edition to be published September 17 that Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier rejected the offer during a meeting outside Berlin on Sept. 10." [url]http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?F=3041492&C=europe[/url]

Kevin Sampson on :

Germany does not make such "demands." Never the less, we are obligated under the North Atlantic Treaty to do so. Yet despite all the anti-Americanism in Germany, I have yet to come across any German, except for the occasional atavistic crypto-Communist, who advocates either taking Germany out of NATO or telling the US to step off. If you know of any, please provide a link, I want to join up. "We just acknowledge that nuclear deterrence is part of NATO. Therefore Bundeswehr jets at Buechel stand ready to fly US nukes." OK, but why aren't they ready to fly German nukes? Or, if you really think you 'don't need any of those things', why not decommission your nuclear-capable forces entirely? Merkel would probably win the Nobel.

Don S on :

"The US removed its nukes from Ramstein and not a single German has pissed his pants because of lack of protection" I don't doubt it. If anything I think the majority of Germans would prefer it is the US were to remove nukes from German soil entirely, so that Germans can be morally pure while still getting the benefit of nukes based elsewhere in the improbable case where they maight be needed to defend Germany. We see this alot from Germany. Perhaps many Germans would disagree but I think that many would be gratified if outside NATO forces were to withdraw completely from Germany - that being the most morally pure possible stance for Germany. Other Germans possibly ask 'What if they don't come back if they are ever needed?'. Good question, that. Another good question which infintesmal numbers of Germans apparently ask themselves is: "What value do we supply to our allies to justify their expenditure of resources (past, present, and future) to defend us and our neighbors?" Over the past 10 or 15 years we have seen a clear trend in Germany and (to be fair) others who have benefitted from NATO). That trend is when asked to do something to go through all kinds of political angst the product of which is to either answer 'No' or to provide a small fraction of what other NATO members regard as adequate contributions. I see three possible outcomes. One is the dissolution of NATO either in fact or a 'hollowing out' as other alliance members follow the lead of Germany and others and withdraw committment. Another is that Germany and others decide to increase their capability and answer 'Yes' more often. A third is that Germany and others increase their capabilities and work out a creative way to advance the mission(s) - but in ways other than what has been initially requested. An example might be a major German (and other) reconstruction project(s) in Anbar province of Iraq. Now that Anbar has been pacified (or more accurately pacified itself), this is certainly possible and desperately needed. Folks, pinning your noses closed with a clothespin is not working. Time to learn to say yes or at least to find ways to be of value. Telling Uncle Sam 'You broke it, you bought it' only encourages us Yanks to remember the time(s) a nation-state broke an entire continent - twice this century but most notably 1938-1945. Eh? Perhaps the US people should have told Germany thenm 'You broke it, you bought it'?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

"Germans would prefer it is the US were to remove nukes from German soil entirely, so that Germans can be morally pure while still getting the benefit of nukes" What benefit? There is no guarantee that the US would help Germany. The NATO treaty is just a piece of paper and the US could argue that Germany has not done its part as a NATO member. France and Britain have their own nukes, because they don't trust the US to defend them....

joe on :

Jorg, Actually do. You can entertian yourself by finding the reference. It was made by your MOD.

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