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The United States Has the Best Military Advertisements

Cohu (via German Joys) compares recruiting videos from the German, Austrian and Ukrainian military and also includes a beer company's video ad that is promoting the US military.

While the Ukrainian video is ridiculous, the Austrian copy-cat version is just stupid. The Bundeswehr clip is a typical commercial highlighting the fun aspects of serving in the military, while ignoring everything else.

The American clip is by far the most effective advertisement in my opinion (and cohu's) and did not cost the taxpayer anything. The video shows how Americans appreciate the service and sacrifices of their troops and shows how glad they are that the soldiers made it back home. No triumphant atmosphere. The clip is so low-key and appears authentic and honest. All the mess the soldiers had to live through is somehow included in the atmosphere. That makes it honest and patriotic and an effective promotion. Just my opinion, of course.

Does Germany need such videos showing appreciation? Would such messages work in Germany and increase support for the Bundeswehr's mission in Afghanistan?

Can you imagine a German beer company making such an advertisement with soldiers returning from Afghanistan? (BTW: The Bundeswehr consumed 990,000 liters of beer in Afghanistan in 2007.)

The NY Times's Nicholas Kulish writes that what is happening in Germany is the opposite of what the US commercial shows. There are "no parades for Hans":

Often, as I have passed through the main train station here in the German capital, I have seen the sad, lone figure of a soldier, heavy pack on his back, waiting for a train like the rest of us, but separated from the crowd by the uniform he wears. No one would stop to thank him for his service or to ask whether he had been deployed to Afghanistan. The loneliness was obvious, but at times I even sensed what I thought might have been fear, at the occasional hostile looks the soldier would receive alongside the impassiveness of the broader masses on the platform, who just tried to pretend he wasn't there. (.)

The German men and women in Afghanistan set off for war without the support of the populace, and they know that when they return there won't be crowds cheering in the streets, ready to make heroes of them. Germany has turned its back on hero worship. The soldiers fight alone.

What are the most and the least effective military advertisements you have seen? I am most interested in honest, authentic and or funny ones, like the Danish Norwegian KFOR Boys. Yes, sure, post anti-military advertisements as well, if you like, but no gory stuff, please.

Endnote: This is a great photo contest to increase public support: Why Afghanistan Matters

Senate Report: NATO Countries Should Resume Arms Sales to Georgia

A report released by the staff of Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) has sparked controversy from Russia and Georgia.  Titled “Striking the Balance: U.S. Policy and Stability in Georgia,” (PDF) the report argues NATO Allies need a coordinated policy toward Georgia, and suggests it should include a resumption of arms sales that halted following the 2008 Georgia-Russia war:

The United States and NATO allies must reconcile a policy that leaves a dedicated NATO partner unable to provide for its basic defense requirements. These efforts will be most effective if they are undertaken on a multilateral basis. The Alliance must come to grips with the reality that Georgia will require coordinated security support from America and European nations for some years to come.

Particularly in the realm of security assistance, such coordination is critical. While Georgia finds itself under a de facto arms embargo, other NATO allies are pursuing record military deals with the Russian Federation. Georgia has become an exceptional contributor to international security through its contributions to missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. A strategy to enable Georgia to similarly provide for its own territorial defense will require close cooperation with NATO allies to preserve stability in the region. 

Following the war between Georgia and Russia, both Europe and the United States have largely stopped selling lethal military equipment to Georgia.  The United States has nonetheless continued training Georgian forces for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq under a program titled the “International Military Education and Training Program” (IMET), and funding appears to have increased for this training.  Relatively speaking, military equipment sales to Georgia were much higher than training funding up to 2008, but have dropped to zero in 2009 (see charts based on data from the Lugar report).

Georgia has embraced the report while Russia and the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia argue arms sales to Georgia could lead to another outbreak of violence in the region. 

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Germany to Kick Ass in Afghanistan?

Hey, hey, believe it or not, Germany is getting tough at the Hindu Kush. The Bundeswehr started its biggest operation yet in Afghanistan. 300 members of the Quick Reaction Force support the Afghan Army against insurgents near Kundus. For the first time, infantry fighting vehicles with heavy firepower have been deployed.

Moreover, the German Army Inspector General Wolfgang Schneiderhan stated in a press conferences that "now is the time to carry out this escalation" because of the upcoming Afghan elections and increase in attacks against the Bundeswehr. He also announced that the rules of engagement are currently being revised. "Escalating" is a normal military term, but I am still surprised that a general is using this phrase in a press conference. It might have been the first time ever since WWII that a German general is publicly advocating an escalation.

I have written a bit more about this on and would appreciate your assessment of the impact on stability in Afghanistan and the German mindset. Some German papers were talking about a "psychological threshold" being crossed in Germany.

American Success in Iraq Shuts Europe Up

"If someone had said two years ago that the US would have largely withdrawn its forces from Iraqi cities by now, he would have been called naive," writes German journalist Christoph Suess. Europeans did not believe that the Iraqis would be able to handle their own security so soon. They (we) "completely ignored all successes on the ground" and "did not want to confess that maybe the US did in fact achieve something in Iraq."

Read his op-ed on American Success in Iraq Shuts Europe Up.

Moaning German Soldiers an "Embarrassment"

From The Telegraph's (HT: Alex) most popular article today:

German soldiers are softies who lack discipline, hate responsibility and show an inadequate desire to serve their country, according to the army's chief inspector.

Related posts on Atlantic Review: German Soldiers in Afghanistan: Drinking Instead of Fighting and German Beer in Exchange for US Intelligence Information

Defense Policy-Making Suffers from a Lack of Citizen-Soldiers

This is a guest blog post by Donald Stadler, an American living and working in London:

Matthew Bogdanos, the assistant district attorney for New York City and a colonel in the US Marine Corps Reserves, argues in the Washington Post that the United States needs more 'citizen-soldiers', pointing out that:

In the 1970s, 74 percent of Congress had prior military service. Today: 23 percent. Barack Obama, though clearly respectful of the military, has never served in the military and has only two veterans in his Cabinet -- the fewest since Herbert Hoover. By contrast, John Kennedy, decorated for heroism in World War II, had only two Cabinet members who were not veterans. (...)

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Are Americans concerned that Britain is becoming "Europeanised"?

Even America's most loyal and important ally is not as much appreciated as it used to be in Washington. The UK-US special relationship is being reconsidered in both Britain and the United States.

In an article about the British army's lack of soldiers, lack of money and lack of conviction, The Economist writes:

British commanders have belatedly realised that they have much to learn, or rather relearn, about fighting small wars in distant lands. "We have lost our way," says one general. Underlying this malaise is concern about Britain's relationship with America, its most important ally. Generals worry that the United States is losing confidence in Britain's military worth. Some Americans have indeed been expressing doubts: policymakers ask whether British leaders are losing the will to fight, soldiers whether their British counterparts are losing the ability to do so. There is talk that Britain is becoming "Europeanised", more averse to making war and keener on peacekeeping. Britain remains America's closest and most able ally; its special forces are particularly prized. But one senior official in the former Bush administration says there is "a lot of concern on the US side about whether we are going to have an ally with the capability and willingness to be in the fight with us".

Alex Harrowell with A Fistful of Euros takes issue with the assumptions behind the accusation that Britain is "Europeanised:"

First, the UK cannot do this because, having spent the last 8 years chasing various US-inspired missions, it doesn't have the troops, and more to the point, it doesn't have the air transport fleet to support them in the interior of Asia. Simple. But more importantly, there are two huge unexamined assumptions here. The first is that the Europeans have to come when the US calls them. What is in it for us? After all, NATO declared that the alliance had been invoked back in September 2001, and was told that its assistance was not required, at the same time as hordes of rightwing publicists accused it of not helping. Then, later, the US accepted the need for an international peacekeeping force, which was led by European NATO members for most of its existence.

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Sarkozy pilots Middle East cease-fire talks, fills US power vacuum

Israel’s land invasion continues with the Jewish state showing little sign it is ready to negotiate a truce.  While Hamas has indicated it is prepared to begin negotiations, Israel does not intend to sit at the table with Hamas in any future negotiations, reports Haaretz:
Israel will instead seek separate agreements with moderate Arab states, with the Palestinian Authority and with the international community.

"The international community will initiate the agreements and will impose it on Hamas," [a Haaretz] source said. "The agreements will be with both the PA and Egypt and then if Hamas will not agree it will pay the price, mostly by even greater [diplomatic] isolation."
Despite disallowing signals from Israel about the prospects of their short-term success, the ever-ambitious Sarkozy is taking advantage of the US power vacuum to assume diplomatic leadership in the talks, hoping to capitalize on France’s controversially reinvigorated ties with Syria, Time reports:   
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