NATO and Europeans

By Arthur Dunn

Back in 2011 the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen issued a public warning, noting that the aggregate reductions in military spending in Europe totaled USD 45 billion, which is jeopardizing the viability of the Alliance and the US-European relations. Since then, bogged down in the Afghan war and faced with the economic downturn and the need to reduce budget deficits, military spending of the EU countries decreased even more. The U.S. share of total expenditures NATO has grown from 63% in 2001 to almost 75% today. Military budgets of the Alliance from 2009 to 2013 declined by about 8.5%, and tend to decrease in the future. If in 2009 the total level of defense spending in Europe amounted to USD 256 billion, in 2013 - USD 234,3 billion of the 28 NATO countries only the United States, Britain and Greece held its own requirements on the amount of military spending at 2% of GDP. Even Britain and France were forced to go on ways to reduce defense appropriations. As a result, last year for the first time Asian military spending exceeded European.


The U.S. is currently faced with a dilemma: on the one hand, the need to continue to support the viability of NATO, on the other hand, as a new priority Washington chose the Asia-Pacific region. In this situation the USA is growing irritation position of the Europeans.


Western experts have openly said that without the help of America's Europe is not able to conduct large-scale military operations both because of dwindling financial resources, as well as political reasons.


Operations in Libya and Mali revealed the weakness of Europe to a greater degree than its power. Libyan air defense was offset mainly through the efforts of the United States. Moreover, without the supply of U.S. missiles and bombs, no U.S. air tankers no-fly zone would not be. In Mali, the French are critically dependent on U.S. intelligence data, besptlotnikov, logistical and transportation support. It is a logical result of the policy of economies of security: since 2008 the number of combat aircraft in Europe decreased by 15% - from 1900 to 1600 pcs. Expenditures for the purchase of new aircraft decreased from 2009 by more than 14% and amount in the current year, about USD 17,2 billion, resulting in key European programs in the field of military aviation deferred, curtailed or canceled.


The changing nature of threats in the future will mean for NATO need to be ready to conduct operations on the Afghan-Libyan or Malian scenario. But Europe will not be able to fully participate in them. The most powerful European states, France and Britain are now concerned about saving at least its nuclear capability - the latest feature by which they still belong to the category of the great powers. At the same time becoming more and more obvious that London can not contain both nuclear power and capable of sufficient numbers of conventional troops. Air Force already reduced fleet of combat aircraft from 315 to about 200 aircraft: fighters, "Harrier" and "Tornado" removed from service, but the new machine to replace them do not come. The decision to gradually reduce fleet attack aircraft "Tornado GR.4» by March 2015 will probably reduce the number of Royal Air Force fighter aircraft to less than 150 units. By Washington are already playing hints that the UK more rational to opt for one of two things: either to remain a nuclear power (and no more), or retain the conventional defense capabilities and the alliance with the United States.


No better case and from France. In a recently published White Paper, the Ministry of Defence are plans to reduce the number of fighters in the Air Force and Navy to 225 units, while in the previous edition of the White Paper indicates the number of 300 units. Since 2008, France has lost about 20% of combat aviation. Park Air Force fighters will be gradually reduced to the number of 167-177 aircraft (with 248 aircraft at the moment).


Initiatives aimed at improving the combat capability of the EU at the expense of deepening cooperation in the military field have stalled. The European Union in 1999 set a goal of creating "Eurocorps" numbering 60,000 soldiers. By now it was limited to combat groups in the 1500-2500 military to be formed on the basis of rotation of the units of a large number of countries at different levels of training and armament. As a result, the level of readiness of these groups varies depending on whose troops make up the backbone. But the problem is that the Europeans do not want to even contain these groups. While initially it was about 2 combat Readiness Force, now limited to only one.


There are difficulties and political nature. For example, Germany has blocked the desire of France to use the Franco-German brigade numbering 5,000 people in Mali. This is even more discredited the very idea of ​​military cooperation between European countries.


Even sending five hundred military trainers in Mali, the EU became the subject of protracted negotiations and discussions.


The situation is aggravated by the selfishness of some European countries. Having no direct border with the regions, where it can pose a risk, they refuse the most expensive segments of its defense, or cut them to a symbolic level to save. Calculation is that if necessary they will protect others. For example, the Netherlands and Hungary refused tanks. Sweden remained without any artillery (at least until the autumn of 2014). In Denmark, for the last five years, the park fighter F-16umenshilsya from 61 to 30 aircraft. The Dutch have reduced their F-16 from 105 to 87 cars.


In this regard, all Bole relevant is the question of the future of NATO. The Soviet threat has disappeared. Conflicts within the European continent at a time is unlikely. The only raison d'être of NATO is taking unit responsible for international peace and security. Otherwise, the raison d'être of the Alliance is not there. However, the state of whether NATO to carry such a burden at least in the region immediately adjacent to the territories of the Member States? Without the United States - the answer clearly is no.


Washington took a course on the formation of new alliances and alliances in the Middle East and Asia. Europe with the fall of the same self-defense capability is no longer important ally for the U.S.. However, it has some political value, providing support for American initiatives in East Asia, which allows the United States to speak not only on their own behalf.


The weakening of NATO creates a security vacuum in the region of northern Eurasia, which is complete, no one can. The situation in the CSTO generally abysmal. Budget constraints have appeared in Moscow. Actually address the issue of re-sequestration advertised programs. So far, however, we are talking about their transfer to future periods. The problem is that Russia accounts for about 97% (!) Of the total military spending of the CSTO.


On their own expense and interest is not more than indicators. And they show that the risk of post-Soviet region to return to a situation of imbalance regional security mechanisms. In fact, can form a vacuum that sooner or later someone will try to fill. And not the fact that peaceful means. This "someone" can be a major state within the region as well as among its neighbors. In terms of "withdrawal" of Americans and helplessness collective security system will be the most vulnerable situation of small and medium-sized countries that are comfortably under the "umbrella" of regional blocks. For the post-Soviet space, where a number of countries classified as "failed", ie teetering on the brink of collapse, it is especially dangerous.