NATO’s member states met in Belgium in early June 2018 and made a rather profound change to how the group will function. Here are the key details that are being put into place to deter a “resurgent Russia” by building a Western European fortress.
According to an early May 2018 news item from Radio Free Europe (the international propaganda arm of Washington), the U.S. Pentagon is launching a new naval command to increase trans-Atlantic security. Here is a quote from Johnny Michael, Spokesperson at the Office of the Secretary of Defense:
“The return to great power competition and a resurgent Russia demands that NATO refocus on the Atlantic to ensure dedicated reinforcement of the continent and demonstrate a capable and credible deterrence effect.”
Here is the news release from the U.S. Department of Defense:
Here is a quote from another Radio Free Europe news item from an interview with General Petr Pavel, the Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee:
“Pavel said Russia was the greatest danger to “the security of Western countries and the model of society that we have.”
He said Russia’s hybrid war against the West was a “crawling threat that is beneath the surface and it is gaining more and more ground and that’s why it’s so important to disclose, name it by its proper names, and react to it with the appropriate tools.”
Pavel said he did not think NATO is losing the information war with Russia. But he admitted the alliance was “probably late to recognize” aggressive Russian behavior for what it was.
He said Moscow takes advantage of the multitude of freedoms in Western society, something not possible in Russia’s tightly controlled atmosphere. That, he said, put Western cyber-countermeasures at a disadvantage.
“Russia does not hesitate to abuse all of these freedoms to exert more influence using all methods, those that are legal and including those that are beyond legality,” Pavel said.
The NATO general also discounted a recent think-tank report that concluded Russia sharply cut its military budget in 2017.
“I don’t think that we should make defense spending a major element of our calculus,” he said. “We have to look — especially us in uniform — at real capabilities. Russian military capabilities, both conventional and nuclear, are significant.”
Pavel appeared untroubled by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bold presentation of a host of new weapon systems during his state-of-the-union address in March.
“I don’t want to underestimate [the] Russian capability to develop new weapons and come up with new technologically advanced systems,” he said. “But the way of presenting these new developments was much more to impress [the] population in Russia and to deliver [a] limited deterrence message to the opponents.”
To underline his point, he said, “The presentation used by President Putin was mostly for local consumption.“”
With that background, let’s look at a more recent development. At the aforementioned early June 2018 meeting of NATO’s defence ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made the following statements in a post-meeting press conference:
Then on military mobility, which is actually linked to that. To be sure that we are able to reinforce, we have to be able to move forces, and therefore much of what we now do is linked to that by, for instance establishing the new Atlantic Command, the new Support Command in Europe, which will plan exercise for the movement of forces, for reinforcements, but also military mobility, which is very much linked to infrastructure, but also to remove legal hindrances, customs, bureaucracies, so we can easily move forces across Europe. It should be easy to move forces from Toulouse to Tallinn, if needed. And what we have done now is that we have started the process. The EU has put forward an action plan with also some funding for investing in infrastructure. It’s important that those investments, in bridges, in roads and tunnels, are coherent with the needs for moving NATO military equipment, personnel. And therefore, I also shared with President Juncker and President Tusk the NATO requirements and the EU and NATO are now working together, staff-to-staff level, to make sure that what we do on military mobility is fully coherent.” (my bold)
To aid in this rapid deployment of combat units across the Atlantic Ocean, two new headquarters will be built. One will be located in Norfolk, Virginia and a new Joint Support Enabling Command (JSEC) will be built in Ulm, Germany. The new JSEC will be responsible for movement of troops and materiel and the coordination of protection for Europe. It is hoped that the new system will be operationally ready by the end of 2021. Here’s what appeared on the Facebook page of the German Delegation to NATO regarding the JSEC:
There is another interesting aspect to this buildup to war. On June 6, 2018, the European Commission made this announcement:
“As part of the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the European Commission is today proposing to renew the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’, with a budget of €42.3 billion to support investments in the European infrastructure networks for transport (€30.6 billion), energy (€8.7 billion) and digital (€3 billion).”
Note the €30.6 billion or $35.42 billion (US) investment in transportation networks. Here’s further information on exactly what that investment involves:
“For the first time ever, the Connecting Europe Facility will also support civilian-military dual use transport infrastructure with €6.5 billion. The objective is to adapt Europe’s transport network to military requirements and to improve military mobility in the EU. This will make an important contribution to a fully-fledged Defence Union by 2025, which is a political priority of this Commission. Today’s proposal delivers on the Joint Communication from November 2017 and Action Plan from March 2018.” (my bold)
“Today’s Action Plan builds on the Roadmap on Military Mobility developed in the framework of the European Defence Agency. Concrete actions are proposed in the following areas:
Military requirements: This is the starting point for an effective and coordinated approach to military mobility across the EU. The European External Action Service (EEAS) and the EU Military Staff will develop military requirements, which reflect the needs of the EU and its Member States, including the infrastructure needed for military mobility. The Council is invited to consider and validate those military requirements by mid-2018.
Transport infrastructure: Infrastructure policy and investments offer opportunities for more synergies between civilian and military needs. By 2019, the Commission will identify the parts of the trans-European transport network suitable for military transport, including necessary upgrades of existing infrastructure (e.g. the height or the weight capacity of bridges). A priority list of projects will be drawn up. The Commission will take into account possible additional financial support for these projects in the next multiannual financial framework.
Regulatory and procedural issues: The Commission will look at options to streamline and simplify customs formalities for military operations and assess the need to align rules for the transport of dangerous goods in the military domain. In parallel, the European Defence Agency will support Member States in developing arrangements on cross-border movement permissions.”
As you can see from the various sources that I have quoted in this posting, Europe is bracing for war, most likely a conflict with Russia. Tens of billions of euros/dollars are being spent in an effort to create “Fortress Europe” to protect its eastern flank from a Russian incursion. While the number of troops involved in the “Four 30’s” plan by NATO is insufficient as an offensive force, it certainly sends a message that a conflict with Russia is expected, most likely over the Baltic nations. On the upside, just think of the money that is pouring into the American defence business!
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