|Author (Person)||Abbott, Dennis|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.8, No.7, 21.2.02, p6|
THE former head of Germany's armed forces says the European Union will not be ready to meet its military 'headline goal' for at least five years - despite a pledge to the contrary by Union leaders at the Laeken summit.
They declared European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) 'operational', confirming that the EU would be capable of deploying up to 60,000 troops to carry out international operations by their stated target date of 2003.
However Klaus Naumann, former chairman of the NATO Military Committee, believes this is mission impossible owing to massive shortfalls in equipment and capabilities.
'If you really look at the list of identified shortfalls and what they have now promised to deliver, you will detect that the critical shortfalls are not yet covered by commitments and that most of those critical shortfalls will not be covered much earlier than 2008,' he said.
Naumann admits that his own country's unwillingness to meet the costs of closing the capabilities gap has not helped.
'It is not easy for me to say this but most of the European efforts have been hampered by the bad examples set by Germany.
'If the biggest European country is cutting defence spending in such a way as Germany has done, you cannot expect others who are not as wealthy as Germany to spend more on defence.
'There is a general recognition that Germany needs to do more. It is of course...not easy to do this a couple of months before a general election.'
The general's comments, made during an interview with the UK House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union, echo remarks made recently by former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Sir Rupert Smith.
Speaking at a defence industry conference in Brussels,organised by consultants GPC, Smith claimed that 'Europe's forces are not adequate', arguing that the EU has failed to meet three basic tests for ensuring its security - 'having a credible force with the evident will to use it, the evident ability to find and strike the appropriate targets, and the evident will and ability to escalate'.
The 2003 target for ESDP was set at the Helsinki summit in December 1999. It envisaged the EU rapid reaction force carrying out a range of so-called 'Petersberg' tasks, named after a German hotel where they were first drawn up.
These range from low-level humanitarian and policing tasks to 'peace-making' operations which can include fighting wars.
The force of up to 60,000 troops would have to be capable of being deployed within 60 days and able to sustain itself for up to a year.
In practice, allowing for troop rotation, it has been estimated that up to 180,000 soldiers will be required.
Some 40 equipment shortfalls were identified at the Capabilities Improvement Conference held in Brussels last November.
They include a lack of attack helicopters, special operations forces, unmanned air vehicles, air-to-air refuelling, cargo planes and ships, ballistic missile defence and surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
The EU Select Committee, whose members include Field Marshal Lord Inge, former chief of the defence staff between 1994 and 1997, concludes that governments must increase defence expenditure in real terms if they are to meet the Helsinki objectives.
It states that that the headline goal is currently 'disproportionately dependent' on Britain and France and that all 15 member states have a responsibility to improve the situation.
'Command and control mechanisms remain poorly thought out and must be considered as a matter of urgency,' it adds.
The committee also calls for:
The former head of Germany's armed forces, Klaus Naumann, says the European Union will not be ready to meet its military 'headline goal' for at least five years - despite a pledge to the contrary by Union leaders at the Laeken summit.
|Subject Categories||Security and Defence|