The NewsFeed is a press review with a summary of a selection of articles and events that occurred in the past two weeks. Keep track!
In this edition that covers the last two weeks, we address the NATO Summit, a new project for a European transport plane, the current situation in Mali and much more.
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Focus: NATO Summit 2022 – What was achieved?
On the waning days of June 2022, the 35th NATO summit took place in Madrid. As we discussed in our last NewsFeed, published on the 27 of June, one days before the summit began, many different topics were bound to be addressed:
Most notably of course the Russian war in Ukraine, that brings a lot of side topics into the discussion: the finish and Swedish adhesion to NATO, the reinforced eastern flank of NATO and the concrete help that NATO member states apply to Ukraine.
Additionally, a new strategic concept paper was developed that presents the guidelines for the alliance in the upcoming years. Here are the most important points of the summit.
Regarding policies in Europe:
Since the 24th of February, and now in cold print in the strategic concept, it is clear that NATOs primary threat is the Russian Federation. Therefore, NATOs eastern flank, which includes the countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria will be reinforced by upsizing the present combat force to Brigade-size, additionally to local troops. Before, Germany had already announced such an initiative, now it is clear that the entire alliance will follow.
Finland and Sweden will join NATO in the coming months and become full-sized members of the alliance. The member state Türkiye has objected their adhesion, now, after some diplomatic work in between the alliance-members, everything has been settled and the way is clear for their accession.
On the international stage:
NATO general secretary has made clear, that the 2% of Gross domestic product (GDP) that every member state is supposed to pay to NATO is meant as “more of a floor than a ceiling”. Further stating that defence spendings will have to rise in the coming years in general in order to adapt to a new political reality.
Besides the war waging in Ukraine, NATO will also have to concern itself with the China external ambitions, that heavily speak against NATOs security concept and the UNs human rights concept. In order to rise to this issue as well and accord importance to it, the country of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea were invited to the summit for the first time. These four countries are not NATO members, but share NATOs values and political course towards China. A denser cooperation will definitely be of great use and even necessary to confront China regarding its territorial claims. If you would like to know more about this topic, we strongly encourage you to read the Focus of our 45th NewsFeed, published on the 16th of June, about China´s external politics.
Is the FCAS short from being cancelled ?
The FCAS is the ambitious programme launched by France and Germany, later joined by Spain, to develop a new generation fighter aircraft, based on stealth, artificial intelligence, autonomous effectors and enhanced connectivity.
A political agreement was voted in August 2021, paving the way to the industrial cooperation. However, since then, Dassault Aviation and Airus Defence & Space, the main industrial stakeholders, are still far from an agreement. Dassault is leader on the aircraft, but with the arrival of Airbus Spain in the project, it had to accept that half of the tasks would be without explicit leader, and the other half would be shared equally. And for its CEO, it withdraws its levers for leading the project and therefore put a risk on performance, cost and delay of the whole programme. The situation has not gone forward since then.
However, on June 29th, the German Ministry of Defence released a report on armament, which questions the cooperation. Indeed, it is indicated that “the disagreement between the industrial actors lead to delaying the next phase”, and that “if no agreement can be found that satisfies the three nations’ interest for a participation on an equal foot, the cooperation must be questioned.“
On the other side of the Rhine, only a few days before, Dassault’s CEO had a quite similar statement, underlying that “if a cooperation is less efficient and costs more, there is not shame in going alone”.
Despite those positions, no concrete facts have been changing the current balance of the status quo.
The Future Mid-size Tactical Cargo PESCO project gets one step closer to take-off
Among the new batch of PESCO projects, one of the major in impact and budget is the “Future mid-Size Tactical Cargo” (FMTC). Its goal is to develop a new tactical transport aircraft by 2040, a lighter version of the A400M, already in service in 6 European countries. The FMTC project gathers France, as coordinator, with Germany and Sweden.
And the three countries signed an agreement during the European Wings seminar in Orleans, France, organised by France for all the European Air Chiefs of Staff in the last week of June. In the same time, the European Commission published its call for tenders for the feasibility studies of many projects, including this one. And it is clearly indicated that these “workhorses of battlefields” would be dual-use, as also “key assets for a better civil defence and protection and EU-internal needs, with critical contribution to disaster relief, search-and-rescue and sanitary crises response.” Therefore, it is also seen as an opportunity to assist the European response to events with many recent examples.
The study will target a need analysis and identify the opportunities of development in priority with the Member States of the European Defence Fund, to which the project is eligible.
External operations and military cooperation
Mali: Who is there and with what mandate?
On Friday, the 1st of July, the French Defence Staff announced the end of TF (Task Force) Takuba: the follow-up, special-forces operation to operation Barkhane, in Mali. All military personal had returned to their home countries at latest the day before, after a general withdrawal from Mali was ordered on the 17th of February this year. In contrast to operation Barkhane, that was a purely French operation, Takuba saw the participation of multiple European countries, namely such as Sweden, Estonia and the Czech-Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark and Romania. Because of the level of profound cooperation in between the countries and the operational goals that were achieved in the operation, in can generally be evaluated as a success. With the Malian demand for European military forces to leave the country, the succession of three military operations (Serval, Barkhane, Takuba) has now come to an end. Two other operations on Malian soil are/were:
The UN-peacekeeping mission MINUSMA currently counts a maximum of 13.289 military personal and a minimum of 40 observers from 61 different countries, although the majority of the personal comes from African countries. The force exists since April 2013 and has been prolonged by the UN for at least one year on June 30th 2022.
The third mission, EUTM-Mali, is a training mission under EU-mandate to train Malian soldiers in their fight against terrorism. It has been stopped in April this year because the Malian government wouldn´t confirm that they do not work with Russian mercenaries of the Wagner-group. Forces that were training the Malian soldiers are either brought back to their home-countries or are transferred to surrounding countries to continue training the local forces. The German EUTM-Mali-forces for example, are transferred to the operation Gazelle, which is the German training mission in the neighbouring country of Niger.
In the months before it was cancelled, the operation had already come increasingly under critique, since the Malian army doesn´t seem to operate under compliance to Human Right. Especially after the Malian government expressed their demand for the active European military force to depart and the Malian army started activity in cooperation with the Wagner-group, it had become increasingly difficult for supporters of EUTM-Mali to justify the operation. Now, the UN peacekeeping-force has been denied liberty of movement to investigate at the village of Moura, where Malian forces, along with Russian mercenaries, are supposed to have committed war crimes that they blamed on the French.
News on Franco-German naval cooperation
The French and German navies agree to more cooperate in future times. Last Monday, on the 4th of July, Chief of Staff of the French Navy, Amiral Pierre Vandier stated his will to establish, maintain and reinforce the mutual long-term familiarity in between both navies, with a pool of officers that have studied on naval school in France and Germany.
For the German Navy, this invitation comes to a very handy point in time, since a general reformation of the entire armed forces seems to be imminent and coming for the next years. This gives plenty of possibilities to revise partnership programs and join Amiral Pierre Vandier in his ambition.
As a matter of fact, the Inspector of the German Navy has just recently entered office in January 2022: His behemoth task for the forthcoming years will be to make the procurement department for the German Army effectively digest the enormous sum of 19,3 Billion € that has been given to the German Navy through the recent special army fund. Knowing, that Germany looks with a certain degree of admiration onto the simplicity and ability of the French procurement system, a deeper partnership between France and Germany surely has its place in the coming reforming progress. For now, however, the Inspector of the German Navy Jan Christian Kaack, has outlined his seven priorities for future purchases as such: „Ammunition, ammunition, ammunition, spare parts, spare parts, spare parts and leadership skills.” …which gives a frightening real impression, for the basic needs, the German Army will be occupied solving first
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