NewsFeed n°52

Published by Elias Ricken on

In this edition that covers the last two weeks, we tell you about the security of critical infrastructure, the territorial command for the German army, the new air defence system prvides to Ukraine and much more.
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Focus: How safe is our critical infrastructure?

Here’s the matter that can be re-evaluated by any national or supranational organizations owing to warfare threats across the planet. Since the Nord Stream pipeline apparent sabotage off the coast of Sweden, all eyes are indeed on vital energy, telecommunication or any infrastructures that may harm the notion of sovereignty. EU-members and its US allies take the eventuality of another sabotage quite seriously as Russia seems to engage in a process whereby every means to hinder its opponents are meaningful. While energy supplies from Russia tend to be are at their lowest level as a result of both joint decisions in Europe and pipelines shutdown, the question remains: What next in case of further escalation? To this question, many variables stay unknown as the field of possibilities is so vast.

However, some present elements indicate where to focus and how to anticipate possible attempts on sovereign infrastructures. For example, until recently, a few drones have been spotted in the vicinity of offshore oil platforms. Additionally, history has displayed that satellites orbiting our planet also represent a prime target.

On a global scale, submarine cables are of crucial importance, since 97% of intercontinental telecommunications and $10,000 billion in daily financial transactions are said to use this route.

Previously, the presence of the Russian oceanographic vessel Yantar in the vicinity of American cables had aroused suspicions in 2015. Turns out the ship was recently spotted near the AEConnect-1 and Celtic Norse submarines cables, which link Ireland and Scotland to the United States, before reaching the Murmansk naval base. This was enough to alert occidental intelligence services, all the more that Russia clearly has the equipment for this type of operation. As a reminder, a cut in a cable in the Black Sea was detected just before the Georgian conflict in 2008. As a reaction, president Macron would have, according to Europe 1, a well-established radio, demanded the inspection of all French thirty cables around the world to make sure of their condition.

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European policies

Territorial command for the German army – what is its purpose and role?

For the sake of better organizing the German army’s ability to act in a national crisis situation, the German MOD decided on the reorganisation of different existing departments into the “Territoriales Führungskommando der Bundeswehr”, the territorial command of the Bundeswehr.
The call for such a regroupement had been made in June this year, in reaction to:
the war in Ukraine (national defence),
the devastating flooding in the Ahrtal in summer of 2021 (civil and disaster protection),
and the administrative assistance provided during the Corona crisis (civil-military cooperation),

Additionally, the territorial command will be charged with host nation support tasks for NATO and EU partners.

These are the four pillars the administrative structure is built on. The troops that serve to fulfil these roles, will be drawn most extensively from the “Landeskommandos”, that are specialized in homeland protection and are stationed in regimental size in all of the 16 German federal states. Important to note are the two following points:

The “Territoriales Führungskommando” is not completely new invented, but merely a reorganisation of the existing departments into one (hopefully sleek) administrative structure.

This step does not include a widening of legal possibilities for the German army to interfere inlands with army duties. As one can see, tasks of the territorial command are oriented in the direction of civil-military cooperation. This means that soldiers performing their active duty as part of the territorial command will be deployed as civilian assistance and not as combat troops. The deployment of the German army as a combat force on German soil is strictly locked behind a parliamentary procedure and will only be touched in the case of national defence.

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International Relations

Mali Update: Su-25 crash at Gao and Russio-Malian relations increase

On the morning of the 4th of October, a Malian Su-25 Frogfoot attack-aircraft crashed o landing approach on Gao-Airfield in Mali. The aircraft had been delivered only two months before, along with another Su-25 and a number of L-39 training aircraft. With the increasing political relations between Mali and Russia, this had been another step in the “win-win-partnership”, in security and economic politics, as it was put by Malian president Assimi Goita. As a matter of fact, the crash caused both Frogfoot crew members lives and insured several ground personal. It is unclear of which nationality the aircraft crew were, however, since the initiated training program for Malian pilots began only two months ago, one could assume that one of the crew could have been of Russian nationality.
Since the Gao-airfield, where the crash occurred is in immediate distance to the German camp Castor, housing a German reconnaissance force that serves under UN legislation in MINUSMA, these troop helped in the aftermath of the accident.
In the meantime, this very force is waiting for their own clearance for transport aircraft, whether be it by a civilian company or military. The thin chain of authorisation for possible Medivac however, stands.

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IRIS-T SLM – the first weapon delivery from affect and its capabilities

The weapon deliveries conducted by western partners to Ukraine decided on in the circle of NATO or the EU. Now, for the first time, the Surface-to-Air defence system IRIS-T SLM, has been provided in reaction to a concrete need for air defence over Ukraine and is already in service in Ukraine right now. After an explosion of the Crimean Bridge on the 8th of October, Russia openly increased attacks on civilian Ukrainian infrastructure. Especially the capital Kyiv and the city of Kharkiv came under fire by Russian missiles. In reaction to that, Germany decided to provide Ukraine with the IRIS-T SLM (Surface Launched Medium range) to Ukraine. The system is consisting of five vehicles: Three missile-launching vehicles, one radar-carrying vehicle and one lead vehicle. The missile used should already be familiar, since the IRIS-T is already configured in its Air-to Air form on the German Eurofighter Typhoon and Panavia Tornado FB. Here in its Surface-to-Air form, the system provides air cover of a 40km radius with 20km of height: Further stating, it is ideal to protect larger cities from incoming cruise missiles or fighter planes.
Along with the delivery announcement from Germany, the United States also announced the delivery of their NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) to Ukraine. This system is similarly used in the states to protect critical infrastructure, such as the White House. All in all, two systems with a very concrete purpose are delivered to Ukraine. Both count themselves among the most modern technology available (in fact, not even the German army itself is yet equipped with them, their introduction is planned for 2025).
Perhaps, these systems mark a change in weapon deliveries for Ukraine, shifting from older but “easy-to-use” tech to more modern equipment that accurately fits the purpose of the current state of the war and provides Ukraine with systems that are equal if not superior to those Russia brings to the field.

Original articles: 🇩🇪 🇩🇪 🇬🇧 🇩🇪

External operations and military cooperations

The EU launches the EUMAM Ukraine training mission

The European Union should approve, Monday October 17th, the set-up for a training mission for the Ukrainian army, the EUMAM Ukraine. It was a commitment from the Prague summit last August 30th.

The target is to train first 15.000 Ukrainian soldiers for a basic and specialised training, a number that could be re-evaluated. It is also aimed at coordinating the already existing missions deployed by the United-Kingdom with Sweden, the Netherlands or Denmark, and share costs.

The command will be given to the Planification and conduct military capacity, an EU organ, with two operational headquarters in Poland, the entry point of the weapons delivered to Kiev, and Germany. Training will be mainly performed in those two host countries but some like France will not export their instruction for efficiency and recognition reasons. On the contrary also to other training missions, it will not be financed by the participating countries but through the European Peace Facility, already used to refund the countries delivering weapons to Ukraine for €2.5Mds.

It is a shared opinion within the European Union diplomacy service that it should have been launched earlier, but in addition to the long decision-making process in the EU, the choice of those two headquarters have indeed needed some compromise as both countries wanted leadership on the mission. However, it will allow each country to formally train the Ukrainian army on the multiple and various equipment delivered to them, a huge support with direct effects on the field.

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The German Battlegroup Command Centre in Lithuania has been inaugurated

Since a few months, Germany has been setting up a permanent command centre at brigade level in Lithuania, to quickly deploy troops there in case of a Russian invasion. The centre has been inaugurated by Christine Lambrecht on October 8th. The thousands of soldiers involved are however not stationed in the country, but will be able to deploy in 10 days, a quite challenging deadline considering the logistics and equipment transfer constraints.

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France rethinks its role in FCAS

The FCAS program, a cooperation launched by France and Germany joined later by Spain which aims at developing a next generation of fighter aircraft, is blocked since more than a year for industrial reasons. Dassault Aviation, designated leader of the aircraft development, had to make some concessions on the governance by accepting that half the work packages are without designated leaders and by splitting the rest to one third each. But it is not ready to do more to keep the capacity to act as prime contractor.

The new French Minister of Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, met his German counterpart, Christine Lambrecht, in Berlin on September 22th and the topic was on the agenda. He affirmed once more that the project was a priority for both Paris and Berlin and that “it will happen”. However, when questioned about this statement and the current state of the project during an audition in front of the French senate on October 11th, he gave additional context.

He clarified that he meant that “there will be a successor of the Rafale, that will participate to our nuclear deterrence and to our export policy”, “two structuring elements of the program”. However, he also added that “the cooperation is not the aircraft’s need” and that it has been clearly stated to the German side.

To the question “is there a plan B”, as a reference to the declarations of Dassault’s CEO, Eric Trappier, he eluded: “France should not take shame in its competences”. He reaffirmed that the Statement of Work should be signed soon, which may allow the program to at last go one step further.

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