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European Political-Military Analysis and Decision-Making

European Political-Military Analysis and Decision-Making

François Mermet

Excerpt from "The Role of European Ground and Air Forces after the Cold War", Conference held on October 24-25 of 1996 and documents edited by Commander Gert de Nooy, Director of the Research Department of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations 'Clingendael' in 1997.

French Air-Chief Marshal François Mermet contributed to this conference speaking of European Political-Military Analysis and Decision-Making (pages 29 to 49 published by Kluwer Law International. Printed in the Netherlands). Copyrighted document reproduced with the permission of the above mentioned Institute and of Kluwer Law International.

© 1997 Kluwer Law International. Printed in the Netherlands.


To raise the issue of decision-making in European security is to suppose that a European political authority exists that is provided with reliable means of analysis, using information sources that it can control, since this European authority has to assess situations on its own and select available options in full independence.

An available intelligence capability should therefore be the logical consequence of the existence of a European political authority, except if one has to admit that it is the organ that creates the function, and not the function that creates the organ! In a land where Descartes drafted his treatise on method, it is difficult to resist the temptation to reverse the process and examine whether by making the still ill-defined structures of the WEU's progress towards a self-sufficient situation assessment capability, one is not generating, due to the nature of the product (that is, information), an independent policy allowing decision-making and action-taking. This is my first introductory remark.

My second comment arises from reading the introductory remarks on the role of European land and air forces in the new European - it does not say global -strategic environment. Should one not see there the idea of a new Air Land Battle? Is it is not somewhat surprising not to see European Navies involved in this train of thought?

First of all, to reflect on a European military strategy project without emphasizing from the start that, while Europe features 2,000 kilometers of Eastern borders - 3,000 now with Finland - it is circumscribed by 20,000 kilometers of coastline, is taking the risk of confining it to a purely continental role and of questioning its role as a global power, which rests on sea, air and space, a role in which Europe has long been the leader, at least in the two first domains. It also means not looking far enough eastwards, well beyond the Urals, to Asia, where the world's center of gravity will shift during the next century.

One may be afraid that, confined within an Atlantic organization that would assign it its missions, Europe could be in danger of 'developing a two-class military: A bleeding class and a precision class. The Europeans will provide the soldiers and the Americans will provide the precision weapons. (1)

The primary security, objectives for future Europe should therefore address:

• 'Crisis management mechanisms, including procedures for force generation and assembly, and command and control procedures;

• Strategic air and sea transport capabilities;

• A European defense industrial base' (2), safeguarding advanced technologies in key domains that provide control of the third dimension and of information, namely those required to realize C4I systems.

In this respect, the SACLANT commander, General John Sheehan, was very candid on the fact that 'for many years, Europe has ensured its security and defense fairly cheaply, because it has been able to rely on the United States for all possible emergencies. In the foreseeable future, it will still be able to do so for North Atlantic Article 5 emergencies ... There are no obligations and no guarantees for other cases. This inadequate security arrangement can only be accepted temporarily. Europe will have to meet the serious shortcomings in its security and defense by starting to develop and acquire its own strategic assets in the fields of lift, logistics, and C4I, without delay, if it seriously intends to develop a European security and defense identity. (3)

Today, European countries at last have the opportunity to cease taking themselves in with fine words, and to create a real European defense Identity, this by means of a complete overhaul of the Alliance. If they miss this opportunity, there is the major risk of witnessing denationalization of European defenses, the death of the European defense industry, and the end of the dream of seeing Europe able to bear on world affairs.

European Decision-making Demands a Common Security Analysis, Military Advice and Command Organization

It is an inescapable fact that at present there is no strong political will in the field of a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Since the end of the Cold War, Europeans have proved unable to come up with a common posture when confronted with the numerous crises that have emerged in the world, including in Europe. Whether during the Gulf War, the interventions in Somalia, or in Rwanda and Burundi, then lately during the American strikes in Iraq, and finally during those three years when the crisis in Yugoslavia culminated, the Europeans never managed to come up with a common policy or even to avoid displaying diverging opinions. In the best of cases, two or three European states, sometimes a little more, intervened, or else satisfied themselves with a declaratory policy.

Recent occurrences enable two examples to be mentioned that demonstrate how the Americans intend to retain their global leadership and deliberately kept the Europeans away from the settlement of the Arab-Israeli crisis and of the Afghan conflict, this because of the minor political and military weight of Europe and of diverging economic interests.

Why this lack of common will ?

First of all, there exists a problem that is difficult to overcome owing to the weight of history and culture, and of the diverging national interests among all these previously major and sometimes leading actors in global history: the disparity of political, economic and geographic interests and of strategic objectives.

The only really unifying consensus was the common threat posed by the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. Even then, it should be emphasized that beyond the signing of defense treaties, opinions differed more than slightly on how to organize forces and their command networks, how to define a doctrine, how to fund the cost of that defence and how to accept the major role assumed by the Americans.

The fundamental problem today consists in switching from a defense that is limited to Europe (articles 5 and V of the treaties) and based upon leadership by the Americans, who control the essential command, intelligence and logistical assets, to an active security policy that goes beyond the boundaries of the NATO area and takes into account multiple risks all over the world.

The existing treaties, which cover reciprocal defense assistance strictly applied to national territories and dealing with a single threat from the East, are not adapted to the new risks, and neither are the forces and structures to which they gave birth.

Finally, the weight of habits inherited from this Cold War period must be emphasized, when Europeans, except France, entrusted the Americans with defining their security policy, and also with paying for most of their defense costs. Nowadays, however, European and American interests have more opportunities to differ. The United States is less and less ready to pay the economic and human cost of defending Europe, and of risking the lives of US troops in conflicts where American and even European interests do not seem to be directly and immediately at stake.

Americans are and will be ever more prone to resort to air strikes, when possible in the form of cruise missiles, and ever less inclined to commit their ground troops and the lives of their crews. However, recent occurrences show that those crises where peace must be maintained or even restored cannot be settled without committing ground troops. This is a durable cause for diverging appreciation between Europeans and Americans in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

Conversely, the United States are not ready to relinquish its political leadership bestowed upon it by the Europeans. As Pierre Lellouche puts it: "The present tensions within the Alliance are due to the following contrast: the United States wants to control wars without waging them, while the Europeans seek security without being willing to pay its political and financial price (4)".

Actions to undertake to promote a common political will

It seems likely that the institutional process is nearing its limits, and that enlarging before restructuring is leading to the dilution of the common will and to a European foreign policy that rarely goes beyond a declaratory mode.

As a last resort, there is the pragmatic approach that consists of seizing opportunities such as Bosnia, which gave an unexpected boost to French-British co-operation, a co-operation in fact extended to the Netherlands with the Rapid Reaction Force (RRF), or in taking advantage of initiatives with a contagious drive effect. Thus, the creation of the French-German Brigade gave birth to the French-German corps, then to the five-member European corps, and finally to the forming of EUROMARFOR, of EUROFOR, of the French-British Air Group, etc. It is noteworthy to emphasize that the creation of these bi- or multinational military organizations has allowed them, in a second phase, to be considered in a political perspective and to be made available to the Western European Union in the form of Forces Answerable to WEU (FAWEU), This is a concrete example of an approach supporting the formulation of a political will.

Likewise, the realization by France, Italy and Spain of HELIOS, a tripartite observation satellite, has led to the creation of a WEU Satellite Center, then of an Intelligence Section within the WEU Planning Cell in Brussels, a section which, once beefed up, could confer the WEU with self-sufficiency in the field of intelligence in order to allow the Council to assume, at all times, the responsibility for committing forces answerable to WEU to operations that it would have decided to conduct. (5)

It also appears that initiatives by several states in the field of intelligence concur with the formation of multinational forces involving (at various degrees of combination) nine of the ten WEU member states.

Thus the indispensable ingredients have materialized for the nine concerned European countries to be able to know in order to decide and... act, when they also have their own command and strategic mobility assets, this in order gradually to achieve a coherent European structure which could be used either within the Alliance framework or within a strictly European framework for those times when the Americans do not wish to commit themselves.

The role of Intelligence means in support of a common political will

Since the idea central to this discussion is to initiate a reassessment of the European decision-making process, the obvious assumption is the existence of a political structure that is able to make decisions, and which therefore must be provided to that end with the appropriate aids. These aids should allow options to be suggested that feature the political, military and economic aspects of the contemplated actions. The objective is not to react to events, as it has previously been the case, but to anticipate events by taking initiatives to prevent crises.

To this end, the control of a complete intelligence cycle (a collection with judiciously selected European information sources in order to avoid manipulation by other foreign sources, exploitation and analysis, orientation of the European sources for their collection, etc.) should provide the Europeans with self-sufficiency in assessing situations and enabling them to make fully independent decisions. However, it must be stressed that a political structure cannot base itself on items of information provided by sources that it does not control. This issue will be developed later.

Logically, a European decision-making authority should be set up first, before attempting to define the intelligence means that it will require.

However, given the slow pace at which such an authority is being set up, and in order to overcome the obstructions accumulated on its path, why not reverse the process and examine whether providing the WEU with an independent situation assessment, decision-making and crisis management capability will not inevitably generate, owing to the nature of the product, the conditions required to set up an appropriate European political structure? In other words, why not prove that, once in a while, it is not the function that creates the organ, but the organ that creates the function?

In fact, this is just the path that is being followed in the field of space, with the political will of France, Italy and Spain to acquire the HELIOS satellite observation capability, a co-operation now being extended to Germany with HELIOS-II and HORUS, and hopefully to other countries in the future, in order at last to provide the WEU with an independent European source of world observation. This does not mean that Europe will not also need satellite data from the United States or Russia, or from other countries. However, this European capability will bring several benefits, the first being to protect Europeans from possible manipulation by a monopolistic supplier of imagery. Everyone is aware that the Americans have taken advantage of their monopoly to influence their allies' decisions on some occasions, as with Chad, the Gulf crisis, and more recently Bosnia.

However, Europe should go beyond satellite imagery and set up an actual European Directorate of Intelligence, able to perform fusion and analysis of information and intelligence provided by the various technical and human sources of those European countries concerned by a given crisis. In order to anticipate crises, then to manage them and conduct the necessary actions, including military interventions, an information-decision-action system operating in real time is indispensable. This is why the WEU Intelligence Section should become an actual Directorate and hold a continuous global watch in order to warn the WEU Council of any crisis indicator that it has detected. This necessitates bestowing it with the freedom of action required by a real intelligence agency, without compelling it to be supervised by the Council in the orientation of its intelligence collection.

In order to avoid duplication between European and national levels, it would be possible to function like the British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), which does not have its own staff, but relies on assessment groups formed by experts from the various intelligence services. This idea could be adapted at a European Security Council level, which would meet with those countries that are concerned and ready to commit themselves together with a particular crisis. It has been proved that togetherness in vision allows togetherness in comprehension, in order to take better action together.

Political Security Decisions and Military Advice

When he set a clear distinction between a time for war and a time for peace, Clausewitz once stated that war was the conduct of policy by other means, and since war was an act of violence there was no limit to it. Today, facing at the same time nuclear and terrorist threats and permanent low-intensity conflicts, there is no longer a time for peace and time for war, nor time for the political and time for the military. In our new environment, my first remark is that such a distinction is tending to wear away, as violence can erupt as early as peacetime. Separating the military's tasks from those of the diplomats is thus no longer justified.

Furthermore, military stakes are not inevitably of primary concern. Stakes are often initially economic, as was the case in Kuwait, and they do not necessarily involve the survival of concerned countries, except for the Kuwaitis of course. This is also one of the reasons, in my opinion, why the Europeans and then the Americans were so reluctant to commit themselves in Yugoslavia. This civil war type of conflict was sensed neither as a matter of survival by the Europeans or the Americans, nor as a threat to their economic interests as was the case for Kuwait. It was the pressure of public opinion and the media that prompted the Europeans to intervene, in a purely humanitarian fashion and with little success, followed by the Americans, whose motivations were both electoral and diplomatic: to find a new purpose for NATO, which was looking for new grounds for existence following the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, and thus to prove the necessity of the Alliance remaining under American command.

Lessons learned there are unfortunately well known: military action cannot be an alibi or a substitute for the lack of clearly formulated policy. Furthermore, there were no appropriate military resources, nor were any concepts adapted to this new type of conflict, and, moreover, the improvised, ill-defined chains of command operated hopelessly slowly in either direction, often with disastrous effects.

My second remark is that these new crises are emerging all over the world in an environment that is often unfamiliar to political authorities as well as to military commanders. They lead to complex peacekeeping and/or peace restoration operations, mustering simultaneously diplomatic, economic, civilian and military actions, not forgetting continuous mediatory action. Just as there is no longer any distinction between peacetime and war, there is no clear separation either between peacekeeping and peace restoration. As a matter of fact, a peacekeeping-type operation can at all times change into a peace restoration or peace consolidation mission.

The first consequence is the requirement continuously to take into account the military implications of any action, whether political or economic. In fact, an economic action can cause a military response. Thus, in its day, the refusal to fund the Aswan High Dam was one of the reasons for Egypt nationalizing the Suez canal, which led to the French-British expedition, which was a military success but became a political failure not only because of the Soviet nuclear threat but also because of the fall of the Pound Sterling after the Americans refused to help their allies.

A second consequence is the obligation of the military, like the political authorities, to be able to respond to the day's risks or threats, to the evolution of challenges, and not only to those resulting from a major threat to national territory, as was the case during the Cold War period. It is up to the military to find appropriate solutions, if they exist, to support the political objectives that are being pursued, which entails the latter being clearly defined prior to any military commitment. It is thus through continuous political-military dialogue, and through successive increments, that military action will enable attainment of the pursued political objective.

Political Decision and Military Commitment

The example of Yugoslavia is very enlightening indeed. Because of the lack of common European political vision about the goals of intervention in this civil war, governments, prompted by public opinion aroused by the media, have indulged in the humanitarian alibi by deploying troops side by side with NGOs. In fact, it should always be kept in mind that mediatory exploitation always influences the judgement of decision-makers, even at the highest level; decision-makers should never forget that it is events that generate information and not the other way round; and that a good policy is never based on emotions.

In any case, military participation should have for sole purpose the creation of the security conditions required to proceed with humanitarian assistance to benefit populations falling victim to political catastrophes. Therefore, the confusion between humanitarian action and military action should not be fostered. Each one of these actions has its own purpose. One is that of the good Samaritan, the other that of achieving political ends. Armed forces generate security, within which NGOs generate humanitarian assistance.

Civil wars such as the one waged in former Yugoslavia have neither humanitarian solutions nor military solutions; they only have political solutions. In order to attain this objective, an employment concept of armed forces has to be based on the following principle: "Since conquering territories has ceased being fashionable, employment of national armed forces outside borders should be similar to that of task forces, which are able to switch without a break from a non-war posture (peace-keeping: Force control) to that of crisis (force application). To this end, forces should form a coherent, powerful, mobile structure with adapted command organization and logistics." (6)

As for the deployed force, it should be provided with three major capabilities:

An interposition capability to act effectively as a buffer between two belligerents,

An intervention capability aimed at deterring, including by force any action liable to, destabilize the area; and

• A capability to help humanitarian action by ensuring the security of NGOs and restoring a minimum of public services for the benefit of populations.

In order successfully to achieve this difficult assignment, the relationship between political authorities and the military should be continuous. An incident occurring between soldiers and belligerents should be immediately assessed at a political level in order to avoid or to pre-empt its exploitation to the benefit of one of the involved parties. Most importantly, the deployed military disposition should at all times be able to exert the appropriate response, thus allowing the political authority to send a strong and credible signal to deter the troublemakers.

These remarks and considerations should lead to continuous and as close as possible co-operation between political authorities and the military, without leaving any doubt, however, on the subordination of the military to political authority and to a diplomatic-military synergism. The decision - following a French initiative - to convene the Defense Ministers and not only the Ministers of Foreign Affairs thus goes in the right direction, because it strengthens the continuity of the chain of control from political authority to the military, and brings diplomats closer to the latter.

Nevertheless, as shown by the Bosnian crisis, the requirement for political control should not lead to paralysis in the field. In fact, European soldiers in Bosnia suffered less from excessive political interference than from a lack of political will. This raises the problem of political will within the United Nations, which does not rest on the principle of the sovereignty of states, but on that of an uncertain consensus between sovereign states.

However, the military should recover all its freedom of action in the field as soon as the engagement has been decided. This is all the more important in times of crisis, when dispositions are loose and therefore very vulnerable. But the military should also be consulted when decisions are made by the political authority to deploy troops in the field. Of course these remarks also apply to more conventional scenarios such as that of the Gulf.

An Appropriate Military Command System

Command and control systems are the core of a modern and efficient decision-making process, because the management of crises as well as of military operations poses more and more problems, which extend far beyond the capability of a human decision-maker, whatever his skills. This requirement for tools to manage crises and conduct operations is becoming more acute at all levels of the decision-making chain, in particular at the higher political level, and this for reasons that often have little to do with actual operational requirements. The requirement now is for new tools to be realized with a single purpose: to assist decision-makers efficiently by providing them with the required support and services that allow them to concentrate on their essential function, that of making decisions in order to take action.

Tomorrow's C4I systems will have to adapt their response to the dimension of events, that is, be able on their own to:

• Proceed to the fusion of intelligence data at the decision-maker's hierarchical level,

• Proceed to the timely discrimination, for the decision-maker(s), of those items of information that can contribute to the decision-making process;

• Reduce uncertainties;

• Supply specific or integrated forces equally well;

• Display risk assessments and provide decision-making aids as a function of the decision level and of the urgency of problems;

• Display continuously the differential between pursued objectives and attained objectives;

• Display data and follow the evolution of information in order to anticipate;

• Display suggestions for decisions as a function of the evolution.

Of course, these systems will have to be homogeneous within the European forces and interoperable with those of the Alliance. Furthermore, they will have to be sufficiently flexible to allow political-military information to be exchanged among those nations participating in the multinational commitment.

As Mr. Millon reminded the Clingendael Institute on 12 September 1996, the need arises, without hampering the effectiveness of military action in the field, to redefine the networks of political-military decision-making within the Atlantic Alliance, and to reinforce the role of the Military Committee in order better to fulfil its missions, that is, to be the Council's military adviser, to act as an interface with the major commands by forwarding them the Council's political instructions, and also by reporting to the latter the military organization's perceptions.

The necessity also arose to remodel NATO's geographic areas of responsibility and their command structures. Perfectly adapted to the single threat from the East and to a split Europe, they have now lost their rationale because of the complete change in the new strategic panorama and the new threats. Should there be one or two areas, or three as today? Should they be extended eastwards? Should other areas of interest be contemplated (out-of-area)?

In this perspective, and without referring to any precise threat, this remodeling could go along with a restructuring of the security organization, formed only of force headquarters which would be ready to intervene within the framework of crisis scenarios generated by a military planning cell. Two evolutions can be contemplated. The first consists in alleviating command structures, which are still as numerous while forces have been halved. This would lead, for example, to two regional areas - north and south - whose responsibility would be entrusted to Europeans, since the two strategic commands are American (SACLANT and SACEUR). Such a French demand was also supported by other Europeans. (7) A second more functional approach, as a follow-up to the previous one, would allow the Europeans to go further by forming coherent task forces, allocated with all the necessary assets (intelligence, C4I and logistics), allowing them to conduct autonomous actions, either within the new areas of responsibility or outside. Part of these task forces should be able to operate under European responsibility. Cost-reduction concerns would thus meet with more efficiency.

European Interests, Strategic Intelligence-Sharing and Emerging Technologies

The Geographic Sphere of Interest of a European Intelligence System

For Europeans, the geographic sphere of interest must or should correspond to the strategic concerns of the various European states and to the overall strategic concerns at European level, that is to say that a European intelligence system must address those potential sources of crises that involve European interests.

If we consider a better politically integrated Europe, taken in its entirety and evolved into a major political power playing a global role, then the sphere of European interests extends well beyond the strict sum of current national interests. "Potentials of actual conflict are not lacking around the rim of the European Union. Nor is Europe's interest in peace and stability limited to its own immediate environment. As the world's major trading power, the Union, and its Member States have interests across the globe and cannot expect that others will also step in to preserve the peace." (8)

Europe should therefore detrmine on a unified strategic field, although some only see economic interests, which is obviously too reducing a perspective. In fact, European interests should be classified into three major fields.

The first field is that of vital interests where military considerations prevail over economic considerations. This field concerns national territories and their close surroundings, that is:

• The Mediterranean theater;

• The Central European countries; and

• The Middle East and the Caucasus.

In a later perspective, the evolution of the notion of vital interest will have to be reviewed. The suppression of borders should logically lead to the notion of European, rather than strictly national, vital interests.

The second field is that of economic interests, where the nature of the balance of forces is different. It is a power rivalry between peer competitors. Europe sometimes generates some of these competitions which lead us to confront even our North American allies or emerging powers, namely in Asia. However, these rivalries are controlled by measures of understanding and are not conducive to military measures, even if intelligence assets, namely technical and human, are occasionally used for economic purposes. These economic interests can be vital when energy resources or raw materials are involved, as with energy-producing areas that supply Europe: the Gulf, the countries of North Africa and of the Gulf of Guinea, without forgetting the sea-lift routes, the pipelines, and namely the North Sea oil and gas fields.

The third field is that of the European exception. Most West European countries enjoy a colonial past and heritage in the form of specks of empires, which usually provide them with extensive maritime economic areas but also with quite original relationships with their former colonies. As a result there are diasporas, expatriates, immigrants and emigrants who are both an asset and a risk in a Europe which is in the process of suppressing its internal borders. In addition to these relationships inherited from the past, Western Europe's riches attract nationals from poorer countries.

While Europe assumes colonization's heritage without a complex, and shares this cultural wealth and diversity, the heritage also provides an ability to understand the world and its political, social and economic diversity. This ability is much higher than that of the superpowers or of the emerging regional powers. Europe could prove a useful counterweight, a careful arbiter to prevent or quell the world's quarrels.

The Functional Sphere of a European Intelligence System

It is important to determine the risks that can affect the internal cohesion of the various European states when confronted not to an external military threat but to social problems resulting from: economic crises (unemployment); the non-integration of immigrants and possible ensuing ethnic riots; problems due to narcotics and other illicit trades, including weapons; and, of course, terrorism.

These problems can only be solved at European Union level, since these risks are extremely fluid and mobile due to the Schengen accords and the freedom of circulation for individuals. Consequently, and because of its colonial heritage, the European Union is exposed to importing all the world's problems.

In this respect, the diaspora effect is quite instrumental in the political and electoral life of democracies, including in the United States. It is the Irish, Polish or Jewish diasporas that bear on American foreign policy concerning Ireland, Poland or Israel, just as minorities in European countries bear on the political life of their host country and on its relations with their parent country. The geographic and functional spheres thus merge, requiring at least some intelligence co-ordination, but making the latter difficult because of diverging national interests.

A European Strategic Intelligence System and Common Interests

A European strategic intelligence system should be based on the one hand on community observation and SIGINT assets which, owing to the indisputable nature of the raw data collected, provide a base of identical data, and on the other hand on the national technical and human assets required to complement the former, but which might be considered with suspicion. (9)

The current effective co-operation between national intelligence agencies within the Alliance will obviously only be able to evolve towards a real European intelligence system from the day when common security interests are formulated by a political authority. It is well known that the British are opposed to such a system, that the Germans are advocating it, and this at a time when the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) should be dealing with the subject, since CFSP's role is to protect common security interests which are not yet defined.

Another approach has been attempted at the WEU Assembly, following a French initiative, to formulate a concept of European security that is common to the 27 WEU member countries. Document 1493 of 20 November 1995 deals with Europe's security interests and with the environment of Europe's security. It emphasizes the common values: democratic values; Europe's global economic interests; and the security of European nationals throughout the world. It also lists the risks: proliferation; terrorism; narcotics' trade; illegal immigration; not forgetting the ecological risks.

This work on the highest common denominator is laudable, but more in-depth study and even extensions are required in order for it to be used as a basis for a White Paper on European Defense.

Clearly, the Europeans have not sufficiently worked on a clear and precise formulation of their common interests. It is advisable, in 1996, to limit the list of these interests, but to undertake to respect them more firmly.

High-tech Systems and Strategic Analysis

It seems judicious to define what is meant by high-tech systems, this by broadening their scope beyond JSTARS and satellites. What is deemed essential is all that involves the eye function and the nervous system of the analysis and decision-making mechanism. One finds technologies there: optronics; radar; laser; computers; and data links ... These technologies can be associated aboard satellites, aircraft, helicopters, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), ships or fixed or mobile stations. All these technologies are well controlled in Europe and should be safeguarded, since they form the cornerstone of major independent powers, as the Americans see it. (10)

Common strategic analysis facilitates common decision-making. It has been demonstrated earlier that the use of common sensors allows a common analysis to which C4I technology will add immediate data exchange and situation assessment and, perhaps one day, the use of artificial intelligence to facilitate speedy common decision-making, providing that a certain number of states feel the need to concur in using common C4I programs.

While encrypted video-conference networks already exist in several countries, it is most surprising that there is no secure communication network between the WEU's Planning Cell and NATO Headquarters (11) (and this is just one example among many!). Is it because of fear of the obvious impact of high technology on the progress of the European decision-making process that a common European will to make advances in this field seems to be lacking?

The analysis and decision-making chain required by political and military authorities to prevent and manage crises, but also to conduct operations, should include a complete spectrum of assets, more or less dimensioned in terms of performance (resolving power, field of view, endurance, radius of action, etc.), and each asset being indispensable in its category lest the analysis and decision-making system become incoherent or risks of error or even manipulation appear.

Thus the HELIOS satellite, with its metric resolution, is sufficient to detect and monitor force movements, even if it cannot identify the moving units. Even SPOT, with its decametric resolution, was already able to raise the uncertainty of whether there was any movement along a given traffic route, even though it was impossible to determine the type of vehicles, whether civilian or military. Thus in times of crisis many made-up stories and much manipulation could be avoided.

This idea is strengthened by an American assessment by John Fitchett, (12) who reported that "The Reagan administration embarrassed France by using satellite data to publicly prod Paris into greater military exertions against Libyan forces in Chad". More recently, HELIOS "has caught the United States deliberately overplaying the likelihood late last year that India was preparing to test a nuclear weapon". A Clinton administration policy-maker confirmed that "there were some differences with the French about what the pictures showed". In fact, even earlier, there had been indications that Washington sometimes 'retouched' its satellite images in order for them to agree with its political and diplomatic options. This is not shocking, it is the natural behavior of a major power. But it is also a reason why I believe that Europe should also be eager to become a major power! Major power behavior need not accommodate burden-sharing that would lead to distribution of the most sensitive technologies. i

The counter-example is given by the misfortune of the British, who were threatened by the Americans of being deprived of some satellite imagery that was being provided by a system to which they had contributed but whose sensors they did not control - this while their troops were committed in the field - just because their policy about the lifting of the weapons embargo in Bosnia differed from that of the United States.

The control of high technology required for strategic analysis and decision-making is not limited to satellites. AWACS radar aircraft are already put to common use in integrated or national fashion. Ground observation radar systems such as JSTARS could likewise provide a common vision to those European countries that co-operate with that program, providing that they maintain control over it. Pending that, but also for operations that are less heavy and well adapted to crises, the availability of systems such as HORIZON (French) or CRESCO (Italian) could provide Europe with its own intelligence Capability.

Finally, as a complement to traditional and well-known air reconnaissance, UAV have to be mentioned. The Dutch army bas been sufficiently convinced of their usefulness to acquire the SPERWER system. At a strategic level, UAV allow long duration surveillance, as was demonstrated by PREDATORS deployed for the operations in Bosnia, the high technology of which now extends to satellite communications.

Whatever the vehicles and the sensors, it is most important for all their data to be able to be fused in stations that could be national or community-run. Just like the United States, which used European space technology (namely that of SPOT) to order an EAGLE VISION mobile station, Europe could be well advised to acquire at WEU level an imagery information centralization and dissemination station. This was well perceived by the WEU Assembly. In a recommendation to the Council introduced by Mr. Lenzer, (13) it was suggested that the satellite center acquires a mobile imagery station, thus allowing images to be interpreted and exploited on site. It is advisable that such an asset also be able to proceed with the processing and fusion, in the same fashion, of all the imagery collected by various high-tech assets operating within the same missions.

Towards a European Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence System

In order to be efficient, these technologies, which provide information for several decision-makers simultaneously to analyze and make decisions, need to be federated and enriched by a C4I system. More or less all European countries use such systems; they should be made totally interoperable in real-time. This adjustment is technically feasible if it is politically desired, and I believe that this stake is worth national industrial sacrifices.

The first indispensable step in this field is for all national analysis centers and the community center to be connected in real-time; this should not raise any political problem. The use of artificial intelligence in decision-making support is more delicate, as it introduces - beyond the facts, which are indisputable - orientations that will often be divergent.

This point is central to the assistance that high technology can provide to decision-making. Why not then realise carefully and incrementally these systems among those states that obviously agree on a specific field? This would translate into software all those concurring or constructive abstention attitudes that are currently held orally by WEU states! Shall we be bold enough to contend once more that it is the organ that creates the function?

But this goal underlines a prerequisite which should be at the top of our priorities: the establishment of a competitive industrial and technological European base in the field of defense. The consolidation and merging that are still under way - or envisaged - between European armaments companies have to be accelerated to match both European operational needs and the world's market.

A Decisive Asset for Europe as a Global Power

A Self-contained European Nuclear Deterrence Capability

Two conditions are required to consider this matter:

Placing oneself in the perspective of the continuous construction of a political and defense Europe, with an active foreign policy measuring up to the stakes of power and cupidity represented by 350 million, then 500 million Europeans, whose history and interests have been involved and will continue to be involved, in global affairs;

The assumption that Europeans will then agree to control their destiny themselves and not entrust it to others.

This being acquired, we must look at the following facts: we cannot speak of European power if Europe does not possess all the inherent characteristics of that power. It is a fact that, like it or not, the possession of nuclear weapons is one of those external signs of power, and this will be the case until the atom is 'disinvented'. Considering the slow pace and the difficulty with which the superpowers are recycling their military fissile materials, and considering the progress, albeit slower than planned, of nuclear and ballistic proliferation but also of other forms of massive destruction (chemical and biological) renounced by Europeans, the complete elimination of nuclear weapons will not occur tomorrow. Europeans cannot avoid reflecting on the role of nuclear weapons in Europe's defense, except if they intend to rely permanently, in this field as in the others, on the sole American warranty.

While Europe has enjoyed half a century of peace thanks to the American nuclear umbrella, we should remember that the American nuclear commitment has become less and less automatic and more and more uncertain as threats on American cities have increased. Of course, European security and stability on our continent are still posted as being vital interests for the United States, but assessments have already diverged on when and how to, exercise this warranty, and these diverging opinions can but increase in the future. Furthermore, it should be noted that there are no longer American nuclear weapons on this continent to represent this transatlantic nuclear coupling, and in any case there was no assurance concerning the automaticity of the firing order, which depended solely on the President of the United States.

The drastic downsizing of armed forces in European countries, at a time when several countries geographically rather close to Europe and whose political regimes are unstable and not very democratic are continuing to develop their conventional arsenals (this when they are in the process of, or have already acquired, nuclear weapons), should be taken into consideration when discussing the interest of a nuclear deterrence capability.

Willingly or not, Europe will increasingly be involved in global affairs, either as a stake or as a power, depending on what it wishes. This is due to its history and to its global expansion, to its present and future economic interests, and also to the presence of its nationals overseas and to the desires that are already being raised by its prosperity and its weak demography. What weight and credibility will the projection of its forces in crises have if they do not rest on a European nuclear capability protecting it from possible threats of retaliation such as those that were exercised by the former Soviet Union during the Suez crisis or more recently by the United States during the Gulf crisis?

A Strategic Function for Europe

In this perspective, the strategic function required by future Europe, faced with the non-compelling American nuclear commitment as defined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, has to be formulated.

At present the threat from the East has receded in time and space, but the risks remain. Russia still retains several tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. 'Detargeting' them is not enough to suppress the danger, as this operation can be reversed in a few days or even hours. Scrapping them is also not sufficient as long as military fissile materials are not recycled, which will require a lot of money and especially time.

In addition to the heirs of the gigantic Soviet arsenal, other countries have, or will one day have, nuclear weapons and will be in a position to threaten Europe. First of all China, which continues to develop its arsenal and whose ballistic missiles are already liable to reach Europe; but also a number of countries closer to Europe than to the United States. These countries, ranging from Israel to North Korea, via Iraq, Pakistan and India, are located in a very unstable environment. They have acquired nuclear, chemical, or even biological weapons, while Europeans have permanently given up the two latter categories of weapons. It should be added here that Pakistan and India do not seem ready to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Faced with all those risks, European countries have a vital requirement to ensure their own long-term integrity. The United Kingdom and France could be satisfied with their own deterrents for safe guarding their own national sanctuaries, but can the other European countries reasonably be happy with the sole American nuclear umbrella? This question should be posed in a fifteen- to twenty-year perspective, which is the average duration of a major nuclear program.

How to develop and valorize the present achievements ?

The first achievement is the legitimacy of British and French deterrence forces, as stated in the Washington and Brussels treaties. These countries are committed to assisting their allies by 'such action as they deem necessary' for the first treaty, or by 'all the means, military or others, in their possession' for the second.

Finally, the contribution of French and British deterrence to the Atlantic Alliance's collective deterrence was officially acknowledged by the June 1974 Ottawa Declaration and often confirmed later. It was recently confirmed again by the WEU Assembly, when 24 out of 27 participants took a position on the role of nuclear forces in deterrence in the following terms: "France and the United Kingdom, member countries which are also members of the EU and NATO, are nuclear weapon states within the meaning of NPT". The fundamental purpose of nuclear forces is political; it is "to preserve peace and prevent coercion and any kind of war ... by ensuring uncertainty in the mind of any aggressor about the nature of the Allies' response to military aggression' and by demonstrating 'that an attack of any kind is not a rational option". The Hague platform states that "to be credible and effective, the strategy of deterrence and defense must continue to be based on an adequate mix of appropriate nuclear and conventional forces, only the nuclear element of which can confront a potential aggressor with an unacceptable risk". (14)

The preliminary conclusions on the Formulation of a Common European Defense Policy (WEU Council of Ministers, Noordwijk, 1994), which takes up the language of The Hague platform and the new strategic concept of the Alliance, which were agreed respectively by the WEU in 1987 and NATO in 1991, underline that "Europeans have a major responsibility with regard to defense in both the conventional and nuclear field." (15) The independent nuclear forces of the United Kingdom and France, which have a deterrent role of their own, contribute to the overall deterrence and security of the Allies." (16)

The credibility of deterrence rests on that of the decision-maker and of the weapons. It is not entirely proportional to the number and to the more or less extensive arsenal of the allies. At the time in the future that is contemplated, will the concurrence of vital interests be stronger, and will the realization of a community in destiny be achieved more between France and the United Kingdom and its neighbors, or between the allies and the Americans?

General de Gaulle spoke of a single European 'Strategic Space' and of a 'Battle of Germany' that would also be the 'Battle of France', and John Major has recently recalled that he could not imagine how French and British vital interests could not coincide.

Without questioning the transatlantic nuclear coupling, is it impossible, starting from the excellent French-British nuclear dialogue that was profitably initiated a few years ago, to extend this dialogue to Germany, as well as to other willing European countries? As long as there is no unique European political authority, each nuclear power will naturally retain its decision-making privilege. However, the way in which the United Kingdom placed part of its forces at NATO's disposal for employment while retaining control of the rest for national purposes, shows a path to explore in order to strengthen the credibility of a common European defense posture. The benefit of a European pole of dialogue in the nuclear field can but strengthen the value of overall deterrence, both conventional and nuclear, to confront new threats. The notion of independent decision-making centers within the Atlantic Alliance is an acquired fact which takes a very specific meaning when concerted deterrence is mentioned.

As far as arms are concerned, both NATO and the Americans use the double-key system. Could we not reflect on the interest of such a formula between willing European countries, this double-key reinforcing the transatlantic double-key, and thus initiating the formation of a European nuclear force? Likewise, in a spirit of dialogue and mutual understanding, could the United Kingdom and France let some countries participate in missions involving nuclear forces?

Deterrence, of which it is fashionable to display some form of skepticism, should on the contrary emerge stronger from the recent disorders. Deterrence has managed to prevent war in a given strategic situation and has thus made Europeans used to a 'certain nuclear order' during the last fifty years. It is indispensable during the second nuclear era, which is starting before our very eyes, as General Poirier puts it, for deterrence to continue to contribute to maintaining peace in a world that contains an increased potential for conflict and in which the requirement for nuclear peace is greater than ever before.


To conclude, I would like to quote Roy Denman: "A common European Foreign Policy? Not yet, but in time...". According to him, "two centuries ago Americans chose the federalist constitution rather than a loose association of sovereign states. That's the lesson Europe has still to learn." (17) European Commissioner Van den Broek entirely agrees, and puts it this way: "Either the Union will be enlarged as a genuinely integrated structure bound by common interest, based on unity, while respecting the diversity of its Member States and speaking with one voice in world affairs; or a wider Union will become a kind of Congress of Europe with little internal coherence and consequently little external clout; a largely intergovernmental organization, slow at taking decisions, fragmented in its policies, and unable to compete on an equal basis with the USA, Japan and the world's other major powers."

In the hope that Europe should soon be able to take up the challenge of political unity, let us provide Europe with all the assets of a global power. By doing so, we will accelerate the momentum. To be effective, "the structure of our forces - from now on - must be based on the priority functions of crisis prevention and power projection. Prevention is first and foremost a matter of intelligence and I confirm the priority given to the acquisition of space-based means and to the reinforcement of the intelligence services. Mastering information and understanding the situation provides the basis for autonomy in decision-making." (18)

To those who would resist today's difficult economic conditions by decreasing defense budgets and downsizing armed forces in order to delay the creation of such assets, let us answer that it is better for Europe's sake to cut even more our conventional combat forces in order to develop intelligence, C4I, and strategic projection, and to keep a sufficient nuclear deterrence, than to maintain 'a bleeding class' force.


(1) See the Washington Post Service article by Rick Atkinson and Bradley Graham in the International Herald Tribune, 30 July 1996.

(2) WEU Assembly Document 1493: "A Common Concept on European Security of the 27 WEU Member Countries".

(3) WEU Assembly Document 1519: "The United States and Security in Europe: An American Perspective".

(4) Pierre Lellouche, in "Légitime défense vers une Europe en sécurité au XXIème siècle", prefaced by Charles Millon.

(5) WEU Assembly Document 1517.

(6) Excerpt from a STRATCO study for the French MoD in 1993.

(7) See Jos Klaassen, "NATO: We Europeans must back Paris against Washington", De Volkskrant, November 1996.

(8) European Commissioner Hans van den Broek, European Foreign Affairs Review, 1 May 1996.

(9) Article by Klaus Becher, Enjeux Atlantiques, no. 11, April 1995.

(10) See Annual Report (Fiscal Year 1994), Director of Central Intelligence.

(11) Report by Lord Finsberg, WEU Assembly Document 1487, 6 November 1995.

(12) International Herald Tribune, 5 July 1996.

(13) WEU Assembly Document 1525, 14 May 1996.

(14) WEU Assembly Document 1493, "A Common Concept on European Security of the 27 WEU Member Countries".

(15) Austria, Finland, Ireland and Sweden recall that they were not party to the decisions referred to in paragraph 158.

(16) WEU Assembly Document 1493, "A Common Concept on European Security of the 27 WEU Member Countries", 20 November 1995.

(17) Roy Denman in International Herald Tribune, 6 November 1996.

(18) Excerpt from Jacques Chirac's speech, 23 February 1996.

© 1997 Kluwer Law International. Printed in the Netherlands.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).