Nouvelle page 1
Multinationality – Enhancing
Europe’s Military Capabilities
“The Treaty of Lisbon is a chance, but EU Security and Defence need more
This timely paper was written by Major General Georg Nachtsheim,(*) and
published in the last issue of The European Security and Defence Union,
Vol. 11, dated November 2011. This excellent magazine dedicated to European
Security and Defense issues is run by Hartmut Buehl and belongs to the
Behoerdenspiegel Group. Major General Nachtsheim took part to the
on European Security and Defence last November 8 and 9 in Berlin, which gathered
more than 800 specialists from more than 40 countries, where he discussed the EU
and NATO Response Forces – Concepts – Equipment – Procurement issue. Courtesy ©
The European Security and Defence Union.
Major General Nachtsheim at the 10th
Congress on European Security and Defence in Berlin
Since December 2009 the EU Treaty of Lisbon represents the
latest progress in the process of the development of a European Security and
Defence cooperation, However, what was started so promisingly encountered a
stunning disenchantment of the political establishments and publics all
over Europe, triggered most notably by the world financial crisis. This is all
the more frustrating at a moment, in which not less but more European and
international solutions and cooperation seem to be the only realistic way out of
the imminent danger of a marginalization of the traditional pillars of national
power, particularly of the military in Europe.
Lt Gen Markus Bentler,
Colonel Hartmut Buehl and Maj Gen Nachtsheim
The soaring costs of modern defence procurement programmes,
the high operational tempo and associated costs of civil-military crisis
management, the urgent requirement to invest in additional and new capabilities
needed to counter new threats and challenges, result in the imminent need to
take innovative decisions. Also, the tooth-to-tail ratio of most of the Armed
Forces should further encourage planners, to come up with new concepts and
solutions. This is even the more true, as the budget consolidation of most of
the European governments are also aming the sector of security and defence.
In doing so, Europe is certainly well advised to draw on the
broad, long standing and mostly positive experience of NATO, such as its
integrated military command structure, common funded capabilities or the well
proven expertise of its agencies. However, some shortcomings of its military,
such as the lack of commonality of equipment, of standardization and or at least
of real true interoperability are to be recognized as well.
But even the European members in NATO do not seem to be
challenged sufficiently yet. Instead of producing capabilities, commensurate
with Europe’s ambitions, economical weight and cumulated defence budgets,
hesitations can be observed when looking at administrative overheads, disparate
organization of defence research, technology, and industry. And, often even
worse, when confronted with the results of an increasingly inadequate
organization of the expression of military operational requirements and
resulting logistics and procurement, then one would have to expect a widespread
call for a comprehensive need to act.
Now, the Lisbon Treaty offers a wide variety of formulas,
providing EU members with different possible frameworks for audacious and
effective arrangements to frame cooperation, promote synergies, increase
efficiency and savings, whilst enhancing the European Union members’ crisis
management and reaction capabilities. The possibility, offered by the Lisbon
Treaty, to also allow for “coalitions of the willing”, “reinforced cooperation”
and “structured permanent cooperation” follow the idea of “variable geometry”.
Hence progress in the a.m. sense is possible, even in case that only a part of
the EU members wishes or is able to do so.
Also, the European Parliament has repeatedly expressed its
political will to see more cooperation, commonality and integrated capabilities
on the way to a Common Defence of Europe. In this sense, several national
governments have recently presented either individually or multilaterally
several proposals. May be the most important ones were forwarded by the Weimar
Triangle Nations to the EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, and could re-launch
the process as well as allow for a fresh momentum for a Common Security and
NATO has already opted early on, for its collective key
enablers, for the integrated model. It is certainly the most effective model in
terms of manning and common funding, applying a commonly agreed sharing formula.
It provides for the best possible transparency and, in principle, also allows
access by all members.
Probably the most critical aspect of integrated structures
and capabilities lies in the possibility that one or several nations can hamper
incremental funding requirements or participation, e.g. as it has occurred
recently, even though the more general political decisions authorizing NATO´s
engagement had all been passed unanimously without indicating any of the
difficulties. Neither have the NATO Response Force (NRF) nor EU Battle Group (EU
BG) been deployed and used thus far and continue to be resourced with
Another form of cooperation in a key domain could be pooling.
The recent establishment of the European Air Transport Command (EATC) by four EU
members is a good example, of how the nations contributing strategic and
tactical air lift as well as air to-air refuelling can enjoy assets, logistics,
training and other synergies, on an assured basis, even in case their
operational requirements exceed their respective contribution. Pooling offers
both opportunities but also disadvantages, if different and non standardized
assets are being made available for one common structure. More serious
limitations could arise though, if a main contributor would not only withdraw in
a given operation its personnel, but also its capabilities or the resources
needed for the common functioning of the respective organization.
Role specialisation and role sharing would imply that not all
nations would dispose anymore of full spectrum capable armed forces but would
rather share high value assets between two or several nations on a commonly
resourced basis. On a permanent basis, such solutions could be imagined
regarding the use of satellites, military laboratories and training, and
research & development (such as the Franco-German technological research
institute St. Louis), or in the domain of procurement by a more systematic use
of NAMSA, European Defence Agency (EDA) or OCCAR.
In a more ambitious area, pooling or sharing arrangements
regarding still existing capabilities such as strategic sealift, amphibious
landing and support vessels, or maritime surveillance could allow to maintain
or even develop capabilities which otherwise would exceed nations´
increasingly overstretched individual capabilities.
Notably, land forces units were initially not deemed of
being appropriate for multinational or common structures below the brigade
level. Indeed, particularly the continued lack of common or fully standardized
and interoperable equipment represents a serious limitation, at a moment where
multinationality became increasingly a constituent characteristic of NATO and
EU led operations.
Hence, all those who have closely observed permanent
structures, such as the Franco-German Brigade or ad hoc structures such as the
NRF and EU BGs can easily recognize that significant efforts in terms of more
commonality are necessary.Commonality efforts – non flyers for the moment
Commonality of equipment, tactics and procedures clearly are
key. Intergovernmental efforts have proven to be ineffective to achieve these,
even NATO was not too successful over its long history of respective efforts. A
permanent EU C2 structure from the political level down to the tactical level,
including related specialized agencies, in conjunction with a limited transfer
of authority, responsibilities and funds to the EU might in the end be the only
viable solution to overcome the a.m. difficulties and to fully exploit the
potential of the Lisbon Treaty.
Last but not least, more attention will have to be paid to
the need of a common statutory framework for the national soldiers to be
deployed under the auspices of the EU or in permanent multinational structures.
To this end, the Gert Pöttering´s opt-in model of the Synchronized Armed Forces
for Europe, might serve as a starting point and thus merit some more attention.
In the future, some of the critical and expensive key
capabilities, are likely to be provided by a limited number of members only.
This will continue to require funding arrangements which allow common funding of
their incremental costs, if deployed for an operation led by the EU, NATO or the
UN. Otherwise, the nations concerned might be reluctant to offer in particular
mission essential enablers and the EU would have to outsource them to other
nations, or to civil and private military contractors. Therefore, the EU funding
mechanism, the so-called Athena mechanism may have to be further developed, to
complement the long standing principle of “the costs lie where they fall”.
Finally, the most important requirement might be the
readiness of EU members, or of at least some of them, to go ahead. Going ahead
may require the preparedness to transfer some sovereign rights, in exchange for
a more transparent and effective use of resources, for more streamlined national
military and related administration. This is even more true for new and
additional capabilities, which otherwise would not be affordable, as well as for
a competitive European defence and technological basis, which nationally might
no longer be viable. At a minimum, solidarity continuous to be key, if Europe´s
common security and defence is the agreed aspiration and to enjoy relevance and
Despite the aforementioned considerations and difficulties,
progress may be in sight already. Based on the various initiatives by nations
and a comprehensive report by the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton,
numerous seminars, colloques and high level meetings allowed for consultation
and coordination under the Polish EU Presidency in 2/2011. As a consequence, the
advantages of the various proposals may well be considered to outweigh the
disadvantages. And as so often, the result may not be a ‘big bang’ but still be
another important step forward.
(*) Major General Nachtsheim, is at present Deputy Commander
of the Rapid Reaction Corps France in Lille. He has held all command
responsabilities up to the level of the Franco-German Brigade, multinational and
national staff assignments such as at MOD Germany, SHAPE (Mons), and as Chief of
Staff Eurocorps. He has been deployed several times on the Balkans, to include
as Chief of Staff MNDSE (Mostar) and HQ-SFOR (Sarajevo). He is a graduate from
the Bundeswehr University, Hamburg, the German and French General Staff College
as well as from the Royal College Defense Studies in London.
 At the 7th
Congress on European Security and Defence – the Berlin Security Conference, Mr
Pöttering proposed a “transitional solution:” … “SAFE, or Synchronized Armed
Forces Europe ... on a one-off basis” … “as a voluntary project”, leaving “the
EU member states sufficient margin for manoeuvre” and also called “for common
preparation and training at European level in the run-up to joint operations”
suggesting “the establishment of European rules on the model of those already
applied to the EU-Battlegroups and the Eurocorps.”