The Future of Warfare

German experts push for closer armament cooperation with Great Britain - including high-tech warfare.

BERLIN/LONDON | | grossbritannien

BERLIN/LONDON (Own report) - Germany should intensify its armaments and military cooperation with Great Britain, with a particular focus on the warfare of the future with robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI), urge experts of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) within the framework of a program financed by the CSU-affiliated Hanns Seidel Foundation and implemented at London's prestigious King's College. These efforts are aimed at militarily tying the United Kingdom as close as possible to the EU, in spite of Brexit, to be able to use the clout of British armed forces for future EU operations. Whereas, military cooperation has long since been agreed upon - but had not really gotten off the ground, in practice - DGAP experts are now urging the enhancement of armament cooperation, for example, the joint development of missiles, as well as German participation in British programs, which explore the comprehensive use of state-of-the-art technologies from combat machines to Artificial Intelligence.

"Expand Relations"

Efforts to intensify German British military cooperation have been in progress for years. On the one hand, Germany and France and, on the other, France and Great Britain are closely cooperating at the military level - the latter within the framework of the Lancaster House Treaties concluded on November 2, 2010.[1] However, a German-British element is still lacking between the three major West European powers. The cooperation's expansion was already under consideration before Brexit, for example, during the first official Berlin visit of Michael Fallon, Britain's Defense Minister, at the time, on August 12, 2014, and during the German Defense Minister, at the time, Ursula von der Leyen's reciprocal visit to London on December 11, 2014. Great Britain's "Strategic Defense and Security Review," adopted in November 2015, explicitly stated: "We will work to intensify our security and defense relationship with Germany." The "White Paper on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr," for its part, states that Germany is seeking "to further expand the security partnership with the United Kingdom ... in all areas of common interest."

E3-Cooperation

As they have reiterated on various occasions, both sides had the intention of militarily cooperating more closely, even after the Brexit referendum. For example, von der Leyen and her British counterpart at the time, Gavin Williamson, signed a "Joint Vision Statement" on October 5, 2018, providing for concrete steps that include an improvement of the interoperability of the two armed forces, closer educational and training cooperation and regular bilateral meetings at various levels. On February 28, 2019, Williamson and von der Leyen met for their first official British-German Defense Minister Council; on January 16, 2020, their two successors, Ben Wallace and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer met for an exchange of views. The German side sees close post-Brexit ties to the United Kingdom as extremely desirable, because joint operations with the British armed forces, considered very powerful, clearly enhance the scope of EU operations. Global clout should also be provided by, in the meantime, repeated actions within the framework of the "E3" (Germany, France, Great Britain), which, in some aspects, is clearly in the interest of the United Kingdom. In the conflict with Iran, London is siding with Paris and Berlin, rather than with Washington.[2]

At King's College

Because military cooperation has not been advancing as was hoped, Berlin is applying new efforts with the help of the CSU-affiliated Hanns Seidel Foundation, financed by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since 2019, the foundation maintains an office in London, which was established for the expressed purpose of cultivating post-Brexit bilateral relations and therefore to establish and maintain "networks of contacts" within government, parliamentary, business and scholarly circles.[3] In this context, the Seidel Foundation's London office is working with several think tanks and the "Policy Institute" of London's prestigious King's College. The foundation is currently financing a project, in which it, together with the "Policy Institute," is preparing and publishing analyses on the expansion of military cooperation. So far, several papers have been published, wherein three experts of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) have presented proposals for the intensification of cooperation.[4]

European Cruise Missiles

On the one hand, these proposals are directed toward armaments. The United Kingdom and Germany, it is proposed, should jointly attempt to close capability gaps - also in view of strengthening NATO's European armed forces. Air and missile defense could become a focal point of joint UK-German attention. This could involve defense against drones, on the one hand, and defense against ballistic missiles, on the other.[5] At the same time, Germany could take part in specific subprojects, such as the UK’s "Complex Weapons Program" focused on the development of new missile systems. Both countries could even consider developing a "European" cruise missile. Alongside various other proposals, the DGAP experts suggest that Germany should lease the P8 Poseidon multi-mission aircraft, which would provide Germany with optimal interoperability with Great Britain and Norway, both having also procured that model from Boeing in the USA. However the leasing contract should terminate as soon as - in 10, perhaps 15 years - the Franco-German Maritime Reconnaissance and Patrol Aircraft is deployable.[6] Otherwise, the authors propose that the development of the next generation combat aircrafts be combined, meaning the Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS) should be combined with the British-Swedish-Italian model of "Tempest." (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[7])

Combat Machines with Artificial Intelligence

On the other hand, the proposals pertain to steps to be taken in "military innovation" and in planning the "future of warfare,"[8] meaning, how wars of the future will be waged, deploying state-of-the-art technology. It can be assumed, according to the analysis, that with the perfection of reconnaissance technology, the battlefield becomes more transparent, and optimized weapons, more deadly. These trends raise the question of the role people should assume on this kind of battlefield, when not only their chances of survival are visibly reduced, but also human activities are surpassed in effectiveness by machine operations - possibly driven by artificial intelligence. In fact, even though it is always insisted on that the final decision for combat operations remains with the human beings, the scenarios, however, are sliding ever closer to autonomous warfare by combat machines. In these spheres, the DGAP experts consider that the British arms research and industry is in a much better position than its German counterpart, which has been too focused on cyber operations. Participation in British projects could facilitate the German side's necessary preparation for future warfare.

With Billions

The British government has recently announced that over the next few years, an additional UK £16.5 billion will be invested in the military. This will largely be to the benefit of cyber warfare and space programs, as well as military applications of Artificial Intelligence.[9]

 

[1] See also The New Entente Cordiale and The West's New Front-Line State.

[2] See also The EU's Strategic Compass (II).

[3] Vereinigtes Königreich Großbritannien und Nordirland (London). hss.de.

[4] Sophia Becker, Christian Mölling, Torben Schütz: UK-Germany defence cooperation. Bridging the political and military gaps. Hanns Seidel Foundation, The Policy Institute. London, November 2020. Sophia Becker, Christian Mölling, Torben Schütz: Learning together: UK-Germany cooperation on military innovation and the future of warfare. Hanns Seidel Foundation, The Policy Institute. London, November 2020. Sophia Becker, Christian Mölling, Torben Schütz: The future of UK-Germany defence industrial cooperation. Hanns Seidel Foundation, The Policy Institute. London, November 2020.

[5] Sophia Becker, Christian Mölling, Torben Schütz: UK-Germany defence cooperation. Bridging the political and military gaps. Hanns Seidel Foundation, The Policy Institute. London, November 2020.

[6] See also Die Rüstungsachse Berlin-Paris.

[7] See also Führungskampf in der EU-Rüstungsindustrie and Das europäische Militärdreieck.

[8] Sophia Becker, Christian Mölling, Torben Schütz: Learning together: UK-Germany cooperation on military innovation and the future of warfare. Hanns Seidel Foundation, The Policy Institute. London, November 2020.

[9] Gordon Rayner, Danielle Sheridan: Boris Johnson to end 'era of retreat' with £24bn Armed Forces spending pledge. telegraph.co.uk 18.11.2020.