EU War Coalitions of the Willing

Berlin and Brussels plan a new EU intervention force of 5,000 or more soldiers. Kramp-Karrenbauer pleads for "coalitions of the willing."

BERLIN/BRUSSELS |

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - Berlin and Brussels seek to use the West's defeat in Afghanistan to push for the establishment of a new EU intervention force. "Nearly nothing" was done "to counter" the US' decision to withdraw from the Hindu Kush, because of the lack of our military "capabilities" complained Germany's Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. We can only "win," if the EU gets "on a par with the USA." Just prior, in a guest essay, EU Foreign Policy Commissioner Josep Borrell made a plea, above all, for the Union to create a particularly powerful "Initial entry force," alongside its increasing "pivotal military capabilities." Currently, there is talk within the EU of a unit of 5,000 soldiers, modeled on NATO's "Spearhead" unit, with an augmentation of up to 20,000 also being in discussion. A decision should be made in November. Resistance is coming particularly from the Eastern and Southeastern European pro-US members of the EU.

The EU's Strategic Compass

Already on May 6, in their first face-to-face meeting after their Covid-19 online assemblies, the EU defense ministers discussed the quickest possible creation of a deployable, very powerful, EU intervention force. The debate arose in the course of the discussion of the "Strategic Compass," an effort to try to consolidate the very divergent foreign and military policy interests of EU member states around a common denominator. Until now, the divergences of interests have stood in the way of an expansion of EU military missions and, among other things, are the reason, why the EU's Battlegroups - rapid deployment forces of 1,500 soldiers, from which two are on call 6 months per year - have never been sent on a mission. The strategic compass is based on a uniform threat analysis, agreed upon by the intelligence services of the individual member countries and their EU counterpart, the European Union Intelligence and Situation Center (EU IntCen), without public scrutiny or any form of democratic debate. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[1]) The Strategic Compass will be debated and possibly adopted on 16 November, said EU Foreign Policy Commissioner, Borrell.[2]

A "First Entry Force"

Fourteen EU member states - including "the Union's military heavyweights," Germany, France, Italy, and Spain - made the proposal in a joint discussion paper for creating a rapid deployment force of approx. 5,000 soldiers, according to reports.[3] The new rapid deployment force should initially be comprised "of a brigade-size army component and a naval component;" in the long run, "air force and support units could be added." It is conceived as a "first entry force," available for an "immediate, short-term mission scenario." The size of the unit of 5,000 is oriented, according to insiders, on NATO's "Spearhead", which had been formed in the aftermath of escalation in the conflict with Russia over Ukraine in 2014. A high-ranking functionary of the European External Action Service (EEAS) was quoted to have said that the target of 5,000 soldiers is "ambitious," however, it could be reached, if the current EU Battlegroups would be incorporated. In the meantime, there is even talk of a rapid deployment force of between "5,000 - 20,000" soldiers.[4]

Pivotal Military Capabilities

Berlin and Brussels are currently using the West's defeat in Afghanistan to once again exert pressure. Currently, the EU member states in Eastern and Southeastern Europe are opposed to creating a new intervention force; they - like particularly Poland and the Baltic states - are oriented on particularly strong military cooperation with the United States and an exclusive, as possible, focus on NATO. With this also in mind, the EU's Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell praised in a NY Times guest essay on September 1, the Union's "initial entry force," now being discussed. "To become a more capable ally," Borrell writes, "Europe must invest more in its security capabilities." Alongside increasing "pivotal military capabilities" for example airlift and refueling, strategic reconnaissance and space-based assets - we need forces that are "more capable, more deployable and more interoperable," the Foreign Affairs Commissioner declared, adding that efforts in this direction are already being undertaken. At issue is the ability to "secure an airport in challenging circumstances," such as recently in Kabul.[5]

"On a Par with the USA"

During the meeting of the EU's Defense Ministers, one day later, September 2, Germany's Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, chimed in with a lengthy tweet. "The sober truth about Afghanistan" explained Kramp-Karrenbauer is that, "we, Europeans, did nearly nothing to counter the US decision to withdraw, because of the lack of our own capabilities." "The main question for the future" of the Union's foreign and military policies is how "our military capabilities" can be used collectively. And with reference to the current resistance by Eastern and Southeastern member states, the minister stressed that it was a matter or "strengthening the western alliance as a whole." If the Union "on a par with the USA" could be strengthened, "then we will win." She concretely suggested the formation of a "coalition of the willing:" mergers of individual EU states, who will band together ad hoc for concrete military interventions. This is allowed - Kramp-Karrenbauer explicitly pointed out - under application of Article 44 of the European Treaties.

Regional Warfare Priorities

To have better leverage against the resistance in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, alongside her proposal, for example "to jointly train collective Special Forces and to organize important capabilities, such as airlift and satellite surveillance," Kramp-Karrenbauer now introduces into the discussion "regional security responsibilities." According to their interests, the Eastern and Southeastern EU states could particularly concentrate on military preparations for a possible armed conflict with Russia, while the southern EU members could focus more on wars in the Arab-Islamic world. As things stand, Germany could serve as a hinge between the two sides. In spite of the fact that Article 44 of the European Treaties stipulates that individual EU members may create "coalitions of the willing," currently, a joint EU decision is still required for the respective military missions. Therefore, the option persists allowing the prevention of debilitating wars of other member states in an emergency - even if, for example, they are in the interests of the US. Matej Tonin, Slovenia's Minister of Defense - the country currently assuming the EU presidency - is not ruling out a transition to the classical majority for EU wars in the future.[6]

 

[1] See also Panzerverkäufe und Bedrohungsanalysen.

[2] Nikolaj Nielsen: euobserver.com 03.09.2021.

[3] Thomas Gutschker: Die Sprache der Macht lernen. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07.05.2021.

[4] Christoph B. Schiltz: Nach dem Afghanistan-Debakel wirbt Deutschland für eine "Koalition der Willigen". welt.de 02.09.2021.

[5] Josep Borrell Fontelles: Europe, Afghanistan Is Your Wake-Up Call. nytimes.com 01.09.2021.

[6] Nikolaj Nielsen: euobserver.com 03.09.2021.