Watching the Europeans go through their efforts to have a euro-zone RDF is alternatively painful and humorous. How long has this been bandied about now to no effect? I think our European friends on the forum are right. Europe has shown zero aptitude in putting together a common European defense force. It's 'every country for themselves' with the crossed fingers that NATO (particularly the US) will be there if things really go to hell. There's no significant military threat to the continent (yet), so this approach-hope for the best, cut defense spending, rely on others-is the path of least political resistance, particularly in a period of fiscal austerity.
To have a united force, you need to be united.
Europe is vastly divided, and a EU doesn't change **** about that.
France and UK live off old glory, and as security council members and nuclear powers, they still see themselves as world powers - even though reality doesn't really match with that.
Germany might have more possibilities, but is extremly pacifistic. Consequently, we won't invest more in our military. Even if we had more military power, it won't see any use. When a french president was able to order military strikes all by himself, we have an extremly tight control of the military by the parliament. Being a mostly leftist country with an even more pacifistic culture, you can guess youreself where that's heading.
Poland instead embraces its freedom, has a proud military history and is thus willing both to commit money to its forces and to let the forces play with their tools as well.
Greece is more interested in preparing for war against Turkey than anything else, while Romania is willing to commit its forces but has no money...
Now you can guess what that means, should those nations work together in military means. The best case is, that Europe defends itself in coordination and that Germany or another country doesn't say "if we don#t help poland, we won't get attacked" (which is quite possible).
But offensive action? Combined, with a military that is dependend on capacities by another nation because it doesn't have those material itself any longer?
Forget it, no chance!
There are some dreamers about that, but should that ever happen, the only result would be an even more incapable Europe!
I can only advise the Americans to put their trust into Poland, UK, and propably Romania, France, Spain and the Netherlands. But better don't put your bets on Germany the next time you need us!
Some good points, I just had to respond (apologies for further derailing the thread!). I got back almost a year ago from a deployment to Afghanistan as part of a NATO/ISAF team working with the Polish TF White Eagle. Really an eye-opener on how the different European countries are trying to position themselves on defense. Even as part of a NATO mission, each country has varying levels of participation, as well as their own 'National Caveats', basically exceptions or additions to the standard ISAF Rules of Engagement. Poland was very interested in being a player (at the time I think they were the 3rd largest contributor of troops to the NATO effort), and wanted to be seen as active in their province, but still had to operate within more constraints than US forces (all deaths were investigated by the Polish civilian legal system). The sense I got from talking with several Polish officers is that they want to be taken seriously, as more than just a minor power, and are willing to put their blood and treasure on the line to do that. They can't afford to forget that they are stuck in the middle between Germany and Russia, and have been double-crossed by every power in Europe at one time or another, so they want to demonstrate their closeness with the US, counting on us to back them up if it ever comes to that.
The Czechs had an aviation TF at a base near ours (pretty interesting hearing Afghan impressions of 'allies' flying Hips and Hinds over their country this time around). Most of the other larger NATO nations had their own AOs, but I didn't get to interact with them much. Some other nations sent forces, but really restricted them from leaving their bases. A couple of my fellow officers discussed this, and determined their biggest contribution was adding to the # of flags flying in front of ISAF HQ. I will give the Aussies credit, they had a couple infantry coys pass through, willing to get right out there with the Afghan government forces. I did realize that what they call English is a FAR cry from what I speak! My Polish officers were asking me what the Aussie CPT was saying, and I didn't have a clue...
Anyway, back to the point of this thread, I have to agree with Historiker that EU or NATO 'unity' in defense policy is on paper only. They present far from an integrated, united front, even in a situation where they are all operating under the 'umbrella' of US command structure, logistical support, and air supremacy. The challenges they would face in an independent operation, where the interests of the individual, sovereign nations were truly at stake (and likely at odds) would be far worse.
< Message edited by Justus2 -- 4/8/2012 5:31:18 AM >