Monday, February 25, 2013

Not getting the new reality

Stick with me, I'm going to bounce around a little here. 

Some stories have been around for so long, complaints and memes that cycle - after awhile it all becomes Kabuki-esque.

We've covered the lack of any fair share workload by our NATO allies before - heck, just listen to General Craddock's departing speech from May of 2009 again if you need to.

Well, Anders; I guess you had to at least clear your conscience.
The head of NATO urged member countries Thursday to stop cutting their defense budgets in response to tough economic times, saying continued reductions will compromise the safety of all of the military alliance's 28 members.

"It is of course a matter of concern that we have seen and continue to see declining defense budgets all over the alliance," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on his way into a two-day meeting of NATO country defense ministers.

"My appeal to governments is, firstly, hold the line, stop the cuts," Fogh Rasmussen said. "Secondly, make more efficient use of the resources we do have, through more multinational cooperation. And thirdly, once the economies recover, start to increase defense investments again."
Actually, their economies will not be getting back on solid footing for quite awhile, and once they do - they won't be spending more on their military. Their addiction to the failed Welfare State model needs to reach crisis before that addiction will be broken. With debt maintenance combined with cattywampus demographics, reality won't allow real strong recoveries anyway.

Another hard truth is they have three generations of leaders who are too used to Uncle Sam doing the heavy lifting and to bail them out when they need it. I don't know if they fully realize it that the American taxpayers and political class have tired of Europe after a century of fiddl'n around. Reality has changed.
U.S. officials have long urged that the burden of mutual defense be shared more equitably. A senior NATO official pointed out this week that the U.S. still spends 4.3 percent of its gross domestic product, while most European countries are dropping below 1.5 percent. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk about the discussions before the meeting had taken place.
There's Ref. A as to why there will be little desire to keep subsidizing European defense while our carriers collect barnacles pierside. Frankly, most Americans are just plain tired of it all. It is insulting.

Even before the European Welfare State started to eat itself half a decade ago, defense spending was just sad for our NATO friends. If you haven't been paying attention - you may not realize how far the already low numbers have fallen. Chew on this.
Since 2008, in response to the economic downturn, most big European countries have cut defence spending by 10-15 per cent. The longer-term trends are even more striking. Britain’s Royal Air Force now has just a quarter of the number of combat aircraft it had in the 1970s. The Royal Navy has 19 destroyers and frigates, compared with 69 in 1977. The British army is scheduled to shrink to 82,000 soldiers, its smallest size since the Napoleonic wars. In 1990 Britain had 27 submarines (excluding those that carry ballistic missiles) and France had 17. The two countries now have seven and six respectively.
And yet Britain and France are commonly regarded as the only two European countries that still take defence seriously. The British point out that, even after the current round of cuts, the UK will have the fourth-largest military budget in the world. Britain is also, for the moment, one of only two European nations to meet the Nato target of devoting 2 per cent of gross domestic product to defence – the other is Greece.

The situation in most other European countries is worse – Spain devotes less than 1 per cent of GDP to military spending. And much European military spending goes on pensions or pay, not equipment. The Belgians distinguished themselves in the Libyan campaign of 2011. But about 75 per cent of Belgian military spending now goes on personnel – causing one critic to call the Belgian military “an unusually well-armed pension fund”.
FT is a Brit publication, and a smart one. I doubt very much they read CDRS ... but my regular readers will recognize this train of thought.
None of this might matter much if the US was still willing to step in whenever the Europeans fell short. In fact, America is losing patience with Europe’s inability to act on its own. The Obama administration was clearly reluctant to get involved in Libya. And when the French found that they needed American help on air-to-air refuelling for the Mali operation, they were aghast to discover that the Americans initially wanted to charge them.

In the end, the US agreed to provide its facilities for free. But the point was made. The US is fed up with a situation in which America alone now accounts for about three-quarters of Nato defence spending. One day, perhaps soon, the Europeans may wake up and find that the US military is simply not there to deal with whatever threat is lapping at the frontiers of Europe.
Read it all. As long as they feel we will do their work for them - the Europeans will be glad to let us do their wet work. Make them a little insecure - then maybe ... maybe they will do more.
Yet you do not have to look very far beyond Europe’s borders to see an array of potential threats massing over the next decade. The Middle East is in turmoil and thousands are dying in Syria, threatening the stability of the whole region. Iran’s nuclear programme could well lead to confrontation and threaten European energy supplies. Russian military spending is rising. And growing tensions between China and its neighbours could one day menace the freedom of navigation on which European trade depends.

The risk is that Europeans may suddenly find that they need armed forces, after all – only to discover that they are not there any more.
Tough love. We need to continue to come home. WWII and the Cold War are long gone.

As I've said for well over half a decade; we should only have Combined logistics and training bases overseas and personnel on NATO Staff position as needed. Maybe keep the 173rd in Italy - but that would be about it. Ya'll have heard it before, no need to repeat it.

Going back to the UK press; old habits die hard. 

As they know very well that even if they wanted to, they do not have the ability to do anything in Syria of significance; even though NATO's second largest army is on its border in Turkey - what is the default answer when things get tough in Europe's backyard? Via The Economist;
Suffering on such a scale is unconscionable. That was the lesson from the genocides and civil wars that scarred the last half of the past century. Yet President Barack Obama has suggested that saving lives alone is not a sufficient ground for military action. Having learnt in Afghanistan and Iraq how hard it is to impose peace, America is fearful of being sucked into the chaos that Mr Assad has created. Mr Obama was elected to win economic battles at home. He believes that a weary America should stay clear of yet another foreign disaster.

That conclusion, however understandable, is mistaken. As the world’s superpower, America is likely to be sucked into Syria eventually. Even if the president can resist humanitarian arguments, he will find it hard to ignore his country’s interests.
Well, we acted in AFG and then made the mistake of doing what Europe wanted via the Bonn Agreement and all the talk about fixing AFG "with our allies." Well, how did that work out?

DEU, ESP, ITA and the rest of the NATO forces in RC(N) and RC(W) were so caveat laden and FOB-bound as to waste years of time. The CJSOR was never filled, and eventually when the Europeans couldn't even send enough rotary wing assets to support their own forces - USA decided in late-2007 it needed to take the keys back.

We were proactive in IRQ, and how did the Europe stick with that once things got rough? The Obama administration was right in letting Libya be a little test case for the non-USA lead.

Syria? Really? As if the American people, politicians, or military really want to get stuck in the middle of that tribal bloodlust again. Bleeding out thousands of American in that dusty, nasty, country? For what? So Europeans can feel like someone is doing something? (though not them, of course)

Anyway, we made the mistake of following the Western European's failed Welfare model and are now pretty much broke too. That and we have tired of war, thank you.

Uncle Sam should just shrug. We've had our fill of trying to fix people who do not wish to be fixed. I think we have learned that lesson. We have tired of defending people who have no interest in making a fair effort to defend themselves.

As for Syria, if we did start something, then all the Europeans would do is second guess, Monday morning quarterback, and generally tut-tut us to death with their self proclaimed moral superiority.



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