Poland Doubts European NATO Countries Would Come to Its Defense

Because who in Europe has the military might to stand up for NATO? Poland marks Army Day with parade, call for US military base.

Poland has been lobbying for a permanent US military presence, because they are worried about Russia. (As far as the Poles see it, Russia still holds territory they never gave back after the end of WWI.) The Poles are also not 100% sure of the rest of NATO.

Poland considers the U.S. its key protector, with some doubts about whether Europe’s NATO members really would ever come to its defense.

German military might isn’t what it once was. The UK is in better shape, but Poland is one of a few NATO countries – aside from the USA – that meets its 2% of GDP military-spending-commitment. (UK, Estonia and Greece, were the others in 2016.)

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Georgia (The Country) To Participate in NATO War Games

I always wondered why Georgia (and Ukraine) didn’t join NATO – or at least try – in the 1990s or early in the 21st Century. Georgia slams Russia ‘occupation’ ahead of NATO war games.

Georgia is bordered by Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to the south, the Black Sea to the west, and Russia to the north. (A map can be found at this link.)

Several thousand soldiers from Georgia, the US, Germany and other NATO countries are set for two weeks of joint maneuvers. Georgia’s president has criticized the presence of Russian troops in South Ossetia.

The war games titled “Noble Partner” are starting soon. Russia is conducting drills in the North Caucasus region at the same time.

Russia has had troops deployed to the Ossetia region (ostensibly of Georgia) since the brief war in 2008.

Although Georgia is not a member of NATO, it has had close ties with the alliance since 1994, and is considered an “aspirant country.”

German Government Still Not Willing to Fund Defense

The German military is in bad shape, and people wonder if it can meet its obligations under the NATO treaty. European arms deals ‘at risk’ over German defence spending row

Merkel wants to increase spending to €5.5 billion over 4 years, but the German Defense Minister of Merkel’s government says they need €12 billion this year to meet NATO commitments, or several programs will have to be canceled.

The cancellations include 6 new submarines to be built by Germany’s Thyssnkrup and armed by Norway’s Kongsberg. Also a risk is participation in a joint squadron of C130 Hercules aircraft with the French. If Germany cancels its 6 aircraft, it would leave France holding the bag.

A parliamentary watchdog warned in February that equipment shortages are putting Germany’s ability to meet its Nato commitements “in question”.

In the background, there is mention of the fact that President Trump has said Germany needs to fund its defense so that it can meet NATO obligations. Germany isn’t alone in shirking those responsibilities. It is so much easier for the Europeans to let the Americans handle it.

If Europe Doesn’t Take Security Seriously…

European Defense SpendingFor decades, they have asked us to foot the bill. And we have. And maybe this made sense in 1950, while they were rebuilding after WWII, but does it make sense today? German army chief warns over defence spending ahead of Trump-Merkel meeting

Severe underfunding of the military is putting Germany’s security at risk, the head of the country’s influential armed forces association warned on Thursday.

Click the image for a larger view (courtesy of the Telegraph).

The UK, Poland and Estonia are the only 3 European NATO countries that meet the target of 2% of GDP spent on defense.

The German military has been a problem for a long time. And it doesn’t look like Merkel wants to fix it.

Only 95 of the German army’s 244 Leopard main battle tanks were operational at the time of the report because of maintenance issues. None of the German navy’s six submarines were operational, and only nine of a planned 15 frigates are in service.

Wasn’t Germany the country that basically perfected submarine warfare in the first half of the 20th Century? And now they have no functioning submarines.

So what exactly is the “shared defense” of NATO, if by “shared” they mean, “Let the Americans handle it?” I don’t think this is how the alliance was originally envisioned.

German military procurement is “one hell of a complete disaster.”

Remember when Trump accused NATO allies of not pulling their weight in the treaty organization? They aren’t. German Navy experiences “LCS affect” in spades as new frigate fails sea trials | Ars Technica

The German Navy has a lot of problems right now. It has no working submarines, in part because of a chronic repair parts shortage. The Deutsche Marine is still flying helicopters older than their pilots—the Sea Lynx entered service in 1981, and the Sea King in 1969—and has long-delayed their replacement. And now the service is facing problems with its newest ships so severe that the first of the class failed its sea trials and was returned to the shipbuilders in December.

Now a ship failing sea trials is most definitely NOT the fault of the NAVY. (Though this is a new design, and that may be the fault of the navy.) But not having any operational submarines due to lack of parts is a logistical problem, and probably has a budgetary cause – as in the politicians don’t want to pay for defense. As witnessed by the age of the helicopters flying off frigates and destroyers.

Of course the problems are not limited to the Deutsche Navy, they are just buying really large items. German military is falling behind, and the US is putting it on notice – Business Insider

A few of things that are wrong:

  • Helicopter pilot training has been outsourced to a private company – most of the Bundeswehr helicopters are out of commission.
  • Only 95 of 244 Leopard 2 tanks are in service.
  • Only 29 of 93 commissioned fighter jets are combat-ready. (Only 66 are operational)
  • In recent NATO war games they were forced to disguise broomsticks as machine guns to hide the fact that they don’t have enough equipment.

Things haven’t been getting better the past 4 years.

All these problems are hurting recruiting. (Gee, you think?) Even German politicians are beginning to bring some heat.

“We should not develop the reputation of being one of the world’s best freeloaders,” Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference and Germany’s former envoy to Washington said.

I don’t believe that the current government of Germany (Angel Merkel was finally able to get a coalition government formed 6 months after the election) will be able to do anything like increase defense spending. Certainly not to the 2% of GDP level that was in an agreement.

How to Survive a Russian Invasion, and other tips from Lithuania

Sometimes when you go looking for one thing, you find something completely unexpected.

So the National Review has a reaction to Merkel reacting to Trump, on the subject of defense spending. NATO Allies Must Boost Defense Spending or Risk Losing U.S. Protection | National Review

The basic question is:

Why should Americans care about protecting our European allies if European citizenries themselves do not support the military defense of member states against Russia in the event that Article V is invoked? There are vast tidal forces of history at work in the world today, some that can be controlled and some that cannot. Continuing to shirk commitments to one’s own defense with the expectation that the U.S. will foot the bill instead is the wrong way to engender continued transatlantic respect and friendship.

It is a fairly good article, that covers what Article V means to the people involved, and it is generally worth a read.

If you follow a bunch of links, you eventually find this 2015 article from the Atlantic, about a manual published by the government of Lithuania.

How to Survive a Russian Invasion – The Atlantic

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are known collectively as the Baltic states. All three of them were part of the old Soviet Union, and they believe that Putin’s Russia would like to re-occupy them. They have been independent since the 1990s, and they joined NATO as soon as they were able.

After the way Russia retook Crimea and what they have been reported to be doing in the rest of Ukraine, Lithuania thought they should prepare their citizens for more of the same.

The 98-page guide, which this week goes out to libraries and army personnel in the 3-million-strong Baltic nation, is meant to gird citizens for the possibility of invasion, occupation, and armed conflict. The manual, entitled “How to Act in Extreme Situations or Instances of War,” may seem an overly anxious measure in a country like Lithuania, which lived under Soviet control from 1940 to 1991 but has enjoyed the security of European Union and NATO membership since 2004.

You know it seems like just yesterday that Obama (rumored to be the smartest President we’ve ever had) was laughing at someone and making snide comments like, “How could anyone be worried about Russia?” This is the 21st Century after all.

Germany Is Happy to Have the US Continue to Fund the Bulk of NATO

Because that’s the way we’ve always done it. Germany balks at Tillerson call for more European NATO spending | Reuters

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it was neither “reachable nor desirable” for Germany to spend the agreed NATO target of two percent of member states’ economic output on defense. NATO allies have until 2024 to do that.

And they say they’re worried that we aren’t serious about the alliance. But if they were serious, they would meet their funding obligations.