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The choice for the Europeans and Canada is modernization or marginalisation. I am therefore sounding once again my clarion call of capabilities, capabilities, capabilities.“ NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson, urging the European NATO countries to boost their defense capabilities, has often heard sentences like this one, at the February 18th, 2002 conference in London, in recent months. For several years now, Europeans have declared the intention to aggressively tackle the so-called transatlantic defense capabilities gap. They refer to the huge disparity between the U.S. and Europe to strategically plan, prepare and conduct the wide range of military interventions in the conflicts we face today. While Europe is well able to conduct peacekeeping operations, it lacks the defense capabilities to go much beyond this type of intervention. The U.S., on the other hand, has a military establishment at hand that provides the utmost capabilities to confront any adversary that might appear in the future. Assessments like the ones just given were proven throughout the 1990s, when the U.S. took a strong military leadership role in international conflicts worldwide, especially in Europe, while Europe itself was only ready to play on the sidelines of the conflict or to join only after the hostilities had ended. Although the European armies have been and are still making an important contribution to euro-Atlantic security with their extensive peacekeeping effort in the Balkans, for instance, the state of their military could and should be far more advanced.
The capabilities question will be a key factor shaping the future of institutions like NATO. Only if the Europeans have capable armies, countries like the U.S. will continue to rely on Europe as a strong partner in world affairs and respect their assistance and also their criticisms. Should Europe fail, the U.S. would increasingly do what it has already been doing: searching temporary alliances with selected, capable partners that meet its requirements. This behavior of the U.S. has become apparent in the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Although NATO called out Article 5 for the first time in its history only one day later, the effect turned out to be only of political value rather than military value. For the high-intensity warfare operations in Afghanistan, NATO as a whole did not play any role. They were rather bilateral arrangements between the U.S. and selected NATO partners as well as other temporary allies such as Pakistan or the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan itself. Operation Enduring Freedom, the search for those believed to be responsible for the September 11th attacks, could have been led by NATO, had it had the appropriate tools and capabilities. This comes despite the fact that many observers said that NATO’s mission did not include such a scenario. Times change, missions change and so must alliances. If NATO was meant to remain only a cornerstone for European security, its purpose has indeed outlived its necessity. Europe is largely at peace since neither large interstate conflicts between major European players are imaginable nor has Europe to fear the invasion of “the big enemy”. What it has to cope with now are the potential smaller, invisible enemies that can cause such horrific damage as on September 11th. Now, rogue states and non-state actors pose the biggest challenges to international security. NATO’s members must shape its institution to the point that it can tackle these security threats. Otherwise, even if NATO were to remain a more political than the traditional military alliance, it would no longer play any role. It would be an “OSCE with weapons”. But this is a development all alike, the U.S. and Europe, should seek to avoid since international coalitions are the key to confront these future threats. No state alone can counter such invisible threats. Although military means do not play an exclusive role in countering such threats, having credible military means at hand remains a must. The war against terror –just one preliminary conclusion– has shown that terrorists can be deterred if their existence could be threatened through the use of military force.
But what have the European NATO members or the members of the European Union done so far to enhance their military capabilities? Recognizing their military deficits, the European partners in NATO agreed in 1999 to a Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI) that would seek to eliminate 58 defined weak points. However, ever since, NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson repeatedly stated that Europe has not done all too much to fully embrace the initiative. The rhetoric of Europe, be it either DCI or European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), does not match its deeds. So far, at the security and defense level, Europe has a rhetoric, institutional and capabilities problem altogether that needed to be addressed at this year’s Prague NATO summit November 22nd/23rd. Prague, in a way, was considered by some as the last turning point for NATO in order to maintain its credibility and viability before the U.S. The summit had to determine where NATO would be heading to and whether it would remain relevant or not. One conclusion of the summit has been, once more, to do something against the stagnating and decreasing defense budgets in Europe. Not being able to modernize its armed forces, Europe will not only be unable to successfully engage in high-intensity military operations, if needed, but it will also be unable to fight alongside its most important political partner: the U.S. If it cannot be through budget increases, perhaps a change of pace could be initiated through more cross-border cooperation. Standardizing or harmonizing equipment and, most importantly, specializing capabilities could become key factors for improving Europe’s defense capabilities in the future with regard to the U.S. No European state currently has the financial resources to maintain a “have it all” military. Neither should they have such armies if we really move along the thoughts of an integrated Europe. If this vision of Europe were to become true, such a military work-share would only make sense. Neither can Europe any longer close the military capabilities gap to the U.S., nor should it try that. Attempting to do so would require vast defense increases that no European state is willing to bring to bear. Therefore, the immediate goal must be to improve military capabilities to such an extent that interoperability is at least guaranteed to perform multinational operations in times of crisis. The following study will show how much the American and European military differ today in terms of crucial capabilities.
America’s Military Transformation – Where does it Stand?
The end of the Cold War saw America with its huge military apparatus facing new challenges. The US Forces’ attention was not only focused towards the Soviet Union. Rather, the US Forces had to function as a jack of many trades after only a relatively short time. The new tasks the forces had to deal with were characterized by purely humanitarian assignments with smaller troops to war-fighting combat missions with large forces worldwide. The entire scope covered the second Gulf War, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Afghanistan. From 1999 through 2002 the American Forces have safeguarded their status as the world’s policeman within the international system on the one hand. Whenever military force from US side was called for, the American forces had to be prepared to carry out any mission. On the other hand, however, the American Forces underwent substantial changes during this time, since their mandate had changed abruptly. It was not the containment of the Soviet Union and a large-scale escalation of military force with plenty of lead-time anymore. It was about the ability to carry out smaller-scale military operations that could develop in locations of strategic interest to the United States, with somewhat less lead-time.
Table 1 – Restructuring of the US-Forces 1989-1999
Changes in %
Ground-based ICBM bomber
Submarine-launched ballistic missiles
Marine Corps Div.
US Air Force
18 (10 Res.)
3 (1 Res.)
15 (1 Res.)
13 (2 Res.)
25 (12 Res.)
14 (8 Res.)
3 (1 Res.)
13 (0 Res.)
11 (2 Res.)
16 (11 Res.)
10 (8 Res.)
3 (1 Res.)
11 (1 Res.)
10 (1 Res.)
13 (8 Res.)
10 (8 Res.)
3 (1 Res.)
11 (1 Res.)
10 (1 Res.)
13 (8 Res.)
(Anthony H. Cordesman, Trends in US Defense Spending: The Size of Funding, Procurement, and Readiness Problems, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 09 October 2000, p. 9).
The new mission of the US Forces required a reduction of their total strength and also brought about a reduction of the defense budget. In 1990 the US Forces included just under 2.1 billion troops. Ten years later, this number had decreased by approximately one third to 1.4 billion. This also involved a continuous reduction of the defense budget. During that decade the budget was cut by US $100 billion. In 1999 the US defense budget amounted to approximately US $279 billion. The American Forces were, as critics claimed, pretty much at the status they had during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The reform of the armed forces was not sufficient with the continuation of the structure of 10 Army divisions, three active Marine Corps divisions, 20 fighter wings and 11 aircraft carriers. The American Forces would still fly fighter jets like the F-15, F-16 or F-117, operate M-1 tanks or travel the seas on aircraft carriers type Nimitz. While these weapon systems may well outmatch those of other nations with regard to their firepower, they were becoming outdated. The Clinton Administration was accused of having embarked on a “Procurement-Holiday“ during its eight years of office, which had prompted the poor state the US weapon systems are currently in. The lack of operational readiness and under-financing of the American Forces was tangible. The Congressional Budget Office conducted a study in the year 2000 establishing a need for a defense budget of US $340 billion for the Pentagon to merely maintain its fleet and secure operational readiness. At this point in time, however, the budget only amounted to US $276 billion. The Joint Chiefs of Staff determined a requirement for approximately US $75 billion for procurement only in order to modernize the Forces. They were, however, advised to quote the amount of official spending with US $60-65 billion; in fact they received even less. A financial gap of US $58.5 billion was expected for the following five years, should the funding for procurement remain at approximately US $60 billion, while about US $75 billion were needed. The situation turned into a problem mostly because of the enormous strain on the American Forces. The defense budget had shriveled by 40 percent within a decade. Whereas the tasks and missions had expanded by 300 percent compared to 1989.
Table 2 – US-Defense Budget1989-1999
Department of Defense (DoD)
Operation & Maintenance
Research & Development
Family Allowances / Board
(Anthony H. Cordesman, Trends in US Defense Spending: The Size of Funding, Procurement, and Readiness Problems, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 9. October 2000, p. 10)
Table 3 – Personnel Development of the US-Forces 1989-1999
National guards and Reserve
(Anthony H. Cordesman, Trends in US Defense Spending: The Size of Funding, Procurement, and Readiness Problems, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 9. October 2000, p. 10)
Accordingly, and not the least bit surprisingly, operational-readiness of the forces became an important issue in the security and defense policy sector of the election campaign for the Presidential elections. The military expected the new Bush Administration to initiate a rigorous modernization of the Armed Forces. Basically, the vision of a transformation of the American Forces foresees a “future force defined less by size and more by mobility and swiftness, one that is easier to deploy and sustain, one that relies more heavily on stealth, precision weaponry, and information technologies.”
Compared to Europe, the US efforts made in transforming their Armed Forces, had already been outstanding before September 11th. Triggered through the terrorist attacks a new decisive aspect, legitimate or not, gained momentum in the transformation process of the US Forces –even more money-. Even though critics in the US argue that the underlying purpose of the transformation, i.e. to develop revolutionary weapon systems that could entirely change the traditional nature of the Armed Forces (e.g. Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles, which will replace pilots in the long run), barely received sufficient funding, the funding for traditional weapon system platforms (combat aircraft, aircraft carriers, medium battle tanks) was remarkable. Weapons procured now in the US have to be even faster, more flexible, more powerful, less visible and have longer ranges. In order achieve this goal it seems that the US would pay any price ever since the terrible attacks against their center of power. The apparent success of Enduring Freedom, as well as the fact that America seems to need additional military means in order to defend the country against the security threat of the 21st century, consolidates the Pentagon’s demands. This does not only give Homeland Defense and Homeland Security top priority for US-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, but also requires US-Forces to be developed. Something that will be directed by a worldwide scope of action, rather than the main pattern of deployments in the Balkans and Iraq-Containment in the Persian Gulf. All this is aimed at fighting the new No. 1 enemy of the US: international terrorism. Where no traces are visible, the US will try to find those who support terrorism and, if necessary, eliminate them like they did in Afghanistan - lastbut not least by applying overpowering military power. There have been considerations in order to increase the defense budget to approximately US $450 billion until 2007. Procurement expenditure alone would come to about US $100 billion. All in all this would roughly match the defense budget under the Reagan-Administration during the Cold War.
During the process of provisioning the appropriate military capacities that comply with future security and defense-strategy, the American services will undergo enormous transformation and modernization.
The U.S. Army – “Objective Force”
The US-Army is experiencing a fierce debate about its current and future role in a defense strategy for the United States. After all, this has partly been fueled by the success of US-Marines against the relatively poor performance of the Army in Afghanistan. Furthermore the Kosovo-conflict in 1999 has left the US-Army with a black eye, according to an American commentator. Back then, the deployment of ground forces had been completely ruled out by President Bill Clinton. The US-Army is still dragging along the burden of a strong focus from Cold War times that presents an increasing obstacle to dealing with current conflicts. “The bottom line, the Marines are better prepared“, explained US defense expert, Ralph Peters, in a Washington Post article, the Marines’ success over the US-Army. The current US-Army Chief of Staff, General Eric K. Shinseki, has identified the deficiencies and has made them his primary task: The US-Army will become an “Objective Force“. Among the most important objectives here is the creation of a force that
· is protected from the entire threat scenario in combat;
· is rapidly responsive and deployable;
· is highly agile, in order to adapt to a new theater in a minimum timeframe;
· rapidly adjusts to the threat scenario in the area of deployment, exerts dominance at all times and does not lose it to the enemy;
· is able to successfully engage in non-lethal combat against the enemy and accordingly has a strong survivability.
The planning concept for the US-Army is oriented towards the creation of Future Combat Systems (FCS) that have to meet all of the above mentioned requirements and emphasize the importance of the American ground Forces in future conflict solutions. This Future Combat Systems are planned to be multifunctional, medium weapon systems, manned or possibly unmanned, for the 2012-2025 timeframe. The Army has changed the plans from originally planned 40-ton class to just over 20-tons, which may be considered quite revolutionary in the mindset of ground-combat supporters, considering the fact that the FCS is supposed to be the M-1 Abrams combat-tank successor.
The US-Army is rapidly catching up with high-tech equipment for their troops. In this context, the Army also develops the “Land Warrior” concept, which will go into serial production for soldiers in 2004 at the latest. The public witnessed the operation of new weapon technologies only by coincidence, when the New York Times and the Washington Post published photos of US. Special Forces patrolling in Afghanistan. The photos showed two soldiers carrying monocles on their helmets and M-4 rifles with shock resistant video cameras mounted on top. This technology enables the soldiers in combat, to see around corners, without being exposed to danger themselves. The soldiers themselves can detect any movement, count the number of enemies and even target the enemy. Even though this technology is, by no means, matured, it roughly indicates the direction the planners in the Pentagon are heading to in the development of new weapon technologies for the US-Army. Furthermore, the training and availability of Special Operation Forces will dramatically gain significance. “This is now the sexy stuff”, a government representative in Washington was recently quoted. This was about an increase in the annual budget for Special Operation Forces from US $3.2 billion to US $3.8 billion. Operations such as Somalia and recent experiences made in Afghanistan made clear that the deployment of Special Operation Forces will be a crucial factor in future warfare. Much less important, however, will be the deployment of large and heavy assault troops to fight the enemy. The budget amounts to a total of approximately US $80.2 billion, with the Army trying to increase it to US $90 billion next year.
The U.S. Air Force – “Global Strike”
The American Air Force has certainly been the primary weapon during the conflicts of the 1990s. This has not changed in the current situation in Afghanistan. The US will always be the superior opponent when applying offensive air power and are thus able to pursue their national interests at the lowest possible risk. However, the enormous strain on the Air Force came at a high cost. Extensive usage makes weapon systems age faster, operational costs increase and personnel grow tired of the increasing operational.
The Air Force has, however, addressed this problem in its future orientation. A concept has been developed since last year for the forces to work as expeditionary forces. This will enable better handling of the high operational speed and the overall strong demand as well as a better offset of negative impact on human and materiel resources. This so-called “Expeditionary Air Force” aims at assembling powerful troops, that can strike anywhere in the world without delay to defend American interests –the “Global Strike” concept-.
Based on the experiences during Operation Allied Force and the current air combat in Afghanistan several priorities in procurement for the US-Air Force become apparent. The focus will be, above all, on the increased deployment of unmanned (combat) aerial vehicles. While the Pentagon has not given great importance to this issue in the past, it probably will during the Afghanistan operations. The potential of the “Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle”(UCAV) in particular seems to have convinced officials in Afghanistan. It is being considered to establish a squadron of 18 to 24 UCAV from the year 2003 through 2008. In addition the procurement rate of the Predator-UAVs, of which the Air Force has 50 units, has been increased from one to two per month since the beginning of the operations in Afghanistan. Particularly, the Predator turned out to be an important pillar of intelligence gathering for the Air Force and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Operation Enduring Freedom. The Predator’s crash rate is, however, relatively high, which in turn requires constant procurement. Furthermore, consideration has been given to using cheap platforms, such as out-of-service fighter jets, for reconnaissance UAVs. This could increase the production of these items that are crucial for intelligence gathering and reconnaissance.
Overall, the Air Force will get the greatest share of funding compared to the other services. During next year alone the budget will amount to approximately US $107 billion. A major contribution will come especially from programs like the fighter jets F-22 and the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) along with a rigorous extension of transport capabilities in order to be able to deploy material and troops over large distances. Investments of US $40 billion for the F-22 and approximately US $200 billion for the JSF are the largest sums ever spent on fighter jets. In order to extend the relatively small group of strategic bombers, the Pentagon is considering a bomber-role for the F-22. Currently, the Air Force only has 21 of the highly advanced B-2 Stealth-Bomber and the more than 40 years old B-52 Bomber. Should the Pentagon accept the industries’ proposal for 40 additional B-2, further costs of about US $5 billion would incur. The US-Air Force has also been criticizing a lack of transport capabilities for quite some time, saying they did not have sufficient transport capabilities. Here, action really does need to be taken, even for the “Aerospace Nation No. 1“, if the US wants to continue with their global speed of operations. The main fleet consists of 110 old C-5, 76 C-141 and 80 relatively new C-17 aircrafts. Since the availability of the C-5 and C-141 decreases due to aging of the aircrafts, the Air Force plans to boost their C-17 fleet to a total of 222 in the next couple of years. Admittedly, the possibility is that the Air Force request will be met.
The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps – “Fast Forward Presence”
Together with the US-Air Force the US-Navy is a crucial factor in the projection of US power. Maritime capabilities do, generally speaking, “excellently serve as so-called ‘Enabling Forces’ in military scenarios, i.e. an indispensable pre-condition for any follow-up operations within the framework of crisis management. Such pre-conditions could be to attack targets on shore in order to enable the debarkation or embarkation of troops and other personnel.“ The Navy’s presence in a conflict zone does not only serve as a great means of deterrence against any enemy, but it also allows the US to speed up the positioning of powerful groups of aircraft carriers anywhere in the world and to counter the conflict situation where necessary. The maritime capabilities create rapid forces for the US, which can be maintained until step-up groups arrive in the area by sea, air or ground.
Even though the US-Navy thus plays a rather important role within the American security- and defense concept, it has recently been spared additional financial support by the Administration. The transformation program for the US-Navy plans the creation of a fleet of 310 ships in the long term. Funds are, however, not yet available. Next year’s Navy funding will increase by 9 percent to US $108 billion, an increase of US $9.4 billion compared to this year’s. All in all the US-Navy has slightly lowered its ambitions. In 2001 the Navy’s budget planned for 172 aircraft to be procured in 2003, 177 in 2004 and 187 aircraft in 2005. It is now much more likely that 85 aircraft can be procured in 2004, 105 in 2005, 147 in 2006 and 193 in 2007. Among the major programs of the US-Navy in the next few years are Stealth ships, type DD-21, two guided weapons equipped destroyers of the Aegis-class and three additional war ships. Furthermore the US-Navy and the Marine Corps will procure their part of total Joint-Strike Fighter Fleet as well as 44 F/A-18F Super Hornets. The Marine Corps will get the V-22 cargo helicopter that has been criticized for crashes during test runs throughout the last couple of years. Also, the US-Navy is modifying four nuclear-powered submarines of the Trident-class. Expenses will amount to a total of approximately US $21.5 billion within the next couple of years. Given a Navy procurement budget of approximately US $6 billion, it seems rather unlikely that all expenses will be covered. According to the Congressional Budget Office this would require a procurement spending of about US $17 billion per year.
Transformation? Europe’s rocky path towards the creation of military capacities
What does the military situation in Europe look like on the other hand? Europe does have enormous potential, generally speaking. Unfortunately though, the political decision makers don’t seem willing to fully make use of it. Even the three big guys –Great Britain, France and Germany– are not capable nor willing to sufficiently fund external security –even in the current case of the international war against terrorism and its rather strong emphasis on military means-. September 11th seems too far away –on the other side of the Atlantic– to considerably impact Security and Defense policy here in Europe. Compared to the United States, Europe’s big three are lagging far behind, unable to catch up with € 39 billion (Great Britain), € 29 billion (France) and € 24.4 billion (Germany). In addition, there is no future record military spending in sight that could make up against the enormous US efforts in this field. Thus, domestic politics of larger and smaller European countries do not at all comply with their foreign political rhetoric. An observer hence rightfully wrote: “Domestic politics makes Germany a difficult military ally“. Another one describes: “Germany is the leading European central power. It is, however, in contrast to its allies and neighbors, not confident about its national identity [...] The creeping loss of military political weight caused by years of under-financing of the services and failing to face the new strategic situation with a convincing own concept, will continue to have an effect for a long time, despite improvements that have been announced.”
All this, places a heavy burden on transatlantic security relations and its long-term survival. Operation Enduring Freedom may well be regarded as a warning sign to the Europeans when it comes to the importance of military capabilities in foreign policy and how this affects a country's possibilities of exerting influence. Had the Europeans had stronger military capabilities, the US would certainly have much more included them in their plans and consulted them. Why consult with an incapable partner? A super power like the US cannot afford to wait for a military underdeveloped and politically paralyzed partner like the European Union when dealing with situations that concern vital national interests and security.
Europe has difficulties with higher defense budgets and therefore strongly emphasizes any achievements in non-military conflict solutions in its foreign political profile. Although Europe does a great job here, it is not enough to gloss over the contradiction of rhetoric and reality in the area of military conflict solution. He who commits himself in the military field and for a functioning transatlantic partnership to do better verbally, also needs to achieve more. Even though the European countries have already begun to transform their services, it is above all the lack of financial resources that hampers a timely implementation. What seems rather promising on paper, first needs to be put into action within the next 10 to 15 years. There are major projects on the agenda like –to name only a few– 620 fighter jets, type Eurofighter Typhoon for four countries: Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain; a British participation in the Joint Strike Fighter; 196 transport aircraft, type A400M for eight European countries; medium and short-range precision and standoff weapons, such as multinational programs like Meteor and IRIS-T missiles; capabilities for refueling aircraft as well as improved C4ISTAR capabilities.
Looking at prominent European issues like the Airbus A400M transport aircraft, one immediately identifies the problem. Eight nations are fighting to finally launch Europe’s biggest procurement program closing, this way, one of the most decisive gap in capabilities –strategically air transport– to the greatest possible extent. The A400M thus resembles both a great symbol for the creation of European military capabilities and example for the major problems in this field. It was above all the Bundeswehr’s financial dilemma that afflicted the A400M with such dramatic importance. The question, which was asked late last year and that is still being asked, is whether the A400M can be implemented or the largest cooperative program worth € 21.7 billion will fail on the last few meters. The A400M should, however, finally be produced. After all, it is an aircraft that the European nations –Germany, France, Spain, Great Britain, Turkey, Belgium, Portugal and Luxemburg– agreed upon. The German politician Friedbert Pflüger rightly says that Europe was not at all in the position to complain about not being considered an equal partner in the fight against international terrorism by the US if a country like Germany needs to rent Ukrainian Ilyushin transport aircraft to fly their troops to Afghanistan. The only country that currently possesses a small transport capability is Great Britain with four leased C-17 aircrafts. It has indeed been proven true that international crises do not wait until Europe has somewhat modernized and prepared its forces for the requirements that are to be expected. What really counts in the military world are the qualities often mentioned by NATO-Secretary General Lord George Robertson: “Capabilities, capabilities, capabilities”. There is an urgent call for action in Europe in order to build up powerful troops until –in the best case– 2008 or 2010, which can then be deployed in EU or NATO missions. Until then, the European nations need to work with what they have right now. Then, it will be about creating a common level of defense expenditure, measured against the economic potential of the respective countries. With 14 percent expenditure for military research and development Germany is, for example, lagging far behind France and Great Britain that represent 75 percent of all expenditure in this sector in Europe. These two countries are, along with Turkey and Greece, which spend about 2 percent of their Gross National Product on defense, the only ones who pursue serious politics in order to achieve military capabilities.
Table 4: Percentage of defense expenditure in GNP of NATO-countries
(Source: NATO Web Site, http://www.nato.int)
Altogether, the prospects for an improvement of the situation are not very promising. Expenditure is only increased here and there, as for example in Italy, where the defense budget went up by 7.1 percent to € 18.8 billion this year. Germany will also increase its defense budget by € 0.75 billion until 2006, starting next year. However, these extra efforts are by far not sufficient for creating the military capabilities necessary to fully implement the Bundeswehr reform. In the upcoming years, projects worth over € 60 billion will face an annual acquisition budget of just over € 3 billion. The Federal Ministry of Defense (BMVg) procurement bill for the A400M transport aircraft, for instance, demurs that this major project of more than € 9 billion for 73 aircraft will run against other Bundeswehr projects. There is simply no money left for more projects. The BMVg writes: “The scheduling of the FTA [Future Transport Aircraft] requires the prioritization of other projects. As a consequence of the procedure less prioritized projects cannot be implemented as planned so far. For the financing model ‘cash on delivery’ this will basically affect projects planned for after 2009.“ In addition, the Bundeswehr will receive the first 180 Eurofighter aircraft in 2003, which will also cost approximately € 25 billion in total. All in all, these two projects will simply eat up the biggest parts of the Bundeswehr procurement budget from 2003 until way into the next decade. Experts associated with the German Army strongly criticize this “repression” and point out, that the fund allocation of only 15 percent for Army projects, 85 percent for Air Force and Navy will turn out to be highly problematic for Germany’s largest service. The situation in other European countries is not any better, as for example in Spain, where the acquisition budget does suffice for the weapon systems that need to be procured. In fact, the situation has turned so dramatic with a defense budget of € 7 billion that the Spanish Secretary of Defense now has to have his major projects –i.e. 219 Leopard-2E Battle Tank, 72 Eurofighter, 27 A400M, nine C-295 transport aircraft, four F-100 frigates–, worth approximately € 22 billion, pre-financed by the Ministry for Industry and Energy.
Countering future security threats and NATO’s Response Force
Will, as a consequence, American and European troops not be able to cooperate in the future battlefields anymore? And does this mean, as it has sarcastically been indicated, that America will do the fighting while Europe takes over civilian re-construction through financial aid? Well, it is not easy to make precise statements about possible future enemies that may pose a threat to western countries. In any case, however, the transatlantic partners need to be aware that their enemies can and will get a clear picture of the western world’s strengths and weaknesses before using any kind of military force. Every era has, presumably, its own type of warfare. Nowadays the nature of war is expected to change dramatically in the information age. For the time being, however, the vision of overwhelming and disastrous cyber attacks from enemies against the West seems at a far distance. Although we should not forget the consequential economic losses caused by 11th September, a few such attacks and the free western markets could indeed face severe problems.
Basically, we will be confronted with several different types of conflicts for a certain period of time. The western armed forces, that will – as a general rule – continue to fight side by side in major future conflicts, must be prepared for this. We must generally differentiate between separate stages in the development of armed forces and armed forces potential. They are
Armed Forces in the information age,
Armed Forces in the industrial age,
Less developed forces,
Poorly developed forces in the industrial age
Non-governmental opponents, such as al-Qaida terrorists.
While the US clearly belongs to the first type, most European partners range between type one and two. Some of the new NATO-members might even belong to type three. This means that there are different levels of interoperability within NATO and the EU, which naturally will not help the military cooperation in peace, less even in war times. During the Kosovo conflict, for instance, Polish troops did participate in the Operation Allied Force, but, due to a lack of transportation capabilities, they had to be deployed to the mission area by train. By procuring eight C-295 transport aircraft, Poland made a decisive, yet small, step forward.
The ultimate and fundamental problem, as it was pointed out earlier, is the limited interoperability between American and European troops, as well as between the individual European countries. The great divergence of individual military policies in different countries inevitably exerts influence on the state of the armed forces. While Americans have initiated a major modernization of their forces, Europe is mostly lacking such initiative. The consequences that may arise from this have appropriately been described by Kori Schake:
“The United States spends 85 percent of the total world investment in military research and development and buys large numbers of weapon systems that capitalize on the innovations. In the past 10 years, the U.S. ability to see the battlefield more precisely from greater distances, transmit information securely to forces more widely dispersed, and acquire targets more precisely has increased. […] The transition has been occurring so long that it is beginning to affect how U.S. troops organize, train for, and think about warfare. The Navy network centric warfare, the Army experiment with breaking up tank functions, and the rise of Joint Forces Command are only three examples of how change that was made possible by advanced weapons is now affecting doctrine. The change appears to be accelerating in U.S. thinking and force structuring. European allies of the United States are not on the same path of military innovation. They spend much less on research and development, buy fewer weapons, and favor national companies (as the United States also does) when purchasing their weaponry. As a result, they are developing fewer innovations and experiencing less change. The divergence in high-end capabilities was apparent in the Kosovo air campaign, in which U.S. forces had to conduct more than 80 percent of the intelligence collection and strike sorties.”
An important conclusion drawn from previous discussions and analyses of military intervention of the “West” since the end of the Cold War has shown that for future armed forces the “capabilities based approach” is decisive. Due to the US’s technological superiority and partly the superiority of the Europeans towards other less developed countries (e.g. Afghanistan) the war against an enemy is not characterizedanymore by mobilizing troops ‘en masse’ or by halting an invasion by the enemy close to the homeland. The battlefield of the future is much rather located farther away from the borders of western countries. However, especially in conflicts such as the international war against terror and a mainly non-tangible enemy, the definition of victory and defeat in a military operation will blur. It will also become difficult to distinguish friend or foe in the future. Warfare will inevitably become more complicated and thus more dangerous in various scenarios. While in the past the accomplishment of goals determined the success of military action, the parameters have now changed. A military mission is now generally only considered a success when the operation was completed, while keeping friendlylosses and collateral damage at a minimum. Military operations are thus burdened with rather difficult requirements for defense planners. While American and, to a large extent, European armed forces maintain their technological superiority for some time, the enemies adapt to the types of conflict. Wars that may take place in five different environments (in the air, on ground, at sea, in space and in the information space) will accordingly be subject to ambiguity, as Holger H. Mey points out:
“The enemies of the West will try to undermine the western advantage in the area of ‘rational’, ‘classical’ warfare, for instance, by skillfully operating just below the level of an explicit aggression subject to international law.”
This ‘modus operandi’ of the enemy, frequently called asymmetrical warfare, will present another major problem for western armed forces. The West, which knows how to fight major wars with latest technology and with a minimum risk, is not adequately prepared for the strategies of the technologically inferior enemy –at least in their way of thinking-. The enemy will pursue three different strategies: Masking, i.e. to intersperse civilians and combatants; Miniaturization, i.e. the number of troops will decrease dramatically in the battlefield of the future; Metropolization, i.e. the technologically inferior opponent will avoid the battle in the open fields and shift it into the cities. The usage of standoff and precision weapons is a lot riskier there. Consequently the opponents of the western armed forces are well prepared for waging ‘smaller wars’, in some areas they are even superior. For in such wars –that are often fought in rather difficult terrain– all military means will be applied. Warfare with standoff weapons alone is not possible there. Insofar as lengthy and brutal wars may be fought, as these are not about better technologies anymore but about pure will and dedication, Western armed forces, whose directive from the political leaders is always the fastest possible accomplishment of their goals at minimum risk, may be inferior.
However, a lot of this has –fortunately for the West– not yet come true. In the mission in Afghanistan, the US has made its own operational experiences, especially with the deployment of Special Forces during the Operation Enduring Freedom. In small numbers they were able to approach unfriendly positions, where they either succeeded with their weapons in combat or were able to communicate information to flying units for them to bomb the positions. An improvement of material and financial equipment of such units with specialized military capabilities will certainly intensify, given the development of future conflicts. Europe would be well advised to follow suit. The way to acquiring such capabilities is certainly not a long one since, for instance, the Bundeswehr already has internationally recognized units with their Special Reaction Forces (KSK). That may also be the way forward for the NATO Response Force that was brought on the way during the Defense Ministers meeting in Warsaw last September and reiterated during NATO’s Prague Summit in November. Preparing against these common security threats of the future, one may briefly conclude the following military requirements –among others- to be crucial for the NATO Response Force:
- a large number of well-trained, well-equipped Special Operation Forces;
- the capabilities to rapidly deploy forces over long distances –strategic air transport-;
- superior C4ISTAR capabilities to provide battlefield awareness at all times, even in urban scenarios;
- the acquisition of UAVs especially and, from time to time, UCAVs that can provide fire-power in remote areas;
- air-refueling capabilities to include modern fighter aircraft with precision-guided munitions that can perform close air support in high-intensity warfare operations;
An overall consideration of the analysis clearly shows that the American defense efforts outreach the Europeans’ by far. Even a NATO Response Force, where both sides of the Atlantic harmonize training and requirements in the long run, will not change that. The situation has been like this for some time and the effects of September 11th have accelerated the military capabilities gap. A justified concern is that the existing gap in capabilities cannot be closed. The question is whether or not it needs to be closed at all. This doesn’t seem obligatory in the light of the US and Europe becoming two “peer competitors”, which, in turn, could be just as harmful for the transatlantic relationship as the current situation. Therefore, it will be much more about enabling or, more drastically, re-establishing the capability of mutual interaction on high-end military level. Exactly this is probably the goal of NATO’s Response Force –making do even with differing capabilities across the Atlantic-. In the end, it is much more like the American defense expert Hans Binnendijk from the National Defense University explicitly wrote:
“It is no longer important whose aircraft, missiles, tanks, or shells are used in combat; as long as they are effective.”
America and Europe are partners, allies and friends, and they form a strong alliance of common values. This aspect alone has an incredibly strengthening effect on the regional and international security. In order to guarantee security in their euro-Atlantic zone and beyond, both actors need to cooperate. This works best, as it has worked in the last five decades, via coalitions. In the military field, the biggest workload has so far been taken over by the US. In the non-military field it is certainly the opposite. NATO’s Prague Summit, in a way, also reiterated that sense. According to the manifestations of European countries the first mentioned imbalance will be changed. The European partners have to make greater efforts than before in order to achieve this. However, what has been put in writing now needs to be implemented –so far the greatest Europe’s drawback and the most harmful aspect in the transatlantic security relations-. America could, beyond doubt, do with capable partners, but nobody will grant an incapable partner a say in the management of international crises that have higher priority for the US. Military power alone is certainly not everything, but foreign policy without credible military capabilities is not sustainable.
Again Holger H. Mey rightly stated:
“Military capabilities, operational readiness and above all the determination to deploy affect the role and weight in an alliance as well as the foreign political scope of action of a country. Determination and rapidness may partly compensate for a lack of resources; this option does however reach its limits, where loss of substance undermines the credibility of demonstrated determination.”
European correspondent, “Defense News”
 Karl-Heinz Kamp in : Hirschmann / Frank:
NATO Handbook, NATO Office of Information and Press, Brussels, 2001, p. 51.
 So Peter W. Rodman, U.S. Leadership and the Reform of Western Security Institutions: NATO Enlargement & ESDP, Speech at a conference of the German Council on Foreign Affairs, 11 December 2000.
 William S. Cohen, Annual Report to the President and the Congress, Washington, 2001, http://www.dtic.mil/execsec/adr2001 [25 December 2001]
 Michael E. O’Hanlon, Defense Policy Choices for the Bush Administration 2001-05, Brookings Institution Press, Washington, 2001, p. 1.
 Eliot A. Cohen, Defending America in the Twenty-first Century, in: Foreign Affairs, November/December 2000, p. 40.
 See e.g. Statement of Loren B. Thompson, PhD., Chief Operating Officer/Lexington Institute, House of the Armed Services Committee, U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C., 24 February 1999, http://www.house.gov/hasc/testimony/106thcongress/99-02-24thompson.htm [24 December 2001]
 In these issues please refer to explorations in Martin Agüera, Die Grenze der Leistungsfähigkeit erreicht, in: Europäische Sicherheit, November 2001, p. 14-16, also ibid., Amerika unterstützen, Europas Verantwortung, in: Soldat und Technik, June 2001, p. 11-13.
Anthony H. Cordesman, Trends in US Defense Spending: The Size of Funding, Procurement, and Readiness Problems, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 09 October 2000, p. 7.
 Joseph J. Collins, The U.S. Military: Still the Best? in: Boston Globe, 29 August 2000.
 See e.g. Streit um die Bereitschaft der US-Armee. Ein Wahlkampfthema abseits der Massen-Interessen, in: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 04 September 2000, also George W. Bush, A Period Of Consequences, The Citadel, South Carolina, 23 September 1999, http://www.georgewbush.com/News/speeches/092399_consequences.html [29 December 2000]
 See also Martin Agüera, Colin Powells Devise heißt “Alles oder Nichts,” in: Die Welt, 15 January 2001.
 See Remarks by the President at the U.S. Naval Academy Commencement, U.S. Naval Academy Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland, 25 May 2001, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/05/20010525-1.html [01. January 2001]
 See Thomas G. Mahnken, Transforming the U.S. Armed Forces. Rhetoric or Reality? in: Naval War College Review, Summer 2001, p. 95. Here the author provides an example for his criticism. Although UAVs will allegedly be in integral part of the future US-Air Force, very little is being invested. The funding of US $126 million for such aircraft recently contrasted huge projects like the Joint Strike Fighter or the F-22, on which the US will spend a total of approx. US $300 billion in the next few years.
 Stephen Fidler, Campaign will be used to transform US military, in: Financial Times, 11 December 2001.
 Esther Schrader, Pentagon Signals Shift In Mission, in: Los Angeles Times, 02 October 2001 und Vernon Loeb, Pentagon Says Homeland Defense Is Top Priority, in: Washington Post, 02 October 2001.
 See Thomas E. Ricks, Military Overhaul Considered. Rumsfeld Eyes Global Command for Terrorism Fight, in: Washington Post, 11 October 2001.
 Bradley Graham, Bush To Propose Sustained Rises In Military Spending. Pentagon Budget Would Reach Level of Reagan Years by 2007, in: Washington Post, 03 February 2002, p. 6 und Amy Svitak, Bush Wants Big Bucks, Not Big Guns, in: Defense News, 11-17 February 2002, p. 21.
 Richard Hart Sinnreich, The Army Should Quit Agonizing About Relevance, in: Lawton Constitution, 06 January 2002.
 Here we also read: Why wasn’t the Army deployed? That’s the $64,000 question, said Thomas Donnelly, deputy executive director of the Project for the New American Century and a former staff member of the House Armed Services Committee. The answer, said Mackubin Thomas Owens, a professor of strategy at the Naval War College, is that Marine forces combine more tactical maneuver capability, which enables them to get to the war zone more quickly, and more firepower to sustain themselves than the Army’s comparable rapid-deployment forces. See Vernon Loeb, Marine’s Mission Stirs Army Debate. Junior Officers Say Their Branch Lags In Building Rapid-Deployment Ability, in: Washington Post, 09 December 2001.
See U.S. Army, Concepts for the Objective Force, Concept Summary, White Paper, Washington, 2001, http://www.army.mil/features/WhitePaper/ObjectiveForceWhitePaper.pdf
 Connie Ballenger, Army moves toward objective force, Fort Meade, Va, 05 April 2001, http://www.mdw.army.mil/news/Army_moves_toward_objective_force.html [18 January 2002] und Joe Burlas, Objective Force to be ‚system of systems,’ Army Link News, 14 November 2001, http://www.dtic.mil/armylink/news/Nov2001/a20011114ausacsa.html [18 January 2002]
The description of the „Future Combat Systems“ (FCS) reads as follows: „Senior Army leaders explicitly rejected an Abrams-based evolutionary approach to a Future Main Battle Tank. Instead, the Army will invest in a leap ahead capability that will be the heart of mounted close-combat for the Army After Next. The FCS will blend the capabilities of several battlefield operating systems into a common platform that will reengineer the close fight. The objective for the FCS effort is to develop lightweight (no individual element greater than 20 tons), overwhelmingly lethal, strategically deployable, self-sustaining and survivable combat and combat support force, systems and supporting technologies for the 2012-2025 timeframe and beyond. Additionally it is anticipated that the aggregate force will be significantly (at least 50%) lighter than the existing force structure at the equivalent force level.” See Future Combat Systems (FCS), http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/fcs.htm [20 January 2002]
 Greg Seigle, The Army Goes High-Tech In Afghanistan, in: National Journal, 12 January 2002.
 Walter Pincus, Special Forces’ High Profile Could Yield A Budget Increase. Pentagon Seeks New Weapons, Equipment for Elite Troops, in: Washington Post, 04 February 2002, p. 2.
 Harry Levins, U.S. Military Is Brainstorming How To Fight On New Battlefields, in: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 20 January 2002, p. B1.
 Tom Canahuate, U.S. Army Seeks More Than 13 Percent Budget Increase In 2003, in: DefenseNews.com, 22 January 2002, http://www.defensenews.com
 See Martin Agüera, Die Grenze der Leistungsfähigkeit erreicht, in: Europäische Sicherheit, November 2000, pp. 14-16.
 Robert Wall und David A. Fulghum, UAVs Spotlighted As Defense Priority, in: Aviation Week & Space Technology, 11 February 2002, p. 26.
 Dave Moniz, Old Planes Eyed As Drones. Cessnas could be converted ‘easily, quickly’, in: USA Today, 04 February 2002, p. 10.
 Gail Kaufman, Air Force Would Get Largest Service Budget Boost, in: Defense News, 11-17 February 2002, p. 28.
 Vago Muradian, F-22 May Be Modified As Speedy New Medium Bomber To Strike Moving Targets, in: Defense Daily International, 18 January 2002, p. 1.
 See Martin Agüera, ESDP and Missile Defense: European Perspectives for a More Balanced Transatlantic Partnership, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, December 2001, pp. 5 and 6.
 Harry Levins, Transportation Command’s Chief Emphasizes The Need For More C-17 Cargo Planes, in: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 02. February 2002, p. 9.
Fritz W. Lambsbach und Reinhard E.A. Wollowski, Überwasserseekriegführung in der Deutschen Marine, in: Europäische Sicherheit, April 2000, p. 22.
 Ronald O’Rourke, Transformation and the Navy’s Touch Choices Ahead. What are the Options for Policy Makers? in: Naval War College Review, Winter 2001, p. 91.
 Bradley Peniston, Shipbuilding Takes Hit in 2003 Spending Plan, in: Defense News, 11-17 February 2002, p. 26.
 Die Herren der Welt, in: Spiegel, 8/2002, 18 February 2002, p. 166.
 US-Congress, Budgeting for Naval Forces: Structuring Tomorrow’s Navy at Today’s Funding Level, Congressional Budget Office, Washington, October 2000.
 This is a generaol consideration of European efforts only, above all of the big three, Germany, France and Great Britain, as a comprehensive analysis of European defense efforts would go beyond the scope of this paper.
 It may added here, that the application of military power only represents a part of the international fight against terrorism. Consequently, however, new US priorities in security- and defense policy requires Europe to expend more in the defense field. The strategic shift of American priorities from Europe to Asia is taking place, leaving Europe to handle conflicts in areas like the Balkans alone as well as to deploy troops to support the US in operations of the alliance. Given the operations in the Balkans and Afghanistan, many decisionmakers in Germany have already warned against the Bundeswehr having reached the limits of its capacity.
 Heather Grabbe und Wolfgang Münchau, Germany and Britain. An Alliance of Necessity, Centre for Europena Reform, London, 2002, p. 27.
 Holger H. Mey, Deutsche Sicherheitspolitik 2030, Frankfurt/Main, 2001, p. 91.
 William Hopkinson und Julian Lidley-French, Europe Is Not Ready To Respond To New Threats, in: International Herald Tribune, 20 February 2002.
 C4ISTAR = Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, Reconnaissance.
 Friedbert Pflüger, European Sniping At America Is Overdone, in: International Herald Tribune, 21 February 2002.
 Vgl. The ‘European Rapid Reaction Force’, in: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2001/2002, London, 2001, S. 287.
 Judy Dempsey und David White, Not rapid enough. Lack of money and clear goals is hampering plans for a EU defense force, in: Financial Times, 25 November 2001.
 Michael Inacker, Große Worte, kleine Münze. Der Regierung Schröder ist es außen- und verteidigungspolitisch nicht gelungen, auf internationalem Parkett ernst genommen zu werden, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 03 February 2002.
 Joseph Fitchett, Pentagon In A League Of Its Own. U.S. Weapons Advances Called Threat to Allies’ Solidarity, in: International Herald Tribune, 04 February 2002.
 See Griephan Wehrdienst, Volume 38, No. 09/02, Bonn, 25 Februar 2002, p. 1.
 Martin Agüera, Budget Reality May Slow Spanish Transformation, in: Defense News, 18-24 February 2002, p. 8.
 Wolfgang Ohl, Beschaffungsprioritäten der Luftwaffe aus sicherheitspolitischer und strategischer Sicht. Eine konzeptionelle Untersuchung zukünftiger Ausrüstungserfordernisse der Luftwaffe, Lehrgangsarbeit, Nationaler Lehrgang Generalstabs- / Admiralstabsdienst, Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr, Hamburg, 25 February 2000, pp. 13-14.
 Kori N. Schake, Do European Union Defense Initiatives Threaten NATO? in: Strategic Forum, No. 184, National Defense University, Washington, August 2001, http://www.ndu.edu/inss/strforum/sf184.htm [25 December 2001]
 See John Matsumura, Randall Steeb, John Gordon, Paul Steinberg, Preparing for Future Warfare with Advanced Technologies, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, 2002, p. 5.
 Mey, Deutsche Sicherheitspolitik 2030, p. 84.
 Martin Hoch, Krieg und Politik im 21. Jahrhundert, in: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, B20/2001, 11 May 2001, p. 19.
 Hans Binnendijk, A Trans-Atlantic Division of Labor Could Undermine NATO, in International Herald Tribune, 07 April 2001.
 Mey, Deutsche Sicherheitspolitik 2030, p. 135.