03 October, 2006

European Defence Agency Vision

The European Defence Agency has been running up the white flag. This glorified subcommittee of the Council of Europe has presented defence ministers with its 20 year vision of European defence and security. As befits such a grandiose endeavour (even Stalin only planned 5 years ahead), the document has a grandiose title: An Initial Long-Term Vision for European Defence Capability and Capacity Needs. There the grandeur stops.

Underlying the report is a pessimistic analysis of a Europe with neither the political will nor the military capability to defeat its enemies; a Europe in which maintaining a largely pacifist, ageing population takes priority over military and defence expenditure. The Daily Telegraph has a concise summary for those who cannot face wading through the 28 pages of the full report. (Direct pdf download here.)

In places, the 73 paragraph document is virtually meaningless verbiage, full of the latest fashionable jargon, which paragraph 43 will serve to illustrate:

43. Synergy. In the future, joint forces composed of land, air, space and maritime elements will increasingly use precision firepower, intelligence and focussed [sic]logistics in order to deliver military effects in a more discriminate way. And the capabilities of other agencies and actors, including non-governmental organisations, will contribute to the management of conflict. The media, with its increased reach and effectiveness, need increasingly to be taken into account. Synergy between these different capacities will create the effects necessary for mission accomplishment within acceptable levels of risk, while minimising undesired effects. Synchronisation across organisational, institutional and component boundaries moves the joint force from traditional de-confliction and coordination procedures to the integrated, comprehensively-planned operations required.
"Focussed"? Perhaps they should be more discriminate and deconflict their spell-checker.

The one clear message is of defeatism: in future, victory will not be achievable and the best Europe can hope for is to achieve some sort of compromise (paragraph 35):
In cases of intervention by force the main task will be to gain control of the dynamics of conflict, reduce its destructive power and break the cycle of violence. The objective is not “victory” as traditionally understood, but moderation, balance of interests and peaceful resolution of conflicts – in short, stability.
Defeatism at the outset. One inference is that, if a society cannot defend itself by defeating external enemies, it is unlikely to have the will to defend against the enemy within. Read in that context, the Vision can be interpreted as a long-winded, almost embarrassed, conformation of Mark Steyn's penetrating analysis of European society and its defence failings.

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