Hammond — UK would welcome enhanced defence relationship with Germany

Defence Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond spoke about how Ger­many and Britain are respond­ing to today’s secu­ri­ty dur­ing a speech in Berlin yes­ter­day, 2 May 2012.

 -
Philip Ham­mond, Sec­re­tary of State for Defence [Pic­ture: Har­land Quar­ring­ton, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Mr Ham­mond was host­ed by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswär­tige Poli­tik (Ger­man Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions) in Berlin, and his speech was titled ‘Shared Secu­ri­ty: Trans­form­ing Defence to Face the Future’.

In his speech, Mr Ham­mond explained that, unlike dur­ing the Cold War, a defen­sive crouch pos­ture or ‘Fortress Europe’ will not meet the needs of nation­al or region­al secu­ri­ty in this new era. This means inter­ven­ing beyond the bor­ders of the Euro­pean Union when nec­es­sary.

He also empha­sised that with the Unit­ed States begin­ning to focus on Asia, Ger­many should join with the UK and France in trans­form­ing their armed forces and gen­er­ate both the mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ty and polit­i­cal will to deploy mil­i­tary resources more wide­ly in future in sup­port of NATO, the EU and coali­tion oper­a­tions.

Mr Ham­mond, reflect­ing on changes in Berlin over the past 40 years, said that the reuni­fi­ca­tion of the city, with many of the old cer­tain­ties and famil­iar fea­tures dis­ap­pear­ing, was a metaphor for the wider changes that have tak­en place in the 20 years since the Wall came down, across the globe, and in the strate­gic secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment in par­tic­u­lar. He said:

“The Cold War imposed order and a degree of cer­tain­ty… the ene­my was known and was pret­ty pre­dictable.

“In divid­ed Europe, NATO and the War­saw Pact under­stood the bound­aries and oper­at­ed by a set of rules and under­stand­ings.

“But in pure pow­er-bal­ance terms, we have swapped the cer­tain­ty of a known and pre­dictable ene­my for a world of shift­ing pow­er bal­ances, emerg­ing, inde­pen­dent chal­lengers, and diverse non-state threats.

“So that a myr­i­ad of less­er, but nonethe­less poten­tial­ly dev­as­tat­ing threats, emerge to make our soci­eties in some ways less safe, less secure, and less cer­tain in fac­ing the future.”

 -
A British sniper from 5th Bat­tal­ion The Roy­al Reg­i­ment of Scot­land (cen­tre) and French snipers of the 8th Marine Infantry Para­chute Reg­i­ment tak­ing part in Exer­cise Boars Head (stock image) [Pic­ture: Mark Owens, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Fac­ing the future

Mr Ham­mond said that this unpre­dictabil­i­ty and rapid change in the threats we face makes it all the more impor­tant that our respec­tive armed forces, and our col­lec­tive defence arrange­ments, are cor­rect­ly con­fig­ured to meet the require­ments of today — and pre­pared, at the same time, for what is around the next cor­ner.

The cen­tral argu­ment in his speech, Mr Ham­mond said, was this:

“The respon­si­bil­i­ty of Euro­pean nations to defend their cit­i­zens can no longer be dis­charged by a strat­e­gy of home­land defence and a ‘Fortress Europe’.

“The threats we face are no longer ter­ri­to­r­i­al, so a pas­sive defence of nation­al ter­ri­to­ry is no longer ade­quate pro­tec­tion for our cit­i­zens.

“Our secu­ri­ty requires that we do not sit back and let threats come to us, but that we project pow­er to meet them — wher­ev­er in the world they are form­ing.”

Mr Ham­mond said, there­fore, that the NATO Alliance, and the Euro­pean part of it in par­tic­u­lar, must con­tin­ue to devel­op togeth­er the capa­bil­i­ty and the polit­i­cal will to act when nec­es­sary — to project pow­er, includ­ing, but not lim­it­ed to, mil­i­tary pow­er, and to deploy it rapid­ly when we must.

The need for trans­for­ma­tion

Mr Ham­mond talked about Oper­a­tion UNIFIED PROTECTOR being a coali­tion suc­cess, and, for the peo­ple of Libya, a lib­er­a­tion they can just­ly claim to have seen through them­selves.

It has recon­firmed the util­i­ty of NATO as the most suc­cess­ful tool for col­lec­tive defence ever cre­at­ed, he affirmed, adding:

“But the Libya oper­a­tion also cru­el­ly exposed the imbal­ances and weak­ness­es in the Alliance and thus the scale of the task fac­ing Euro­pean NATO nations.

“Even with the very lim­it­ed nature of the Libya cam­paign, the nations of Europe could not have under­tak­en this oper­a­tion with­out the US shoul­der­ing much of the weight.

“We know what the prob­lems are. Too many allies are fail­ing to meet their finan­cial respon­si­bil­i­ties to NATO. Too many coun­tries are fail­ing to build and main­tain appro­pri­ate capa­bil­i­ties to meet the new threats we face, or to make them avail­able for oper­a­tions.”

“Our secu­ri­ty requires that we do not sit back and let threats come to us, but that we project pow­er to meet them – wher­ev­er in the world they are form­ing.”

Defence Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond

Mr Ham­mond said that while we have known about these defi­cien­cies for many years, we can no longer afford to car­ry on as before, because the Unit­ed States has made clear that it intends to reflect in its strate­gic pos­ture the grow­ing impor­tance of the devel­op­ing chal­lenges in the Pacif­ic:

“Let me be clear about this — it is in Europe’s inter­est that the Unit­ed States ris­es to the chal­lenge that the emer­gence of Chi­na as a glob­al pow­er presents and we should sup­port the deci­sions the US has made.

“But that means we, the nations of Europe, must take on more respon­si­bil­i­ty for our own back­yard; shoul­der­ing the major bur­den in the Balka­ns and the Mediter­ranean, but also being pre­pared, if nec­es­sary, to take a big­ger role in rela­tion to North Africa and the Mid­dle East.

“This isn’t about the Unit­ed States walk­ing away; this is about the nations of Europe tak­ing more of the strain of our col­lec­tive defence in our own region. Respond­ing to the threats that most direct­ly impact on us.”

Fis­cal real­i­ties

Mr Ham­mond acknowl­edged the ‘fis­cal chal­lenges’, say­ing:

“With­out strong economies and sound pub­lic finances it will be impos­si­ble to sus­tain in the long term the mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ty required across Europe to main­tain col­lec­tive defence and, when nec­es­sary, project pow­er to con­front threats as they form abroad.

“Yet, in the long run, all NATO mem­bers, if they ben­e­fit from col­lec­tive defence, must con­tribute appro­pri­ate­ly to it.

“Each of us must live up to the respon­si­bil­i­ty to fund nation­al defence prop­er­ly as a con­tri­bu­tion to the Alliance — a respon­si­bil­i­ty which we recon­firmed as recent­ly as 2010 at the Lis­bon Sum­mit.

“But in the short term — when pres­sures on nation­al bud­gets are so severe — it is frankly a waste of breath to call for more defence spend­ing to bridge the gap between what the Alliance needs and what the Alliance has. So, for now, more mon­ey is not going to be the answer.”

Mr Ham­mond said there­fore that we must do things dif­fer­ent­ly:

  • max­imis­ing the capa­bil­i­ty we can squeeze out of the resources we have.
  • pri­ori­tis­ing ruth­less­ly; spe­cial­is­ing aggres­sive­ly and col­lab­o­rat­ing unsen­ti­men­tal­ly.
  • invest­ing in capa­bil­i­ty that is ful­ly deploy­able, and avail­able for col­lec­tive defence action — if nec­es­sary out­side Europe’s bor­ders.
  • work­ing togeth­er to do more, with less.

Col­lec­tive Defence

Mr Ham­mond said that the UK’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Strat­e­gy and Germany’s Defence Pol­i­cy Guide­lines come to the same con­clu­sion: to tack­le the threats we share in com­mon we need to act in com­mon through all the insti­tu­tions that exist to pro­vide us with a col­lec­tive response — the UN, NATO, and the EU among them:

“The chal­lenge is to pro­duce extra mil­i­tary effect, and do it swift­ly, with­out dupli­cat­ing effort or rein­vent­ing proven struc­tures that already exist,” Mr Ham­mond said.

“This will need to begin with a clear-sight­ed assess­ment of the cur­rent state of NATO’s col­lec­tive com­pe­tence, tak­ing account of what we know of reduc­tions already planned and how these will impact on cur­rent capa­bil­i­ties. And a will­ing­ness to recog­nise the gap between that capa­bil­i­ty and NATO’s stat­ed lev­el of ambi­tion.

“This will pro­vide a base­line against which to take the right deci­sions: greater pool­ing and shar­ing of capa­bil­i­ties; mis­sion, role and geo­graph­ic spe­cial­i­sa­tion; greater shar­ing of tech­nol­o­gy; co-oper­a­tion on logis­tics; and more col­lab­o­ra­tive train­ing.

Mul­ti­lay­ered Defence

For Britain, Mr Ham­mond said, ‘Smart Defence’ is also about mak­ing the Alliance more flex­i­ble, encour­ag­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion among groups of Allies and with part­ners out­side the Alliance:

“We need an approach that allows nat­ur­al bilat­er­al part­ner­ships or region­al group­ings with­in the Alliance and across its bound­aries to flour­ish — adding val­ue to the capa­bil­i­ties avail­able to the Alliance as a whole.”

Britain is active­ly pur­su­ing such col­lab­o­ra­tive ini­tia­tives, Mr Ham­mond said, cit­ing the new North­ern Group of nations, includ­ing Ger­many, the Baltic and Nordic coun­tries as well as the UK, and the Fran­co-British Defence Treaties as part of this process.

And the UK would wel­come an enhanced defence and secu­ri­ty rela­tion­ship with Ger­many, Mr Ham­mond added, based on the areas where we can best add to Alliance capa­bil­i­ty through bilat­er­al co-oper­a­tion:

“We should work towards com­mon posi­tions in NATO and the EU, iden­ti­fy­ing rea­sons for any dis­agree­ments and tack­ling them head on, while build­ing on the many areas of agree­ment as a foun­da­tion of our future co-oper­a­tion.”

Capa­bil­i­ty and deploy­a­bil­i­ty

Mr Ham­mond spoke about how the British Armed Forces that will emerge from our Defence Review will be for­mi­da­ble, flex­i­ble and adapt­able — equipped with some of the best and most advanced tech­nol­o­gy in the world, sup­port­ed by the fourth largest defence bud­get in the world, meet­ing in full our NATO respon­si­bil­i­ties.

He said the watch­word for the trans­for­ma­tion process has been capa­bil­i­ty, not size, adding:

“This focus on capa­bil­i­ty rather than size is one of the most pos­i­tive out­comes, I believe, that is emerg­ing from the Ger­man trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme.

“A new phase and a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward in Germany’s post-Cold-War recon­fig­u­ra­tion to face the future sym­bol­ised by the com­mit­ment made to the mis­sion in Afghanistan.

“For both Britain and Ger­many, the test of trans­for­ma­tion will be the abil­i­ty to gen­er­ate the lev­el of mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ty set out in our plans.

“But it will also rely, in Ger­many in par­tic­u­lar, on the abil­i­ty to gen­er­ate the polit­i­cal will and pub­lic sup­port for the deploy­ment of mil­i­tary resources more wide­ly in the future in sup­port of Alliance oper­a­tions beyond our bor­ders.

“By refo­cus­ing exist­ing bud­getary resources on more deploy­able capa­bil­i­ties, Ger­many has prob­a­bly a greater capac­i­ty than any oth­er Euro­pean NATO part­ner to con­tribute to short-term enhance­ment of the Alliance’s capa­bil­i­ties.”

In con­clu­sion, Mr Ham­mond said that it is in all our inter­ests to encour­age Ger­many to realise that poten­tial.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →