Monday, July 15, 2024

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European

The previous leader of Estonia’s military strengthens the defense sector in Europe.


Presented by ASD

Pro Morning Defense

By LAURA KAYALI

with JOSHUA POSANER, CALEB LARSON and STUART LAU

PRESENTED BY

ASD

View the content in your web browser or choose to listen to the audio version.

SNEAK PEEK

The ex-leader of the Estonian military, currently serving as a Member of the European Parliament, is focusing on strategies to support the defense sector in Europe.

France is aiming for its security and defense think tanks to gain greater influence.

Germany is seeking to increase the appeal of its military to women in response to difficulties with recruitment.

Hello and welcome to Morning Defense. You can send any tips to [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]. You can also follow us on Twitter at @joshposaner, @LauKaya, and @calebmlarson.

DRIVING THE DAY

An Estonian member of the European Parliament, Riho Terras from the European People’s Party, is advocating for the EU to implement a well-funded defense plan. This would ensure that small and medium-sized companies have access to lucrative contracts. Terras, who previously led Estonia’s defense forces, is determined to reform the way the EU supports its industry and hopes to avoid relying on countries like South Korea and Turkey for cost-efficient weaponry.

He is creating a document on defense support that he hopes the EPP will adopt as their policy. The Commission plans to introduce a defense investment program at the beginning of next year.

Terras explained to Josh that the main issue is the absence of smaller businesses in the contracting process. This is due to larger contractors who have connections to national governments being in control of the major contracts. As a result, smaller players are left out and the potential for innovation to reduce costs is hindered. Terras stated, “[SMEs] struggle to navigate government and procurement procedures.”

International competition: “Poland imports from South Korea, Estonia imports from Turkey, and we are struggling to source European products for our military. This is an area of concern that requires our attention, or else we will be at a disadvantage in comparison to South Korea.”

The issue of bank obstruction arises when the European Investment Bank refuses to support defense companies. This creates a precedent for commercial banks to also refrain from investing in defense-related start-ups, as stated by the Estonian MEP.

The Commission has established ASAP and EDIRPA as immediate action funds totaling €800 million in order to enhance ammunition production and collaborative procurement among countries. However, according to Terras, these are only temporary solutions to ensure a steady supply of arms to Ukraine. He also stated that Europe has not made significant efforts to improve its capabilities, despite much discussion on the topic. The lack of actual contracts being signed demonstrates this.

AGENDA

The European Union’s foreign ministers are convening today to address issues concerning the Middle East, Ukraine, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The European Defense Agency will release a report titled “Improving EU Military Capabilities for the Future” at 10 a.m.

The Armed Forces Minister of France, Sébastien Lecornu, has a meeting in Paris with his Armenian counterpart, Suren Papikyan, to discuss potential arms agreements. According to Lecornu, they will be announcing a contract with a French defense company that will enable Armenia to safeguard its airspace.

EU military computer emergency response teams will convene for multiple days at the Spanish Ministry of Defense.

**A statement from ASD: After years of not investing enough in defense, Europe is currently working quickly to increase production capabilities in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the declining security situation in Europe. In order to prevent a repeat of this situation, Europe must not only meet the current high demand, but also be prepared for potential future crises in the industrial sector.**

FRANCE

Cultivating Global Think Tanks: The École Militaire in France will unveil a fresh defense academy that will serve as a central hub for 21 French think tanks focused on security and defense. The goal is to increase involvement in global strategic discussions and gain greater influence among European and American partners. More updates coming on Thursday.

The Anglo-Saxon world has a network of think tanks that operate through a strategic approach to gain influence. According to Lecornu, this can be seen as a form of diplomacy, although it may not always be pleasant.

The French agency in charge of purchasing military equipment has commissioned Airbus Defence & Space to begin upgrading the Phénix A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) used by the air force for refueling purposes.

Revised:

Referred to as “standard 2,” upgrades will involve improved communication abilities with other planes and command centers, primarily through access to the French Syracuse IV military satellite system. Additionally, the aircraft will have increased capabilities for flying in unfriendly environments. Airbus, who has also been granted a 10-year maintenance contract by the procurement agency, will update the current fleet. The air force currently possesses 12 MRTTs and is projected to have 15 by 2030.

According to reports from La Tribune, Saudi Arabia is interested in purchasing 54 Rafale fighter jets. La Lettre states that Belgian company, John Cockerill, is in discussions to acquire the French military vehicle manufacturer, Arquus, which is currently owned by Volvo.

**

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MILITARY POLITICS FORCES

The military plans for Poland’s next government, led by opposition parties, have been discussed. According to Tomasz Siemoniak, a member of the Civic Coalition party and former defense minister, Poland’s military should consist of 150,000 professional soldiers, 30,000 to 40,000 territorial defense forces, and a few thousand reservists. He stated that Poland does not have the population to support a 300,000-man military, which was the goal of the previous Law and Justice party government.

The statement made by Tomasz Siemoniak has caused anger, with PiS Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak tweeting that it would result in job cuts, disbandment of units, and decreased security for Poland. Siemoniak responded by telling Błaszczak to stop spreading false information and clarified that the goal of a 300,000-man military was unrealistic and purely for propaganda purposes, as the armed forces were having difficulty retaining personnel.

Hello generous spender: Under the leadership of Law and Justice, Poland has become one of the top contributors to NATO, with a defense budget of 3.9 percent of its GDP for this year. The country has also invested billions in purchasing jets, tanks, artillery, and missiles from the United States and South Korea, and is a major supplier to Ukraine. Siemoniak assures that the defense budget will not drop below 3 percent of GDP, stating that they must continue to prioritize security and find ways to make their spending more effective and practical in the coming years.

The opposing party has also announced their intention to honor procurement agreements made by the previous administration.

According to Germany’s Parliamentary State Secretary Siemtje Möller, there should be greater gender equality in the German military. She believes this should be achieved through legal measures rather than promotional campaigns.

The proposed bill, currently being reviewed by parliament, aims to improve the benefits for members of Germany’s military, such as offering increased assistance for childcare. Additionally, the legislation would guarantee that reservists receive equal compensation for bonuses while deployed, just like active duty members.

Proposed changes to Germany’s Soldiers Act would allow for quicker dismissal of soldiers who are seen as enemies of the German constitution. The amendment states that soldiers may be immediately released from service if they engage in activities that go against the constitution or if they support such actions. This process currently takes a few years and the soldiers still receive pay during the investigation.

UKRAINE

The French government plans to continue the special fund for Ukraine, as announced by Armed Forces Minister Lecornu in a recent meeting with lawmakers. The exact amount of the fund is still being determined. France has already used half of the initial €200 million fund to support arms deals between French companies and Ukraine, with the remaining funds already allocated. Lecornu expressed a desire for small and medium-sized enterprises to also benefit from the second edition of the fund, but emphasized that there will be no preferential treatment. The creation of the new fund may be included in an amendment to the 2024 budget, currently being discussed in the National Assembly.

Germany has provided Ukraine with three new Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, along with over 3,000 rounds of 155mm smoke ammunition and 20 RQ-35 Heidrun reconnaissance drones.

According to a spokesperson from the Ukrainian air force, Ukrainian pilots will soon begin training on actual fighter jets for the F-16 program.

According to reports from our colleagues in the United States, President Joe Biden has a new perspective on the war, with an emphasis on putting America first. Learn more about the recent supplemental funding request for Ukraine and Israel from Washington, written by Paul McLeary.

INDUSTRY

The Riga Conference, summarized: During October 20-21, the Commissioner Thierry Breton, along with defense ministers from Latvia and Estonia, and various high-ranking NATO officials, convened in Latvia’s capital to discuss matters of security and defense.

A French politician, Natalia Pouzyreff, who previously worked at Airbus and is now a member of Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance Party, received backlash for suggesting that the EU should not invest in the defense industry with Britain and the U.S. This proposal was not well-received by the Baltic countries, as they heavily depend on the defense support from these Anglo-Saxon nations.

When asked if France is considering ending cooperation with the U.K., she responded with, “The cooperation between France and the U.K. is exceptional, thank you,” which caused laughter.

Travel towards the east: According to Pouzyreff, the French defense industry should prioritize engagement with Central and Eastern European countries through initiatives like the EU’s ASAP program. Pouzyreff also noted a trend of shifting defense policies towards the east and encouraged industries to explore opportunities in the region.

Ben Wallace criticizes major EU nations: In his first international appearance after resigning as Britain’s defense secretary, Wallace cautioned that “certain large countries in Europe” may not fulfill their commitments to defense spending. Stuart reports from Riga.

DEPLOYMENTS

The first deployment of a German frigate, named Baden-Württemberg, is currently underway to the Middle East as part of the UN’s UNIFIL peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. The frigate is scheduled to remain in the region until mid-2024.

According to Kathimerini, Greek airbases are crucial in aiding U.S. operations in the eastern Mediterranean. The Souda airbase is currently being utilized by U.S. forces, and the Elefsina fighter base will also serve as a central location for American transport planes.

SPACE

The U.S. Department of Defense is facing challenges with China. As stated in the Pentagon’s China Military Power Report, Beijing is catching up to the U.S. in space efforts. It is crucial for Washington to take quick action to maintain its advantage, according to reports from our American colleagues.

NOTABLE AND QUOTABLE

LECORNU DISSES BRETON: Asked by an MP about Breton’s idea for a European aircraft carrier, the French minister said Breton was echoing requests by smaller European countries which cannot afford to build one alone. He added that Breton’s comments have “no impact” on France’s plans to renovate its own aircraft carrier.

GOING GLOBAL

The Middle East is currently experiencing increased tensions as Israel prepares for a potential ground invasion in Gaza and the U.S. increases its air defense presence in the region.

I am grateful to Jan Cienski and Zoya Sheftalovich for their contributions.

ASD’s message: The defense industry in Europe is currently focused on producing at a low level for times of peace. However, with the changing security environment, it must be able to quickly increase production during times of crisis or war. This can take a long time and require a significant investment. The challenge for Europe is two-fold: to quickly increase production to meet current demand and then maintain a level of readiness for future needs. To do this, it is important to sustain production and development capabilities even during slower periods, so that they can be quickly ramped up when necessary.