Category Archives: Europe

Analysis related to USEUCOM

Escape from Sochi: Montreux Convention Considerations and the Moneyball Fleet

Snake Plissken: A good solution for a 1 person rescue, not a 10,000 person NEO.
Snake Plissken: A good solution for a 1 person rescue, not a 10,000 person NEO.

The Russians are not ready to host the Olympic Games.  Everything from the hotel roofs to the perimeter security leaks like a sieve.  10,000 American Citizens are going to be in town for the games and will need to get out quickly in the event of a terrorist attack or public health emergency.

We are one day from the Opening Ceremonies of the 22nd  Winter Olympics and the early reporting from Sochi is damning: active kinetic security operations against Chechen forces are underway, wanted posters of known terrorists litter public places and the tap water has been deemed unsafe to bathe with, let alone drink.  In response to the potential threat against Americans visiting Sochi for the games—and recognizing the constraints of warship tonnage permitted to cross the Turkish Straits by the Montreux Convention—the United States’ European Command (EUCOM) has deployed the 6th Fleet Flag Ship, USS Mt. Whitney (LCC-20) and the guided missile frigate, USS Taylor (FFG-50) to the Black Sea. While bolstering the regional command and control (C2) / multi-agency liaison capability, the deployment of these two ships does little to provide additional sources of emergency egress to American citizens in Sochi due to their limited passenger capacity, small flight decks and absence of well-decks.  There is, however, a way to meet both operational requirements and the requirements set forth in the Montreux Convention: THINK MONEYBALL

Montreux Convention Primer

montreux

“The Montreux [Switzerland] Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits” was a 1936 agreement (subsequently amended) giving Turkey sovereign control of the Bosporus Straits and Dardanelles—the waterway passages from the Mediterranean Sea (Aegean Sea) to the Black Sea.  The agreement was negotiated by Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, the USSR, the UK, Turkey, and Yugoslavia as a strictly enforced body of regulations for vessel transits of the straits replacing the previously unrestricted navigation protocol under the 1923 League of Nations Treaty of Lausanne.  The convention places limitations on the number, types and tonnage of warships, overall tonnage of merchants / warships permitted to cross into the Black Sea by non-Black Sea bordering countries both individually and as a whole at any one time.

The Sabermetrics of Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO)

Distilled to its essence, NEO is concerned with the removal of civilians from an at-risk location and transporting them somewhere more secure as expeditiously and safely as possible.  In order to achieve the speed and safety requirements, naval task forces engaged in NEO should have the following capabilities:

2006 Lebanon NEO during Israel – Hezbollah War, USS Nashville (LPD-13)
2006 Lebanon NEO during Israel – Hezbollah War, USS Nashville (LPD-13)

– Surge-ready command and control spaces sufficient to plan and execute a joint, multi-agency (potentially multi-lateral), multi-axis NEO

– A flight deck capable of landing CH-53s, MV-22s, CH-47s, MH-60s – a variety of versatile helos

– A well deck capable of embarking Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) / Landing Craft Utility (LCU)

– A fleet surgical team with operating rooms, triage, and isolation

– Overflow berthing / open spaces to erect large numbers of cots

– Messing and sanitary capacity for hundreds of evacuees

– The ability to embark Naval Expeditionary Combat Command / special warfare personnel for the conduct of security operations and / or special operations

Moneyball: Deploying the Right Ships for Sochi (and Building Smarter Task Forces for the Future)

Turkey has been an extremely unreliable partner over the past eleven years.  As demonstrated by their reneging on a commitment to allow the US Army’s 4th Infantry Division to attack Iraq in 2003 as well as their preventing the USNS Comfort from entering the Straits to deliver Georgia humanitarian aid during the South Ossetia War with Russia in 2008, the United States should not count on Turkey to waive Montreux Convention limitations on tonnage and numbers of warships in the event of an evacuation contingency.  The 6th Fleet Commander (COMSIXTHFLT) needs to plan with forces on station in the Black Sea without an expectation of reinforcements.

ships
Moneyball: Major surface combatants that are Montreux Compliant look sexy and deliver “Credible Presence,” but lack the sabermetrics necessary to conduct a large scale NEO.

Whereas “Moneyball” is usually tied to limitations of budget, in this case it is tied to limitations of tonnage and numbers of ships.  COMSIXTHFLT needs to squeeze the maximum NEO sabermetrics into his Sochi Task Force.  To that end, I have highlighted the LCS-1, LPD-17, JHSV-1 and MLP-1 as ideal candidates for a Sochi NEO.  While the LCC-19 is an ideal C2 platform for coordinating a multi-lateral, multi-agency, Joint NEO—it lacks a sufficient flight deck / well deck to make a large contribution to the transport of evacuees.  Single mission ships went out of vogue generations ago, and make even less sense for a Sochi NEO—especially when you consider that command / liaison elements can embark an LPD-17, JHSV-1 or MLP-1 to exercise C2 while the respective ships are actively participating in LCAC / helicopter  transport of evacuees.

Beaches and piers provide prime egress points for a Sochi NEO
Beaches and piers provide prime egress points for a Sochi NEO

A good NEO plan is all about options of egress (i.e. fleeing in an orderly fashion).  Sochi International Airport features only two runways and is highly susceptible to uncooperative wind patterns that routinely halt flight operations.  In the event that the 2014 Winter Olympics turns into “Escape from Sochi,” the 6th Fleet ships on station in the Black Sea will need to exercise an organic NEO capability beyond C2 and liaison.  Going forward, NEO Task Forces should organize and plan around a sabermetric list of requirements that is agnostic to hull types and otherwise irrelevant traditional warfighting mission sets.

 

Nicolas di Leonardo is a member of the Expeditionary Warfare Division on the Chief of Naval Operations Staff, as well as a graduate student of the Naval War College.  The opinions expressed here within are solely his, and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Expeditionary Warfare Division or the Naval War College.

The Albanian Navy in Action

The Republic of Albania, which joined NATO together with Croatia in 2009, has had an interesting relationship with its own maritime forces over the past two decades. Until the onset of economic crisis in 1996, the Albanian Naval Force consisted of approximately 145 vessels, many of which were obtained from China or the Soviet Union for the sole purpose of coastal defence. Illustrative of this focus on countering outside aggression, 45 of the Albanian Naval Force’s vessels were Huchuan-class torpedo boats manufactured in China.

With the onset of economic crisis in 1996, much of Albania’s maritime forces were decommissioned. Even prior to the collapse of the country’s communist regime in 1990-1991, the navy had entered a state of decline. The pride of the fleet – four Whiskey-class submarines obtained from Soviet benefactors – had essentially been mothballed by the end of the 1980s. Albania, despite its commanding position at the point where the Ionian Sea meets the Adriatic, had become a non-factor in naval affairs.

But the Albanian Naval Force has begun to experience a profound resurgence in recent years. Even prior to the country’s NATO accession, Albania committed in 2007 to participate in Operation Active Endeavour. This maritime operation is responsible for monitoring traffic in the Mediterranean Sea, intercepting illicit arms or narcotics shipments and enhancing the security of legitimate shipping in general. Since joining NATO, Albania has ramped up the modernization and expansion of its maritime forces as well. Whereas the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania once deployed sleek torpedo boats and predatory Soviet submarines in its defence, the Republic of Albania is actively acquiring patrol vessels to police Albanian waters and combat organized crime groups.

The mainstay of the new Albanian Naval Force is the Damen Stan 4207 patrol vessel, designed in the Netherlands but built for the most part in Albania. As of 2013, four vessels of this class are now in service on Albania’s coasts. It is worth noting that this design was the inspiration for the Canadian Coast Guard’s own Hero-class mid-shore patrol vessel, and that 35 vessels of the Damen Stan 4207 design are currently operated by 13 countries. The Albanian Naval Force backs up these four quality patrol vessels with an additional 27 vessels of various classes, most of which are patrol boats obtained from either the United States or the Italian Coast Guard.

But why is Albania dedicating so much of its resources toward the development of its maritime forces? The total cost of procuring the four Damen Stan 4207 patrol vessels is estimated to have been $45 million alone. The reason for this significant investment may be South Eastern Europe’s growing role as both a source of, and a transit point in, the trade of illicit narcotics. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Albania has emerged as the fourth most common country of provenance for heroin, behind only Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. Lazarat, located in the far south of Albania, has emerged as one of Europe’s most significant centres for cannabis cultivation and the production of such cannabis-related products as hashish. Another UNODC report estimates that Albania itself is home to only 3,000 to 5,000 injection drug users, indicating that heroin entering Albania is hardly meant to remain there. Rather, the 2012-2015 UNODC Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe pegs the market value of heroin trafficked from this region to Western Europe at approximately $13 billion a year.

While some quantity of cocaine, heroin, and cannabis may take a circuitous route by land through Albania, Montenegro, and other South Eastern European countries until it reaches the territory of European Union member states, Albania’s geographic position opens up other options. The Albanian city of Vlorë is less than 100 kilometres from the Italian port of Otranto, separated only by the narrow strait that lies between the Ionian and the Adriatic proper. There are likely other sea routes which can be employed by organized crime. The Albanian Naval Force of the past would have not been well-disposed toward the interception of criminal elements transporting narcotics between these ports and others. But new patrol vessels have enhanced Albania’s capacity to address this security challenge and, with the enhanced cooperation NATO membership brings, Albania is better able to coordinate patrols and interdictions with its Italian partners.

The substantial increase in drug seizures along Albania’s coasts since 2006 is a positive sign. There is still some room for improvement in the area of inter-agency cooperation, however. On the eve of its NATO accession, Albania established an Inter-institutional Maritime Operations Centre (IMOC), intended to foster close cooperation between the Defence and Interior Ministries (as well as military and law enforcement personnel by extension). As noted in a recent review of Albania’s National Security Strategy though, IMOC has thus far been constrained by overlapping legislation and bureaucratic friction. Reforming the Albanian Maritime Code and other relevant aspects of the country’s legal framework may be necessary to ensure the efficiency and efficacy of Albania’s maritime operations.

Fortunately, the momentum is with the Albanian Naval Force in the struggle against regional narcotics trafficking. Continued support from NATO and its member states will further discourage organized crime, ending the exploitation of this proud country as a transit point for harmful drugs.

This article was originally published by the NATO Council of Canada.

Paul Pryce is a Junior Research Fellow at the Atlantic Council of Canada. With degrees in political science from universities in both Canada and Estonia, he has previously worked in conflict resolution as a Research Fellow with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. His research interests include African security issues and NATO-Russia relations.

Flashpoint: South Pacific – Vanuatu and New Caledonia

Islands

Who knew that France is still involved in a conflict over South Pacific maritime boundaries? Tell the French that their opponent in the conflict is Vanuatu and many will answer “What’s a Vanuatu?”

Few French even know that France claims one of the biggest aggregate maritime territories in the world. Indeed, due to its numerous overseas departments and territories, France possesses the second largest exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the world, covering 11,035,000 km², just behind that of the United States, with 11,351,000km².

Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, even said in June 2013, that “France is a big maritime power,” and that France and Japan should collaborate for security issues in the Asia-Pacific region. Following up this sentiment, during Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to Paris, the two nations agreed to closer military ties.

Funny enough, France is never mentioned in Australia’s Defence White Paper 2013. And yet Spain is, despite lacking any territory in the South Pacific. France on the other hand retains French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, and New Caledonia, a territory with an EEZ as big as South Africa’s.

One of New Caledonia’s neighbors, Vanuatu, then known as the New Hebrides, was a Franco-British Condominium (a territory with shared sovereignty) from 1906 to 1980. Nowhere else on earth were two colonial powers sharing an island. (Well, they of course first competed for it, before deciding to rule it jointly.)

While the former colony maintained formal relations with France after gaining independence, two little inhabited rocky islands known as Matthew and Hunter became the cause of a maritime boundary issue between the two nations.

In 1976, prior to Vanuatu’s/New Hebrides’ independence, France annexed Matthew and Hunter islands to New Caledonia rather than keep them in the New Hebrides condominium.
The Vanuatu government of the time rejected French sovereignty over the islands and planted the Vanuatu flag on Hunter Island in 1993 but a French patrol vessel prevented the party from reaching Matthew Island. France nowadays maintains a naval presence and an automated weather station on Matthew.

In 2009, the Vanuatu Prime Minister and the independence movement of New Caledonia, the FLNKS, signed a document – with no legal value – recognizing the Vanuatu sovereignty over Matthew and Hunter islands. This gesture is all the more surprising given that France has always stated that the two islands belong to the territory of New Caledonia, and that Vanuatu’s economy is largely supported by French development aid, as well as aid from Iceland, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and others.

But in Vanuatu, the legends associated with these southern islands demonstrate the importance of these two islands in the Ni-Vanuatu (Vanuatu people) tradition. Matthew is known as the “House of the Gods” where the spirits of the dead go rest. Ni-Vanuatu speak of traveling regularly from the islands of the Vanuatu archipelago to Hunter and Matthew, singing and dancing when they were on one or the other of the two islands in dispute today. On the other hand, there is no known legend of these islands in New Caledonia.

Vanuatu claims that the two islands are part of its archipelago based on its offered geological and cartographic evidence. Those two islets are even being fought for before the UN under terms of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

The dispute spilled has also unsettled relations with neighbors. In 1982, for example, Fiji and New Caledonia signed an agreement on mutual recognition of their maritime boundaries, in which Fiji recognized French ownership of the Matthew and Hunter Islands. The action upset Vanuatu, which demanded that Fiji recognize Ni-Vanuatu sovereignty over the islands, stating that failure to do so would be a blow to peace in the region, but Fiji did not revoke its signature.
Oh, I almost forgot: Hunter Island is also unofficially claimed by the micronation Republic of Lostisland, which undertook an expedition to the island in July 2012. Lostisland is an international project generally classified as a micronation, with citizens from all over the world aiming to achieve the independence and sovereignty of the Hunter Island. But the likelihood of it impacting New Caledonian or Ni-Vanuatu claims is nil.

For all the fuss, the Matthew and Hunter Islands are two little volcanic islets that look pretty boring from above. See for yourself:

Nor are they big – Matthew is 0.1km² and Hunter 0.4km². So why are they so important for France? Is it because they are a sanctuary for the terns and playground for the studies of meteorologists and ornithologists? Of course not. France dreams of extending its sovereign rights over an additional 2,000,000km².

But it is serious business – at stake are the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons and rare metals, as well fishery resources. The exact resource contents of these areas will have to be determined by further scientific studies. It is clearly a bet for the future.

To take advantage of these potential riches, France filed extension requests for fourteen geographical areas with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf of the United Nations in 2009. A special French interdepartmental program (steering committee composed of seven departments) called Extraplac was created in 2002 to prepare for all potential expansion areas, without studying fisheries or mineral resources. Extraplac could also present common issues with other coastal states sharing the same continental shelf.

But the extension of the continental shelf would involve substantial financial resources to ensure the protection and control of the newly acquired areas, but the deep cut in the finances of the Ministry of Defense does not make this possible at the moment.
A final problem exists. Article 121 of UNCLOS states that “rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own, have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.” However, the story of the inhabited Clipperton islet in the North Pacific with its 431,015 km² big EEZ shows that France, like many, has a broad interpretation of the ability to sustain economic life.

At the same time, Article 47 of UNCLOS states that an archipelagic State may draw straight baselines “joining the outermost points of the outermost islands and drying reefs of the archipelago provided that within such baselines are included the main islands.” As such a state, if Vanuatu can also claim Matthew and Hunter islands as part of its territory and archipelago, it would be able to draw its baseline to the islands and thereby extend its EEZ from the islands without concern for Article 121.

It’s important to note that the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf is charged with making recommendations to states, based on scientific evidence, on demarcating continental shelves (thereby conferring rights) when these shelves exceed the standard 200nm EEZ. However, it is up to the states themselves to enact the recommendations and settle the territorial claims.

Pretty interesting stuff happens in the South Pacific, huh?

Alix is a writer, researcher, and correspondent on the Asia-Pacific region for Marine Renewable Energy LTD. She previously served as a maritime policy advisor to the New Zealand Consul General in New Caledonia and as the French Navy’s Deputy Bureau Chief for State Action at Sea, New Caledonia Maritime Zone.

What Should Be in the New European Maritime Security Strategy

(Correction: This was published under the editorial account originally. Apologies to Felix; your grasp of strategy is superior to ours of WordPress)
Maritime great power politics is back and here to stay. Hence, the EU needs to adapt and rediscover geopolitics in developing its new European Maritime Security Strategy (EMSS). Although hard power matters most, Europe’s naval decline is likely to continue: less money, less navies. To be nevertheless a serious player, the EU has to adapt a smart-power approach. Most important is that the EU says what it does and does what it says. 


Time to Leave Strategic No Man’s Land
 
The European Council’s December session on security policy offers only one remarkable result: In June 2014, the EU will endorse a new European Maritime Security Strategy (EMSS). After years of economic crisis, geopolitical decline and military constraints, an EMSS could give the EU a new push to adapt to the evolving security environment. Such a push is more than necessary. Ten years after the European Security Strategy (ESS), Europe drifted from large ambitions into a strategic no man’s land: as seen in the Middle East and East Asia soft power has become more and more irrelevant, while great power competitions and geopolitics are back on the stage. In consequence, nobody is talking about a more secure Europe nor about the EU building a better world.
 
However, in the maritime domain Europe could come back on track. Therefore, the EMSS must address three key points. First, it has to define Europe’s strategic-maritime aims and set out the means to implement them. Second, due to its capabilities, there has to be a clear work-sharing with NATO, because the Alliance is much stronger in maritime security than the EU. Third, the EMSS must outline how the EU wants to adapt to a geopolitical/strategic environment that will not only develop to Europe’s disadvantage, but also to the advantage of other powers.
 
In the EMSS’ development, there is no need for a long debate about security challenges, risks and threats, because the problems are well known: Terrorism, piracy, proliferation, organized crime, energy security, choke points, critical infrastructure, disaster relief and so forth. Not war-fighting or deterrence, but rather military operations other than war (MOOTW) are likely to dominate the operational agenda. What changed, in contrast to ESS 2003, are not the security challenges, risks and threats, but rather the players and theaters.
 
Relevant Heaters: The Arctic, the Indo-Pacific, and the Med
 
Source: EUISS Report No. 16, p. 17

As the EMSS is about “security”, the Baltic and the North Sea do not matter (when Russia tries to provoke, so what?). These are NATO/EU inland seas and, therefore, only subject to regular politics and not to military considerations. What should concern Europe are the Arctic, the Indo-Pacific, and primarily the Mediterranean. The Gulf of Guinea is an area of operational, but not of strategic concern. Piracy can be tackled by regional actors with international support.

The Arctic’s emerging geopolitical relevance is stressed by the relatively high number of applicants for observer status in the Arctic Council. In May 2013, the EU suffered a serious defeat, as Brussels’ application was rejected, while China, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and even Singapore became observers. For the EMSS it has therefore to be said, that there is no military role for the EU in the High North. Sweden and Finland are Arctic Council members, but without direct access to the Arctic waters. What matters for the EU are trade routes and resources. Thus, an EMSS should define how the EU can contribute to safe and secure Arctic shipping lanes and how Europe’s resource interests can be preserved. After the rejection, however, it is clear that EU will not be one of the major players in the High North. Instead, other theaters should receive more attention.

Indian Navy show its two carriers (Source: WiB)

The Indo-Pacific should be of great concern for the EU. Due to China’s and India’s naval rise along with the growing seaborne trade, the Indian and Pacific Oceans have to be seen as one theater. Moreover, there is an emerging Asian power web made by bi-, tri-, and multilateral maritime security partnerships among Indo-Pacific states. The EU’s interests in Indo-Pacific security are primarily motivated by economics. In 2012, the total value of goods shipped from Europe to Asia was 816 billion Euros. While the EU can and should play a role in the Indian Ocean, the EU will hardly become relevant East of the Malacca Strait. The EU has been rejected three times as an observer at the East Asia Summit. Thus, an EMSS has to put a strong emphasis on the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, but it also has to accept that EU will remain irrelevant between Singapore and Vladivostok.

Only France and Britain could make themselves relevant in maritime East Asia. However, while current budgetary constraints remain they will only choose to go there in case of a major incident. During its disaster relief operation on the Philippines, the Royal Navy demonstrated that the UK is still capable of acting East of Malacca. However, the British posture also showed the Royal Navy’s limits. Moreover, it can be ruled out that Paris and London develop some kind of EU maritime security altruism and make an expeditionary EU presence a national priority. Instead, both will allocate their expensive warships to operations concerning their national interests, but not to EU (or NATO and UN) tasks.

Hence, the EMSS has to outline what European states want to do together in the Indo-Pacific and what not. It does not make any sense to write high expeditionary ambitions into a strategy, when it is clear from the beginning that those who have the means for implementing have no interest in doing so. But less can be more. The EMSS should contain realistic and credible ambitions in the Indo-Pacific, making the EU an actor who says what it does, and does what it says. Otherwise, the EU is doomed to irrelevance East of the Suez. In addition, the EU has to withstand the seduction of new free-riding with maritime stability and security provided by Asian powers. There is no guarantee that those powers will remain friendly to European interests.

Most important for the EU is the Med. Not only due to the refugee issue, but also by the new great power plays in the Eastern Med. Russia has returned as a serious naval actor with its largest expeditionary operation since 1991. New conflicts about offshore gas will emerge. Moreover, the growing instability in North Africa from Tunisia to the Suez Canal demands EU action. Therefore, Brussels’ main challenge will be to define in the EMSS how the EU wants to cooperate further with its Med partners. In addition, the EMSS has to say how EU aims to contribute from the maritime domain to stability ashore. Although terrorism, proliferation, human trafficking, illegal migration, and organized crime are subject to the EU’s maritime agenda, the solutions are to be found on land, not on the waters.

Dealing with New Maritime Powers

After the USSR’s collapse, only the United States and EU countries, in particular Britain and France, possessed the monopoly on long-range power projection. Up to now, there has been no other country able to go for Falklands War-style missions. This is going to change. While France and Britain are struggling to keep their capabilities alive, others – especially China, Russia and India – are preparing themselves for expeditionary missions, such as Russia’s expeditionary Med deployment. In terms of expeditionary power projection, Australia, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea could become more capable players, if their governments decide to pursue that track. Rather than focusing on security challenges, EMSS has to address how Europe wants to deal with emerging naval powers. Of course, cooperation for promoting common interests, like safe and secure sea-lanes or mutual trust-building, should be a top priority. However, Brussels tends to see the world too much through pink glasses, where the world becomes good by itself as long as there are talks about multilateralism and global governance. Although the maritime environment could remain friendly to EU interests, due to great power politics this cannot be taken for granted. Therefore, the EMSS has to address how the EU will react (it will not take the initiative) in case of fundamental state-driven changes to a maritime environment that are hostile to European interests.

Thus, advancing partnerships with like-minded democracies like India, Japan, Australia, and South Korea has to be an EMSS priority. Other potential partners include Singapore, Indonesia, and New Zealand. Cooperation with China is likely to be more difficult as recent Chinese actions (ADIZ) showed that Beijing’s approach continues to become much more assertive.

EU’s Aims

Defining realistic and achievable aims for the EU is that simple: stability, security, safety, and prosperity. Stability is the most important of all aims. It enables the flow of trade and the opportunities of doing non-hard power related politics. However, stability requires security and safety. Those three lead to the fourth aim: prosperity by the maritime domain as an area that provides trade lanes and resources. For the EU, it does not matter who owns what. However, Europe’s interest is the absence of conflict. Hence, an EMSS has to outline an increased portfolio of cooperation and trust-building programs.

Europe’s Means 

Europe’s soft- and hard-power continue to suffer seriously from the monetary and economic crisis. To be effective and efficient, the EU has to follow an approach of smart power. The latter means the combination of civilian and military means. However, as navies are costly, the EU’s focus should generally be on civilian capabilities, where necessary accompanied by military assets. In the case of hard power, there will be no European comeback. Recent celebrations about countries leaving the economic rescue mechanisms ignore that the old mechanism became irrelevant because there is a new unofficial rescue mechanism called European Central Bank (which does not include any submission to “Troika” obligations). The crisis has been managed, but it has not been solved. As Europe has not left the debt track, Europe’s armed forces will face further cuts.
 
As hard power goes, the navies matter most, because that is what is needed to pursue the EU’s interests on the high seas and there is no soft power equivalent. Hence, it is important for Europe that the Royal Navy commissions both new carriers and that France, Italy, and Spain preserve their flattops. Moreover, with an eye on the Med and Indo-Pacific theaters, LHDs and LPDs will be needed for MOOTW. Of course, this requires a balanced fleet with destroyers, frigates and submarines. For long-range power projection, the British and French SSN remain very relevant. Moreover, although extremely unpopular, Europe has to maintain a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent. That is also why Britain should throw all alternatives in the bin and build four new SSBNs. To implement maritime smart power, coast guard vessels and patrol aircraft are needed along with partnership teams on land. Especially in the Med, police enforcement capabilities are necessary. Challenges like migration and organized crime are not military issues. Moreover, research ships and new policies for fishing and energy are of great concern.

NATO vs. EU? How to Deal with the US?

While much has been said above about emerging naval powers, the world’s largest seapower, America, will remain Europe’s most important naval partner based on common interests and capabilities. That is why NATO has a great maritime relevance, because it links the U.S. Navy to Europe. As the EU does not have any formal naval links with the United States yet, the EMSS has to clarify the relationship between the EU, NATO, and the United States. What we do not need is a beauty contest, but what we do need is clearly defined and coordinated work-sharing. 
Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (Source)

There was never a real reason why both NATO and the EU had to have maritime operations in the Gulf of Aden. But both organizations wanted to be part of the international maritime beauty contest. In the future however, Europe cannot afford two organizations doing the same thing. Therefore, work-sharing between the EU and NATO should look like this: while the EU is good at civilian missions and smart power, NATO has decades-old naval hard-power experience. Hence, the modus vivendi should give the EU the softer and civilian tasks, while NATO gets the hard power jobs; Europe will likely become less capable in hard power anyway and only NATO provides access to the needed U.S. assets (and maybe British assets, too, if the UK leaves the EU) and NATO’s Standing Maritime Groups.

However, NATO’s real maritime worth is that the alliance links Britain, Canada, Turkey, and Norway to European security. The UK is drifting apart from EU, but the Royal Navy will remain the most capable of all European navies. Meanwhile Turkey is an indispensable partner in the Med, as are Canada and Norway in Arctic. All four countries continue to invest in their naval capabilities.

In the U.S.-NATO-EU triangle, the EMSS has to address who does what and where. While the United States will carry most of the maritime burdens in the Indo-Pacific, also relying on coalitions of the willing, NATO’s concern should be hard power missions in the Med and Indian Ocean. In such a work-sharing arrangement, the EU’s job would be to tackle the civilian and softer issues in the Med and the Indian Ocean; maybe in the South Atlantic, too.

Dealing with Decline

Chinese frigate Yangcheng in Limassol, Cyprus (Source)

To secure the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, China’s navy is now operating from Cyprus, an EU member state, in the Eastern Med. Yes, it is only access to a port for supplies and it is only on a tactical level. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that while the EU is not taken seriously in Asia, China shows the flag in Europe’s homewaters. Never before has a non-Western power conducted tactical operations from an EU member state.

In addition, in 2012, Japan’s premier minister Shinzo Abe invited Britain and France to come to the Asian maritime security theater. Nine years after the ESS endorsement it was quite humiliating for the EU that it was not the Union herself, but rather two nation states that were asked. Due Europe’s economic and demographic problems, European (maritime) decline is real and it is likely to continue.

To 2030

Up to 2030 the competition for resources and economic growth will increase the global sea-lanes’ importance, foremost in the Indo-Pacific, and be matched by the relevance of navies will go along with that. Moreover, by 2030 China, India and Russia (and perhaps others) will operate navies capable of medium- and long-range power projection. China then could posses the capabilities to fight (and win) Falklands-style wars.

Economically, China will have surpassed the United States as the world’s largest economy, and European economies will have dropped back in the global economic hierarchy. The consequence will be that Europe will not be able anymore to conduct operations like Libya 2011. Moreover, European power projection will be balanced by the emerging naval power of others. Thus, it essential that the EU enhances its partnerships with the United States and NATO and, moreover, creates new partnerships with like-minded democracies, in particular India.

Digitization and robotics will lead to the fact that coming generations of naval systems can do even more than today, however, they will be even more complex and therefore more expensive in procurement and maintenance. Europe’s budgetary situation will make the joint development, procurement and operation of new naval system a necessity. If this does not happen, Europe will simply disappear from the maritime domain as a serious, capable actor. In addition, it is likely that emerging navies, in particular China, will have the financial means to generate new high-end warfare assets, which will negatively affect Europe’s power.

With France on the march into an even worse economic mess, the EU’s maritime power projection will largely depend on Britain – as long as the UK remains an EU member. Britain’s coming carriers and other high-end warfare capabilities (SSN, SSBN, Type 26 frigates) will be critical for Europe to be capable and taken seriously in international maritime power politics. In this regard, the worst that could happen is that London decides to sell the second carrier to an emerging navy (e.g. Brazil). For the maritime balance of power, the second carrier must remain British (or European in some way) or, if it is sold, it has to be given to a like-minded country (e.g. Japan or Australia).

After 2030, China is likely to and India could maybe reach the naval power status of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. This means the capability of global power projection and the ability to conduct at least one high-intensity operation. We will see scenarios where emerging navies conduct expeditionary power projection operations, while Europe will be incapable of doing anything if there is no reversal of current trends.

Imagining the EU as a capable global, geostrategic, and maritime security player is hardly imaginable for the decades to come. Hence, though it is not a popular idea, Europeans will have to re-discover the transatlantic partnership and NATO – a maritime alliance by nature. No matter how far Asian navies rise, the U.S. Navy will remain the most capable of all. Although its dominance of the international maritime order will be challenged more and more, America is likely to recover through the shale gas boom and a Europe in decline is well advised to seek close cooperation.

What to Do?

For the EMSS’ implementation, preserving and renewing capabilities is essential. Countries like Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Poland in the north; Portugal, Spain, and Italy in the south have to create new mechanisms to integrate their navies. Jointly operated LPDs or submarines could be a start. Joint task groups of coast guards, police services, technical and environmental experts (and others) are a necessity. Whatever is agreed in the EMSS it matters more that words are followed by actions. In a time of new maritime great power politics, Europe must say what it does and do what it says. Otherwise, the EU will not be taken seriously and the EMSS can just be dumped in the bin.

Felix Seidler is a fellow at the Institute for Security Policy, University of Kiel, Germany, and runs the site Seidlers-Sicherheitspolitik.net (Seidler’s Security Policy). This post appeared in its original form here.

Follow Felix on Twitter: @SeidersSiPo