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Saving Private Rhine

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COMMENT: We learn that a German general will be the new chief of staff for U.S. Army Europe. We wonder why? 

This certainly fits in the context of the Underground Reich that we have been developing and presenting for years. Precisely why an American officer would not have fit the bill remains a matter of speculation.

This occurs against the background of U.S. and European intervention in Ukraine, an “op” that has brought back to power the successor elements to the World War II Nazi collaborationist forces of the OUN/B.

As we noted in our series on Ukraine, the U.S. is basically engaging on behalf of the EU and Germany–the EU and EMU being the enactment of a German political and economic plan for European and, eventually, world domination. (For more on this, see–among other programs–FTR #788.)

The United States has no dog in that fight. We are basically playing enforcer for Germany and the EU, this at the same time that Germany expelled the CIA Station Chief in Berlin!

“Ger­man Offi­cer to Serve as U.S. Army Europe’s Chief of Staff” by Jim Tice; Army Times; 7/31/2014.

Gen. Markus Lauben­thal is the first Ger­man offi­cer to be assigned to U.S. Army Europe. He is the command’s new chief of staff. (U.S. Army Europe)

A Ger­man Army brigadier gen­eral who recently served with NATO forces in Afghanistan is assum­ing duties as the chief of staff of U. S. Army Europe, the first time a non-American offi­cer has held that position.

Brig. Gen. Markus Lauben­thal, most recently the com­man­der of Germany’s 12th Panzer Brigade in Amberg, and chief of staff of Regional Com­mand North, Inter­na­tional Secu­rity Assis­tance Force Afghanistan, will be sta­tioned at USAREUR head­quar­ters, Wies­baden, Ger­many. He could report to duty as early as Monday.

Lauben­thal also has served as mil­i­tary assis­tant to the deputy com­man­der of oper­a­tions and assis­tant chief of staff of oper­a­tions for NATO forces in Kosovo.

As the major staff assis­tant to USAREUR com­man­der Lt. Gen. Don­ald Camp­bell, Lauben­thal will syn­chro­nize the command’s staff activ­i­ties much as Amer­i­can pre­de­ces­sors have in the past.

“This is a bold and major step for­ward in USAREUR’s com­mit­ment to oper­at­ing in a multi­na­tional envi­ron­ment with our Ger­man allies,” said Campbell.

“U. S. and Ger­man senior mil­i­tary lead­ers have been serv­ing together in NATO’s Inter­na­tional Secu­rity Assis­tance Force in Afghanistan for years. Sus­tain­ing the shared capa­bil­ity from this expe­ri­ence will ben­e­fit both the U. S. and Ger­man armies,” said Camp­bell who has headed the Army’s largest and old­est over­seas com­mand since 2012.


6 comments for “Saving Private Rhine”

  1. They should recognize us as a non voting EU member, subservient state.

    Posted by GK | August 10, 2014, 3:15 pm
  2. quid pro quo über alles (this for that, more than anything else!)


    Aug 16, 9:40 AM EDT


    AP Photo
    AP Photo/Matthias Schrader


    BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s foreign intelligence agency eavesdropped on calls made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton, German magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

    The respected news weekly reported that the agency, known by its German acronym BND, tapped a satellite phone conversation Kerry made in 2013 as part of its surveillance of telecommunications in the Middle East. The agency also recorded a conversation between Clinton and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan a year earlier, Der Spiegel claimed.

    The magazine didn’t give a source for its information, but said the calls were collected accidentally, that the three officials weren’t directly targeted, and the recordings were ordered destroyed immediately. In Clinton’s case, the call reportedly took place on the same “frequency” as a terror suspect, according to Der Spiegel.

    The tapping of Clinton’s call was reported Friday by German public broadcaster ARD and Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

    If true, the revelations would be embarrassing for the German government, which has spent months complaining to Washington about alleged American spy activity in Germany. Last year German media reports based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden prompted a sharp rebuke from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was allegedly among the U.S. intelligence agency’s targets.

    A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Berlin and the State Department in Washington declined to comment on the latest reports.

    In its report Saturday, Der Spiegel also cited a confidential 2009 BND document listing fellow NATO member Turkey as a target for German intelligence gathering.

    The Germany intelligence agency didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

    © 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

    Posted by participo | August 16, 2014, 2:56 pm
  3. Here’s an interesting twist to the recent uproar over the BND spy that was caught selling secrets to the CIA (leading the expulsion of the CIA chief in Germany): One of the documents the BND agent, Markus R., was sold to the CIA was the transcript of the recorded phone calls that the BND picked up between Hillary Clinton and Kofi Annan when Annan was giving Hillary a briefing following negotiations with Syria:

    Germany accidentally spied on Hillary Clinton, John Kerry
    Germany admitted to accidentally tapping calls made by Hillary Clinton and John Kerry while German intelligence was attempting to fight terrorism.

    By: Matthew Schofield McClatchy Foreign Staff, Published on Sat Aug 16 2014

    BERLIN—The German Foreign Intelligence Agency has admitted tapping “at least one” phone call each by current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while they were aboard United States government jets, according to German media reports.

    The reports claim Kerry’s intercepted communication was a satellite phone call from the Middle East in 2013. Clinton’s communication was also a satellite call, in 2012, and was reportedly to then-United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. Both calls were reported to have been intercepted accidentally while German intelligence was targeting terror suspects in the Middle East and northern Africa.

    The intelligence agency (the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND) told German media that terror groups often use the same frequencies that the secretaries’ phone calls were made over, so the calls were picked up. The calls were among what the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung said intelligence sources described as several cases of U.S. official phone calls being picked up accidentally during anti-terror communications monitoring.

    The BND is the German equivalent of the American Central Intelligence Agency. German-American relations have chilled in the past year — since former National Security Agency worker Edward Snowden began leaking documents detailing the extent of America’s global electronic spying and eavesdropping programs. Media reports about Snowden’s leaked documents led to the revelation that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private cellphone had been tapped since the years when she was a lower ranking German minister, and continuing at least until the summer of 2013.

    The spy scandal includes the electronic spying on millions of private emails and electronic communications, the tapping of official phones and even the hiring of German officials to act as American agents and pass on secret German government information.

    The news reports outraged Germans, leading to favourable attitudes about the United States falling to their lowest levels in years and creating a public and private sense of mistrust. Merkel has repeatedly called the U.S. spy program a breach of trust and noted that “friends don’t spy on friends.”

    In a twist that connects this tale to the broader spying scandal, the new reports note that after Clinton’s phone call was picked up, an order from the BND leadership was sent out to delete the communication. But the German charged with deleting the conversation was Markus R, who has been charged with selling 218 secret official documents to U.S. intelligence and, rather than deleting the conversation, sold the transcript to his American contacts. Markus R, who under German law cannot be fully identified unless he is convicted, allegedly made a total of €25,000, or about $32,500, by selling the documents to the CIA.

    He has been charged with spying for a foreign intelligence agency.

    The BND denied that there was any systematic phone tapping of U.S. officials while admitting other phone calls had been swept up. German intelligence officials have told German media that the frequencies the American officials use are also favourites of terror groups in northern Africa and the Middle East.

    Both Kerry’s and Clinton’s phone calls were picked up while they were flying over conflict areas. The German phone-tapping program in the Middle East is well known to U.S. officials. During the Syrian conflict, and particularly after the chemical weapons attacks of August 2013, there was quite a bit of discussion of Syrian official conversations picked up by German intelligence.

    So “particularly after the chemical weapons attacks of August 2013, there was quite a bit of discussion of Syrian official conversations picked up by German intelligence,” and both Kerry’s and Clinton’s phone calls were apparently getting picked up while they were flying over conflict areas. So the CIA knew these satellite phone calls were getting picked up by the BND. Note that 2012 phone call between Clinton and Kofi Annan reportedly involved a briefing of Annan’s negotiations with Syria. Also note that Annan announced his resignation as the envoy to Syria in early August, 2012 and that Markus R. approached the CIA via email with his offer to sell the documents in 2012.

    If true, that would suggest that the CIA knew these phone calls were getting picked up by 2012, and yet the “accidental” capture of Clinton’s and Kerry’s phone conversations kept taking place while flying over conflict areas that the US knew was being monitored by the BND throughout 2013, and those calls just happened to involve quite a bit of discussion over how to address the Syrian chemical weapons situation. Hmmm….maybe there’s more to this story…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 19, 2014, 7:06 pm
  4. Only eight of the country’s 109 Eurofighters are fully operational…:

    The Telegraph
    German fighter jets unable to fly and mechanics forced to borrow spare parts, claims magazine
    A report in Spiegel magazine says German air force is weaker than previously thought and a funding crisis means scores of aircraft are not operational

    By Justin Huggler in Berlin

    7:24PM BST 26 Aug 2014

    The German air force is facing such a severe funding shortage that many of its aircraft are unable to fly, mechanics are forced to cannibalise parts from existing planes and only eight of the country’s 109 Eurofighters are fully operational, according to a report in Spiegel magazine.

    German defence sources have rubbished the article, saying it is inaccurate and does not match up to official air force logs.

    But the claim that Germany’s air force is not as strong as previously thought will cause concern among its Nato allies at a time of growing worldwide instability.

    Germany has the fourth largest air force in Europe, yet the Spiegel report suggests it is far weaker in reality than it is on paper.

    Many aircraft are badly in need of repair, and spare parts are in such short supply that mechanics have resorted to taking them from existing planes, said the magazine.

    The report claims the German government is now facing embarrassment because ministers promised to send six Eurofighters to the Baltic states next week despite the alleged shortfalls.

    It says as few as seven of Germany’s 67 CH-53 transport helicopters are fully operational, including those currently deployed in Afghanistan, and only five of its 33 NH-80 helicopters.

    Of the 56 C-160 aircraft which carry relief supplies to northern Iraq, only 21 are operational, it claims.

    The air force has refused to comment publicly on the report, saying it concerns classified information.

    But defence sources have sought to rubbish Spiegel, saying the publication has misinterpreted an internal report. Officials said the magazine’s reporters had listed some planes as unable to fly, when in fact they were only in need of routine maintenance.

    The row comes against a backdrop of concern over Germany’s defence budget.

    Despite being Europe’s biggest economy, Germany lags far behind its neighbours when it comes to defence spending.

    Under a Nato agreement, members are supposed to spend at least two per cent of their GDP on defence, but Germany spends only 1.3 per cent and is planning further cuts.

    Since the end of the Second World War, the country’s leaders have been reluctant to get involved in military operations abroad because of historic guilt over the crimes of the Nazis.

    But recently there have been growing calls for the country’s military to take on a bigger international role – not least from the Defence Minister, Ursula von der Leyen.

    “Indifference is not an option for a country like Germany,” she said in January. She has also said Germany is “almost doomed to take on more responsibility”.

    But it is thought even Ms von der Leyen – who is one of the best known politicians in the country and widely seen as Angela Merkel’s anointed successor – cannot take on the chancellor over defence spending. Mrs Merkel is said to be determined to present a balanced budget in 2015.

    Keep in mind that just because it sounds like Merkel has no interest in making any big new investments in Germany’s air force, that doesn’t mean Germany isn’t going to be getting a shiny new air force in coming years although it’ll have to share it a bit:

    The Telegraph
    EU planning to ‘own and operate’ spy drones and an air force

    By Bruno Waterfield Last updated: July 26th, 2013

    The European Union is planning to “own and operate” spy drones, surveillance satellites and aircraft as part of a new intelligence and security agency under the control of Baroness Ashton.

    The controversial proposals are a major move towards creating an independent EU military body with its own equipment and operations, and will be strongly opposed by Britain.

    Officials told the Daily Telegraph that the European Commission and Lady Ashton’s European External Action Service want to create military command and communication systems to be used by the EU for internal security and defence purposes. Under the proposals, purchasing plans will be drawn up by autumn.

    The use of the new spy drones and satellites for “internal and external security policies”, which will include police intelligence, the internet, protection of external borders and maritime surveillance, will raise concerns that the EU is creating its own version of the US National Security Agency.

    Senior European officials regard the plan as an urgent response to the recent scandal over American and British communications surveillance by creating EU’s own security and spying agency.

    “The Edward Snowden scandal shows us that Europe needs its own autonomous security capabilities, this proposal is one step further towards European defence integration,” said a senior EU official.

    The proposal said “the commission will work with the EEAS on a joint assessment of dual-use capability needs for EU security and defence policies”.

    It continued: “On the basis of this assessment, it will come up with a proposal for which capability needs, if any, could best be fulfilled by assets directly purchased, owned and operated by the Union.” A commission official confirmed the proposal.

    “Looking at the current gaps, possibilities could be from surveillance Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems to airlift and command and communication facilities,” said the official.

    There is a already an intense behind-the-scenes battle pitting London against the rest over plans to create an EU military operations headquarters in Brussels.

    Lady Ashton, the European foreign minister, the commission and France – backed by Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland – all support the plans. Both sets of proposals are likely to come to a head at an EU summit fight in December.

    “We would not support any activity that would mean the Commission owning or controlling specific defence research assets or capabilities,” said a British government spokesman.

    Britain has a veto but the group of countries have threatened to use a legal mechanism, created by the Lisbon Treaty, to bypass the British and create a major rift in Nato.

    Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, Conservative European defence and security spokesman, accused the commission of being “obsessed” with promoting the “EU’s military ambitions”.

    “It would be alarming if the EU – opaque, unaccountable, bureaucratic and desperately trying to turn itself into a federal state – were to try and create an intelligence gathering capability of its own. This is something that we need to stop in its tracks before it is too late,” he said.

    Nigel Farage MEP, the leader of Ukip, described the plans for EU spy drones and satellites as “a deeply sinister development”.

    “These are very scary people, and these revelations should give any lover of liberty pause for thought over the ambitions of the EU elite.”

    The Open Europe think tank has warned that the EU “has absolutely no democratic mandate for actively controlling and operating military and security capabilities”.

    “The fact is European countries have different views on defence and this is best served by intergovernmental cooperation, not by European Commission attempts at nation-building,” said Pawel Swidlicki, a research analyst at Open Europe.

    The spy drones and secure command systems would be linked to a £3.5 billion spy satellite project known as Copernicus which will be used to provide “imaging capabilities to support Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations”. Currently Copernicus is due to be operated by the European Space Agency.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 27, 2014, 8:03 am
  5. Is open war breaking out between Russia and Ukraine? It depends on who you ask:

    Bloomberg Businessweek
    Is It War? Ukraine Conflict Definition Softens in West
    By Gregory Viscusi August 28, 2014

    For governments in the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania, Russia has invaded Ukraine and the two countries are now at war. Head further west, and they’re less sure what to call it.

    While all agree that a line has been crossed, U.S and NATO officials prefer to speak of an “incursion.” French and German leaders have warned President Vladimir Putin of further sanctions without defining what Russian forces have done.

    “In the past 48 hours, we have tipped into a formal invasion,” Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, said in a Bloomberg television interview. “Russia and Ukraine as sovereign countries are now at war and it’s going to be very difficult for the United States and Europe to deny that reality.”

    Calling it war or an invasion would force the U.S. and European Union to consider steps they’d never be willing to take, such as committing military forces, Bremmer said. While sanctions have been imposed on some sectors of the Russian economy, Europe continues to rely on Russia for natural-gas imports and Russian trade with the EU was worth about $390 billion last year.

    “The EU appears to have exhausted its politically feasible options in the previous round” of sanctions, Ievgen Vorobiov, an analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw, said in a telephone interview.

    Troop Buildup

    Pro-Russian insurgents widened their attacks yesterday on Ukraine government forces, taking several towns outside their strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk, including near the Sea of Azov. There are currently 20,000 Russian troops in the border region, with 1,000 operating inside Ukraine, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization military officer estimated today.
    Video: Kliment Sees `Frozen Conflict’ in Eastern Ukraine

    Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Twitter that Russia’s actions amount to a “war” that should be taken up by the United Nations Security Council. The Foreign Ministry in Lithuania, another former Soviet satellite state that’s now one of the EU’s 28 members, said it “strongly condemns the invasion of Ukrainian territory by Russian Federation military forces, which has obviously begun.”

    Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, speaking on Polish radio, said that the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine “violates a whole menu of international treaties.”

    Bellicose Language

    Further west, French President Francois Hollande said in Paris today that it would be “unacceptable” if Russian troops were on Ukraine soil, without saying if they were. An adviser to Hollande, who asked not to be named because he isn’t authorized to talk to the press, said bellicose language from the west strengthens Putin’s narrative that it’s Russia’s former Cold War foes who created the conflict.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has a claim to be the European leader with the best understanding of the Cold War after growing up in East Germany, also threatened more sanctions. Jen Psaki, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman, told reporters in Washington that the “incursions” indicated a counteroffensive is under way.

    “The line between a proxy war and regular war has been crossed but this doesn’t matter because Putin is denying it and the West is unable to prove it with a watertight case,” Jan Techau, director of the Brussels office of the Carnegie Endowment, said in a phone interview.

    Saving Face

    Merkel wants to give Putin “a way out, a way to climb down without losing face,” Techau said. “I don’t see a willingness on the part of the West to get out of this narrative.”

    Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said yesterday that reports of Russian troops operating in Ukraine don’t “correspond with reality.” Today, Peskov declined to comment on Ukrainian claims of an invasion or rebel comments about Russian soldiers joining the war.

    The prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, said on Russian state television that any Russian military personnel in Ukraine were volunteers on leave.

    For now, “the most likely scenario is a limited, targeted campaign, using Russian troops as necessary, under however thin a fig leaf of deniability, to resupply and bolster the separatists in key strategic locations,” said Emmet Tuohy, an analyst with the International Centre for Defence Studies in Tallinn, Estonia. “A full-scale war with Ukraine is not in Russia’s interests or plans.”

    So it’s unclear if we’re seeing a major escalation of the situation (the financial markets don’t appear to be viewing this as a Russian invasion) but that’s probably not going to stop governments around Europe from asking the closely-related question which priority is going to win: more austerity, or more preparations for war:

    Ukraine crisis forces European defense spending rethink

    By Adrian Croft

    BRUSSELS Wed Aug 27, 2014 9:55am EDT

    (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine may achieve what successive U.S. defense secretaries have failed to do — persuade European NATO members to spend more on their armed forces.

    The Ukraine crisis has been a reality check for NATO countries that believed they no longer faced a pressing military threat following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    After years of sharp defense cuts, partly forced on them by the financial crisis, there are signs that some NATO countries, particularly in central and eastern Europe, are ready to increase defense spending, or at least stop the slide.

    Some, alarmed by Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, are bringing forward purchases of weaponry.

    The United States, NATO’s dominant power, has seized on the Ukraine crisis to drive home its argument that European allies must spend more on their own defense. It is pressing for a formal commitment from the Sept. 4-5 NATO summit in Wales.

    “I hope to see a common commitment to a gradual increase in defense investments,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Reuters in an interview this month.

    “It won’t be easy because many nations are still struggling with their economies and big deficits … but what has happened in Ukraine is a wake-up call and a reminder that we can’t take our security for granted,” he said.

    Over the last five years, Rasmussen said, Russia has increased its defense spending by 50 percent while NATO allies on average have decreased theirs by 20 percent.


    Ahead of the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and the other 27 alliance leaders, discussion have been held at alliance headquarters in Brussels over what the pledge will say.

    “The actual text here is probably the hottest topic at NATO headquarters,” a senior NATO official said.

    Leaders are expected to pledge that, as their economies recover from the deepest economic downturn since the 1930s, they will increase defense spending, NATO diplomats say.

    They are also expected to recommit to a longstanding NATO target that allies should spend the equivalent of 2 percent of their economic output on defense.

    In 2013, only four of NATO’s 28 members — the United States, Britain, Greece and Estonia — met the target. Even though it too is cutting defense budgets, Washington accounts for more than 70 percent of total allied military spending.

    With NATO ending combat operations in Afghanistan this year, there is a scramble for savings, with hawks saying any savings should be spent on defense rather than be seized by finance ministers for other purposes.

    In the same vein, U.S. officials have warned in increasingly stark terms about the dangers of Europeans slashing military spending. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in May that Russia’s actions in Ukraine had underscored the danger NATO allies have created by failing to meet their spending pledges.

    In June 2011, one of Hagel’s predecessors, Robert Gates, famously said NATO risked “collective military irrelevance” unless European allies boosted defense spending.

    The 26 European NATO allies together spent nearly $270 billion on defense in 2013, still a large sum, but critics say some European nations spend too much on pay and pensions and not enough on modern equipment and deployable forces.

    The 2011 Libya conflict, for example, revealed European deficiencies in air-to-air refueling and surveillance.


    Since the Ukraine crisis, there have been signs that the U.S. warnings about shrinking defense spending are hitting home.

    Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Wednesday his government aims to increase defense spending to NATO’s 2 percent target in 2016, from 1.95 percent now.

    Poland, which has embarked on a $41 billion program to modernize its armed forces by 2022, will bring forward the purchase of 30 attack helicopters by two years following a review triggered by the Ukraine crisis.

    Baltic states Latvia and Lithuania have pledged to reach the 2 percent target by 2020, more than doubling the percentage they spend now, Romania has promised to raise defense spending gradually until 2016 and the Czech government has said it aims to reverse a trend of declining military spending.

    But among the European NATO allies that spend most on defense — France, Britain and Germany — there is less readiness to loosen the defense purse strings.

    France, which has sent troops in the last few years to Mali and Central African Republic, said last year it would freeze its defense budget for six years, implying real-terms cuts, and there is no prospect of an increase in the near future given the poor state of the country’s finances.

    Britain has cut defense spending by around 8 percent over the last four years to help reduce a record budget deficit, shrinking the size of the armed forces by around one sixth.

    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Spiegel magazine in May that increasing the defense budget now “would not be a smart move” because it could create misunderstandings with Russia.

    Germany spent the equivalent of 1.3 percent of its GDP on defense in 2013, according to NATO. German defense spending is set to rise slightly in cash terms from around 32.3 billion euros in fiscal year 2015 to 32.9 billion in 2018, a German Defense Ministry spokesman said.

    There are also disagreements about the 2 percent figure.

    Some argue that it is a blunt instrument and what is more important is how efficiently the money is spent.

    Germany has also accused some NATO countries hit by the euro crisis of only reaching the 2 percent level because their economies shrank more quickly than their defense budgets.

    “Germany believes that the 2 percent requirement is unsuitable as an assessment criterion to determine the loyalty of a member state to the alliance. We should talk less about percentages of defense budgets and more about smart ways to obtain better capabilities,” the German Defense Ministry spokesman said.

    NATO allies have implemented a series of short-term measures to reinforce eastern Europe in response to the Ukraine crisis.

    Hmm…so a number of central and eastern EU members appear to be eager to increase thier defense budgets, while Berlin is pushing a strange pro-and-anti defense spending message. That makes it somewhat unclear about what to expect for the EU as a whole, but it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine that Berlin is pointing towards a “less is more” austerity solution for the military too. After all, as the article pointed out, some critics “say some European nations spend too much on pay and pensions and not enough on modern equipment and deployable forces”. So maybe the EU will just cut the pay and pensions for the military while making further hardware investments. And maybe this is already happening:

    Roar Magazine
    New report: no austerity for EU military spending

    by ROAR Collective on May 11, 2013

    High levels of military spending played a key role in the unfolding European sovereign debt crisis — and continue to undermine efforts to resolve it.

    A new report by the Transnational Institute — ‘Guns, Debt and Corruption: Military Spending and the EU Crisis’ — looks at the ways in which excessive militarization directly fed into the unfolding European debt crisis, and continues to undermine efforts to resolve it. Below the downlink links and infographic you can find the executive summary of the report.

    Executive Summary:

    Five years into the financial and economic crisis in Europe, and there is still an elephant in Brussels that few are talking about. The elephant is the role of military spending in causing and perpetuating the economic crisis. As social infrastructure is being slashed, spending on weapon systems is hardly being reduced. While pensions and wages have been cut, the arms industry continues to profit from new orders as well as outstanding debts.

    The shocking fact at a time of austerity is that EU military expenditure totalled €194 billion in 2010, equivalent to the annual deficits of Greece, Italy and Spain combined.

    Perversely, the voices that are protesting the loudest in Brussels are the siren calls of military lobbyists, warning of “disaster” if any further cuts are made to military spending. This paper shows that the real disaster has emerged from years of high European military spending and corrupt arms deals. This dynamic contributed substantially to the debt crisis in countries such as Greece and Portugal and continues to weigh heavily on future budgets in all of the crisis countries.

    The power of the military-industrial lobby also makes any effective cuts less likely. This is perhaps most starkly shown in how the German government, while demanding ever higher sacrifices in social cuts, has been lobbying behind the scenes against military cuts because of concerns this would affect its own arms industry.

    The paper reveals how:

    * High levels of military spending in countries now at the epicentre of the euro crisis played a significant role in causing their debt crises. Greece has been Europe’s biggest spender in relative terms for most of the past four decades, spending almost twice as much of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence as the EU average.Spain’s military expenditure increased 29% between 2000 and 2008, due to massive weapon purchases. It now faces huge problems repaying debts for its unnecessary military programmes.
    As a former Spanish secretary of state for defence said: “We should not have acquired systems that we are not going to use, for conflict situations that do not exist and, what is worse, with funds that we did not have then and we do not have now.” Even the most recent casualty of the crisis, Cyprus, owes some of its debt troubles to a 50% increase in military spending over the past decade, the majority of which came after 2007.
    * The debts caused by arms sales were often a result of corrupt deals between government officials, but are being paid for by ordinary people facing savage cuts in social services. Investigations of an arms deal signed by Portugal in 2004 to buy two submarines for one billion euros, agreed by then-prime minister Manuel Barroso (now President of the EU Commission) have identified more than a dozen suspicious brokerage and consulting agreements that cost Portugal at least €34 million. Up to eight arms deals signed by the Greek government since the late 1990s are being investigated by judicial authorities for possible illegal bribes and kickbacks to state officials and politicians.
    * Military spending has been reduced as a result of the crisis in those countries most affected by the crisis, but most states still have military spending levels comparable to or higher than ten years ago. European countries rank 4th (UK), 5th (France), 9th (Germany) and 11th (Italy) in the list of major global military spenders. Even Italy, facing debts of €1.8 trillion, still spends a higher proportion of its GDP on military expenditure than the post-Cold War low of 1995.
    * The military spending cuts, where they have come, have almost entirely fallen on people – reductions in personnel, lower wages and pensions – rather than on arms purchases. The budget for arms purchases actually rose from €38.8 billion in 2006 to €42.9 billion in 2010 – up more than 10% – while personnel costs went down from €110.0 billion in 2006 to €98.7 billion in 2010, a 10% decrease that took largely place between 2008 and 2009.
    * While countries like Germany have insisted on the harshest cuts of social budgets by crisis countries to pay back debts, they have been much less supportive of cuts in military spending that would threaten arms sales. France and Germany have pressured the Greek government not to reduce defence spending. France is currently arranging a lease deal with Greece for two of Europe’s most expensive frigates; the surprising move is said to be largely “driven by political considerations, rather than an initiative of the armed forces”. In 2010 the Dutch government granted export licences worth €53 million to equip the Greek navy. As an aide to former Greek prime minister Papandreou noted: “No one is saying ‘Buy our warships or we won’t bail you out.’ But the clear implication is that they will be more supportive if we do”.
    * Continued high military spending has led to a boom in arms companies’ profits and an even more aggressive push of arms sales abroad ignoring human rights concerns. The hundred largest companies in the sector sold arms to the value of some €318 billion in 2011, 51% higher in real terms compared to 2002. Anticipating decreased demand at home, industry gets even more active political support in promoting arms sales abroad.In early 2013 French president François Hollande visited the United Arab Emirates to push them to buy the Rafale fighter aircraft. UK prime minister David Cameron visited the Emirates and Saudi Arabia in November 2012 to promote major arms sales packages. Spain hopes to win a highly controversial contract from Saudi Arabia for 250 Leopard 2 tanks, in which it is competing with Germany – the original builder of the tank.
    * Research shows that investment in the military is the least effective way to create jobs, regardless of the other costs of military spending. According to a University of Massachusetts study, defence spending per US$ one billion creates the fewest number of jobs, less than half of what it could generate if invested in education and public transport. At a time of desperate need for investment in job creation, supporting a bloated and wasteful military can not be justified given how many more jobs such money would create in areas such as health and public transport.

    Despite the clear evidence of the cost of high military spending, military leaders continue to push a distorted and preposterous notion that European Union’s defence cuts threaten the security of Europe’s nations. NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen “has used every occasion to cajole alliance members into investing and collaborating more in defense.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 28, 2014, 11:17 am
  6. It looks like Germany’s defense industry is signaling that it would like to export more:

    German defense industry threatens to move production abroad

    FRANKFURT Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:00am EDT

    (Reuters) – Germany’s defense industry lobby has warned that companies were looking into shifting production abroad in response to the country’s restrictive arms export policy.

    “All large defense contractors in Germany are assessing whether they can stay in the country in the long run,” Armin Papperger, the chief executive of Rheinmetall and head the German defense industry association, was quoted as saying by newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday.

    Earlier this year, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he would tighten rules on arms exports, curbing sales to states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, whose purchases had previously helped make Germany the world’s third largest arms exporter.

    In August, Germany permanently halted Rheinmetall’s planned export of combat simulation equipment to Russia, going beyond newly-imposed European Union sanctions which block future defense contracts.

    Papperger told Sueddeutsche new restrictions left arms manufacturers with the choice of cutting output and jobs or moving production abroad.

    “Other countries such as Switzerland, France and the United States would be happy for us to invest there. There, we could export more easily,” he was quoted as saying.

    The defense industry, which employs some 80,000 people in Germany, has strongly criticized the stricter rules.

    The chief executive of aerospace and defense group Airbus earlier this month said Germany’s restrictive arms export policy could deter international cooperation on future defense projects.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 21, 2014, 9:16 pm

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