LA Times article (4/20/99) echoes article posted by Burford.

Greg Nowell GN842 at CNSVAX.Albany.Edu
Tue Apr 20 14:56:51 PDT 1999

LA Times article (4/20/99) echoes article posted by Burford.

Battle for Kosovo Shows Europe Still Needs U.S.

Military: Air campaign demonstrates NATO's heavy reliance on American

firepower and high-tech prowess.

By JOHN-THOR DAHLBURG, Times Staff Writer

RUSSELS--As the Balkans began their descent into war

eight years ago, Luxembourg's veteran foreign minister

proclaimed, "This is the hour of Europe, not the hour of the

Americans"--meaning that Europeans could solve their own


The calamities that ensued--wars in the independence-minded

Yugoslav republics of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina,

the last of which cost more than 200,000 lives--showed the

rashness of the forecast by Jacques Poos, the foreign minister.

And what's been happening for the past month in the skies over

Yugoslavia shows just how junior a military partner Western

Europe remains, paradoxically at the time when the Europeans have

been clamoring for more decision-making power and a "defense

identity" of their own.

"If anything, what we're doing in Kosovo proves that Europe

can't handle war without the Americans," said a European official at

NATO headquarters in Brussels. "Peacekeeping operations the

Europeans can do, but not war-fighting."

As NATO's 19 members prepare for the alliance's 50th

anniversary summit in Washington beginning Friday, what was

supposed to be a celebratory birthday party is shaping up as a

soul-searching session.

"Kosovo is clearly going to be a main theme--perhaps the main

theme," NATO spokesman Jamie Shea has said.

For Europeans in particular, some of the lessons now coming

out of the Balkans have been jarring. The air campaign against

Yugoslavia "has underlined the range of capabilities where Europe is

too dependent on U.S. help," British Defense Minister George

Robertson said in a speech Friday at Harvard University's John F.

Kennedy School of Government.

"If Europe is serious about shouldering more of the burden in

future conflicts like this, it must improve its capabilities," Robertson


Few expect a quick fix.

The label "NATO campaign" that has been affixed to Operation

Allied Force, in fact, masks its great asymmetry. Of the roughly

1,000 aircraft committed to or requisitioned for the campaign of

airstrikes against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's army

and police, about 700 are American, NATO sources say.

The operation is under the command of a four-star U.S. Army

general, Wesley K. Clark. And U.S. armed forces, military analysts

say, have contributed assets no others can match: B-1 strategic

bombers, F-117A Stealth fighters, and two types of tank-hunting

attack aircraft, the fixed-wing A-10 "Warthog" and the AH-64

Apache helicopter.

A British Royal Navy submarine in the Adriatic, the HMS

Splendid, has fired a grand total of five cruise missiles since

Operation Allied Force began March 24, a NATO source said

over the weekend. U.S. warships have launched Tomahawks by

the hundreds.

"The fact is, without the Americans, without their airplanes and

ships and command-and-control structures and all the other things

they bring to the order of battle, we can't win this," said the

European NATO official, speaking on condition he not be


To some on this side of the Atlantic, such U.S. preeminence is

humiliating in a year that has seen creation of a common European

currency, and one in which the 15-nation European Union is

supposed to name its first common representative on diplomatic and

security affairs. Many hope that the European trade bloc will turn

out to be the skeleton of a future Pan-European government.

"It's one thing to intellectually know that Europeans are

dependent on Americans; it's another to see it. Here, now, we're

seeing it," Franklin Dehousse, a professor and specialist in

European affairs at Belgium's University of Liege, said in a

newspaper interview.

Jane Sharp, defense analyst at the Institute of Public Policy

Research at King's College in London, predicted that the imbalance

in capabilities bared by the Kosovo conflict will galvanize Europe's

NATO members to do more in the future.

In particular, she said she believes that it will energize a

pioneering effort undertaken by Western Europe's two nuclear

powers, France and Britain, to sketch out a military role for the EU.

In June 1996, NATO foreign and defense ministers agreed to

build a separate "European Security and Defense Identity" inside

NATO--jargon for allowing the Europeans to use alliance assets for

missions that the United States doesn't object to but where it found

no compelling reason to get involved itself.

Planning, however, evidently has run away from hard reality.

Since the end of the Cold War, estimated one German official at

NATO, military capabilities of the European allies have been drawn

down by a total of 30%. During Operation Desert Storm, in what

must have been a humbling moment, a detachment of the French

army, once Europe's largest, had to be supplied by a U.S. logistics

unit to stay in the line of battle.

"If people want a European defense identity, they need to get

used to the idea that they are going to need to spend money," Ben

Fiddler, defense-sector analyst with the London-based bank

Dresdner Kleinort Benson, told the European Voice, a Brussels


The level of defense expenditures, however, is just one measure

of European weakness. In many cases, European countries still are

paying to maintain hardware designed for the Cold War, when the

threat was a massive invasion of Soviet armor. "It's like keeping up

a 12-year-old Mercedes, when for the same amount of money, you

could get a new one," a NATO official said.

According to the British Defense Ministry, European NATO

members have more than 4,000 warplanes between them. But

many are old, lack infrared and laser guidance systems, or aren't

carrying the kind of "smart" bombs or other munitions needed for

the precision attacks that the alliance is trying to carry out over


After NATO's earlier peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, and

growing talk about the need to use ground troops in the current

crisis, "the Europeans now realize the need is for mobility and

sustainability--to go in quickly, in force, and to be ready to stay," a

senior NATO official said.

Defense specialists rate the European allies as particularly

deficient in long-haul and massive airlift capability, in their ability to

get troops rapidly to a battle zone and in warplanes that can take on

a gamut of combat missions.

For West European policymakers, the fallout from Kosovo may

be enough to change one anomaly: the fact that more than four

decades into the process of European integration, defense

operations and industries still are a jealously guarded national


"The European Union countries [11 of which belong to NATO]

collectively spend on defense a bit more than 60% of the U.S.

defense budget," said Francois Heisbourg, chairman of the Center

on Security Policy, a Geneva-based think tank. "But out of those

60-and-some percent, we don't get 60% of your force projection

capability, we don't get 60% of your military intelligence-gathering

capability, we don't get 60% of your theater command-and-control


After the conflict in Kosovo is over, Heisbourg predicted, there

will be a "very significant push" for better Europe-wide coordination

in defense planning and spending.

Western Europe's slowing growth and high joblessness-- 16.3

million people are out of work in the 15 EU countries alone--are

added incentives to squeeze everything possible from each pound,

mark or drachma spent on defense.

Unless the Old World starts playing catch-up with the New, a

two-speed NATO may be the result. In the future, "those without

U.S. technology may be flying blind in relation to those with it,"

David Wright, Canada's permanent representative to the alliance,

has warned.

NATO's Washington summit is expected to chart a future for

what is known as the alliance's "European pillar." A debacle in

Kosovo could fuel demands already aired by some Europeans for a

greater say in what they consider an organization overly subject to

U.S. influence. But even critics of NATO as it is currently

constituted don't think that's happened yet.

"What's been wholly demonstrative in this war is that the

Europeans have acted in the framework of NATO alone, inside

NATO structures under NATO command, and have applied

NATO plans," said Paul Marie de la Gorce, a prominent

left-leaning defense analyst in France.

In any event, as the makeup of Operation Allied Force shows,

Europe's hour is yet to sound.

"Europe must do more to contribute to the alliance's capabilities.

But in the real world, this will take time," Robertson, Britain's

defense secretary, said Friday. "America, as the alliance's principal

power, must play the role assigned to it by history." -- Gregory P. Nowell Associate Professor Department of Political Science, Milne 100 State University of New York 135 Western Ave. Albany, New York 12222

Fax 518-442-5298

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list