Wednesday, February 6

The Two Faces OF Europe's Military Might

Take this recent bizarre news article in Finland's Helsingin Sanomat:
EU rapid response forces yearn for real missions
No missions yet for expensive force assembled over a year ago

Finnish soldiers who have signed up for the crisis management forces of the European Union are not the only ones to be frustrated by idleness. The governments of EU member states are also anxious to find missions for the costly forces, which have been operational for over a year. The even more expensive NATO Response Force is also still waiting for the call to manage a crisis somewhere. - Helsingin Sanomat
They sound eager don't they? They have two forces ready and eager to be useful. So why are they so reluctant to be more useful in Afghanistan where NATO has been calling out for more support for over a year:
OTTAWA — NATO pledged yesterday to help Canada find the additional troops and equipment for Kandahar that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has set as a key condition for extending the mission of the Canadian Forces.

At the same time, Mr. Harper launched his personal diplomatic effort to find allies to deploy 1,000 additional troops and resolve a lack of helicopters and air drones with a phone call to U.S. President George W. Bush. - The Globe and Mail, Canada
Then again, there is the issue of whether the European forces (Old Europe) would be of any use if they showed up:
NATO has about 40,000 troops in Afghanistan, but many countries seem to be losing enthusiasm for the effort. Mr. Gates added to months of rising U.S.-European tensions over the size of deployments when he told The Los Angeles Times that some NATO forces “don’t know how to do counterinsurgency operations.” He amended his remarks, but they struck a particular nerve with Britain, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, whose troops are taking casualties in southern Afghanistan, where insurgents are most active.

Much is right about American complaints that NATO countries are not fully prepared to fight. Defense budgets and troop levels are insufficient; the Europeans lack necessary weapons. Countries like France, Germany, Italy and Spain place so many restrictions on their forces in Afghanistan that they are hobbling the effort. - NY Times
I have no doubt that European NATO Countries have troops that can handle themselves. The Netherlands and UK have already proven that. They just need to be given the green-light by their Governments as well as support for the additional equipment that they will need to carry out missions other than what they are doing at the moment, which sounds like not much at all other than place holding.

The problem is less so with the troops and more so with their Governments who are unwilling to accept most any level of risk. Oddly enough, this might result in their being forced to go into action later one when the risks are much greater.

Finnish Editorial: Replace Finnish Peacekeepers with Free Condoms - 7 Aug 07
Whose Side is Germany On? - 11 Jan 06

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