NATO consolidates European Union as junior military partner
In the last two days the NATO homepage has reported on General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg and Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană separately addressing European Union officials on defense cooperation. That is, on the military integration of the two Brussels-based blocs.
On the same day that the European Union’s twenty-seven defense ministers approved the inclusion of non-members the U.S., Canada and Norway in the EU’s “military mobility” initiative to allow for the rapid movement of troops and equipment across Europe – the first time the EU has invited non-member states to join a military operation – Stoltenberg also addressed the ministers and applauded the move: “Non-EU Allies play an essential role in protecting and defending Europe.”
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer said of the unprecedented decision: “Making sure that troops can be moved across borders within Europe is a very important issue not only for the European Union but also for NATO.”
The U.S.-NATO-EU triad can no longer be denied.
Ahead of his joining the EU defense chiefs, NATO’s Stoltenberg gave a briefing which included these comments:
“Just as we speak, we are deploying thousands of troops as part of a NATO exercise and we do that in Romania. And it demonstrates how we mobilize and exercise NATO troops, and also how we’re able to deploy them across Europe.
“And as part of this exercise, there are soldiers from the United Kingdom, from the United States, from Turkey, so it demonstrates also the importance of moving NATO troops quickly through Europe and that’s also a reason why military mobility is so important.
“We will also discuss Russia, and the pattern of aggressive Russian behaviour, from dangerous intelligence operations in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, but also the significant military build-up in and around Ukraine.”
His second-in-command, Mircea Geoană, addressed a Military Mobility Symposium co-organized by the European Defence Agency and the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union yesterday as well. Like his superior and the German defense chief he, too, advocated enhanced NATO-EU cooperation on military mobility (the exact term reported) and the need to “maintain preparedness and preserve collective security.” As though to suggest that the EU effectively falls under the umbrella of NATO’s Article 5 mutual military assistance.
He emphasized to his EU interlocutors that military mobility was essential to NATO’s (nominal) defense and deterrence capabilities, and that the thirty-nation military bloc’s ability to rapidly transit troops and military hardware “across the Atlantic and across European borders” is the most essential component of the alliance’s warfighting posture. He described that capability as one that needs to be whole-of-government, that is, to include business, civil and military personnel, and added, “enhancing military mobility matters not only for the rapid deployment of forces and timely reinforcement of allies, but also to be able to sustain forces in operations, trainings and exercises.”
He was speaking about – as were the NATO secretary general and the German defense minister – the expedited movement of troops and equipment to a war front. Nothing else.
For information on upcoming NATO war games to test the deployment of armed forces and equipment from North American to Western Europe, and from Western Europe to Eastern Europe, as well as the participation of EU members in NATO military exercises, see:
For the integration of North American and non-EU European NATO members into EU military operations and for a history of NATO-EU cooperation, see: