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The future of combat: How Europe draws development data from the field

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The risks which apply to all industries, applies also to military industries, naturally. “Creating the need” is a common commercial policy for large firms, when addressing their clients. The sales tactic involves convincing the customer that it needs something, which it had no knowledge of, or didn’t need beforehand. The end game, naturally, is to sell the product. The risk is that industrial firms would virtually impose products to clients, which fit little or not their actual needs

The fine balance of military acquisition

Developing new ways to defend territories is no easy task and has even gotten harder in recent times. At the heart of the capacity for self-defense, lies innovation, and the constant and rapid adaptation of the military apparatus to the ongoing and actual threat. But, in order to innovate, one needs a precise idea of the conditions which soldiers and equipment will be facing. Europe has set up entire ecosystems for data to flow freely between those who use, and those who invent. The risk is multiplied if the client State does not have a department in charge of serving as interface between experts and project managers. The United States has adequately addressed this risk, with the creation of a triple structure which ensures relevance of budgets, plans and processes: the PPBE, JCIDS and the Defense Acquisition System. This three-tier organization addresses weapons purchases, planning and interoperability among all systems. France possesses an equally relevant safeguard, in the form of the DGA (General Delegation for Armament), composed of military engineers who verify that all military acquisitions do indeed serve the interests of the nation. Both these countries have also developed a capacity to address innovation (clusters such as the Defense innovation agency, with over a billion euros in research, or DARPA in the US). The British also has a defense procurement chief, but who is generally a political appointee, not an expert. The numerous delays and collapses which their armament programs have undergone, such as the Ajax and Astute programs, may or may not be linked to this configuration. Germany also has a procurement office, the BAAINBw, but which neither fulfills project management, nor employs military engineers or experts insufficient numbers. Defense activities are not popular in Germany, and the lack of prestige for such activities leads top engineers to choose the automobile or machine-tool sectors over armament. Despite recruitment incentives, the BAAINBw is understaffed at 15% of its capacity.

Forae and networks

In order to promote both national and European sovereignties, Europe is using an asset which it shares with the United States military: only France and the US combine intense military activity and sovereign armament production. The UK was in a similar configuration throughout the 20th century, but its interventions have been fewer recently, and its military industry is on the decline. Germany has a powerful industry, but few of its soldiers ever see operational conditions. Other countries in the world either lack the operational experience, or the engineers to share it with. By creating many organizations in which engineering firms can have direct access to, France and the United States create valuable synergies and ensure fresh data is regularly available to industrial firms. The IHEDN is, by far, the most prominent example of where ideas and feedback can be shared, as it creates a defense ecosystem between civilian and military environments. While connections are made through this facilitator, more precise data, regarding either operational purposes or technical parameters, will be shared, processed and exploited through other agencies, such as the DGA, AID or the doctrine and lessons-learned centers of the different services. By stimulating innovation and drawing on the most consistent experiences of member states, Europe can have access to armament and systems which are perfectly adapted to the environments where they will operate. What applies to Europe, as a whole, applies naturally to individual nations, which then benefit from the coordination and leadership of the EU. If all military potential is to be drawn towards a common defense ecosystem, the EU must gather all nations around the common goal – something which individual States are responding to. The French Senate report from 2019 reads: “The next step was to set up a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP – PEDID in French) that would be focused on R&D. This programme is on an entirely different level than the preparatory action, since it includes a budget of €500 million over two years (2019-2020). It is the subject of a regulatory text which establishes operating procedures, specifically the co-decision procedure, and which also defines eligibility rules. More precisely, these rules define the EDTIB. This is a first and a fundamental step forward, and it should be emphasised that while this objective did not seem easy, it was reached fairly quickly.” Whichever projects will be allocated funds by the EDIDP, and the future EDF (European Defence Fund) will draw directly on ground-based experience.

Public-private firms

The question of the position of private industrial firms is a tricky one, as general Eisenhower warned his fellow countrymen, upon leaving office. Should industries be purely private, as they are in Germany – which leads to independence from misplaced influence, but serves domestic interests poorly? Should they be state-owned, as many are in China, blurring the lines between public policies and private interests? This configuration also occurs in Europe, with firms such as Navantia, entirely owned by the Spanish State. Here again, France and the US seem to strike the right balance with armament companies being purely private (such as Nexter, Naval Group, Northrop Grumman or General Dynamics) but serving their national armed forces as main customers. Regarding France, the privatization, which turn national arsenals into private companies, was designed to enhance performance, and led other European private firms to become open to partnerships (such as KNDS, the joint venture between Nexter and German KMW). Naval Group is also a private firm, part of whose shares are owned by the State, as a natural stakeholder. Regarding the French situation, Naval Group seems to have achieved a successful balance, and is posting record sales, whereas its German and Spanish counterparts seem to have lost their know-how or relevance. German TKMS’s latest military ships were sent back by their own Navy, due to design flaws, and Spanish Navantia is still to recover from its latest embarrassing blunder. Public arsenals were not providing enough performance, and purely privately-owned firms would lead States, as main clients, to be totally disconnected from the firms which uphold their defense capacities.

The hybrid configuration, as implemented by France, connecting industries and armed forces by a sound network of relevant stakeholders, leads equipment to be built in an always-more relevant fashion and ensures national or international (in the case of Europe) interests are not hijacked by companies. This risk led Germany, who is generally known to protect private companies from being absorbed by State interests, to reconsider the privatization of HIL, its maintenance provider, so as to avoid private companies bloating defense budgets. The Center for Security Studies describes how innovating companies and armies are kept in connection, but with a proper distance: “More than half of the PESCO projects involve the development of innovative defence technologies and armaments. Most had been launched or planned before PESCO and were put under this framework to speed them up. Nevertheless, there are some significant undertakings among them, such as the programme to develop a large European drone (EURODRONE with Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic), expected to become the main platform of this type in the EU after 2025. There are also programmes regarding small, unmanned land and maritime vehicles. These can help increase European technological competences and boost operational cooperation based on the joint acquisition of the same systems, harmonised doctrines, etc.” As such, military firms have their thumb on the pulse of up-to-date military needs, but do not fall under State control. Under this configuration, France has considerably contributed to the promotion of European security.

Before design and construction can be initiated, a clear direction must be found to adequately address the challenges a sovereign force will address. In today’s quickly-evolving military landscape, both States and firms are avid for up-to-date, tried-and-true reliable data which will tell them which way to tilt innovation projects. The US learned how to do that in the latter half of the 20th century – Europe is starting to do it too, in its gradual but steady building of European defence, built on its domestic military partners.

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Defense

The Difficulties of Balancing Military Confrontations in Europe

Muratcan Isildak

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Tensions between the West and Russia since 2014 have created a tense military balance focused on Europe. There is an increasing armed activity that climbs up in the Baltic and Black Sea regions. These activities take forms such as deployment of troops, large-scale exercises, and close contact at common sea areas and borders. Although direct attack is not seen as a realistic scenario for both parties, current trends increase the risks of misunderstandings, dangerous accidents and uncontrolled escalation of tension. Although the existing communication channels have reduced the likelihood of undesirable results to date, the level of interaction between the parties is low.

Traditionally, the dispatch and management of tension-boosting threats is handled through trust-and security-building measures, as well as through weapons control tools. These are created to provide some degree of predictability to confrontations, to provide greater stability between intense political tensions. However, in the last two decades, a serious resolution of arms control mechanisms has been observed at the regional and global level.

This model even prevented the Ukraine conflict, which has its roots in the abolition of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Agreement of America and NATO’s reluctance to approve the Conventional Forces (CFE) Agreement in Europe and the Adaptation Agreement of this agreement. Due to the perceived blocking policy of the West, Russia gradually withdrew from the second document after 2007 and also changed its previous positive attitude towards military security.

The process of building a stack of weapons since 2014 has been accompanied by discussions about the renewal of the Vienna document, which systematized confidence building measures, difficulties in the implementation of the Open Skies Treaty and a general sense of hopelessness within the arms control community.

The Treaty of Russian-American Mid-Range Nuclear Forces (INF), which ended on August 2, 2019, was the last element of the old set of institutions that fell from value. The future of the New Strategic Weapons Reduction Treaty, which remains the last solid document on the limitation of nuclear forces, is still pending.

In the midst of these developments, several high-level politicians encouraged the re-stability in Europe through the revitalization of treaty-based restrictions in the military field. For example, in 2016, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for “Restarting arms control as a tried and tested tool for risk reduction, transparency and confidence in Europe”.

Subsequently, his successor Sigmar Gabriel called for “preventing the damage of proven agreements”. He then suggested: “We must do everything we can to protect and develop these contracts and, if necessary, show the courage to return to a new path, for example, the traditional weapon control system”.

Calls for greater predictability in the face of deep divisions in Europe are definitely commendable. Thanks to these calls, arms control has re-entered the international agenda (primarily through the OSCE Structural Dialogue). However, it is not enough to try to protect the mechanisms and even the principles negotiated in the past for the success of the military restrictions.

It is important to reflect on major changes that make the straightforward application of old records less promising and require the redesign of the very basic principles of gun control dogmas.

Russia did not receive enough security guarantees from the West in the 1990s and 2000s. As a result, the level of mobility of the Russian military force and even the degree of unpredictability in the deployment became a compensation for the gap between NATO and conventional forces.

At the same time, it was a logical way to triangulate the combination of a large region, a relatively small population and a reduction in military spending. The drastic structural reforms implemented after 2008 and the large-scale instant exercises carried out by Moscow since 2013 have led to the establishment of new principles that have turned Russia into a more effective military force.

The desire to achieve more mobility also paved the way for NATO to decide to revive two powers related to logistics and transatlantic communication. These developments raised mutual concerns about the unpredictability of the other party in potential crises in Russia and the West.

These criteria may not be fully applied to new doctrinal priorities. Today’s armies associate threats over time rather than geography, quality rather than quantity, and integrated networks, not specific weapon types. The size of the armies decreased, but the percentage of units with high readiness increased.

Therefore, applying advanced military systems carries the risk of miscalculations and misperceptions. It is not the real potential of technologically superior skills that have the greatest destabilizing effect, but the uncertainties about untested tools and applications.

For example, the strategic trilogy concept that featured during the Cold War (including intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine missiles and heavy bombers) opposed the traditional split between the Land, Navy and Air Force. Today, it is important to think equally creatively about reducing complexity while maintaining the validity of any potential limitation in the military field on the one hand.

This does not necessarily mean that they will avoid any commitment. However, the current political transformations undermine European actors in an effort to organize military positions, making possible arrangements more fragile.

However, there is a qualitative difference between the current situations. At that time, concerns about Asia led to changes in regime design, these are very important for the fate of Asia today. Given the ongoing trends in power transition, Europe’s prospect of isolation from external influences can be expected to decrease further. In terms of strategic stability, efforts to reinstate weapon constraints will be defined by the transition from a two-factor balance between Russia and the United States to a multilateral equation where China, as well as India and some other states, have a greater role.

This assessment shows that many of the premises developed for arms control in the second half of the 20th century were no longer valid. It is very important to adapt to the features that define modern agile forces to promote meaningful institutions that provide greater predictability and increased control. This requires the ability to regulate dynamic positions, qualitative criteria rather than quantitative criteria, and integration tools rather than only vehicles with striking capacity.

The need to reconsider the basic categories that define the various levels and aspects of military balance is not unimportant. In particular, strategic stability becomes an increasingly reduced concept, with the emergence of new skills that can affect it. Also, there are new ways to harass, force, and overthrow opponents outside of the war, which can disrupt stability. Since the ability to regulate depends on the ability to define regulatory objects, serious conceptual work should be done before possible negotiations on future weapon control.

Finally, global power transitions mean that successful arms control in Europe requires greater sensitivity to developments elsewhere. Regional actors must either find ways to minimize the wider reflections of local regulations in an increasingly interconnected world; either try to turn certain mechanisms into global norms; or design regimes to strengthen them, rather than putting pressure on other major areas of operation.

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Nuclearization Of South Asia: Where Do We Stand Now?

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Pakistan-India relations have continued to deteriorate since the nuclear test of May 1998. Both the states have faced numerous crisis during which the nuclear weapons have played a very important role. Nuclear weapons have been an effective deterrent force and kept the conflicts from blowing into all-out war. All the recent events suggests that there is a dire need to take transitional measures to reduce the nuclear risks. Nuclear weapons are confusing pieces of technology as their efficiency of destruction is best established when they are not deployed and yet in the same breath, they are to be used when required. This dilemma is further demented when one state is enemy with the other on almost everything. Escalation is both inevitable and perhaps one of the most devastating missteps in nuclear deterrence; one that requires an impressive level of trust. To achieve such a barrier, conventional rivalries need to be revisited, caution needs to be reinstituted and communication needs to be uninterrupted.

From Massive Retaliation of John Foster Dulles to McNamara’s Assured Destruction, nuclear bipolarity changed faces and paved ways for agreements and treaties to replace escalation and deployments. From direct engagements to proxies, from installation of hotlines to breaking ice and bilateralism, even when there was hope the world still endured in fear of an all-out devastation. Still, after all this, what lessons were learnt? How was ‘responsible nuclear weapons state’ defined? More importantly, what was the yardstick beyond which no state possessing such technology dare not tread? States possessing nuclear weapons technology decided not to escalate beyond a certain point and declared that no matter the trust deficit, they were supposed to always adhere to bilaterally settle their disputes. Even after two decades of nuclearization Pakistan and India, admirers of nuclear learning and experts of nuclear deterrence, perhaps were and might still are devoid of such bilateral convictions.

Looking at all the crisis situations in past most importantly the 1999 Kargil conflict, where the things escalated too quickly under nuclear overhang the question arises whether South Asia learnt anything on how close the Kargil was to a showdown of unimaginable proportion?  Talking about more recent event ‘Pulwama’, Whatever happened after Pulwama in 2019 cannot be merely set aside as an emotional rhetoric, it was an actual sub-conventional engagement which had the potential to escalate. Like Kargil Pulwama was a chance to reexamine exactly what went wrong for things to go this far. Instead, India initiated overhauling of its force posture and Pakistan played along. South Asia went from Cold Start to Tactical Nuclear Weapons, from asymmetric confrontations to trans-border infiltrations and from hostilities at Line of Control to Abhinandan’s failed leap for glory. Instantly, everyone started crying war with no one to vouch for peace. What we see now is Indian prompted continued escalatory trajectories, distorted sense of stability, a desperate call for third-party mediation and a complete lack of bilateralism.

Nuclear deterrence, in its generic understanding, requires engaging parties to manifest caution while communicating their strategic posture. Confidence Building Mechanisms in that regard are important but as standalone systems are usually inefficient in dealing with their desired results. Soviet Union’s iron curtain is what caused Cuban Missile Crisis but even a man like Khrushchev realized what could have happened and resorted to engaging with Kennedy. For Narendra Modi and his cabinet, the idealized fog of war cast by an iron curtain of fear/ compellence is much more desirable than a chance at cooperation/dialogue. Bilateralism via Track-II might be fruitful but considering how much we distrust one another, it’s highly likely that all such actions would eventually be put to unnecessary speculation of possessing vested interest. Pakistan and India might not resort to an all-out confrontation but their trust deficit is enough to keep low-yield kinetic engagements alive. Pakistan fears for a false flag terrorist activity from India while India is wary of Pakistan trying to internationalize what it considers to be a bilateral issue.

In the past we have seen that issues between India-Pakistan are never resolved instead the hostility has increased so much that mitigation of the conflict looks like a  farfetched idea. Both states need third party to get running the wheel of diplomatic engagement. Nuclear strategy is not a circular motion rather it is a spiraling affair with each turn graduating it to a new occasion whilst remaining hinged to a singular immovable point of connection. If nuclear deterrence keeps rotating without graduating, it tends to wear out its capacity to deter. What happens next is either another Kargil or something even worse. Pulwama, like Pathankot was a chance for both states to engage positively whilst maintaining their adversarial relationship and even now things are, in a way, plausible for this to occur. Threat, in this context, is how the current trajectory is moving from trust deficit to zero tolerance which can lead to incalculable repercussions.

If both India-Pakistan do not learn any lesson from the past then the future might not be very welcoming. . Nuclear deterrence is as important as it is frightening and Mutually Assured Destruction is almost certainly a final outcome if bilateralism is sacrificed at the altars of diplomatic inflexibility. An arms race without restraint is as dangerous as an uncontrolled escalation of sensitive flashpoints and both strategies are corrosive if taken without mutual consent.

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22 Years of Nuclearization of South Asia: Current Doctrinal Postures

Haris Bilal Malik

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May 2020 marks the 22nd anniversary of the overt nuclearization of South Asia. The evolved nuclear doctrinal postures of both India and Pakistan have been a key component of their defence and security policies. During this period; India has undergone gradual shifts in its nuclear doctrinal posture. The Indian posture as set out in the 1999 ‘Draft Nuclear Doctrine‘ (DND) was based on an assertion that India would pursue the ‘No First Use’ (NFU) policy. The first amendment to this posture, which came out in January 2003, was based on a review by the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) of the nuclear doctrine. It stated that if India’s armed forces or its people were attacked with chemical and biological weapons, India reserves the right to respond with nuclear weapons. This review could, therefore, be considered a contradiction to India’s declared NFU policy at the doctrinal level. On the basis of this notion, it could be assumed that India has had an aspiration to drift away from its NFU policy since 2003.

Subsequently, the notion of a preemptive ‘splendid first strike‘ has been a key part of the discourse surrounding the Indian and international strategic community since the years 2016-2017. According to this, if in India’s assessment, Pakistan was found to be deploying nuclear weapons, in a contingency, India would resort to such a splendid first strike. With such a doctrinal posture, India’s quest for preemption against Pakistan seems to be an attempt to neutralize the deterrent value of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. In this regard, India has been constantly advancing its nuclear weapons capabilities based on enhanced missile programs and the development of its land, sea, and air-based nuclear triad thus negating its own NFU policy. This vindicates Pakistan’s already expressed doubts over India’s long-debated NFU policy. Such Indian notion would likely serve as an overt drift towards a more offensive counterforce doctrinal posture aimed at undermining Pakistan’s deterrence posture. This would further affect the strategic stability and deterrence equilibrium in the South Asian region.

India’s rapid augmentation of its offensive doctrinal posture vis-à-vis Pakistan is based on enhancing its strategic nuclear capabilities. Under its massive military up-gradation program, India has developed the latest versions of ballistic and cruise missiles, indigenous ballistic missile defence (BMD) systems in addition to Russian made S-400, nuclear submarines, and enhanced capabilities for space weaponization. In the same vein, India’s aspiration for supersonic and hypersonic weapons is also evidence of its offensive doctrinal posture. Furthermore, India has been carrying out an extensive cruise missile development program having incredible supersonic speed along with its prospective enhanced air defence shield. Through considerable technological advancements India has shifted its approach from a counter-value to a counter-force doctrinal posture, as it demonstrates its ambitions of achieving escalation-dominance throughout the region. These technological advancements are clear indicators that India’s doctrinal posture is aimed at destabilizing the existing nuclear deterrence equilibrium in South Asia.

Pakistan, on the other hand has been threatened by India’s offensive postures and hegemonic aspirations. Consequently it has to maintain a certain balance of power to preserve its security. Pakistan’s doctrinal posture is defensive in nature and has over the years shifted from strategic deterrence to ‘full spectrum deterrence’ (FSD) by adding tactical nuclear weapons which, it claims, falls within the threshold of ‘minimum credible deterrence’. In this regard, Pakistan too has developed its missile technology based on; short, intermediate, and long-range ballistic missiles. Pakistan’s tactical range ‘Nasr’ missile is widely regarded as a ‘weapon of deterrence’ aimed at denying space for a limited war imposed by India. The induction of ‘multiple independent reentry vehicle’ (MIRV), the development of land, air and sea-launched cruise missiles and the provision of a naval-based second-strike capability have all played a significant role in the preservation of minimum credible deterrence and the assurance of full-spectrum deterrence at the strategic, operational and tactical levels.

Contrary to India’s declared NFU policy, Pakistan has never made such an assertion and has deliberately maintained a policy of ambiguity concerning a nuclear first strike against India. This has been carried out to assure its security and to preserve its sovereignty by deterring India with the employment of Full Spectrum Deterrence (FSD) within the ambit of Credible Minimum Deterrence. This posture asserts that since Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are for defensive purposes in principle, they are aimed at deterring India from any and all kinds of aggression. This has been evident from recent crisis situations as well during which Pakistan’s deterrent posture has prevented further escalation. Therefore, even now Pakistan is likely to keep its options open and still leave room for the possibility of carrying out a ‘first strike’ as a viable potential deterrent against India if any of its stated red lines are crossed.

Hence, the security dynamics of the South Asian region have changed significantly since its nuclearization in 1998. The impact of this has been substantial and irreversible on regional and extra-regional politics, the security architecture of South Asia, and the international nuclear order. As has been long evident India has held long term inspiration to become a great power. There have been continuous insinuations about the transformations in India’s nuclear doctrinal posture from ‘No First Use’ to counterforce offensive posture. The current security architecture of South Asia revolves around this Indian behavior as a nuclear state. In contrast, Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine is based solely on assuring its security, preserving its sovereignty, and deterring India by maintaining a credible deterrence posture.  Based on the undeniable threats from India to its existence, Pakistan needs to further expand its doctrinal posture vis-à-vis India. This would preserve the pre-existing nuclear deterrence equilibrium and the ‘balance of power’in the South Asian region.

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