By Horst Teubert

From German Foreign Policy

Dec. 11, 2017

Berlin/Brussels  – The German government has announced that the EU Military Union will be officially launched this Monday, with the European Council formally adopting 17 projects aimed at creating joint EU military structures. Germany is in charge of the establishment of a European Medical Command, considered an indispensable element of future EU military operations, alongside the European Air Transport Command, which has existed since 2010. Berlin is also establishing logistical structures that would facilitate rapid interventions.

The German Bundeswehr is also active in both fields within the NATO framework. The operational preparation for future military missions is influenced by a fierce power struggle between Germany and France. According to the German ministry of defense, the military union is not only aimed at reaching more “independence” from the United States, but also at advancing EU “integration,” which is difficult to achieve with civilian means.
Mandatory Rearmament

The German government has announced for this Monday the final adoption of the EU’s military program, “PESCO” (Permanent Structured Cooperation). The program, whose notification was already signed on November 13, ( reported [1]) provides for the systematic elaboration of military cooperation within the EU. Of the 17 initial projects that will be adopted today, four will be led by Germany. The 25 participating states have agreed to “regularly increase defense budgets in real terms;” to “increase in defense investment expenditure to 20%” and “expenditure allocated to defense research and technology” to 2% of total defense spending.

All participants must provide “substantial support” to EU military operations – with personnel, materiel, training, exercise support, infrastructure or otherwise.”[2] “Fast-tracked political commitment” must be assured, according to the PESCO documents, otherwise the participating states should “review their national decision-making procedures.” This could possibly affect Germany’s parliamentary reservation. The German ministry of defense is praising PESCO as the “launch of the military union.”[3]
Key Projects

The four PESCO projects under German direction include key elements of the EU’s militarization. According to experts, the European Medical Command, whose elaboration is coordinated by the Bundeswehr, is of relatively high importance, because, similar to the European Air Transport Command, EATC,[4] it could play a key role in future EU wars.[5] The Medical Command, for which a European headquarters must be established, can also harmonize medical standards, coordinate the necessary medical capacities required for medical service and optimize the rescue chain. The Bundeswehr is thus reinforcing an area of activity, it is already focusing on within NATO: In the western war alliance’s Framework Nation Concept (FNC), its medical service is setting up a multinational rescue center,[6] and is also participating in the NATO-Military Medicine Centre of Excellence (MILMED COE).[7]
Military Mobility

The network of logistic hubs, to be set up under German authority, is given great significance. The objective is to be able to deploy EU contingents in their zones of mission and insure the optimization of the logistics, as rapidly as possible. Besides setting up the logistic hubs, the Bundeswehr will be in charge of warehousing the material, the transport routes and the availability of the necessary means of transport. The optimization of the “pre-stationing” of military material is also planned. This entails the warehousing of combat material as close to the theater of mission as possible.[8] Supplementary to setting up the logistics hub, the Netherlands is directing a PESCO project to accommodate the standardization of “military mobility.”

This involves the standardization of the various national regulations concerning troop movements and combat equipment transports, to reduce the bureaucratic hurdles impeding the EU’s military movements as much as possible. Presumably, Germany will also develop parallel activities within NATO in the field of logistics. This is why Berlin – with Washington’s support – is seeking to have NATO’s logistics command located in Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany has a key position in the rotation of NATO troops toward Russia, declared USAREUR Supreme Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges last November. Therefore it is best suited as the location for the logistics command post.[9]
Berlin vs. Paris

German-French power struggles mark the Crisis Response Operation Core (CROC) – the third project Berlin directs – designed to provide a joint analysis of current or alleged threats and identify the troops and capabilities needed for concrete EU counter measures. Paris is reported to place particularly high significance on the Crisis Response Operation Core, because this is considered the suitable instrument for shaping future EU military operations. The German government has now prevailed in the rivalry over CROC’s leadership. Previously, back in November, Paris had prevented the German General Erhard Bühler from becoming chair of the EU’s Military Committee. Bühler, in his capacity as head of the planning department of Germany’s Defense Ministry, had been promoting the merger of Europe’s military forces, since October 1, 2014.[10]

Because France had rejected his appointment, Italy’s Chief of Staff, Claudio Graziano was elected Head of the Military Committee, last November 7. The Franco-German disputes over the EU’s future interventions will likely continue within the CROC project.[11] Berlin has taken on a fourth PESCO project – the establishment of the Competence and Trainings Center for the EU’s training missions. The data of the military personnel being trained in this center, will be documented in a uniform EU data bank.[12]
Empire Unification through War

Last week, Germany’s Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen again reiterated that the launching of the EU’s military union is to achieve strategic “independence” [13] – in relationship to the United States. The defense ministry also declared that this step has an “overriding added value … at the political level:” “The EU’s integration process is receiving a new boost with the EU’s defense union.”[14] In Berlin the idea is repeatedly expressed that the EU – plagued by centrifugal tendencies and the first exit of a member state – could find a unity in wars waged together that cannot be achieved with civilian means.

Germany’s Foreign Minister, at the time, Guido Westerwelle (FDP) declared in February 2010 that the “European project of a common security and defense policy” will “be a motor for Europe’s further consolidation.”[15] Shortly thereafter, a leading German daily opinioned, “a standing army for the union of all of the states – that would almost be like Europe’s new backbone.”[16] The idea of forcing the unification of the empire through war, reflects far back in German history, when in 1871, Prussia forged the German Empire – through its war with France.

[1] See also Grassroots Issue.
[2] Notification on Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) to the Council and to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Brussels, 13.11.2017. Excerpts can be found here.
[3] Einstieg in die Verteidigungsunion. 08.12.2017.
[4] See also Unter deutschem Kommando.
[5] La Coopération structurée permanente prend son élan. Les projets sélectionnés. 05.12.2017.
[6] See also Unter deutschem Kommando.
[7] See also NATO’s Think Tanks.
[8] Einstieg in die Verteidigungsunion. 08.12.2017.
[9] US-General schlägt Deutschland als Sitz von neuem Logistikkommando vor. 28.11.2017.
[10] Konstantin von Hammerstein: Paris verhindert deutschen General auf Top-Posten. 01.12.2017.
[11] Jacopo Barigazzi: EU to unveil military pact projects. 10.12.2017.
[12], [13], [14] Einstieg in die Verteidigungsunion. 08.12.2017.
[15] See also Der Krieg, Europas Rückgrat.
[16] Zeit für eine europäische Armee. 13.07.2010.