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5 octobre 2015 1 05 /10 /octobre /2015 16:50
A Polish Rosomak armored vehicle patrols a street in Ghazni, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2010 - photo US Army

A Polish Rosomak armored vehicle patrols a street in Ghazni, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2010 - photo US Army

 

October 4, 2015 By Jaroslaw Adamowski - Defense News

 

WARSAW — Poland’s Defense Ministry launched its much-awaited Regional Security Assistance Program to help Eastern European armament efforts by providing government, bank and export loans to purchase equipment, and through non-commercial transfers of weapons. The move comes as many regional countries are increasing their defense spending and announcing new programs following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. Poland’s Defense Ministry said that by 2022, the program is expected to boost defense and industrial cooperation with the Visegrad Group countries — Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic — as well as Romania, Bulgaria and the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The amount of the funds that are to be made available to these countries has not been disclosed yet. One of the first procurements to benefit could be Slovakia’s plan to acquire 30 eight-wheel-drive Rosomak armored modular vehicles from Polish state-run manufacturer Rosomak. The vehicle is produced in Poland under a license obtained from Finland’s Patria. Meanwhile, local analysts said the move is part of a comprehensive strategy by Poland to enhance regional defense and security cooperation.

 

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16 septembre 2015 3 16 /09 /septembre /2015 11:50
Are Visegrad States Awakening? Slovakia Increases Defence Expenditure By 50%

 

Sept 16, 2015 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Defence24.com Poland; posted Sept 15, 2015)

 

Slovakian authorities have stated they are willing to increase defense spending up to 1.6% of GDP until 2020, which in fact means an increase of 50% compared to 2014. Bratislava’s initiative falls within the trend towards increased defense spending of the states located within the region, and known as the Visegrad 4.

 

Slovakian Minister of Defence Martin Glváč, during a recent visit by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, said that Bratislava is willing to increase the defence spending up to the level of 1.6% of GDP until 2020. According to the Slovakian MoD, this year’s budget, thanks to additional funds, attained 1.1% of GDP.

 

If the increase is implemented, the overall increase would exceed 50% compared to last year, when defense spending in Slovakia was set at 1.0% of GDP. The increase is further amplified by the effect of the economic growth (which is estimated by the European Commission to reach 3.0% and 3.4% respectively for this year and 2016).

 

Realizing the nature of the threat posed by earlier cuts, Slovakian authorities have decided to raise the level of the combat capabilities of their Armed Forces. Ongoing or planned modernization initiatives include procurement of Black Hawk multi-role helicopters and of Polish-Slovak Scipio APCs. It is also expected that new multi-role fighters and three-dimensional ground-based radars are going to be acquired, among other plans.

 

It also is expected that Slovakia will boost the number of its military personnel. This is seen as a priority since the Ukrainian crisis and the inflow of immigrants both have exposed the need for expanded military capabilities.

 

Initial decisions to increase defence spending by the Czech Republic and Hungary have already been made. It also is expected that troop numbers will also be boosted, probably through increased manning levels of existing units, which is somewhat ironic given the manning cuts implemented in recent years.

 

Of course, improvements in equipment and manning levels will not be implemented overnight.

 

Each of the V4 group states has two general military brigades at their disposal. However, the number of their supersonic combat jets is lower than that of Poland’s F-16 fighters. Despite the significant quantitative cuts, older types of armament are still being used, such as the T-72M1 tanks in case of Slovakia and Hungary, or Kub (NATO Codename: Gainful) SAM systems.

 

Nonetheless, both the gradual expansion of the combat capabilities, as well as participation in the NATO operations (Czech contribution to the VJTF element in 2015) are seen as steps in the right direction.

 

Poland at the moment has the largest defence budget of the V4 Group of nations, both in absolute quantities and if terms of share of GDP. However, as a nation facing a potential threat of conventional aggression, Poland should further increase defence spending.

 

In order to continue and accelerate the modernization process and, simultaneously, in to rebuild the reserves and territorial defence systems, military spending should be boosted well beyond 2% of GDP. This would not threaten financial stability since a similar situation is experienced this year: including the F-16 payment instalments, fully 2.27% of GDP will go to defense.

 

At the same time, increasing the defence expenditure above the level defined by NATO would constitute a strong and necessary signal to remaining allies. It is also worth noting that expansion of the scope of V4 Group modernization constitutes a good opportunity Polish defense industry, as demonstrated by the joint development of the Scipio APC for the Slovakian Army.

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15 mars 2014 6 15 /03 /mars /2014 09:50
Un conflit militaire n’est plus impensable en Europe déclare la Pologne

En 2013, le Canada avait participé pour une première fois à un exercice de la série BAGRAM, en Pologne, qui réunit quelque 550 participants de trois pays, la Pologne, les États-Unis et le Canada (Armée polonaise)

 

15 mars 2014 par Jacques N. Godbout – 45eNord.ca

 

« La situation actuelle en Europe illustre qu’un conflit militaire, impensable il y a peu, pourrait avoir lieu », a déclaré le ministre de la Défense polonais Tomasz Siemoniak, alors que la Pologne, la Hongrie, la République tchèque et la Slovaquie ont signé un pacte militaire commun.

 

Et, alors que l’impensable, hélas, est devenu pensable, les quatre pays d’Europe centrale ont signé vendredi 14 mars un pacte visant à coordonner leur stratégie de défense et créer une unité de combat commune au sein de l’OTAN et de l’Union européenne.

 

La crise en Ukraine a démontré l’importance « d’une coopération plus dynamique » entre les quatre pays de Visegrad (Pologne, Hongrie, République tchèque et Slovaquie, ou V4) au sein de l’OTAN et de l’Union européenne, a ajouté le ministre polonais..

 

L’unité de combat « V4-UE », d’un effectif total de 3000 hommes, sera opérationnelle à partir de 2016. « Elle devrait fonctionner comme une unité régionale au sein des opérations de l’UE ou de l’OTAN », a précisé pour sa part le ministre hongrois de la Défense Csaba Hende.

 

Par cet accord, les quatre pays s’engagent aussi à se joindre à des exercices militaires communs et à coordonner leur budget défense.

 

Le V4 avait été créé en 1991 dans la ville hongroise de Visegrad afin d’assurer une coopération institutionnelle de ces pays dans leur procédure d’adhésion à l’Union européenne (UE), effective depuis 2004.

 

La Pologne, la Slovaquie et la Hongrie possèdent des frontières avec l’Ukraine, où habitent des minorités ethniques de ces pays, essentiellement dans la partie occidentale.

 

En outre, jeudi, le chef de la diplomatie hongroise Janos Martonyi avait déclaré que les pays de Visegrad étaient particulièrement vulnérables face à la situation ukrainienne et attendaient de l’UE une « solidarité » s’ils étaient affectés par de possibles sanctions économiques contre la Russie en raison de la crise en Crimée.

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14 juin 2013 5 14 /06 /juin /2013 11:50
Workshop: Doing Business with European Security and Defence Bodies
Vienna | Jun 14, 2013 European Defence Agency
 

On 12 June 2012, the European Defence Agency together with the Austrian Ministry of Defence and Sports and the Austrian Defence and Security Industry Association was hosting a workshop on Doing Business with European Security and Defence Bodies in Vienna.

 
The workshop targeting governmental and industrial representatives from Austria and the Visegrad countries brought together European customers and suppliers in the field of security and defence and provided specific guidance to industries on how to successfully engage with defence and security related entities in Europe. Speakers included the Austrian Armaments Director, LtGen Freyo Apfalter, the EDA’s Armaments Director, Giampaolo Lillo and NSPA’s Director of Procurement, Patrick Fesquet, as well as high-level representatives of the European Commission, Frontex, Athena and OCCAr.
 
The workshop tackled different fields of the European Security and Defence Market, including Security Research, Defence R&T, European Development Programmes and Off-the-Shelf Purchases of both goods and services, which are increasingly conducted through common or centralised procurement by or through EU bodies.
 

Co-organiser Karl-Heinz Dernoschegg from the Austrian Defence and Security Industry Association stated at the end of the event that this was a perfect way to bridge the gap between supply and demand in the area of defence and security. He continued by saying that his association would be happy to host events of this kind on a more regular basis and considers this a very good model for other countries and associations to follow.

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20 mai 2011 5 20 /05 /mai /2011 22:00
Visegrad – a new European military force

20 May 2011 by Stratfor's George Friedman

 

With the Palestinians demonstrating and the International Monetary Fund in turmoil, it would seem odd to focus this week on something called the Visegrad Group. But this is not a frivolous choice.

 

What the Visegrad Group decided to do last week will, I think, resonate for years, long after the alleged attempted rape by Dominique Strauss-Kahn is forgotten and long before the Israeli-Palestinian issue is resolved. The obscurity of the decision to most people outside the region should not be allowed to obscure its importance.

 

The region is Europe -- more precisely, the states that had been dominated by the Soviet Union. The Visegrad Group, or V4, consists of four countries -- Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary -- and is named after two 14th century meetings held in Visegrad Castle in present-day Hungary of leaders of the medieval kingdoms of Poland, Hungary and Bohemia. The group was reconstituted in 1991 in post-Cold War Europe as the Visegrad Three (at that time, Slovakia and the Czech Republic were one). The goal was to create a regional framework after the fall of Communism. This week the group took an interesting new turn.

 

On May 12, the Visegrad Group announced the formation of a "battle group" under the command of Poland. The battle group would be in place by 2016 as an independent force and would not be part of NATO command. In addition, starting in 2013, the four countries would begin military exercises together under the auspices of the NATO Response Force.

 

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the primary focus of all of the Visegrad nations had been membership in the European Union and NATO. Their evaluation of their strategic position was threefold. First, they felt that the Russian threat had declined if not dissipated following the fall of the Soviet Union. Second, they felt that their economic future was with the European Union. Third, they believed that membership in NATO, with strong U.S. involvement, would protect their strategic interests. Of late, their analysis has clearly been shifting.

 

First, Russia has changed dramatically since the Yeltsin years. It has increased its power in the former Soviet sphere of influence substantially, and in 2008 it carried out an effective campaign against Georgia. Since then it has also extended its influence in other former Soviet states. The Visegrad members' underlying fear of Russia, built on powerful historical recollection, has become more intense. They are both the front line to the former Soviet Union and the countries that have the least confidence that the Cold War is simply an old memory.

 

Second, the infatuation with Europe, while not gone, has frayed. The ongoing economic crisis, now focused again on Greece, has raised two questions: whether Europe as an entity is viable and whether the reforms proposed to stabilize Europe represent a solution for them or primarily for the Germans. It is not, by any means, that they have given up the desire to be Europeans, nor that they have completely lost faith in the European Union as an institution and an idea. Nevertheless, it would be unreasonable to expect that these countries would not be uneasy about the direction that Europe was taking. If one wants evidence, look no further than the unease with which Warsaw and Prague are deflecting questions about the eventual date of their entry into the Eurozone. Both are the strongest economies in Central Europe, and neither is enthusiastic about the euro.

 

Finally, there are severe questions as to whether NATO provides a genuine umbrella of security to the region and its members. The NATO strategic concept, which was drawn up in November 2010, generated substantial concern on two scores. First, there was the question of the degree of American commitment to the region, considering that the document sought to expand the alliance's role in non-European theaters of operation. For example, the Americans pledged a total of one brigade to the defense of Poland in the event of a conflict, far below what Poland thought necessary to protect the North European Plain. Second, the general weakness of European militaries meant that, willingness aside, the ability of the Europeans to participate in defending the region was questionable. Certainly, events in Libya, where NATO had neither a singular political will nor the military participation of most of its members, had to raise doubts. It was not so much the wisdom of going to war but the inability to create a coherent strategy and deploy adequate resources that raised questions of whether NATO would be any more effective in protecting the Visegrad nations.

 

There is another consideration. Germany's commitment to both NATO and the EU has been fraying. The Germans and the French split on the Libya question, with Germany finally conceding politically but unwilling to send forces. Libya might well be remembered less for the fate of Moammar Gadhafi than for the fact that this was the first significant strategic break between Germany and France in decades. German national strategy has been to remain closely aligned with France in order to create European solidarity and to avoid Franco-German tensions that had roiled Europe since 1871. This had been a centerpiece of German foreign policy, and it was suspended, at least temporarily.

 

The Germans obviously are struggling to shore up the European Union and questioning precisely how far they are prepared to go in doing so. There are strong political forces in Germany questioning the value of the EU to Germany, and with every new wave of financial crises requiring German money, that sentiment becomes stronger. In the meantime, German relations with Russia have become more important to Germany. Apart from German dependence on Russian energy, Germany has investment opportunities in Russia. The relationship with Russia is becoming more attractive to Germany at the same time that the relationship to NATO and the EU has become more problematic.

 

For all of the Visegrad countries, any sense of a growing German alienation from Europe and of a growing German-Russian economic relationship generates warning bells. Before the  Belarusian elections there was hope in Poland that pro-Western elements would defeat the least unreformed regime in the former Soviet Union. This didn't happen. Moreover, pro-Western elements have done nothing to solidify in Moldova or break the now pro-Russian government in Ukraine. Uncertainty about European institutions and NATO, coupled with uncertainty about Germany's attention, has caused a strategic reconsideration -- not to abandon NATO or the EU, of course, nor to confront the Russians, but to prepare for all eventualities.

 

It is in this context that the decision to form a Visegradian battle group must be viewed. Such an independent force, a concept generated by the European Union as a European defense plan, has not generated much enthusiasm or been widely implemented. The only truly robust example of an effective battle group is the Nordic Battle Group, but then that is not surprising. The Nordic countries share the same concerns as the Visegrad countries -- the future course of Russian power, the cohesiveness of Europe and the commitment of the United States.

 

In the past, the Visegrad countries would have been loath to undertake anything that felt like a unilateral defense policy. Therefore, the decision to do this is significant in and of itself. It represents a sense of how these countries evaluate the status of NATO, the U.S. attention span, European coherence and Russian power. It is not the battle group itself that is significant but the strategic decision of these powers to form a sub-alliance, if you will, and begin taking responsibility for their own national security. It is not what they expected or wanted to do, but it is significant that they felt compelled to begin moving in this direction.

 

Just as significant is the willingness of Poland to lead this military formation and to take the lead in the grouping as a whole. Poland is the largest of these countries by far and in the least advantageous geographical position. The Poles are trapped between the Germans and the Russians. Historically, when Germany gets close to Russia, Poland tends to suffer. It is not at that extreme point yet, but the Poles do understand the possibilities. In July, the Poles will be assuming the EU presidency in one of the union's six-month rotations. The Poles have made clear that one of their main priorities will be Europe's military power. Obviously, little can happen in Europe in six months, but this clearly indicates where Poland's focus is.

 

The militarization of the V4 runs counter to its original intent but is in keeping with the geopolitical trends in the region. Some will say this is over-reading on my part or an overreaction on the part of the V4, but it is neither. For the V4, the battle group is a modest response to emerging patterns in the region, which STRATFOR had outlined in its 2011 Annual Forecast. As for my reading, I regard the new patterns not as a minor diversion from the main pattern but as a definitive break in the patterns of the post-Cold War world. In my view, the post-Cold War world ended in 2008, with the financial crisis and the Russo-Georgian war. We are in a new era, as yet unnamed, and we are seeing the first breaks in the post-Cold War pattern.

 

I have argued in previous articles and books that there is a divergent interest between the European countries on the periphery of Russia and those farther west, particularly Germany. For the countries on the periphery, there is a perpetual sense of insecurity, generated not only by Russian power compared to their own but also by uncertainty as to whether the rest of Europe would be prepared to defend them in the event of Russian actions. The V4 and the other countries south of them are not as sanguine about Russian intentions as others farther away are. Perhaps they should be, but geopolitical realities drive consciousness and insecurity and distrust defines this region.

 

I had also argued that an alliance only of the four northernmost countries is insufficient. I used the concept "Intermarium," which had first been raised after World War I by a Polish leader, Joseph Pilsudski, who understood that Germany and the Soviet Union would not be permanently weak and that Poland and the countries liberated from the Hapsburg Empire would have to be able to defend themselves and not have to rely on France or Britain.

 

Pilsudski proposed an alliance stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and encompassing the countries to the west of the Carpathians -- Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. In some formulations, this would include Yugoslavia, Finland and the Baltics. The point was that Poland had to have allies, that no one could predict German and Soviet strength and intentions, and that the French and English were too far away to help. The only help Poland could have would be an alliance of geography -- countries with no choice.

 

It follows from this that the logical evolution here is the extension of the Visegrad coalition. At the May 12 defense ministers' meeting, there was discussion of inviting Ukraine to join in. Twenty or even 10 years ago, that would have been a viable option. Ukraine had room to maneuver. But the very thing that makes the V4 battle group necessary -- Russian power -- limits what Ukraine can do. The Russians are prepared to give Ukraine substantial freedom to maneuver, but that does not include a military alliance with the Visegrad countries.

 

An alliance with Ukraine would provide significant strategic depth. It is unlikely to happen. That means that the alliance must stretch south, to include Romania and Bulgaria. The low-level tension between Hungary and Romania over the status of Hungarians in Romania makes that difficult, but if the Hungarians can live with the Slovaks, they can live with the Romanians. Ultimately, the interesting question is whether Turkey can be persuaded to participate in this, but that is a question far removed from Turkish thinking now. History will have to evolve quite a bit for this to take place. For now, the question is Romania and Bulgaria.

 

But the decision of the V4 to even propose a battle group commanded by Poles is one of those small events that I think will be regarded as a significant turning point. However we might try to trivialize it and place it in a familiar context, it doesn't fit. It represents a new level of concern over an evolving reality -- the power of Russia, the weakness of Europe and the fragmentation of NATO. This is the last thing the Visegrad countries wanted to do, but they have now done the last thing they wanted to do. That is what is significant.

 

Events in the Middle East and Europe's economy are significant and of immediate importance. However, sometimes it is necessary to recognize things that are not significant yet but will be in 10 years. I believe this is one of those events. It is a punctuation mark in European history.

 

This report republished with the permission of Stratfor, www.stratfor.com

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