Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Outside View: Pivot to Europe?
by Harlan Ullman
Brussels (UPI) Feb 13, 2013

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Last year, the Obama administration released its latest strategic guidance for the Pentagon. The lead headline read "U.S. pivots to Asia."

As a result, virtually every state from the Atlantic approaches to Europe to the distant reaches of the Pacific was angered, frightened, puzzled or stunned by the way the new strategy was rolled out. The Pentagon made the best of a bad situation calling the strategic pivot "rebalancing."

The arguments for shifting focus to Asia are clear if flawed. The growth of Chinese and Indian economies are important reasons for altering U.S. interests, no doubt magnified by the trillions of dollars of U.S. debt and equities held by China.

And China's increasing defense spending to modernize its military, given the many territorial disputes and historic rivalries in the region, is viewed with caution if not alarm.

No existential or even realistic military danger threatens Europe despite Eastern European states' neuralgia about Russia. The euro crisis, stagnant or declining economic growth and understandable concentration on domestic issues are further arguments for the United States moving away from Europe to Asia as a significant driver of its interests.

Of course, Washington understands it cannot ignore the greater Middle East given the growing chaos and potential for greater violence including using force to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons -- although those considerations were sadly understated in announcing the pivot to Asia.

At NATO headquarters in Brussels, a seemingly more optimistic assessment of the situation masks real concerns. Senior officials are positive about progress in Afghanistan in transferring responsibility to Afghan Security Forces despite reports and arguments to the contrary.

Given reduced defense spending by almost all NATO members and understanding that the United States, too, will face more severe cutbacks, U.S. officials are echoing former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' challenge to allies to increase resource commitments and are calling for "tough love" in getting allies to do more.

Yet, as NATO withdraws from Afghanistan and defense budgets contract, large cuts in NATO's training and exercise accounts are inevitable meaning less military readiness and capability.

Ironically, as the U.S. appetite for expeditionary operations declines, Iran excepted, Europe's may be increasing. The Libyan humanitarian crisis in which Britain and France elected to use force before the United States and Mali where the French unilaterally intervened are evidence of this reversal of missions.

However, European militaries lack the "enablers" for expeditionary operations to include aerial tankers, logistics including air and sea lift, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and large stocks of smart munitions.

Hence, if and when NATO states see the need for further intervention, for larger operations in scope and duration, none can be done at acceptable levels of risk without American enablers.

Given the reluctance of any U.S. administration to abandon a strongly declared strategy, what might the Obama administration do to bolster allies in Europe and reinforce NATO cohesion at a time when members are looking inward and can no longer rely on the strength of existential military threats to contain otherwise centrifugal and divisive political forces?

First, withdrawal from Afghanistan and the 2014 NATO summit of heads of government offer an opportunity for adjusting or updating NATO's strategic concept adopted at the 2010 Lisbon summit. These adjustments could include trimming back NATO's ambitions to conduct in six simultaneous operations, which are simply no longer realistic and by placing greater emphasis on the United States for the enabler burden with the quid pro quo of relying less on its deployed fighting forces.

Second, further defense cuts and declines in capability are inevitable barring an extraordinary event or events. That being the case, "tough love" to cajole or coerce the allies to spend more is bound to fail.

Third, sustaining alliance cohesion and command and control capacity for nations to operate together emerge as the highest priorities.

Fourth, "smart defense" and "connected forces initiatives" to achieve maximum effectiveness and efficiencies in the use of resources must give way to a "brains based" strategic approach in which we think (as we cannot spend our way) clear of danger.

Despite the requirement for consensus, meaning unanimous agreement by all 28 members and other bureaucratic and political constraints such as diverging national and alliance interests, NATO has a surprisingly wide array of resources to exploit.

Among these are 18 Centers of Excellence established and paid for by individual states to generate cutting edge solutions operational challenges from countering improvised explosive devices to enhancing air defenses. Presided over by Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Va., these centers could be coordinated and chartered to take the lead in providing brains' based approaches to finding new answers to current problems.

None of these initiatives necessarily costs more money. What is required is the will to act. And will is the only way to pivot back to our longest standing allies in Europe.

(Harlan Ullman is chairman of the Killowen Group, which advises leaders of government and business, and senior adviser at Washington's Atlantic Council.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)


Related Links
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Hagel defense nomination passes Senate panel
Washington (AFP) Feb 12, 2013
A divided US Senate panel approved Chuck Hagel as the next US secretary of defense on Tuesday, a key step in a process that could see the controversial nominee confirmed as early as this week. The Senate Armed Services Committee split along party lines by 14 votes to 11, to narrowly approve the former Republican senator whose positions on Iran, Israel and the Iraq war sparked concerns by fel ... read more

Building a lunar base with 3D printing

US, Europe team up for moon fly-by

Russia to Launch Lunar Mission in 2015

US, Europe team up for moon fly-by

In milestone, Mars rover collects first bedrock sample

How The World's Saltiest Pond Gets Its Salt; Implications For Water On Mars

Lockheed Martin Completes Assembly, Begins Environmental Testing of NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft

NASA Curiosity Rover Collects First Martian Bedrock Sample

Supersonic skydiver even faster than thought

Ahmadinejad says ready to be Iran's first spaceman

Iran's Bio-Capsule Comes Back from Space

A Hero For Humankind: Yuri Gagarin's Spaceflight

Reshuffle for Tiangong

China to launch 20 spacecrafts in 2013

Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

Progress docks with ISS

NASA to Send Inflatable Pod to International Space Station

ISS to get inflatable module

ESA workhorse to power NASA's Orion spacecraft

Ariane 5 delivers record payload off back-to-back launches this week

Eutelsat and Arianespace sign new multi-year multiple launch services agreement

Ariane 5 Arrives At Kourou For 4th Automated Transfer Vehicle Mission

Rocketdyne Powers Atlas 5 Upper Stage, Placing New Landsat In Orbit

Earth-like planets are right next door

Direct Infrared Image Of An Arm In Disk Demonstrates Transition To Planet Formation

Kepler Data Suggest Earth-size Planets May Be Next Door

Earth-like planets may be closer than thought: study

Indra Develops The First High-Resolution Passive Radar System

ORNL scientists solve mercury mystery

3D Printing on the Micrometer Scale

Nextdoor renovates before taking on the world

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement