Thursday, December 15, 2011

Grim picture for European defense spending

Total European defense expenditures will total about $280 billion by 2015 as a result of the continent's economic troubles, a report says.

The prediction by market intelligence and analysis firm Forecast International said with governments trying to rein in debt, defense budgets are prime targets for cost cutting.

"As dueling obligations force EU-NATO members to make financial choices between meeting EU Stability and Growth Pact deficit rules or minimum defense investment standards, invariably governments opt for the former requirement, with Denmark and Poland the only two dual members to refrain from shrinking their defense budgets over the past two years," it said.

"Little in the near-term environment lends hope that a rethink toward defense prioritization is in the offing. Austerity programs are draining government ministries of funding and any reversals of this trend will first be felt in areas outside defense.

"The end result of the ongoing decline and flattening of already-limited defense allocations will be armies that struggle to project power, conduct training exercises, maintain combat readiness and entice new recruits. Modernization programs will be postponed or forsaken entirely," it said.

The forecast said NATO's campaign to support rebel forces in Libya this year highlighted the alliance's shortcomings in defense capabilities. This was particularly so in the area of operational support, which saw heavy reliance on the United States.

As a result, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called for more cooperation between alliance members in weapons and systems procurement. But member states appear to be focusing instead on trying to maintain what platforms they have.

German naval commandos are called Kampfschwimmer or "combat swimmers". These German navy counterparts to the US Navy SEALs are Germany's oldest Special Operations Forces. The Kampfschwimmer roots go back to World War II.

Today's Kampfschwimmer formations are heavily involved in international operations against terrorism, including missions in the mountains of Afghanistan.

This e-book is written by a German Navy lieutenant who serves as a Kampfschwimmer team leader -- the equivalent of a US Navy SEAL platoon leader.

"German Navy SEALs" is a profile of the Kampfschwimmer units. The e-book covers the history of the Kampfschwimmer beginning with the World War II era; describes their organization, command structure, capabilities and training; discusses their cooperation with US Navy SEALS and other Special Operations Forces; and their role in German and NATO operational planning.