Our European Friends

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
Prompted by other conversations hereabouts and taking the opportunity, immediately before official confirmation of the final hollowing-out of our peer conflict capability, I have been musing on Europe and the relative capabilities and political will to use them of some of our close friends, partners and allies (note, not all nations are in all three categories).

Interested to hear peoples’ views - and informed opinion about Italy, Spain, Portugal etc

France
Dead shooty, keen on their own military industrial strategy, utterly focused on their own interests and generally great if you want West Africans topped, with the enthusiastic and loyal support of Chadian and other auxiliaries. Don’t necessarily play well with others, but have a grudging – but real – bilateral defence relationship with the UK. Pretend to like the Bundeswehr, not great with Americans.

Germany
Profoundly risk-averse and spineless – at governmental level. Decent folk in the Bundeswehr, some top kit, criminally under-invested and -supported. Some problematic elements of German military history still constrain what they can get up to. Perennially heavily impacted by sudden discoveries, to general amazement, that elite Bw elements tend, largely, to have conservative political views. In the Russian pocket, courtesy of dependency on Russian natural gas.

Poland
Shooty as, but keenly aware of what’s immediately to their East. Have no historical reason whatsoever to expect good things to happen from that direction – and not much faith in similar from the West. Are under no illusions that they’re the first line in the event of any silliness from the Russians.

Denmark
Shooty, reliable, but tiny. When deployed, will interpret national policy directives constructively and aggressively, often managing to turn risk-averse direction from Copenhagen into stirring calls to armed action through complex and confusing logic-chopping. Have a Home Guard which grew out of a Resistance organisation and retains strong hints of terrorist/partisan philosophy.

Norway
See Denmark, with added snow and ice. Nails as, especially North of the Arctic Circle.

Sweden
Suddenly discovered the joys of democracy and liberal society around 24 hours after von Paulus surrendered at Stalingrad, after many years of eugenics and sending refugee Jews back to Germany. Chose a French Marshal as King immediately before weighing in on the winning side in the Napoleonic Wars, squatted sullenly in Norway until finally ejected in 1905. Built very competent and well-equipped neutral military establishment throughout Cold War (using NATO standard fittings, ordnance and doctrine), dismantled almost completely after 1989, slowly building capabilities back with a wary eye across the Baltic Sea.

Netherlands
Shooty in parts (Marines, SF etc), hands tied by timorous successive governments. Labouring under a certain embarrassment at Srebrenica debacle. De-NL joint airmobile formation apparently quite useful, but untried in combat and unlikely ever to be so (see above re German risk adversion).

Belgium
Yeah, Belgium.

The Baltics
Nice enough people, strong martial tradition, desperately afraid of the Russians. Significant and not always well-treated ethnic Russian minorities in all three nations.

Finland
Astonishing historical record vis-à-vis Russian aggression. Generally nails, take their neutrality seriously, although, as with Sweden, would find it easy and straightforward to cooperate with NATO.
 
Belgians are OK. The battalion that they sent to Korea were all volunteers (oversubscribed) and fought very well alongside the British. We remember the FFL at Kolweisi but the Belgians were there.

Small but not insignificant, in my opinion.

I have developed a taste for M & S pipi piri mayonnaise on chips so I might be biased.
 

QRK2

LE
Belgians are OK. The battalion that they sent to Korea were all volunteers (oversubscribed) and fought very well alongside the British. We remember the FFL at Kolweisi but the Belgians were there.

Small but not insignificant, in my opinion.

I have developed a taste for M & S pipi piri mayonnaise on chips so I might be biased.
Seconded. Some tough nuts in their Para Commando Bde and a history of providing some effective mercenaries in that days before such were rebranded PMCs. Also the home of Fabrique Nationale d'Armes.
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
On Belgians, certainly they've been nails enough, see here Kolwezi, Stanleyville, 5SAS etc - the point is that they're not, any more.
 
don’t know what they are like now , but the Portuguese got a very good press off Hesketh in his book on sniping on the western front
VERY warry and very good at aggressive patrolling after dark in no mans land.
He liked them.
 
Belgians are OK. The battalion that they sent to Korea were all volunteers (oversubscribed) and fought very well alongside the British. We remember the FFL at Kolweisi but the Belgians were there.

Small but not insignificant, in my opinion.
Don't forget the Luxembourg platoon. That got the Chicoms worried.
 
On Belgians, certainly they've been nails enough, see here Kolwezi, Stanleyville, 5SAS etc - the point is that they're not, any more.

Despite the individual (as already cited) and collective (Chasseurs Ardennaise) military prowess, they are currently a/ insignificantly small and b/ totally screwed by their years of being deployed on internal security/COIN duties within Belgium after Zaventem, which has sent morale through the floor, stopped any meaningful military training, and badly affected retention and recruitment.
 
Grandfather and father in law both Dunkirk veterans one 2 mid's other MM recipient have clouded my views on Belgium. My travels there confirmed Douglas Adams was right.
 
Prompted by other conversations hereabouts and taking the opportunity, immediately before official confirmation of the final hollowing-out of our peer conflict capability, I have been musing on Europe and the relative capabilities and political will to use them of some of our close friends, partners and allies (note, not all nations are in all three categories).

Interested to hear peoples’ views - and informed opinion about Italy, Spain, Portugal etc

France
Dead shooty, keen on their own military industrial strategy, utterly focused on their own interests and generally great if you want West Africans topped, with the enthusiastic and loyal support of Chadian and other auxiliaries. Don’t necessarily play well with others, but have a grudging – but real – bilateral defence relationship with the UK. Pretend to like the Bundeswehr, not great with Americans.

Germany
Profoundly risk-averse and spineless – at governmental level. Decent folk in the Bundeswehr, some top kit, criminally under-invested and -supported. Some problematic elements of German military history still constrain what they can get up to. Perennially heavily impacted by sudden discoveries, to general amazement, that elite Bw elements tend, largely, to have conservative political views. In the Russian pocket, courtesy of dependency on Russian natural gas.

Poland
Shooty as, but keenly aware of what’s immediately to their East. Have no historical reason whatsoever to expect good things to happen from that direction – and not much faith in similar from the West. Are under no illusions that they’re the first line in the event of any silliness from the Russians.

Denmark
Shooty, reliable, but tiny. When deployed, will interpret national policy directives constructively and aggressively, often managing to turn risk-averse direction from Copenhagen into stirring calls to armed action through complex and confusing logic-chopping. Have a Home Guard which grew out of a Resistance organisation and retains strong hints of terrorist/partisan philosophy.

Norway
See Denmark, with added snow and ice. Nails as, especially North of the Arctic Circle.

Sweden
Suddenly discovered the joys of democracy and liberal society around 24 hours after von Paulus surrendered at Stalingrad, after many years of eugenics and sending refugee Jews back to Germany. Chose a French Marshal as King immediately before weighing in on the winning side in the Napoleonic Wars, squatted sullenly in Norway until finally ejected in 1905. Built very competent and well-equipped neutral military establishment throughout Cold War (using NATO standard fittings, ordnance and doctrine), dismantled almost completely after 1989, slowly building capabilities back with a wary eye across the Baltic Sea.

Netherlands
Shooty in parts (Marines, SF etc), hands tied by timorous successive governments. Labouring under a certain embarrassment at Srebrenica debacle. De-NL joint airmobile formation apparently quite useful, but untried in combat and unlikely ever to be so (see above re German risk adversion).

Belgium
Yeah, Belgium.

The Baltics
Nice enough people, strong martial tradition, desperately afraid of the Russians. Significant and not always well-treated ethnic Russian minorities in all three nations.

Finland
Astonishing historical record vis-à-vis Russian aggression. Generally nails, take their neutrality seriously, although, as with Sweden, would find it easy and straightforward to cooperate with NATO.

Excellent. Just like to add:

Screenshot_20210314-180614_Free Adblocker Browser_copy_1080x616.jpg

If any of those Greepeace people piss us off then we'll sink their boat.
 
Seconded. Some tough nuts in their Para Commando Bde and a history of providing some effective mercenaries in that days before such were rebranded PMCs. Also the home of Fabrique Nationale d'Armes.
The Belgium Special Forces Group formed in 2010 from 1 Para appear quite ally. They are the heirs to the wartime Belgium SAS and wear the maroon beret with the winged dagger capbadge.

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Don't forget the Luxembourg platoon. That got the Chicoms worried.
Apparently half of the Dutch battalion that fought in Korea were ex Dutch Waffen SS who had fought in the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking or the 23rd SS Panzergrenadier Division Nederland. The incentive for joining was to get back their Dutch citizenship. The rest was made up of Dutch colonial soldiers from the former Netherlands East Indies who were out of a job after 1949.
 
Prompted by other conversations hereabouts and taking the opportunity, immediately before official confirmation of the final hollowing-out of our peer conflict capability, I have been musing on Europe and the relative capabilities and political will to use them of some of our close friends, partners and allies (note, not all nations are in all three categories).

Interested to hear peoples’ views - and informed opinion about Italy, Spain, Portugal etc

France
Dead shooty, keen on their own military industrial strategy, utterly focused on their own interests and generally great if you want West Africans topped, with the enthusiastic and loyal support of Chadian and other auxiliaries. Don’t necessarily play well with others, but have a grudging – but real – bilateral defence relationship with the UK. Pretend to like the Bundeswehr, not great with Americans.

Germany
Profoundly risk-averse and spineless – at governmental level. Decent folk in the Bundeswehr, some top kit, criminally under-invested and -supported. Some problematic elements of German military history still constrain what they can get up to. Perennially heavily impacted by sudden discoveries, to general amazement, that elite Bw elements tend, largely, to have conservative political views. In the Russian pocket, courtesy of dependency on Russian natural gas.

Poland
Shooty as, but keenly aware of what’s immediately to their East. Have no historical reason whatsoever to expect good things to happen from that direction – and not much faith in similar from the West. Are under no illusions that they’re the first line in the event of any silliness from the Russians.

Denmark
Shooty, reliable, but tiny. When deployed, will interpret national policy directives constructively and aggressively, often managing to turn risk-averse direction from Copenhagen into stirring calls to armed action through complex and confusing logic-chopping. Have a Home Guard which grew out of a Resistance organisation and retains strong hints of terrorist/partisan philosophy.

Norway
See Denmark, with added snow and ice. Nails as, especially North of the Arctic Circle.

Sweden
Suddenly discovered the joys of democracy and liberal society around 24 hours after von Paulus surrendered at Stalingrad, after many years of eugenics and sending refugee Jews back to Germany. Chose a French Marshal as King immediately before weighing in on the winning side in the Napoleonic Wars, squatted sullenly in Norway until finally ejected in 1905. Built very competent and well-equipped neutral military establishment throughout Cold War (using NATO standard fittings, ordnance and doctrine), dismantled almost completely after 1989, slowly building capabilities back with a wary eye across the Baltic Sea.

Netherlands
Shooty in parts (Marines, SF etc), hands tied by timorous successive governments. Labouring under a certain embarrassment at Srebrenica debacle. De-NL joint airmobile formation apparently quite useful, but untried in combat and unlikely ever to be so (see above re German risk adversion).

Belgium
Yeah, Belgium.

The Baltics
Nice enough people, strong martial tradition, desperately afraid of the Russians. Significant and not always well-treated ethnic Russian minorities in all three nations.

Finland
Astonishing historical record vis-à-vis Russian aggression. Generally nails, take their neutrality seriously, although, as with Sweden, would find it easy and straightforward to cooperate with NATO.
What's your opinion on Russia ( not USSR)?
 
Superb assessment.

I could add - don't f**k with the Greeks.
For ALL their faults ( I lived and worked in Crete for 10 years ) they are a brave, proud and stubborn people.

People forget that for more than 12 months after Dunkirk - the only European countries still fighting the Axis was us and the Greeks.
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
Prompted by a request upthread and based purely on some open source, including Russian language and personal opinion:

Russia
Nowhere near as big and scary and competent as they'd like us to think. Small(ish) number of extremely well-equipped formations, say around a Corps or so in total in European Russia (2-3 divisions, including some airborne and special forces). Very, very strong on artillery, air defence and ISTAR, decent panzers and pretty reasonable professional (contract troops). However, logistically very thin, very low stocks of modern munitions, national infrastructure, including roads, railways and the like very ragged and in desperate need of maintenance and an economy in the toilet - if oil's not north of $80 or more a barrel, they only really have gas and a huge amount of GDP is routinely quite simply stolen.

Limited air and maritime assets, what's available is being sweated hard to give the appearance of far more than is actually at hand.

Can put on a good short-term show and, given an existential conflict, could probably generate a Soviet Union-style 1970s/80s - equipped military from stock, anything after 1990, not so much. A whole generation has now largely missed conscription, so no immediately available reserves.

What they've got at hand might make it halfway across Poland before getting slaughtered.

Essentially bluffing the living shit out of the West, except in grey operations like info and cyber where they desperately need a bit of a spanking to teach them some manners. Notably the GRU needs reminding of how nations and intelligence services interact.
 
Superb assessment.

I could add - don't f**k with the Greeks.
For ALL their faults ( I lived and worked in Crete for 10 years ) they are a brave, proud and stubborn people.

People forget that for more than 12 months after Dunkirk - the only European countries still fighting the Axis was us and the Greeks.
Reading about the German campaign in Crete, I would second that.
 
Reading about the German campaign in Crete, I would second that.
They gave the Italians a severe slapping in the Albanian mountains in 1941/2 too.
During the Korean War they gave many impressive performances v. the Chinese hordes and were highly respected by US Military.

Their Regular Forces are significantly larger than ours and their active Reserve 200k v. our 30k .
Not bad for a country with a population circa 10 million.
Today all young men do compulsory Military Service which is 99% geared towards stopping another Turkish invasion - which they fully believe will happen.

They regularly go face to face with the Turkish Airforce ( F-16 v. F-16 ) and I don't think a year went by without it resulting in an aircraft loss on either side.
They put a lot of effort into A/A Defence - you really wouldn't want to be sat on a beach in Cos or Samos if it kicked off.
The Navy is modern and well designed for defending home waters - of which they have a lot.
They have a surprising amount of submarines ( a mate is an Engineering Officer on one )
Up on the land border with Turkey they field 800 modern Leopard MBT.
How many can dear old RTR drive out of the sheds tomorrow ? 100'ish ?

Zito i Ellada !
 
They gave the Italians a severe slapping in the Albanian mountains in 1941/2 too.
During the Korean War they gave many impressive performances v. the Chinese hordes and were highly respected by US Military.

Their Regular Forces are significantly larger than ours and their active Reserve 200k v. our 30k .
Not bad for a country with a population circa 10 million.
Today all young men do compulsory Military Service which is 99% geared towards stopping another Turkish invasion - which they fully believe will happen.

They regularly go face to face with the Turkish Airforce ( F-16 v. F-16 ) and I don't think a year went by without it resulting in an aircraft loss on either side.
They put a lot of effort into A/A Defence - you really wouldn't want to be sat on a beach in Cos or Samos if it kicked off.
The Navy is modern and well designed for defending home waters - of which they have a lot.
They have a surprising amount of submarines ( a mate is an Engineering Officer on one )
Up on the land border with Turkey they field 800 modern Leopard MBT.
How many can dear old RTR drive out of the sheds tomorrow ? 100'ish ?

Zito i Ellada !
What percentage of GDP do they spend on their defence budget? I bet it is a lot more than two percent.
 
What percentage of GDP do they spend on their defence budget? I bet it is a lot more than two percent.

Wiki says 2.58% BUT..... that is not the whole story.

If you buy a used, only slightly soiled eg F-16 it costs a damn sight less than a shiny new one.
But fires the same missiles.

And if you allow the big boys to use your airfields and deep water harbours and facilities - you may just be able to negotiate something nice in return. Like unlimited, free aviation fuel as a for example possibly, maybe.

I'll bet there are plenty of other examples, the Greeks are damn good businessmen.
 

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