Over a two-week period in August 2021, the world witnessed the single largest military airlift since events in Berlin in the late-1940s when an alliance of 39 countries evacuated more than 122,000 people from Kabul Airport in Afghanistan.

Despite this astonishing achievement that the UK Ministry of Defence is to now recognise with a clasp ‘Op PITTING’ for the Operational Service Medal (OSM) Afghanistan, the necessity for the 2021 Kabul Airlift signified a turning point for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).


This article is the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the UK Defence Journal. If you would like to submit your own article on this topic or any other, please see our submission guidelines


For almost 20 years, NATO had led the international community in the War in Afghanistan, with member states contributing the vast majority of troops and air assets allocated to the conflict. The coalition suffered over 3,500 troops killed and nearly 23,000 wounded, but the relative stability that the coalition’s presence in the country achieved allowed some 5.7 million refugees from the country to return. The nation witnessed major improvements in healthcare, education and women’s rights, with a life expectancy increase from 56 to 64 years and the maternal mortality rate halved. Some 43% of the nation’s citizens can now read, compared with just 8% back in 2001.

A NATO meeting.

Despite the casualties, especially among Afghanistan’s own troops, the changes that occurred in 20 years of a NATO-backed government (in place of the previous Taliban government), things were looking up for the people of Afghanistan and the wider region. Unfortunately, political leadership across NATO ended up with cold feet over their continued involvement in Afghanistan, leading to the Doha Agreement in early-2021 where the US reached an agreement with the Taliban for the withdrawal of foreign troops and return to power of a Taliban government.

A full flight of 265 people leave Kabul on a British C-17.

The Taliban almost immediately began breaching the agreement, but despite this President Biden pushed ahead with plans to withdraw troops by September 11th 2021. In the end, the withdrawal was completed by the end of August 2021 after the Taliban and other militias began a massive push across the country, leading to the aforementioned events in Kabul and the deaths of well over 200 people.

NATO lost face for the mess that was the last-minute evacuation. The troops and aircrew who flew the missions (known in the UK as Operation PITTING) are heroes – make no mistake, but the political decision making behind it all led to a panicky operation and a loss of respect for the alliance’s international standing.

Operation PITTING Medal and Clasp.

Now, in January 2022 NATO is struggling to prove itself again. US, British and OSINT community intelligence reports indicate that we could see an all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine within weeks, and while NATO’s Secretary-General has been vocal in support of Ukraine’s right to self-defence, there is a growing rift in the alliance between nations willing to support Ukraine and those who want to avoid angering Russia. Prime examples of the two sides are the United Kingdom (who have supplied some 2,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine in the last few days) as opposed to Germany (who are so concerned that Russia will cut off their supply of natural gas, they’ve actively refused requests for support from the Ukrainian government).

The problem is that if NATO is split on this matter, Ukraine cannot reasonably rely on the alliance to stand up to Russia (which is a large part of why NATO was formed). If the world’s largest military alliance is no longer willing to intervene to prevent issues on its own doorstep, it’s reasonable to assume they won’t be prepared to intervene elsewhere, for example in Afghanistan if in a few years the humanitarian crisis under a Taliban government worsens to a point where the nation is in as dire a situation as pre-2001. The world is watching the crisis in eastern Europe. Will Russia invade Ukraine? Will NATO react to that? Will Russia stop at just Ukraine?

Ukraine faces the dilemma of not being a NATO member at the present time, despite trying to join for years. As such, it does not enjoy the benefit of NATO Article 5 (summarised as “an attack on one member of the alliance is an attack on all”), so the question becomes not one of NATO’s written duties, but one of a moral duty to defend those who ask for help. With Germany seemingly unwilling to assist, the US desperately still trying to find a diplomatic solution, and the UK seemingly the only nation actively ready to support Ukraine with military equipment, it’s not just Ukraine that is worried right now. Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all find themselves very close to Russia, and just north of Ukraine. In the event of Russia successfully capturing Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, these nations will find not only a pro-Russia government in Belarus to the south of them but no doubt a large chunk of the 110,000 Russian troops poised to enter Ukraine suddenly looking northwards towards them.

Pictured. 70th anniversary calibration designs on the back of the four Typhoon Fighters in Estonia.

Now let me be clear. I am not saying Russia intends to invade NATO nations (there is no indication that Putin’s aspirations go that far). Such a move would be shocking and costly for the Russian nation, but Russian President Putin’s ambition to rebuild a Soviet Union-type region will look to find buffer states between NATO and itself, something which doesn’t presently exist as Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all directly border Russia. These nations are among the smaller and weaker militaries in the NATO alliance, and regularly see troops from other larger nations (e.g., UK, Spain, Italy, USA) deployed there as part of NATO Air Policing missions and multi-national exercises, the latter having been a sticking point for Russia for some time. Ultimately for Russia to continue and invade these countries would not be a difficult fight for the hundreds of thousands of Russian and Belarusian troops.

NATO has made little effort to reinforce its borders near Russia in this latest crisis, and this is largely down to efforts to maintain diplomatic lines and avoid giving Russia further propaganda of ‘NATO aggression’. For over a month now Russian media has sold a story to the Russian people that NATO is threatening its borders, and that there is a humanitarian crisis ongoing in Ukraine that requires Russian intervention – all of this to justify any military action that occurs in the coming weeks and months.

Ultimately, the world is watching NATO. Following the Afghanistan withdrawal and with the continually growing tensions around Ukraine, NATO faces a choice. If Russia invades, NATO will have to act – words will not be enough this time. If NATO acts decisively and comes to Ukraine’s aid, it will go some way to repairing the damage caused to NATO’s image last year, and likely bolster the morale throughout the alliance after a troubling year.

If NATO fails to act, those members closest to Russia’s border will rightly feel nervous and will bear the brunt of the humanitarian crisis that an invasion of Ukraine will cause. Just a few short years ago, former US President Trump remarked that NATO has lost its purpose and those who agreed with him will see a lack of NATO action on Ukraine as further proof of this.

NATO risks becoming outdated and incapable, in much the same way that the League of Nations ultimately failed to keep its influence on global affairs. The UN, which ultimately replaced the League of Nations is already struggling to maintain the respect it once held, for a myriad of reasons that I’ll leave for another article, and NATO would do well to learn from one of the UN’s repeated mistakes. Statements mean little when not backed by action – you can condemn wrongdoing and issue sanctions, but sometimes it is not enough.

As President Roosevelt once said: “Speak softly, and carry a big stick, you will go far.” – NATO will only continue to be effective in its mission of mutual defence if it is prepared to not only carry that big stick but use it too. Ukraine and the world are watching NATO – and only time will tell if NATO can maintain its influence.

Jon, who many of you know as 'Defence Geek', is a leading member of the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) community. He is the co-host of the OSINT Bunker Podcast which is made in collaboration with the UK Defence Journal and is a Co-Founder of the Military Aviation Tracking Alliance group whose work providing news during the Kabul Airlift reached millions of people.
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Pete
Pete
2 months ago

Certainky a hot topic. Just want to point out tts not just UK that is responding. Baltic states are shipping munitions. Poland is gearing up. Strongest language so far has came from the Spanish defence minister last night…..NATO will defend itself and those looking to join NATO. They are despatching a frigate to the Black Sea and contemplating sending fighters to Bulgaria.

Tams
Tams
2 months ago
Reply to  Pete

The Dutch and Danes too.

But ultimately we need Germany to be such cowards and France to stop having a tantrum.

Chris
Chris
28 days ago
Reply to  Pete

Europe and Nato will go down in history as the cowards of this generation, as they sit and watch ukraine burn. I’m ashamed to be British.

Gareth
Gareth
2 months ago

They’ve even dropped the ‘O’ from their acronym by the looks of it

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago

A good artical, I just hope that the powers that be take notice, we cannot keep living under the skirts of the USA, Love him or hate him Trump said “why should we (the USA) keep propping up Nato with American tax payers money when the Europeans are cutting their contributions year after year” The leadership in Nato should insist that all members have to commit to 2.5% to 3% of GDP. As it stands now we the UK who was previously one on the leading lights in Nato but we can no longer feild an army fit for porpoise,… Read more »

chris
chris
2 months ago

uk, greece, poland, estonia are the only ones meeting contribution requirements

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  chris

Hello Chris, On paper yes but in reality the UK is on the same level as Germany 1.5 to 2% as the government have now tried to befuddle on lookers by lumping several departments expenditure into the defence budget. Yes we have increased our defence budget but no were hear it needs to be.
Most of the ex WP countries are trying to keep up with the expenditure on their defence as they know what is coming under Mr Putin.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago

If we need something fit for porpoise we are correct to prioritise the Navy over the Army 😎.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt

I agree, but it is a case of, too few, too little, too late, it is going to be at least the mid 2030’s provided the government sticks to its plan before the RN has a fleet fit for propose and the same is true for the RAF but alas the poor old British Army I cannot see them recovering from the decades of mis-management and poor investment any time soon. If I was a betting man I would bet on people in the interior of government/CS working for the opposition that has brought down the once grate British armed… Read more »

Johan
Johan
2 months ago

Its not lack of investment, Its lack of clear Procurement and what they actually wont to deliver, changes every 3 years or so

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Johan

I personally believe it is a lack of leadership from people who are either swimming out of the depth or people who are swimming with the sharks.

dp
dp
2 months ago

Porpoises may be useful against sharks.

NATO nations either need to go back to near Cold War levels of defense spending or cease offering support to countries that cannot adequately defend themselves that are on Russia’s border. It’s very destabilizing to do both.

On the level of “avoiding major conventional or nuclear war” which is ultimately more destabilizing? Ukraine in an underfunded NATO or Ukraine outside of NATO?

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  dp

I do not understand you first comment as they normally end up eating each other. Nato and especially the UK fell into the trap of the peace dividend and along with the short-sightedness of our leaders have left a massive gap if our defences, so yes technically you are right we do not have to go back to cold war levels of expenditure but we have to maintain credible force levels. And to reply to you last comment, the best way to avoid a war with Russia, conventional or otherwise is for Russia to get rid of Mr Putin as… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Depends if you want to fight and win a naval battle or a land battle.

Terence Patrick Hewett
Terence Patrick Hewett
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt

The MoD must change it’s tuna.

AV
AV
2 months ago

Did you do that on porpoise?

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt

I have to admit, I giggled good at this one. Thanks.

Marked
Marked
2 months ago

One of the few things Trump said that made any sense.

As far as conventional forces are concerned, Europe should be more than capable of completely over matching Russia without US support. Comprehensively!

The fact we, and I include the UK and its fitted for but not with military in this, can’t is because we are all too happy to not pay for capabilities believing someone will step in and and look after us. Its lazy, weak and frankly insulting to other countries who are being used.

Last edited 2 months ago by Marked
Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Marked

I could not agree more, but it will be the former WP countries leading the charge as they have seen at first hand what is coming, we in the West have become soft.

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Marked

The average age of a German soldier is 38 and Belgium has more hairdressers than special forces . Britain cut its military to a level smaller than many African states . This is all funny where are those who supported offshore patrol vessels or who thought their unarmed type 31 could face off powers like Russia and China ? Supporting a toothless military ?

Only 3 percent GDP budget with 250k army and 30 escort vessels and 20 submarines , each carrier with 40 jets and 300 fighter jets would bring back some dignity

Last edited 2 months ago by James
Louis
Louis
2 months ago
Reply to  James

But you have to be realistic and ultimately 300 fighter jets, 250k army and 20 submarines will never happen. However with the 30 escorts and 40 jets per carrier I agree with you and I think there is a very real chance we can reach these numbers with new frigates and perhaps maybe 8 type 83 can be bought and drones on carriers.

Supporitve Bloke
Supporitve Bloke
2 months ago
Reply to  Louis

This kind of thing probably pushes the decisional knobs and levels a bit. So yes the easy decisions are to equip what we have and what we have on order better and oder a few more of the same. Full(er) air arms for QEC Mk41 VLS for T31 Ceptor on more platforms More P8 Bigger build of T31 – the run could be increased to 8 No for not massive costs Order the solid stores ships quickly! These are all things that can be done quite quickly except the F35B buy rate. The reality is that USMC will boost our… Read more »

Meirion x
Meirion x
2 months ago
Reply to  James

I can’t see No point in having a 250k army, because we are not continental, but an island nation.
Yes a better and bigger Airforce and Navy.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago

Typical of Trump to lump all (NATO) European nations together – and accuse one and all of paying too little for Defence.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hello Graham, the guy is a tool, but I believe he was focusing his comments on countries like Germany, UK, Belgium and Holland all of which have gone overboard with the peace dividend and are hiding under the skirts of the US Forces, We (the UK) have started to wake up but it is going to take about 10 years to put the capacity back into our Forces starting with the RN (if the government keeps to its word) but the British army is going to take a long time to rebuild. The Germans must now start to take there… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago

Hello Stephen, good comments. I recall that 2017 was ‘the Year of the Navy’ and perhaps a few years have been since. As an ex-army man I am envious of what the Navy has been able to achieve despite the savage defence cuts going back years. Two state-of-the art carriers with 5th Gen F-35s; quick fixes to the T45 engine problems to increase availability and reliability of the best air defence destroyer in the world; new T26 frigates in build, T31 frigate project well advanced and funded; the very real prospect of increased frigate numbers; final fielding of the incredible… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Graham Moore
Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hello Graham, it is only my opinion but I believe that Nato should have permanent control of assets like A10’s after all the Americans are looking to off load them but they remain the number 1 tank buster in the world. They also need more airframes for Int’ gathering to augment the Awax they have already. I also believe that the UK needs an armed forces equally capable of supporting main land Europe as well as our own commitments at the moment with most of the investment going into the RN it has created an imbalance, We still need more… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago

The A10 is still an impressive tankbuster but it is ancient and the USAF has been trying to get rid of it for years. The availability must be down and maintenance costs high, plus how much airframe life is left? NATO is at the cornerstone of most of what our forces do. In army terms that means Europe is centric. The security of Europe is not a nice add-on for the British Army – it is central. Some say that the army did well for UOR kit during Op Herrick (Afghanistan). True but the core equipment upgrade and replacement programmes… Read more »

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hello Graham, the B52’s are 70 years old but are kept in service because they do exactly what it says on the tin, Take bombs half way around the world and drop them on a luckless opponent. The same as the A10, if you have massed armour in front of you then the best sight for the grunt on the ground will be a flight of Warthogs ripping into that armour. It dose not need to be up the the latest speck as long as it dose its job. I believe that if Nato had direct control of these assets… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago

Hi Stephen, the poolof A10s under NATO control is surely only going to be of use when a massed tank threat hoves into view and how often does that happen! Once every 30 years?
I had not realised that the T45 G.T. intercooler problem stemmed from 2006 – that then is a shocking story of a very slow fix.
You are totally right about a surge of core equipment for the army from MOTS sources being necessary. Will the politicians and the Treasury agree?

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hello Graham, The A10’s are a cure-all if you see one over head you tend to wind you neck in but the aircraft was originally designed to brake up the Soviet Tank superiority, the world saw them doing just that in the 1st golf war against Iraqi armour. Fast track to today after years of cutbacks I believe the A10 is more reinvent today as a force multiplayer and you are right about the last 30 years but look at what is waiting just over the Ukraine border approximatly 100,000 bods with at least 1000 tanks and other heavily armoured… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago

Hello Steven, I agree the A10 is still an impressive tankbuster. We have army Apaches to do our aerial tank-killing at close range and RAF fast jets for the second echelon enemy armour. But better they were kept somehow rather than scrapped but the USAF wants them scrapped and they are a powerful lobby. Any new Treasury money could not upgrade the army in time to deal with the current Russo-Ukraine crisis – but it would be welcome so as to deal with the medium and long term threats. One of the first things that money (if it appears) could… Read more »

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I agree, even if the money was available today it will take about 5 to 10 years to put back the capacity that has been lost over the last 20 years. The one thing that should be implemented is that the procurement should be in the hands of the military so that they get what they ask for not what the politicians think they need or can get any with. The Apache is a good bit of kit and with its Titanium underbelly it can take a fair bit of incoming and fast jets are protected by there speed but… Read more »

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
2 months ago

Putin is doing this because of huge domestic discontent due to his incompetent handling of the pandemic with hundreds of thousands of dead. And Russian economic dificulties… Dictators are notorious for inventing mythical “threats” that demand military intervention as a distraction. We should remember the famous Roman saying

“Si vis pacem, para bellum” Which translates as “If you want peace, prepare for war”.

Time to activate the Territorial Army perhaps? We have already enraged Putin with our ongoing deliveries of ordnance.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

TA? It has been called the Army Reserve since 2014. It always used to be that the reservists were mobilised en masse for war by the signing of ‘Queen’s Order 2’ but I don’t think that is a thing anymore. However, you only call out the Reserves en masse if a very major war is imminent. Is it? We are not going to fight for Ukraine if it is invaded as it is not a NATO country. I rather doubt Putin would invade anyway – he would gain little advantage and could lose a lot, possibly everything he holds dear.… Read more »

andy
andy
2 months ago

NATO has been dying a slow death for years, Russia and China know this, look how many members fail to keep to the spend, even we do not meet it, on paper it may seem like we do but we don’t, spending 2% of GDP on our membership sounds nice but in that 2% is war pensions injury claims other MOD expenses all those are included in our annual defence spending, which a lot of people do not realise, the real figure for our NATO spend is more like 1.2 to 1.4% and has been for a very long time,… Read more »

Mr Mark Franks
Mr Mark Franks
2 months ago
Reply to  andy

It’s political will and bad bad short term assumptions that have weakened NATO. Even Blair admitted short commings in the Iraq war. It damaged political will and public confidence especially after the defeat of Saddams forces, the so called peace never happened as there was no planning or thought.
Afghanistan need I go on. Now we have another potential conflict on our doorstep, people in the west are tired of war and mistrust our politicians, this has harmed NATOs effectiveness.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  andy

It is not just war pensions that come out of our defence pot but ordinary military pensions (like mine) too. Some non-Defence intelligence spending comes out of the pot. The independent nuclear deterrent alays used to come directly from the Tresury but that too is now covered by Defence funding. I doubt it is quite a s low as 1.2 to 1.4 but it is certainy really well under 2%. I don’t accept that NATO is dying a slow death – look at the list of NATO operations and missions since the official end of the Cold War in 1991.… Read more »

TypewriterMonkey
TypewriterMonkey
2 months ago

I don’t think NATO’s situation is as bad as some people might believe. Sure… Afghanistan was a disaster created by lazy political thinking, and a system that can’t ask itself some simple questions. We stayed there well beyond the purpose of the original mission, and became an occupying force. Closer to home, Putin is angry because he blames NATO for the end of the USSR. The truth is that the USSR was destroyed from within, by the then presidents of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, who wanted independence from the USSR. They usurped Gorbachev’s power as the General Secretary of the… Read more »

RedShift
RedShift
2 months ago

I’m of the opinion that the UK and other English speaking nations should withdraw from NATO and the UN and establish a new order, membership of which requires that you be a genuine democracy with acceptable values. I’m no fan of Russia but I would question why we maintain a token presence in defence of Eastern European nations that we owe very little to and have little shared history with bar Poland. The whole sorry mess becomes apparent with the shameful behaviour of Germany who are busy flogging weapons to everybody they can but won’t stand up to an oppressor… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  RedShift

The token presence of the British Army in Estonia (part of EFP) is a political statement and the force is a tripwire. So it has its utility.
Those eastern European nations are NATO members, so they are our allies.

Marked
Marked
2 months ago

The likes of Germany and France are only interested when they are the ones needing support. Any other time they don’t want to know.

Who needs enemies when you have allies like these?

Maybe time for some replacement alliance to be formed in place of nato.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
2 months ago
Reply to  Marked

This is not a criticism, but the irony of the sentiment expressed in your second paragraph is objective two of Putin’s European calculations.
On Ukraine, looks as if he intends going the whole hog. A pro-Russian coup in Kyiv.

Marked
Marked
2 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

France and Germany have been weak allies from before Putins time. He’s doing a very good job of highlighting this, he might be mad but he ain’t stupid.

As soon as the Russian threat retreated from Germanys own border they lost all interest in being a useful part of nato.

France have always only ever been part time allies, when it suits them.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
2 months ago
Reply to  Marked

Unfortunately, Putin is not mad either. That makes him all the more dangerous, I’d say (I rate him astutely above Xi, in fact). Let us still hope that behind the scenes there are more subtle political manoeuvres in play amonst the allies than are evident in the vague and unconvincing statements we’re receiving. Though Ben Wallace seems to be doing the best he can under the circumstances, who else comes to light? The juxtaposition between Germany’s business-orientated endeavours in the weapons market and their playing the ‘conscientious objector’ at times like these are regrettable. America cannot afford to take on… Read more »

Marked
Marked
2 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Europe is more than capable of comprehensively posing a force Russia can’t hope to challenge, at least in conventional forces not nuclear. The fact they, and that includes the UK, don’t is purely because of weak and lazy politicians cost cutting and frankly taking advantage of the US.

The one sensible thing Trump ever did was call out Europe on this and he was 100% right.

Meirion x
Meirion x
2 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

“…their playing the ‘conscientious objector’ at times…”
Don’t forget, the new German Chancellor has a hard-left fraction that is pro-Putin in his party.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Putin will attempt to achieve a pro-Russian coup without invading en masse.

Meirion x
Meirion x
2 months ago
Reply to  Marked

I see the German navy chief has had to resigned because of pro Russian comments. Could be a possible sleeper agent?

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Marked

You mean like when Germany was the 3rd biggest contributor to Afghan after the UK and US?
Remind me when since 1989 Germany has needed NATO support?

Knight7572
Knight7572
2 months ago

You can blame the end of history for all this

Johan
Johan
2 months ago

Time to face It NATO is a dead Duck, as Members states wont act to. and all this does is If Russia walks into Germany along that nice big Truckway they installed next to that pipeline. Who is going to stand up for them, same with France and the way its been shoving toys out its pram at the UK in the past 12 months. If France was invaded i would join the other side, as i am dam sure i wouldn’t fight to save the French. so just face it USA and there Runaway from conflict as soon as… Read more »

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Johan

Ukraine Russia won’t need to invade it even it already got what it wanted to get the US the leader of the so called free world on the negotiating table and got their concessions! Plus they influenced Germany so much the Germans won’t allow weapons to Ukraine flights over their sky . The next test of Putin will be the Baltic States ! He will try get the large russian minority to protest and pressure the EU and NATO

dp
dp
2 months ago
Reply to  Johan

NATO has often had problems and people always say it’s deoomed; look at the time when the French walked back in 1966 or when Italy seemed to be drifting into communism at one point and Red Brigade Marxists were kidnapping NATO generals in the 80s. Probably the main problem with NATO now is that it was too overconfident and expanding into areas that it can’t adequately defend as well as having NATO nations (if not NATO itself) engaging in “out of region” activities like Libya or Afghanistan to little good effect on overall readiness. Having Poland in NATO is one… Read more »

Hermes
Hermes
2 months ago

Imagine 2022.
Macron not being the french president for a second time BUT being quote as a prophet because of its declaration about NATO being “braindead”.

Just to not let the french being the prophet, NATO must do something.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Hermes

You are right, it is only my opinion but I believe that it is Nato’s time to stand front and centre, this is the weakest Nato has been since it’s inception and it is always when you are at your weakest that your enemies hit the hardest, but I believe that if we all stand together and hit Mr Putin in his wallet with sanctions and start moving our assets into place before it is too late like redeploying the A10s back to Europe to counter the Russian tanks in the Ukraine, and bringing all of Natos assets onto a… Read more »

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago

Very good article. I do believe NATO has been a bit of a joke for quite some years now. Love Trump or loathe him, he was spot on when he commented on the lack of support from European countries. On paper, Europe should not need to rely so heavily on the US, but unfortunately it does. Germany should leave NATO, and declare itself neutral. It serves little other purpose. France needs to commit more to NATO, or again quit, and call themselves neutral. Maybe thats it… European countries quit NATO, and declare themselves neutral. Would provide a nice ‘buffer zone’… Read more »

Meirion x
Meirion x
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

“…Germany should leave NATO, and declare itself neutral…”

Wrong again as usual!

Most of Europe is happy being in NATO. Without NATO those countries to East of Germany will be swallowed up by Mr Putin’s new Russian Empire.
But Germany is becoming the exception, maybe it should leave, but
If another nation attacks it’s trade routes, it will only have itself to blame.
Of course the hard-left fraction in the government will just bite the hand that feeds it!

So nice try Ivan!

Last edited 2 months ago by Meirion x
Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Countries like Germany certainly aren’t doing other NATO nations any favors. They can’t even speak to a consensus with the group, let alone put forward useful assets.

While the UK spend seems low, you guys often appear to be the only country in Europe speaking the narrative and carrying the torch. It’s sad to see Germany/Spain/Italy fall so far, but keep up the good work Brits.

Cripes
Cripes
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Germany, France and Italy all have upwards of 50% more combat aircraft than the UK. Even Spain,, with a population one-third less than the UK, has more combat aircraft. Italy and Spain can both field more than twice the number of combat Brigades the UK can and the French army is considerably larger than ours. The RN has not played anything other than a bit part in any conflict in the last 40 years, since its brief heyday in the Falklands. There is not any significant threat to NATO from the Russian surface fleet, only from its (limited) submarine force.… Read more »

River Rha
River Rha
2 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Cripes, Good analysis of Realities since concluded events in a Railway Carriage following Armistice in November 1918, It would seem. Having been reading the Comments Threads on another journal published in UK throughout Sunday 30th January 2022, It would seem, Without Seeking to be Unfair to fellow populace of the UK generally, that Historically In Times of General Lack of Sensible Employment for the Masses, Governments Would Seem to find Financial Resources for War and Munitions and Equipment with which to Inflict Damage and Human Resources for Armed Conflict with Aggressors. It would seem Little Has Changed By End of… Read more »

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Quite the opposite now that Germany has got rid of the pro Putin leader Ms Marcel it is time for them to step up to the plate as Europe’s top economical powerbase, they have more to loss if Russia gets out of control so should be one of the front runners against Mr Putin’s madness.
It will however take some time to undo the damage that Ms Marcel has inflicted on not just Germany but mainland Europe with her insistence on getting Germany/Europe hooked on Russian Gas.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago

I’m afraid it will take a long long time to change the ‘German mindset’ on military matters, maybe even a generation.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Oh I don’t know about a generation, the German people are waking up to the fact that they must start to pull there weight, it will however take about 5 to 10 years before the rest of Nato can operate with German forces with out having to look over there shoulder.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago

I guess the problem is, what will happen with NATO, in the years it takes for Germany to take the lead roll.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

The rest of the members have to take up the slack until Germany is ready to take on its rightful responsibility.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago

That’s a big ask though, considering other NATO members could be deemed as slacking too.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

You are right, but it is time now step up to the plate, Nato has never been as week as it is now despite it adding several new members , the so called peace dividend and the shot sightedness of our leaders all hoping to cash in on the fact they did not have to invest in $billion programs to update there respective armed forces have now come back to kick us up the back side, so we have to start to redress the problem.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago

Your dead right!

Frank62
Frank62
2 months ago

Biden pulling the rug out from under Afghanistan was a huge blunder. As was allowing all our pampered, bloated investors to move most of our manufacturing to China for their benefit rather than any rel good reason. It has funded the PLA’s rise whuich is becoming an existentail threat to world freedom. We all like low prices but few really wanted whole home industries to be destroyed & mass unemployment. We’ve strategically blundered there, putting our necks in the noose. Nato still has relevence even if some states dither. It is up to the core nations to step up &… Read more »

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank62

Exactly… decisions made by… numpties, that will effect Britain for years to come.

dan
dan
2 months ago

NATO’s main problem has always been Germany. They spend the absolute minimum on their own defense and expect mostly America and Britain to keep them safe while funding the Russian military by buying their natural gas. Unfortunately that hasn’t changed at all since Merkel left. ugh

simon alexander
simon alexander
2 months ago

The West gave too much encouragement of the idea that the Ukraine could join Nato or EU. Whist absolutely Russia has NO right to cross or redraw borders. If there is war this is on Putin he has taken advantage and manufactured this. If civilians and cities get bombed we will get drawn in.

IwanR
IwanR
2 months ago

Putting Ukraine in NATO is like guaranteeing a Russian invasion, and then perhaps WW3. That being said, I think the only country that takes issue with article 5 is Russia too. Even if the French are practically everywhere, it doesn’t look like the countries surrounding them take note of that, including the Chinese. In third world countries particularly in Asia, I can say that NATO is more equivalent to foreign interventions than a force of peace and stability. While the situation in Afghanistan is more seen as an American debacle rather than NATO’s, so I can’t say it affects their… Read more »

Bringer Of Facts
Bringer Of Facts
2 months ago

The problems as I see it is not so much a lack of will on the part of NATO as lack of support logistically (atrophied, Industries, cuts in force sizes, procurement problems) coupled with a caustic press/media which always seem to take the side of our adversaries. It all adds up to a much less confident posture.

Liamski
Liamski
2 months ago

Trump was such a baddie for wanting Germany to stump up its dues. Joey, the Cornpop beater shut down his own pipelines and allowed Nordstream 2. The foreign policy and military think tank crowd as as dumb as rocks. Bye bye Ukraine.

G Hanson
G Hanson
2 months ago

What is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to do with Afghanistan or the Ukraine? Imagine if an independent Scotland invited a battalion of S400 based in the central belt and a regiment of SU34s Lossie and SU35 at Leuchars how would we feel. Putin won’t invade but he will keep this up until the Ukraine ceases to be a coherent state. We have to live with him for better or worse and so do the people of the Ukraine. There has to be a way forward with the Ukraine as a buffer state. We nearly went to Nuclear war with… Read more »

Finney
Finney
2 months ago

“If NATO acts decisively and comes to Ukraine’s aid, it will go some way to repairing the damage caused to NATO’s image last year, and likely bolster the morale throughout the alliance after a troubling year.” So we start a war with Russia to repair NATO’s bruised PR? This is the problem with the OSINT community, half of them seem to be looking for a war, semi-hoping one will break out, in order to fuel their hobby. NATO’s steps to reinforce NATO members and article 5 signatories in the region are reasonable steps to make clear to Russia that there… Read more »

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

Good article, but with a few sticking points that I have to disagree with. Now, please allow me to put up the caveats. I am not pro-Putin and pro-Russian expansionism. I am also in my late 40s and lived before the general view of the United States was being a nation that could do no wrong. I am also, not pro-US on many points, but due to being one of the only fully capable countries to keep China and Russia somewhat contained, I do appreciate the fact that we have not gone nuclear yet. (Though depending on your views, it… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Jim
David Murphy
David Murphy
1 month ago
  • NATO specialises in bullying weaker countries and murdering people with brown skins. You are in retreat and the world can see clearly you are puppets of Washington, disorganised, incompetent, divided and led by short term politicians. I am glad a balance of power is being re-establish ed in the world. Next stop, the reintegration of Taiwan into China where it belongs.