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Blog Post

Enhancing Defense through Military Mobility

March 27, 2018

Christoffer Jonker is director of international affairs and operations at the Dutch Ministry of Defense. GMF sat down with him to discuss efforts to increase and enhance transatlantic defense. Specifically, his remarks focus on military mobility in Europe, which has become a key topic on both sides of the Atlantic to boost the credibility of deterrence. As such, military mobility was one of the 17 initial collaborative projects approved by the first official PESCO format meeting of the participating 25 EU defense ministers on March 6, 2018.

Can you explain the driving force behind PESCO?

Jonker: Well, PESCO means Permanent Structured Cooperation; that is, permanent structured cooperation on European defense and security. It is something which was in the Lisbon treaty, which we are taking forward now by concrete decision. The objective is to strengthen European defense by committing to commitments and intensifying cooperation. Two aspects are key here: capability development and involvement in EU missions and operations.

One aspect that I know you are particularly focused on is military mobility. Could you explain why military mobility is an urgent component of PESCO?

Jonker: We discovered over recent years that we in Europe are not able to transport military material between countries in a very easy and straightforward way — there are a lot of obstructions. In a way, we forgot how we did that in the past, during the Cold War, for example. We need a kind of political push forward within Europe to get the issue solved. And those issues are on the infrastructure, they are on regulations or laws, legal matters on dangerous goods, and on administrative procedures. So we thought, within PESCO, this is a good thing to do together and work with the EU and NATO on solving these issues.

You alluded to the role of EU and NATO. Could you speak more broadly about the partnership, how cooperation is important to addressing these challenges for mobility and other elements in PESCO?

Jonker: It is not only important, I think it is crucial. NATO is the main security provider in Europe, and will remain the main security provider in Europe. At the same time, we also need to do more within Europe. And that is where PESCO comes in and the EU comes in. The EU cooperation, the EU cooperation on defense and security, is focused on strengthening NATO. It's coming from working more together, working on interoperability, working on efficiency. And in that way providing better security in Europe.

For GMF analysis on this topic and related articles, please see below:

EU Military Cooperation and National Defense
Beyond European Versus Transatlantic Defense
An Inclusive PESCO Moves Forward Despite Remaining Concerns
Red Lines in Gray Areas: Deterring Russia’s Challenge to Transatlantic Security Today