Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Balkan Defense Overview: Developments and Prospects

/ balkans / gunsRus /
An excellent overview of defense procurements in the Balkans, from Balkanalysis - indicative of the sort of money we're throwing to various defense contractors (in the case of Greece at least - with all sort of "side-benefits
"At this time the Balkans is one of the most heavily armed areas in Europe and it remains one of the crucial regions for geo-strategic analysis, as far as the international balance of power is concerned.

It is a peninsula that is sufficiently close to Russia, the Middle East and Western Europe alike to become important in cases of power shifts like the major one that happened after 1989, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Defense developments in the region are thus of profound interest for everyone involved in forecasting, analysis and policy making. This article considers defense procurement trends in four Balkan countries: Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia & Montenegro."

Speak of Balkanalysis, they seem to have fallen victim to plagiarism from no other than UPI, which is a sign of the times surely - and at least an indirect, if inappropriate, recognition of Chris' excellent work.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What an odd article. I can only comment on the Serbia bits, but there are some very peculiar statements there.

The Serbian army has a unique and quite effective mobilization scheme -- It isn't unique and it wasn't particularly effective. It's the old Yugoslav system, which all the successor republics inherited; and, as the article points out, there are similar systems in Cyprus and Switzerland. And it broke down badly in the 1990s, when the second and third tiers turned out to be badly trained, poorly equipped, and full of young men who really didn't want to go kill and die in Croatia and Bosnia.

This is a non-centralized structure very flexible for small states. No, it's a non-centralized system based on Yugoslavia's experience in WWII. Especially the increasingly idealized image of Partisan warfare. (Nobody refought WWII longer and harder than the Yugoslav General Staff.)

This system proved to be really good at laying the ground for a protracted civil war and ugly guerrilla campaigns. In terms of actually accomplishing anything militarily... less good.

The decentralized military system was a major element in both the breakup of former YU and the subsequent unpleasantness. Only the Serbs have been dumb enough to hang onto it anyway. So it's a bit startling to see it praised this way.

Such reductions will also lessen the country’s traditional geo-strategic capabilities,

Serbia's "traditional geo-strategic capability" has been to lose wars. They're 0-6 since 1914.

the possibility that war with Kosovo Albanians, who are now becoming increasingly well armed,

The Kosovars absolutely lack tanks, APCs or any other kind of armor; artillery beyond a few 25 mm guns; or combat aircraft of any sort.

They are armed to the teeth with man-portable weapons, but so what? In an actual field battle, they'd be crushed in an hour. In their only field battle -- Operation Arrow, June 1999 -- they very nearly were crushed, despite having numerical superiority, strategic surprise and NATO air support. And that was in mountainous terrain where the Serbs couldn't use their armor.

We won't even mention the fact that Serbia has about four times the population of Kosovo, and an economy about ten times as large.

This is just mouth-breathing Shqip Menace stuff. Makes no sense.

Montenegro left without any realistic means of defending itself in the case of any potential conflict with its own Albanian secessionist elements.

Um... what Albanian secessionist elements are these?

Albanians in Montenegro are remarkably well integrated; they have two parties, plenty of seats in parliament, and a modest degree of de facto local autonomy. They want more, but so far they've been willing to work within the political system. Djukanovic struck an implicit deal with them over a decade ago, and -- unusualy in the former YU -- both sides have lived up to it.

I won't say there aren't any secessionist Albanians in Montenegro, but they're not remotely a military threat. They already have a goal -- Montenegrin independence, followed by local autonomy -- and it's both safer and much more plausible than another guerrilla war.

(It helps that the last two attempts at Albanian guerrilla wars -- south Serbia and Macedonia -- were shut down. The Albanians now realize that Kosovo was a one-off. But even before that, the Montenegrin Albanians were by far the quietest in the region.)

Reducing Serbia’s historic role of military superiority in the Balkans will have far-reaching ramifications for the regional balance of power.

Since Serbia has been a minor power since the collapse of Yugoslavia 15 years ago, and a complete military nullity since 1999, it's hard to follow the reasoning here.

This seems to be one of those funny Hellenocentric things. The Serbs are our friends! So it's dangerous for them to be too weak!

But in fact most of Serbia's neighbors -- Croats, Albanians, Hungarians, Bosnians -- find a weak Serbia much preferable to a strong one. (The remaining neighbors, Bulgaria and Romania, don't care one way or the other.)The idea that the Balkans "need" a strong Serbia really seems to be a Greek thing.

As I said, I can't comment on the rest of the article. But this bit doesn't fill me with confidence.

Doug M.