Europe: Sea, Land or Air? Strategic priorities

An initial answer would state that it depends more on whether Europe wants to execute more Peacekeeping operations or to counter the Russian modernization and its increasing assertive attitudes on the Baltic, Eastern Europe and the High Arctic (Klein & Pester, 2014; Perry & Andersen, 2012). And Russia could wage a contest with Europe for controlling the newly discovered resources at the Arctic, using its newly modernized and increased naval assets (Laruelle, 2011; Zysk, 2010).

Europe then, should increase its naval assets. It could fight piracy and terrorism among other threats, protect resources and commerce, and even provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (Swartz, 2011). Navies can take the land and air assets where they are needed, if Europe prioritizes the execution of peacekeeping and assistance missions abroad. But if Europe wants to focus more on Russia, the sea domain could perform some tasks such as to protect Europe from seaborne attacks, protect trade and even block the potential adversary’s ports and coasts, contest the dominion of seas and oceans (Artic and Mediterranean), act as a nuclear deterrent backyard, and support the armies (Swartz, 2011). Sea power could base an “anti – access and sea denial” strategy to suffocate Russia for the worst of the cases, and acting as a “flank force” supporting the defensive operations of the armies.

In turn, land combat systems – from infantry to armoured divisions – are important for the immediate defence of European territory. They demonstrate the resolution of every society to achieve a certain political outcome and, they can capture, occupy, hold and even retake territory (Gray, 2008). In the event of an increased Russian aggressive attitude, the land power can deter or take most of the weight of the defence. If priority is set for peacekeeping, land warfare assets can meet the objectives and assist both government and civil community and enforce political agreements.

However, if naval power can take troops abroad for peacekeeping operations or act as a supportive strategic branch for defence, and if land power can ensure peace on the assisted countries abroad or defend Europe’s territory, air superiority provides a protective umbrella over these forces. It decides the strategic outcome of operations in the battlefield, and can act as a fast and long – ranged train of supplies and delivers support for the operations of both land and sea (USAF, 2011; Lambeth, 1999). Thus the close air support and naval aviation along with aircraft carriers are vital to control the battlefield.

Through strong air power – from the single and smallest drone to the most sophisticated satellite – Europe can gain supremacy over every scenario and for either territorial defence or peacekeeping operations, thus being able to drive the strategic events to its benefit through this particular domain. Because of this, Europe should prioritize on that one. But it is important to mention that air power should be gained and executed with a strong cooperation and coordination, along with a joint mentality (Dobrowolski, 2013). The other domains are, in the end, interdependent, and cannot prevail by themselves alone.

*Cover image ‘TLP C130 EUFOR ET 2000N‘ by Rock Cohen

6 responses to “Europe: Sea, Land or Air? Strategic priorities

  1. Hello,
    Are any academics working on identifying ways to increase cooperation on Earth to avoid having to spend so many billions on weapons, as opposed to expenditures on life-affirming/aiding projects?

    • Dear Jerry. Thank you very much for your interesting question. As an answer to it I can say that actually there are some researches and proposals to provide more aid to impoverished regions and countries of the world. The problem is that as long as corruption persists in those areas the aid is going to have little impact or none. Besides, if we talk about countries that have to be stabilized or need an intervention, aid alone cannot help to solve the problem, as Somalia for example taught the International Community in the early 90’s. You may even need military assets – troops on the ground and armoured vehicles, for example – to protect the aid while it reaches its destination, or military air transport to make sure it reaches its destination more safely and to prevent it to be deviated by local warlords or armed factions in control of certain territories. Of course, it depends on the case, there could be countries that are underdeveloped but yet they need aid, institutions could work more there, while countries that are under conflict, both institutions ad military assets are on to be used in a complementary and mutual supportive way.

      • Mario,
        You may be aware that International Consortium of Investigative Journalists ( has developed the world’s first searchable internet tax haven website – The corruption you mention is directly related to tax havens, an industry that has operated big-time for decades. Yanukovych is reported to have stolen 12-70 billion dollars from Ukraine. No politicians or news agencies speak about recovering the billions because they are in tax havens, and worldwide awareness of tax havens ends the “game” of tax evasion. Tax evasion is a huge industry that every person or company with real money uses with regularity, near impunity. Because of ICIJ reporting Hollande of France has called for the eradication of tax havens. ICIJ has a YouTube channel, as well as other groups trying to end tax evasion/havens.

      • Dear Jerry.
        Thanks again for your very valuable information. Now that you speak about tax heavens, then it should be a task of international organizations to deal with those heavens and to exert more tighter regulations over them. But also I can give a first hand argument about the corruption and aid to troubled or developing countries, because I come from one and it is really evident how money given by USAID, for example, in order to fund projects in infrastructure, education or other programs are being deviated by the politicians and some particular actors to their own benefit. The corruption problem has to do with tax heavens, beyond any doubt, but it is also a phenomena that has its origins on the political culture, weak institutions and even the presence of armed group in certain areas of the country.

  2. Pingback: Europe's Strategic Priorities - Air, Sea or Land? - Project for Democratic Union (PDU)·

  3. Pingback: EUROPE: SEA, LAND OR AIR? STRATEGIC PRIORITIES | Drakkar: Defence, Strategy and Security·

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