This is interesting:
CBC News has learned that a Canadian military effort to formally create integrated forces with the United States for expeditionary operations included an even more ambitious option — a plan to fully integrate military forces, explored during a meeting with the top generals from the two countries.
The Canadian military efforts were ultimately shut down and refocused on improving interoperability between the forces.
The discussion looked at increased interoperability at the low end, full integration of Canadian forces into the US military at the high end, and selected integration in between.
This makes sense for a small military which can't afford to create all the capabilities that a modern force needs to fight effectively on such a small scale. We certainly don't build our state National Guards as tiny full spectrum militaries, after all.
And as the article notes, we have integrated our air defenses for continental defense.
So while I understand why the Canadians rejected full integration--lack of sovereignty by making their entire military part of ours--it is not a wild-eyed notion.
(Although isn't membership in NATO supposed to take care of the interoperability issue already?)
The Dutch and British have an integrated marine unit, the French do this with the Germans for a brigade, and the Germans have a merged corps structure with the Danes at a higher level.
Those are just the ones that come to mind. I imagine there are more examples.
And the Europeans are doing even more to cope with the inefficiencies of scale by trying to dole out capabilities to European states (the "framework" plan).
The problem with this plan is that as an excuse for everyone to reduce their land forces, you get the worst of an imperial army without the benefits.
With everyone contributing a little to a larger ground force (or navy or air force), nobody has a fully capable full-spectrum military. So to deploy the multi-national integrated army you need consensus to order it into battle.
To be effective, you'd need a strong central EU state to order it to war. And you'd need a strong central EU state to forge a common language and organization for the component parts to work together (interoperability).
So the Canadian exploration of plugging their small military into America's existing full-spectrum force actually makes far more sense than the European approach.
Indeed, 5 years ago I proposed the middle portion of the US-Canadian exploratory effort:
So, how do we react [to the reduction of European armies]? Could we convince our European allies to simply abandon their militaries above the brigade or squadron level and ask them to organize and equip ground battalions and brigades that plug into our brigades and divisions, with our higher level units taking care of logistics and command? Could the Europeans send squadrons to fight as part of our air wings, which we move and support logistically? And plug individual ships into our task forces that we supply on the move?
Of course, for the same reason that the Framework plan can't work, simply subordinating European units to American forces wouldn't work. Nobody will give up their sovereign military power. After all, when you think of going out-of-area this type of integration makes sense for Europeans to avoid the expense of building a small power projection capability that we already have for entire armies, air forces, and fleets to move and fight globally.
But for the defense of Europe, would Europeans really make their ability to defend their continents reliant on an American decision to deploy significant ground forces to Europe that the European dribs and drabs could be plugged into? I rather doubt it.
But the Europeans are all reducing their armies to dangerous levels. The Turks have a large army capable of fighting. But the Germans, British, French, and Italians seem to be incapable of fielding a fully capable army able to fight a major ground war.
The Poles are making real efforts. But their army is pretty small, too. It may be able to fight on its own. But it can't fight on its own for long.
When you look at it, the middle course that the Canadians pondered makes sense for them far more than it makes sense for European nations. Is Canada ever going to send their military abroad to fight if it isn't with America? And would Canada ever have to fight a war on their own soil without our help?
Canada and other small nations should be encouraged to contribute battalions that can be plugged into our brigade combat teams if these allies wish to contribute to an out-of area mission.
If our Army shrinks to 420,000 active duty troops, this foreign help could expand a new round-out program that looks like our Army National Guard could not fully staff, that I suggested.
The National Commission on the Future of the Army might want to consider this.
It's a terrible thing that the West is losing its ability to field national armies capable of fighting. We're getting closer to the point where either we all fight or nobody can.