By Russell Bruce
At the NATO news conference in Bruxelles today a representative from the Belgian News Agency asked the question I have been asking NATO. " How many sorties were flown by each of the countries taking part in the campaign?"
The answer did not produce the figures, but an assurance from Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard that every one of the 28 member and partner countries involved had contributed to the successful outcome.
The lady chairing the news conference for NATO, paused questions from reporters, to further assure the Belgian News Agency reporter that Belgium’s contribution had been ‘très important’.
In his press briefing earlier Lieutenant General Bouchard had stressed again and again that collaboration from all 28 countries had been key to the outcome.
He did single out three groups of countries: the Arab countries whose advice to him on cultural context had been invaluable as well as air and other support, the contribution from Scandinavian partners and the basing provided by Italy and Greece.
The Swedish Air Force sent 8 JAS planes to the Italian base, 41 STORMO in Sicily situated at the foot of Mount Etna. Later reduced to 5, they maintained full delivery by introducing 2 shifts to ensure the work of providing analysed intelligence reports (Recceexrep) to NATO command.
At the Italian base the Swedes enjoyed day-to-day exchanges with other countries - the US Navy, their Italian hosts and the Danish, Canadian and French air forces. The Swedes shared a hanger with forces from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates and paid tribute to how everyone worked together and how extremely focussed all personnel were on solving their assignments.
By mid August the Swedish FL 02 unit had flown 38 missions, taken 40,000 pictures and filed 150 intelligence reports.
Reports of the Danish contribution have been posted on the comment section of news sites. As of 24th October the Danish Air Force has taken part in 595 missions and 923 precision bomber strikes.
Michael Moore was very unwise to make the derogatory comments he did about small nations. 17 NATO Members took part and 11 other non NATO members played key roles as members of the coalition pursuing UN resolution 1973. Many of those countries were small nations or more correctly countries with smaller populations. The size of a country’s population is not in the least relevant to either influence or ability to form collaborative alliances.
As a footnote the Nordic countries earlier this month decided on a combined joint plan for military training and exercises for the next 5 years running up to 2017.
By the time they are thinking about their next 5 year plan, Scotland might just think about looking to collaboration with Sweden, Norway Denmark and Finland if Michael Moore and his overlords thinks we are too wee to play military games with the southern remnants of HM forces.
In an independent Scotland we would almost certainly have an integrated forces structure avoiding the costly and unhelpful duplication from maintaining three separate armed forces. We have legitimate security interests but have no ambition to straddle the globe with nineteenth century illusions of chasing a sun that never sets.
As Charles Bouchard said, the collaboration of 28 nations was key to success in the Libyan campaign. I would not see an independent Scotland standing back when nations need to come together to provide peace keeping forces in troubled war zones or collaborative campaigns that were legally sanctioned to protect civilians.