"If the US were to put more responsibility on Europe's shoulders now, the consequences would have been serious. Europe is not able to defend itself against, say, conventional threats from Russia," Dick Zandee, former head of the planning department of the European Defense Agency and expert at the Clingendael Institute in The Netherlands said, as quoted by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
"The US has one type of storm tank in service, whereas Europe has 19. The Americans have four kinds of destroyers and frigates, whereas we [Europeans] have 29. All this makes the real difference between the US and Europe in terms of firepower even greater," Jens Stoltenberg told Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. "Of course it's not that the 29 frigates are all useless, but it would have been cheaper and easier to get them to work together if we had fewer types in action," Stoltenberg added.
All in all, the European countries have 154 different weapon systems to handle, as opposed to only 27 in the US.
"It is not true that all NATO countries must have exactly the same gear in service, but we must possibly avoid that each country has a tailor-made solution of its own," Jens Stoltenberg argued. "At the same time it must be admitted that we lose military strength because it's harder to get our systems to work together," Stoltenberg stated.
Furthermore, the fragmented defense yields substantial losses for European states. With many European nations buying small quantities of customized materiel, the total bill soars further.
"Some academic studies have estimated the total loss at about 20-25 percent, others have put their estimation even higher, Zandee said.
Zandee blamed national requirements and specifications for the European countries ending up with numerous made-to-order solutions.
"A familiar example is the NH90 helicopter that was aimed to become the standard transport helicopter for all European military forces. However, the end user countries insisted on making national adjustments, and finally we ended up with 24 different versions," Zandee said.
"The idea of a separate EU army with a headquarters of its own has no support in European capitals. This will remain vested in the nations," Stoltenberg assured.