The EU has long been dependent on the United States’ support in military affairs. Now, 23 armies of the European Union are coming together to form a unified front, joining their militaries in several different ways: financially, with tech and weapons development, and the mechanisms through which they deploy their forces. The member states are expected to act in unison from now on, all under the banner of PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defense). The countries involved are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. The separation of the UK from the EU has allegedly sped up this process.

The details are still coming out, but the idea that this is some ultra-army is likely sensationalism. These countries are now bound together in military force, sure, but practically integrating militaries to function together as a singular machine takes more than finally signing the paperwork. With that said, they can now work in conjunction with one another to accomplish goals–a significant advantage when you’re talking about multiple neighboring countries working together for the same ends.

Emmanuel Dunand, Pool Photo via AP

The treaty may prove more effective than the idea that this may create some sort of super-army. The whole point of the United Nations and the European Union is to produce stronger ties between Allies and to step forward as a unified front. If someone attacks one of your member states, the others come to their aid. When one goes to war, they all go to war. That’s how it’s supposed to work anyway. Historically speaking, this can be disregarded without much repercussion. The U.S. invaded Iraq without UN approval, and it didn’t seem to amount in much besides but condemnation and little action on their part. Israel has bombed Syria without UN approval, destroying suspected chemical weapons facilities–more condemnations and little action. The world will see if the new, united armies hold each other accountable in the way the UN does, or if there are repercussions for “breaking the rules” and what those rules will even entail.

Combining R&D could have significant advantages as well. Where they would once be relegated to the great minds in one set of borders, now they can combine the greatest minds of 23 nations to make leaps and bounds in military technology.

Transport, strategic positioning of more complex defensive and offensive military might, and overall flexibility will all undoubtedly increase with these neighboring countries. Freedom of movement is invaluable in any sort of military positioning campaign.

As more details emerge, we can expect a few developments: some sort of central, governing power in a specific location needs to be determined. Timelines will need to get released in regards to the phases of this integration. Finally, cross-training with 23 different conventional militaries on a mass-scale sounds like a nightmare–we will see how much they actually do together, and if they standardize certain things across the board, or if these militaries are simply working side by side and not hand in hand.

Featured image courtesy of AP Images