Procurement: The Three Evils

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April 28, 2009: Egypt, Finland, and Slovenia have become the center of yet another scandal involving international arms sales, with the fallout is affecting each country in different ways. The Finnish arms manufacturer Patria is being investigated by the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for alleged corruption involving sales to Egypt, and Slovenia.   The scandal has resulted in police raids in both countries. 

In 2006 Slovenia purchased armored vehicles from Patria. It has long been alleged that Slovenian officials took bribes in order to approve the Patria deal. Patria is also accused of selling defective howitzers sold to Egypt in 1999. Again, Patria officials are suspected of having bribed the Egyptians to obtain the contract to supply them weapons. Worse, the artillery sold to the Egyptians was not NATO-compatible, which is what they had asked for in the first place. Thus the Patria howitzers have stood unused for several years now due to defects that showed up during testing. The Finns promised the Egyptians something compatible, but never followed through. 

Of the three countries involved, Egypt is probably the one getting the best end of the deal for several reasons. First of all, the Middle Eastern country doesn't have much to lose in the way of reputation. Egypt being what it is, it's already fairly well-known that government corruption extends to the highest levels in the nation, particularly when it comes to anything involving trade and business. It's simply the way thing are done and this is the kind of thing people and foreign governments have come to expect in this part of the world. The government doesn't really do much about it because those sections of the government aren't necessary to keeping the current administration in power. The security forces are corrupt too, but they do their jobs of suppressing the Muslim Bortherhood/Islamic terrorists and cracking down on pro-democracy protestors, so the powers that be let them slide heavily on accepting thick envelopes. 

Secondly, Egypt doesn't desperately need the gear as much as Slovenia needs to obtain it. Egypt already gets over a billion dollars in American military aid every years and has for years. In addition, the Egyptian produce a good chunk of their own gear and most of their small arms under license. Everything from night vision equipment to Ak-47s to M9 pistols are locally manufactured, already giving the Egyptians a big advantage over other nations in the region, like Syria or Libya.  Anything else they need really badly they can usually go begging to the Americans, who will probably provide it in hope of maintaining the goodwill and support of the most powerful of the Arab nations. All in all, Egypt can afford to have screwed up. After all, in the Arab world, it's good to be top dog. 

Slovenia comes off the worst. A new member of NATO, the Slovenes are eager to prove they are serious about upgrading and participating in future operations. But that participation requires sophisticated equipment. Because of the fallout from the scandal, they are now seriously considering canceling the entire deal. Since arms procurement takes several years, from initial negotiations,  to delivery, this leaves the East European country without these upgrades to its armored forces for an undetermined, and probably lengthy, period of time. Their ability to participate in deployments, not to mentions their ability to defend the country, is hampered. Slovenia has made some major strides towards procuring new equipment, small arms and infantry weapons, but they still have a long ways to go. 

As for the Finns, their reputation suffers a big hit. Unlike some European countries, like Greece and parts of Italy, Finland and most of Scandanavia have reputations of being almost completely corruption free. Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand have been ranked among the least corrupt countries in the world and this Patria scandal may affect other nations' willingness to buy military equipment from the Finns in the future. Still, Finland has a professional, well-equipped Defense Force that isn't in a hurry to become completely upgraded. Slovenia does and is thus probably going to be left out to dry. As for the Egyptians, they already get all the equipment they want and don't really see any pressing need to change the status quo of their less-than-transparent government practices. 

 

 


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