It is generally accepted that military powers like to test out their capabilities in a genuine theatre of war, and Syria would represent the first proper opportunity since David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy signed an agreement for greater military co-operation, for French and British ground forces in particular to operate as a unit within a combined logisitics and joint command structure in live operations.
So it was interesting to learn that according to the website DEBKAfile, a joint NATO-Arab military intervention force is being readied for offensive action in Syria [H/T Nourishing Obscurity]. This part of their story particularly stood out:
In the second and third weeks of November, British and French naval forces, plus 2,600 special ops combatants from both nations, performed landing-and-capture exercises against fortified locations on the coast and mountains of Albania as practice for potential operations against similar terrain in Syria, where the Alawite Mountains loom over the coastal towns of Latakia and Tartus.
There remains significant consternation about the nakedly political decision to create an EU-wide military force, initially by tying together the two most effective armed forces in the bloc, by making British military capability dependent on active French support. The future state would see Britain incapable of conducting combined operations using air, sea and land forces without French involvement and advance the military ambitions of the EU.
Syria would provide Britain and France with an essential testing ground for interdependent military operations – and provide the politicians with the opportunity to declare the wisdom and effectiveness of the tie-up. What odds this motivation is a significant driver in what DEBKA report is happening? It could be that in typical political fashion another crisis has emerged bringing with it the imperative not to let it go to waste.