Posts Tagged 'Defence'

Ukraine, UK, foreign policy, defence and the EU

The media is at it again, with ‘journalists’ and commentators demonstrating that for all the lavish salaries and resources showered upon them they know very little and understand even less.

Con Coughlin is a case in point. Bunkered at the Telegraph, lest he get chased out of a pub by fellow hacks, the great sage has a piece that his sub editor has chosen to title ‘Britain reduced to shaking a weedy fist at Vladimir Putin’ with a subheading thus, ‘Protests against Russia’s annexation of Crimea can’t disguise the fact that Britain is now a mere bystander on the world stage because of defence cuts’.

While that is partially true, it only tells us a fraction of the story and does nothing to explain why we have this state of affairs.  Instead Coughlin deigns to inform us that:

It was always going to happen – the eruption of an international crisis so grave that it laid bare the full limitations of Britain’s ability to act on the world stage. And so it has come to pass, with the humiliating revelation that our policy for confronting Vladimir Putin’s Crimean land grab is to do… precisely nothing.

[…] So far as Britain is concerned, the best we can hope for now is that Ukraine’s new interim government does not react to the blatant acts of provocation perpetrated by Russian troops. For, as we now know, courtesy of a Downing Street photographer’s telephoto lens, Britain’s ability to respond to Russia’s wanton acts of aggression is nonexistent.

There are very good reasons for this.  The defence capabilities of this nation are largely supposed – among other things – to be geared to do two things:

  1. to defend our national territory, and
  2. to protect our national interests and support our foreign policy objectives around the world

I’m over here…

The key point here is point 2.  It is essential to note that we don’t have our own interests any more, the EU has them for us.  And we no longer have any defined foreign policy objectives, as again our foreign policy is dictated by the EU.

For these reasons our defence requirements are ill defined, and our capabilities are being eroded to the point our armed forces cannot act independently – to help bring about the EU plan of an interoperable, member state force taking orders from Brussels.

But Coughlin makes no mention of this. The media has, by and large, embraced EU membership and makes no effort to learn what the EU is designed to do, why it is doing it and how it goes about achieving it. So it is that Coughlin and his friends continue to rail against many effects of EU membership, such as the dearth of a foreign policy supported by defence capabilities to underpin it, but keep telling us how EU membership is essential to this country’s interests.

This mentality extends far beyond the media and deep into the political class, where a few days ago we saw Sir Christopher Meyer, former British Ambassador to Germany and to the US, write in the Times (£) that:

Foreign policy is not an edition of Radio 4’s Moral Maze. It should be based on a cold calculation of national interest. It is time to get back to basics: the clarity of openly defined sovereign interests and publicly acknowledged spheres of interest.

Yet despite these implorings we see no mention of the EU let alone criticism of the fact membership has brought us to this. In fact the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of which Meyer was part is possibly the most enthusiastic cheerleader and advocate of EU membership in the UK.

The fact is, as part of the EU, our armed forces, for all the billions spent on them, will not be strong enough to field sufficient divisions, wings and naval groups to respond independently to geopolitical crises – as it runs contrary to the notion of interoperability. In any case the would not be prepared to do so because our country’s foreign policy will be written in Brussels and our interests will be what the EU defines them to be.

You just won’t hear any journalist, politician or FCO pension recipient telling the public the truth of it.

The EU elephant in the Europlastics’ room

Returning from my blogging holiday I was delighted to find another outstanding piece of work emanating from the EU Referendum blog of Dr Richard North. Once again, the media is left watching the birdie by the oh-so-clever politicians and their civil service puppeteers, this time on the much discussed subject of defence equipment procurement.

The upshot is that our ‘instinctively Eurosceptic’ and faux ‘veto-wielding’ Prime Minister and his collective of political pygmies have once again shown their Pro-EU credentials, happily sneaking in Brussels diktat through the back door, while moaning of too much EU power to the media at the front.  Surely that merits some attention?

As North explains in his opening:

You would have thought that, given the huge number of column inches devoted to the diverse and expensive defence procurement failures, the MSM might be interested in this government’s proposals for remedying the system, delivered on Wednesday in the form of a White Paper.

After all, the media fixated on for days and thousands of column inches on the merits or otherwise of paying RBS Chief Executive, Stephen Hester, a bonus of £963,000 worth of shares.  So surely the media would be all over a subject that concerns the spending of many BILLIONS of pounds of taxpayers money. But no. Britain is home to the Kindergarten Press, where playground antics and which kid in the class is most popular today takes the lead in headline selection.

So it is, once again, left to an attentive blogger to do the job the dumbed down media won’t or can’t do, and explain that the government’s White Paper showing the MoD will no longer favour UK companies when procuring defence equipment is not based on getting best value for money, but rather the result of compliance with the instructions of our Supreme unelected, unaccountable Government in Brussels:

These come in the guise of EU Directive 2009/81/EC “on the coordination of procedures for the award of certain works contracts, supply contracts and service contracts by contracting authorities or entities in the fields of defence and security, and amending Directives 2004/17/EC and 2004/18/EC”.

The result is that:

British ministers are implementing EU law, and they are always going to obey their masters. And in this White Paper, they are providing an ex post facto explanation of how the procurement system is to be adapted in order to ensure absolute obedience.

Not that the uninformed masses will know that, because our media – the same one that bleats about democracy erosion and political openness – either doesn’t understand it or doesn’t want to explain it.

You do the fighting, I’ll do the talking

Every time he opens his mouth David Cameron reveals a little bit more of the idiocy within.

His latest comment, an attempt to stem criticism from senior members of the armed forces, underlines Cameron’s stupidity.  How exactly does Cameron expect the military to do the fighting when the size of the armed forces is being pared back, equipment that is essential for independent operations is being decommissioned at break neck speed and certain personnel have little time for training and recovery between deployment to theatre?

Yes, the Ministry of Defence has squandered billions on ludicrous procurement decisions. Yes, the Defence Chiefs have failed their commands by setting their hearts on equipment designed for use in conventional warfare while all our operations since the Falklands have been asymmetric. But this has been allowed to happen by the utter failure of the politicians to control that for which they are responsible.

In a way Cameron is being honest when he says he will do the talking.  Talk is all he is good for.  Cheap talk and empty rhetoric.  But he is fundamentally dishonest when he tells the armed forces to get on with the fighting because the defence policy of his band of traitorous quislings is eviscerating the British military and neutering its ability to function independently. It is not even an accident, it is being done by design as part of a bigger European plan to create an EU army that leaves member states reliant on interdependency.

Perhaps the Defence Chiefs could restore some semblence of honour if they admit they have been wrong to go along with the EU’s grand plan, discovered their backbones and oaths to defend this country’s interests and told Cameron what he can do with his words.

Parliament deceived about EU plans for sharing of military assets

To quote what Michael Fallon MP once said in a Parliamentary committee about former City Minister Lord Myners during the ‘Fred the Shred’ furore: ‘Misleading Parliament is a serious offence; misleading the public is even worse. The honourable thing to do now would be to resign.

The same comment should now be directed at the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (International Security Strategy) at the Ministry of Defence, Gerald Howarth MP for misleading Parliament and the public.  To set the scene, consider this Parliamentary written answer by Howarth published in Hansard on Thursday:

Military Alliances

Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his European counterparts on the pooling and sharing of military assets.

Mr Gerald Howarth: The Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox), has regular discussions with his European counterparts on pooling and sharing. We believe that it is important that the UK seeks and exploits all opportunities to promote greater burden sharing and increased cooperation, in order to optimise capability development in Europe.

More specifically, I attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Defence Ministers’ formation on 24 May 2011, which included pooling and sharing as a topic for discussion. The UK took the opportunity at the discussions to re-emphasize the point that national commitments to any pooling and sharing initiatives must be voluntary, consistent with the fact that each member of the Council is a sovereign nation state.

The meeting at which pooling and sharing of military capabilities was discussed actually took place on 23rd May, but that is not how Gerald Howarth misled Parliament and the public. It was Howarth’s omission of important details about the meeting which Parliament should have been told and the public made aware that is the issue.

The fact of the matter is pooling and sharing initiatives in the military context here are not voluntary. They are being directed by the European Union. The matter is voluntary in so far as the EU will operate at arms length to provide support and foster pooling and sharing only as long as the member states actually get on with the business of carrying it out. Couched in the flowery diplomatic language of garblespeak this message is made clear in the adopted conclusions of the meeting:

(NB. This was split across two pages and has been merged for ease of reading)

If pooling and sharing of military assets was a matter purely for member states to engage in voluntarily, which Howarth wants Parliament and the public to believe, then what business does the Council of the European Union have setting best practice, scoping models for cooperation, defining success criteria, providing supporting tools and encouraging the European Defence Agency to help member states identify where assets can be pooled and shared?  These are the actions of programme directors, not observers. The EU is in the driving seat.

So where does this square with Howarth’s alleged emphasis that national commitments to any pooling and sharing initiatives must be voluntary, consistent with the fact that each member of the Council is a sovereign nation state?  His comment is utterly meaningless.  In choosing to omit the information from the conclusions of the meeting as shown above, Howarth was deliberately engaged in an effort to deceive MPs and voters.

The reality is clear. The EU is – to coin David Cameron’s phrase – ‘nudging’ the member states into a position that makes it easy for EU-wide command and control to be implemented. The member states know this but are comfortable with it as it fits their aim of ever closer union, regardless of what their people may think.

One final point needs to be made here.  Where is the media?  What, for example, is the point of the Telegraph conducting an interview with the head of the French Navy to splash a story about the UK and France sharing an aircraft carrier, when it misses or ignores the real story behind it that the public must be told?  Useless is a word that doesn’t come close to describing our national press.

Typhoon v Raptor = UK taxpayer being failed again

On Wednesday the UK National Audit Office published a detailed report on the current status of the infamous Eurofighter combat jet – nowadays officially known as Typhoon.  Lewis Page at The Register has taken a look and points out:

UK taxpayers will have shelled out no less than £215m for each of our 107 jets – that’s $350m at today’s rates, rather more than the US taxpayers have been made to pay for each of their 185 Raptor superfighters2, almost all of which will be used operationally. And the Raptor has third-generation Stealth: the Eurofighter has no stealth features at all. The Raptor has thrust vectoring for unbeatable manoeuvrability in a dogfight: the Eurofighter doesn’t.

The Raptor is a hugely more sophisticated and powerful aircraft, and is actually – astonishingly – somewhat cheaper, despite the fact that it is being made in much smaller numbers than the Eurofighter!

That’s a really astonishingly bad bit of value for money on our part.

1That was the original order when the project kicked off, and the price has not gone down – just the numbers of jets.

2Development and procurement cost of the Raptor for 183 useable jets is stated at approximately $62bn by the US air force, putting each jet at $339m.

I’m not the first, but allow me to add my sarcastic congratulations to the Labour government and the MoD for putting ‘European’ dogma ahead of value for money and getting the best equipment available.  Also to the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition for eviscerating our armed forces instead of merely fixing the problems associated with procurement; and furthering ‘European’ aims of forming a common EU military force at the expense of our own capability.

You politicians and civil servants are truly the most worthless, incompetent and contemptible scum of the earth.

EU Air Force takes shape thanks to Tories

The long planned European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) draws closer to its fruition. In the 1990s, under the last Conservative government, the plan was hatched. Then under Labour in 1998 London and Paris agreed to jointly and actively work to make the European Union ‘able to carry out some security tasks on its own’.

It is against this backdrop that Air Vice-Marshal Greg Bagwell, commander of the RAF’s No 1 Group, which controls all Britain’s fast jet combat aircraft, has said that Britain was likely to end up with only six fighter and bomber squadrons – half its current number. Air Vice-Marshal Bagwell said that one way around the shortages was to collaborate more with the French:

“It looks like we are going to twin 3 Squadron [a Typhoon squadron] with one of the [French] Rafale [fighter-bomber] squadrons. I’ll make a prediction we will have British officers flying Rafale from a carrier within a few years. I’m quite sure of it.”

That was always the intention since the Tories signed the policy. With the UK and France effectively forming a twinned military, the EU can assume control giving it that coveted ability to ‘to carry out some security tasks on its own’. It gives the EU a military force to go with its new legal personality as part of the step change to eradicating nation states.

It seems strange that senior officers of the RAF are not aware of what the politicians have agreed and the agenda to which they are working. It is no surprise that the media has been in complete ignorance, but surely the senior ranks of the armed forces should already know how they are expected to operate in the future.

All the pieces of the jigsaw are on the table waiting to be put together. When they are assembled, thanks to David Cameron, Liam Fox and William Hague, the picture will be a British soldiers, sailors and airmen ‘harmonised’ with the French, being part of an EU military force operating under Brussels’ control into which the smaller armed forces of the other member states can be inserted one by one until all of them operate under the blue flag and gold stars of the illegitimate articifical construct. Instead of focusing on the comparison between an eviscerated RAF and Belgium’s ‘air component’ the media should be focusing on the bigger picture which explains why this is being done.

Because of clueless reporters relying on press releases rather than investigating to uncover the facts of what this supposedly Eurosceptic Prime Minister and his people are doing, the country will remain in ignorance as the EU completes its aims. It’s enough to make one think they are in on the plan and deliberately keeping people in the dark…

France – our partner in defence

If the United States need a reason to scale back the extent of intelligence cooperation with the UK, then David Cameron’s God-awful treaty with Nicolas Sarkozy has opened a huge window of opportunity for Washington.

Not content with selling warships and technology to Russia – thus filling a gap in Russian military capability that slowed them down during the contrived invasion of Georgia – Paris is now selling nuclear technology to China. The Americans have always realised the French will do anything for money but probably did not think a British government would choose to align itself so closely with such an unreliable country. As EU Referendum says of Cameron, he:

…might just as well have parcelled up all our military and industrial secrets and sent them direct to Peking, cutting out the middle man.

Dr Richard North goes on to correctly observe that:

…you cannot be a “strategic partner” with both China and the United States. The UK has to chose and, in getting into bed with the Kermits, it has made its choice. It is a dangerous, stupid choice and one that we will all have cause to regret.


Royal Navy nuclear submarine navigation problems?

A written answer in the House of Commons from the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, suggests there is a problem with Royal Navy submarine navigation systems or crew training.

Luff was asked by Angus Robertson MP how many collisions involving a UK nuclear-powered submarine and (a) another submarine, (b) another naval vessel, (c) a private vessel and (d) a merchant vessel there have been since 1979; and how many grounding incidents involving UK nuclear-powered submarines there have been since 2008. The response showed there have been four serious incidents in the last two years after a period of five years where no incidents were reported. Luff replied that:

The full list of incidents of collisions and groundings involving Royal Navy nuclear powered submarines for which the Royal Navy holds records is as follows:

HMS Astute grounded off the Isle of Skye in October 2010.
HMS Torbay grounded in the Eastern Mediterranean in April 2009.
HMS Vanguard collided with FS Le Triomphant in February 2009.
HMS Superb grounded in the Red Sea in May 2008.

HMS Tireless struck an iceberg while on Arctic Patrol in May 2003.
HMS Trafalgar grounded on Fladda-chuain in November 2002.
HMS Triumph grounded in November 2000.
HMS Victorious grounded, while surfaced, on Skelmorlie Bank in November 2000.

HMS Trenchant grounded off the coast of Australia in July 1997.
HMS Repulse grounded in the North Channel in July 1996.
HMS Trafalgar grounded off the Isle of Skye in July 1996.
HMS Valliant grounded in the North Norwegian Sea in March 1991.
HMS Trenchant snagged the fishing vessel Antares in the Arran Trench in November 1990.

HMS Spartan grounded west of Scotland in October 1989.
HMS Sceptre snagged the fishing vessel Scotia in November 1989.
HMS Conqueror collided with the yacht Dalriada off the Northern Irish coast in July 1988.

Despite Luff’s answer to a separate question about training to avoid collisions and groundings that courses are comprehensive, complex and demanding it seems the problem is getting worse. Perhaps the UK strategy is that Britannia should give up pretending to rule the waves and rule the seabed instead.

Cameron’s defence deal fuels sense of betrayal

A fine post worthy of your time on England Expects as Gawain dissects the Anglo-French defence treaty and goes on to pose this question:

Who voted for this? Did anybody? Did any man or woman put their cross in a Tory box on election day and imagine that all this would come about?

Let the soul searching and recriminations commence.

Cameron and Sarkozy complete phase one of building an EU Army

Listening on BBC Five Live to David Cameron’s comments during his joint statement with Nicolas Sarkozy on UK-French military cooperation underlines just how slippery and untrustworthy he is.

Cameron stated that Britain and France would remain sovereign nations with their own independent military capabilities. He said that in recent history there have only been two occasions when Britain has launched a fully independent military campaign, the Falklands War and Sierra Leone. Cameron then went on to point out France and Britain’s joint involvement in theatres such as the Balkans and Kosovo (of course he did not mention the French officer who passed NATO military plans to Serbia).

But deliberately missing from Cameron’s little speech was the word interoperability. Also deliberately avoided during his high speed pass over recent military history was any mention of the invasion of Iraq. yet this is where the risks of Anglo-French military ‘cooperation’ exist.

Interoperability in the context of this treaty means certain capabilities will be provided by Britain and others by France. It makes the two countries reliant upon each other and unable to operate independently.

Interoperability only works when the partners in a cooperation pact share a common aim. During the Iraq campaign where we supported the Americans, this was not the case as France refused to take part in the invasion. The UK was unhindered by interoperability constraints because we possessed the independent capability to put our troops, tanks and aircraft into theatre to invade southern Iraq. We didn’t need the French.

The Anglo-French treaty signed today by Cameron and Sarkozy makes Britain reliant on France in military matters because Britain will no longer retain the necessary capability to operate alone. They claim this reduction in capability is designed to save money. But what happens when Britain needs the French in order to be able to deploy the necessary men and materials to protect British interests overseas and the French refuse to provide the capability because they disagree with the action? It is an unacceptable and short sighted risk and Cameron’s assertion that Britain will retain a sovereign capability is a lie.

There is only one way to be certain that France and Britain will deploy together for military action – that is if the order comes from their government, the EU. There is ample evidence that this is the plan. As EU Referendum reminds us:

This is a continuation of the Maastricht Treaty agenda, as this briefing note makes clear. Agreed by the Tories under John Major, this set up the parameters for the development of a European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The process continued with the Franco-British meeting in Saint-Malo (France) in December 1998. That was when London and Paris agreed to jointly and actively work to make the European Union “able to carry out some security tasks on its own”.

With the two largest military powers in the EU brought together by this treaty it is much easier to subsequently add the armed forces of other EU member states to the mix, piece by piece. It is through this phased approach that the EU will achieve its ambition of being a military power and the federal superstate will boast its own army, navy and air force.

Cameron and Sarkozy have just concluded phase one.

UK takes first step into EU Army

‘Anyone who thinks that Anglo-French military “co-operation” isn’t a Trojan Horse for the EU Army needs their brains examined.’

That is the simple fact reiterated on EU Referendum earlier today.  And it’s not like the discussions and the warnings of this huge step towards a federal superstate have not been there for years. The political class and the media have been teeing this up for a long time. Here’s just a random sample of reports on the subject:

2005 – The next step will be to form a Europe-wide foreign policy and merge the armed forces into a single EU army.
2006 – The President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, has proposed the creation of a 100,000-strong EU army designed to work with NATO.
2007 – “We need to get closer to a common army for Europe,” Merkel last week told German daily Bild.
2007 – David Miliband yesterday called for greater military cooperation between European countries – fuelling fears of a possible EU army to rival Nato.
2008 – In a little-reported speech on May 6, Germany’s Foreign Minister Steinmeier called for greater efforts to create a common EU army.
2008 – Slowly but surely, the hidden agenda of the European Union’s foreign policy elite, led by France, becomes clear. They want an EU ‘army’, ‘hard power’ and a grand new military headquarters.
2008 – The freshly appointed UK defence secretary has publicly supported on Monday the idea of a European army.

The problem seems to be ordinary people thought this was something that simply could never happen. They saw the reports of an EU Army, figured these were the pipe dreams of self important windbags, and returned to the more serious business of deciding who to vote for on X Factor and which EastEnders character would be next to be run over in Albert Square. Or perhaps some thought a Conservative like Cameron would be elected and stop it happening – not reckoning on the fact the man as heir to Blair and his ‘progressive’ ilk is fully signed up to selling the UK out.

In their distracted state what most people did not realise or did not care was that these windbags were working unchecked to award themselves the power to carry out their plans. The salami tactics of seizing power slice by slice did not register with many, but they have brought us to this defining moment in our history – a moment when the UK completes the surrender of itself to the bureaucracy.

Those who saw it coming shouted from the rooftops but were told to stop ‘banging on’ about Europe by the very man who will move the first piece on the board to make the dream a reality by signing a ‘cooperation’ agreement with the French that signals the end of British military independence. Perhaps this was what Cameron had in mind when he spoke of ‘letting sunshine win the day’.

There is a word that fits Cameron perfectly. Collaborateur.

Missing the point of military cooperation with France

Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, ventures forth in the Sunday Telegraph today to set out his view that a closer alliance with France will be good for Britain. In doing so he intentionally attempts to mislead the public about the long term direction of Britain’s defence policy.

But his derisory effort to give the impression that Britain’s interests come first, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, is worthy of scorn. It is a disgraceful attempt to deceive the British public. If you are not sure what I mean, try to make sense of Fox’s opening sentence:

Too often, the debate on defence within Europe has been focused on what the EU should or should not do. Yet it has always been my view that defence must be a sovereign, and therefore an inter-governmental issue.

The visions are mutally exclusive. You cannot have sovereign defence and make defence an inter-governmental issue. Fox continues:

When nations can benefit from co-operation without losing sovereignty, they should aim to do so – which is why this week will mark the beginning of a long-term commitment to closer defence and security links with France.

This is delusional rubbish. It doesn’t stand up to even cursory scrutiny. Any national defence capability that is dependent on the active cooperation and involvement of another nation before it can be deployed is, by definition, not sovereign. The Fox rationale of ‘cooperation’ being important in saving money is a red herring. The problem with our defence spending has not been the amount spent, but how it has been wasted on the procurement of the wrong equipment, usually at grossly inflated prices.

Let us be clear, Fox is not talking about international cooperation – a good example of which is NATO. Cooperation equates to the sovereign and independent defence capabilities of a number of countries coming together to achieve specific operational goals of mutual interest. What Fox is describing is interdependence – where the military force of a country (in this case Britain) is incapable of acting unilaterally and can only be deployed if another country provides the missing elements required to conduct operations.

This is not good for Britain.

As a number of people commenting on Fox’s Telegraph piece point out, everyone can think of conflicts in recent years where France would have refused to allow its assets to be deployed to enable British operations, because involvement in such actions would have a negative impact on French trade or financial interests. We know that even the closest of friends and allies sometimes oppose actions undertaken in our self interest – America during the Suez crisis anyone? We know that the interests of our friends and allies often conflict with our own wishes – France selling warships to Russia anyone?

But the observations of nearly all the commentators on Fox’s essay fail to make the final step on their journey. For any number of reasons they fail to recognise what the end game really is, perhaps because the destination is such anathema to them they could not conceive our government would work towards such an outcome… namely that defence is being readied to become an EU responsibility.

The goal is that the defence of the United Kingdom will cease to be the sovereign responsibility of the British government and that it will be, at some point in the future, managed by the EU. The goal that the most essential pillar of self determination of a nation state will be removed as a part of the objective of ever closer union on the path to full federal governance from Brussels.

No matter how close our friends and allies might be the United Kingdom absolutely must maintain an independent and sovereign military capability that can be deployed unilaterally to protect this country and defend this country’s interests overseas. Liam Fox, David Cameron, the coalition government and the rest of the political class are not serving Britain’s interests, but serving the wishes of the EU. And yes, the Tories with their weasel words and attempts to wrap themselves in the flag are complicit in this and have actively driven this forward.

Without being melodramatic there is only one word for such behaviour and that is treachery. When are people going to shake themselves out of their slumber and stand up against the dismantling of this country? How fitting it is that the word treachery comes from the Old French trecherie, from trechier, meaning to cheat, compare or trick.

Britain is now the punchline for an international joke

  • Can you imagine, just for a second, the US Navy or Russian Navy putting an aircraft carrier to sea with no aircraft?
  • Can you imagine France scrapping the Charles de Gaulle without immediate replacement and giving up its strike capability for a whole decade?
  • Can you imagine India putting its forthcoming Vikrant class carrier to sea, but with Thai rather than Indian owned aicraft?

The questions should be seen as preposterous because they are. But these are the scenarios facing our senior service, the Royal Navy, thanks to a government that is determined to make much needed spending cuts, but refusing to make them in those areas that have been soaked in additional or wasteful spending by the profligate Labour administration.

Either the government is serious about the defence of the United Kingdom and its interests overseas, or it isn’t.

The threat to this country, while recognising there are homegrown terrorists eager to attack us, originates overseas. The people who wish to harm this country and its people train overseas. Therefore we need to be able to act to defend ourselves overseas and air power is an important element in such actions.

There is no middle ground here. The government must retain a maritime strike capability until HMS Queen Elizabeth II and HMS Prince of Wales are fully operational with the proper complement of strike/fighter aircraft. HMS Ark Royal should not be retired early. And it is ridiculous that we might only have an intermittent nuclear deterrent in future because the plans for reducing the submarine fleet mean at times we will not have an attack submarine at sea.

Billions of pounds have been swallowed in welfare overpayments and the errors have still not been fixed. Billions have disappeared into the black hole of PFI projects where the taxpayer has been fleeced. Billions have been wasted on idiotic defence procurement flights of fancy. The list continues. These things should be fixed instead of degrading our military capability. Perhaps we can copy the Russians and fill the flightdeck with inflatable decoy aircraft to give the impression we are serious about defence.

Hey, heard the one about the country that had a defence strategy that allowed it to build two supercarriers but didn’t budget for the planes they’re supposed to carry…?

Royal Navy vessel share with French Navy was a Tory plan

When David Cameron came clean about his preferred approach to a referendum Lisbon Treaty, namely not holding a referendum despite promises and assurances, he was able to claim Conservative hands had been tied by the treaty already being ratified by Gordon Brown’s Labour government and other EU member states.

But what will be Cameron’s excuse when the deeply unpopular plan for the Royal Navy and French Navy to share aircraft carriers and integrate operations is confirmed?  After all, as EU Referendum reminds us, this is nothing more than the realisation of a long standing European military cooperation agreement signed by the Conservatives under John Major in 1996.

The 2010 gloss painted on this plan will be the pressing need to reduce public spending in this era of austerity.  But only a fool would buy that line.  Are we to believe Major and Co. knew some fourteen years ago that more than a decade of Labour government was forthcoming and the Treasury would be left empty and liable for billions of pounds in debt, requiring us to resort to such humiliating measures?  Thanks to the reaction of some in the military and the mainstream media, Cameron would rather we didn’t notice this was a plan hatched by Tory wets in government that is about to be executed under this new group of Tory wets, in cahoots with the Eurofanatical Liberal Democrats.

This time Cameron can’t claim he has been painted into a corner by Labour.  This idiocy was Tory in origin and design. And it won’t be a matter of this going ahead just because it’s too difficult to reverse, it will go ahead because this is what cast-iron Cameron and his band of ‘power not principle’ hangers-on want.  Perhaps the vichy Tories will revert to their usual refrain… never again, until the next time.

You can be sure the only thing that will shift here is the line in the sand the Tories keep re-drawing every time they promise absolutely no more European integration, before doing the exact opposite. Maybe this is the reason why Tory MPs like Douglas Carswell struggle with issues such as these and miss the point entirely.

To Russia with love, warships from France

Another suitable title for this post would be ‘While Europe slept’.

In August 2008 France’s President Sarkozy packaged up and delivered to Russia an EU peace plan to bring an end to the short, one-sided conflict with Georgia.  A quick scan showed the plan had more holes than a sieve and favoured Russia disproportionately.  Eyebrows were raised.  It was no surprise though that Russia flouted its terms brazenly and the EU offered nothing more than a few limp words of disappointment.

Then in November 2008 Sarkozy energetically encouraged his EU colleagues to back Russian proposals for a Pan-European security pact that had previously been ignored by western European countries.  At the same time, despite France being aspiring to rejoin NATO as a full member within months having withdrawn from the alliance in 1966, Sarkozy publicly broke ranks over the proposed US Missile Shield in Europe.  Acting like Medvedev and Putin’s personal ventriloquist dummy, Sarkozy parroted Russia’s well rehearsed position, arguing that:

“Deployment of a missile defense system would bring nothing to security in Europe … it would complicate things, and would make them move backward,”

Russia was delighted that the Élysée was on board, on message and sowing disunity around western Europe.  Sarkozy’s hyperactivity had seen to it that EU backed down from their previously stated position regarding Russia’s aggression in Georgia and agreed to EU-Russian talks on trade and energy before troops had even left Georgian soil.  The obvious conclusion to draw was that French had identified in Russia an opportunity for an advantage and vested self interest was at play

But it is only in the last couple of weeks that the terms of the trade off have become clear.  The Georgian Daily reported on 9th January that Moscow was seeking to modernise its military capability by buying advanced technology in the shape of at least one Mistral-class amphibious assault ship (below), built and sold to the Russian Navy – by France.

It has taken fully 11 days for anyone in the western media to wake up to what’s going on, with the Washington Times finally going to print with a story on Wednesday titled ‘France likely to sell warship to Moscow -Deal raises concerns in NATO pact’.  A Google News search reveals that throughout the collective news media of the European Union nations, there is not a single word on this subject.  This despite the Georgian Daily’s observation that:

Russian officials currently emphasize the value of advanced technology transfers to Russia that would accompany the possible acquisition of Mistral-class ships. According to Pukhov, Russia is interested in the Mistral not only or primarily for its amphibious assault capabilities, but for its value as a command platform with advanced electronics for battle management and network-centric military operations at sea, as well as its hydroacoustics.

It would represent a significant enhancement of Russian offensive military capability that could have been put to devastating effect in Georgia had the vessel been part of the Russian Naval fleet.  No wonder small voices are trying to make themselves heard in an attempt to stop France assisting the military rearmament of the greatest risk to stability facing Europe.  Just ask Poland.

As for the rest of the EU, they are as usual snoozing comfortably at the wheel of the juggernaut, wilfully oblivious to the bigger one coming straight at them from the east.  Those people who keep saying Russia is not the military might it once was and using that as justification to reduce defence spending might want to reconsider in light of France’s traditionally self serving actions.

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