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Ptarmigan
In December 2003, the UK Ministry of Defence released the White Paper 'Delivering Security in a Changing World'

This paper is a review of the current status of the UK military and how it needs to change to meet the challenges of a post-Cold War world.

Its release was controversial in Britain, because of one key finding:

QUOTE
The most demanding expeditionary operations, involving intervention against state adversaries, can only plausibly be conducted if US forces are engaged, either leading a coalition or in NATO. Where the UK chooses to be engaged, we will wish to be able to influence political and military decision making throughout the crisis, including during the post-conflict period. The significant military contribution the UK is able to make to such operations means that we secure an effective place in the political and military decision-making processes. To exploit this effectively, our Armed Forces will need to be interoperable with US command and control structures, match the US operational tempo and provide those capabilities that deliver the greatest impact when operating alongside the US.


The final analysis concluded that the UK military should be altered to become inter-operable with the US RATHER than a military that could conduct a war against another nation state on its own. As a result, the military is going to lose men, but become more high tech, so that UK forces can operate with the US on a more equal technological footing.

What this essentially marks is (IMO) the end of the UK as an independent military power. After these changes, we will have to operate within either US or NATO run operations (although the UK will retain peace-keeping capabilities).

So my questions for debate are:
Is this a good idea for the UK (or any country)

Is this the start of a trend, i.e. will other countries follow suit, or is it the UK an exception

In 10 or 20 years, how will countries be conducting military affairs?
A more general question at the end - will wars be conducted almost exclusively by US led military hegemons, or will we still have smaller wars between nations?
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loreng59
Ouch!!!!

That would be the end of the British military as a fighting force.

Is this a good idea for the UK (or any country)Am not British, but I would think this is one of the worst ideas possible. What if you have another situation like the Falklands? The US is not going to fight all of England's battles. The American people won't tolerate it, holding your coats like the Falklands most likely but as for the rest, well America would have to be convinced that it would be our best interest.

Is this the start of a trend, i.e. will other countries follow suit, or is it the UK an exceptionI expect it will be the exception. It would be impossible to have a foreign policy that goes against American interests. Not a good thing for any country, America needs the balance of other countries, and so does the world.

In 10 or 20 years, how will countries be conducting military affairs?Much as today. There will be more lower level conflicts for the foreseeable future
Ptarmigan
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That would be the end of the British military as a fighting force.

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Am not British, but I would think this is one of the worst ideas possible. What if you have another situation like the Falklands? The US is not going to fight all of England's battles. The American people won't tolerate it, holding your coats like the Falklands most likely but as for the rest, well America would have to be convinced that it would be our best interest.


Hence the controversy! The MOD predict that events such as the Falklands are unlikley to reoccur and if they did, then Britain would only respond as part of a wider coalition. (However, bear in mind that ultimately the US DID support the UK in the Falklands conflict, albeit through logistical support).

However, the world of today isn't the world of the 80s. There are fewer repressive regimes in a position to affect the UK - and even at the time a lot of people in the UK were questioning whether the Falklands was a battle worth fighting.

The UK would also retain its nuclear deterrent - and would be increasing its number of special forces and high tech equipment....however it would definitely be moving from a potentially offensive to purely defensive force (unless working within a greater organisation).

I think an American viewpoint is quite interesting here....presumably the Pentagon must love the idea - as it essentially ties UK foreign policy to the US (which it already was but...).

I think the wider question is: how would UK and US interests diverge? The MOD presumably doesn't think they will anymore...
loreng59
Well I think that we are pretty close, but if say Spain attempted to take Gibraltar for an example. The US would support the UK, but provide no combat troops. That is not to say that I expect any such thing to occur.

I can't think of another example, but who knows the future? I think that since the end of the Second World War England has been cutting their military near to the point of uselessness, and this step would be the final piece to the puzzle. The British deserve better than to be an American puppet.
Horyok
Is this a good idea for the UK (or any country)

I can't speak for the Britons, but I see this as a danger to Euro Defense. If I recall correctly, there is already a project about creating an operational EuroCorps, right? If the Britons decide to follow both the US and the EU at the same time, this will cause of major conflict of interests. As the saying tells : "You can't have two masters."

Is this the start of a trend, i.e. will other countries follow suit, or is it the UK an exception?

I hope it's an exception. I don't want to see any country (at least in the EU)surrender its independence and/or free will to any other.

In 10 or 20 years, how will countries be conducting military affairs?

Hopefully, the EuroCorps will be NATO's embodiment in Europe. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, I don't know.
turnea
QUOTE(Horyok @ Mar 8 2005, 02:05 PM)
I can't speak for the Britons, but I see this as a danger to Euro Defense. If I recall correctly, there is already a project about creating an operational EuroCorps, right? If the Britons decide to follow both the US and the EU at the same time, this will cause of major conflict of interests. As the saying tells : "You can't have two masters."

I think the problems runs to a more fundamental level, as I think loreng59 pointed out.

That is it eliminates the possibility of the UK being its own master. I will be the first to point out that neither the US or EU's foreign policies are perfect.

Military power should retain a certain degree of decentralization.

Is this the start of a trend, i.e. will other countries follow suit, or is it the UK an exception?
I must say I felt something like this coming, it is merely the logical conclusion to the turn Western Europe has taken against the very concept of military actions.

The UK may be the first to acknowledge this publicly, but right now I suspect many states in Europe could not operate on their own.

Indeed the UK has one of the more capable militaries.

This has been the de facto European policy for some time.

In 10 or 20 years, how will countries be conducting military affairs?

I think the major powers like France China, the US etc. will keep an independent military. But I always thought the UK would too...
Mrs. Pigpen
Is this a good idea for the UK (or any country) I think it's an awful idea. I'm not sure what the Pentagon thinks, but I'd expect it might be a bad deal for us, too. Honestly, having a well-fortified ally that can aid you is more beneficial than one that depends on your military force (just my opinion, of course). I also think it's potentially destabilizing. One of the reasons for a large conventional force in the world of nuclear deterrence is to prevent the potential use of that deterrent. Maybe I'm stuck in the 80s, but I still think conventional arms are molto importante today...perhaps more so than ever in the face of the new types of threats. Ultimately, all laws (including international laws) are just wishes on paper unless there is some force to back them. I think that's a potentially perilous thing to forget, even if it isn't something polite society likes to think or talk about.

Is this the start of a trend, i.e. will other countries follow suit, or is it the UK an exception I doubt any of the potential adversaries will follow this trend. I certainly hope the rest of Europe does not.
Ptarmigan
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I can't think of another example, but who knows the future? I think that since the end of the Second World War England has been cutting their military near to the point of uselessness, and this step would be the final piece to the puzzle. The British deserve better than to be an American puppet.
Loreng

Funnily enough it is precisely because the UK troops have become near to useless that this is going ahead. Rather than have a large, yet technologically redundant army, the UK would prefer to have a smaller (in terms of manpower) yet higher tech army. At the moment, it is hard for the UK to operate alongside the US, because US technology is so far advanced of our own.

Independent of any other force, the UK would be able to carry out peacekeeping and rapid reaction operations - i.e. provide smaller numbers of very highly trained soldiers. It loses the capability to invade another country.

So will the UK ever need to invade another country without being part of a larger force - whether it be a US led coalition, or an EU force? The UK retains its own defensive ability, yet becomes better able to operate alongside the US when the US is invading somewhere.

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I think it's an awful idea. I'm not sure what the Pentagon thinks, but I'd expect it might be a bad deal for us, too. Honestly, having a well-fortified ally that can aid you is more beneficial than one that depends on your military force (just my opinion, of course).
Mrs P

But to be able to aid the US, the UK needs to upgrade its equipment. The troops are badly underequipped and about ten to twenty years behind the US technologically. As the technology gap increases, so do friendly fire incidents and we become more of a burden to our allies. So reduce the numbers and upgrade the technology...

The UK developed a large force in order to withstand a Russian invasion of Europe. Now that that threat has receded, what threats will the UK face in todays world?
Probably state sponsored terrorism, in which case we need to be able to effect a regime change. No country in Europe could currently do that singlehandedly anyway (other than possibly in Africa) - so we will be working alongside the US.

Most military personnel I know are divided on the issue. They're looking forward to getting more cutting edge equipment, but dislike the loss of manpower.

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The UK may be the first to acknowledge this publicly, but right now I suspect many states in Europe could not operate on their own.
Turnea

Yes and no - the UK or France could probably invade an African country, but the Middle East or Asia? Forget it. In any case, we cannot operate in opposition to the US's wishes. That is the way of things as they are right now. Perhaps the MOD is simply accepting reality and making the best decisions given that reality.

QUOTE
I can't speak for the Britons, but I see this as a danger to Euro Defense. If I recall correctly, there is already a project about creating an operational EuroCorps, right? If the Britons decide to follow both the US and the EU at the same time, this will cause of major conflict of interests. As the saying tells : "You can't have two masters."

Horyok The Eurodefense is precisely that - defensive. What the UK is losing is an aspect of its offensive ability. If the US is operating offensively somewhere, then the UK can work alongside it, without coming into conflict with the necessity to defend Europe (or carry out peacekeeping).

However, should the EU wish to develop an offensive force that does not operate within NATO, then the UK would be in a difficult position, as the EU and the US may disagree. In which case, I think it's really a given that we would side with the US. But that whole scenario is pretty unlikely. Somehow getting 25 or so countries to agree to form one common army and then acting against US interests (especially when the EU consists of countries which are strong allies of the US) seems a little difficult...

loreng59
Ptarmigan the UK may have to get leaner and more modern, my goodness the US military has gotten a lot leaner. From my time in the service to my daughter's half of the armed forces are gone and I have been out for 18 years now. Yes they are higher tech, but the numbers are no longer there.

But by all means this has got to be one of the worst ideas that I have read in recent times. If I were in England I certainly would be doing my best to convince my leaders that they are mistaken. Keep your options, be your own master, not an American puppet.
Ptarmigan
QUOTE(loreng59 @ Mar 9 2005, 01:21 PM)
Ptarmigan the UK may have to get leaner and more modern, my goodness the US military has gotten a lot leaner. From my time in the service to my daughter's half of the armed forces are gone and I have been out for 18 years now. Yes they are higher tech, but the numbers are no longer there.

But by all means this has got to be one of the worst ideas that I have read in recent times. If I were in England I certainly would be doing my best to convince my leaders that they are mistaken. Keep your options, be your own master, not an American puppet.
*



On balance I agree with you. I'm not sure if this is an intelligent idea at all. It may be too optimistic to think that the UK will never engage in a major conflict without the US...for all we know, the US may decide to withdraw from world affairs and leave the rest of the world to their own devices. If that happens, then the UK will have to look to forming military alliances within the EU - in which case every time we wanted to go to war we would require French (or potentially German) allies. No disrespect to either of those countries, but European diplomacy just isn't at that level yet.

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moif
Is this a good idea for the UK (or any country)

No. It is effectively a surrender of British interests to American foreign policy and a frank admission that Britain is a spent force in the world of geo-politics.

This is the true end product of NATO. Europe has been brought to its knee's by having had to adopt a subservient position to the USA for so many decades. The truth is, the Soviet Union was not the only loser of the cold war. We in Europe lost also, and those in Britain, closest to the USA, lost the most.

Only France has retained any degree of its own hard power, but even France is powerless against the USA.

The British government apparently does not think this is such a bad idea, but anyone who thinks the USA is going to act in any one's interest but their own is gravely mistaken, and no matter how far the British bend, they will never be as one with American interests. There will be times when the British find themselves forced to act against their own wishes if they are powerless to remain neutral, which given that the US already maintains the UK's nuclear missiles is a day not to far in the future.


Is this the start of a trend, i.e. will other countries follow suit, or is it the UK an exception

The UK is an exception. Denmark, like many other European nations is also restructuring its military, but the emphasis is on UN style peace keeping roles rather than 'offensive' action in support of the USA. Denmark of course cannot participate in a European army because the Danish population voted against the Maastricht treaty, but for the rest of Europe, the European army is something that is becoming ever more necessary.

I think if Europe is to stand any chance of independence from the USA, then we ought to be developing our own military technological advantages. The fact of the matter is, the USA has been sponging technological innovations from Europe ever since the second world war, and in return we've received nothing. Britains given the USA just about every military invention its had since 1939 and in return it has become a toothless lap dog that couldn't defend its interests without US protection any more.

I am happy to see that Europe is not so blind to the truth of the US/Euro alliance any more. Over the course of the next few decades I anticipate an ever growing gap between the two in terms of autonomy and frankly I think both sides will benefit from this. Once the European military, the Gallileo system and the many discreet military projects I hear rumours of are up and running we shall have our own methods of projecting our will upon the world instead of having to rely on the USA.


In 10 or 20 years, how will countries be conducting military affairs?

Nothing much changes in the world. In 20 years time, we human beings will still be fighting wars against each other. The only difference will by why. According to the CIA, we shall see a lot more resource wars in the near future. Its not improbable that one day EU troops will have to face US troops over some issue or other.


editted for spelling
Ptarmigan
QUOTE
The UK is an exception. Denmark, like many other European nations is also restructuring its military, but the emphasis is on UN style peace keeping roles rather than 'offensive' action in support of the USA.


Which strikes me as the type of restructuring that Britain should be doing. The British Army is a good peacekeeping army - we would serve the world (and our own interests) far better by developing a strong peacekeeping army, rather than trying to become a 'wing' of the American Army....

Well, this topic has thoroughly depressed me. sad.gif I'm going to go and rail against all those armchair generals who run the MOD. Obviously sacrificing common sense to the altar of outdated martial pride... mad.gif
bucket
I am actually going to take my time to read the paper through and through before I truly respond.

Yet on the face of it I must admit I do not immediately object to something like this. As a UK/US citizen myself I welcome further alignment of my two nations. I must admit I am a bit anti-EU..surely many of you already know this and I just can't figure how this disturbs many of you and yet the EU is just dandy...where is their room for sovereignty in the future of the EU?
This is just a military alliance hardly anything that seeks to regulate the price of milk or the safety standards of your nation's transport systems. Just can't get my head around how this is more of a threat to UK sovereignty than the EU is.

I will read the whole paper this evening and try to respond again tonight.

PudriK
More likely, as I think we are already starting to see, the EU will grow some form of combined force as an alternative to relying on US miltary power. I disagree that the Europeans need to worry about the state of their military technology. Many advanced weapons systems, aircraft, ships, and firearms have been and are being developed in European nations. If someone asks I'll cite examples. Perhaps an argument could be made that European forces are less advanced in C4ISR (network-centric gadgetry) and weapons targeting/computing, but I am unfamiliar with this. That the UK has chosen to transition to a leaner, more technologically advanced force may not only be a recognition of future interoperability requirements with the US, but also reflect a global military trend that is arguably applicable to all developed nations.

That said, if I understand the term correctly, a "white-paper" is more exploratory and not declaratory... seeking to open debate, not state a new position.

Regardless, I'm sure any bill that places the future use of the Queen's forces at the behest of the Colonies is going to be politically unpalatable.
bucket
Well I read the whole thing and I fail to not only see what the big deal is but how this is much of a change?

Basically the paper just goes on and on about the new threats we face in the world and that they are mostly smaller, more hidden and spread out all over the place. The paper is a good read tho mostly because it is very assuring to see how closely inline the UK and the US are on their thoughts about the GWOT and how we must go about fighting it. In this paper it is clearly defined that the UK feels that military defense will and must happen abroad in order to prevent it from having to happen at home. It also concludes that military action is a much needed element of international law and that military action will only be put into action outside of the UN.

The paragraph that was highlighted was but one single paragraph. The paper outlined much the same approach to NATO and the ESDP. I think the desire to operate with the US when the UK chooses outside it's nation as it also desires to do so with NATO and the EU is the pinnacle of the current UK military philosophy...flexibility. She does not wish to be confined by her military abilities nor her military alliances.

The paper does talk quite a lot about national defense and makes no mention of the US in regards to this. It does make mention of the need to tend to national matters and more citizenry duties...it also mentions the need or I should say the responsibility the UK has to offer her protection to her 13 territories overseas. And yes it speaks of global and international threats..like the GWOT..that require the UK to act within a number of available coalitions.

I think anyone who opposes what that paragraph stated then must oppose NATO and the ESDP too. As I do not believe the UK feels there is a difference because she feels all of them are methods or means to achieve her one singular goal...which is to defend the UK and her interests abroad.
Ptarmigan
QUOTE
I think anyone who opposes what that paragraph stated then must oppose NATO and the ESDP too. As I do not believe the UK feels there is a difference because she feels all of them are methods or means to achieve her one singular goal...which is to defend the UK and her interests abroad.


Well, I'm fairly torn on the whole thing - however if the UK restructures her armed forces to be something that can only work as part of a wider alliance - be it NATO, with the US or within the EU, then that makes several assumptions about the nature of military conflicts in the future and the primary assumption is that the UK will not HAVE to fight independently ever again. Which may well be true - and ideally we would hope that the world progresses to a stage where individual nations no longer retain a military as a last resort to settle disputes...

However the world can change in suprising ways.

20,000 post go in defence cuts (BBC)

I think the issue is the reduction in infantry numbers. Certainly a flexible force that can fight anywhere is good, however some jobs require large numbers of soldiers, rather than high tech gadgets and special ops.

loreng59
On the whole it is most likely that most future conflicts will be a coalition, but ...

And that is a very large but, the EU, and even France can't get there. Neither group has the ability to project their forces to remote locations. That is the crux of the White Paper and with the British government those white papers have a nasty habit of becoming the rules.

The US is the only nation with the ability to project their forces to just about anywhere in the world. England has managed to retained a fair amount of that ability. During the Falklands the British Armed Forces where stretched to their utmost and with some US assistance managed to prevail. The French can project about one reinforced battalion. The rest of the world might as well not have any capability unless they can drive there.
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