Friday, 29 October 2010

Herve Morin On Anglo French Joint Forces

The following extracts from an interview with the French Defence Minister Herve Morin were published on the website of the French embassy in the United Kingdom.

Herve Morin said: 

"Because of their meagre defence budgets, the Europeans are sliding gently and comfortably towards an eventual Sino-American condominium.
We are in the process of giving up being a player on the international stage where we will carry less and less weight without a European political construction.
The absence of will and so of efforts in defence, inadequate cooperation and lack of ambition are creating all the conditions for a weakening of Europe."

This appears to be the motive behind the drive for European political and military integration.
European politicians can not play an important part in World events as their countries are no longer economically or militarily dominant.
Their solution is to merge their nations into a larger "super nation" which allows them to play a major part on the global stage.
Unfortunately the global insignificance of European nations owes more to their economic inefficiency rather than their small size.
This inefficiency is in large part due to European integration.

Herve Morin said: 

"And yet the strengthening of our bilateral relationship with the British, which is the fruit of a genuine political will,shows what we should be capable of doing on a European scale!"

The question must be asked whether this approach is supported by the will of the people of the countries of Europe rather than just the will of the politicians of Europe.
After all,the people are the ones who pay the bill.

Herve Morin said: 

 "In the naval sphere we are thinking about how to make our aircraft carriers more interoperable.
 Going beyond joint exercises,we are in favour of sharing the escort of aircraft carriers in naval strike groups.
A British frigate could perfectly well help protect the Charles-de-Gaulle just as a French frigate could help protect a British aircraft carrier.
Since the British have announced their wish to equip their operational aircraft carrier with catapults I’ve asked the armed forces staff to think about the feasibility of using British planes on our own aircraft carrier and vice-versa: except, obviously in the event of conflict or crisis where our respective interests were different.
This would allow us to ensure a continuous at-sea presence."

The obvious problem is that if both nations lack the resources to maintain a carrier group then neither nation can use that force in the national interest.
This is not a problem for those who wish for greater European political integration.

Herve Morin said:

"We are in the process of assessing these areas:it would be a major strong symbol."

This certainly would be a major symbol of the current British government's desire for European integration.

Herve Morin said:

"Maritime patrol aircraft and oil tankers can also be pooled."

We assume the minister is referring to tanker ships here.
French capacity in this regard is limited and consequently this is likely to have limited impact on the need for new British replenishment ships.
The French Atlantique patrol aircraft are presumably part of the French contribution to the joint force which would explain the cancellation of the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft.

Herve Morin said: 

"Maintenance in operational condition (MOC) and training of A400M crews could be pooled as could the launch in the medium term of a joint “future UAV programme”."

This appears to suggest that training of Royal Air Force crews as well as maintenance of British A400Ms will in future take place on the continent.
The Unmanned Air Vehicle mentioned may refer to an Anglo French development of the B.A.E.Systems Taranis.
Unfortunately joint European aircraft development has little history of success.
Such development often leads to aircraft delivered late and over budget,one would have hoped that lessons would have been learnt from past mistakes.

Herve Morin said:

"We are also thinking about other areas such as that of tanker aircraft.
We could take advantage of British overcapacity once a way of fairly sharing costs has been found."

It was very interesting that the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft project was not reduced in scale during the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review despite it's cost and obvious over capacity.
It appears to have been retained to form part of the British contribution to future Anglo French joint forces.

Herve Morin said:

"Finally, there’s the whole question of streamlining the construction of the European missile system in a single ONE-MBDA.
Budgetary constraints are forcing us today to take joint decisions particularly on cruise missiles and the light anti-ship missile."

This will have unfortunate effects on the British armed forces.
In recent years frontline units have been cut while large sums of money have been spent on development of an unnecessarily large number of missile projects.
These include Meteor,Storm Shadow,Brimstone,Aster,C.A.A.M.M. and F.A.S.G.W.(H).
These projects have cost approximately £8,000 Million.
In the past funding for national missile projects was justified on the basis of security of supply and economic claw back.
Yet the above projects involve British taxpayers funding the product development for foreign owned missile manufacturers with little tax claw back and no security of supply.
There is no military or economic justification for such expenditure.
It can be explained only in the context of European integration.

This appears to be the main theme of the Strategic Defence and Security Review.
Not one of the major European defence projects was cut despite financial difficulties.

F.S.T.A.,ASCOD,F.A.S.G.W.(H),C.A.A.M.M.,A400M and Eurofighter Typhoon all emerged unscathed.

National and Anglo American projects such as Harrier,F35, and Nimrod were all cut while the Anglo American Trident replacement was delayed.

Given discussion of British warheads being serviced in France it seems likely that a joint Anglo French strategic nuclear deterrent based on French M51 missiles is in prospect.

This is all in line with provisions of the Lisbon Treaty which all major British political parties have refused to hold a referendum on.

The following is taken from Article 2 of the Protocol on Permanent Structured Cooperation established by Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union:

"Article 2

To achieve the objectives laid down in Article 1, Member States participating in permanent structured cooperation shall undertake to:

(a) cooperate, as from the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, with a view to achieving approved objectives concerning the level of investment expenditure on defence equipment, and regularly review these objectives, in the light of the security environment and of the Union’s international responsibilities;

(b) bring their defence apparatus into line with each other as far as possible, particularly by harmonising the identification of their military needs, by pooling and, where appropriate, specialising their defence means and capabilities, and by encouraging cooperation in the fields of training and logistics;

(c) take concrete measures to enhance the availability, interoperability, flexibility and deployability of their forces, in particular by identifying common objectives regarding the commitment of forces, including possibly reviewing their national decision-making procedures;

(d) work together to ensure that they take the necessary measures to make good, including through multinational approaches, and without prejudice to undertakings in this regard within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the shortfalls perceived in the framework of the ’Capability Development Mechanism’;

(e) take part, where appropriate, in the development of major joint or European equipment programmes in the framework of the European Defence Agency."


Jedibeeftrix said...

"Given discussion of British warheads being serviced in France it seems likely that a joint Anglo French strategic nuclear deterrent based on French M51 missiles is in prospect."

I'm not so sure on this, if only because i cannot see how it will be cheaper for Britain.

According to lindey-french the French deterrent occupies 20% of their defence budget, whereas the British deterrent even on the worst case scenarios occupies only 5%, largely because we have rented missiles and guidance systems.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Jedibeeftrix,

cost is only relevant if cost effectiveness is the political objective.
If the objective is European integration then the origin of the system becomes more important than it's cost.

Our fleet of £129 Million Eurofighter Typhoons is proof of that.

Some recent British figures have put the cost of Buying Trident missiles at £3,000 Million.
Some recent French figures put the cost of their new missiles at £5,000 Million (including development costs).

Given the likely cost of developing such a system the production costs for both missiles may not be dissimilar.