News Round-Up – November 13th 2017

Prince charles remembrance service 2017

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General Defence News

Prince Charles steps in to lay wreath as Queen observes
(Metro)

Prince Harry breaks military rules while at Remembrance Day parade by having a beard
(Mirror)

UK military ‘must evolve to match threats we face’, says Armed Forces chief
(Sky News)

Defence Secretary: “We Must Never, Ever Flinch In The Face Of Aggression”
(Forces Network)

Britain will lose NATO clout if defence cuts continue, warns top US general
(Telegraph)

A European Army is not happening, Ministry of Defence claims
(Blasting News)

Australian, British Forces Help Vietnamese People’s Army Prepare for South Sudan
(Sputnik International)

Far-Right groups are trying to hijack British symbols and institutions for their own warped ideals
(Telegraph)

Troops on tax credits as civilian staff get more than £7m in bonuses this year
(Daily Star)


British Army News

British Army’s Kenya training threatened by land row
(Telegraph)

UK tanks to receive ‘state of the art upgrades’ in MAJOR £1.4billion restoration programme
(Express)

Serving soldier Semesa Rokoduguni dedicates try to his Army colleagues
(The Independent)

Landmark documentary to reveal Britain’s “forgotten” Chinese army in WWI
(Xinhua)

Army officers tell of helping London Bridge attack wounded
(Forces Network)

Reclaiming Remembrance: ‘I thought it was a white event’
(BBC News)

Top republican Copeland seeks new probe into father’s killing by Army
(Belfast Telegraph)


Royal Air Force News

Britain to send RAF Typhoon jets to Vladimir Putin’s doorstep as NATO vows to boost military might
(The Sun)

Devastating RAF air strike on ISIS underground lair kills dozens of jihadists as they try to flee
(Mirror)

Fighting ISIS: On the Ramp at Al Udeid Air Base
(Aviation Week)

Fresh appeal launched on 50th anniversary of RAF Halton servicewoman Rita Ellis’ brutal murder
(Bucks Free Press)

Girlfriend of missing RAF man Corrie McKeague girlfriend posts heartfelt Remembrance Day tribute
(Scottish Daily Record)

I don’t bear my Iraqi captors ill will, says Gulf War RAF hero
(Evening Standard)


Royal Navy & Marines News

Plymouth Royal Marine dies aboard Royal Navy ship
(BBC News)

Britain ‘to halve’ its minehunter presence in the Gulf
(The National)

Bomb squad storms one of Britain’s main Royal Navy bases
(Mirror)

Sex, Drugs And SSBNs
(Strategy Page)

Royal Navy EOD Divers Disable WWII “Pipe Bomb”
(The Maritime Executive)

UK Royal Navy to install NAVICS integrated communications systems
(Military Embedded Systems)

Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

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Latest incursion by Spanish warship in to Gibraltar’s waters prompts calls to cancel visit by King Felipe VI to Buckingham Palace

A Spanish Navy warship, the Centinela, deliberately ignored radio calls from authorities on Gibraltar after it violated British territorial waters around the island on Saturday. This prompted the Royal Navy’s Gibraltar Squadron to dispatch one of its fast patrol boats, HMS Sabre, to order the vessel to leave.  It has been reported by the press in Gibraltar that this led to a potentially dangerous situation when the British patrol boat came “within yards” of being rammed by the 1,200 ton Spanish warship.

Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron HMS Sabre

The British Daily Express newspaper claimed a source within the Royal Navy told them;

Instead of leaving, she deliberately altered and re-altered her course. At one stage there was a real and imminent danger of collision.

The government on Gibraltar were quick to condemn the incident and criticised the Spanish Navy and government for the provocative act. Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said;

These silly but dangerous manoeuvres by a supposed Nato ally are operationally irresponsible, legally irrelevant and politically inopportune. They do nothing to create a positive environment for mutual co-operation and instead hark back to another century.

This latest incident comes ahead of a planned visit by Spanish King Felipe VI to the UK scheduled to take place in the middle of this month. It is the first time in over 31 years that a Spanish monarch has visited Britain but some MPs have called for the visit to be cancelled in protest to Spain’s continued disregard for Gibraltar’s sovereignty.

Conservative Andrew Rosindell, MP for the Romford constituency in Greater London, said on Sunday;

The people of Gibraltar are rightly nervous. They break the rules while we, in turn, welcome the King and Queen of Spain for a state visit. What kind of message is that for the people of Gibraltar? The people of Gibraltar are very unnerved, and rightly so. The Government needs to be much more robust.

Last weekend’s incident is only the latest in a long line of incursions in to the waters around Gibraltar by Spanish ships;

  • Tuesday July 7th 2015 – A Royal Navy RIB was damaged in a collision with the Spanish survey ship Angeles Alvarino in Gibraltar’s waters.
  • April 2016 – It was reported that a Spanish Guarda Civil patrol boat deliberately blocked a US submarine, USS Florida, as it sailed through Gibraltar’s waters forcing the Royal Navy to fire flares over the vessel to warn it off.
  • Sunday November 20th 2016 – HMS Sabre uses flares to warn off the Spanish survey ship Angeles Alvarino after attempts to contact it by radio failed.
  • Thursday April 13th 2017 – Royal Navy escorts patrol boat Infanta Cristina back to Spanish waters.
  • Saturday April 29th 2017 – The Spanish corvette ‘Cazadora’ entered waters off Gibraltar, where Royal Navy and local police launches sailed out to meet it.

Earlier this week, British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed Britain’s continued support for Gibraltar’s sovereignty while the EU continues to demand that Spain should have influence over the British territory’s future after Brexit.

Could a Trump presidency encourage an EU Army?

Even the most casual observer of US politics has been shaken by the extremities of the Donald Trump presidential campaign. He is perhaps the most high profile example of the recent trend in western politics as a whole of more colourful characters that are trying to Donald Trump NATObuck the trend of the grey-suited, stoic politicians that are often indistinguishable from one another. Regardless of your own opinion of Donald Trump it can’t be denied that he is a charismatic personality that can fire up his supporters and energise crowds with his often inflammatory statements.

While the rest of the world has looked on with curiosity at the battle for the Republican leadership it was a recent statement by Trump that has got Europe slightly worried. Speaking in Cleveland, Ohio earlier this week the Republican candidate for the White House reiterated his “America First” policy and as part of that he dropped the bombshell that if he gets in the White House then America may not automatically honour its obligations to defend NATO countries should they come under attack.

This is in reference to Article 5 of NATO membership which promotes the principle of collective defence which has been at the very heart of NATO since its founding. The term “collective defence” means that an attack against one member state is considered an attack against all member states. It is interesting to note that only once in the alliance’s history has Article 5 ever been invoked and it was in defence of the United States of America in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Trump said that while he would “prefer to go on” with the way things are regarding the alliance he clarified his position by stating that under his presidency, US support to a member state would depend entirely on how much that member has contributed to the alliance. This is more than just Trump stating that the US will not foot the bill for European defence. It can be argued that the US signed the Washington Treaty regarding collective defence and is therefore bound by it but from the Trump camp’s perspective, many of Europe’s members have already failed to live up to their own commitments by not meeting the target of 2% of GDP being spent on defence in 2016.

According to figures published by NATO earlier this month only five out of the twenty-eight countries in NATO have met this target;

  1. The United States of America
  2. The United Kingdom
  3. Greece
  4. Estonia
  5. Poland

Not even France and Germany have met this target which means that much of Europe has little right to criticise Donald Trump regarding honouring the Washington Treaty and NATO itself. The reasons why so many countries have not spent 2% of their economies on defence as required are both varied and numerous but the biggest problem has been claimed to be Europe’s slow recovery from the economic crisis of 2008 and to a lessor extent the influx of refugees from Syria and Africa.

Reading between the lines however there is another factor that Trump and his supporters are becoming increasingly frustrated with. It is interesting to note that he specifically mentions a member state’s support to the alliance not the defence of Europe for there are now two military factions protecting western Europe; NATO and the military wing of the European Union. The EU has no army but instead has an organisational wing devoted to military cooperation between members.

EU European Union Army.jpgGenerally speaking, NATO still takes priority in the defence of western Europe but the armed forces of the European Union are increasingly becoming a more dominant factor in European foreign policies. From its very inception, NATO has been driven by US policies afforded to Washington by American military and economic support that was vital to western Europe’s defence during the days of the Cold War. For France in particular this was an intolerable position and there has long been a feeling that there has been a determination in Europe to rid itself of the White House with the ultimate goal being to create a true “EU Army”. This has understandably caused friction across the Atlantic as the US sees NATO having to compete for resources with the EU military wing.

With this in mind, it is easier to understand US frustration with Europe but if “President Trump” intends to force Europe in to deciding which is more important – NATO or the EU Army – then he may find that the European dream that is the EU may in fact overpower the perceived need for NATO especially if the matter is handed to the people in a referendum. The Trump policy of “America First” which has won him so many supporters in the US may in fact convince EU member states that President Trump’s America would be an unreliable ally and view a true European Army as the only way to guarantee its defence in the face of an increasingly aggressive Russia and an alarming increase in terrorist activity.

It’s a nightmare scenario for “Brexit Britain” which would find itself out of the European Union and in a NATO that stands for very little anymore. Of course, the UK would still enjoy its special relationship with the United States but as a political outsider on the European continent its strategic position would be significantly weakened.

But an EU Army being primarily responsible for the defence of western Europe would be a potential disaster for Europe as well. After sixty years of NATO dominance the militaries of Europe have come to rely heavily on the United States military for a number of specialised roles e.g. there is no real equivalent to the Boeing E/A-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft in Europe’s air forces. More fundamentally, the sheer number of “boots on the ground” an EU Army could generate would be many times smaller than a mobilised NATO force.

Again, the worry is that Trump’s extreme foreign policies would actually encourage the formation of an EU Army despite these drawbacks. Proponents of the EU Army would argue that with pooled resources Europe could develop its own equivalent systems that it currently has to rely on the US for but what they forget is that Europe still relies very heavily on US weapon systems such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (below). Put bluntly, a totally EU Army cannot shake off US influence completely.

F-35 Lightning II 1

So how can such a nightmare scenario be avoided?

The obvious answer is that European NATO members meet their 2% commitment to NATO and confirm that the alliance has authority over defence of the west. As the old saying goes; that’s easier said than done. The European economy is largely recovering from 2008 but with the withdrawal of one of the major economic powers, the United Kingdom, being imminent and the influx of refugees from Syria and Africa placing a weighty burden on European countries the prospect of NATO’s target being met by every country looks bleak. Even NATO’s second largest standing army, Turkey, is now in complete disarray following the recent coup attempt to overthrow the government in Ankara bringing in to doubt how useful it would be to NATO if a major crisis erupts in the coming months.

Only Donald Trump knows how far his presidency may push Europe over NATO should he win the upcoming US election. Regardless of this fact however there continues to be a will in Europe to establish the EU Army. Against such a backdrop, NATO may either have to go through a radical reshaping or be disbanded altogether and have the US, UK and Canada sign a new treaty with the EU Army regarding the defence of the west.

 

 

 

 

News Round-Up – June 29th 2016

 

River-class 2

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines.

British Army News

We Must Reinforce Our Commitment to NATO, says U.K. Defense Secretary
(USNI)

Trainee soldiers to be used on streets in national terror emergency
(The Telegraph)


Royal Air Force News

All Eyes on Farnborough and F-35
(Defense News)

US-UK security officials cement intelligence partnership after ‘leave’ vote
(Guardian)


Royal Navy News

Calls For Royal Navy To Patrol UK Coastline For Migrants
(Forces TV)

Royal Navy will still play a part aiding border force, the EU and Nato, says defence secretary
(Plymouth Herald)

Amec wins £75m nuclear deal with Royal Navy
(Energy Voice)


Disclaimer: all news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them.

Brexit & Trident – What do you think?

Vanguard-class nuclear submarine trident

There’s no escaping the fact that replacing Britain’s nuclear deterrent is an awesomely expensive undertaking. Figures released in the past put it in excess of a staggering £100bn!

So with that in mind; would a Brexit from Europe endanger the program since some politicians would want that money to be spent on instead beefing up an economy independent from Europe?

What do you think?

  • Maybe you think the money should be spent on the economy?
  • Maybe you think a Brexit would guarantee the project for economic and security reasons?

There is no wrong answer and I look forward to reading your opinions in the comments below.

NEWS: Royal Navy rescue another 134 migrants in the Mediterranean

The Type 23 frigate, HMS Richmond, has been involved in the recovery of 134 migrants from a dinghy that was attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe. The ship’s company provided food and medical assistance to the migrants before they were taken ashore to Sicily. The frigate was operating as part of a multi-national fleet conducting operations in the Mediterranean.

The European fleet rescued more than 500 people from a flotilla of overcrowded and barely seaworthy vessels. A spokesman for the operation said that as well as the 134 men and women rescued by the Royal Navy, the Belgians recovered 258 people and the Slovenian Navy retrieved up 76 people. This was the third group of migrants HMS Richmond has rescued in less than two weeks and brings the number of migrants rescued by the Royal Navy up to nearly 8,000 since May.

NEWS: War between NATO and Russia has almost broke out 66 times in the last year

Ukrainian troops (RT)

Ukrainian troops on exercise with NATO forces (RT)

That was the shocking conclusion a report published by the European Leadership Network (ELN) claimed last week. The European ministers conducting the report warned that the situation was “ripe with potential for either dangerous miscalculation or an accident” that would result in the outbreak of open hostilities between NATO and the Russian military. The ELN also warned that Russia is “actively preparing for a conflict with NATO” most likely in the Baltic or Eastern Europe itself.

The think tank came to the conclusion after listing an alarming number of incidents that have occurred between NATO and Russian forces that could very easily have sparked an armed conflict. This included an incident in May 2015 when an Su-27 fighter nearly collided with a US reconnaissance plane while Su-24 fighter-bombers roared over an American warship. The ELN warned that had a Russian aircraft crashed in to either the aircraft or the ship then it would mark a rapid deterioration in the situation causing tensions to rise.

However the ELN said that NATO is to blame as well given the amount of military exercises that are taking place across Eastern Europe that Moscow is interpreting as provocative. One of the biggest took place in Ukraine itself in July where the annexing of the Crimean peninsula by Russia has been the source of much of the renewed hostility. With more exercises planned for the remaining months of 2015 and Moscow’s vow to combat “NATO aggression” it is no exaggeration to say that the situation is as tense now as it was in the early 1980s when the Cold War reached its height.