The British Army could be reduced to just 50,000 troops – the lowest level since the 1770s, when the UK lost the American War of Independence, according to a leading defence expert.
The British Army could be reduced to just 50,000 troops – the lowest level since the 1770s, when the UK lost the American War of Independence, according to a leading defence expert.
Richard Dannatt, the former chief of staff of the British armed forces, made a public plea this week that the British government reverse its plans to reduce regular army troops to their lowest number since the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 — some 82,000 — by 2018, and to withdraw all of its 20,000 troops from Germany. Mr. Dannatt said that Britain should keep 3,000 troops in Germany as a “statement of military capability to underpin diplomacy.”
Britain is often ﬁghting with words — not troops
Army chief: we won’t win wars if we are cut again
Forcing more spending cuts on the military would be dangerous and disruptive and would damage the country’s ability to win wars, the head of the Army warns.
Consider the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: there were no great battles and broken armies. Major operations did not entail pin and turn against enemy divisions. Small unit operations, battalion and company size, mark the future of land-warfare, unless a foreign power makes a major miscalculation. The future of land-warfare lies in the realm of small unit operations, in particular: the SAS, SEALS, Green Berets, and the French Foreign Legion.
The SAS: a very special force
David Cameron has promised to increase rather than cut defence spending after 2015. That’s just as well, because he needs his special forces more than ever
Time and again the SAS and SBS have displayed a range of skills and levels of personal courage that have not only made them the envy of the world, but have also delivered spectacular results Photo: ALAMY
The Black Watch and other historic regiments ‘face being wiped out’ under Government defence cuts
Famed Desert Rats to lose their tanks under Army cuts
The Desert Rats, the most famous tank unit in the British Army, will be left without any tanks as a result of a shake-up of the Armed Forces brought about by the Coalition’s austerity drive, it emerged on Tuesday.
Men of the 7th British Armoured Division sitting on a field gun before the fall of Tobruk in the North African Campaign in 1942 (Getty Images)
By James Kirkup, Deputy Political Editor
10:00PM GMT 05 Mar 2013
The Army’s 7th Armoured Brigade Headquarters will return from Germany and become part of a new infantry unit that will only be equippped with wheeled reconnaissance vehicles, the MoD admitted.
The move ends the armoured role of a tank force that won fame in North Africa under General Bernard Montgomery with victories in battles including El Alamein.
Tank crews fighting under the famous black and red badge also fought with distinction against Iraqi forces in both the first and second Gulf Wars.
Another celebrated unit, the 4th Mechanized Brigade, known as the Black Rats, will also lose its role as a tank force and become part of an infantry formation, it emerged.
Major General Patrick Cordingley, a former commander of the Desert Rats, said the change would still dismay veterans and the general public.
“It is immensely sad that the 7th Armoured is losing its armour. Like the British public, I am extremely sad that they are losing their armoured role,” he said.
“These are units whose history you would have thought might have spared them from this.”
He added: “I know the other armoured units can also claim to have illustrious histories of their own, but somehow over the years, the Desert Rats have become particularly important to the British public.”
The change in roles for the famous tank units come as the British Army cuts 20,000 posts following deep cuts in the defence budget, and reconfigures itself for future conflicts.
Details emerged as ministers set out plans to bring thousands of troops home from Germany.
As The Telegraph revealed last week, cuts in the size of the Army mean that troops will return from Germany more quickly than previously though – all but 4,400 will be back in Britain by the end of 2016.
The Army will return from Germany to a new “Army 2020” command structure that will see some units change role.
Under the plans, 7th Armoured Brigade HQ, currently based in Hohne in Germany, will return to UK to become part of the new 7th Infantry Brigade, based at Chilwell in Nottinghamshire.
The 7th Infantry Brigade will be part of the Army’s new “Adaptable Force”, a pool of infantry forces held in reserve for potential operations.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed that this force will include wheeled reconnaissance vehicles like the Jackal patrol car, but no tanks or other tracked vehicles.
By contrast, headquarters units from the 1st, 12th and 20th armoured brigades will become part of the Army’s new “Reaction Force,” which will include tanks and heavy armoured vehicles.
The changes mean that while the famous Desert Rats insignia of the 7th Armoured will remain in use in the Army, it will no longer be worn by tank crews or commanders.
Defence sources said the change was part of a strategic shift in the Army’s planning announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010, which will reduce the number of heavy tanks and focus on lighter, more manoeverable forces.
An Army spokesman confirmed that the Desert Rats will lose their tank role as the Army evolves.
He said: “7 Brigade including their ‘Desert Rat’ insignia will remain in the Army’s order of battle as an adaptable force brigade based in Chilwell.
“As announced in the SDSR we are reducing our heavy armour by 40% and re-rolling units to face more modern threats, that is why the Desert Rats will in the future be an Infantry Brigade equipped with a range of protected mobility vehicles.”
The British Army has had a continuous presence in Germany since 1945, but under a £1.8 billion plan to build new bases in the UK, troops will leave the Rhine by 2019.
General Sir Peter Wall, the Chief of the General Staff, said that leaving Germany would be the “end an era” for the Army.
After the return, soldiers will be concentrated in seven main sites around the UK. However four existing bases, in Kent, North Yorkshire, Edinburgh and Pembrokeshire, will be closed.
The Household Cavalry could also be moved from their current Hyde Park Barracks, which could be sold off to raise hundreds of millions of pounds.
In a significant change, Army units will now be permanently stationed in UK bases, largely ending the practice of personnel moving to new posts every two or three years.
Sir Peter said ending such rotations will “provide welcome certainty to soldiers and their families on where they are going to be living.”
Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, said that as the Army shrinks, keeping standing forces in both the UK and Germany no longer makes strategic or economic sense. “This is a logical, final, move in conclusion of the Cold War era,” he told Mps.
However, the rebasing plan triggered a row in Scotland, as Scots nationalists complained that not enough of the British Army will be located in Scotland after the return from Germany.
Revealed: plan to split Army into two forces
Structural reforms will include expanding special operations, reports Kim Sengupta
KIM SENGUPTA TUESDAY 19 JUNE 2012
The British Army is to undergo drastic structural reforms in the face of budget cuts and the changing face of conflict. Plans being drawn up will see the force split in two, with greater emphasis placed on undercover special operations, intelligence, surveillance and cyber warfare, The Independent has learned.
A blueprint entitled Army 2020 has been drawn up by Lieutenant General Nick Carter, who has been tasked with the Army’s reorganisation while overall numbers are cut by a fifth. It recommends the separation of “Reaction” and “Adaptable” forces, enabling the UK to respond in an emergency while also preparing for longer-term deployment.
In addition to the Carter plan, senior officers – including, it is believed, General Sir David Richards, the head of the military – want to expand the type of combat carried out by the SAS and the SBS as well as Istar (Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance). They also want to focus on cyber security, which they argue is vital for a “lighter, more agile” type of combat.
Although the scheme will take time to come to fruition, the plans have been heavily influenced by the events of the Arab Spring, the confrontation over Iran’s nuclear arsenal and the possibility of an Israeli attack as well as lessons learned from Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Senior officers are urging caution over British involvement in Syria and only basic contingency plans have been made for such an operation. There is, however, much more planning for the aftermath of a possible Israeli strike on Iran.
One idea that will be considered in expanding special operations is the enlargement of the role of the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG), which is based around members of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment and augmented by troops from the Royal Marines and the RAF Regiment. The Group, which backs up the SAS and SBS, may be opened up to recruitment from a wider array of regiments. The proposals will also include expected reductions of five infantry battalions and two armoured regiments, although no regimental cap badges will be lost. The final details have not yet been finalised but, according to defence sources, the Parachute Regiment and the brigades of Guards and Gurkhas will largely escape the cuts. However, Gurkha recruits who joined reinforcement companies – set up to make up a shortfall – will face redundancy.
Two Scottish battalions are set to be axed, but Downing Street is said to be delaying signing this off because it does not want to provide a propaganda boost to Alex Salmond and the SNP with a referendum on independence on the horizon. English regiments, the Yorkshires and the Mercians, and the Royal Tank Regiments are believed to be vulnerable to losing soldiers.
The “Reaction” force, according to confidential documents, will be comprised of three armoured brigades, each with a tank regiment, two infantry regiments and an airborne brigade, commanded by a major general and armed with two regiments of Apache helicopter gunships and Warrior fighting vehicles. One armoured and one airborne battle group will be on standby.
The “Adaptable” force will consist of seven infantry brigades able to deploy for two to three years while maintaining a permanent presence in the Falklands and Cyprus. The days of 13-year commitments – which the Afghan mission will come to by the time it ends – are over, it is felt. “Not only would something like that be logistically impossible in the future, but would show a failure of strategy,” said one senior officer.
No less than 30 per cent of the “Adaptable” force is meant to be made up of reservists who will “shadow” regular soldiers in exercises in preparation.
Army morale ‘at its worst for a generation’ as job losses loom
A military charity has warned that Army morale is at its worst for a generation as the Ministry of Defence prepares next week to axe up to 4,500 more troops.
Crippling cuts to pay, allowances, pensions and housing, left soldiers and their loved ones ‘demoralised’, said the Army Families Federation.
It said ‘black clouds of impending doom’ were gathering as servicemen and women – thousands who have risked their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya – faced the prospect of being sacked.
The Royal Navy may once have ruled the waves, but with just 19 operational warships, its role has now diminished as that of Britain.
Britain had to plead with US to take part in Iran flotilla
Britain was forced to plead with the US to take part in the flotilla challenging Iranian power in the Gulf after American commanders decided the Royal Navy had nothing to contribute to the mission.
Defence sources have revealed that the Americans only relented and allowed a Royal Navy frigate to join the mission following an intervention from Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president.
“…General Sir Michael Jackson, the former head of the Army, suggested that the severity of defence cuts meant Britain would not be able to reclaim the Falkland Islands if Argentina invaded again. “
Fury as MoD sacks hundreds of troops in job cuts… but not one penpusher
Ministry Of Defence Theft Of Equipment Soaring
Thefts of military equipment are soaring and the Ministry of Defence is doing too little to stop the problem happening or seize expensive kit back, MPs said.
Helicopter rotor blades worth £50,000, £45,000 night vision goggles and an inflatable boat were among recent thefts – which totalled more than £1.9 million last year.
But only £19,000 worth was recovered and there were just 11 prosecutions, seven cautions and five dismissals, the Commons defence committee complained.
A two-and-a-half times increase in the number of annual thefts to 433 and a fivefold rise in the value of items stolen was put down in part by top brass to better reporting.
The Royal Navy’s former flagship HMS Ark Royal has been put up for sale on the Ministry of Defence’s auction website.
With the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, followed by commercial ascendancy over the Dutch, England, which became Great Britain in 1707, assumed superpower status when it gained control of Canada from the French. Following the defeat of the Combined Fleet at Trafalgar in 1805, the British Navy dominated the world’s oceans until World War II. In the 21st century, the British Navy is but a shadow of its former self. Britain’s entire military establishment is dwarfed by American’s ability to project force globally. The following stories describe in detail the decline of Britain’s glorious military.
28 March 2011 Last updated at 12:07 ET
Carrier HMS Ark Royal put up for auction on MoD website
The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal is up for sale on the Ministry of Defence’s auction website.
The Royal Navy’s former flagship was decommissioned two weeks ago after 25 years in service as part of the government’s defence budget review.
Proposals for it include turning it into a commercial heliport, a base for security personnel during the London Olympics, or a school and nightclub.
But it could also be sold for scrap like its sister ship HMS Invincible.
Ark Royal’s operations have included leading the UK’s naval forces during the invasion of Iraq.
The current ship is the fifth vessel to carry the name – the first saw battle in 1588 against the Spanish Armada.
Interested bidders are being invited to view Ark Royal at her home port, Portsmouth Naval Base, on 3 and 4 May.
Before they can attend, they must submit an outline of their “intentions regarding the vessel” to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The aircraft carrier is listed on the edisposals.com website, which is run by the MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support arm.
It has a budget of £14bn to equip the UK’s armed forces with everything from aircraft to clothing, and in order to supplement that, it regularly sells off kit that is no longer needed.
Also on sale currently are three Type-42 destroyers – HMS Exeter, HMS Southampton and HMS Nottingham.
The decision to bring forward Ark Royal’s decommissioning by several years has been criticised because it leaves the Navy without the capacity to launch fixed-wing aircraft until replacements come into service at the end of the decade.
But the MoD said scrapping the vessel early would ensure “an enhanced carrier strike capability in the future”.
“Until then, the UK continues to have access to a range of international bases which allow us to project our air power around the world,” a spokesman added.
He also said the MoD was determined to ensure the best possible return for the taxpayer when disposing of equipment.
HMS Invincible, which saw action during the Falklands War, was towed away last week to a scrapyard in Turkey.
Bidders have until 1000 BST on 13 June to put their tenders forward for Ark Royal.
Aircraft carrier with no aircraft
19 Oct 2010
A £3billion aircraft carrier will never carry planes and could see active service for only three years before being scrapped or sold, the Coalition Government was expected to announce today.
Shortage of RAF pilots for Libya as defence cuts bite
The RAF risks running short of pilots for operations over Libya as cuts to the defence budget threaten to undermine front-line operations, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent 9:45PM BST 28 Mar 2011
Since the conflict began, a squadron of 18 RAF Typhoon pilots has enforced the Libyano-fly zone from an air base in southern Italy. However, a shortage of qualified fighter pilots means the RAF may not have enough to replace all of them when the squadron has to rotate in a few weeks.
The situation is so serious that the RAF has halted the teaching of trainee Typhoon pilots so instructors can be drafted on to the front line, according to air force sources. The handful of pilots used for air shows will also be withdrawn from displays this summer.
The shortage has arisen because cuts to the defence budget over the past decade have limited the number of pilots who have been trained to fly the new Typhoon.
There are also fewer newly qualified pilots coming through after the RAF was forced to cut a quarter of its trainee places due to cuts announced in last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.
The Government’s decision to decommission HMS Ark Royal, Harrier jump jets and the Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft — all of which could have played a role in the Libya conflict — has exacerbated the problem. Serving RAF pilots contacted The Daily Telegraph to warn of the risks to the Libya operation. “We have a declining pool of pilots,” one said. “There’s less people to do twice as much work. If we are not training any more we are going to run out of personnel very soon.”
He added that halting Typhoon fighter pilot training was a “desperate measure” that could not go on “without making the Typhoon force unviable”.
Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, said: “There is a great concern in Parliament about the Government’s cuts to RAF pilots. We would be very worried if government cuts were to impede future operations.”
Out of 69 qualified RAF Typhoon pilots, including instructors, 18 are in southern Italy flying missions over Libya. Of the rest, 24 are committed to the Quick Reaction Alert protecting Britain’s air space and six are in the Falklands in a similar role. A further six are being used to train Saudi Arabian air force pilots. That leaves only 15 to replace those currently based in Italy.
Because of the intensity of flying on operations, pilots deploy for a maximum of two months at a time and the replacements for those currently enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya will be expected to deploy at the end of next month.
The RAF faces losing 5,000 serving personnel from its total of 42,000 under the strategic review. In the past six months, the posts for 48 Harrier pilots and 30 Tornado F3 fighter pilots have been lost, although the Ministry of Defence insists that all will be transferred to other flying posts within the RAF.
News of the Typhoon pilots shortage will come as a further embarrassment to the Government after it was forced to delay scrapping warships involved in the Libyan conflict.
Air Commodore Andrew Lambert, a former RAF pilot who flew over Bosnia and Iraq, said the campaign in Libya could become “unsustainable”.
“We should put a halt to all defence cuts,” he said. “It does not make sense. The world is getting less stable and if the Government cannot see that, we have a problem bordering on the irresponsible.”
Air Marshal Dick Garwood, Deputy Commander-in-Chief Operations, said there was no shortage of pilots. “We have enough aircraft and people to carry out all the tasks placed on us,” he said.
MoD sources suggested that the Libyan conflict vindicated the decision to retain the Tornado over the Harrier as there were more pilots in the pool and it had a greater reconnaissance and strike capability.
Thousands of troops to be cut in Britain
By Katherine Haddon London
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
BRITAIN is to shrink its armed forces and scrap its flagship aircraft carrier, Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday.
The defence review comes as part of stinging overall cuts planed by the coalition government.
Cameron told the House of Commons that by 2015, army numbers would be cut by 7,000 to 95,500; the navy would fall 5,000 to 30,000 and the Royal Air Force would decrease by 5,000 to 33,000.
As part of 8% cuts to the Ministry of Defence’s budget, the flagship HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier is also being scrapped immediately, along with Britain’s fleet of Harrier jets.
But Cameron vowed there would be “no cut whatsoever” to the level of support for forces fighting in Afghanistan.
“Britain has traditionally punched above its weight in the world and we should have no less ambition for our country in the decades to come,” Cameron said.
“But we need to be more thoughtful, more strategic, and more coordinated in the way we advance our interests and protect our national security and that is what this review sets out to achieve.”
A decision on renewing the Trident nuclear deterrent is delayed until 2016, although Cameron stressed he wanted to “renew” it.
The news came ahead of a sweeping programme of wider reductions of up to 25% in most government departments which will be unveiled in a comprehensive spending review today.
Cameron’s coalition government, which took power in May, is battling to reduce public sector borrowing from £149 billion (€170bn) to £20bn billion by 2015-16.
Other major defence cuts include scrapping a programme to build Nimrod reconnaissance planes and saying that fewer frigates and destroyers will be built.
The decision to axe Ark Royal earlier than the 2014 date originally planned will leave Britain without an aircraft carrier capable of launching jets for around a decade.
It will be 2020 before two new aircraft carriers — which are going ahead in part because it would be more expensive to scrap pre-agreed contracts than to go ahead with them — can be used for this purpose.
News of the cuts prompted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to question their possible impact on NATO.
Cameron called President Barack Obama late on Monday to discuss the defence review, reassuring him that Britain would remain a “first-rate military power and a robust ally of the United States”.
Britain’s ‘donkey’ soldiers are losing the war in Afghanistan
A senior Army officer has warned that Britain risks losing the war in Afghanistan because commanders are more concerned with protecting soldiers than defeating the Taliban.
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent 9:00PM BST 16 Apr 2011
Attacking the British strategy in Helmand, the officer claims that soldiers are now so laden with equipment they are unable to launch effective attacks against insurgents.
The controversial account of situation in Afghanistan appears in the latest issue British Army Review, a restricted military publication designed to provoke debate within the Army.
Writing anonymously, the author reveals that the Taliban have dubbed British soldiers “donkeys” who move in a tactical “waddle” because they now carry an average weight of 110lbs worth of equipment into battle.
The consequences of the strategy, he says, is that “our infantry find it almost impossible to close with the enemy because the bad guys are twice as mobile”.
The officer claims that by the end of a routine four hour patrol, soldiers struggle to make basic tactical judgements because they are physically and mentally exhausted.
“We’re getting to a point where we are losing as many men making mistakes because they are exhausted from carrying armour (and the things that go with it) than are saved by it,” he warns.
Britain’s military’s command structure in Afghanistan also comes in for criticism and is described as a “bloated over complex system that sucks the life out of operations” and where “decision and action get lost in Chinese whispers and Chinese parliaments that turn most of operational staff ‘work’ into operational staff waste”.
In Helmand, a quarter of the 9,500 British troops deployed are involved in management or management support roles in various headquarters, according to the report’s author. In Kabul, the combined strength of the US and Nato headquarters amount to more than 4,000 personnel.
The report is entitled “Donkeys Led by Lions”, with combat troops likened to pack animals and headquarters staff to “fat, lazy” lions.
The author states that while researching the article he discovered that in the early 1900s, New Zealand loggers limited mule and pony loads to 128lbs, a sixth of their body weight while working in temperatures of 25C.
Even seaside donkeys, the author states, carry just over a quarter of their body weight and rarely work in temperatures above 30C. By contrast, British soldiers are expected to fight in temperatures of over 40C carrying 65 per cent of their body weight.
As the threat facing British soldiers has changed so has the composition of body armour, which now consists of front, rear and side plates designed to protect soldiers from small arms fire and IED blasts but weighs around 40lbs.
In addition to body armour, a typical soldier on patrol in Afghanistan will carry: a weapon (10 to 20lbs); radio, batteries electronic equipment (40lbs); water (10lbs); ammunition (20lbs); Javelin missile (25lbs). Soldiers will also be required to wear eye, groin, ear and knee protection as well as gloves and a helmet.
The officer adds: “A straw poll of three multi-tour companies found only two platoons that had successfully closed with an ambushing enemy. Our unscientific poll might be showing exceptions but rumour control suggests that the lack of closure is common. Some soldiers only do firefights because they know manoeuvre is a waste of effort when they’re carrying so much weight.
“The result is that apart from a few big operations where we have used machines to encircle the enemy there are so few uninjured insurgents captured in contact that it’s simply not worth recording.”
But some of the most stinging criticism was saved for the headquarters running the campaign.
The author wrote: “Lions, contrary to Victorian opinion, aren’t brave or noble; they are fat, lazy creatures that lie around all day licking themselves.
“They get others to do the dirty work and they have a penchant for infanticide. We are not saying our commanders are fat, lazy child killers, far from it, but it has reached a point where their headquarters are.”
The larger that headquarters become the more the staff there force soldiers into wasteful activity which results in lots of people “who aren’t doing anything about the enemy; they aren’t even thinking about the enemy; they’re thinking about how to make a pretty picture of how they think someone else ought to think about the enemy.”
The article also states that British headquarters deployed in Afghanistan now produced a terabyte of written orders and reports every month – equivalent to hundreds of thousands of documents.
The report continues: “In one Afghan headquarters, it took a man nine days to read one day’s worth of email exchanges – and he didn’t have to open any attachments.
“The further we get back from the patrol base the worse the problem becomes. By the time we get back to the UK there are more people managing the operation than are actually deployed.”
The article concludes by reminding readers of past conflicts and asking whether soldiers of a previous generation would have been able to march across the Falklands carrying “all the extra kit we have now?”
The officer writes: “Consider what the logistical and tactical impact of that extra 45lbs for Burma, Dunkirk or Normandy. How would these operations have played out if it took weeks to plan minor operations.
“If we don’t work out now how we are going to lose that weight we will do the old trick of starting the next war by repeating the mistakes of this one.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “The issue of weight carried by soldiers on operations is well recognised and work is constantly under way to reduce the amount carried by soldiers.
“Since June 2010 a number of weight savings measures have reduced the weight carried by soldiers by up to 26lbs.”
A French Navy Rafale – which may be the air power of the Royal Navy in years to come Photo: AFP/GETTY
By Christopher Booker 7:00PM BST 30 Apr 2011
Politicians hide their plans to put French jets on Royal Navy carriers
The Royal Navy won’t be flying Anglo-US Joint Strike Fighters, but providing a platform for French Rafales as part of an EU force, writes Christopher Booker.
The magnificent military pageantry of the royal wedding coincided, sadly, with yet another humiliating instance of the precipitate decline in Britain’s military power. There has long been something very odd about the two giant aircraft carriers which are to be the centrepiece of Britain’s defence capability over the next 50 years – one to be instantly mothballed, the other not due in service for another decade. Now, it seems, the bill for this project is to rise yet again, by further billions of pounds, because, according to the Ministry of Defence, one carrier needs extensive modification to accommodate the Joint Strike Fighters we are allegedly building with the US.
When are the MoD and our politicians going to tell us the truth about these ships – which has been hidden in plain view for years? The purpose of these latest changes is not to accommodate Anglo-US JSFs, which may never be built, but – as I first reported as long ago as 2006 – to equip the carriers to fly French-built Rafales.
Ever since 1996, under the last Tory government, these carriers have been planned as a joint Anglo-French project. Their only purpose has been to serve as the main Anglo-French contribution to the European Rapid Reaction Force, as agreed by Tony Blair at Helsinki in 1999, and confirmed between the lines in several treaties since, including the latest, signed by David Cameron and President Sarkozy last November.
This is where the 600-year history of the Royal Navy is to end – sailing partly French-built ships, crewed by British sailors, as a platform for inadequate French aircraft with French pilots (and with escorts provided by other EU nations such as Spain). But why are our politicians so reluctant to admit what they are up to, and trying to pretend that we shall somehow still have an independent Royal Navy, equipped with aircraft at least partly British? That is not what they are spending vast sums of our money to achieve, and it is time they came clean about it.
British military decline