UK Military Alliance w/ EU threatens special US/UK relationship : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


By TREVOR KAVANAGH Political Editor

THE world's most powerful military alliance was at risk last night as Tony Blair signed Britain up to a European army.

The special relationship between London and Washington is almost a century old.

But experts warn the EU's new 60,000-strong rapid reaction force could mark the end of Nato - Europe's defence shield since World War Two.

America's worst fears were realised when Germany unveiled plans for "peace-keeping missions" within a 2,500-mile radius of Brussels - including Africa, Russia and the Middle East.

The announcement was accompanied by an official map showing the EU HQ as the command post of an area encompassing Moscow, Cairo, Jerusalem and Damascus.

The plan is spelled out in the influential newspaper Die Welt.

Signed up ... Tony Blair

The report admits Europe cannot manage without Nato - but only "for the time being".

And EU president Romano Prodi is quoted saying: "In order to play the role of a new 'Great Power' in the future, Europe must speak with a single voice."

The report contradicted No 10 denials and triggered alarm bells in Washington.

Richard Perle, who will be U.S. Defense Secretary if George W Bush wins the White House, warned before yesterday's announcement that the special relationship with Britain may not survive.

He said: "I should have thought the Prime Minister would attach fundamental importance to the special relationship that has served both our countries so well for so long."

And Tory defence spokesman Iain Duncan Smith said: "We now know the EU has superpower ambitions, with an army to match."

But even as the plans emerged, EU leaders were squabbling over numbers.

Die Welt said: "To be able to transport the troops and materials over wide stretches of sea, the EU states have offered only six of the required 61 ships.

"For air transport, 66 of the 188 aeroplanes are missing.

"Large holes also gape through electronic information which enemy intelligence can obtain."

Germany, France and Britain could each provide 12,500 troops at any one time.

Italy and Spain will send up to 6,000 apiece, Holland 5,000 and Greece 3,500.

Austria and Finland have earmarked 2,000 each, Sweden, Belgium, Ireland and Portugal 1,000 each and tiny Luxembourg 100. Denmark has refused to take part.

Nato: is it the end?

Battle zone ... troops would not have mobilised without Yank's help

By GEORGE PASCOE-WATSON Deputy Political Editor

THE decision to create a European army which could doom Nato was under attack on all fronts last night.

Politicians and military experts said the EU Rapid Reaction Force was sure to weaken the alliance.

One American expert has even suggested it is part of a French-German plan to push American forces out.

Under the deal, 20,000 British servicemen and women will be committed to the EU force - so that 12,500 can be deployed at any one time.

The mini-army will include 18 Royal Navy ships and at least 72 RAF planes.

Like Britain, Germany and France are contributing the same number of soldiers.

The entire force will involve 60,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen, at least 300 aircraft and a battlefleet of 75 ships.

Liberating army ... but the Americans were vital in securing victory

Britain's current military strength is 106,000 troops, 281 combat aircraft, 87 warships and 16 submarines.

The new force will be able to deploy within 60 days. The Prime Minister would hand over command to a German general, with a Briton as his deputy.

Squaddies would wear EU symbols, alongside their own regimental insignia.

But the Euro force was already coming under fierce attack last night.

Admiral Eugene Carroll, former Nato commander in the Mediterranean, said: "We see it as a threat. The United States raised very strenuous objections to the emergence of a separate European capability.

"That has moderated somewhat but Nato is still seen as the agency through which the United States dominates European security affairs and we are going to be very reluctant to let that dominance fade." His attack echoes the fears of of one of America's leading defence experts.

Richard Perle - who would become U.S. defense secretary under a George W Bush administration - said: "Many of my colleagues in Washington watched the European defence identity crisis with a detached bemusement.

"But we were alarmed to see the UK, normally so clear headed over the din of Eurobabble, join the French.

"What really seems to be at work here is a French-led plan to advance its towering conceit. They want to manipulate their entente with Germany to marginalise the Americans." Four of Britain's most respected political grandees also tore into the EU plan.

Former foreign secretaries Lord Carrington, Lord Owen and Sir Malcolm Rifkind teamed up with ex-Chancellor Lord Healey.

In a letter they wrote: "We urge the utmost caution in proceeding with this openly political project.

"Nato has guaranteed our security and kept peace in Europe for more than 50 years. Creating competing military structures will without question challenge and weaken this Alliance."

Experts also warned last night there will be massive logistical problems for the force. European armies all use different radio systems. Under Nato operations, EU forces borrow a U.S. system - but the Rapid Reaction Force WON'T have it, causing huge problems.

EU forces also rely almost exclusively on American intelligence. Satellite pictures, aircraft reconnaissance, spies and radio interception information all comes from the Pentagon.

Without the Americans, intelligence would be virtually nil. EU states would also have major problems moving huge numbers of troops and equipment without American "heavy-lift" aircraft.

This would make it almost impossible for the EU army to deploy within its 60-day target for a year-long operation - unless U.S. aircraft were brought in to help.

General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley, the former commander-in-chief of Allied forces in Northern Europe, believes there will also be problems over the quality of foreign troops.

He said: "Only two nations of any substance in Europe have all-professional, all-regular forces, that is France and Britain. You will have the problem of using wholly or largely conscript forces." Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon last night rejected the criticisms and denied Nato would be undermined.

PM Tony Blair, meanwhile, hit back at the attack by Carrington, Owen, Rifkind and Healey.

He said: "This is complete nonsense. There is the most exaggerated scaremongering rubbish being talked about this.

"The purpose of it is to make sure you have a capability in circumstances where Nato chooses not to be engaged, where the Americans don't want to be engaged.

"It always was to carry out those specific missions. It is not a conflict force. It is a peacekeeping and humanitarian force."

24,000 troops to be women

By GEORGE PASCOE-WATSON Deputy Political Editor

FOUR out of ten soldiers in the EU army will be WOMEN - if politically-correct MEPs have their way.

The European Parliament will vote next week to ensure 24,000 of the 60,000 posts go to females.

The women-to-men ratio would be five times higher than in Britain's armed forces.

Shadow Defence Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said last night: "This is patronising nonsense. Setting targets for how many women or men you have goes completely against the grain of military planning."

The quota call comes from the European Parliament's Women's Rights Committee, whose chairman Margaret Theorin said: "We need women to solve conflict."

-- meg davis (, November 21, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ