UK and France Join Forces

Financial Times:

Britain and France are to take a bold step towards closer defence co-operation, joining forces to create a string of highly trained, rapid-deployment units for combat in jungle, desert and mountain operations.

As the leaders of France, Germany and Britain prepare to meet next week in a three-way summit that could deepen their mutual co-operation, London and Paris have drawn up detailed plans covering the deployment of Anglo-French battlegroups.

The ambitious plan, to be unveiled this week, is part of a strategy by France and Britain to beef up Europe’s defence and for the European Union to take on more responsibility in promoting world stability by preventing atrocities and separating warring parties.

At next week’s trilateral summit in Berlin, Jacques Chirac, French president, Gerhard Schröder, German chancellor, and Tony Blair, UK prime minister, also want to explore ways of boosting co-operation on economic reform and asylum and immigration policy.

The EU originally wanted to create a rapid-reaction force of 60,000, but this has been scaled back because military capabilities would not stretch to the soldiers and equipment needed. Nato is also re-assessing the make-up of its 21,000-strong Nato Response Force.

This is interesting. France and Germany have had a similar arrangement for several years now. One wonders what, if any, implications this move will have for the US-UK alliance. Will this make France more likely to cooperate with the US because of the British influence? Or will the relationship with France make the Brits more reluctant to join forces with the US?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. James, I don’t think the new plan will do much to alter US/UK, US/French, or UK/French relations.

    Why? Even if it does come to pass (which I doubt), each country will still feel free to use its own soldiers as it sees fit — and Anglo-French agreement will come about as often as it ever has.

  2. John Farren says:

    A British opinion:

    The proposed forces look likely, under present proposals, to be only ‘earmarking’ one (RMC or Para, most likely) battalion.

    The sticking point would come if France tried to use this as a wedge to get a permanent assigned force (including RAF/RN/Armoured assets) and command structure, and/or access to the full UK intelligence/comms assets, which are presently closely linked to the US.
    At that point, I hope and expect, the UK would tell France to stop being silly.

    If Blair is being clever about this (though I doubt it), he’ll get MoD to make sure this outfit never does anything, and just ensure that it puts a spanner in the works of Franco-German joint ops.
    It would be interesting to see what officers think of a post on this unit’s staff, if/when it’s set up. That’ll tell if it’s militarily serious or a joke post.