"This is the end of the Royal fleet as a force capable of conducting global operations. How will he be able to act, having lost all his aerial reconnaissance and everything else, except for an insignificant part of strike weapons? "
- Peter Carrington, First Lord of the Admiralty and Secretary of Defense of Great Britain; quoted from the debate on Lord Shackleton's February 22nd, 1966 report.
After the end of World War II, the presence of the Royal Navy in the world steadily declined: the collapse of the empire, the coming to power of the Laborites, professing the principles of demilitarization, and the constant reduction in defense spending made it impossible to conduct any active activities of the Kingdom's armed forces outside the state borders and borders of Europe. ...
Now the situation is taking a different turn - Great Britain is returning to the waters of the World Ocean.
In the article "A new era of British hegemony"We considered the concept of the development of the strategic advantage of England, closely related to the economy," soft "power and scientific and technological superiority. London quite specifically defines the main theater of military operations of the future - science will become it, and the soldiers of this war are destined to become researchers, bankers, engineers and diplomats. However, it would be naive to believe that in this regard, Britain will abandon the development of the armed forces - by no means, they have a special place in this strategy ...
After the Suez crisis of 1956, London's policy regarding the financing of the army and navy was, to put it mildly, marked by stinginess - perhaps, without the threat of invasion from the countries of the Warsaw Pact bloc, the British armed forces would have gone completely down. The only instrument for operations abroad was the well-trained special forces, which served as a conduit for the interests of the crown for more than half a century.
Britain became the first country in the world to use special forces as a tool of political influence - and it has an extremely rich experience in using them. Photo source: pinterest.com
The Royal Navy, once providing the defense of the world's largest empire, was deliberately destroyed by Labor: the first step was the more than once-mentioned report by Lord Shackleton in 1966, which ended the network of foreign operating naval bases. The next is a normative act of 1975, defining nuclear submarines as the basis of the Navy's strength against the background of a reduction in the surface ship structure. The point was the operational concept of 1981, where the main task of the Royal Navy was called the protection of the Atlantic from a possible breakthrough by the Soviet Navy, and multipurpose nuclear submarines with torpedo and missile weapons were considered the main tool in the war at sea.
Looking at the last news, one gets the impression that nothing has changed: here Britain is again reducing its ground forces, and her tank parts are on the verge of extinction ...
Alas, this is only a delusion.
A dangerous fallacy.
The new British defense strategy will be based on two new regulations from 2021: "Global Britain in a competitive age - The Integrated Review of Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy" (“Global Britain in an Age of Competition: A Comprehensive Review of Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy”) and "Defense in a competitive age" (Defense in a Competitive Era) - Overview provided by the UK Department of Defense. It is on the basis of these documents that we will begin to analyze the new military plans of London.
Strengthening global security
Perhaps, for the Russian reader, this block of British military strategy may seem extremely strange and incomprehensible - unfortunately, it so happened that in our minds the concepts of "war" and "economy" are somewhere unimaginably far from each other.
It is difficult to say what exactly caused such delusions, however, alas, as practice shows, they take place even among the highest echelons of our authorities.
The British, however, are extremely pragmatic in this matter - they are well aware of their very modest demographic resources and military capabilities, realizing that it is impossible to have any weighty position in the world without having a powerful and well-protected economic base. ...
Without order there is no money - and without money there is no power.
"Global security is important to an international order in which open societies and economies like Britain can thrive and cooperate to achieve common goals without coercion or interference."
The main and paramount task of the new strategy is to change the role, functionality and approach to the work of government structures: the clumsy bureaucratic apparatus of the old type is simply unable to cope with modern threats, which means that it must be reformed.
The government will be transformed into a structure maximally focused on systemic competition with other countries. The level of non-admission of the use of military force is decreasing - now it is seen as an adequate tool to respond to the threat to the interests of Britain.
It is also interesting that London recognizes that it is impossible to eliminate or contain every threat, especially in a world in which the boundaries of internal and international security are increasingly blurred. In response to this fact, they plan to create all conditions for the maximum difficulty of any harmful actions, both from unfriendly states and any corporations or terrorist organizations.
Conceptual objectives of the new defense strategy:
1. Resisting threats at home and abroad. It is necessary to expand the international intelligence network, share risks and combine opportunities through collective security; the use of armed forces to thwart enemy plans and contain the enemy through constant hostilities abroad.
2. Resolution of international conflicts and instability. This will deprive the enemy of potential pressure points and improve international economic cooperation. It is planned to achieve this by eliminating all the driving forces of conflicts.
3. Strengthening UK Homeland Security by solving transnational problems - international tasks and interaction should be used as vanguard positions in the fight against terrorism, organized crime, radical religious groups, cybercriminals and foreign agents.
Global naval presence
This element of the new British defense strategy may cause both surprise and bewilderment, but the fact remains that the Royal Navy will again begin to perform tasks throughout.
The reduction and optimization of the land component of the armed forces as a whole can be associated with this - the numerous special operations forces and the navy are becoming the main military non-nuclear tools in London. This, of course, requires additional financial investments, which will be provided, among other things, by the reduced number of the army.
It is worth making a small digression here.
No, Britain no longer plans to take part in any global land war like World War II. For such tasks, London has a nuclear arsenal at its disposal, which will be used against any enemy wishing to encroach on the sovereignty and the very existence of Albion.
The planned size of the armed forces is more than enough for large-scale joint operations with the allies, participation in local conflicts and protection of the state border of Great Britain.
The nuclear deterrent force is the central component around which the entire defense of England functions - we will, however, talk about them separately.
The main element of Britain's naval influence is considered aircraft carrier strike groups. According to the government's plans, at least one AUG must absolutely always be in combat service, being on the forefront of confrontation with unfriendly countries such as Russia or China. However, they will work in close connection with the allied forces - no one is mistaken about the capabilities of only one unit, and the Royal Navy will carry out tasks in constant contact with the US Navy.
For example, during the upcoming first combat service, slated for 2021, the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth will visit the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific region.
The primary responsibility of the Royal Navy is, of course, the protection of Great Britain itself and its fourteen overseas possessions. These tasks can be described in the following way:
1. The Navy will continue to be active in the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone of Great Britain. The RAF will continue to provide 8/XNUMX operational cover for the fleet, and its capabilities will be significantly enhanced by the supply of new P-XNUMX Poseidon anti-submarine patrol aircraft that monitor the North Atlantic.
2. The Armed Forces will strengthen control over the waters of Gibraltar; The capabilities of the military bases in Cyprus will be significantly expanded, thus ensuring long-term influence in the Eastern Mediterranean. A permanent military presence will be maintained in the Falkland Islands, Ascension Island, and British Indian Ocean territories; The Royal Navy will patrol the Atlantic and Caribbean regions and will conduct anti-trafficking and disaster relief operations during the annual hurricane season.
3. In order to strengthen support and assistance to UK citizens abroad, the range of digital services for obtaining consular assistance will be significantly expanded. The military will maintain a readiness to protect and evacuate British citizens when necessary - including the use of military force.
The Navy is once again taking its rightful place as the conductor of Britain's political will. Photo source: telegraph.co.uk
Briefly, the current prospects of the Royal Navy can be summarized as follows:
1. Ensuring nuclear deterrence is a priority for the fleet, but a global presence is central to the new strategy.
2. The ship's composition will be expanded - by 2030 Britain will have at least 20 destroyers and frigates.
3. Ensuring the protection of underwater infrastructure and the implementation of deep-sea operations - in connection with this need, a new specialized vessel is being built.
4. Radical update of weapons - the fleet will receive new anti-ship missiles and a completely updated anti-mine forces, the core of which will be unmanned minesweepers.
5. The Royal Marines will be reformed, as will the US Marine Corps - the goal of this event is to create a modern rapid reaction force with an independent strike and defense capabilities, capable of becoming the combat core of operations in the coastal zone.
6. In the interests of the Navy, the development of new generation frigates and destroyers will be carried out. The commissioning of ships of this type is planned after 2030.
Defense and deterrence through collective security
There is no room for solo players in the modern world, and Britain is well aware of this.
It is impossible to increase the military budget of one particular country to a level that will allow it to withstand the whole world - and why, if you have allies who are burdened with the same problems and tasks as you?
“The UK's network of military alliances and partnerships is at the heart of our ability to deter and defend against opponents of the state. It is a powerful demonstration of a collective commitment to the free association of sovereign nations and a willingness to share the burden of maintaining an open international order. ”
London attaches paramount importance to cooperation with the NATO countries - for individual players, however, there are special conditions for cooperation (as, for example, with Turkey and the United States), but the rest of Britain's policy is quite unambiguous - it, in essence, remains the leader of the bloc among European countries ensuring the fulfillment of their own national interests through collective defense.
The British ground forces will be transformed into a compact and mobile assault force for lightning-fast operations outside Albion. Photo source: theguardian.com
A set of actions for the organization and development of collective defense:
1. Strengthened leadership among NATO members: a £ 24 billion increase in military spending over the next four years (current rate is 2,2% of GDP). Implementation of the new "NATO Deterrence and Defense Concept", as well as increasing the group of forces in Germany by strengthening them with MTR units and rapid response.
2. Strengthening interstate relations with the members of the bloc: bilateral treaties with the USA and France (Lancaster House and CJEF), with Germany, expansion of activities within the framework of the Joint Expeditionary Force.
3. Carrying out a global modernization of the armed forces. Britain is the only NATO country other than the United States that can conduct high-tech warfare using nuclear, high-precision and cyber weaponas well as fifth generation strike aircraft. A new Space Command will be created, which will be responsible for satellite monitoring and reconnaissance, missile defense and countering the enemy's space potential. The ground forces will be reformed and sharpened for highly mobile operations in the face of global opposition.
4. Development of international weapons programs - in particular, FCAS, designed to create a European multi-role fighter of a new generation.
5. Preparing the country for action in the face of threats of a global military crisis, including a nuclear one. The UK will conduct a series of strategic-level national exercises to test the resilience of the state machine in a critical environment. Similar exercises are planned in the rest of NATO countries.
6. Strengthening the military presence in strategically important areas - such as, for example, the Indo-Pacific region.
Even from such a brief analytical review, a completely unambiguous conclusion can be drawn: Britain does not plan to "push its elbows" trying to knock out its place as a world superpower by force or pressure on its allies - by no means, London is increasing its political weight and importance through active work with friendly countries. The British plans have a place for absolutely everyone - they equally take into account other people's weaknesses and strengths, using them as a means of achieving national interests.
Britain is actively preparing for a new type of war - in modern realities, a strategy based on the postulates of the Cold War is unacceptable. The era of tank armies has finally sunk into oblivion - the era of high-precision weapons, professional and compact mobile units and cyber threats has come.
London gives a completely unambiguous message to all opponents - any threat to Britain's existence will be met with nuclear warheads. The navy, on the other hand, is once again taking its rightful place as a conductor of political will, while the army is becoming an effective and compact tool, sharpened to resist hybrid threats and local adversaries. In fact, the British ground forces are acquiring the character of a high-tech airborne assault force with a large number of special forces.
Of course, the new British government strategy is extremely strong precisely because of its realism. There is no place in it for empty dreams and unrealizable plans - there is only exceptional pragmatism, a sober assessment of one's capabilities and truly achievable goals.
High tech. The science. Adaptability. Demographic potential. International cooperation. Precision weapons. Mobility. "Soft" power. Hybrid confrontation.
Here it is - weapons of the new world.
The world that is being formed before our eyes.