I must admit I am really looking forward to seeing the plans of the new European army which France, Germany and Luxembourg allegedly wants to create. This grand design is obviously going to send shivers down the spines of any would-be attackers. It is obviously a political move because as any armchair general will tell you militarily speaking Europe couldn't stand on its own two feet. The thought of a new European Defence Force which could rival NATO may be quite feasible in political circles but militarily speaking quite impossible. Europe needs the United States because otherwise its armies are not going anywhere. At present in the whole of the European Union there are just six military transport planes which are able to carry heavy equipment. Yes, six. These aircraft were sensibly purchased by George Robertson, now the NATO Secretary General, when he was Defence Secretary in Britain. If you want to create a rapid deployment force, aircraft of this type are vital. Training in the Balearics at the moment is Spain's rapid deployment force which took four days to deploy from the mainland and they were forced to use Trasmediteranea ferries. Four days to move within their own country, imagine if they had to deploy overseas and in combat conditions. The cornerstone of European air defence for probably the next two decades will be the famous Eurofighter. It has taken 20 years to design and develop and at present it is grounded because it has technical problems. It should have taken part in a fly-past over Madrid over the weekend but it has problems with its undercarriage. When it finally enters service, who knows when, it will be completely overclassed by the aircraft which are now in service with the Air Forces of the U.S. and Russia. It should have been cancelled but politics are politics and who cares if it doesn't work as long as its got the word Euro in front of it and it has been designed by four European partners. If Europe wants to rival the United States then billions of euros/pounds/dollars or whatever currency you are dealing in needs to be poured into defence force. At present it is no more than an army on paper. Who cares you may say, the chances of the European army ever being involved in a major conflict are very slim. Yes, but the simple truth is that we are talking politics. It is just another example of bashing the Good Old United States by a few European nations who are doing it for their own political needs. The danger is that the United States may get rather bored of the European antics and decide that enough is enough and withdraw their thousands of troops from Germany, Britain, Spain etc and bring them home. A major saving and the end of the Cold War alliance. Defending Europe would be the Eurofighter (I've got more faith in the Spitfire), the Rapid Reaction Force, (please let us know two years in advance if you are planning to invade so that we can start preparing) and our force of frigates and destroyers which have just about as much punch as my grandmother. NATO was created to defend Europe and if Europe wants to continue to be defended free of charge by the United States then the best thing is to forget paper armies and concentrate on making the alliance strong and capable of dealing with the challenges of the 21st century.
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