Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Euro-army cometh

"The massacre of our proudest regiments isn't about efficiency's about surrendering our soldiers to fight in a Euro-army"

Col. Tim Collins

In the footsteps of the Washington Post, covering territory The Times fears to go, on the front page of the Mail on Sunday today is the headline "Fury at plan to scrap Guards".

With it comes a story revealing a proposal from General Sir Mike Jackson to merge the five Guards foot regiments into one "large/large regiment", in which the individual identities of these famous regiments would be lost.

But what is especially important about this piece is the comment by Colonel Tim Collins of the Royal Irish Rangers, who shot to fame with his stirring pre-battle speech to his troops on the eve of their entering Iraq. He told the Mail on Sunday that "I'm certain this is politically motivated to make our superb Army more like those in Europe, a precursor to a future European Army".

In a separate "op-ed" piece authored by Col. Collins, he also writes about Hoon’s cuts to the size and capability of the armed forces, to "make it easier for us to deploy rapidly to far-flung places and pay for high-tech weapons programmes".

Without actually saying so, Col. Collins is referring to FRES and Hoon’s ambitions to re-equip and restructure the Army to make it the nucleus of the EU’s rapid reaction force. But the point Collins does make is unarguable:

Of course we should keep pace with weapons technology but over-reliance on high-tech solutions, warfare by computer, is not our way and never has been. The British Army has historically equipped the man, not manned the equipment. Our strength… is in our people.
Picking up the general theme, the Mail's editorial recalls that Mandelson four years ago sought to ingratiate himself with listeners to Irish radio by mocking the Brigade of Guards as "a lot of chinless wonders marching around Horseguards Parade doing incomprehensible things with flags".

Writes the Mail,

His sneers are typical of the private language of New Labour, peopled by figures whose backgrounds are more revolutionary than they care to admit. They have not forgotten or abandoned their radical dislike of the way the British state is based on loyalty to the Crown rather than the Labour Party. And they have not given up their desire to integrate this country fully and irreversibly into the European Union, whose very different ways they seem to prefer to ours.
The way the Mail sees it is that there is no place for units such as the Guards in the EU Army, now slowly taking shape with New Labour's tacit support, which is the real reason for the Gen. Jackson's proposal.

The paper is probably right, and Colonel Collins certainly is. Thank goodness that, at last, one newspaper has woken up. When are the others – and the opposition politicians – going to do likewise? We cannot and must not sacrifice our armed forces on the altar of European integration.

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