Following years of a discreet but increasing British military presence in the regions ‘East of Suez’, the British tilt to the Indo-Pacific officially comes as policy in 2021.

Establishing Britain as the European country with the most prominent military presence in the region within a decade is its main objective.


This is an opinion piece, please note that the opinion of the author may not necessarily reflect that of the UK Defence Journal.


An ambitious goal but not beyond Britain’s resources.

On 16 March 2021, the British Government published its long-awaited ‘Global Britain in a Competitive Age: Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy‘, or simply Integrated Review. One week later, the Ministry of Defence released a Command Paper, named Defence in a Competitive Age, outlining the changes and how the Armed Forces would meet the objectives of the Integrated Review.

However, an important announcement given in November 2020 had already disclosed preliminary information about the future budget of the Ministry of Defence. According to the Prime Minister, the British defence budget would receive an additional £16.5bn over four years, resulting in a 2024 budget roughly £7bn higher than it would have been without the November announcement. Even without the first effects of this decision, the annual report of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) indicated that Britain’s defence spending had surpassed Russia’s spending in 2020, reaching US$61.5bn, only behind the United States (738bn), China (193.3bn) and India (64.1bn).

HMS Albion has previously sailed through the South China Sea.

The Review seemed to have room for decisions while establishing a new strategy for the country in a “Competitive Age” without significant defence cuts, delays or ambiguity. Despite that, it is worth noting that the British defence budget has been facing successive funding problems since the 1990s. In the early 2000s, Britain had already reduced its defence spending by more than 35% since the end of the Cold War and engaged in several military operations overseas.

While the ‘peace dividend’ cuts of the early 1990s were not exclusively a British decision within NATO, the new military commitments and operations increasingly pressured the shrinking budget. The Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 and the subsequent austerity-driven 2010 Defence Review only aggravated the situation of the Armed Forces. Thus, although the £16.5bn increase remains positive news, what the Integrated Review could deliver remained relatively constrained by enduring funding issues.

Throughout the Integrated Review and the Command Paper, some specific decisions can be highlighted. Foreign policy objectives and statements include maintaining a productive relationship with the European Union while having in the United States its most important bilateral partner and ally. The document identifies Russia as the” most acute” threat to the UK and takes a lighter note on China compared to Russia.

The East Asian country is a “systemic challenge” to British security while indicating that London does not discard a positive economic relationship between the two nations. In addition, the Review indicates the British Government’s willingness to maintain the UK as the “leading European member” of NATO and strengthen the Five Eyes, an intelligence alliance comprising the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States.

Most of these points have been present in previous defence reviews.

Nevertheless, the 2021 Integrated Review brings a new foreign policy objective: Within a decade, the UK must be “deeply engaged” in the Indo-Pacific region, having the most significant and most persistent presence in the region than any other European country. The British Government calls this aim a “tilt” to the Indo-Pacific. Considering that the United Kingdom never truly withdrew from “East of Suez”, performing an incomplete retreat in 1971, the country has the potential to expand on existing assets and partnerships to achieve its goal.

However, if London wants the position of the most considerable military presence of a European country in the Indo-Pacific, it must look at France and its territories throughout the area. French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis and Fortuna, and Réunion offer different degrees of military utility to France, granting the French Government a relatively comfortable strategic position in the Mozambique Channel and the Pacific Ocean. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), in 2020, excluding the French presence in Djibouti (1,450 personnel) and the United Arab Emirates (650), France had 4,050 troops throughout its overseas departments in the region. Considering the military presence in Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates, France crosses the mark of 6,000 troops “East of Suez”.

In 2019, the French ministry of defence (Ministère des Armées) published a report titled “France and Security in the Indo-Pacific”, which indicated that the number of French personnel in the region was 6,940 troops.

On the other hand, the UK has the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) and the remote Pitcairn Islands. The IISS states that London has only a permanent military presence in the BIOT – also known as Diego Garcia, its largest island – while the four islands that constitute the Pitcairn territory have no military presence. Pitcairn Island is home to 40 to 50 inhabitants, being the world’s least populated national jurisdiction. The island has five km² (1.9 sq mi), while the whole territory has no more than 47 km² (18 sq mi). In addition, its distant location and volcanic geography make it unviable for military purposes.

Between 2000 and 2020, the British military only visited the islands twice. A deployment occurred in September 2000 through HMS Sutherland and RFA Bayleaf, and the last one happened almost two decades later, in January 2019, when HMS Montrose reached the territory following a visit to Chile. The absence of a regular British military presence in the vicinity leaves Pitcairn dependent on ships from the French and New Zealand navies for patrolling duties. For example, in March 2018, months before HMS Montrose patrolled the waters around the possession, the French coastal patrol vessel (Arago) assigned to French Polynesia performed similar duties.

Operating on Diego Garcia, there is the “British Forces British Indian Ocean Territories”. The island is considered a Permanent Joint Operating Base (PJOB) residence, having in the 40-50 members of the Naval Party 1002 the majority of the British presence on Diego Garcia. The Naval Party is responsible for the daily administration of the territory. Despite this relatively small presence, Diego Garcia is an important military asset to Britain and the United States. Following a deal between London and Washington in 1971 that allowed the Americans to build a large airbase and harbour capable of receiving American aircraft carriers, an Anglo-American base operates on the territory’s main island. Although the United States is the main user of the military installations, Britain does not need American authorisation to use the base.

Diego Garcia

Therefore, in the most favourable estimates, the British Government bolster no more than 50 personnel permanently deployed on its territories East of Suez. However, Britain has a more persistent military presence in regional partner nations than France. In 2020, Britain had a military presence in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Singapore, Brunei, and Kenya. The British military presence in Bahrain is roughly 160 troops, plus a naval presence in the Persian Gulf that forms the long-standing Operation Kipion. Since the mid-2010s, at least one frigate, one RFA vessel and four mine countermeasures vessels have been forming this British naval presence in the Gulf. This force of six ships represents the largest British naval presence East of Suez.

Nevertheless, London has been planning to replace its mine hunters and countermeasures vessels with autonomous systems leaving unclear the future characteristics of its presence in the Persian Gulf. According to a statement dating from November 2020 by the Minister of State for Defence Procurement, the five new Type 32 frigates mentioned by the Integrated Review are intended to have some form of “mothership” role for the new autonomous systems.

France has three D’Entrecasteaux-class patrol vessels (or “multi-mission ship”, each ship has an empty displacement of 1,500 tonnes and length of 65 metres) and four Floréal-class frigates (“surveillance frigates”, designed for low-threat environments, displacing 2,500 tonnes and initially armed with surface-to-surface Exocet missiles). In 2014, the Floréal frigates had their Exocet launchers removed as the missile’s life cycle ended, and the French Government had no intentions of procuring a replacement. Despite that, each ship of the class has one 100 mm CADAM turret and two 20 mm modèle F2 guns. Therefore, the British presence in the Gulf almost rivals the French naval forces spread throughout the Indo-Pacific, but securing the freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf is the strategic focus and rationale backing Operation Kipion. Thus, the Operation is more involved with Middle East matters than the Indo-Pacific.

Beyond Bahrain and its naval forces in the Gulf, Britain has one Gurkha Infantry Battalion based in Brunei. In total, the number of British forces in the Southeast Asian country is roughly 2,000. Military infrastructure such as the vast training centre for jungle warfare consolidates Brunei as one of Britain’s closest partners throughout the region. Additionally, there are 350 troops in Kenya, 200 in the United Arab Emirates, around 100 in Oman, and 50 members of the Naval Party 1022 in Singapore.

Considering that the UK Joint Logistics Support Base (UKJLSB) in Oman has been subject to expansions since its official opening in late 2018, the number of personnel deployed there has not reached its peak. Amongst the plans for increased local capabilities, the British Government announced in September 2020 that the Support Base would be tripled in size. During and after the 2021 Carrier Strike Group deployment to the Indo-Pacific, the British military base in Oman is set to increase in importance and numbers of personnel.

It is worth noting that since 2019 the UKJLSB has been one of two bases maintained by London in Oman. Envisaging the enhancement of British and Omani military interoperability and training, Britain established a joint training area in the country. With its 4,000 square kilometres (1,500 square miles), the Omani-British Joint Training Area has assumed the position of the largest training field used by the British Army, larger than the Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) in Canada.

Moreover, since the 2010s a detachment of 60 British officers from the Army has been stationed in Nepal recruiting Gurkhas. In 2020, the total number of British troops permanently based East of Suez was 2,860. These numbers include Kenya and Bahrain and exclude the recruiting team in Nepal and the crew of British ships in the Gulf. When considering the crew of these vessels, the total would not reach the mark of 3,400 troops throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Accordingly, at least in quantitative measurement, Britain’s military presence in the Indo-Pacific is less than half of France’s. If the British Government desires to have the most capable European military presence in the area, the French indicates what Britain needs to consider and surpass.

Thus, at first sight, Britain is lagging behind France in the race for the position of the “foremost European military presence in the Indo-Pacific”. However, since the 2014 announcement that the Royal Navy would re-open its naval base in Bahrain, the British military presence – or at least the military infrastructure – have been expanding. Adding to the Naval Support Facility (HMS Jufair) in Bahrain, Britain reproached Oman in 2018, establishing the previously mentioned training and naval bases in the country.

In December 2018, the then Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, declared that the Government was looking for two new permanent military bases in the Caribbean and South-East Asia. Singapore and Brunei were reported to be the future sites of those bases. Despite the lack of information concerning the unfolding of this policy, the statement should be seen through the context of an increasing desire in London to perform a “British return to East of Suez” even though Britain never completely left the region. An indication of this continued presence is that both considered locations for new military bases – Singapore and Brunei – already have different forms of British military presence.

Therefore, when the 2021 Integrated Review and Command Paper laid the foundations of how the country will achieve its Indo-Pacific goal, the two documents are simply formalising a strategic tendency present in London since at least 2014. In the short term and bearing in mind the characteristics of the French position in the region, the decisions of the Command Paper seem unable to achieve the Government’s objectives, but after 2023, this military presence will expand if the current plans are followed without cutbacks.

CGI of Batch 2 River class ships

The permanent deployment of a Batch 2 River-class patrol vessel in 2021 is the primary short-term improvement to the British naval forces in the Indo-Pacific. In the late 2020s or early 2030s – but no earlier than 2027 – Type 31 frigates are going to be permanently based in the region, patrolling the British Overseas Territories and paying visits to friendly nations. By 2023, Britain will have established a Littoral Response Group (LRG) permanently based in the Indian Ocean. On 19 May 2021, the Royal Navy confirmed that the plans for the LRG designed it to be a permanent deployment. This LRG is the second of two Littoral Response Group; the first is assigned to Northern Europe and includes one Albion-class amphibious transport dock vessel, one Type 23 frigate, and one Bay-class landing ship dock of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Additionally, according to the Royal Navy, the first LRG operates “Wildcat helicopters from 847 Naval Air Squadron and Royal Marines from 45 and 30 Commando”. In total, this force can deploy roughly 1,000 sailors and Royal Marines.

Beyond that, the Review and Command Paper declare that the country will have a more persistent presence regionally, having frequent naval deployments and training exercises with local partners. The Carrier Strike Group fulfils one of these “more persistent” deployments while temporarily overshadowing the French presence in the region. The British Government also indicates its desire to transform and deepen its bilateral relations with India and Japan, two important regional actors. In spite of that, according to the Government, the partners “at the heart” of the British tilt will be Canada, Australia and New Zealand “as we work to support them to tackle the security challenges in the region”. Lastly, through the Command Paper, London recognises the relevance of the partnership with Oman and the centrality of the British Indian Ocean Territory for future operations.

Thus, within the background of increasing Great Power competition, the decisions of the British Government display a willingness to “return” Britain as a relevant strategic actor in the Indo-Pacific. Although still facing the consequences of years of austerity-driven cuts, the growing defence budget is a positive base for the current ambitions in a region that Britain will be competing with other Great Powers for relevance while defending its security and economic interests.

Achieving the position of the foremost European military presence in the Indo-Pacific is not beyond Britain’s resources. During the next decade, the lack of resolve of the British Government might be the greatest threat to the success of this tilt, even though the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific are increasingly intertwined with Britain’s security and prosperity.

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Nate M
Nate M
2 months ago

after being europes best can we think about being worlds best? aka starting canzuk?

Andy B
Andy B
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

Absolutely, we share so much with these countries we should be considering longer term trade alliance. Not sure how big the size of that prize is though?

Gareth
Gareth
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

I would be very much in favour of CANZUK – I think it has broad cross-partisan support in all of the prospective “member states” if one dares use that term. Definitely short on detail though and judging by how UK farmers reacted this week to a post-Brexit free trade deal with Australia, to put a naval spin on it, it wont all be plain sailing. (Despite the farming sector being strongly in favour of Brexit…) Still, that shouldn’t be allowed to stop us and Australia, Canada, and New Zealand seems to me to be quite open to the idea at… Read more »

John N
John N
2 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

The CANZUK alliance might sound like a good idea, but in reality, here in Australia, there is virtually no news or discussion, you could almost say it’s a ‘non issue’, I don’t think the average person here in Oz would even have heard of CANZUK.

I think it will be a long road ahead for those proposing this alliance.

Cheers,

Nate M
Nate M
2 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

spot on Gareth. seems like a no brainer. 5th largest military and economy comparable or even better then the EU. but I do see some issues with like trading between Australia and Uk being a fairly long distance? but with the Suez cannel it makes it easier. But then again if a member state is in danger it might take time for them to send back up.

maurice10
maurice10
2 months ago

Britain by tradition has gravitated towards the Middle and the Far East and that’s where it made a considerable amount of income during the days of empire. Nothing has really changed, the zones are still a hotbed of growing economies and the UK will need to be part of it, if we are to become less dependant on Europe for our future growth. Obviously, the military component of this policy will require considerable financial support, to underwrite our presences and capabilities to defend our interests, if required. I perceive this move to be a predictable and inevitable step in creating… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago

Very interesting read, thank you. It is a tilt, not a pivot like the US with its vast military resources. So yes, of course it is achievable. The infrastructure exists. Britain has always been well equipped in this regard as a legacy of Empire, our bases were very attractive to the Americans. Assets are limited but they do not need to be huge. It is about presence, not war. Supporting SF in anti terrorist ops, using the likes of the LSS already planned for. It is conducting intelligence operations, supporting 5 eyes, author does not mention the UKIC at various… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Daniele Mandelli
James H
James H
2 months ago

I see it more as a presence then a tilt, the navy is hardly growing and not until the end of the decade and into the 2030s, so any changes even small will not happen for a long time.

John N
John N
2 months ago

As an Australian I welcome the re-entry of the UK into our part of the world, the Indo-Pacific and Asia-Pacific regions. But….. The question remains, what happens in subsequent years following the QE carrier task group this year? What are the plans for the years ahead? Will there be a large RN carrier task group visit every year? Every second year? Once or twice a decade? What happens after this big flag waving exercise once the task group returns to the UK later this year? As it stands today, and for the foreseeable future, the French will continue to have… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by John N
John N
John N
2 months ago
Reply to  John N

Might be two carriers, but only one will deploy at any one time.

The upcoming deployment is a major effort, it also relies on non RN escort ships too.

I struggle to see this happening yearly, or even every two years, and don’t forget Atlantic deployments, both North and South, the Med too.

So the question is, what will the UK deploy/base in this region when there isn’t a carrier task group?

Cheers,

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  John N

It’s not meant to happen yearly or even every few years. It demonstrates the capability to do so. LSS ( East ) 1x Bay, 1x Escort, in future MRSS too, 40 Commando det, 30 Commando Det, FS dets from RA, presumably 29RA. Boats dets from 47 Cdo or 539RM. Aviation dets, probably from 845, 846, 847 NAS though assets very thin to say the least so uncertain at this stage. T23 in Gulf with MCMV until they’re replaced. 1 or even 2 River B2. Assumed 1 SNN regularly east of Suez. Other dribs and drabs mentioned in article on ongoing… Read more »

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  John N

It doesnt rely on non RN ships as the deployment could easily happen without them, however training with allies and relying on allies assets is all part of the exercises.

Lusty
Lusty
2 months ago

An interesting read, thanks for sharing and writing it.

It should be noted that both Tamar and Spey will deploy to the Indo-Pacific region now, in contrast to the original plans for just one.

Baby steps are needed, but we’re making steps in the right direction.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

Any confirmed location for Tamar and Spey? Also, rereading article it says roughly 2000 personnel in Brunei?? Very curious at that. If 1RGR is 600 odd ( as I think im right in saying is the establishment of a LI Bn ?) where are the rest to make that total? From memory there’s 7 Flight AAC, Jungle Warfare School ( part of IBS, but thought only selection people go through it so small numbers ) and small bits and pieces like HQ BMG Brunei, Brunei Troop QGS and the Brunei Police Unit. Who else is there? Do regular infantry go… Read more »

Lusty
Lusty
2 months ago

No idea on location, mate. I would assume Singapore or Brunei, but only time will tell. In terms of British territory, Pitcairn has no facilities and BIOT is well equipped but too far away from the action in all fairness. Sadly, the only other obvious location went in ’97. I would put money on Singapore as that would grant access to the old naval base and the existing British facilities, which have recently been overhauled, to an extent. As for troop numbers, I’m probably not the one to ask. Forces.net put it at 2000 during the last renewal (back in… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Lusty

“Maybe it’s time for a FOI request?”

The MoD stopped replying to me years ago!!!!! I gave up around 2014 timeframe. Strange, probably illegal, but true. They were probably sick of the sight of my name but the lady at Andover seemed to know me well enough…!

If that 2000 is reported elsewhere that’s fair enough. Half a brigade, no wonder the army has so little combat assets!

And yes, hope it is Singapore.

Last edited 2 months ago by Daniele Mandelli
Lusty
Lusty
2 months ago

Haha, I thought you might have gone through a few trees with your FOI requests! Good on you mate.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

JWIC is taught in Brunei, not Batsub, so most regular infantry will be exposed to the Jungle in Brunei rather than Belize.
BATSUB is used for the occasional OTX, along with BATUK for light infantry types, it’s not really a “Jungle Warfare School” as such (beyond it’s Jungle and you practice Warfare in it).

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Right, thanks for clearing that up for me Dern.

russ barlow
russ barlow
2 months ago

No it itsn’t. Such statements need supporting evidence not belief or conjecture. And this is a defence journal. Not a politcal blog.

James
James
2 months ago

My recommendation? Build 2 drone carriers like Turkey is doing and increase escort numbers that can launch autonomous gunboats armed with anti ship missiles and can track subs. This is a cheaper way to increase footprint

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago
Reply to  James

I like this idea too. With other countries navies also likely to do the same we could end up with several copy catting drone flights-n-fights in various areas of the world. Just waiting for drone on drone to happen.

John
John
2 months ago

Let’s be honest. After this cruise neither of the carriers will be back for at least a couple of years.

I’d hardly call this a pivot, but rather a good chest beating.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the sentiment, but let’s not pretend the UK will continue to be a credible deterrence in the Pacific. It will not.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  John

The idea is to demonstrate the UK has the means, skills, logistics, and know how to deploy a carrier group, wherever it is needed. We are not trying to be a credible deterrent on an ongoing basis, as of course we lack the numbers. That is the domain of CASD. Having said that, an Astute or two there would deter many a Navy leaving port if things became serious, and we could send Hunter Killers independently if we wished. Given the rise of China and our closest allies response the destination was obvious, as are the expanding markets in that… Read more »

Trevor W Hogg
Trevor W Hogg
2 months ago

Well said, Just remember what happens to the Argentinian Navy once the General Belgrano was sunk by HMS Conqueror, they spent the rest of the conflict tied up in port, the power of just 1 SSN. Different scale with China of course, and different circumstances, but shows what is possible with just a few assets in place.

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  John

Maybe not a continuous visible deterrence but a capable, reactive one which can deploy for specific needs and situations, where the build up is most diplomatic tensions, with a view to future possible kinetic ops.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Mate, can you help re numbers in Brunei above? Are RGR Bns about 600 to 650 strong? Maybe they’re more?

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago

I was there for short periods of time, atap hurdle, JWIC etc but that was all late ninties and early noughties. Bn numbers wont be much different from then and now, maybe slightly less even, but your pretty much correct. Not sure where the other 1000 people in Brunei come from!

Ross McFarlane
Ross McFarlane
2 months ago
Reply to  John

If a carrier is not ‘East of Suez’ then what will it be doing? Yes, this first trip is a big RN commitment to show the world we can do it, but in future years it will have more support from allies.

Meirion X
Meirion X
2 months ago
Reply to  Ross McFarlane

If a carrier is not East of Suez, it will be exercising in UK waters or the Med. and training crew for the next trip by the PoW.
There is a lot preparatory work to be done before a long cruise.

Last edited 2 months ago by Meirion X
Ross McFarlane
Ross McFarlane
2 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

OK, taking onboard some of the comments, a carrier cycle of one year in Atlantic and following year east of Suez for building relations with fast growing economies sounds a good return to the taxpayer for the extra investment in people, infrastructure and ships. The Med is not a good idea as the carrier would get sucked into dealing with migration issues.

Peter S
Peter S
2 months ago
Reply to  John

It really is a publicity stunt to boost the global Britain message. Our presence in the Middle East makes some strategic sense: friendly nations and big customers for UK defence kit, as well as crucial suppliers of oil and gas. There is no strategic sense in a tilt to the Far East. As the article points out, France has significant territories in the region. We don’t. What possible purpose is served by having an OPV in Singapore? In 1960, the Far East fleet was large enough to conduct full operations. 60 years later, the populations and wealth of Malaysia, Singapore,… Read more »

QuentinD63
QuentinD63
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

Hi Peter, I’d like to see Britain continue to build on its International Trade relations around world in a respectful and mutually beneficial manner among other friendly nations. A juggle of soft and hard power. To keep communication doors open with not-so-friendly nations, no need to be openly provocative and put some more defensive armament on our ships and carriers…please.

Meirion X
Meirion X
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

You Wrong again, how many times!

The UK is tapping into a greater potential for economic growth by aligning our economy with the Far Eastent economies.

As you said, those Far Eastern economies have grown a lot since 1960, so the UK should have stayed aligned there then, and Not have joined Europe.

You have really contradicted yourself again!

Last edited 2 months ago by Meirion X
Peter S
Peter S
2 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

Trade doesn’t follow the flag anymore. The world’s big exporters Germany, Japan, S Korea and even China (to date)have achieved economic success because of the quality or price of their products not their military presence.. Basing an OPV in Singapore is unlikely to provide a major boost to UK exports.
You really need to distinguish between military threats and economic development, even if Boris chooses not to.
At least Ben Wallace now sees Russian submarines round our coastline as the greatest naval threat to the UK. No wonder he looked so uncomfortable presenting the Defence Command paper.

Paul.P
Paul.P
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

Echo your concerns. China is playing a long game, emulating British 19c success in Empire building by creating WW network of basis based around their commercial shipping fleet and financial and civil engineering experience. On the QT they admire us. I read somewhere they are great fans of Edmund Burke. The 19c was our century, the 29c was the US century and the 21c will be the Chinese century. We need to accept this and work with it. Two OPVs in Singapore or Brunei is sensible and realistic plus maybe a LRG for typhoon relief. Our naval influence in the… Read more »

Meirion X
Meirion X
2 months ago
Reply to  John

You have left out the economic dimension to the trip.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago

Watching Boris on Forces TV yesaday on QE looking very proud and looking like PM ready to stand up for the UK and for world order,good on him just think it’s on a bit of a shoe string .Not that it will happen hope Government do U turn on cuts ,if you want to be seen round the world 🌎 what do you Guys think 🤔.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Hi Andrew, I just wish BJ had not used the non-subtle phrase about Britain becoming “the foremost naval power in Europe”! That kind of talk would surely have got right up a European continent full of former colonial powers noses as it did mine and I’m a Brit. Where’s the British sense of modesty and understatement in those words? Build up the strength of the British forces but there’s no need broadcast everything and blow our own trumpet. There’s already enough potential rivalry going on internationally. No need to stir it up any more. Be a strong presence for good… Read more »

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Fingers crossed for you mate 👊

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Thanks Andrew. I’m an “Aussified Pom” down under and still feel very British! Want Britain to have a strong and well armed navy. At least there are a quite a lot of new vessels coming along. Just hope there’s truly enough and soon enough. It’s mammoth planning I know and we always want more earlier. Lol 😁
Anyway we should be able to fit the whole CSG in Sydney harbour easily!

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Least you have the weather old boy ☀😎

Phil
Phil
2 months ago

A scandalous waste of money on a vanity project for sea-squaddies to play Captain Pugwash……ridiculous. Just what does the Disunited Kingdom think it is in 2021?

Total defence spending should be cut by 80%. It really isn’t necessary beyond that.

JohnG
JohnG
2 months ago

Good article, cheers Vitor

Steve
Steve
2 months ago

Just seems to be a vanity project to me. A mix of trying to suck at to the US and distract from brexit.

Reality our economic interests are closer to home and we should be focused where is best for our economy and not other countries.

The Australian trade deal is a clear sign of that, the deal is bad for the UK but we are progressing it seems to have a trade deal to announce.

Meirion X
Meirion X
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

The Far Easten economies have the potential to grow faster and become a greater proportion of world GDP. That is why Brition is tapping into this till.

Last edited 2 months ago by Meirion X
Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

In the long term yes, but that doesn’t change that they are a tiny part of our exports and the more the region grows the less relevant the west have to their economies as they grow closer together, thanks global proximity.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago

The article says that the number of French personnel in the Indo-Pacific region was 6,940 troops. That’s a lot; we could not match that. I think we will be doing a small nudge, not a tilt, at least regarding ground troops.

Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

We could easily match and exceed that, if there was a realistic desire or need to do so, but realistically there isn’t. As stated above this is purely a PR stunt.

The combined armed forces are still over 100k, so we could deploy probably close to half of that abroad if there was a need, maybe more. Between iraq/afgan we had around 20k deployed for years and could have sent more if there had been a policitical desire to do so.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Thanks Steve. Your figure of 100k is it Regular plus Reserve Army (TA,in old money) – which is about right post reduction to a 72,500 and then a 70,000 Reg army?
Or is it Reg RN + Reg Army + Reg RAF?
Anyway, I think we would only deploy French-type numbers (7k or more) to Indo-Pacific if there was a serious bit of bother going on or also for a PR stunt, not just a routine/permanent garrisoning activity.

Last edited 2 months ago by Graham Moore
Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Was thinking combined forces, Army+ RN+ RAF

We have always had significant overseas deployments but they tend to be scattered globally. For example we had several thousand deployed in Germany for decades.

Peter P.
Peter P.
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Yes, these figures speak for themselves. Probably the result of a real ‘Indo-pacific’ policy expressed in 2018 by their Ministry of Armed Forces, with a combination of political desire and military assets.

Cripes
Cripes
2 months ago

This supposed tilt to Indo-Pacific/Global Britain is just a political PR deflection from the serious cuts in the defence paper and a political play to the ‘little Englanders’. Given how small our forces have become, It has next to no military significance and is strategically incoherent. It is a so-far successful piece of outright spin and pretence, because here we all are singing along. The hard facts from the Defence Review are that: – The RAF is losing (another) 15% of its aircraft, down from 510 to 435 (1) – The army is being cut by (a further) 15%, down… Read more »

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Always wonder if it wasn’t for COVID the Economy taking a hit ,would BJ have put more money in Defence and increase the size of our Focers as this was the impression he use to give to the Media.🤔

Cripes
Cripes
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I seriously doubt it. Boris says whatever the audience wants to hear but he is a front man only. Like any Conservative leader, he will do what party policy and the hard men in his party decree. The Conservatives’ central policy platform, hidden just now by spin but not diminished, is to cut public expenditure right down. To Trump Republican levels if they can manage it. They have pretty much achieved that with defence over the last 11 years, cutting everything to the bone and then some. Smallest army for 300 years, smallest air force since the RFC was formed,… Read more »

Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Labour would be the same. Polictican don’t get voted in for talking about raising taxes, it’s always about cutting them. You can’t cut taxes and somehow pay for same stuff. The polictical trick is to do cuts in such a way that people don’t notice it or take longer than the current government to take impact.

Covid and brexit have hit the economy hard, cuts have to happen, just a reality. Whether the economy will recover from them in the medium to long term is currently uncertain.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

To be fair cripes all governments since end of cold war have cut and chop .Putin Bear has risen again ,but the UK and West under Estimated this Guy .But David Cameron’s and is little mate Osborn did more Damaged then been on a Battle Field with cut and chop and now we’re paying for it .

liam
liam
2 months ago

On my comment replied to by Russ, re the tilting away from the USA, which apparently was deleted. A far smarter military thinker knew that war was an extension of politics and inherently where we tilt or do not tilt toward or away from are political decisions. As for the state of the US military, it’s not conjecture to worry about what is happening to it. A Lt Gen in 11th Space Warning Command was sacked for merely saying on a podcast that he was worried about Marxist policies being instituted in the US military. We’ll see how Lloyd Austin’s… Read more »

liam
liam
2 months ago
Reply to  liam

Replying to myself, it’s not conjecture when President Macron has expressed concerns about the importation of American identity politics into France, which he sees as a direct threat to the nation.

Monty
Monty
2 months ago
Reply to  liam

“None of that is conjecture”……He was a Lieutenant Colonel(O-5), not a Lieutenant General(O-9).

Liam
Liam
2 months ago
Reply to  Monty

Did I get the wrong rank? Huge deal! Was the underlying substance wrong? Any answer on Macron (his education minister too, and leading intellectuals) and the very open concerns of our ally and NATO partner, France? Macron is not exactly a mad right winger is he. Nothing on the troops in Washington either? If you think none of this affects us and our military I believe you are mistaken. Legislation is now being proposed to protect free speech in our higher education institutions from the importation of American identity politics. Much the same I see our military at risk from… Read more »

Russ barlow
Russ barlow
2 months ago
Reply to  liam

Ok. But a Lieut General shouldn’t really be making such comments, particularly as “Marxism” is a particular ideology which has never and is not now playing a role in U.S politics. If you mean “left of centre” please say so. Would you like to comment on Trumps role in preventing any help to Capitol police? This topic concerns G.B’s role in any great power projects in the Middle East. What does Trump and the BLM movement have to do with it? Please stay on topic or go comment on “The National Interest” for example.

David
David
2 months ago

I read the review and understood it to say that Russia poses the greatest and most immediate threat to the UK. So, excuse me, but is there not a certain disconnect from reality in then “tilting” towards the far east?

Grumpy stoker
Grumpy stoker
2 months ago

The UK is not a European power. We are not European,we are British.

Karl
Karl
2 months ago
Reply to  Grumpy stoker

Speak for yourself.

Meirion X
Meirion X
2 months ago
Reply to  Grumpy stoker

Where is the UK located, then?