Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Need for Grand Strategy

 I have to say that if we can see an example of any country out there with grand strategy its China. China is even building a network of colonies with 99 year leases on huge territories from Kazakhstan to Sudan.
How many soldiers does China have deployed on UN missions across the world? Zero. How many conflicts has China entered into to protect civilians? Zero. They simply sit on the sidelines and exploit the weakness in other countries.
Another nation followed a similar strategy in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centaury and that nation went on to build the biggest empire in the history of the world.
Well I have often been accused of promoting a fantasy fleet I am not actually and never have been a member of the dark blues. I was actually a serving member of the guys in green.
In a world of peace such as we live in now we really cannot justify military expense beyond 2% of GDP (the same as China spends) we must make the most of that £40 billion per year.
We have to realise that in the modern world no nation including the USA is a super power. It took the USA a herculean effort calling up 50% of its reserve forces and increasing its military budget to 4.5% of GDP to invade two of the poorest and worst armed countries in the world. It should be noted that at its highest the British Empire ruled both of these countries and never deployed more than a Division to do so. Neither we nor the USA will ever be able to act alone in any major operation. There is no such thing in today’s world as a truly full spectrum force. If we cannot have a full force we must focus on what bits are best for us to have and where we can add the most value.
We must stop talking about the Armed forces and security. We do not spend £40 billion a year for security. At present despite that fact of everyone’s talk on an increasingly unstable unsafe world we have zero threat to our homeland or way of life. I was in Washington DC on September 11th 2001 and I was in London on 07/07 (no I am not an Al Qaeda operative) with both events if it had not been on the news I would probably not have realised that anything had happened. This type of threat is a criminal act. Nineteen pissed of Saudi’s with pen knifes cannot be seen in the same ways as Nazi jack boots in Cali. This is a threat for the security services. A job that I might add takes up around £1.6 billion per year ( not all spent on terrorism) about the same as the RAF spends on new tiers for the Typhoon. And this is a job that the security services have performed well over the past decade with this relatively modest budget.
We have a peace time military for two reasons. A regenerative capability to build upon in the face of a major threat and to buy diplomatic influence with others both friends a foe alike.
With the first reason increasingly unlikely to be needed we must really look at the second diplomatic influence as the main objective.
What made Britain such a threat to Napoleon was not our small army or even our vast navy but the ability of Britain to potentially build a coalition of European powers. We supplied the money, guns and ships while the Prussians, Austrians and Russians supplied most of the man power. While the Russians and Austrians invaded France we took on Denmark.
It is the type of power we must look to provide today. All be it in a different way.
We must provide the backbone around which others can act with us. And we must crucially provide another pole around which western forces can form around to take action when the US feels unable or unwilling to act.
We must concentrate on providing C4 ISTAR capabilities that are the equal of the USA’s even at the expense of individual numbers of tanks, ships and aircraft.
Just look at present operations in Libya. We still needed the US to lead us and kick in the door. Even the Arab forces that spend a tiny amount in comparison to the EU which spends some $250 billion a year on defence have more than enough aircraft and capabilities to actually perform the strikes we are carrying out today. They would easily have enough ground forces to invade and hold the country. What they don’t have is the ability to command and control forces identify targets and overcome initial air defences. Neither do we which is why we need the US to help us deal with Libya a European and Arab problem.
We must also follow the Chinese example of soft power projection and not interfering in other peoples affairs.
We must begin to engage with the future mega powers in a way that we have not done yet. Countries such as India and Indonesia should be brought into the 5 powers defence agreement and organisation that we should build and equip with British C4 ISTAR capabilities almost to the level of NATO itself.
Rather than worrying about the loss of our diplomatic standing at the UN we must use our influence to get India and possibly even Brazil and Indonesia into the security council. We must create special relationships with these countries the equal of anything we share with the USA today.
More than any other country Britain made the modern world. We should embrace that fact and run towards it rather than burying our head in the sand or feel that we do not somehow measure up to our fore fathers.
We can be great again if we just try.