The Brits still want to play in the Great Game? To what end?

Long Range Desert Group (WW2)

“The “Army of the future” will see £23 billion of investment. This will include upgrades to tanks and armoured vehicles, rockets, air defence, tactical surveillance drones, and new electronic warfare and cyberspace capabilities. However, with that will come cuts to both personnel and equipment.

As revealed by The Telegraph ahead of the Integrated Review, the size of the Army will be reduced to 72,500, from the current full time trade trained soldiers of 76,000, by 2025. This part of the Ministry of Defence’s pledge to create a “leaner, more lethal, nimbler” Army.” Telegraph.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/22/warhorses-military-put-pasture-new-era-fighting-technology-arrives/

“The army is setting up a special operations brigade for missions abroad as ‘Global Britain’ seeks a broader military footprint with new and traditional allies outside Europe.

A Ranger regiment will form the core of the new force which will engage in combat, as well as carry out training, with the aim of signing a series of defence agreements and setting up a string of international bases.

The announcement of the new force came ahead of a command paper due out on Monday which will lay out details on military restructuring following the Integrated Review into defence, security and international relations policies.

The review stated that as part of post-Brexit Britain broadening its horizons, forces would be deployed more frequently and for longer periods overseas.

The Ranger regiment, a thousand strong unit comprised of four battalions, will be tier two special forces supporting the SAS and SBS, and the new brigade will be deployed to the “most contested environments”.”

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/british-army-to-establish-new-special-operations-brigade-to-tackle-emerging-threats/ar-BB1eLDD1?ocid=uxbndlbing

“Nick Smith, a Labour backbencher, persisted. He asked Mr Johnson exactly how he would go about cutting 10,000 soldiers from the Army.

The PM retorted that the Government was about to make “the biggest investment in our Armed Forces since the Cold War”. Again, no mention of the 10,000. From which fact only one inference could be drawn: the story was true. By saying nothing, Mr Johnson had said it all. 

All the same, the news still needed official confirmation, and today (Monday) it fell to Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, to deliver it. In a statement to the Commons, Mr Wallace said that, by 2025, the number of soldiers would fall to 72,500. (Strictly speaking this wasn’t a fall of 10,000 – if only because the Army was already several thousand soldiers short of its “established strength” of 82,000.)” Telegraph

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2021/03/22/number-soldiers-cut-yet-mps-seemed-terribly-worried/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Range_Desert_Group

Comment: Well, well, Pilgrim Turcopoles, this will be a considerable change in the UK armed forces. It will be a big change in equipment and manning but also a radically different conception of the mission of these forces. In the recent past the UK armed forces been devoted to a territorial defense of the UK and its remaining overseas territories. Within that context an effort was made to participate in expeditionary efforts in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. That must have been a tremendous strain employing small forces not well adapted to these missions.

Now these forces are being re-shaped and re-purposed specifically to make them more useful in overseas covert action, advising foreign forces and a wide variety of small missions abroad. In this new configuration the UK armed forces will IMO be miniature version of the forces of the US.

I ask myself why the British think they should be doing this. Is this a belated response to the persistent urging of the Trump Administration for broad spectrum support from those we consider to be our allies?

Do the British reckon that they will assume leadership roles in future operations? Perhaps they will. The US has allowed its forces to decline in the average quality of senior leadership; careerism, infiltrating political wokism, a search for “social justice” resulting in such foolishness as women infantry officers, such things have greatly degraded the fighting ability of US forces and the decline seems likely to continue.

The British clearly want to “punch above their weight” in world affairs. Their abilities in Information Operations are impressive and the function is widespread within their government. This capability will mesh well with that effort.

This may be a good thing from the US point of view. pl

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58 Responses to The Brits still want to play in the Great Game? To what end?

  1. TV says:

    Just read a book “The Changing of the Guard” by Simon Akam.
    About the British Army since 2002.
    Not flattering – especially to the Generals.

  2. Deap says:

    Asia Times assesses Biden’s circular firing squad foreign policies, which are taking the US along in his own branding of a Russia-India Great Game:

    https://pjmedia.com/spengler/2021/03/22/leaderless-bidens-firing-squad-stands-in-a-cirle-n1434253

    • Dan says:

      I only recently discovered this Spengler fellow, he’s fantastic.

      Great piece from a few months back in his archives if you can access it “American democracy died son Capitol Hill”

  3. The Twisted Genius says:

    I see the Brits also intend to set up a Space Command and a Space Academy. This will be centered around deploying and operating a constellation of LEO satellites. The primary launch platform for these fairly small satellites appears to air launched rockets developed with Virgin Air. Seems the Brits realize all those SAS, SBS, Commandos and new Rangers will need space-based intelligence and communications support.

    While we do have a massive special operations capability, we also are trying to upgrade conventional ground force capability since largely leaving Afghanistan and Iraq. The Brits can’t afford to do all that. Maybe their conventional forces will end up being in the Reserves.

    • Pat Lang says:

      TTG
      That does not really answer the question of WHY they want to do this.

      • The Twisted Genius says:

        I don’t think the Brits are content to be a small island nation with a territorial defense force. They long for the days when the sun never set on the empire. If they pine for those days and want to continue playing at the game, they need some kind of expeditionary force to remain internationally relevant. A conventional expeditionary force is too expensive. A special operations expeditionary force, although still expensive, is far more affordable.

        • Pat Lang says:

          TTG
          OK. That is basically vanity.

          • Eliot says:

            Col. Lang,

            Are you familiar with Peter Kemp’s memoir Mine Were of Trouble? Kemp was one of the few Englishmen who volunteered to fight for Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

            He’s badly wounded at the end of the war, and requests leave to return to England to recover. This requires Franco’s permission, and he has a brief private meeting with Franco.

            It’s a one side but interesting conversation that Kemp recalls from memory. Franco clearly admires the English, and he points to the English university system which he credits for building men who thirst for adventure. In Franco’s opinion, it’s the education system which produced the great men of the British Empire.

            He follows that by pointing out how the principle of academic freedom has allowed Marxist to infiltrate the system, and threaten the UKs continued existence.

            – Eliot

          • The Twisted Genius says:

            Yep, that’s all I got. If you have something better, I’d love to hear it.

          • Pat Lang says:

            TTG
            Vanity and a desire to meddle on their part. They don’t really need armed forces other than the Household Division. More vanity and a tourist attraction. They could become innocent of armed forces like Costa Rica.

          • Deap says:

            I thought it was the principle of primogeniture that created the “sense of adventure” among British men – elder son stayed home to take care of the family business; the younger sons went seeking their fortune out in the “Empire” — The Old Filth – Failed in London; try Hong Kong crowd etc. Or in the military or in the Church.

            At least that was the explanation offered in Peter Hopkirk’s history titled “The Great Game” which was one of the more rollicking explorations into the this part of the world for the “second in line sons”, brilliantly educated, and cut for adventure.

            I tracked as much of this as I could on a Silk Road jaunt into this central Asia territory. A chapter in world history totally ignored in US education – even when US education was still pretty good. But we had no dog in this fight so it dropped on the academic cutting room floor – had we known we might have not gone to war in Afghanistan and understood was seemed to be Russia’ bizarre invasion of same – the grand pass-through chunk of real estate traversed and fought over for eons.

            The endless Russian-British back and forth in Afghanistan chilled me to the bone – when we visited the fort at the top of the Khyber Pass where the lone survivor of that treacherous British retreat finally got to safety, slumped almost lifelessly over his trusty horse.

            Dinner in the former British High Comissioner Younghusband’s home, now a hotel in Kashgar, China (Xingjiang), had walls that talked to me too.

          • Jimmy_w says:

            Eliot and Deap,

            Maybe Franco was referencing all the “bullying” in the boarding schools, where boys learned that they had to fight or be oppressed.

        • English+Outsider says:

          Hey TTG!!!

          “Long for the days” my foot!

          I actually know elderly friends who caught the tail end of empire. They laugh when they hear that stereotype, that the Brits are mourning their lost empire.

          And we hear it a lot. It’s one of the staple memes of those who opposed Brexit: that all of us who voted “out” were longing for the old days of the pith helmet and the Gatling gun.

          Bullshit of the first order. Suits the temper of our times, no doubt, when our politicians proudly take the knee and so many cringe for the wicked crime of being white. Suits those who see history as merely an opportunity for a perpetual mea culpa. Doesn’t suit me and suits none with any sense in the British Isles.

          Hey, TTG. There were some vicious things done, inexcusable things, by the allied forces in the Second World War when your country and mine fought together. Does that make you ashamed of the epic heroism of Omaha Beach?

          • Mal says:

            @EO, The only place where ‘whites’ are branded as ‘wicked’ is the Mainstream Media and specific houses of Academia, okay, lots. And, perhaps not the Academic houses themselves per se, rather, like the Media, the ‘select’ few that govern them.

            “It takes a wicked white, to know a wicked white.”

            Cheers

          • Fred says:

            EO,

            I see you used a plus sign between your nom de plum names. New here, you sure don’t come across as the regular commenter from SST?

          • The Twisted Genius says:

            I fully expected you’d take exception to my guess as to why you Brits, or at least the ones who came up with this defense plan, would desire an expeditionary capability English+Outsider. I’d love to hear your explanation for such a proposed plan, or if it enjoys any public support at all.

            I was definitely think of a stereotype. One of two old tweed wearing gents sitting in overstuffed leather chairs in front of a fireplace drinking snifters of brandy when one says to the other, “Pity we lost Inja. Eh wot?” The stereotype’s not fair, but it exists. It has little to do with being white. So much of that old British Army was not white. It has everything to do with being British.

            I don’t understand why you would think I would be ashamed of the epic heroism of Omaha Beach. What does that have to do with anything I said?

          • The Twisted Genius says:

            Good point, Fred. E+O’s response does appear much more emotional than anything EO writes. Either that, or I just hit a raw nerve.

        • Deap says:

          Sir Francis Younghusband’s residence, of The Great Game fame, remains on the grounds of a hotel, in Kashgar, China:

          https://flashmen.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/chini-bagh-the-british-consulate-at-kashgar/

      • Mal says:

        I recently read that the Brits where behind Evo Morales’ disposition in Bolivia. His crime; asking the Chinese to assist in developing Bolivia’s lithium mines. Lithium is a rare mineral in high demand, especially for a country committed to attaining energy independence and meeting it’s Carbon Reduction goals.
        My guess, as the UK does not have vast store of rare earth minerals, looks like the Brits are getting ready to mine them the old fashioned way………pity those third world countries with stores of rare earth minerals.

        ps I think the Bolivia news story was all set to break on the MSM, but the Queen called Ophra and asked if she could interview Harry and Megs instead……….:)

      • Harry says:

        A working hypothesis. The UK has global business interests but regional defense capabilities. They rely on the US providing the backing for those global business interests. To be effective in lobbying for your global business interests you need to have some kind of seat at the table. Providing some capabilities the US values is the UK governments attempt to engineer a seat at the table.

        How else is BAE likely to get business?

  4. TV says:

    Big difference is the UK military is very class/accent driven. The Brits generally got to flag rank being from the right class, the Americans more by kissing the right asses and self-promotion.

    • Pat Lang says:

      TV
      There were exceptions. Slim was one such as was Auchinleck.

      • English Outsider says:

        Colonel – also, earlier on, the superb Monash.

        Also Field Marshal Sir William Robert Robertson, 1st Baronet, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, DSO, who rose like a meteor from the ranks.

        Wully sticks in the mind for his famous remark to Smith-Dorrien, ‘ ‘Orace, you’re for ‘ ome”. We knew how to sack generals in those days, though in that case I think we sacked rather a good one.

  5. walrus says:

    Britain is today an information economy in my opinion. That information is financial, political and business based through “The City’ and institutions like the LME, Lloyds, GCHQ, MI6 and the remains of Anglicised upper classes in the ruins of the British Empire. For example, I’m told that the Indian upper classes are more British today than the British.

    When all this knowledge is processed through the filters of Cambridge and Oxford at various high tables, the British might be developing some valuable insights into the course of current events to the extent of identifying historical pivot points. If that were the case, building a military that can act discretely but with force at the potential pivot points might make sense.

    • Pat Lang says:

      Walrus

      No, a vain waste of money. They have no special insights and their baleful influence in syria with the White Helmets film company has been just awful.

    • Ishmael Zechariah says:

      Walrus,
      Colonel Lang is absolutely right. Oxbridge is no longer what it was-and their own alumni are hard at work trying to destroy whatever remains in the interest of “equity”. A passel of baizou , most of them. Other Universities do not produce stars either. Here is an example from St. Andrews:
      https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/britain-would-ready-fight-war-9174000
      The term delusional comes to mind.
      Another example is the Skripal farce. The spectacle of “Fearless Leader, Theresa May” (an Oxonian) confronting Putin… I wonder who was impressed.

      Perhaps we can get some comments from Patrick Armstrong and/or David Habakkuk, or our old EO on why this, and why now.
      Ishmael Zechariah

      • English Outsider says:

        As far as I know Skripal got debunked pretty well straight away. The Brexit expert I follow, Dr Richard North, dismissed it on day one, just about. For the ins and outs of it you’d have to go to the two authorities you mention. I paid little attention to it except to wonder how many involved – police etc – believed the farce.

        Whatever algorithm runs the Colonel’s site took to putting a “+” in my nom de plume. Fred pointed it out and I put a stop to it very firmly. The brute has slunk back to its lair and hasn’t tried it on since.

        • English Outsider says:

          Ishmael Zechariah – just remembered. There was a Deutsche Welle video put out at the time that shows our (now) Prime Minster getting himself in a real tangle over that affair.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZgGujo2h3A

          That’s the man who’s got to go up against Burisma “I’m Irish” Biden in the near future. Brexit ended up with the customs borders of 27 countries running through the UK (No, I’m not going to explain) and Biden’s mission is to keep it that way.

          Biden and Pelosi have to hang on to the Noraid vote (anyone can explain that) so they’ll be bringing the big guns out. Our man’s a little weak at the knees sometimes – from the video you can see he doesn’t look a stayer – so I’m not hopeful.

          • LeaNder says:

            EO, all you have to do is get the Irish to leave the Union too. Then the “custom borders of 27 countries” won’t any longer dissect your Islands.

            Maybe Farage and friends can help?

            I lived up North close to the border in the mid 70s it was one of the most crazy scenes I encountered, including not least a young man working in the hotel on the seaside being stabbed to death and put in front of the church next to my cottage. I had curiously enough heard no screams, but heard the motorcycle gang that had earlier checked me out. Its leader whirled a knife in front of my nose apparently to frighten me. The cottage, you know, had been known to be used by refugees from Northern Ireland.

          • Pat Lang says:

            LeAnder

            you lived “up north” where?

          • LeaNder says:

            Pat Lang says:
            March 24, 2021 at 1:17 pm
            LeAnder
            you lived “up north” where?

            The story feels invented? Ireland was a Catholic culture clash for me, as someone brought up Catholic, boozers and churches.? … The Child of Prague in a Dublin takeaway?

            This for me most significant event. At one point the citizens of the village about 2-3 miles from the seaside forced me out of my dwellings to await a bomb at the far end of the village in whatever living room, which never happened. …


            The murder happened though, without any doubt.

          • Pat Lang says:

            LeAnder

            So, you lived in Ulster?

          • LeaNder says:

            No, Pat, sorry about my response was in a bad mood.

            Ireland proper, not Northern Ireland.
            About 35-40 miles north of Dublin, closer to the northern border: southern Louth/Meath region. Tiny street village, ribbon built development along one road, agriculture around, close to the sea with industry, trade and fishermen. Checked Google map, the church still stands. The cottage has gone, the campground of the owner may still exist. At least it does still exist on the map. But the link is dead.

            This wasn’t the only event the Northern troubles could be felt south of the border.

            But matters no doubt changed a lot up there. We’ll see how Ireland, the EU and the UK will manage to find common ground going forward. Presently matters are a bit heated.

          • Pat Lang says:

            LeAnder

            My Lang ancestors immigrated to the US from South Carlingsford, Louth in 1828.

          • LeaNder says:

            close to the sea with industry, trade, hotels, tourism and fishermen in the seaside town.

      • Harry says:

        May is not an example of top level of Oxbridge talent. She was a hard working but not particularly bright student. The BoE recognised this early.

    • Poul says:

      Walrus

      It depends on what is a decisive point in history. Few wars are like WW1 and WW2.

      My preference is on the foundation of military might – the economy and human capital. Not wars.

      If the Communist leaders of China hadn’t decided to test the power of capitalism no one would have looked at China as a Great power today.

      The Chinese have shown all Third World countries what to do. Embrace capitalism and use sensible government policies which develops the skills of their population. And after 50-60 years great things will happen.

      But as India and South America shows it’s easier said than done.

      Also note that strong economies in the present day Third World countries would eliminate the US’s ability to use trade sanction as the US share of the world economy would be much reduced.

      The demography decline of today is something that could have a huge impact on global power structures in a century or two.

      Will Russia, France and Britain even be considered large medium sized powers in 2121?

  6. English Outsider says:

    TTG – I reckon the position right now is as bad as it’s been for a while. The neocons firmly back in the saddle in Washington, Syria an even greater mess and the Ceasar sanctions killing civilians at an increasing rate, rumblings in the Ukraine …

    In the middle of all that the UK going in with the French on, among other joint enterprises, an aviation agreement that means we’re all set now to help them bomb more mud huts in Africa.

    Presumably the White Helmets scam is still operating. The MOD announcement a while ago of the evacuation of a Special Forces operative via Al Tanf indicates we’ve got people operating inside Syria on the ground. I’ve no doubt we’ll be piling in behind the Americans if the Ukraine hots up. Well, we’re already doing so, aren’t we.

    So I regard the Integrated Review as something of a farce. There are of course real problems to be thought about when you’re considering how to defend an island off the coast of Europe – what mix of equipment and what level of troops,and all that. I can take a lively if amateur interest in that, particularly since I believe we’re putting nothing like enough resources into it.

    But if all it really boils down to is, to use Carlin’s phrase, bombing brown people, and tagging along behind the Washington neocons, and any others we can team up with to help them them wreck yet more countries and yet more lives, count me out.

  7. Deap says:

    Triggered many a travel fantasy for me – and it took going to Burma (Myanmar) to finally figure out the “road” was not a tarmac but the Irawaddy River – because there was no other way for ……..dawn to come up like thunder outer China crossed the Bay.” But the main theme seems to be nostalgia for out in the Empire.

    Always like the opera “Lakme” for dealing with this same theme – exotic meets stiff upper lip.

    Thank you, Rudyard Kipling: (And….. Frank Sinatra)

    BY THE old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea,
    There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;
    For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
    “Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay! ”
    Come you back to Mandalay,
    Where the old Flotilla lay:
    Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay ?

    On the road to Mandalay,
    Where the flyin’-fishes play,
    An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!
    ‘Er petticoat was yaller an’ ‘er little cap was green,
    An’ ‘er name was Supi-yaw-lat – jes’ the same as Theebaw’s Queen,
    An’ I seed her first a-smokin’ of a whackin’ white cheroot,
    An’ a-wastin’ Christian kisses on an ‘eathen idol’s foot:
    Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud
    Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd
    Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed ‘er where she stud!
    On the road to Mandalay…

    When the mist was on the rice-fields an’ the sun was droppin’ slow,
    She’d git ‘er little banjo an’ she’d sing “Kulla-lo-lo!
    With ‘er arm upon my shoulder an’ ‘er cheek agin my cheek
    We useter watch the steamers an’ the hathis pilin’ teak.
    Elephints a-pilin’ teak
    In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
    Where the silence ‘ung that ‘eavy you was ‘arf afraid to speak!
    On the road to Mandalay…

    But that’s all shove be’ind me – long ago an’ fur away
    An’ there ain’t no ‘busses runnin’ from the Bank to Mandalay;
    An’ I’m learnin’ ‘ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
    “If you’ve ‘eard the East a-callin’, you won’t never ‘eed naught else.”
    No! you won’t ‘eed nothin’ else
    But them spicy garlic smells,
    An’ the sunshine an’ the palm-trees an’ the tinkly temple-bells;
    On the road to Mandalay…

    I am sick o’ wastin’ leather on these gritty pavin’-stones,
    An’ the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
    Tho’ I walks with fifty ‘ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
    An’ they talks a lot o’ lovin’, but wot do they understand?
    Beefy face an’ grubby ‘and –
    Law! wot do they understand?
    I’ve a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
    On the road to Mandalay…

    Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
    Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst;
    For the temple-bells are callin’, an’ it’s there that I would be
    By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
    On the road to Mandalay,
    Where the old Flotilla lay,
    With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
    O the road to Mandalay,
    Where the flyin’-fishes play,
    An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay !

  8. Leith says:

    Speaking of Omaha Beach that someone mentioned above: Linked is a photo of the Bedford Boys at their first English springtime. Posted by the Brit author who wrote their story. Nineteen of them (from a small VA town whose total population was 3200) died on D-Day on the Dog Green sector of Omaha beach.

    https://twitter.com/kershaw_alex/status/1373791004805971968

    https://www.amazon.com/Bedford-Boys-American-Ultimate-Sacrifice/dp/0306813556/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3NR4647D49NFL&dchild=1&keywords=the+bedford+boys&qid=1616549698&s=books&sprefix=the+bedford+boys%2Cstripbooks%2C285&sr=1-1

  9. Yeah, Right says:

    So Britain is revamping its army. AND it is designing its own new-generation stealth fighter, AND it is full-steam ahead with not one but two fleet aircraft carriers.

    AND that’s not even counting the 40% increase in nukes that Boris has announced.

    Interesting, isn’t it?

    I don’t think I’m going out on a limb saying that the UK can’t afford all those things.

    Indeed, probably can’t afford any one of those things.

    Boris is acting for all the world as if he expects Britain to become the Moneybags of the world real soon now.

    Not sure why Brexit should lead to that, but the British establishment seems to be veracity confident about that outcome.

    Can’t imagine why. Does anyone here have a suggestion?

    • irf520 says:

      Boris is an incorrigible bullshitter. All these grandiose plans will no doubt be abandoned as soon as the financial reality begins to bite.

      • LondonBob says:

        The reality is we don’t have the cash, this will be more smoke and mirrors. Unfortunately the neocons are fully in charge here and as far as I can tell most of them are delighted to be simply American auxiliaries, otherwise the armed forces would be mostly ceremonial.

    • Deap says:

      London banking has long had the reputation as a safe harbor for cash deposits and financial instruments from all over the world. Assumption being, the UK bankers won’t run off with the cash like other more dubious repositories have been known to do.

      So selling UK as a safe financial center in a troubled and unstable world is why Johnson might still see Brexit England as the world Moneybags.

  10. Jimmy_w says:

    Sir,
    The “Ranger Regiment” is indeed a puzzling choice. The Paras had already taken on a Ranger-type tier-2 mission in the last defense review. They could have just stood up another Para regiment instead of inventing something new. Unless there’s a psychological reason for the new invention.

  11. jerseycityjoan says:

    Colonel,

    You say “They don’t really need armed forces other than the Household Division. More vanity and a tourist attraction. They could become innocent of armed forces like Costa Rica.”

    Is that because they will have us to defend them? We are supposed to defend a lot of people in this world using American lives and money. How can we do it all, why should we do it all?

    Also are the Brits changing their approach due to the Chinese?

  12. Leith says:

    It is not all the Brits that are signed up for this adventure. It is just the damned sassenachs, or what James Joyce called ,,,”white livered Saxons”. Even though the Empire is long gone the Englishmen still believe there is some God given Codex Britannicus that allows them to throw their weight around the globe.

    They do have some remnants of empire that they apparently believe need a bodyguard. There are the 14 British overseas territories known as BOTs or UKOTs. Which include hundreds of islands in the South Atlantic, South Pacific, IO, and the Caribbean. Plus there is Gibraltar, Akrotiri, and Dhekelia. And what they refer to as British Antarctica although that is disputed by Chile and Argentina. All those islands have Exclusive Economic Zones. Fishing rights are critical now, and the Brits have fought at least three Fishery wars in my lifetime. Seabed mining and oil drilling in those EEZs will be critical in the future. Although what that has to do with Ranger Regiments is beyond my ken, it should be a Royal Navy job.

    Plus they seem to believe that they are defenders of the 50+ nations in the Commonwealth. Seems to me that the British Army is a pygmy compared to the million man plus Armies of India and Pakistan. So probably it is intended for some of the smaller members. Perhaps protecting oil drilling rights of Bruneians or Guyanese or smallboys in the Commonwealth. For a piece of the profits of course.

    The MSN article linked to mentions the Ranger regiment carrying out training “with the aim of signing a series of defence agreements and setting up a string of international bases.” It would interesting to know where those international bases are planned for. Has that been disclosed publicly yet or hinted at?

    • Deap says:

      Britain is clinging even to the rapidly diminishing double-digit population on Pitcairn Island, even offering incentives to relocate there. Somedays stateside, that almost sounds like a good idea: http://www.immigration.gov.pn/

      Circled the island a few years ago – no landings allowed – certainly lush and potentially productive, albeit remote and intentionally inaccessible. I wish all the new legal pot growers who recently took over our local county greenhouse farms would go stink up Pitcairn island instead.

      I’ll just have to wait to see how the California governor recall goes, before putting in my own ex-pat application.

    • LondonBob says:

      Actually Scots have always been avid imperialists, English people are more isolationist. You shouldn’t get your history from Hollywood. Even today most of the enthusiasts for an interventionist foreign policy are Scots such as arch neocons Gove, Fox. Soldiering has long been a career choice for Scots.

      Nothing East of Suez has been the policy for a long time, recognising our diminished status, that our current governing class wishes to reverse this speaks a lot about them. Brexit hurt the political establishment and then being forced to implement it, against there wishes, a Trump like trauma for them. Brexit was an isolationist impulse, so to counter this they came up with ‘Global’ Britain, apparently we must take more immigrants from the rest of the world, be more interventionist outside Europe, neither impulse motivated Brexit.

      • English Outsider says:

        “Brexit hurt the political establishment and then being forced to implement it, against their wishes, a Trump like trauma for them.”

        Very true, but I’m not at all sure it will be implemented that much. Brexit was always an unfortunate mistake for the two main parties, a mistake resulting from Cameron’s misjudgement in calling a referendum. The referendum result was indeed a “Trump-like trauma” for them and as in the States most of the subsequent effort from our political classes went into minimising it.

        Behind all the fighting talk the actions of the Conservatives are clear enough and are a continuum from 2016 on. Enough Brexit to keep the plebs happy. That done, business as usual.

        When it comes to what business as usual consists of as far as defence goes, it’s something of a puzzle working out what UK defence policy is. I see no defence experts attempting to solve that puzzle or even examining it. There’s an inherent tension between EU’s as yet unrealised superpower aspirations and American neocon imperatives. HMG’s riding both horses but in the process, I believe, putting the UK’s true defence needs very much on the back burner.

        HMG playing both sides might be clever for our neocons but

        • English Outsider says:

          … not so much for the UK.

          Colonel – apologies for another typing error. I’ve recently taken to using “Word” to avoid them but my last line of defence against such errors, SWMBO, is under the weather from a recent vaccination so the above was a solo proof reading effort.

          Could I take also say – sorry TTG, you did indeed hit a “raw nerve”. The “mourning the lost empire” theme was a favourite of our anti-Brexit contingent in the UK. “Neocon” is just another type of “Empire” so those anti-Brexit UK politicians, mostly rabid mini-neocons themselves, were having it both ways

      • Leith says:

        @Bob: “Scots have always been avid imperialists”

        The lowlanders perhaps, as they are mostly sassenach.

        And yes, soldiering was long the only choice for scots after the famine of the late 17th century. It became a tradition.

        But I can count on the fingers of one hand the historical Scottish colonies. All of them by the way were sanctioned and supported by the English crown, and all were brought into English dominion. Or failed such as Darien.

  13. Deap says:

    Another “Great Game” played by Britain (Sweden and California) – comparing covid date – lockdowns vs no lock downs; masks vs infection rates:

    http://www.michellesmirror.com/2021/03/up-your-nose-with-rubber-hose.html

    It takes time, but now we can talk about real science, not the fake stuff Democrats peddled for political gain this past year. The data is in and we can now make scientific observations. You decide.

  14. J says:

    Colonel,

    The Brits and the Great Game — the U.K.’s MOD published a report citing Russia as their main threat
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defence-in-a-competitive-age/defence-in-a-competitive-age-accessible-version

    Apparently the Brits want to pit their skills against the Russians in the areas of the Baltic Sea, the Arctic, and the Western Balkans. All the while the Brits intend to open paths of cooperation with the Communist Chinese. Hmm….

    Can the Brits afford to spend 20 Billion pounds to modernize their military?

    I haven’t looked at this particular gem lately to see what it’s latest is — Brit MOD Russian specialists (translators). Last count their were only 4 uniformed, count them 4 uniformed Brit MOD personnel Russian specialists, and the rest farmed out to the Mercenary sector (PMC’s as they’re called).

    From my vantage point, the Brits have a l-o-n-g, l-o-n-g way to go in girding up their prior Russian skills, let alone current and future. And I don’t foresee them making much progress. If it were a track race, the Russians leave the Brits miles down the road, while the Brits are choking in a dust cloud, still in their starting blocks.

    Wonder how many Russian GU ‘illegals’ are currently working the London game?

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