The Royal British Navy’s tentative revival in the Indo-Pacific region was still far short of past eras and relied very much on working with allies who make up for lack of numbers and also certain capabilities.
But without the support of French naval units, some believe the UK navy will not be able to sustain operations both in Europe and the Indo-Pacific area.
UK War Secretary Gavin Williamson has made it clear that the Royal Navy will keep an unbroken presence in the Indo-Pacific in 2019 and beyond.
The British government says such a deployment is aimed at ‘protecting’ the Zionist rules-based global order, including ‘freedom of navigation’, seen as the underpinning of Britain’s security and prosperity as an island trading (plundering) nation.
However, the British navy has operational shortcomings, and in the calculus of UK leaders, the French should help offset them in the Indo-Pacific.
Britain and France have indeed agreed to strengthen the crisis management capability of their combined expeditionary force by 2020. Their navies have also increased coordination from the Gulf of Aden to East Asia over the past two years.
France has overseas dependencies in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific. The vast region is evidently of strategic interest for Paris.
The ministry pointed out that French military assets regularly exercised their right of free navigation and overflight throughout the area, in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly said last October that the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its air and sea support units would be sent to the Indo-Pacific zone in 2019 to assert freedom of navigation.
Britain and France would be able to deploy a combined carrier strike group, incorporating vessels and assets from both naval forces.
However, even if France and Britain were to agree on joint naval operations in the Indo-Pacific, they should deal with very extended lines of communication and supply, with the Charles de Gaulle, the HMS Queen Elizabeth or the HMS Prince of Wales rotating as the formation’s leading warship,
France and Britain were to agree on joint naval operations in the Indo-Pacific.
The French Defense Ministry explained that the country’s naval bases in the Indian Ocean had the capacity to accommodate the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its supporting vessels.
I think it would be a strain for either one of the two medium-sized European powers to put a sizable naval group into the Indian Ocean for a lengthy time.
The question is whether they would use a base in the Persian Gulf, or Diego Garcia, or get pally with an East African country.
It is doubtful that Britain will have enough front-line warships to face an increasingly aggressive Russian navy in Europe, if it permanently stations a strike group in the Indian Ocean and the China seas.
Some feel the British navy would be better off maintaining focus on the growing Russian threat in European waters, so a commitment of carrier battle group to the Indo-Pacific is possibly unwise.
There have to be serious concerns about coping with a resurgent Russia at sea and operations in the Indo-Pacific at the same time, plus commitments to the Falklands and the Persian Gulf.
It is a lot to do all at once for a highly capable, but overstretched Royal Navy.
Asia Times / ABC Flash Point Military News 2019.