UK and France Desperate to be Included in Mid East Ops?

“Britain had to plead with US to take part in Iran flotilla”

This headline from Britain’s telegraph newspaper shouldn’t shock anyone who has been following the latest developments of the British military.

Yup, both Britian and France apparently insisted on being included in the Pentagon’s military task force that is in the Middle East with the aim of discouraging Iran from trying any wild military moves.  According to the Telegraph, the Pentagon simply didn’t see any need to include the Europeans in the mission to the Middle EAst.

It’s easy to see why; the contributions of Western Europe’s biggest military powers to the effort is pretty small, each nation supplied a frigate (the Royal Navy sent HMS Argyll, shown above) to join a U.S. carrier battle group. Symbolic.

Keep in mind that there are two American carrier strike groups in or near the Persian Gulf with a third on the way.

One source cited in the article described the Euros’ participation in the operation best; “classic willy waving.” Neither the French nor British wanted to appear irrelevant so they begged to tag along, according to the Telegraph.

If you want to see other ways the once-world dominating Royal Navy has been hurting lately, read this or this.

The Here’s what the Telegraph has to say:

The disparity in vessel numbers means the British and French presence in the flotilla was of greater diplomatic than military significance.

The question of allied participation in the naval operation is understood to have triggered concern in Whitehall and led to a sudden shift in Britain’s stance.

British ministers initially signalled they would accept the Washington’s conclusion that did not need allies to take part.

But the British position changed after Mr Sazkozy insisted to the US that a French warship must be present in the flotilla.

Sources said that Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, concluded that if the French were sending a ship, Britain must do so too. His decision to was then endorsed by David Cameron, the Prime Minister.

Failing to take part when the French were doing so might have raised questions about the Special Relationship, which has come under doubt during Barack Obama’s presidency. Mr Obama last year described France as America’s closest ally.

A diplomatic source revealed that US commanders originally planned for an all-American naval operation, any only relented after protests from European leaders.

The source said: “The Americans originally planned to do it alone. They were clear that they saw no military advantage in having European ships taking part.

But after the President insisted that France had to be represented, ministers decided that “Britain must participate too, regardless of the military importance.”

The source described the approach of France and Britain as “classic willy-waving”, accusing the two countries of posturing to conceal their military irrelevance to the confrontation with Iran.

  • dimeck

    Not including Britain and France is not surprising. If the Brits want to be involved, they need to make sure all of their ships are fully armed. If the French want in, they should contribute more to Afghanistan.

    • Chimp

      The bit about the British ships not being armed is funny and sad… but the Frogs are doing quite a bit in Afghanistan. I’d hate to tell a Legionnaire he doesn’t count…

      • Payce

        Legionnaires are a kind of hybrid special forces/mercenary force that don’t usually associate with the rest of the French military. I have a lot more respect for them because they do a lot with a little, much like the US Marines.

  • John Moore

    I understand the US position easier to work with your own tools and they have the #’s besides a few more ships will hardly help with cost savings.

    And the UK only joined because of the FR joining that’s what I find funny,

  • Ryan

    This is a result of Europe’s failure to adequately fund and develop their own defense stemming from the cold war years. Seems like the other nations are just there to watch.

    “I Saw Americans Fight” (ISAF) seems to be the theme for the last twenty years. And at this rate it looks like the next twenty as well…

    • Nick T.

      Seems like the trend for just about every conflict in the past couple years. America Spearheaded Iraq and Afganistan, not the best kind of spearhead, but it was one nonetheless. Despite the cuts we’re facing now, we still had to supply ordinance during the Libyan intervention.

      It IS a showboating stunt. “Our ships are with the American’s defending the West’s interests.” not really. If shit went to shovel, those ship would in all likelihood have to pull out due to lack of armements. I’ve said this before, but deploying a ship with only FOUR missiles to the Libyan intervention. The rest of the force were mostly a few fighters thrown in for easy strikes into the country. 1 death in NATO forces occurred. A traffic accident in Italy.

      • DhuntAUS

        Alot of the wars in the last twenty years were wars initiated by the Americans, hence they’re larger contribution. Besides i am pretty sure Europe and Aus have come to what ever parties you’ve asked.
        I think claiming you guys are the only ones that put-in in Iraq and Afghanistan is plain arrogant.

        • blight

          Vietnam: ROKA, Aus. ‘nough said.

          Bosnia/Serbia/Kosovo: NATO

          Libya: NATO

          Iraq: Hmm…

          Afghanistan: NATO.

          • DhuntAUS

            My apologies, i was in the wrong.Next time i make an accusation ill do some proper research first.
            But i still think we’re still one team, and we’re all making sacrifices.

          • Nick T.

            It’s a good point nonetheless. America is responsible for Iraq and Afganistan, and I don’t know what will happen in those countries in the long-run. Still, I think we should at least get a gold start for trying.

            Vietnam, Libya, and now Iran were (are not) our wars. Vietnam was the French’s, but like Savage said, we wanted to stop communism. Libya was started by NATO, US and other included, but we still brought ample firepower. What concerns me on that is that America brought a bigger fleet than any other country. Granted, Libya was in spiting distance and we were across the Atlantic, but still. Now, I’m not a “Israel should burn to the ground, free Palestine!” guy, but the Israelis need to lighten up. Iran’s talk is just that: talk. If words started wars we would have felt the tender warmth of nuclear fire long ago. If they throw the first punch, we’re in a difficult position. If Iran does, that might give the other islamic states something to think about when Iran is getting steam rolled by Merc’s and M1s. And another question is, what do we do with them after that?

          • Gregory Savage

            Check your facts. Who was Vietnam’s war in the first place. It was French “Indo-china” Colony not the US. the only reason we got involed in the first place was to stop the expansion of communism. If that was the goal of the war, then I would say it was a success, although south vietnam fell to communism, many other nations did not follow suite, as it was too costly for Russia, or China to force their will.

  • blight

    It’s probably a move done by the Navies of France and the UK:

    Angle A: “Don’t cut us, we’re doing coalition ops at sea!”

    Angle B: “If we had more money, we could do more than contribute a frigate!”

  • Corin Vestey

    I’m really not sure you can accuse British troops of not fighting in Afghan. We have done plenty of fighting and dying in some of the most hostile areas of the country. Read Michael Yon if you don’t believe me.

    I completely agree however that Europeans (and the British too) have underfunded their militaries appallingly since the end of the Cold War, if not earlier. I hope that this situation changes, at least in Britain, however we will need to abandon socialism in order to afford it. No sign of any government willing to do that yet, sadly.

    In terms of the Gulf deployment: if you invite France you can expect to have to invite the UK too. If you don’t want the allies along, don’t invite either one. Not really so difficult to anticipate now is it?

    • Rapier975

      NO ONE can accuse the UK of not getting stuck in right along side us Americans. The Brits have been fighting in the thick of it. It wouldnt be a war without the Brits next to us.

      • Josh

        Cheers mate, spot on!

      • shawn1999

        Hell, as I recall from the weak @$$ news we get in the States, the Brits raised hell and tamed half the Helmund province in A-stan, one of the worst areas, before they got pulled and the US Marines went in to finish up. Hats off a major respect! Sure, we had a bit of trouble with them in our early years, but I think its safe to say we’ve been best of pals since, even in spite of political dumb @$$es (course, those are in every country around the globe so….)

  • unknownUK

    Truly embarrassing that the uk government would dupe down as far as this, willy waving is 100 percent accurate!

    • tiger

      Considering Past problems with Iran ( fall of the Embassy, The kidnap of RN sailors in the Gulf) I would hope the UK would send something.

  • Ian

    I would be cautious about believing the detail in any of our press, most of the papers have a political agenda, the telegraph loves running stories that make our armed forces out to be weak in order to pressure the government to increase funding. I struggle to sea a Royal Navy admiral ‘pleading’ with anyone. Also the USN and RN are virtually the same navy now, if the RN wanted to be involved they would only have to ask, although it is probable that this is exactly what they did once the Frenchies got involved. We won’t forget Trafalgar quickly.

    • Dale

      You seem to have forgotten about Arthur Batchelor and his iPod…

      • blight

        His mother is disappoint.…

        Blast from the past when I looked it up.

      • blight

        The guy is on facebook, but haven’t found anything else about him on the noos. Perhaps he did get discharged after all.

      • Ian

        I had, thanks for reminding me

  • Black Owl

    Oh, how the historic irony here is so rich.

    I say why not include the British and French anyway. It helps keep friendly relations with them and if they want to be there and witness us beat the heck out of Iran I don’t see a problem with it so long as they have all their own logistics worked out.

    • Nadnerbus

      If there is any military beating of Iran that comes out of this, then the show of force and diplomatic maneuvering will have been failures. Let’s hope that that doesn’t prove to be the case. I don’t want any more of our KIAs, nor do I have any great desire to kill Iranians.

  • Marcellus Hambrick

    I thought that the Dutch had also requested to take part.

    • E_Khun

      Nope, we had an American request for mine sweepers. And there’s not much political enthousiasm to provide even that.

  • Tom

    A frigate deployed in the Middle East and a destroyer deployed in the Falklands … isn’t the RN spreading itself a bit thin? The Air Force could at least deploy some maritime patrol aircraft to support these ships … oh wait, no they can’t.

  • ForrestCantrell

    I would have thought that from the standpoint of the U.S., that including allied vessels would be beneficial and would send a stronger message to Iran. Iran has threatened to close the straits, and knowing that European countries were willing to send naval vessels through in concert with U.S. lets them know it is more than just the “Great Satan” that is determined to keep the waterway open.

  • STemplar

    “willy waving”, I love the UK press. I wonder behind the scenes how much head slapping occurs in Whitehall over the cuts.

  • chris

    Yet again a British paper printing rubbish!!
    The RN have five ships in the area not including HMS Argyll.

  • Tim

    Isn’t HMS Daring on her way ? Hardly irrelevant as her ability to protect the carriers from mass missile attacks will be a big help.

    Also I hear that Typhoons may well be deployed to Oman in the next few months , which considering the F22’s inability to perform operations will make the it the most advanced fighter in theatre . Oh yeah ask any of your US marines who they rather have above their heads in Afghan and everything it will be the RAF as they fly below 10000ft

  • Jake

    France the closet US alley? Is Obama crazy! The Brits and Aussie’s are light years ahead of the Frogs in this regard.

    • navy259

      Where does Canada fit in this regard?

      • Black Owl

        This may sound kind of weird, but I am an American and I work for the military and I put all of our allies on certain levels depending on operational history that we have shared in war, values, and contributions.

        Group 1 allies are: Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. We have bled the same blood in the same mud for almost a century now. For the most part we all have the same moral values and shared ideas of what military power should be used for and how it should be applied.

        Group 2 allies are: Israel, South Korea, Taiwan, France, and Kuwait. These are allies who have slightly different interests and are loyal to us mostly because at one point or another their very survival was threatened and entirely dependent on our intervention. We share or have at one point shared a common enemy with all of these nations. They provide key locations for military equipment and have often provided us with information, assistance, and in some instances their own servicemen.

        Group 3 allies are: NATO, Turkey, Germany, Japan, and several other states. I consider these to be allies that are our allies mostly just because we are paying for their security. They usually contribute few if any resources to our war efforts and are mostly maintained as allies for various reasons than can include, but are not limited to: they are located strategically in a good spot, they provide crucial intelligence, or they have a history with us that strongly involves WWII or the UN.

        Also, if anyone disagrees with this list, please let me know and why.

        • Jacob

          Uhh, the French and Germans (hell, almost everyone you listed) were on the front lines during the Cold War. I’m interested to see what they might think of how much you just valued their participation….

        • Tom

          Germany and Japan are constrained by their constitutions, but both have really seemed to do their best to participate in recent international operations while not violating them. I would easily consider Japan in your Group 2, especially when you consider the size of US forces they’ve allowed to be based in their country. Not sure why you put France and Kuwait in Group 2 over some other NATO countries like Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands.

        • Klem

          I think Albania goes in group 2, though in some respects, i would put it in group 3. We sent 70 ‘commandos’ in Iraq, who probably did some pizza delivery duties. (not to disrespect them - ‘albanians, if you read this, i meant it as a joke)

        • Aaron Evans

          I’m just glad that we do have friends in the world, because we wouldn’t be able to do what we do with out them.

  • Lance

    LOL. Hate to say but Briton got what its been asking for It decommissioned its Harriers than its Ski Jump Carriers then some of its destroyers. Sorry if you throw your toys away you cant join the team and have fun in the world.

    As for France well who hasn’t beat the French???? LOL (Joke)

    • idiot

      not funny nor historically accurate.

  • kim

    Considering that 48 countries were in ‘the ‘Coalition of the Willing’, some of them even without having standing armies (mainly smaller island states in the South Pacific), willy waving is hardly a novel concept.

  • Brian Black

    That the British and French had to beg to join in sounds like bull. The US has never been shy about presenting a line up of agreeable partners in their adventures, even when those partners are much less capable than the UK and France.

    We’ve seen the US happy to include small contingents of foreign ground troops in previous operations purely for their diplomatic significance, even when those troops have no realistic combat capability. I would think that in relation to Iran, the US is always keen to be seen as having wide international support. It is a shame though that the French and Royal Navies can’t seem to muster a flotilla of half a dozen ships between themselves as a show of force.

    • Nadnerbus

      Yeah, this article seems like political spin published for a specific goal. I’m a Yank, but even I know that the Telegraph leans conservative/Torrie, Vs the Guardian towards liberal/Labour views. They most likely took what was a standard political move designed to show a united front by three of the West’s strongest military powers, and spun it to make the Brits look pathetic to try to shame the relevant MPs to spend some more pounds on defense.

  • Jay

    There is no strategic addition to having multiple countries involved. Yes it makes America look less like a bully but it adds a bunch of red tape. With only US naval vessels in the arena there would be talk only amongst them and decisions could be made faster. With multiple countries you add the need for a coalition commander and liason officers and more.

    Iran or Syria isn’t a big enough threat to cut off the UK and France, but it does add extra “tape” to the mix.

  • Richard

    *Groan* look we ( the UK ) can’t really afford it anyway, we’ve got the damned Olympics sucking up cash, bankers taking tax payers money as bonuses, etc etc. We’re sending what we do have down to the Falklands. If we want to rattle sabres, we should just go back to fighting the French, it worked for hundreds of years, we don’t have to travel far to do it and we all know where we are. We can even share the same aircraft carrier ( as we’re doing ) and just have a game of football (soccer) on the flat top.

  • matheusdiasuk


    The price of fighting and winning two world wars.

    No money, no Empire and now, no military.

    • Dan

      More like the cost of running a huge welfare state, if we weren’t paying people to watch TV we might be able to afford some more anti-air missiles.

  • StealthFlyer

    I’m surprised HMS Somerset (F82, a type 23 frigate) wasn’t the ship chosen to join the carrier group as she was in port at Fujairah, UAE (just outside the Gulf) just a few days before the carrier group sailed through the Straight of Hormuz. Perhaps she was already on her way home or had pressing anti-piracy duties.

  • Hunter78

    Speaking geopolitically, there are 2 targets in ME: Iran and Syria. Do not confuse the 2. Iran is big and will drain anyone who attacks them. Syria is small and easily pushed over.

    • STemplar

      Depending on how you attack and whether or not you occupy. Frankly If there is a credible organized opposition in a given nation we know it’s pretty easy for us to topple anyone.

  • jsallison

    I think if the English feel they need to take part then more power to them, whatever they’re able to come up with. After decades of NATO interoperability naval exercises the USN bloody well ought to be able to put an extra vessel or two to use. Now youse guys try not to reenact Trafalgar off the coast of Bahrain, okay?

  • Michael Gene

    HMS Argyll has sailed with us and the Aussies before, hardly neophytes concerning joint OPs.


    This is an example of what we can expect more of in the future because NATO countries with the exception of the US will spend a combine total of about $200Billion which means these guys cannot do anything independently and will need the US for more; NATO countries will be like the annoying little brothers that want to get involved with what the US is doing and unfortunately will be more trouble than anything else.

    • STemplar

      Actually NATO #s for 2010 are about $320 billion.

      I agree with you somewhat that Europe isn’t pulling its weight, but their budget situation is far worse than ours. Combine that with trying to get some nations to give up capability in order to pool resources more efficiently, along with some countries that continually make excuses for being so low on spending, cough cough Germany, and its quite a mess.

  • Auyong Ah Meng

    Better to have some friend than no friends…even if the resources they can contribute is little…at this point in time….

    At least here and at this point in time…there are no fair weather friends on board.

    Good day all.

  • tiger

    Why can’t the Brits send their “OO’s” to solve things? Or are they only good at Card play & Aston Martin smashing?

  • mgunns

    3 battle groups? Why? It appears that we are putting a lot of our smaller Navy into one place again why? Its called putting all your eggs in one basket, the Frogs and Brits appear to only want to loose one ship each. Again we end with no real military leadership. If Iran does have Nuks so long 3 battle groups and one brit and one Frog. Some be somebody some where that has a brain and has the guts to use it.

    • mgunns

      My fingers aren’t working this morning!!!! the last line should say some body some where that has a brain and guts should use it.

  • baghatur


    im from the Netherlands, although politics in this country sometimes sucks, our country has always been a good ally with the US so far. I hope this isnt going to change when the socialists gonna rule here.

    It’s good for other country’s to join US battlegroups. it makes a political stance.

    We have a small army but it’s state of the art an motivated, I wish we could do more sometimes for the US in wartimes. but better something then nothing.


  • Robert

    The next time we have a war they can be invited… It will be one big party!!!!!

    This time we need to do what we need to do referi the fight like WWWE and have Israel do what they need to do but make all combatants be fully aware that there will be nukes flying both ways…
    It will be one big 4th of July!!!! in the AO.
    Now if the Brits and the French are up to the show have them bring their nukes and join the show.
    Yes we can invite them but we also make them aware that we spect performance.


  • STemplar

    Maybe, but I couldn’t find 2011 #s. Plus times are tough, but l doubt a 50%+ across the board tough for defense spending.

  • LTS

    It’s a hoax. President Sarkozy did not insisted ”that Frace be represented”:…

    ”cette version des faits est contestée par l’Etat-major des armées à Paris. En effet, selon le porte-parole de ce dernier, le colonel Thierry Burkhard, la frégate La Motte-Picquet a rejoint l’escorte de l’USS Abraham Lincoln à la demande de l’US Navy, au titre de la coordination des mouvements des navires présents dans cette partie du monde. Par conséquent, le président Sarkozy n’y est strictement pour rien, contrairement aux allégations du Telegraph. Et pour mémoire, ce sont les Britanniques qui ont communiqué sur la présence des deux navires européens aux côtés du porte-avions américains dans le détroit d’Ormuz alors que Paris n’avait encore fait aucune déclaration à ce sujet.

    Aussi, il est vraisemblable que les sources diplomatiques et militaires qui se sont confiées au Telegraph aient cherché à dramatiser la situation de la Royal Navy, à l’heure où cette dernière doit réaliser d’importantes économies.”

    That says:
    ” …. the (french) frigate La Motte Picquet was requested by the US Navy to join the escort of the USS Abraham Lincoln … ”


  • Waylander

    The UK has sent HMS Daring a Type 45 anti air warfare destroyer to the Gulf, which will be a damn sight more use to a US carrier Battle Group than an ASW frigate.
    It’s unfortunate that Americans don’t realize that nearly all military articles written in the Torygraph are wildly inaccurate, usually made up, distorted or spun for their own. agenda.
    I have given up even writing in to correct their inaccuracies.
    The RN has several ships in the Gulf, a squadron of MCM vessels, an auxiliary LPD, HMS Daring & probaby an SSN armed with TLAM.
    Also worth noting the RN did deploy an 11 ship strong task group for the Libya intervention eg 2 SSNs, a helo carrier with Apaches, 1 LPD, 2 Auxiliary LPDs, 3 frigates, 1 destroyer, 2 minesweepers & RFA vessels.
    US helos operated from UK assault carrier as well.