The Coalition government’s Strategic Defence Review has turned out what some would see as apparently illogical results.
In assessing the defence needs of the UK, the coalition has always to be mindful of the elephant in the room, the EU, and whilst there is denial from every quarter about the building of EU armed forces, this carries on apace whilst the veil of the magician casts an illusion elsewhere.
This coalition government’s commitment to further EU integration is total, despite what it says in public, we need to look at their deeds rather than their words, and look at the law to understand why certain defence decisions which seem irrational are in fact necessary if that integration is to continue, then you will understand the method in the madness.
For a maritime nation to have its Navy all but dismantled seems both illogical and irrational. However understanding the laws which govern the creation and continuing operation of all 3 services gives the greatest clue as to why the Royal Navy is suffering the largest hits in these cuts.
Both the Army and the Royal Air Force (which started life as the Army Air Corps) require an Act of Parliament to exist, one that must be renewed by parliament each and every year.
To integrate the Army or RAF into an emerging EU armed forces is but a simple administrative matter, it can be done by statute, and to a large extent this transformation is already underway with the creation of EU battalions, EU Battle Groups, Rapid Reaction forces, the European Defence Agency and inclusion into the EU General Staff structure under the EU Military Committee of the EEAS of Baroness Ashton, driven by The Headline Goal of the Helsinki accord, the Common Security & Defence Policy, and the EU procurement Directives 2009/81/EC & 2009/43/EC.
All persons enlisting in the British Army and the Royal Marines are required by the Army Act 1955 to attest to the following oath or equivalent affirmation:
I… swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and of the generals and officers set over me. So help me God.
The same oath is made by recruits to the Royal Air Force under the Air Force Act 1955, with the substitution of the words “air officers” for “generals”.
This will eventually give way to a new EU centric oath swearing allegiance to parliament for soldiers and airmen, which to all intents and purposes have already been reorganised on a regional basis, with the new oath being prepared for the day following the death of HMQ, by Statutory Instrument in the intervening period before the coronation of either Charles or William.
However, the Royal Navy is a totally different kettle of fish (or can of worms for the integrationalists). As the oldest of our armed services, it was established by Henry VIII as a Service in Defence of the Realm by his Prerogative under common law. The RN does not require an Act of Parliament to exist, and an Act of Parliament may not abolish, claim it nor give it away.
No oath of allegiance is sworn by members of the Royal Navy, which is not maintained under an Act of Parliament but by the Royal Prerogative, or by Royal Marines officers, who unlike their Army counterparts are not enlisted before they are commissioned. They work directly under a Royal Commission for the Queen, even though day to day operations is handled through the MoD via the Admiralty. Note that they are Her Majesty’s Ships (The Admiralty, and Admiralty law, is a crucial element in the application of Common Law through the Crown Courts in the UK which is outlined in a previous post)
The only way that the Royal Navy can be merged into the EU forces is to let it fall into total disuse along with the ancient powers that are held by the Admiralty. The Ministry of Justice is working in tandem along the same lines, in its running down of our ancient Crown Court structures in favour of administrative and legislative courts under the newly formulated Supreme Court, which will only deal with legislative statutes whilst ignoring Common Law. The changes to oaths will be key in this judicial area as well.
A key part of the ongoing integration with the EU was the re-writing of the old military governing law. The Queens Regulations in place under The Army Act 1955 and the Air Force Act 1955, and the Q.R. & A.I. under the Naval Discipline Act 1957 have all been merged and became the Armed Forces act 2006, and it is worth noting that this Act does not conform to the Common Law insomuch as it includes the discipline of members of the Royal Navy.
Do not be surprised to see further cuts to the Royal Navy, here are the latest, as the running down of the RN is crucial if integration is to be completed.
I have always maintained that the 2 new super-carriers will never see a commission under the White Ensign in its current form, and it has been the conflict over their eventual legal base and the EU procurement directives which have caused much of the delay and cost.
I fully expect that having run down the Royal Navy to such an extent that it becomes operationally extinct, somewhere between 2013 and 2015 parliament will announce the formation of a New, improved ‘Royal’ Navy, under statute and fully funded, to give the smoke and mirrors effect of continuity to the public, but in reality building a new navy that can and will form part of the EU Armed Forces.