On Nov 30th, British Defense Minister Michael Fallon committed the UK to a leading role in the freshly designed Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).
This force, composed of: the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Norway, will be a 10,000 strong unit designed to cooperate with NATO, EU, and UN operations.
JEF will be able to respond to a variety of missions including deterrence, interstate conflict, and humanitarian crises.
There has also been some speculation of Sweden participating in JEF, as the Swedish government continues its increasingly robust affiliation with the Atlantic Security system.
When looking at the list of countries taking part in this UK lead endeavor, one notices two things:
- All of the current contributors are NATO members, and potential contributor Sweden is greatly affiliated with NATO.
- This is a UK lead venture. While France and Britain have a similar integrated reaction force, the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF), the most prominent member of NATO, the US is missing from these recent arrangements.
The establishment of these reaction forces, in addition to the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), potentially indicate a shift in European defense responsibilities in response to increased Russian adventurism, and the American “Pivot to Asia”.
Thus, Britain attempting to shift the weight onto its own shoulders is in keeping with historical precedents from 1950-1955.
In Anthony Eden’s account of the period in “Full Circle”, American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles threatened an “agonizing reappraisal” of American security policy should West Germany not be integrated into the European security infrastructure.
This was followed by the personal commitment of Prime Minister Eden to finding a diplomatic solution, and the commitment of four British divisions under international direction.
The addition of the West Germans into the Atlantic Alliance, due to the hard work by Her Majesty’s Government, convinced the Eisenhower administration that Europe was worth investing resources to balance against the Soviets.
Likewise, in the establishment of these various European reaction forces, Britain is taking the lead in directing European Security policy.
Cover Photo Credit: Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum/Flickr (CC By 2.0)