Tired of Rejoiners talking down ‘Little Britain’? Here’s the reality — and it will make you proud

Graham Charles Lear
8 min readMay 21, 2022

This is Global Brexit Britain, projecting its power in the EU for the cause of peace

On Friday (13 May 2022) the Ministry of Defence announced the deployment of 2,000 British troops to the wannabe EU member state of North Macedonia. A very significant deployment, but the projection of the UK’s power does not stop there.

I reveal the significant military involvement of the UK that is continuing to defend the EU — and in the UK’s further capabilities and activities around the world

The facts about the UK’s deployment of military power overseas

  • Part One — Defending the EU on the ground (this report)
  • Part Two — Defending the EU in the air and by sea (next report)
  • Part Three — Keeping the peace globally on the ground, by air, and on the seas (final report)

The map below ONLY shows Army deployments
Royal Navy and RAF deployments will be in Parts Two and Three

The true strengths of Global Brexit Britain

For decades of EU membership, readers have experienced the continued belittling of the United Kingdom, principally by those favouring the subsuming of the UK into a ‘United States of Europe’.

I now set the record straight by revealing the facts on the ground, in the air, and on the seas, and compare these to the lamentable performance of the EU Commission in its attempts to present itself as a credible power.

. Exercise Swift Response — the UK protecting the EU’s eastern flank

The latest UK deployment of 2,000 British troops to EU accession country North Macedonia is only part of the story, but I start with that.

More than 2,000 members of the British Army’s Global Response Force have just demonstrated their ability to react to global crises during an exercise with NATO allies. They are acting under the command of 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, as announced by the MoD on Friday.

16 Air Assault Brigades are specially trained and equipped to deploy by parachute, helicopter and air-landing. Its core role is to maintain the Air Assault Task Force, a battlegroup held at high readiness to deploy worldwide for a full spectrum of missions, from non-combatant evacuation ops to warfighting.

Its core role is to maintain the Air Assault Task Force, a battlegroup held at high readiness to deploy worldwide for a full spectrum of missions, from non-combatant evacuation ops to warfighting. It is at the forefront of developing interoperability with the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and the French Army’s 11e Brigade Parachutiste.

Recent years have seen the Brigade’s soldiers deploy multiple times on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as supporting civilian authorities in the UK. Most recently, soldiers from the 16 Brigade deployed out to support the emergency services during the flooding at the start of 2014 and provided a significant element of the security team for the London 2012 Olympics.

The brigade has also provided troops to assist in training indigenous forces in a number of different countries across Africa.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey MP said:

“Exercise Swift Response shows how the British Army is transforming to become more lethal, agile, and expeditionary. Exercises alongside our partners and Allies are necessary to maintain our advantage in a complex and ever-changing world.”

“Travelling by road, rail, sea and air to North Macedonia — NATO’s newest member since joining in 2020… soldiers then deployed onto the rugged Krivolak training range by parachute and helicopter to secure and defend a foothold in simulated hostile territory, and then take the offensive.”

- James Heappey MP, 13 May 2022
(Mr Heappey retired as a Major from the Army, having served in Kabul in 2005, Northern Ireland in 2006, Basra Iraq in 2007. and Helmand Province Afghanistan in 2009.)

Commander of 16 Air Assault BCT Brigadier Nick Cowley said:

“On Exercise Swift Response, 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, alongside multiple Army and RAF units, has truly demonstrated the lethality, agility and expeditionary capabilities of the Global Response Force.

“We have deployed thousands of miles across Europe to link up with our NATO allies to conduct arduous training in a challenging environment to make sure that we are ready to deploy on the most demanding missions, at short notice…. This exercise has absolutely showed me that we are ready for anything.”

- Brigadier Nick Cowley MBE OBE, 13 May 2022

2. Exercise Arrow — the UK protecting the EU’s northern flank

Earlier this month the British Army deployed to Finland to take part in Exercise Arrow. The exercise has improved the ability of UK and Finnish troops to work alongside each other as part of the Joint Expeditionary Force, an 8-year military alliance of 10 ‘like-minded’ nations.

There are still mounds of winter snow near the banks of the frozen Lake Valkiajarvi at the Niinisalo Training Camp in the west of Finland. But as the white dissipates into grit and dirt in the slightly rising temperatures, the UK has deployed its Challenger 2 main battle tanks, belonging to the Queen’s Royal Hussars.

3. Exercise Defender — the UK protecting the EU from top to bottom

Exercise Defender is a NATO exercise which sees 1,000 British soldiers alongside troops from 11 partner nations including Poland and Denmark. The exercise involves tanks and other armoured vehicles deployed from the NATO Forward Holding Base in Sennelager, Germany.

“Exercise Steadfast Defender will test NATO’s readiness and military mobility with forces deploying across land and sea, all the way from North America to the Black Sea region and off the coast of Portugal,” said the NATO Secretary-General.

British forces will exercise across Poland, integrating with forces from across the alliance to put NATO’s international communication and collaboration to the test.

4. ‘Enhanced Forward Presence’ — the UK protecting the EU from Estonia to Poland

In 2017 around 4,000 troops were deployed to Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Estonia as part of NATO’s ‘Enhanced Forward Presence. As a founding member of NATO, the UK has played a key role, leading one of the four multinational battlegroups.

In Poland, a Light Cavalry Squadron from the Royal Dragoon Guards has been deployed as part of a US-led battlegroup composed of a battalion of the California National Guard as well as Romanian and Croatian contributions.

Additional units include elements from the Adjutant General’s Corps, Intelligence Corps, Royal Artillery, Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, Royal Engineers, Royal Logistics Corps, Royal Military Police, and Royal Signals. The enhanced Forward Presence is just one aspect of a wide range of UK support to NATO.

5. Exercise Hedgehog — Estonia/Latvia

Exercise Hedgehog sees troops from the Royal Welsh Battlegroup and the Royal Tank Regiment exercising on the Estonia-Latvia border alongside 18,000 NATO troops.

The exercise includes French and Danish forces, who are part of the British-led NATO battlegroup permanently deployed to Estonia as part of Operation Cabrit.

Currently, around 800 soldiers from the British Army are deployed to Estonia where they lead one of the four multinational battlegroups. These soldiers make up the bulk of the battlegroup in Estonia, with allies from Denmark and France supporting.

A wide range of units from the Field Army is involved, from airborne forces to helicopters, to tanks and armoured forces, supported by artillery, electronic warfare, air defence, surveillance drones, and engineers.

Key international partnerships

These examples showcase the scale and significance of the UK Armed Forces’ contribution to the security of the EU, Europe, and the North Atlantic. They highlight the continued importance of the leadership role which the UK plays as a member of NATO and the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).

In addition to the Army’s programme, the UK has deployed a major headquarters to the Baltic region, in support of the JEF. The UK is the framework nation for the Joint Expeditionary Force, a coalition of like-minded partners, able to respond rapidly to crises in the High North, North Atlantic, Baltic Sea region and further afield.

For the most part, the British public is blissfully unaware of the extent to which the armed forces of the United Kingdom are acting on a daily basis to protect the EU and the rest of Europe.

Stretched to the limit, we can be proud of what they have been achieving. Even in these difficult economic times I , maintain the position held over the last seven years that the defence budget should be doubled.

In the report above — Part One of a three-part series on how Brexit Britain is projecting its power in the cause of peace — we have shown five examples of ways in which the UK is defending the EU with feet (and equipment) on the ground. Some are UK deployments in the NATO context, some are not. There are more examples but I try to keep the reports short and easily readable.

In follow-up reports (Parts Two and Three) I will be showing how the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force are playing a major role in the defence of EU countries and in the defence of Europe as a whole.

The United Kingdom may have left the EU but it hasn’t stopped defending the EU’s territory

In all the time I have been covering defence matters in relation to the EU, I have yet to hear one member of the EU Commission express the smallest word of gratitude. Instead, I hear vitriol, accusations, and threats on all manner of things.

The UK has been — and still is — by far the largest contributor to the NATO commitments of any country in Europe. In recent days the news has been about Sweden and Finland deciding they wish to join NATO. Whilst this might be welcome, it must never be forgotten that it has been the UK which has stood tall for decades.

Germany has finally announced its intention to meet its NATO commitments. I might suggest that to relieve the pressure on the British taxpayer they agree to cover the cost of the ‘Divorce Bill’ imposed on the UK by a vindictive EU. This would not come close to covering Germany’s shortfall in its defence spending over decades but it would be a start — and a decent gesture.

[ Sources: Ministry of Defence | №10 ]

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.