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And I can't see why we'd need to re-invade the Falklands or deploy a full dress amphibious task force to prevent France from losing her overseas departments. Do we really want to keep those areas badly enough to fight a serious shooting war over them? Even if the answer is "yes," would it really be cost-effective to keep an amphibious assault carrier task force on standby to guard against this massively unlikely event?

Well, I´d say it depends on the scenario. If the population living there decides on independence that´s one thing. Definitely no intervention then.
If a neighboring country decides to "liberate" them against their wishes then my answer would be yes. And in that case you´d probably need amphibious ships. Because these are the ships capable of transporting and landing soldiers and their equipment. And keep them supplied without a supply base on land.

And as "to knock some oil- or metal-rich African country on its ass and take its stuff". How probable is that?

I mean, let´s be generous and assume that each of the 12 EU amphibious ships could transport 1000 soldiers and their equipment. Are 12000 soldiers enough to invade and secure an African country? After all, you not only need to secure the mines/oil wells but also the transport routes and ports.
Not to mention that a convoy of 12 such ships plus escorts probably wouldn´t stay a secret for long. Any country along its route would watch with interest.

Besides, supporting a coup would be much cheaper. Followed maybe by flying in troops to "help" restore order. (Showing my cynical side.)

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 02:25:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the amphibious assault vessels, I think its more on the range of 500 "passengers" ... a lot of their increased size compared to an ordinary landing dock is for the helicopter and and jump jet support.

And in that case you´d probably need amphibious ships. Because these are the ships capable of transporting and landing soldiers and their equipment. And keep them supplied without a supply base on land.

The question is whether you need the ability to make a Marine Soldier amphibious assault ... there are cheaper amphibious landing docks.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 03:03:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I was just adding up all of the EU navies amphibious ships. And being generous too. And all of them without the ability to carry airplanes. The Spanish "Juan Carlos I" seems to be the first one with that capability. All the rest carry just some helicopters and (actual) landing ships.

The question is whether you need the ability to make a Marine Soldier amphibious assault ... there are cheaper amphibious landing docks.

Sure but that seems to be the real question.
The Falklands and French overseas departments for example were mentioned in another comment. Given that we don´t have battleships anymore :), you probably need air cover if you actually need to make an amphibious assault. Amphibious landing docks on their own can´t provide that. And the light carriers with 8-10 Harriers probably won´t be enough.

To say the truth I actually like the design of the "Juan Carlos I". It can be an amphibious ship or it can be a "middle-sized" carrier with 30 aircraft. I like the flexibility although as an engineer I´m pretty sure that they had to make some design compromises for it.

Simply put we don´t know what will happen in 10-15 years. Keeping our options open seems like a pretty good idea.

In a best case scenario, amphibious ships are really the best navy ships in rescue and natural disaster relief efforts. Large enough to transport lots of cargo. Helicopters to deliver aid. Doesn´t need a functioning port to deliver aid. (Small) hospital on board. (Probably) a water treatment plant on board.

In a worst case scenario, the ability to "convert" some of the amphibious ships to small or middle-sized aircraft carriers doesn´t seem wrong too.

Given human history, just planning for the best case scenario doesn´t strike me as a very successful strategy. Let´s hope for the best case scenario but let´s at least plan for a "middle" scenario?

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 04:28:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But if we ever find ourselves in a sufficiently serious shooting war to justify amphibious assaults using brigade-sized forces, we've already lost under any sane foreign policy doctrine.

Going back to the situation of the French overseas departments, a war to defend them would mean that our relations with (presumably) Mercosur had already been shot to Hell, stabbed with a grill poker and roasted lightly over a fire somewhere on the Fifth Level. That would be a disaster in and of itself quite outclassing any negative impact of losing Cayenne. Winning the actual shooting war would, at the very best, be a Pyrrhic victory.

Similarly, we could certainly arm ourselves to the teeth in order to be able to win a potential future war with Russia. But even if we "win" a serious shooting war with Russia we'll lose so much in terms of human lives, resources, prestige and industrial capacity that we'll have lost anyway.

So our focus should not be on making sure that we can beat the snot out of anybody who might try to invade us. Our focus should be on making sure that they are perfectly confident that they won't make a profit from invading us. And frankly, I can see no possible scenario under which it would be profitable for any country to spark a serious shooting war with the European Union in order to acquire Cayenne...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 05:04:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Uhh, I do agree with you.

On the other hand, I am a German. :)
And France was a really important trade partner to Germany both before WW1 and WW2. IIRC the most important before WW2. So trade and profit in itself doesn´t seem to be enough to avoid war. Especially if one side can point to alleged grievances not solved by the last peace treaty.

And concerning South America. You´re trying to tell me that all of the countries there are now stable democracies? No chance that any of the countries there will revert back to military dictatorships?

Simply put, I don´t want a shooting war with either Russia or some South American country. I think we should just pay the insurance policy (defense budget) to ensure that both of them aren´t tempted to try their luck.

We don´t have to be strong enough to conquer them. We simply have to be strong enough to defeat them if they attack us.

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 05:38:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I don't think that South America will have a massive re-lapse into dictatorships. But even apart from that, I really don't think that Cayenne is sufficiently valuable to the European Union to justify a serious shooting war over it. If they want it badly enough to risk embargoes, blockades and the various and sundry other creative means of making other countries miserable that the Union has available, I don't think we have much of a chance of keeping it in the long run anyway.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 05:56:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French overseas departments are parts of the French Republic (unlike, say, Polynesia, but like Alsace). An actual invasion could probably end with large mushrooms somewhere in South America.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de mis่res
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 06:19:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We don´t have to be strong enough to conquer them. We simply have to be strong enough to defeat them if they attack us.

... where it seems that the primary role of either of these vessels is not in defending against an attack but in instigating an attack.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 11:38:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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