Here’s a group of events that doesn’t need a whole lot of additional commentary. Five or six years ago, you had to tell people why developments were signs of a collapsing West. Today, it’s only the most blinkered and mentally resistant among us who don’t get it.
Breitbart reported earlier this month on the visit of a British army delegation, from the 4th Infantry Brigade (the “Black Rats”), to a Tablighi Jamaat-affiliated mosque in Dewsbury, UK.
If “Tablighi Jamaat” sounds familiar, it’s because the San Bernardino, CA terrorists, who slaughtered 14 Americans and injured 22 more in December 2015, were connected with it. The group is aligned with the hardline Deobandi sect.
Conveniently, the Dewsbury mosque is Tablighi Jamaat’s global headquarters. The British soldiers were visiting the mosque for orientation – and, reportedly, to sell Deobandis on the mission of the army.
An Army spokesperson told Breitbart London: “It is vital that the Army reflects the society from which it is drawn. To do that we need to engage with all our communities and break down the myths about what the Army does and who we are.
“The visit to Dewsbury did exactly that and was part of a wider strategy of demonstrating that service with the British Army is entirely consistent with Islam.”
Well, sure. The Brits did the usual mosque-orientation things: ritual washing, kneeling and bowing for prayers. It was deemed a successful visit by all concerned.
The 4th Infantry Brigade, now fully prepared, has this week been assigned to the EU High Readiness Battlegroup, a package of deployment-ready forces from EU members, on call to deploy for rapid response contingencies.
A number of Brits are concerned that the rapid response concept, with its rotating package of ready forces, is essentially equipping the EU with a standing army – a prospect opposed by the peoples of the EU nations.
But they needn’t worry. As Breitbart suggests, decisions about union security and rapid response will be decisively influenced by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, who is an ardent supporter of Islam in Europe.
The military response force won’t be literally under Mogherini’s command (a point it may be a little hard to glean from the Breitbart reporting). But, in the Western tradition of subordinating the military to political leadership, she will be a bigger factor in deciding what its security-response priorities are than the military chain of command.
So we can satisfy ourselves that nothing could go wrong here.
Meanwhile, the 4th Infantry Brigade is now what we might call a shell of its former self. In WWII, the Black Rats fought in Africa, Sicily, and the Italian peninsula as an armored tank brigade, but transitioned to a mechanized infantry brigade in 2007. In 2013, the former mechanized brigade lost its armor in massive UK defense cuts (scroll down for information on the Black Rats). The 4th, placed on call for the EU on Monday, is now a light infantry brigade, suited and trained for tasks like engaging with local mosques.
The brigade is at least considered ready for the tasks it may be assigned, however, and apparently by responsible parties in a position to judge. The same can’t be said of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).
Last week, Financial Times quoted two senior NATO generals who are concerned that the whole “V” part is missing from the VJTF right now.
The “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force”, the 5,000-strong centrepiece of the 2014 Nato summit and the package of measures it produced to counter Russian aggression, would be too vulnerable during its deployment phase to be used in Poland or the Baltic States, two senior Nato generals with close knowledge of the alliance’s logistical and military planning told the Financial Times.
Russia’s…forces in Kaliningrad…and substantial military assets in its border territories mean the VJTF would be at risk of being overrun before it was even ready to fight if it tried to set up “east of the Oder [the line of Germany’s eastern border]”, says one of the generals.
According to FT, the inadequate condition of the VJTF is actually driving the NATO plan to station more forces “permanently” along the eastern line of confrontation with Russia.
But there’s a disquieting codicil to this disclosure. The utility of the VJTF, in the words of a political official, lies more in its application to “Article 4” contingencies, which are less than major threats to the alliance as a whole. These include “subterfuge, civil unrest or border infractions,” which could escalate into armed conflict.
How they might do that, if they don’t involve Russia, is an interesting question. Nothing could go wrong here, either. Surely not. But in the dithering halls of European organization in Belgium, the whiff is there of forces being put in readiness for armed intervention inside Europe. I’m not convinced I’d want the current leadership of the EU, or of the most powerful European nations, making the decisions about that.