EU army on the march in Britain: Secret war game involving 2,000 troops sparks fears UK will be sucked into a force involving member states
By Sara Smyth and David Williams and Larissa Brown, Defence Correspondent For The Daily Mail01:21 23 May 2016, updated 14:32 23 May 2016
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Soldiers from Europe gathered on Salisbury Plain for two-week exerciseTanks had EU flags sparking fears Britain will be sucked into EU forcesSenior Army officer said UK being drawn into a European Army concept
Secret war games hosted in Britain for a 2,000-strong force of EU troops have sparked fears that the UK will be part of an European army.
Thousands of soldiers gathered on Salisbury Plain for a two-week military exercise just weeks ahead of the referendum.
Troops from Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and Finland worked alongside soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment, in a mock operation.
Thousands of soldiers gathered on Salisbury Plain for a two-week military exercise just weeks ahead of the referendum. Pictured is a Scorpion 4×4 MRAP from the Finnish Army
Troops from Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and Finland worked alongside soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment, in a mock operation
Tanks and vehicles emblazoned with the EU flag were used for the exercises – a sign that the UK will be sucked into an army with member states, experts fear
Tanks and vehicles emblazoned with the EU flag were used for the exercises – a sign that the UK will be sucked into an army with member states, experts fear.
A senior officer based at Army headquarters in Andover said the UK military is slowly being drawn into a European Army concept.
He said: ‘We have been told to keep their arrival low key, the Ministry of Defence does not want any publicity about these Euro exercises.
‘This whole Euro army concept is slowly being given more focus as civil servants direct more and more joint operations across the Union with particular attention on the Baltic States.’
It is the second time the UK has hosted the exercise, with the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment as the main element of the battlegroup.
Troops were involved in rapid movements, maintaining public order and peacekeeping.
A British Brigadier is in charge of the force during the UK’s period of command, but will takes orders from Brussels.
Defence minister Penny Mordaunt, a leading Leave campaigner earlier this month said Britain is being pressured to surrender its national defence to the EU.
She spoke out in response to comments from Joseph Daul, who is president of the biggest political grouping in the European Parliament.
The Frenchmen had said a combined military force was essential.
The European Union Battle Group Certification Exercise has been taking place between May 2 and 20 on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.
Plans for the exercise were revealed in a newsletter updating personnel on activities taking place on the training area.
The battlegroup executed a fictitious peace support operation, including strike operations, public order, rural and urban operations, it was said.
EU Battlegroups are battalion-sized multinational military units comprised of contributions from member states. A typical size might be 1500 personnel.
They are small, highly mobile self-sustainable stand-by forces designed to be able to intervene rapidly in a crisis, usually responding to a UN request.
They rotate so that two groups are ready to deploy at all times.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has dismissed the concept of an EU army, but has stressed that Britain will probably never fight alone again following greater cooperation with EU nations.
Critics have said an EU army would undermine NATO.
An Army spokesman said: ‘This routine exercise has nothing to do with the prospect of a European Army. The Prime Minister has been clear that the UK will never be part of an European Army.
‘The UK Government has consistently said that it will oppose any measures which would undermine member states’ competence for their own military forces, or lead to competition and duplication with NATO, which is the cornerstone of our defence.’