US, France And UK Navies To Work Closely Together In The Indo-Pacific Region

As reported in Naval News, the United States, the U.K. and France have signed an agreement for cooperation in technology and intelligence gathering for the next twenty years.  Given that this arrangement is specific to each country’s respective naval services, it does not extend to our other armed forces or the full apparatus of intelligence-gathering abilities of the NSA and CIA.

While the United States have been close allies for more than one hundred and twenty years, France and the U.S. have been allies at arms length for decades. France was a founding member of NATO and its headquarters was located in Paris during the 1950s and early 60s. In 1966, France pulled out of NATO’s unified command structure to retain command over its own forces while nominally remaining a member.

France Was A Self- Limiting Participant In NATO

Under these conditions, France was able to go its own way with respect to its foreign policy during the Cold War where it was not considered a reflextive belligerent to the USSR.  Following the Cold War it did commit troops and air assets to NATO operations in Bosnia and Kosovo in the mid-1990s and again in Afghanistan and in Mali fighting terrorists.  Their military forces are generally considered to proficient with their Special Operations Forces considered to be first rate.

In 2009, France agreed to place itself again under NATO’s unified command structure while retaining discretion as to which operations it would participate in, declining membership in the Nuclear Planning Group which steers NATO policy on employing nuclear weapons, while insisting that no French forces be placed under permanent NATO command.  Finally, it refused participation in the common funding of certain NATO projects started before their return.

The Global War on Terrorism led to much closer ties between the U.S. and France, as France had taken a major terrorism fighting role in nations like Libya and Mali in Africa.

That is not to say that things have been entirely harmonious between our three countries.

Recently, the U.S. and Great Britain dealt France’s defense industries a blow when Australia voided a contract for French diesel submarines in favor of nuclear subs from the UK with U.S. made sensor suites and perhaps torpedoes as well.  France and the U.S. have had some other contentious issues in the past.

France and the UK had an ugly spat over fishing rights off the island of Jersey which is possession of the UK.  This dispute saw UK gunboats breaking a blockade of a Jersey Port by French fisherman and France threatening to cut off electrical power to the island. France controlled an electrical cable previously laid across the English Channel while the UK was still part of the European Union.