General Lord Guthrie’s change of heart, and switch to LEAVE, is odd given that he’d signed a letter commending UK membership of the EU just weeks before. He’s worried that the EU is going to create its own army, which could destablise the balance of power on the continent.
The idea of an EU army is not new. I was a Territorial Army soldier from 1996-1999 and took part in a NATO ARRC (Allied Rapid Reaction Corps) exercise in Germany in October 1998. Excellent fun it was too; I was a proud G2 NCO in Rear HQ, tasked with a daily briefing on enemy movements. Britain was the “framework” nation in this operation, MIke Jackson as generalissimo, with participation by the Italians, Americans, Belgians, Greeks, Turks and even French. Lots of languages, different kinds of equipment, but it worked well.
There was talk of a European Army as a logical “next step” even then but nothing has happened for the simple reason that European military establishments already cooperate very well with each other. Creation of a fully-fledged Euro army, with a single command structure, would be prohibitively expensive; no EU defense minister has backed the idea. In addition, joining such an army would require another referendum in Britain. We can therefore stop it happening, provided we REMAIN in the EU and keep that vote.
These days only the USA can actually fight war, and for that reason NATO is absolutely vital to our security. Fears of an aggressive European Army are wildly exaggerated. General Guthrie knows all this; he’s just shooting the breeze. Maybe he’ll have another think and vote to REMAIN, helping to ensure that Britain retains a vote and a leading voice amongst our European allies.