A really intelligent blog contribution from someone who is a weird kind of Tory-Lib Dem hybrid as far as I can make out. Here goes:
I was always under the impression the intention of matching 15% of US commitment in order to earn Framework Nation Status with the command input that entails.
If we take Iraq as ‘typical’ example of a US style intervention then they have an average commitment of 140,000 troops through the main sequence of campaign, a period spanning six years. For Britain to justify the command input that comes with the 2IC slot, where we influence operations to reflect our priorities, we would have to sustain 21,000 troops in theatre. In reality this means three combat brigades and an additional brigades worth of supporting HQ, logistics and specialists elements. This is of course a generous calculation because if we wish to vie for Framework Nation Status as the strategic purpose of our expeditionary capability then we have to match our resources to the sum of US commitments. As can be seen in the table below that US commitment includes another 30,000 troops in a separate theatre of war, which means Britain needs to pony up another light-brigade at the very least. And yes, we really would have to consider this additional commitment, command input results from trust earned over time, not merely from meeting some arbitrary figure on only the missions we liked in the pic-n-mix bin.
It basically doesn’t work, and to the limited extent it does work it absorbs the ENTIRETY of our capability, and thus removes Foreign Policy as a competence of HMG.
We maintain force levels and structures defined by framework nation status, and more strategically, by the influence it is meant to bring. As a result, seeking it consumes all the resources we are willing to put in, and therefore eliminates our policy choices. Once the organisations required are set up, they must be used to justify their budgets, hence the hunt for somewhere ARRC HQ could go.
Because the practical aim is to do the least that provides framework status, the influence so gained is minimal going on none. Of course, the whole idea presupposes that our allies don’t go utterly crazy and leave us in the position of trying to avoid being in the same campaign.
Sometimes, you should read the comments.