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France and Britain forge new path with defense treaty

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Pentagon officials told the Monitor the concept is viewed in Washington as β€œall positives,” without going further.

France, Britain account for about half of Europe's defense spending

The French and British account for nearly half of defense spending in Europe, and their troops cooperated in the Balkans in the 1990s. Members of the rapid-reaction force would train together, yet stay in bases in their respective states. The team would be commanded by either a British or French officer.

Eventual areas of cooperation will include submarines, satellites, drones, cyberspace, and carrier-deployed aircraft.

British tabloids took full advantage of historic cultural clashes with the French in headlines like the Daily Express: β€œBritish Army Under French Orders.”

Yet the treaty starts modestly, and both leaders stressed national sovereignty and practical cooperation.

The two navies have rarely cooperated, and a functioning carrier task force will not be ready until 2020. Currently, French and British jets cannot fully operate on each others' carriers because of technological and repair constraints. Battle readiness is an issue as well: The French carrier de Gaulle, which has a history of dry docking and repairs, had to return to base in Toulouse recently, days after being deployed to the Afghan theater.

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