The media has been flooded with calls to increase spending in light of the Russian threat, this morning. Yet, the defence chiefs who are making the calls are also being accused of fear-mongering in an attempt to get more cash out of the government.
Defence spending is very high on the agenda as the Defence Review looms. Talks of cuts here, there and everywhere are undoubtedly getting into peoples heads. But is this justified? The story gets confusing.
I was quite concerned to read two reports from the same newspaper (who shall remain nameless) with very different views of Defence. The first, last week saying how the plans to reduce the current forces was nothing short of a catastrophe and merging the Parachute Regiment and Royal Marines was complete lunacy and stating how the British Army was forecast to be reduced to it’s smallest since the Napoleonic Wars while this morning, the same news paper said how the merger (Paras and Commandos) was long overdue and the British Forces were an unnecessary relic of days past with the threat from Russia overemphasised.
As the editor of this magazine, I try to take a neutral stance in Defence issues. Concerning the magazines main effort to those who have served and their issues. But I am appalled at the ignorance of many that seem to have their heads completely immersed in the yellow, gritty stuff.
So here are a few questions to ask whether there are threats that we need to be concerned about. Firstly, why did we commit more that a Battalion of our troops to the Baltic states last year if there was no threat? Why is the RAF constantly being scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft (Bombers and Fighters) so close to British Airspace? And why is the Royal Navy constantly having to escort Russian Warships through British waters. This is not even to mention the Cyberthreat which seems to have emerged recently or the border exercises which have practiced offensives against Europe. I shall leave readers to decide for themselves whether they warrant these actions as a threat or not.
Other theatres in the world also cannot be disregarded. In particular, North Korea is constantly in focus as the situation grows more and more complicated. Is this just Sabre-rattling as so many call it? If it is, it is highly dangerous Sabre-rattling. I cannot say where this will go, I don’t think anyone can but I do think it would be foolish to disregard the possibilities of conflict. So, it would be a fair argument to say that the threats today are not a million miles of those thirty odd years ago during the Cold War when Military Defence was paramount, maybe even a little worse today.
But lets look at the possibility of cuts. To begin with, the idea of a Para/Commando merger has been thought up by people who have no idea who these two units are. Take the argument from the Government hat-wearers and ask the two units that do the job what they think. Other cuts to the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force is just as crazy. A few years ago, the MoD began to bring in the new helicopter fleet to replace the old trusty Lynx. The Wildcat was controversial from the word go, but they pushed on, spent billions and have just started bringing it into service. Lo and behold, it is now being considered, according to Defence Review reports last week, to scrap the entire fleet. It seems that every time someone different wears the Defence hat in the Ivory Tower everything has to change. Huge waste of money, that last one. But there’s more, ships, armour, Regiments are all up for the axe. I haven’t even begun to talk about the cuts to Veterans services yet.
Anyone that justifies the idea of cuts to our Forces as we stand on the world stage of today, would be very advised to look further into the possibilities of what may lie ahead in the very near future. To ignore them may prove catastrophic.