Adnan Nesser Memon
In the past few days MPs have labelled cuts to Her Majesty’s Forces as “grotesque”. A common argument says that any cut to the defence budget will weaken the nation’s image internationally by giving the impression that we cannot, or will not, maintain military superiority ourselves or together with our allies. Those who argue this continue, that at a time when defence budgets across Europe are falling – especially in Germany – we can ill afford such cuts without risking being unable to protect our interests (or even in the case of the Falklands, sovereignty) abroad. They point to emerging regional superpowers such as China or they label potential trouble spot areas such as the increase in instability in Pakistan as reasons why cutting is not an option.
We must not delude ourselves by saying that cuts should not have happened at all. No nation can defend itself if it is bankrupt. Such is the reason why China’s military is able to expand and develop – economic development has given China the economic clout with which to fund its programmes. Until the economic house is put into order, all military programmes are at risk and with a £38 billion black-hole left by Labour, action can hardly wait.
Labour let waste in the Ministry of Defence get out of control. Take for example military radios; millions of pounds were spent procuring them but the MoD had no idea in which base they had been stored or how many there were. Who knows how many have gone missing and how can we get any use out of them for our forces when we don’t even know how many there were?
Our military forces must be and still can be used to protect our vital national interests. The HMS Dauntless is testament to that; on board is the ability to "take out all of South America's fighter aircraft let alone Argentina's" according to a Royal Navy source. To suggest that Britain’s military is not internationally respected would thus be a fallacy. A recent report on Le Monde indicated the British Special Forces are amongst the best trained servicemen in the world. Britain is the world’s fourth largest defence spender (after the US, China and Russia).
Now is the perfect opportunity to readjust the focus of our forces. Britain is a geographically small nation and we should embrace this fact. Whilst the operation in Libya was a success it did show that our aerial power is not as strong as it once was and nor is it sufficiently well equipped (we nearly ran out of Brimstone and Hellfire missiles). We don’t need countless main battle tanks. We need more airpower – manned and unmanned. We need aircraft carriers to enable us to move major forces around the world WITHOUT having to rely on nations fulfilling their agreements to allow us to use their bases.
However, what we need much more of, are our Special Forces. Funding for American Special Forces has increased ten-fold since 2001. Funding for UAVs (commonly known as Reaper Drones and Predator Drones) has increased exponentially in the US and Israel. Let us use these ideas to our advantage. British Special Forces can act extremely effectively across the globe and their apparent deployment in Libya shows how useful they can be. Let us increase funding for these troops dramatically. Let us give them the equipment and training they need to protect us.
War is evolving. We can either evolve with it, or fall behind.