Not being prone to airing my political views in text I thought I could hold back no longer. These views are entirely mine and are as I see it.
Defence of a country is and should be about pride and priority. Stand up for the interest of that country and its citizens.
However one country seems to like the idea of helping out abroad and letting its own citizens suffer and it also assists with immigrants who have contributed nothing to the economy yet they can claim benefits from those who do. Those who do contribute or have done so and deserve assistance are being forgotten or receiving less than the immigrants. What a kick in the teeth. Charity begins at home and not overseas. Get your own house in order before helping others.
Anyone guess which country I am talking about? Of course my own – the United Kingdom! It pains me to write this about my beloved country but those in power seem to not have this care nor do they want it! As long as our image abroad is good, as a country that likes helping out anyone who needs it and in some case those who don’t then they we will be fine! The British people will understand! ‘Come on over Britain is open and will even pay you for being here!’ How wrong can they be? If roles were reversed, then those countries receiving our financial contributions would not even think about helping us. I am sure, if the roles were reversed and the boot was on the other foot, then we would receive nowhere near what we give out seemingly for free, gratis and for nothing if anything at all. Where does the money go – to a private bank account of a governments official – or more than one?
So what has this got to do with Defence? Well the Syrian crisis is possibly a prime example. We are cutting back on defence spending, have made ‘overseas aid ‘ payments untouchable (except to be increased) and yet we are giving equipment and possibly some military aid to the Syrian rebels. Have we got anything military to give be it personnel or equipment? Not much as we had as it has all been binned including soldiers, sailors and airmen. We do not know where the next likely threat will occur and will not be that capable to defend our country and interests wherever this may be required due to the cost cutting eager government we have at present.
We are withdrawing from Afghanistan, have a possible situation over the Falkland Island again, have offered assistance to Syrian rebels and are helping the French in West Africa. We are stretched to almost beyond breaking point! The powers that be seemingly overrule the people who know about military capability. How stupid is that. It will be like a pilot being told how to fly a plane by a 5-year-old and doing as they say!
Oh of course I forgot, we have the Territorial Army and the reserve forces for the other services. They have a fairly limited capability that is slowly improving. Slowly improving due to cutbacks with the regulars. Unlike after the war and at least up to the 60s, now employers are not obliged to let anyone off to go to serve with the reserves, unless there is an official call up. After the war it was law to allow training of the reserves in addition to their holiday entitlement. I worked for a company who had MOD contracts yet basically put two fingers up to the armed services. A comparison if anyone would like it – a woman on maternity leave has over 6 months off work. That is her decision to have a baby – no gun held to her head saying she must. Yet a person (man or woman) is going to have at least a 2 week extra added to their annual leave. Anyone says it isn’t fair on those who don’t sign up – they have a choice just like those who decide to go and have babies. Like a woman on maternity leave you get paid. TA pay you even for your parade nights and attending weekends. Employers used to have to pay you for your training days with the reserves. The company I worked for with the contracts gave an extra weeks leave as a goodwill gesture.
The Strategic Defence review (other versions do exist) is a big kick in the teeth for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country free and with few terrorist attacks. The Government think they know best. The present incumbents are not alone, they have just made things worse and people have short memories so only really know whats going on in the present. Labour did not do so much cutting back but they by no means increased the capability in either personnel or materials and supplies.
There are requests that go through the house to be debated, however obviously defence is such a case that discussing it cannot possibly happen. Why not? They are playing with our lives, indirectly and are gambling with our future safety by making brash decisions without true thought or discussion.
A case in point and in recent history is Libya. The Gaddafi regime was opposed and was ultimately overturned with help from international pressure and forces. Yes we were there! However just before it broke out a monumentally stupid decision was made. Scrap the revolutionary Harrier jet and the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal? Why – money-saving was the all too ready answer.
The Harrier was withdrawn from military use in mid 2010, and the Ark Royal almost 6 months later. The Harrier had earned it stripes and reputation in the Falklands War of 1982. It could take off from smaller scaled carriers instead of using the bulky catapult system used by other navies – US, France etc. Ark Royal had been built with a ski jump at the end to enable the Harrier to be airborne quickly. The ski jump (as with the catapult) are British inventions. The ski jump came into its own, like the Harrier during the Falklands War. It proved just the thing for quick deployment and take off. Now only HMS Illustrious remains but is expected to decommissioned in 2014! We now have about as many ships as Belgium if not less, but we have more interests around the world to look after.
Without the Harrier or a decent Carrier what and how could Britain assist with the Libyan rebels? Of course the expensive option. RAF Typhoon jets to be flown from East Anglia and base themselves in Italy and Sicily. They could then attack Libya with relative ease. Having the Ark Royal and Harrier working in unison would have been so much more efficient. Just off the coast, exactly where they were wanted with no great distance to cover and no air to air refuelling. Not saying don’t use the Typhoon but it could have been used in conjunction if really required.
A combat helicopter platform (HMS Ocean) was used to carry the fantastic, deadly and ugly Apache attack helicopter. The British government were determined not to put any personnel ashore. Some saving grace I suppose.
Personally I am scared of what the future brings with regards to terrorism and attacks on my homeland and the liberties taken by other countries at our apparent forgiving, gentle nature. I am scared of not having anything to defend ourselves with. OK there is the collaboration with France and of course who could forget our ‘Special’ relationship with the US. We have mutual respect for each other’s armed services. There is also talk of a combined European Defence Force. Possibly the most ridiculous suggestion made at a very uncertain time.
With regards to the European scheme, nearly all concerned have had conflicts with each other in the past and in some cases it doesn’t take much to get arguments started due to animosity between the countries. How can we expect a military organisation based on these countries be expected to work? NATO is not the same thing. Different countries are involved. It’s like the USA – the state system works due to length of time they have been together. They have known and been in some form of organised union for hundreds of years. Europe, especially the UK (as it is where I am from) have been independent for 2000 years give or take a few, with no formal set up so we have our own character. Anything combined with Europe, except holidays and trade would be tantamount to disaster if not a form of mass civil war. Why should we all be the same, we are not the same. No point in asking us to change for the benefit of Europe
On paper all looks fine and makes sense, but we can’t agree on everyday items as a group of countries (tax, weights and measures, finance, international matters in general and other subjects such as Human Rights). How can we be expected to think of getting closer under a flag or cap badge of European Defence? Some countries are almost mainly pacifist or have not much of a structure or experience.
I am not a war monger or want to be one, but I will do what I have to defend mycountry and fellow countryman aswell as our interests abroad, hoping we have something left to fight for and the equipment to fight with along with personnel to fight alongside.
Decisions behind doors on such subjects and how they were concluded is an area where I can see the point of secrecy but when it comes back to cutbacks and ‘money saving’ where money is going abroad like water over a waterfall, then I take the exception.
Just before I wrote this I heard that a battalion were going to lose their tanks vehicles and will revert to an Infantry unit! If that wasn’t enough there have been press reports that one of the best fighting units in the World, the Parachute Regiment are to lose the majority of their parachutes. This will be like drinking tea without the tea leaves! The parachute is what gave their name and led them to many victories in the Second World War and since. They were integral (along with their maritime counterparts, the other world-renowned elite force – the Royal Marines) to the victory in the Falklands.
The world had looked up to Britain for her pride, her people, her attitude of fairness. Most of all they have admired and in some cases imitated (imitation the highest form of flattery) her armed forces and even for training assistance and equipment. Oman being a prime example. Our military bands are world famous and nothing sums up British pride and act as the best ambassador’s possible like the famous Red Arrows, the RAF aerobatics team. There was a scare when they seemed under threat by being disbanded as this government is on a cost cutting spree at home yet a spending spree abroad, even if it ends up with nothing to show for it. Crikey I dread to think of the scale of the backlash for that. I like to think the Government had a moment (rare as it is – in fact, very much in danger) of sense and rescinded the idea.
They are now saying the humongous overseas aid budget can be used for military spending when required. A back-handed compliment, a u-turn in disguise or a way to pacify people? Whichever way, it stinks of charity and classes the military as members of the Third World. This who the Overseas’ aid budget is supposed to be helping! This country also treats the gallant men and women as 3rd class citizens when they leave the armed services or return injured from conflicts. This is an absolute insult and a very bad image to give potential new recruits as to what they can look forward to. If you were a terrorist and or killed and/or raped people over here yet you are illegal, be prepared to have a house and benefits showered upon you. Even the awful human rights are the friend of a terrorist or other criminals. Yet a soldier mutilated by war, or suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is expected to live on what they have and even lose benefits as some clerical assistant and not a medical person has a final say on the claim form.
In some respect as the Government has been shamed into seemingly doing more because if successful charities such as Help for Heroes. The real heroes are those risking their lives defending us against terrorism. Not your overpaid ignorant MP who knows nothing about the military he/she is in charge of and thinks they are making it better. How wrong can you be!
The way things are going the formation of the armed services will be this:
Royal Navy – Sailing club
Army – Paintball club
Royal Air Force – Flying Club
What a sorrowful state of affairs things have become