A Soldier’s Father responds to the Kirk’s Defence Spending Review

Dr Macdonald’s “Christian response to defence spending” sailed pretty close to home for those of us with children caught up in the mayhem. My son fought with 7 Para in the Second Iraq War and I have watched with anguish as two of his best friends were killed and others hideously maimed in Afghanistan.

All forces families would appreciate the Kirk encouraging the Government to “develop a responsible approach to reducing conflict”. Sadly an unintended consequence of New Labour’s “ethical” foreign policy was our involvement in more “unethical” military adventures than at any time since our colonial days in the 19th century.

As regards his hopes that the Government would “reduce all of the associated costs”, Gordon Brown certainly tried to nail down expenditure but our front line troops paid the price. Today our soldiers have rotten personal equipment and rely heavily on the Americans for helicopter lift, air support, and increasingly even troop reinforcements.

Strategists on both sides of the Atlantic believe the wisest course for Britain would be to strengthen its army. But this can only be achieved if some of the Government’s sacred cows are sacrificed. For example, the idea that we need the hugely expensive Trident to face down a confrontation with Russia or China is totally risible.

The mad cap £4 billion aircraft carrier programme has no military value whatsoever although it will clearly provide thousands of jobs in the Prime Minister’s constituency. We are also lumbered with a vast supply of the useless Euro fighter when we could get by with a few high altitude interceptors and a modest force of ground support aircraft.

What our boys desperately need are more helicopters, UAVs (armed spotter drones), mine detector/eliminators, airborne gun-ships, MRAP (Mine Resistant) vehicles, and heavy-lift aircraft. They also need a working radio, a battle field rifle that does not jam in the dusty desert, and boots whose soles remain attached. All these could be bought off the shelf from the Americans at a fraction of the cost it takes to produce them here.

As the Afghan nightmare widens and deepens so the calibre of successive Defence Secretaries becomes ever more deplorable and the incompetence of the civilian dominated Ministry of Defence is frankly beyond belief. An extended period of withdrawal from the lunacies of the “war on terror” and a lot less fatuous grandstanding and/or “saving the world” would be greatly appreciated.

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