A gross dereliction of duty: How Coalition defence cuts have left Britain terrif

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A gross dereliction of duty: How Coalition defence cuts have left Britain terrifyingly vulnerable


By Simon Heffer
 PUBLISHED: 21:02, 21 September 2012 | UPDATED: 23:14, 21 September 2012

?Comments (6)

 Most people realise that the world is a much more dangerous place than it was two years ago. But, worryingly, that view does not seem to be shared by our political class.

 Government ministers think there are few votes in making sure we have a strong defence. That is why Britain?s defence spending has halved as a proportion of GDP since the Cold War.

 This pattern was set by the Coalition?s Strategic Defence and Security Review, which, two years ago, was responsible for slashing our Armed Forces. It is the  reason, too, why so many soldiers are returning from Afghanistan only to be handed redundancy notices.

Betrayal: The Coalition has allowed a dangerous deterioration in Britain's military power
 It is also why the country?s key defence contractor, BAE Systems, has seen reductions in the number of orders, forcing it to consider a merger with EADS, a company part-owned by the French and German governments.

 The Strategic Defence and Security Review (which ordered cuts of 8 per cent worth ?4.7 billion, the loss of 42,000 defence jobs and the scrapping of many high-profile equipment programmes over the subsequent four years) was driven by a need to save money ? not because the world had become safer.

Yet the truth is the world faces a period of grave instability.

Looking elsewhere: The Government's reduction in defence spending has forced BAE Systems to consider a merger with EADS
 The ?Arab Spring? has provoked another crisis in the Middle East. And the world?s new superpower, China, is determined to flex its muscles ? as shown by this week?s spat with Japan as the two countries dispute control of a few uninhabited islands off their coasts.

 As for Britain, many military experts are deeply concerned that we no longer have either the firepower or the manpower to be able to defend ourselves adequately.

 A group of distinguished former servicemen, including General Sir Michael Rose, who commanded the UN force in Bosnia, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael  Graydon, who was Chief of the Air Staff, published two reports this week. They make terrifying reading.

Uncertain world: The 'Arab Spring' has thrown the Middle East into turmoil

In bleak terms, they argue that Britain is now unable to defend its interests, and for politicians to pretend otherwise is grossly irresponsible.

Although they do not claim this country is at imminent risk of attack by a foreign enemy, they do say we are so militarily weak that it?s damaging our international standing, and that we no longer have the means to guarantee supplies of imported oil and gas if they ever become threatened.

 The authors of the reports for the UK National Defence Association say: ?Capabilities have been discarded, [and] numbers of men, ships, aircraft and weapons have been reduced without concern for the consequences.?

 ?Tearful families of three soldiers killed in Afghanistan joined by hundreds of mourners to watch their bodies being brought home
 ?Now David Davis fires a broadside at BAE's merger with warning over British jobs
For its part, the Government dismisses such claims but ministers refuse to engage in a debate about whether defence cuts have left Britain vulnerable.

 A current Cabinet Office briefing note says: ?Britain continues to have global responsibilities and global ambitions. We will remain a first-rate military power.?

 Such complacency is, I suggest, hopelessly misplaced.

Instability in the East: The Senkaku Islands dispute has seen both Japan and China increase their military presence in the East China Sea
 Although militant Islam is the greatest obvious threat to the West, it is not the only one.

 The world?s population is estimated to reach eight billion by 2030, and resources such as oil, gas, fresh water and arable land are becoming scarcer.

As they do, the need to protect and control supplies becomes more urgent. This shortage of key resources, argue the military experts, makes the situation ?an ideal breeding ground for extremism?.

 Global demand for energy has risen by a third in the last decade. The amount of raw materials China wants to import may double by 2025. Its current diplomatic row with Japan is partly due to the belief that lucrative oilfields exist under the sea around the disputed islands.

 The reports outline ways in which Britain?s energy supplies ? and therefore our ability to function as a nation ? could be threatened because of our inadequate defence capabilities.

 For example, uncertainties in Russia and Ukraine, through which large volumes of oil and gas are piped, have exposed one possible danger. Tensions between Russia and Georgia may lead to invasion, and Moscow could disrupt Europe?s fuel supplies if the EU protests.

Dwindling: Cuts are eating away at the RAF's force of Tornado bombers
As for Britain?s status as a military power, the defence experts spell out how the contribution we are now able to make to the Atlantic alliance is becoming negligible.

 Ever since the Second World War, we have relied on America to help defend us ? but can we be a worthwhile ally with such small forces?

The entire RAF Tornado force (60 aircraft) is smaller than the number of aircraft at a single U.S. airbase (72 aircraft).

 And with the U.S. increasingly looking across the Pacific as it reshapes its defence policy to counter China, we may find we have to be more reliant on ourselves ? but with very little to rely on. A Labour government defence review in 1998 ? before the threat of Muslim extremism was exposed by 9/11, and when Chinese power was far less than it is today ? concluded we needed a minimum of 32 destroyers and frigates to be equal to our responsibilities.

We now have just 19.

 The Army?s manpower is being cut from 102,000 to 82,000, with the MoD claiming that a boost in the reserves to 30,000 will cover the shortfall. However, it is feared that these part-timers would provide no more than the equivalent of 2,000 full-time  soldiers, and that an unsustainable strain would be put on them and their employers.

Marching orders: Troops are returning from Afghanistan, only to be handed redundancy notices
 Meanwhile, the RAF has been reduced in size to such an extent that the experts? reports claim that no more than two back-up squadrons would be available to support any prolonged military operations. With just one Army brigade and six ships likely to join them, we are utterly vulnerable to any hostile power that wishes to humiliate us.

 The experts highlight various possible international flashpoints ? to which Britain could make only an inadequate response, or no response at all.

 A conflagration in the Middle East is the most likely. Iran is already stockpiling food, as if preparing for war, amid widespread talk of an autumn attack by Israel. The Tehran regime recently tested a missile ? Shahab-3 ? with a range of 2,000km that means it could hit Israel.

In such an event, a worried Turkey, on Nato?s front line, would appeal to Britain and other allies for help. But so long as our forces are in Afghanistan, fighting an unwinnable war, there would be little we could do.

If Iran was attacked, oil prices would rocket. And with our small, over-stretched Navy, getting our supplies through the vital Strait of Hormuz (through which much of the world?s oil passes) would be far from certain.

The U.S. could cope without oil from the Gulf, so would have little reason to intervene on our behalf.
China is another potential nightmare. It is ominous to note that the Beijing regime is Argentina?s new best friend. China would be unlikely to help an invasion of the Falklands, but would be very likely to give full diplomatic support to Argentina if it did invade again.

Ruling the waves? The Royal Navy's 13 Type 23 Frigates (pictured) are considered insufficient for Britain's global obligations
 That, though, would not be the end of our international humiliation. Our inability to defend the Falkland Islands is highlighted by the experts? reports: ?No maritime patrol aircraft, no carriers, too few submarines, no long-range strike capability.?

 The authors ask: ?Are we spending enough for our safe defence?? The answer, quite clearly, is ?no?.

Ministers argue that they have to assess priorities when money is short. But it?s insanity to ring-fence the annual ?9 billion overseas aid budget at a time when we have too few ships to safeguard our energy supplies and trade routes.

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Also, it?s crazy to think it?s more in the national interest to sack highly trained soldiers, sailors and airmen than to fire NHS office staff.

 The Government?s National Security Strategy, published just two years ago, promised ?to use our national capabilities to build Britain?s prosperity, extend our nation?s influence in the world and strengthen our security?.

In the view of the authors of this week?s two reports ? men who have commanded our Armed Forces ? that is far from the case.

Their frankly terrifying catalogue of warnings amounts to a charge of gross dereliction of duty against the Government. The cost of failing to address these issues would be more than just financial ? it would not be an exaggeration to say Britain?s  sovereignty and way of life could be at stake.
Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, which has its annual conference this weekend, says he would extract ?a high price? from the Tories in return for forming a pact with them at the next General Election.

Mr Farage wants David Cameron to make a ?written in blood? promise to have an ?in-out? referendum on EU membership.

I?m surprised Mr Cameron can?t see that promising a referendum independently is possibly the only way his party stands a chance of doing well at the election. He shouldn?t need Mr Farage to force his hand to do it.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2206860/A-gross-dereliction-duty-How-Coalition-defence-cuts-left-Britain-terrifyingly-vulnerable.html#ixzz27AxmpU4I
Sent in by JULIAN FARMER under the headline "TREASON?"
Yes indeed, treason,no need for the ?

« Last Edit: September 23, 2012, 10:20:12 AM by the leveller »

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