Thursday, 24 February 2011

Defence Policy; Coalition vs. UKIP

It must be a bitter pill to swallow for the coalition when "a bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists" have a more realistic and grown-up defence policy than the government. I sincerely agree with Labour and Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary when he added his voice to those calling for the SDSR to be reopened. He said it already looked "out of date" and that many of the assumptions about it had been "shaken over the past month". True, Labour is the majority party responsible for this shambolic state of affairs in the MoD but it was the coalition's choice to slash %7.5 of the annual defence budget, and they decided to do so in one of the most mysterious ways yet known to man; e.g. rip apart newly constructed surveillance aircraft with CAT diggers... WTF? What did the Nimrods ever do to Dr. Fox to deserve such an inglorious end?

Hence I reproduce here the full result, thus far, of the Coalition's approach to defence and if you scroll down a bit further you will see that of UKIP. I know which party I would like in power if my country went to war.
  • Reducing the planned purchase of 22 Chinooks to 12
  • Delaying Trident for political reasons that will cost billions
  • Cancelling Nimrod MRA4
  • Reducing armour and artillery, if reports are to be believed, to the bone
  • Reducing surface vessels
  • Reducing Tornado
  • Withdrawn Harrier GR9′s
  • Withdrawing Sentinel
  • Slashing allowances and expenses
  • Setting up the armed forces for a post Afghanistan change in terms and conditions of service
  • Implementing a 2 year pay freeze
  • Reducing pensions
  • Reducing service personnel by 17,000
  • Reducing the MoD Civil Service by 25,000 which will likely result in more work for service personnel
  • Removing the External Reference group from reporting on the Military Covenant
  • Trying to convince everyone that the SDSR was a considered and balanced review (thats my favourite joke of the year)
  • Sacking 25% of RAF trainee pilots
  • Reducing size of army to an estimated 80,000 troops, after the Afghanistan campaign
And from UKIP's website is the following:

UKIP promises:
  • To defend our national interests, maintain the NATO alliance, support our traditional partners. We want to disentangle our forces from the EU and moves towards EU armed forces. UKIP will keep our independence by retaining – always – ultimate command and control over our national forces.
  • To stop trying to buy defence on the cheap UKIP will spend an extra 1% GDP per year on defence – an increase of 40% on current budgets ( a £14.76 billion increase ). UKIP believes in establishing a defence budget which will properly sustain Britain’s defence commitments. To keep defence costs down by smarter defence procurement, and with more involvement of British industry wherever possible.
  • To increase the Army to at least 125,000 personnel (trained requirement) in order to enable it to cope with its existing deployment and roles. To double the Territorial Army in size from 37,000 to 75,000 soldiers.
  • To restore the Navy to its 2001 strength, with 3 new aircraft carriers (one extra), 4 assault ships, 30 destroyers and frigates, 12 Fleet Submarines, 25 coastal vessels and 50 Merlin helicopters, with around 7,000 extra personnel to 42,000 (2003–41,550). UKIP would guarantee the futures of naval ports Plymouth and Portsmouth and base ships permanently in Rosyth and so return it to a proper naval port status.
  • To increase the Air Force’s capabilities by enlarging the tanker fleet, modernising the transport fleet, buying more helicopters and 50 extra JSF aircraft, and increasing RAF personnel to 50,000.
  • To restore many traditional regiments, such as the Black Watch and Staffords, subsumed as battalions of EU-inspired ‘super-regional’ regiments such as the Royal Welsh, Royal Mercian and Royal Regiment of Scotland, in order to serve in EU battlegroups.
  • To renew the Covenant between the Country and those who are asked to risk their lives on its behalf: through better pay, generous compensation for injury, restoration of Crown immunity, private medical and dental care, reinstatement of military hospitals, decent accommodation, an offence of treason for those UK citizens who seriously attack serving personnel, and above all, respect and support. We will also introduce a National Service Medal to be awarded to all servicemen and women to thank those who have seen combat, and those who have not, in their service of their country.
  • To reappraise our operations in Afghanistan to a single clear and achievable mission or seek to negotiate a withdrawal with our NATO partners.
  • To maintain Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent with existing Trident submarines, and then replace them with four British-built US missile armed submarines.
  • To retain and increase Army and Territorial Army personnel through better pay, free medical and dental care for them and their families, retention ‘warrants’, school recruitment and other incentives.
  • To introduce a National Defence Medal to recognise ‘Forgotten Heroes’.
One can promise a lot when in opposition, but their mettle can surely not be worse than the Coalition's.

What is all of this born out of? Our pathetic excuse for assisting British nationals in Libya. Utter humiliation. What is becoming more apparent though is that there are no military assets to send out there because it would appear that we have scrapped everything even remotely useful. Word is doing the rounds that a no-fly zone should be imposed on Libya but of course that would necessitate an aircraft carrier as there is no way a country out there would play friendly host to a squadron of British fighter jets. We do not have any aircraft carriers anymore. The coalition in their infinite wisdom scrapped them. You can see whence the argument travels from here.

In essence for every year you travel back in time the probability that we could have managed this shit storm of a situation, professionally and authoritatively, increases exponentially. In 1950 the Royal Navy would have had an entire carrier group out there by now, and in 1980 at least one Invincible class carrier would have watched the Libyans with fiery eyes, Harriers at the ready and Nimrods on the go (though remember 'could' does not imply 'would' since there is geopolitics to take into consideration as well). There would be no beating about the bush, no incompetence, people who risked other people's lives would have been sacked quicker that you can say 'BBC'.

But what is really, truly, amazing is that the news channels are focusing solely on the hardships of a few Brits who are stranded in the back and beyond. I sympathise with them of course but in the background people are being slaughtered for what they believe in. Poor little Brits cannot get out, boho, whereas the Libyan people are having their own armed forces used upon them, mercenaries brought in to make them toe the line, air-to-surface missiles used on a crowds of people, humans, like you and me, non-combatans, non-lethal, non-hostile, or at least not hostile enough to ever warrant the use of laser guided precision weapons, normally employed to neutralise tanks.

No, who cares about that? Lets focus on the gallant HMS Cumberland which has just "rescued" stranded nationals in the most pathetic of manners. To top it off, she is being decommissioned after this final operation. What if this had happened 6 months from now?

Finally do you know what the really tragic thing is? Somewhere someone down the line will have to rebuild all this capacity since this simply wont fly. All of this scrapping is thus pointless and wont save any money in the long term since it will just need to be rebuilt anyway.


DAD said...

What you fail to understand the the EU army will protect us (sarc off)

William said...

What if this had happened 6 months from now?

We'd have had to ask the EU to send one of their warships instead!

cosmic said...

Surely defence policy is there to back up foreign policy. If foreign policy is ill-defined, you can expect defence policy to be all over the place.

In this case, foreign policy isn't really vague, the intention is to let it be subsumed by EU foreign policy (which admittedly, may in itself be vague) and defence policy is following as it must.

The reason for the confusion is that the government is desperate to keep up the pretence of being independent, while at the same time throwing away independence as fast as they can without being twigged.

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