“Defence and Security is the Number One priority of any Government to its people”, David Cameron made this statement and I believe most in the country would agree and certainly his Party’s voters.  But nevertheless 17,000 servicemen posts were cut.  This is initially equivalent to 17,000 more unemployed.  And even more important we remain weaker in terms of both perception and , the resource of boots on the ground.

So if the first priority of Government is to protect its citizens, I put the Intelligence Services, Armed Forces, and Police at the top of the Governments, Spending Budget Allocation list.

We undoubtedly live in dangerous, hard to predict times, as the 3 months April to June 2017 have shown, so the Intelligence Services play a major part in providing the information to stop an attack before there is real damage done, MOST OF THE TIME..  The sophistication of their operation and the effectiveness of their integration within the UK and with trusted allies must be closely monitored by Parliament’s Security Committee.

The Armed Forces have their job laid down in the regular Defence Strategic Reviews, which is to defend our shores, protecting our oversea interests and projecting our power as and when required by Parliament.  They can be the back up to the Police in times of emergency as was seen in recent terror attacks and the flooding disasters before.

The beginning of some defence co-operation with France is to be welcomed.  Combined we are still very powerful on the world stage, but without the complications of a European Army.  Germany when it boosts its military spending to 2% could join later.  All this within the framework of NATO, but with the three strongest European powers combining much more closely.  Poland is one of only 4 European NATO countries, who with the UK spend spends 2% of GDP on defence.  All the others must do better.  It is one of the few things that I agree with President Trump about.

Border Control and Immigration Enforcement are also part of our national security.  As in these modern times, must be cyber security, although all major IT users need to be active with their own security measures.

I have defined above the broad outline of what the organs of state in this field must accomplish.  After consideration, I moved paramedics, ambulance crews and the Fire Service into what I have termed the Fabric of Governance.  This is in no way a disrespect to these brave men and women, but they are first responders and not there to prevent or defend against external threats or terrorism.  The Fire Service are valuable in promoting fire safety domestically and in industry,

So, in summary, the Policy Objectives of Defence and Security are:

  • ·         Defend our shores
  • ·         Defend our Overseas Territories
  • ·         Project Power at the instigation of our Government to deter aggressive acts of other nations

This last point may be carried out under the NATO or UN banner, but having talked to military men about UN missions the troops must remain under British command.

Defence – NO CUTS in our Dangerous World

I know some believe passionately in disarmament.  All of us want to live in a peaceful world.  However, weakness is not a guarantee of this desirable state and in the current world we have to be strong or shelter behind the skirts of the USA as long as they let us.  I would be ashamed to be a citizen of some European countries, who never put their troops in harm's way, why have them at all?  And what happens to some European countries when the US may decide to regard some of them as expendable.  Three cheers for Canada, always in support of NATO.

With North Korea, Iran and even an occasionally belligerent Argentina, how can we deplete our forces at all?  I repeat that, this why I put Defence and the protection of our society as the highest spending priority.  Ukraine and the concerns of Poland, Norway and Sweden underline this.

The Cameron Government cut our Armed Forces manpower too much.  The reasons were clear and understood and to our credit, we remain the only major European NATO member spending 2% of GDP on Defence.  France and Germany should be ashamed that they are not achieving this target.  However, Cameron did authorise the construction of two aircraft carriers, which confirms our status as a major power.  He was also behind the replacement of Trident.  Our nuclear deterrent must not be reduced.

With the additional support ships that capital ships, such as carriers need to protect them and the development of two rapid reaction brigades based around them, the UK can remain a force to protect the peace in many of the troublesome areas of the planet.  America needs support as I know many of its citizens weary at being the policeman of the world.

It now looks that Ms May may increase defence spending, not sure where the money is coming, there cannot be many more hidden billions in the Treasury..  How and by how much are key questions?  This is just about her only policy that I agree with.

The now regular anniversaries of the heroics of WWII should remind us of the parlous position of our defences when that war broke out.  Indeed our weakness and a then pacifist USA could have helped start that war, as any deterrence was of words only.  Dictators act when they see weakness.  They always have and always will.  In the context of modern war, a country would not get a second chance as we did after Dunkirk.

Even a possible recurrence of a belligerent Argentina, with perhaps more US sympathy next time looking to their own oil company’s interest, how can we possible deplete our forces anymore?  There is still a time gap until our aircraft carriers come on line.

In addition, we have to be able to spare a ‘copter or two to lend a hand in natural disasters.  Helicopters have also been cut, cut literally with many of our surveillance aircraft.

It is important to define all our national interests, but they must include the possibilities of wars in coalition with allies against smaller, but relatively well armed countries, who feel able to try to dominate their region.  Iraq, did, Iran probably will, and North Korea is certainly trying.

In addition, Saudi Arabia is headed for regime change on the death of their current rulers.  Will the appointed successor hold on to office.  Who or what will replace them? The risks are many.  STRONG DEFENCE will help insure against an unstable outcome.

We should also be able to speak proudly and assertively as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.  We have a proud and unrivalled history in the world and we need to continue to project this.  It may require surgical “police actions” supported by the aircraft carriers, when equipped.

In short, we need to do enough to continue to justify our permanent seat on the UN Security Council and be able to back up what we see is in the interests of the West and The World.  Perhaps we could even create a Rapid Reaction UN Brigade, doing its bidding provided our Chiefs of Staff agreed the Terms of Reference and the Brigade remained under British command.  That is, after we have our own well supported at sea and in the air, Brigades in place.  In theory we have one Rapid Reaction Brigade and we should consider setting up a second Rapid Reaction Brigade put at the service of the world stage.

Defence and Security should never be unduly constrained in the manpower and equipment that they need.  It is not too difficult to expand the forces if they are given respect throughout their service and after discharge, especially if they have been injured.  I am always impressed how the US public reveres the American military.  The Secretary for Veterans Affairs (the VA) is a senior Government appointment and charged with all service personnel’s care after discharge.  The benefits also include their spouses and widows/ers.  Prince Harry is doing his bit, on both sides of the Atlantic, particularly for those that have been disabled, but the Government should do more on behalf of the Nation.

We also have unemployment so the Services should be able to take on all candidates who meet their standards.  A few more battalions will support our current overstretched forces, mop up some youth unemployment and produce better citizens, in the medium term.  Our Reserves should be that, and called up for their contracted training or if they wish to be more active, but not as a matter of routine to fill gaps. 

There are always too high levels of youth unemployment and I favour compulsory service for those youths who persistently engage in low-level crime before they graduate to something more serious.  Strong discipline from those tougher than them will prove beneficial.

So anti-social youth behaviour should also be offered the forces as an option provided the military will accept them.  The perpetrators do not realise that petty thieving brings disproportionate upset and stress to the victim.  The stress is often out of all proportion to the value involved.  But in the case van and tool thefts it is the victim’s livelihood and the process of insurance claims it tedious and never full compensates.

Many retiring personnel from the Forces are highly skilled and a benefit to civilian society.  The current forces have the ability to direct a large resource to a civil emergency such as in the flooding in various parts of the country.

So my spending priority list starts with Defence and all aspects of Security and Civil Protection, offering more employment to young people in a great range of military and civil careers. 

We need to have defence & security services as our number one spending priority.  MoD housing must be fully modernised, stimulating the local economies and recognising the value of service personnel to the community.  We need to continue funding the supporting of hi-tech R&D and manufacture, which compensates for smaller numbers of manpower.