Britain’s armed forces no longer have the resources for a major war

Military insiders reckon we’ve lost a third of our capabilities in the last five years. What will Cameron do about that?

7 November 2015

9:00 AM

7 November 2015

9:00 AM

This Sunday, David Cameron will lay a wreath at the Cenotaph to commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice during two ruinous world wars. People will say ‘Never Again’ and Cameron will agree. But then, thanks to the drastic cuts he has made to the strength of our armed forces, the Prime Minister need not worry himself unduly about Britain’s involvements in any future conflicts. He need not gnash his teeth too much about MPs’ reluctance to back military intervention in Syria because, as matters stand, Britain would be unable to fight a major war even if it wanted to.

This would perhaps make sense in a time of great peace, but the world is not short on existential threats. Syria’s brutal civil war isn’t just a conflict between fanatical Sunni and Shia Muslim militias — the exponential growth of extreme Islamist groups such as Islamic State poses as much of a threat to the security of the West as it does to that of the Arab world. As Andrew Parker, MI5’s director-general, recently warned, Isis terrorists based in Syria — many of whom have UK passports — are actively planning mass-casualty attacks on the streets of Britain.

Then there is Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which is trying to flex its muscles on behalf of the beleaguered Bashar al-Assad. Russia’s intervention has confirmed what many of us have been saying for a year or more: you will not defeat Isis by air power alone.

Nor, during a scan for possible global threats, can we ignore George Osborne’s new Chinese chums in the People’s Liberation Army. Beijing’s apparent obsession with dominating the South China Sea has put it on a collision course with both Japan and the US. Washington has finally found the courage to confront China about this — but if China really is angling for a confrontation, which side will Mr Osborne choose? Our long-standing post-war allies, or his favoured nuclear energy providers?

These are just a few of the more visible threats we may face in the years ahead (and that’s without mentioning the Falklands), and yet Britain cannot right now respond in any meaningful military way. Our armed forces are so feeble as to be almost -irrelevant.

What did we do when Russia annexed Crimea? Downing Street dispatched 100 or so military advisers to Kiev to help train government forces. What did we do when Libya plunged, post-Gaddafi, into chaos? We deployed 300 non-combatant military personnel to South Sudan and Somalia.

It is a measure of just how far the stature of our armed forces has fallen in the past five years of cuts that our allies no longer talk of Britain deploying ‘boots on the ground’. They joke about us putting a few ‘sandals in the sand’.

We find ourselves in this parlous position largely because of the conclusions reached five years ago by the last government’s disastrous Strategic Defence and Security Review. The review was conducted on the naive assumption, presented in the government’s equally egregious National Security Strategy, that we faced no apparent threats to our security or national interests. It allowed the Tory/Lib Dem coalition to make the most drastic cuts to our defence budget for a generation.

The military has endured drastic cuts before. At the end of the Cold War, significant cuts were possible without losing fundamental military capabilities. But the problem with the 2010 review was that it prescribed significant cuts to military spending at a time when the defence budget was already under severe pressure as a consequence of New Labour’s ineptitude.

Tony Blair’s evangelical enthusiasm for military interventions was not matched by much extra money to pay for them. The real scandal of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts was the crippling equipment shortages that resulted in higher British fatality and casualty rates. The MoD’s efforts to plug these gaps by relocating funds from other programmes contributed to the infamous £37 billion black hole in defence spending that the Tories inherited when they came to power.

If balancing the books was, understandably, the previous government’s first priority on defence, the undisguised relish with which some ministers set about degrading Britain’s ability both to defend its interests and project power has had truly catastrophic consequences for our military capabilities.

The scrapping of the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft programme without any proper consideration of its likely replacement means that now, when Russian submarines try to monitor the activities of the Trident fleet in the North Sea, we have to beg the French to loan us one of their planes to patrol our territorial waters. Manning levels in the Royal Navy have reached the point where serious questions are being asked about its ability to crew both of the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, while cutting the number of soldiers by one fifth means the Army would struggle to replicate the division-strength deployments it managed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The general consensus in the military is that Britain has cut the strength of its armed forces by one third since the last strategic review. Officers talk about the military being ‘hollowed out’, so that while it still looks as though we have sufficient kit, our lack of personnel, lack of training and lack of readily available supplies mean our position is deceptive. If we ever needed the military to deploy in strength, the deployment would be unsustainable.

The question now is whether the new defence review — due later this month — will change anything. The Downing Street line is that now that the Tories enjoy an overall majority, Mr Cameron is personally invested in rebuilding Britain’s military standing. This is supposed to have been reflected in George Osborne’s announcement in his July budget that Britain would honour its Nato commitment to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence. That would be nice, but what will this 2 per cent figure amount to once Whitehall has undertaken its customary accounting skulduggery?

Oliver Letwin, for example, who is regarded as the ideological driving force behind the last parliament’s assault on our military infrastructure, is said to favour relocating a significant chunk of ‘defence spend’ to counter-terrorism operations — normally paid for by the combined budgets of MI6, MI5 and GCHQ. It’s whispered that military pensions, a significant cost that is usually separate from defence expenditure, could also now be included in it. Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, insists that Nato, not the UK government, will decide whether these clever accounting tricks meet alliance requirements.

The best indication of whether the Prime Minister actually plans to restore the fortunes of our armed forces is whether it looks as if he would actually deploy the armed forces in any meaningful fashion — and here things look less promising again, and not just because his MPs would rebel.

Mr Cameron provided a telling insight into how he sees the future of Britain’s involvement in overseas operations when he declared a preference for the extra funds to be spent on special forces and drones. It’s an alluring prospect — no squaddies in body bags; death delivered at a distance, risk-free. But as recent events in Syria and Iraq have shown, waging war by remote control only delivers marginal results. A year into the military campaign against Isis, in which the West has relied heavily on drones and special forces, Islamic State occupies more territory and boasts more followers than it did this time last year.

Relying on drones without useful intelligence on the ground can be highly counter-productive. In Afghanistan last month, a US drone hit what was supposed to be a Taleban stronghold in Kunduz, but turned out to be a hospital. Twenty-two innocent civilians were reported to have been killed and many more injured. This one drone disaster has been invaluable to Islamist groups across the world. Look what America does, they say — it kills the innocent and sick. Technology that was supposed to save innocent lives has ended up endangering far more.

We’re all wary of boots on the ground — but the truth is that sometimes the alternative is worse. Look at Libya, where Islamist militants have prospered as a direct result of the government’s refusal to deploy ground forces during the military campaign to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Although Mr Cameron was one of the cheerleaders for military intervention, he now behaves as though he would rather everyone forgot about his contribution to the creation of this lawless calamity.

It has fallen to Mr Putin to demonstrate that, while the West seems obsessed with waging war by remote control, there is no substitute for drawing on raw military power to achieve your goals. Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Crimea and perhaps even Damascus demonstrate what can be achieved through the application of force.

No one is suggesting Britain and its allies should embark on a campaign of conquest in central Europe and the Middle East. But if we are to prevent others from so doing, then we will need more than a few drones and special forces to protect our interests.

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Show comments
  • evad666

    Cameron is no doubt planning to outflank Corbyn.
    First you cut Maritime Patrol aircraft, then you cut the Missile boats, than the attack submarines and then major surface vessels.
    Then you move all the coastal protection vessels to the Mediterranean.

    • ViolinSonaten b minor.

      There really isn’t any need for the RAF any longer. Dining off glories from WW2 its basically
      a PR exercise and should be merged back with the two forces of which it sprang from .
      With the Army Air Corps, it really isn’t necessary anymore .
      The RAF has no other purpose but to be a traditional image and promotional exercise for the forces. That chap in the smart uniform standing by the aircraft in posters.

      • Wildflowers

        You really don’t know much about the military and how the three services work do you.

        • ViolinSonaten b minor.

          The RAF is a suffocating over-staffed bureaucracy, Indeed flying is
          done by all three services and the RAF owns about 80% of military
          aircraft currently. 37,000 people and a 7bn budget.
          Abolish the RAF with no loss of capacity ( saving 3bn a year).
          The same people flying the same aircraft under a different and better
          army and naval command, providing a more coherent/ centralised branch of the operational armed forces.
          The RAF’s ‘ bread and butter’ is the army so why shouldn’t it be part of the army.

          • flydlbee

            You are becoming a bore.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            There is a discussion to be had about military organisation, and aviation in particular, but you are possibly too hasty. Maybe you have a personal dislike of the RAF? I don’t know. Bear in mind Canada’s experiment with a unified defence force – which they had to dump…

        • Standish79

          Do anybody these days? It seems to me that actual military experience is now so rare that few have the real knowledge to challenge government plans. I don’t include our armchair army of planespotters and amateur war historians either, fascinating as the subject is.

  • Sunset66

    Don’t know what you are getting your knickers in a twist about . By the end of WW2 it became obvious British forces were a side show to the Americans.
    Fight a major war on our own? Not exactly likely that’s why we are in NATO
    The idea of putting boots on the ground in Syria is a very bad idea.
    Did you learn nothing in Iraq and Afghanistan.? Nobody wants foreign soldiers on their land

    The Shia will sort out and limit the growth of Isis. It’s a messy civil war leave them to it.

    • Gregory Mason

      We had to fight the Argies alone.

      • Sunset66

        Yup and we couldn’t do it now . It’s beyond GBs ability to fight a war on our own. It’s been that way for a while now
        Probably need to find another way or allies

        Shame for you gung ho armchair generals

      • MickC

        Not really. We had considerable assistance from the USA by way of intelligence. Despite the initial dithering, the US realised we were more important to them than Argentina. I think George Schultz got his knighthood for that help.

        • rtj1211

          Mrs Thatcher was more important to the Americans than Michael Foot, more like. The American banks wanted Big Bang and knew they wouldn’t get it unless Maggie won the next election. So they let her go to war to win it…..

          • MickC

            Now that IS an interesting point!

            Big Bang took trade from NY to London, which presumably they didn’t want. On the other hand, the non regulation in London effectively forced the USA to ditch Glass Steagall, which they did.

            Well worth further research, that one!

        • Malcolm Stevas

          There you go – and don’t forget the prompt supply of the latest “Lima”-type Sidewinder missiles which proved invaluable for our Sea Harriers to destroy a number of Argentine aircraft. I know that when UK officers vivited the Pentagon at the start of that crisis, they received a warm welcome and much encouragement.

  • Edward Studor

    The main enemy is here in Britain – viz Jeremy Corbyn and his merry Trotskyites, Islamists, pacifists and other assorted anti-British elements like Hope not Hate, Stop the War, and the UAF thugs.

    • jeremy Morfey

      Don’t count on it. In the past, Corbyn has always shouted from the fringes, denied any access to understanding what is really going on. Now he has been elevated to the front benches, which was seriously against the plan, which was to present an alternative option, he will have access to military intelligence files and must confront reality.

      He may well conclude, along with much of the military and indeed the author of this article, that the only effective way to maintain the peace he aspires to, is to support the armed forces in putting a stop to something far worse. Let’s hear what he has to say in response to the well-argued points made above. Cameron may well rubbish anything he says quoting Corbyn’s historic rhetoric, but it is the post-front-bench Corbyn I want to hear before I can judge him either way.

      One example of counter-intuitive leadership came to me in 1980. US President Carter was perhaps the most decent and righteous man ever to grace the White House, and has been flawless in his good works since leaving the White House. That summer, we were preparing for a “limited nuclear war” in Europe, and my father dug a nuclear shelter in the garden. The Soviet Union had just invaded Afghanistan, and Carter simply could not handle the dastardly intentions of the Commies and was preparing for the worst.

      Then there was an election. Standing against Carter was a warmongering gunslinging Hollywood cowboy, quite brazen and open about his malicious intentions against Russia. Having scratched his way through the most backstabbing profession in the world, he had no illusions about the goodness of human nature. We were all terrified he would get voted in and set off World War Three, which would be nuclear and terminal.

      Should we have worried? Under Reagan, the Cold War actually came to an end.

      • MickC

        Indeed, under Reagan the Cold War ended, but equally a hot war almost started. Able Archer rattled the Soviets so much they believed an attack was imminent.

        I believe it was Oleg Gordievsky, a very brave man, who reassured them otherwise.

      • rtj1211

        You’re making a very dangerous assumption that military intelligence files contain reality.

        They contain the ‘reality’ created to make politicians do what the unelected cabal want them to do.

        What we’ve learned from Iraq and the paedophile scandals is that the Security Services will do anything, say anything and tell whatever lies are necessary to retain autocratic, unelected control over political processes.

        We’ve certainly not learned that they were any good at their jobs – just look at 9/11 and 7/7 for God’s sake. Bumbling incompetence everywhere…….

  • Andrew Finn

    Sadly, this is what Cameron wants. He’s destroying our armed forces so he can say “we’re not big enough to make it on our own therefore we’ll have to sign up to an EU Army”.

    Personally I think we should be pumping more money into the RAF and Royal Navy, because most of our foreign adventures in recent years haven’t required troops (Somali pirates, Libya, Iraq, etc).

    Nuclear weapons, decent sized army, strong RAF and Navy should be enough to at least make it look like we could fight a war.

    • ViolinSonaten b minor.

      We need to be pumping more money into an amalgamated armed forces which
      includes the RAF as not a separate entity. As I said below a part of a coherent and
      centralised branch of the Armed Forces and not separate from the Army and Navy.

    • silent_pilot

      I question your assertion that: “most of our foreign adventures in recent years haven’t required troops”, Army Air Corps Apache helicopters were involved in Libya. http://www.army.mod.uk/aviation/27833.aspx Army personnel have been involved in training fighters to counter ISIS in Iraq. http://www.army.mod.uk/news/26934.aspx

      Involving the Army doesn’t necessarily mean ‘boots on the ground’. Nor does it necessarily mean large numbers.

    • Lawrence James.

      We signed up to European armies in the eighteenth century and against Bonparte. We have always needed allies and always will.

  • Zhang Wei

    Ho hum why all this self denial, lets just call a spade a spade….Britain is no longer a global power and is merely an economic and political lapdog of the Chinese or whatever nation it deems necessary to suck up to, get over yourselves.

    • Sunshine Sux

      Yes, the *cough cough* “Chinese”…..

  • John Brocklehurst

    The hospital in Kunduz was probably struck by a manned AC-130, not a drone. It happened during an active military operation to try and retake the city – it was called in by soldiers on the ground. It was quite literally the opposite of the situation you describe. I often notice this kind of error in your articles.

    I like that the lesson you’ve drawn from ‘recent experience’ in Iraq only goes back about a year. Go a few years further back – how did massive ‘boots on the ground’ presence do since 2003? It eventually achieved large gains but at a staggering cost which couldn’t be sustained.

    Drones and SF have their limits but they’re better than the alternative most the time.

    • EasyStreet

      It’s widely acknowledged that a manned AC-130 was responsible for Kunduz and was acting in defence of nearby troops. Coughlin is banging his usual pro-Army drum with little regard for the facts. The majority of civilian casualties in both Iraq and Afghaniatan were caused not by aircraft but by crossfire and IEDs, both consequences of the presence of our troops.

      As a further example, Afghanistan went pretty well while it was an “air power and SF” operation from 9/11 onwards. It was only when we sent in regular troops that it went badly wrong.

  • ViolinSonaten b minor.

    Dismantle the RAF as I’ve mentioned below a few times, they’ve been the Cinderella air
    power for far too long. The Army Air Corps and RAF becoming amalgamated would provide
    a more coherent/ centralised branch of the armed forces. Oh come on 7bn for the RAF alone
    a rather splendid pr recruiting exercise which would be better abolished.
    They cant dine off the Battle of Britain forever.
    But nothing can take away from the damage our governments have done to our armed services and most of all the loss of lives. We are vulnerable and our enemies are aware of that fact. Governments really should have left the military alone instead of playing soldiers
    and giving our foreign aid away to despotisms. And now the Armed Forces budget and Aid
    Budget might be combined as well.

    • flydlbee

      You would be better off sticking to your violin.

      • ViolinSonaten b minor.

        And you clearly have nothing to offer the debate. No comments ( apart from
        this ) and following a huge amount of people. Thank you for the valued insight.

        • flydlbee

          Once again, incorrect on all points. Go play your fiddle and leave matter of defence to people who understand it.

          I shudder to think of what might have happened if we had left air defence to the army in 1940; we would have lost the whole air force in France. The army do not think beyond the next hill, let alone strategically.

          • ViolinSonaten b minor.

            Oh dear o dear, WW2 was such along time ago and things have moved on since then and every part of the forces has pilots.

          • George

            ‘Once again, incorrect on all points.’

            This is an assertion without substantiation. Violin’s original post still requires refutation with logic and evidence.

          • ViolinSonaten b minor.

            Hello dear George. I am incorrect in all points, all of them ?
            They are only my opinions, I’m not an expert as you clearly are.
            I was just one of those who’d bandage you up and hold your hand in some warzone whist others with their varied expertize to the fighting.
            But if you’d like to point the correct way forward I am all ears.

          • George

            Hello Violin,

            I’m afraid you’ve got completely the wrong end of the stick. If you look at my post, it was in reply to flydlbee; I quoted him, not you. My intention was to criticuse flydlbee complete lack of rational argumentation in the way he addressed your original post.

            Indeed, I think what you said has a lot of merit, and raised some very interesting points.

          • ViolinSonaten b minor.

            I must apologise George, I misread your words. I am beginning to feel a little hypocritical. It was a ex RAF officer who taught me how to fly
            gliders. An excellent and patient chap but he’d understand my thoughts even if randomly produced.

          • George

            That’s quite alright, Violin. Obviously a heat of the moment thing.

            After consideration of your original post, I find myself agreeing with it. A nation’s military must be tailored for its domestic defence, overseas territorial strategic requirements, and a sanguine self-awareness of its contemporary geo-political status and ability to project power in overseas conflicts – possibly in that order of priority. With this in mind, surely the bulk of our military spending must be diverted to the Navy, Fleet Air Arm, and Royal Marines in order to better secure our coastline? This would facilitate both defence in British territorial waters, and an ability to create an all-arms Naval task force, should the need arise to protect the Falklands.

            Many thanks for your time.

          • ViolinSonaten b minor.

            Yes indeed. The days of dogfights in the sky are over. But there is another option for those who cant quite let go. The army already operates combat helicopters and Apache gunships and the navy operates harrier jets. Its possible for the army to have control over all
            helicopters, the Navy Fighter jets And the RAF as a smaller force providing transport for other services and operating unmanned drone aircraft.
            Although I myself would prefer the other option that you eloquently
            improved upon.

            Many thanks for your time, as well.

          • silent_pilot

            You say “leave matter of defence to people who understand it”. Then you make statements like this: “The army do not think beyond the next hill, let alone strategically.”.Demonstrating clearly, that you know nothing yourself.

          • flydlbee

            You are sitting on a ship in the Western Approaches and you call for air cover. What will the Army do? send a Gazelle?. Check the polarity of your P-tube pump, I think you’ve got it reversed.

          • silent_pilot

            A rather facetious argument using the Western Approaches as an example, don’t you think? This is not 1941, so would you care to elaborate on your perceived threat in that area?

            It shows how out of touch and uninformed you are by wishing to task the Army for something more appropriate to the RN, and then quoting Gazelle as your preferred option. For starters, there are very few left in service. Secondly, you wouldn’t send a single engine helicopter over open water un-escorted (I happen to have been a passenger in one crossing the English Channel once). Third, it is unarmed; which, presumably, defeats the whole purpose of deploying anything in the first place.

            Perhaps you should “leave matter (sic) of defence to people who understand it”?


          • flydlbee

            I regret you do not appreciate my irony. The RAF was created because the Army did not have the vision that was necessary to develop the new arm.

            I would certainly not leave defence to you and your stream of lefty personal insult.

          • silent_pilot

            Ha! Lefty insults? Says the person who wrote: “Check the polarity of your P-tube pump, I think you’ve got it reversed.” That, as I see it, is telling me that I am full of urine.

            “I regret you do not appreciate my irony.” There is no irony to be appreciated and you need to get with the program, the RAF’s glory days are long over. They haven’t done anything of significance since 1940, and that appears to be where you are stuck. Either that or 1918. The real irony is that the world has moved on a long way since then.

            You keep bigging them up fella, because for every ‘success’ you can cite, I can cite at least one example (often from bitter personal experience) of where they have been proved to be lacking, or the team I have been with, have dug them out of the sh*t. It even took the useless f*ckers 5 days, from arriving at Brize Norton for my flight, to get me out to the Gulf in 2003. It doesn’t matter where: exercises in the UK, Norway, Oman or Operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. This is one of my favourites: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/raf-left-red-faced-after-mounting-1054547

          • flydlbee

            I stand by my previous remarks – all of them.

          • silent_pilot

            You do that. Do bear in mind that unless you delete your posts, they will be here for all to see. What a legacy!

          • flydlbee

            So will yours. What happened? Did the RAF turn you down so you had to join the Army? Pitiful, absolutely pitiful.

          • silent_pilot

            Indeed you are. Such a shame: you could have made something of yourself.

          • flydlbee

            Ha! I thought so! The RAF turned you down.

          • silent_pilot

            You make a strange assumption that it would ever occur to me to join the RAF. It was only ever a choice between the Army and the Navy. I have standards!

    • rtj1211

      Really, why are we vulnerable but nations like Norway and Switzerland not so?

      Could it be that they don’t go around the world killing people, so they don’t have enemies that want to kill them??

      There’s nothing uniquely attractive about Britain as a place to invade….it must be due to the need to exact revenge.

      Wouldn’t you agree that stopping giving reasons for revenge might be a sensible strategy??


      You do raise a good point. There probably is good case to be made to lowering the status of the RAF relative to the other services. This is because today we don’t talk about land battles or sea battles we instead air-land battles and air-sea battles. Both army and navy need air defence and air support to carry out their roles. So if that is the case why would you need a 3rd service which controls all the air assets. Wouldn’t the navy operate aircraft at sea better than a land based service? Why doesn’t the army own and operate all its battlefield helicopters? Having the end users operate their assets would definitely lead to efficiencies, improvements and likely cost savings. Unlike the Army Air Corps How many NCO’s fly RAF helicopters?
      However there is an argument to suggest that the role of large air transport and also UK air defence would be better placed in an independent air service since they are specialisations which fall outside the natural arc of the other two services. Also the role of strategic air power would also naturally fall under the realm of an independent air arm. But since we don’t operate long range bombers or own long range, land based missiles its a moot point when we consider the UK.

      On balance whilst I don’t think we should abolish the RAF I do think that we need to reduce it’s political importance when making decisions about air power. The RAF should give up its hegemony of control for provisioning air power and instead devolve that responsibility to the other 2 services in the circumstance where the other 2 services could manage their air power assets better. Let the army choose what battlefield helicopters it wants and how it deploys them. Let the Royal Navy operate the aircraft it requires on its aircraft carriers instead of just deploying a token force. There is a role for the RAF in the future but it’s a lesser one that it currently holds. At the moment it seems very much like it’s the tail wagging the dog when it comes to resource decisions. We would probably get better defence outcomes for Britain if the RAF realised that it no longer one of the heads but is instead only the tail.

    • Lawrence James.

      One should never leave the generals to their own devices: the result was the reinforcement of failure at the Somme and Passchendaelem both of which the High Command thought were. good ideas. Why else did Churchill insist on tight control over his generals ?

    • Violin Sonata.

      I’ll stick by this

    • Violin Sonata

      As I said.

  • Toy Pupanbai

    ‘A major war.
    Did she say a, ‘meaningful war’?
    We need a decent Coastal Command in the air and on the water!

  • MickC

    Coughlin, as ever, mentions “existential” threats, but does not actually specify any which are realistic.

    The only “existential” threat of recent times was the USSR. It no longer exists, and Russia does not pose a similar threat.

    • Malcolm Stevas

      I wonder exactly how confident you are about that.

      • MickC


        • Malcolm Stevas

          Interesting. Do you have inside information, a hotline to the Kremlin? Russia might not represent the same strategic threat as at the height of the Cold War, but it still has huge military forces and an array of ICBMs. Russian military aircraft continue to probe the fringes of our airspace. The USSR is no more, but Russia would still seem to be a threatening sort of regime.

          • MickC

            With respect, I don’t believe your sarcasm is necessary, or polite.

            Yes, Russia has large military forces and ICBMs. However, it is totally incapable of taking and holding territory where it is not already ensconced, such as the Crimea, where it acted to protect its Black Sea port. It simply does not have the resources or economic power to do so. Why on earth would it seek to do it?

            Having helped the West during the Iraq War, it then saw NATO extend eastwards, contrary to a previous understanding. It has seen an elected Ukrainian President overturned and replaced by an American puppet. Russia has good reason for concern. Hence the military forces.

            The USA intends to become and remain the global hegemon, and will use its economic clout to do so. It will fail, as all empires do, but as it fails, it will cause huge damage. It already is, such as the Syria debacle, and enormous population transfers that entails.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Somebody has to be the “global hegemon”: historically, times were most peacable when there was solid peacekeeping by someone or other, whether the Roman Empire or indeed the British Empire, and nastiest when there was no clearcut ruler but a tangle of squabbling rivals… I’m happier with the USA being the “global hegemon” rather than, say, China, Russia… Russia is historically paranoid over what it thinks, arrogantly enough, are mere buffer states such as the Ukraine or Poland (historically under Imperial Russian suzerainty): there seems, really and truly, little likelihood of the fearsome NATO armies rolling ruthlessly Eastwards to squash the Russkis… What is happening is that European states formerly under the domination of a semi-Asiatic Russia are falling over themselves to reject the embrace of the hated Bear, and join the West, with which they see themselves justly as far more closely aligned.
            Such countries dominated previously by Russia would disagree very vehemently with your suggestion that that country is “totally incapable of taking and holding territory where it is not already ensconced”: they know differently, to their cost.

          • MickC

            A number of points:
            No, there does not have to be one global hegemon. Neither the Roman nor British Empires were single global hegemons. There were in each case other powers.

            The USA’s attempt at hegemony has created instability, not stopped it. The Middle East was stable prior to the Iraq War, which was the start of the Wolfovitz Doctrine and the attempt at hegemony.

            No, there is little chance of NATO “rolling eastwards to squash the Russkis”. There is every chance of a puppet president “inviting NATO” to assist by stationing troops in his country. You may recall that Georgia, having bated the Bear and been duly bitten sought help from NATO. Happily, that did not happen.

            Indeed Russia is paranoid, as you point out for historical reasons. Best then not to fuel that paranoia by ill judged actions.

            Of course Russia wants buffer states; that is common sense for historical reasons. It is not arrogance at all.

            As I recall, the Russians most certainly were ensconced in the east European states at the end of the Second World War, having destroyed three quarters of the German army to do so, in extremely bitter and cruel fighting, much to the benefit of the

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Buffer states against whom? I see no latter day equivalent of Napoleon or Hitler itching to roll across the steppes to invade Moscow.
            In their day, both the Roman and British empires had hegemony to a large extent, with military forces unmatched by most.
            I’m rather grateful for the USA’s dominance post-WW2. Rather them than the USSR, or China, or anyone else really.

          • MickC

            Of course Russia doesn’t need buffer states from our viewpoint; it is different from theirs. They shed too much blood for it not to be.

            Rome did not conquer Germania, or the East. The British Empire was in competition with the French, the German and the Russian empires, not to mention latterly the American empire. There was no single hegemonic power.

            The USA’s post WW2 dominance was inevitable, and reasonably benign compared with the alternatives, certainly. I think an accomodation with the USSR could have been achieved after Stalin’s death, but was scuppered by Dulles. That would certainly have benefited the UK which was spending too much on defence when it needed to concentrate on exportable goods.

            My main concern is the post Cold War

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Yes, I know a little bit of history myself, thanks. The key words are “reasonably benign”: surely as much as one can hope for from a hegemonic power. In fact from a UK viewpoint, while there are some serious questions to be asked about the US’s loyalty toward us at certain times, that country generally proved significantly better than “reasonably” benign toward us. You are far too optimistic about the possibilities of accommodation with the USSR, a paranoid tyranny run by an oligarchy of geriatric gangsters. I prefer cock-up theory, rather than any intention by the USA to to produce “mayhem”.

          • MickC

            I don’t recall suggesting you didn’t know a little bit of history; as always with history it is the interpretation which is important. Mine differs considerably from yours.

            The USA has no loyalty whatsoever towards us, nor should it have or the UK expect it. Countries do not have friends, only interests. Occasionally those interests coincide. I do not think they do now. Having the USA as undisputed topdog will be just as unpleasant as having any other great power; its interests will be pursued singlemindedly. When there is a potential challenger, the interests of others must be considered. Competition is a wonderful thing to keep people grounded.

            Whatever the character or age of the Soviet leaders, they were rational, and fairly cautious men, not prone to overplay their hand, or make provocative moves. The same could hardly be said about JFK, who particularly liked brinkmanship. So I believe an accommodation could have been reached in the 50s. The USSR would still have collapsed at some time, if it did not change enough.

            My fear is that the present mayhem is precisely what the Neocons want. Even if it is just cock-up, it demonstrates poor judgment, which is resulting in major crises.

            You and I will just have to agree to disagree, I think.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Please re-read my comment that there are “serious questions to be asked” about the USA’s “loyalt”: I have always questioned facile suggestions that we are automatic allies and that their interests are ours. It is simply the case that whether you like it or not, generally some power or other will be top dog or nearly so. I feel far more comfortable with that power being the USA than any other likely contender. It really is not “just as unpleasant” as, say, Russia, or China, or whoever. And it’s rather too easy to claim that the USSR would have collapsed anyway. I share neither your pessimism about the USA, nor your optimism about the fall of the USSR…

          • rtj1211

            Well cock-up theory it may be, but if you produce cock-ups, there have to be consequences and those consequences have to be curtailment of hegemonic power.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Who is going to curtail the “hegemonic power” of the USA or any other global hegemony? Power abhors a vacuum: get rid of the USA and you might regret bitterly whoever takes its place… When the Romans abandoned Britain it didn’t exactly lead to sweetness and light.

          • JoeCro

            The United States is by no means perfect but far far better than any of the alternatives.

          • Lawrence James.

            Britain’s hegemony was naval: when she had to fight Russia in 1854, China in 1859, she relied on French assistance, and when another war with Russia seemed likely in 1877, it looked to Austria-Hungary. This is so often forgotten, particularly by the peddlers of the UKIP-style history and those who imagine that the mantra ‘boots on the ground’ will solve everything, everywhere.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            Not sure exactly what point you’re aiming at. And whose cultural dominance might you prefer to America’s – ?

          • Lawrence James.

            Not that of Hollywood and the meretricious, commercialised US entertainment industry aimed at the the lowest intelligence in some mid-Western town, If you want to know more glance down this or any evening’s TV schedules. Better still, listen to the speeches and watch the rallies of Trump and his ilk.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            No thanks – I think Trump is a buffoon, and hardly watch TV at all. I’m still mildly curious about whose cultural dominance you might prefer..?

          • Enri d’Aith

            The challenge is not to be prepared for existential threats but threats that could easily arise in the future. It takes up to 30 years to design, build, train for and deploy modern weapons systems and, in this time, we might face threatsGood defnces that today seem impossible. Good defences are, in one way, like an insurance policy – you don’t need one until you need one. They are, however, different from an insurance policy in that they often prevent the need.

          • Lawrence James.

            One doesn’t need a hotline to the Kremlin: just read some Russian history. Putin is following a traditional Czarist policy of secure borders in the west, from which Russia’s troubles have always come – as in 1812 and 1941. He also seeks internal security, particularly against Muslim insurgency and instability on Russia’s frontiers with the Middle East. Hence,the belated support for an ally, Syria, and the protection on naval facilities on the Syrian coast. Perfectly rational and, dare I say it, admirable.

          • Malcolm Stevas

            For countries unbfortunate enough to border Russia, that’s where their troubles have tended to come from.

    • Jabez Foodbotham

      I think ‘existential threats’ is just jargon when used by old Con. He no sooner lists them than he downgrades them to ‘more visible threats’. What’s in a name?

      • MickC

        Yes, Con is a Cold Warrior who doesn’t realise the winter is over!

        The main problem now is not “existential”, but various nasty, high profile groups on the periphery of UK interests. These cannot be countered by UK military action.

        The irony is that these groups have been created by the USA in pursuit of the Wolfowitz Doctrine, a doctrine which cannot succeed because it is opposed by China.

        I just wish the UK wouldn’t continually be America’s streetwalker. It is demeaning and unprofitable….except for America.

        • Lawrence James.

          Yes: that is Couglin’s vintage, blended with Victorian jingoism.

  • Malcolm Stevas

    “..the Prime Minister need not worry himself unduly about Britain’s involvements in any future conflicts”
    I’d have thought running down our military capacity to the extent that “Britain would be unable to fight a major war even if it wanted to” was more likely – not less likely – to result in the sort of violent provocation that can only be countered by a military response. And we won’t be able to respond to it.
    There have always been legions of folk protesting that wars are just so yesterday, and armed forces are a waste of money. This connects directly with for example the shrill anti-Trident Left, who say nukes could never be used anyway; it connects with Cameron’s enthusiasm for greater reliance on drones, Special Forces and surveillance – an enthusiasm echoed by some here; and it connects with soothsayers and crystal-ball experts who have, apparently since the dawn of humanity, been able to tell us what sort of military threat we are to face, or not, and how it might be countered – or not.
    So when we hear there are “no apparent threats to our security or national interests” reach for your rifle and prepare for mobilisation, ‘cos once more we’re going to war and caught with our pants down.
    The PM might look at the infamous 1957 White Paper by Duncan Sandys – under a Conservative administration. It propagated the ludicrous fantasy that wars were going to be fought by guided missiles, so manned aircraft were almost obsolete. The Paper’s section on R&D for instance, includes this:
    In view of the good progress made towards the replacement of the manned aircraft of Fighter Command with a ground-to-air guided missile system, the RAF is unlikely to have a requirement for fighter aircraft of types more advanced than the supersonic P.1 and work on such projects will stop.
    It has been suggested credibly that this White Paper represents the single biggest blow to the UK’s aviation industry, ever, causing irreparable damage. And in so doing, it damaged our military capacity as well as our economy.
    One hopes that Cameron is unwilling to for history to show that he is to blame in similar degree for our future capacity to defend ourselves.

  • BFS

    To have a strong or a weak army is not the question. The problem Britain has is the same as America’s – they simply don’t know what to do with it. They became relativists lose cannons. They bark loudly and are weak morally.

    They go to war for no reason, kill millions. Overthrow secular governments, where there was freedom of religion and women were respected – illegally and with no discernment. They help the extremists and displace millions with their left hand and fight the same extremists with their right hand.

    All in the name of democracy a concept they have no understanding of. All supported by belligerent idiots like the author of this article.

    • rtj1211

      Yes, but the arms industry donors to all parties win every time, don’t they?? The more wars, the more arms sales. The more dictators, the more coups. Great for arms dealers, isn’t it?

      Thing I’ve never understood is why the arms dealers don’t have to fund the wars….

      • Malcolm Stevas

        Yeah, those Blue Meanies who really run the world…

    • Malcolm Stevas

      Christ, this reads like a bad teenage summary of early-’60s Dylan protest songs.

  • Bahamas97x

    The real truth is that the weakness of our military only reflects our general weakness as a nation. Ultimately it all comes down the individuals in this country – each and every one of us.

    For decades we have chosen to spend money on anything but defence. Foreign aid, benefits, old age pensions, the equality and grievance industry and on and on and on.

    In addition we have pursued policies for decades that guarantee that national unity in the face of external threats will become ever more impossible. How can we pursue any sort of policy in the Middle East when the Muslim vote can swing the general election? How can we use military force when every action is plagued by scum lawyers using laws passed by our own government?

    Face it – YOU voted for this. Or YOU failed to vote against it. The people get the government they deserve. You’ve had your chances. Now you must pay the price.

    • Wessex Man

      Face it- four million people voted for a partty that would have increased defense spending and the rest of the country chose to believe the disgusting lies told about that party by the Tories and Labour. Believe nothing that slithers out of Cameron’s mouth.

    • Roger Hudson

      By 1944 Britain had about four million men under arms, for real existential threats civilians put on uniforms and fight, the regulars are really just the cadre.

  • AlexanderGalt

    It’s not only the military. The country is now hollowed out.

  • tracy

    Couple of points.
    1. If it turns out that the recent airline crash from Egypt was ISIS then watch how fast Russia goes in and Mr Putin won’t pither about waiting for pieces of paper from the U.N.

    2. Our military capability is in a sorry state if there were another threat like Hitler no way would we have the capability to defend ourselves, it is shameful what successive Labour and now a Tory government is doing. Why should a man or woman who is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country be paid less than a teacher, a nurse or a Doctor and whats more not be provided with the equipment or the uniforms to do their job? . Unfortunately the NHS is now this countries religion and everything else must be sacrificed to preserve the out moded monolith which it is. Cowardly successsive parliaments refuse to confront the population and tell them the facts which are. We have no true protection or security for our country, we have insufficient police protection, and why? because most of the money and (its still not enough, or ever will be) is being sucked up by the NHS, Soldiers can’t strike and we don’t value them until we need them. Well guess what? they are’nt going to be there when we do and we will have to rely upon the kindness of the Russians to fight our battles for us.

    • MickC

      1. If it was a bomb then it could have been a number of culprits, including the USA. The USA backs IS via Saudi Arabia and was mightily displeased at Russian support for Assad. This serves as a suitable warning of adverse consequences to Russia.

      2. There won’t be another threat like Hitler. In fact, Germany got lucky in the Battle of France, much to everyone’s surprise, including Hitler, who recognised it as such and put out peace feelers.

      Our armed forces should be used to protect the UK and its interests. Who rules the Middle East is not a UK interest.

      • rtj1211

        Ah, but it is an interest of donors of the Conservative Party. And Charles Moore, that renowned democrat at the DT, is purring at our renewed relations with dictatorial monarchies who embrace slavery as a key plank of their economic business plans……

        • Roger Hudson

          Con, from the DM, has always been an MoD/SIS cheerleader, he always writes rubbish.

    • Wessex Man

      You have truly hit the nail on the head.

    • rtj1211

      I”m afraid this country’s religion is not the NHS but the derivatives trading nonsense in the City.

      No-one can address all the losses in the City of London because we always have to bail them out and let them feed themselves when they win, instead of paying us dividends for letting them stay in the game.

    • Roger Hudson

      I understand Hitler didn’t plan to threaten Britain until 1943, stupid UK politicians started the war early.

  • Fraser Bailey

    What will he do? Shrink it even further, I expect. But there been no lack of spending on the military. It is just that, as with all areas of public expenditure, the waste is off the scale.

  • 42ndRHR

    Britain does not require large ground forces. If they did assemble larger ground forces they would be likely to be once again misused in coalition with the American’s as they stumble from one fecklessly conceived military failure to another in the Middle East.

    It must be remembered that the United States has a tradition earned since Viet Nam of general failure in its larger missions. Why Britain would want to use its forces as merely ‘Hessians’ for one feckless military adventure after another?

    Britain could never supply enough military power even by doubling the British Army’s size to earn a strong say in strategic direction with the United States. Britain’s military contributions to America’s wars are merely considered by the USA convenient auxiliaries for American objectives not necessarily British objectives.

    • Davedeparis

      In 2008 everybody, including Joe Biden of Iraq Study Group fame, and a Mr B Obama were busy celebrating the US success (actually their assistance of the Iraqi success) in Iraq as a great achievement. They were right, which makes throwing it away by not giving the Iraqis the after sales service in terms of comprehensive air cover and trainers they deserved exactly like the RSVN, so tragic. Essentially there was nothing inevitable about either outcomes but were achieved by political leadership determined to embrace failure.

    • MickC

      Yes, I agree with you.

      However, it is worth pointing out that the USA has not actually had a true military success since WW2, Korea having been, shall we say “mixed”, at best…

      • 42ndRHR

        Korea was a stalemate and sometimes stalemates can be sort of a victory. It certainly was for South Korea but not for North Korea. It definitely served China’s interest in keeping American forces away from China’s immediate border.

        • MickC

          Indeed, but, of course, MacArthur got well and truly beaten when he tried to “liberate” North Korea, so a bit of a loss in prestige terms for the USA, regrettably.

      • Castro Spendlove

        Don’t forget the glorious victory over the mighty Panama and how Noriega was forced from his bolt-hole with the fiendish ’24 hour Tina Turner’ weapon.

    • Wessex Man

      Yes yes yes but what on earth does that admittly justified rant about the Yanks have to do with our defense of the Realm and the fact that British PMs love to play war games as well, I don’t remember any Yanks fighting in Lybia, Cameron managed to create another IS there all on his own.

      Our troops are worn out and ready to quit and this halfwit Cameron gushes nonsense, as per usual and why our wars are always long and costly because it takes us years to recover.

    • vieuxceps2

      “fecklessl miltary failures” Yes, sorry to say this but our armed forces have become inept almost to the point of cowardice. Their presence in the Middle East and Aghanistan has illuminated their inefficiency and lack of fighting spirit, whether on land or in the Gulf. A shameful chapter in the story of our military,not helped by the bumbling parsimony of the MoD and the politicians of all parties. Maybe we should simply have a Defence Force and Coastguard Force and accept that we no longer have the money,the men or the inclination to interfere in overseas politics, especially when we have made hostages of ourselves by importing so many potential enemies.

      • Malcolm Stevas

        “Lack of fighting spirit” is I suggest not just libellous but an absurd travesty. Our forces remain of a quality higher than we deserve, but they are let down every time by a political class that holds them in contempt and which never takes a long term view of defence procurement.

        • vieuxceps2

          I ,son of a soldier,am the last to wish to slander or libel our armed forces and I take no pleasure at all in what I wrote. We should however face the fact that the last campaigns fought by our servicemen have been abject failures. Whatever the auses of this, we cannot dismiss low morale as a possible factor.which,in the end leads to low battlefield performance. If my thoughts have spurred you and others to think about these things, then I will be gratified. Only by accepting the existence of a problem can we begin to solve it.

        • starfish

          Forgive him he knows not of what he speaks

        • EasyStreet

          The unfortunate truth is that political imperatives made avoidance of “own force” casualties more important than achievement of military objectives in both Iraq and Afghanistan. To see our soldiers patrolling at a snail’s pace as they checked for IEDs and booby traps was to see them reduced to militarily-ineffective political window-dressing. Of course each individual soldier, and even each unit requires courage and fighting spirit to go on patrol. But at a national level, the constraints our forces operated under demonstrated a loss of nerve. I emphasise again – collective, not individual.

      • starfish

        And you know this how?

        • vieuxceps2

          I know this by accepting reality.

          • JoeCro

            The retreat from Basra and needing the Americans to bail out UK forces in Sangin Province Afghan are the 2 most recent examples. Shameful episodes in the history of the British army.

          • Lawrence James.

            Good sense: why throw away lives in such a futile cause.

      • Lawrence James.

        Why should the British Tommy feel the same enthusiasm fighting for American expansionism as did fighting Germans, Pathans, Zulus &c.?

        • vieuxceps2

          Today’s British soldier is a professional paid man who joined the services as a job or a career if you like. What should he care for the politics behind the battle? Your “American expansionism” is as unknown to him as it is to everyone except those with a lefty agenda.

          • Lawrence James.

            It is all too well known to Iraqis and Afghans. And also to those Americans who talk about ‘the American century’ with its implications of world hegemony. As a Tory, I find this disturbing.

      • Roger Hudson

        Individual soldier didn’t lack fighting spirit. It was always political so-called ‘leaders’ who misused the forces , as usual.

        • vieuxceps2

          No.I’m sure they did not,but the outcomes from their engagement with enemies was not good for them or for our country. I’m aware that leaders and politicians were a hindrance rather than a help. The fact remnains that our armed services have not produced the results needed. We must find out why and put it right. That is my purpose in raising the matter, not to denigrate our forces. Especially today.

      • flydlbee

        Our armed forces were hamstrung by their rules of engagement, which were composed by “Yuman Rights” lawyers and politicians in London.

    • EasyStreet

      “Britain does not require large ground forces”. Amen to that! Our most celebrated general, Wellington, thought nothing of co-opting or even hiring continental armies when he needed more troops. The current British force structure is a historical anomaly resulting from the Cold War and the stationing of our troops in West Germany as a deterrent to the Soviets; the logic of our geography and reliance on international trade suggests that, in the absence of a credible threat of continental domination by any single power, we should place much more emphasis back on the Navy and RAF.

      A recurring problem with standing armies is that someone always feels compelled to get “value for money” by actually using them!

      • Roger Hudson

        The two expeditionary armies sent to France ,1914 and 1939, were a great waste of lives and treasure. Don’t get involved in other peoples wars.

  • Davedeparis

    The consistent historical feature of defensive estimates is that they have always been wrong. This is because as inconvenient as it may be, the enemy always has a vote. It is distressing that the military ambition of successive British Governments has grown whilst shrinking the defense forces thus resulting in both strategic over-reach and needless death. When HMG needs a cash injection in order to finance welfare they ought to start snipping away from the luvvies at the Beeb instead of thinking of defense as a bottomless pit of cost free money.

    The point of a reasonably sized, full spectrum defense force is to keep small wars small and to stop big wars from happening at all. Britain still has an enormous role to play in keeping the peace of the world and can do things the US can’t. More than many British people I think realize it is the clue that holds the 5 powers together.

  • Davedeparis

    Just having listened to Tom Tugenhat on the podcast I’d just like to add that I find his casual acceptance of a defacto French veto over all UK operations simply hair raising.

  • trace9

    “.. The emphasis has shifted away from military training ..” – Thus, the Navy of the Future – & in Belfast, the most feisty part of the jolly old UK. Doomed? – likely!

  • Gilbert White

    We have the world’s largest army of chancers, spongers and general wasters.

  • uberwest

    I suspect that Commieron will settle for a combined EU army.

    • Wessex Man

      It’s part of his deal for staying in.

      • JoeCro

        The security of Europe would be gaurunteed!

  • MrJones

    He won’t do anything (except cut it more) because he’s a Europhile who wants an EU army.

    If you want any kind of capable sovereign defense force then Britain has to replace the Europhile political class and get out of the EU.

    • vieuxceps2

      Defence,rather than defense. We do not need to follow America in every way, do we?

      • Roger Hudson

        Depends on the noun or adjective usage in British English, America just has the ‘s’ word.

        • vieuxceps2

          Not so. Only one way to spell it in English, that’s defence.

          • Violin Sonata


  • Sue Smith

    Here’s an idea; TELL EVERYBODY.

  • wilsonyorks

    Here are some interesting figures out about the UK’s standing in the world and in the light of current international situation they make interesting reading in light of the forth coming SDSR.

    In a ‘Soft Power’ index released the information earlier this year the UK is No.1. ‘Soft power’ is a concept developed by Joseph Nye of Harvard University to describe the ability to attract and co-opt rather than coerce, use force or give money as a means of persuasion. Details can be read at: http://www.portland-communications.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/The-Soft-Power-30_press-release.pdf.

    When it comes to ‘Hard Power’ the UK is No.2 following research carried out at European Geostrategy. The United States took the top slot as the world’s only Super Power, while Britain took the only Global Power slot, bringing her in second behind America. The Regional Powers include France, China, India, Russia and Germany, while Local Powers were those such as Italy, Brazil, and Turkey.Further details can be read at: https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/study-finds-uk-is-second-most-powerful-country-in-the-world.

    In addition I read that the SDSR will probably include the purchase of 6-12 Maritime Patrol Aircraft to replace the cancelled
    Nimrod MR4 they will probably be the Poseidon (P-8), the keeping of Tranche 1 Typhoons (to keep up fighter numbers) and in addition to the recent small additional order for Lightening II (F-35B) aircraft that therewill be a long-term plan for between 90 and 138 aircraft for operation by joint RAF/RN squadrons so that the number of Lightening II aircraft will vary depending on the role of that our carriers are operating.

    • starfish

      Well if the RAF does get the P8 it will be the aircraft they wanted rather than being forced by politicians to select an ‘upgraded’ nimrod at ruinous expense and cancellation

    • flydlbee

      We desperately need a Nimrod replacement, and the Poseidon seesms to be the least bad option.

  • NotYouNotSure

    “Isis terrorists based in Syria — many of whom have UK passports”

    That is the major threat right there, what is the point of having a large military if anyone can enter Britain if they want.


    Defence is a strong issue for the Conservatives just as long as they don’t listen to the Letwin’s of this world and cut defence capabilities to spend money on other more “politically correct areas” like foreign aid or the NHS. If they stay strong on defence they can use their strength on this issue to perpetually nail Corbyn to the floor. If however their policies lead to further losses in capabilities then Corbyn can just point back at them and say “yes I am weak on defence but the Conservatives are too…but at least I’m honest about it.” This SDSR is an opportunity to fix the mistakes of the last treasury lead review. Not only can it regenerate some lost defence capabilities but it is also a fantastic opportunity to exploit the huge hole that exists in Labour’s defence policy. My personal shopping list for SDSR is:
    i) Retain the Tranche 1 Typhoons and use them for the UK air defence role. Thus allowing the later model Typhoons to replace Tornado as it retires. Otherwise as Tornado retires the number of our Fastjet squadrons is going to fall again.
    ii) Regeneration of some sort of maritime patrol aircraft capability.
    iii) Commitment to buy all 13 Type 26 Frigates
    iv) Retention of the first 3 River Class offshore Patrol Vessels as an addition to the 3 X new ones that are being built as part some “keep BAe ship yards busy programme”.
    v) Commitment to purchase an inital tranche of 48x F35B Join Strike Fighters. With a strategy of buying more at a later stage once the new Squadrons come online.
    vi) Dedicate 3 X Squadrons of F35B’s to Fleet Air Arm use on the new Carriers. Specialisation is a wonderful thing. But difficult to do when the RAF wont let you have your shiny new air-planes for most of the year.

    • EasyStreet

      We are buying too few F35s to have them “specialised” for using from a carrier. They are being bought as attack aircraft, hence the term “Carrier Strike”. Where they take off from is immaterial to the actual conduct of an attack mission. Granted there is a requirement for a certain amount of time at sea so that the aircrew and ship’s company can maintain the requisite level of competence in embarked operations, but with the aircraft having been specifically designed to be much easier to fly than the old Harrier, there is no reason to think that particular “specialisation” is needed. I would much rather expensive flying hours be spent training for combat or achieving some useful diplomatic effect than practising take offs and landings.

      If we start using F35s to provide dedicated air defence for the carrier, we are well into “self-licking-lollipop” territory. We have spent gazillions on destroyers and early warning aircraft for defensive purposes. If a significant proportion of the carrier’s output is dedicated to protecting itself, it would be better for it not to be there in the first place. (Otherwise I agree with your shopping list!)

    • Roger Hudson

      We have pathetic anti-aircraft missile systems (as shown at the Olympics) only ship based missiles have any decent range. We should buy some of the new Russian D400s.

      • flydlbee

        What is the nature of the threat that would justify that?

        • Malcolm Stevas

          For when we need to fight an opponent armed with modern aircraft. There are quite a few potential ones of those. We do not know when it might happen. This seems simple enough.

          • abgood

            Modern aircraft? are you referring to the Manchurian Chancellor’s new best friends in Beijing? Now that they own much of the country’s strategic infrastructure foreign policy and defence planning become ever so reassuringly simple.

          • John Brocklehurst

            That’s what we have the RAF for? Britain has higher priorities than a ground based IADS and would never buy the S-400 for both political and technical reasons.

  • JoeCro

    Trident has to go, it will suck much needed funding from the conventional forces vital for defence. Trident is a luxury the UK can no longer afford.

    • smoke me a kipper

      Britain is a rich country. We can afford Trident and conventail forces. It’s just a question of priorities.

    • Lawrence James.

      Trident is a vital necessity in a world where more and more powers ( eg Iran and Saudi Arabia ) will possess nuclear weapons

  • Peter Gardner

    The reason Cameron defers to parliamentary votes for intervention in Syria is not some fundamental respect for democracy but because its probable vote against military action will save him from exposure of his deplorable destruction of Britain’s defence capability and his ineptitude in developing anything resembling effective national foreign policy or supporting strategies.

    • Roger Hudson

      Syria was a non-extreme country before the ‘Arab Spring’ which was always a US neocon globalisation profit strategy,iPad waving idiots who would have got nowhere without CIA support.

    • Roger Hudson

      Syria was a non-extreme country before the ‘Arab Spring’ which was always a US neocon globalisation profit strategy,iPad waving idiots who would have got nowhere without CIA support.

  • Lawrence James.

    Britain has always had a relatively small army. During the imperial era it depended heavily on Indian, Dominion and Colonial troops and,when major European crises occurred as in 1914 and 1939, the country used volunteers and conscripts. What reason is there to enlarge the army today ? To provide America with mercenaries to enforce its unofficial empire in the Middle East and Afghanistan ? Or to shake a fist at Putin when he adopts Czarist policies to protect his frontiers or assert his legitimate control over the Crimean ? What British interests are served by these so obviously foredoomed enterprises? Our moment in the MIddle East ended at Suez nearly sixty years ago, something of which Coughlin seems utterly unaware. The army’s budget should be further cut and the money spent on the RAF and the navy, including the Trident submarines’. Both have been will remain vital to our security. We are after all, an island. Or has Coughlin also forgotten this.

    • Roger Hudson

      Our ‘moment in the ME ended at Suez because the Yanks stabbed us in the wallet. Why we ever worked for/with them after that i don’t know.

      • Lawrence James.

        Yes: despite all the emotional twaddle, it has been an alliance of convenience and not to our advantage.

        • MickC

          The “special relationship” is indeed emotional twaddle.

          I recall Obama’s State visit. It took all his self control not to burst out laughing at all the pompous flummery, backed up by very little of true substance.

      • Lucius_Severus_Pertinax

        As an American, I want to sincerely apologize for that.
        In my mind, we Americans have much to apologize to Britain for.

        • Cecelia O’brien

          sure – because stopping the brits and French from starting WWIII was so awful

    • Lucius_Severus_Pertinax

      The colours of far too many fine and storied Regiments have been furled forever…. ;-(

  • 42ndRHR

    This American says the British need an army that is highly professionalized (more so than the US Army) and technically advanced. The British Army should not be enlarged but made more like a Tier 2 (SAS and SBS being Tier 1) special operations force. The Royal Marine’s are a good model but the Army would have some limited heavy capability and deeper logistics that the Marines have.

    The idea is to be able to quickly deploy highly capable mobile forces for a ‘specific mission’ (not a long campaign) that directly effects British national interests but a force not large enough to become disposable ‘Hessians’ for American military adventures.

    The bulk of British defense needs should be concentrated in the Royal Navy (including a modernized Trident force) and a robust RAF with both manned and unmanned systems. These two forces are the Britain’s strategic services and give the UK a place at the table.

    • Roger Hudson

      UKSF is not a part of the British Army but an executive unit of the MoD.

      • John Brocklehurst

        Actually the D5 is suitable for counterforce as well as countervalue missions.

  • Roger Hudson

    A rubbish article. Kunduz hospital was not hit by a drone but by a tightly controlled C130 spectre gunship with men on board.
    What the army is going to do about ex-ISIS terrorists and supporters on the streets of Britain is not explained. A massive increase in security service men and women will not come from the army with it’s current class ridden structure, we need a new model. Remember that our existential wars were fought and won by civilians in uniform not by ‘professionals’.As NATO has been an extended job scheme since 1990 it is only right that pensions are in the 2%.
    UK Defence never did start on the plains of Afghanistan.

    • Lawrence James.

      Quite so: invading Afghanistan only made sense when he owned India. Likewise, occupying Iraq.

  • Sean L

    It’s remarkable how some of the most pernicious radical reforms are effected under Conservative administrations, most recently ‘gay marriage’ and cutting Defence to increase Foreign Aid. The worst reform of all time bar none, the extinction of our own currency, was implemented under Heath who also abolished the old counties, another crime against our national heritage. Pathetic to mourn something long gone but one can’t help it. Ditto the Routemaster buses with their conductors, a far more efficient mode of public transport than its successors – can’t recall if that was under Livingstone or Johnson – makes no odds really in the face of the bureaucratic behemoth.

  • Kasperlos

    I agree with other posters who call for a robust Royal Navy and Air Force. Both offer immediate reason for defending Britiain whilst ground forces could be more heavily geared toward the Territorials or reserves. That said, having a powerful navy and air force also sends a signal of a capable force projection abroad if needed. Sending in tens of thousands of troops did little to decisively turn the tide in the black holes of Afghanistan and Iraq as we see 13 years later.

    • JoeCro

      The Army are in the ear of all the politicians, defence policy is army centric to the detriment of the RN and RAF.

    • Toy Pupanbai

      A decent Coastal Command, wouldn’t go amiss!
      There seem to be a number of smallish European countries that find Trade more useful!

  • flydlbee

    Our failures in Iraq and Afghanistan were not military. The invasions were justified by a need to impose “democracy” on a Muslim culture, which will ever be incompatible with it. We should have made a punitive “chevausee” – get in, wreck the place, and get out – leaving the inhabitants to lick their wounds and rue the day they ever upset us. No more armies of occupation, passive targets for insurrection, but a highly mobile task force which will not stay beyond its ration packs. No more puppet governments – let them choose their own, very frightened, leaders. No more motherhood and apple pie – just a healthy fear of the mayhem we will cause if we are angry. This echoes Palmerston’s gunboat diplomacy, necessarily updated, but which worked. It will also be much cheaper to run in terms of the lives of our troops,

    • Getalife

      Absolutely spot on. Recent past failure have been political failures due to the military being run by armchair generals in Westminster. Bollocks to fears of collateral damage, rack ’em and smack ’em!

    • boiledcabbage

      There must be a department within the MOD so arrogant that they suppose a culture of 1400 years can be changed in a fortnight. The strategic reviews aways seem to miss these incompetents, as a result of which our military stumble around using 18th century tactics. The accounts of the Helmand firebases are beyond comprehension.

  • danoxford

    ‘What will Cameron do about it?’ He will do nothing, as his orders are to run down UK external security to such a degree that the people demand an EU army, as he is running down internal security so that the people demand privatised (=profitable for his chums) policing.

  • R Fairless

    Cameron has such a bag of follies to dispense. Already he has destroyed our once reasonably efficient Energy Industry, aided and abetted by two first class (Hons) idiots in the form of Huhne and Davey. Perhaps he is now relying on another idiot, namely Olive Letwin with encouragement from the EU who want their own Army. Either way, disaster looms and Great Britain is further diminished. Cameron is proving equal to his aim of surpassing in idiocy the monstrous pair, Blair and Brown.
    Is there not a man of courage left to save us?

    • Toy Pupanbai

      Latest casualty, Scotland’s largest power station at Cockenzie.
      To be replaced by……….?
      French nuclear power?

  • boiledcabbage

    The strategic reviews aways seem to miss the incompetent departments at the MOD, as a result of which our talented military stumble around using 18th century tactics. The accounts of the Helmand firebases are beyond comprehension. How did the UK get drawn into that disaster?

    It would be fantastic, of course, if the level of strategic management of our Armed Forces was on a par with the capabilities of the troops and the weapons. But until it is, why bother?

    • Toy Pupanbai

      Britain has had 173 years of Afghanistan experience and we don’t yet seem to have quite, got it!

  • paulthorgan

    Britain *never* has had the resourced for a major war, while there has not actually been a major war.

    This is not news.

    The closest we came to be ready for a war to kick off was during the Cold War, and then the objective there was to delay the Soviet advance over the North German Plain until the politicians could make the decision for nuclear weapons release, or to have American reinforcements arrive across the Atlantic.

    So getting paid for writing about Britain’s military unpreparedness for war is like getting money for old rope.

    • Jacobi

      The objective of the forward UK units in 1957/8 was to be incinerated by WP nuclear artillery so that we in turn could use ours.
      I don’t think it went much beyond that, at least no one told us?

  • matimal

    This is because Cameron knows the U.S. will fight Britain’s battle for it.

    • Pioneer

      US military has been hollowed and demoralized by the so called president.

      • matimal

        Then Britain sits defenseless.

  • stuartMilan

    Cameron will surrender to Merkel’s demand that we surrender control of our armed forces to the EU. Does anyone really imagine that this over-privileged brat would do anything else?

  • abgood

    It’s hard for an American to know what to make of the UK’s defence policies, much less its foreign policy generally. Conservatives need to get a grip: Their tribal hostility to Labour blinds them the fact that while Labour’s procurement policies may have been a shambles, they were at least trying to build up the armed forces, rather than tear them down. How do the planned 12 destroyers and 24 frigates sound compared to what the Royal Navy has now? Contrast that with the Thatcher government’s pre-Falklands planned defence cuts and the performance of the Tory-led coalition government since 2010. The coalition’s cuts were like something out of a slasher movie and confirm what many suspect: that the Treasury is driving policy at MOD, FCO, et al. It’s impossible to mount any kind of national defence with those cheapskates making the decisions.
    Nor was it Labour that sold off much of the country’s critical infrastructure to foreign governments, excuse me, “investors.” How the Tories square their revulsion over ownership of strategic infrastructure and industries by the British state with their pleasure at their purchase by the French, German and Chinese states is an insoluble paradox until one considers the apparent world view of Mr. Osborne, the Manchurian chancellor.

  • Ajt

    I hate to tell this to our British friends, but Forget a big war, Britain no longer has the capacity for a small one without third party assistance. It’s likely the current British forces would have a hard time defending against Canadian aggression. Never mind anybody actually prone or inclined to shoot at them.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Another Telegraph defector. Pretty soon it will be hard to see any difference between the Spwctator and the Daily Telegraph.

  • Anthorny

    The article states that “the exponential growth of extreme Islamist groups such as Islamic State poses as much of a threat to the security of the West as it does to that of the Arab world”. True, but our greatest threat by any stretch of the imagination now comes from within.

    No amount of aircraft carriers will stop Islamic asylum seekers or “refugee” imports executing more acts of terrorism in the UK, with a mass loss of civilian life. That’s much more likely than China invading the UK.

    So funds need to be spent wisely on in-country intelligence, border control and robust deportation of undesirables. Not more aircraft carriers. It’s really that simple.

  • jeremy Morfey

    It was announced this morning that four departments – Transport, Environment, Local Government and the Treasury have all agreed with Osborne huge cuts to their day-to-day spending, yet capital spending is unaffected by cuts. This will not affect deficit reduction.

    I wish I could get my head round this accounting jiggery-pokery, since there seems something amiss here. How we can divert billions and billions to huge capital projects, from which friends of the Chancellor, who stand to be awarded plum contracts, can amass huge profits paid for out of the public purse, and yet the plan for deficit reduction is said to be unaffected?

    I suggest that they are valuing legacy Victorian prisons and other such heritage infrastructure at nil, while the value of their replacement is roughly equal to the cost of building them. If asset value = rebuilding cost, then the cost to the taxpayer is nil. I consider that fraud, and someone ought to take the Chancellor and his advisers to court over this. Do we have no system of Parliamentary scrutiny worth having any longer?

    Meanwhile huge swathes of undervalued national infrastructure is set to vanish, unaccounted for, not least our military capability, as well as all those statutory obligations foisted unfunded onto local authorities which they would sooner-or-later have to default over, starting with housing, social services, education and the police.

    God help us when the frackers move onto the SSSIs and the Environmental Services inspectors have all been sacked!

    • Toy Pupanbai

      As the Economy grows, so does our contribution to the EU.
      What grows even faster?
      The National Debt!

  • Jacobi

    David Cameron and his successors have no choice. There will be future conflicts quite soon probably and they will be nasty.;
    They will not be against the Russian Federation whether under Puitin oer any successor.
    They will be against Islam and a very different type of Military will be required.
    So yes he can drop the number of heavy tanks and conventional infantry, although a new type of Gendarmerie type soldier will be required.
    But what we need now is long rage precision weaponry directed from ther air and fropmm specialist inserted forces, to knock out all Saudo backed and financed by s s

  • Jacobi

    One further thing I should have mentioned and it concerns the matter of a Gendarmerie military force.
    The quicker we all get over this stupid hang-up about internment, yes, that is the word, internment, the better. The Gendarmerie wil be needed.

    We are faced with some refugees, but the overwhelming majority, I guess over 80% is Islamic religious migration. Whether they personally will us violence or just occupy is something they can decide to do as orthodox Muslims, but they all are obliged to have that objective.

    The answer is internment and shipping back to and landing them in, Muslim lands.

  • Nick

    As some have already said,the greatest threat to UK security is from UK based radical muslims.I agree but I have to add that a combination of radical muslims and loonie lefties like Corbyn and Co present the biggest threat.

    Europe is imploding and Germany will be the first to implode as Merkal creates a muslim caliphate in her own country.

    German right wing groups will grow and become more violent to muslims and this will spread to the Balkans and countries like Hungary.

    And these incidents will continue to destabilize Europe and another war in Europe will kick off.

  • john


  • The biggest threat to UK national security is our vast and uncontrollable national debt. Far more more scary than the Russians!

  • The biggest threat to UK national security is our vast and uncontrollable national debt. Far more more scary than the Russians!

  • Jiesheng Li

    Con coughlin writes BULLSHIT.

  • Dogsnob

    Major wars are for the big boys. The question is, how are our security forces going to deal with the civil strife that is being assembled even as we binge-view and shop and agonise over the Premier League?

  • Ralph

    As we are no longer going to fight tank battles against the Warsaw Pact over the plains of Northern Germany we don’t need the military you claim we do Con.

  • “As Andrew Parker, MI5’s director-general, recently warned, Isis terrorists based in Syria — many of whom have UK passports — are actively planning mass-casualty attacks on the streets of Britain.”

    You mean the UK must endure more hilariously botched false flag operations, such as the Woolwich, London false flag operation…

    Here’s the Woolwich, London sidewalk that Lee Rigby was said to have had his head partially severed. Note there’s no pools of blood…


    …and here’s the sidewalk with the pools of blood, after the arrival of the armed police (the supposed blood pool in the top sidewalk tile covers the whole base area of the tile according to the witness photo, but in the images below the supposed blood pool for that tile is only a long narrow band confined to the tile’s left area) …


    …and a close up view (one can clearly make out the stained gray area that covers the base area of the top sidewalk tile, and there isn’t supposed to be any pools of blood in the lower sidewalk tile according to the witness photo)…


    Oops, MI5 forgot to add the pools of blood before the cell phone cameras started taking pictures! By the way, why is that lady in the background calmly walking by, unconcerned? Because the incident was a drill that went live, which is called a false flag operation.

    In fact, the three long blood streaks that transverse two sidewalk tiles are entirely missing from this even earlier picture taken…


    Now you know why the spectators were just standing around taking pictures at the scene, or calmly going about their business, walking by the “murderers”…


    and another unconcerned pedestrian that no one is preventing from walking right by one of the “murderers”…


    Then we have the pedestrian with the video phone who stands calmly as one of the “murderers” approaches him and records the “murderer’s” rambling speech on his video phone!

    Didn’t Comrade Andrew Parker get the memo? Once more…

    The above means that the so-called ‘War on Terror’ is an operation being carried out by the Marxist co-opted governments of the West in alliance with the USSR and other Communist nations, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending ‘War on Terror’; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union ‘From the Atlantic to Vladivostok’; which will (5) see the end of NATO.

    Now you know how Bolshevik Russia survived in 1917; how the West ‘lost’ China to the Communists in 1949; why the Eisenhower administration turned a deaf ear to the anti-Communist Hungarian uprising in 1956; why the Eisenhower administration in 1959 was indifferent to the Castro brothers’ Communist fidelity, actually used the CIA to overthrow the Batista government; why the Nixon administration abandoned Taiwan for Communist China, and signed treaties/provided economic aid to the USSR; why the Nixon administration refused to tell the American People that over 50% of North Vietnamese NVA regiments were actually Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers (attired in NVA uniforms, and proving that the Sino/Soviet Split was a ruse, as KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn told the West back in 1962), thereby (1) ensuring the Vietnam War would be lost; (2) destroying the prominence of the United States abroad and at home; (3) breeding distrust between the American people and their government; and (4) securing Communist victories in Southeast Asia. Working in the background within the political parties of the United States and Great Britain were Marxist agents doing their best to (1) ensure the survival of Communist nations when they popped up; and (2) sabotage any policies that would bring down a Communist nation. That’s why after the fake collapses of the East Bloc nations and USSR there was no mandatory Western verification process to ensure the Communists weren’t still in control.

    The following is a discovery I made in April regarding the fake collapse of the USSR, and what that fraudulent collapse proves about the institutions of the West…

    When Soviet citizens were liberated from up to 74 years of horrific Marxist oppression on December 26, 1991 there were ZERO celebrations throughout the USSR, proving (1) the ‘collapse’ of the USSR is a strategic ruse; and (2) the political parties of the West were already co-opted by Marxists,* otherwise the USSR (and East Bloc nations) couldn’t have gotten away with the ruse.

    ZERO celebrations, as the The Atlantic article inadvertently informs us…


    Notice, however, the Kremlin staged anti-government demonstrations that took place in Russia (and other Soviet republics) in the years immediately preceding the ‘collapse’, yet ZERO celebrations after the ‘collapse’!

    For more on this discovery see my blog…


    Now you know why not one political party in the West requested verification of the collapse of the USSR, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the ‘alternative’ media. When determining whether the ‘former’ USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the ‘former’ USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

    The fraudulent ‘collapse’ of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Marxists, which explains why verification of the ‘collapse’ was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

    It gets worse–the ‘freed’ Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested/de-mobilized the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the larger cities during the period of ‘Perestroika’ (1986-1991)!

    There can be no collapse of the USSR (or East Bloc nations) without…

    Verification, De-Communization and De-mobilization.

    The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.


    The West will form new political parties where candidates are vetted for Marxist ideology, the use of the polygraph to be an important tool for such vetting. Then the West can finally liberate the globe of vanguard Communism.


    * The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848(1) taught Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly,(2) so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions. In the case of the United States…(continue reading at DNotice)…


    • ViolinSonaten b minor.

      That was absolutely awful.

    • justejudexultionis

      Dean Jackson is a nutjob. Shame on you for posting this kind of crap about a good British soldier murdered in the most callous and cowardly way by Islamic bigots.

      • “Shame on you for posting this kind of crap about a good British soldier murdered in the most callous and cowardly way by Islamic bigots.”

        Shame on Comrade justejudexultionis for enabling the Marxist goal of global domination by means of Muslim slandering.

  • Struthers Gunn

    It’s O.K.. Wasn’t the holy Lamb of God on Columbia’s pleasant pastures also seen? UKUSA’s Special Relationship and all that jazz. Relax. Your American cousins have Five Eyes on It. Close your laptop and retire for the night. You drone on when you’re tired.

  • You couldn’t make it up

    Well the only powers likely to cause a war which requires the sort of numbers of troops and hardware weaponry will always beat us whatever we have pouring in anticipation.
    So we must address the threats which we can fight and win and they do not appear to require masses of tanks, planes and hardware, but we do need super fast and accurate intelligence, super tight and effective border controls, the best encryption for our computerised systems, and that means everything from the military to our utility companies and transport systems. We need to develop faster and more effective systems of surveillance at our ports and airports for both people and goods in transit.
    We also need to learn how to help resolve problems of dictatorship and promote democracy world wide without going to war with tanks and planes.
    I do like drones though especially with needle point accuracy to deliver attack and surveillance.
    I would also create a broader role for our armed services, we often talk of boots on the ground, well I think we should have military boots on the ground at home to deal with terror threats and border control. This would financially justify keeping their numbers up to a sensible and effective level.

  • dansmith17

    Con wants to talk and act as if Britain can fight a major war on its own as if this is 1944 and we still had an Empire.

    Britain is a medium sized power in Europe, we have an independent Nuclear detterant, capable of continuous at sea detterance, which only France as well as the US and Russia posses. There are several other nuclear powers but they have regional range.

    We have the ability to deploy at a distance a small force independently for a short period, but it is more than most other powers on the planet with the exception again of US and Russia.

    We pulled out of East of Suez as an independent force in 1967 and although we have since returned as an American poodle, there is nothing we have done since that has been strategically rather than politically important.

    The occupation force in Iraq at peak was 150,000 US, 30,000 allies of which we were 10,000 and another 100,000 ‘contractors’ paid by the US. Unless we are willing to build up the force to the point we can deploy 250,000 then we are going to be a very small part of a much bigger coalition.

    The risk is at home, with the need for expanded police and surveillance, not the pretence we are going to march off and invade Syria on our own.

    • Thomtids

      The trouble with “our nuclear deterrent” is that it was used, historically, as the substitute for orthodox Armed Force aka “boots on the ground”; the “big stick” etc. It was cheaper to maintain….then. Now, we can’t afford both and it’s the traditional forces and materiel that has gone by the board.
      The Catch 22, though, is that the nuclear deterrent is only good for mutual assured destruction. It is all or nothing. Russia has layered force; in every part of its Forces. It can fry Islamic terrorists from the ground, air and sea and it can do it with nuclear and non-nuclear weaponry. Crispy or extra-crispy?
      As it is readily apparent, this Country has NO means of deploying what little force it purports to have, it’s last Hurray being the nuclear Subs and those won’t be armed if Corbyn gets his way. We can ask the Swiss to licence us to make Cuckoo clocks so that when people speak disparagingly about us, it can be said that we are no different to Switzerland as we, too, make such clocks but are much, much poorer. Oh yes, and whilst they have a Territorial Reserve where every able-bodied civilian has a firearm at their home, we have an Olympic Pistol Shooting Team that has to travel to France to practice…..thus are Countries destroyed; not by force of Arms but inept, cringeworthy politicians and administrators.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Article headline states “Britain’s armed forces no longer have the resources for a major war”
    Neither does the USA
    and with that the “special relations” forged between Great Britain and the USA under Churchill gets less important.

  • The Git at the Gobshites Rest

    More importantly is the massive deffeciency in our ability to protect the British public from terrorist attack. The French have over 250,000 armed Gendarmes and police officers. The equivilant figure for the UK is a mind numbingly paltry 6000. security experts believe that death tolls in the UK from terror attacks will be much larger as a consequence. The French have sufficent numbers so as to swamp any part of their country that is attacked with massive firepower. We in the UK do not have that ability. Why not? Its been 14 long years since 9/11. Enough time to have waged two world wars but seemingly not enough time to embark on a strategy of arming our police force.

    • JabbaTheCat

      Those vast quantities of Gendarmes, CRS and local police made absolutely no difference in stopping the Paris terrorist attack occurring. France is a much larger country, with many hundreds of miles of common border with neighbouring countries, so they need the higher manpower to cover the larger area. As for arming our police, that would in all probability result in the wrong people being shot, as has been proven here in the past, best left to the professionals like the SAS to deal with such matters…

      • justejudexultionis

        In that case we should hugely increase the size of the SAS.

  • davidofkent

    Oddly enough, the Conservative Party has never done much for the armed forces. I think most of the Armed Forces redundancy programmes from the 1950s were put in place by the Conservatives (The name of Duncan Sandys is still much-hated or at least derided). Cameron bases his idea of Defence of the Realm on the fanciful notion of a European Defence Force (best of luck there, you might say). The USA still has massive armed forces, relatively and so has Russia. In general, the West has preferred welfare to defence of the realm. We will regret this one day. The British Army is big enough for current threats but our Royal Navy and Royal Air Force need beefing up in a big way. We should have at least twice the squadrons we have in the RAF and I would have thought that a Royal Navy ought to have some fighting ships!

  • Stumps

    Been like that since the 80’s

  • John Andrews

    Thank God for that. We can return to the wisdom of Elizabeth I in the closing years of Elizabeth II’s reign.

    • justejudexultionis

      What? Persecuting Roman Catholics and Puritans?

  • Elelei Guhring

    Then it will be Russia who saves us from the Muslims.