Dishonesty and the defence budget

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by PartTimePongo, Jan 7, 2008.

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  1. Dishonesty and the defence budget,Authorised=false.html?

    It's a free subscription article, but well worth a read. Not reproduced in full, as the FT are a bit keen on copyright.
  2. msr

    msr LE

    It is nothing more than a grand plan to emasculate the British Army in order to force us into a Euro-Corps. There can be no other explanation.

  3. msr ...... that is a cynical but IMHO probably true statement.
  4. That I feel hits the nail squarely on the head. The combined EU defence budget is bordering on that of a superpower. Mind you it would be like herding cats to try and get all 27 countries pulling in the same direction and to sort out who provides/pays for what.

    I vote the Italians to provide the catering corps, the French the POW's and the Poles the training grounds for the German panzer battalions...
  5. You only have to look to Afghanistan to see the folly of a common European defence force.

    Nations will always disagree on the finer points of foreign policy and there is no finer point than a Brigade smashing someones back doors in, so to speak. This is why we must have our own forces who can act unilaterally if required a la Sierra Leone. God knows how much hand wringing would have went on in NATO/UN before anyone deployed and no doubt would see the French deploy to the Azores as Strategic Reserve.

    Though I am no doubt preaching to the converted.
  6. Reality check - although this government has, undeniably, been exemplary in its stinginess towards the armed forces, especially given the extra operational commitments placed on them whilst simultaneously undergoing a financial restructure that is reducing the abilities of that same set of armed forces to new historic lows, this is not a new phenomenom.

    Quite the opposite in fact. Historically, UK governments have always been stingy, at best, to the armed forces responsible for protecting the UK and its interests. In Napoleonic times, the Generals had to fight tooth and nail to get anything like the money they needed and this frequently resulted in soldiers going unpaid for months on end. I imagine that would explain why plundering was so common place and, to a point, tolerated.

    It is a matter of historical fact that the UK coalition government only began re-arming in the nick of time. If they had waited 12 months more, the Spitfire would only just have been entering service as WW2 was declared. Likewise there would have been fewer of the radars used in the Battle of Britain. And that defence spending increase was still contentious at the time.

    In fact, if my memory of history is correct, almost the only period where arms spending could be considered either adequate or slightly excessive was the arms race in the early 1900's, when everyone and their dog built dreadnought type battleships.

    The truth of the matter is, that even if we are a warrior nation, (as is being debated on a separate thread), neither the governments of the day nor the public at large, have ever displayed a desire to match our undoubted military prowess as a nation with a budget to match.

    Governments have no excuse for this niggeredly attitude towards defence. There can be no doubt that the current government have the information they need and could act on it, if they so wished. The fact the government has little interest in defence, beyond its ability to allow the government more sway internationally than other countries, is obvious to anybody who studies defence affairs from a neutral perspective. That the military is starved of adequate funding is plain for all to see when the MOD announces that such and such a program X has been shelved or dropped in order to carry on with program Y, which is more pressing. (Not to mention inadequate accommodation, lack of training resources, retention problems and inadequate compensation schemes).

    But, and this is both important and relevant, it is notable that the Convservative Party have had very little to say about the governments handling of defence, beyond criticising that handling. To my knowledge, there has been NO information on what Conservative defence policy would be if they were in government. (There can be no doubt whatsoever that UK defence budget requires increasing - substantially)

    With the public at large it is difficult to tell whether this is due to a genuine lack of interest in defence, when compared to other issues such as education, health and law and order, or for lack of information about defence - in policy terms versus reality on operations, is impossible to tell.

    However, all this will remain unchanged unless there is a sea change in attitude towards defence. Most Western democracies treat defence in a similar manner to UK.

    There are exceptions though, most obviously USA, where to even think of cutting the defence budget is considered both heresy and a crime serious enough to cause proponents of that defence cut to be considered unfit for office by the voting public.

    A case in point is Australia. Prior to their involvement in East Timor in 1999, defence had been about the lowest priority you could imagine. Defence was in such a poor state that the armed forces struggled to place and support a Brigade into East Timor - a country only a few hundred miles outside Australia. In contrast, the UK Battle Group was in place in slightly more time and was better supported. The Australians were rudely awakened to their armed forces shortcomings and considered themselves lucky that the theatre all this occurred in was relatively benign.

    If attitudes to defence in UK are to change, the public need to understand what the government are asking of the armed forces, agree (or not), considering the operations the government has commited the armed forces to, that funding is inadequate. The one thing that all governments (and potential governments) pay attention to is public interest. If UK public make both the national media and politicians aware of their displeasure, you can be sure that the political establishment will change their agenda to suit. The trick is how to achieve that public awareness in the first place and how to ensure that change is noted by the political establishment. Ideas anyone?
  7. What you said in spades! (Can we still say that?) The public don't really understand defence because most of the information is so dumbed down by the Meedja. Also they don't trust the Gobmint to tell the truth on topics such a Iraq - the net result is that Tommy Atkins tends to be overlooked because the threat is not understood and is not immediate.

    For reason I highlighted in the IRA War thread, the Gobmint has to treat terrorists as criminals as opposed to a serious therat against our Nation State.
  8. Hi all, I just wanted to stick my opinion in on this one.

    The general public simply don’t understand how much an operation costs, so when an MP says ‘We have increased real world spending by £x Million’ everyone thinks that’s fine and dandy.

    I am sorry to say but I think the general public won’t really pay attention until the unthinkable happens, and we lose. Basically I cant see Joe Public giving a rats ass unless he turns on the TV one days and see’s the headline “Falklands Liberation Fleet Sunk”, as horrible as it is to say, I think it would take something on that scale to get both the man in the street and the man at Westminster actually giving a toss.

    To an extent the USA is also our worst problem, with them on side, I think far to many people just sit back and think “Its ok, the US will sort it out”
  9. msr

    msr LE

    Presumably, yes.

  10. You're sharp this morning :D More malt for you tonight young msr :twisted:
  11. Couldn't agree more. My fear is that the worst outcome of such a defeat could be that Joe Public decides defense is a waste of tax payers money, and cuts it entirely... which plays into your second point...

    But we all know that the USA looks after the USA. Suez Canal springs to mind. We support their expeditionary warfare, they won't support ours.

  12. msr

    msr LE

    So you need to pull out an example from over 50 years ago to support your argument?

    Bosnia springs to my mind. Perhaps is is a generational thing ;)

  13. Interesting Thread.
    I would agree that it's tradition for Britain to be stingy on the defence budget, Army's and the like are very expensive and a massive drain on the national Budget.
    But before we had time built into our defence policy for we where where an Island race. Not any more.
    Europe and the Euro State.
    Could the politicians have taken a decision to form a Euro Army and not have informed the voters ?
    Must admit it does seem that way on occasions.
    But as has been said some Nations do not intend to pull their weight for their voters will not have it.
    Britain has always been different, men have joined and gone away, done their duty and it does not seem to register with the general populace.
    Also I will agree the Brit Public only takes notice when we lose, the constant victories being accepted as normal.
  14. msr

    msr LE

    When did we last lose and generate more public support?

  15. I'm under 30 msr! Suez springs to mind thanks to UKTV History, they don't seem to have covered Bosnia yet ;-)