Hoon Accuses Tories over Defence Modernisation

Scotsman Website:

Hoon Accuses Tories over Defence Modernisation

By Nick Mead and Joe Churcher, PA Political Staff

The Tories risk turning the armed forces into “a museum piece” by their failure to countenance the restructuring of the services, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said today.

Global threats from international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and failed states, and the need to intervene for humanitarian and peacekeeping reasons, meant the armed forces must adapt, he said.

Opening the second day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, Mr Hoon said: “To propose that we should do otherwise – in effect leave our armed forces structured and equipped to match an enemy and a threat that is no longer apparent – would be a grave misjudgment.

“The Conservatives risk turning our armed forces into a museum piece – on excellent display but never taken out of their case for operational use.

“This would be a complete failure of our duty to the people of the UK, to our international allies and partners and to the men and women of the armed forces.

“Not to engage in the modernisation of our armed forces would weaken our defence at precisely the time that it needs to be strong.”

In a wide-ranging speech on foreign and defence policy, Mr Hoon expressed “deep concern” at the situation in Ukraine.

Britain had urged the Ukrainian authorities to show “restraint” amid growing demonstrations at the contested result in the country’s presidential poll.

“The Government is deeply concerned that the international observer mission...has reported serious irregularities in the voting on November 21 and that the election did not meet Council of Europe standards.

“Given the questions that hang over the elections, we have urged the Ukrainian authorities to co-operate with the OSCE to ensure all proper procedures, including legal challenges to the result, are followed before declaring a final result.

“The Ukrainian authorities should also investigate all allegations of fraud to ensure that the result reflects the democratic will of the people of the Ukraine.

“With large numbers of people on the streets protesting the election, we have also called on the Ukrainian authorities to show restraint and urge all sides to avoid violence.”

Mr Hoon also told MPs that the US assault on Fallujah appeared not to have caused significant civilian casualties.

Only “a handful of individuals” had remained in the city as the military action to root out insurgents began, he said.

Asked by anti-war Labour MP Alice Mahon (Halifax) when a full report of what happened in Fallujah would be made, he said: “The briefings I have received consistently, over many days now, are to the effect that there have not been significant civilian casualties in Fallujah, not least because there are not significant numbers of civilians actually in Fallujah.

“All the evidence is to the effect that the overwhelming majority, bar a handful of individuals, actually left the city well before military action began.

“A large amount of aid available to assist the civilian population has not yet been distributed simply because inside Fallujah there is no-one to give the aid to.

“It appears many people have stayed with relatives, with friends in the outlying towns and villages.”
I am struggling to understand how this moron managed to become a politician. I'm flabbergasted at the mans complete and THATS IT I CAN'T CONTINUE, I'm thunderstruck.

Try again

I am struggling to understand how this moron managed to become a politician. He has read too many of Blairs comments and believes that they can get away with this kind of sh1t if they blame someone else. I get the distinct impression of a bunch of school children point at each other saying "he did it"
TCH said:
“The Government is deeply concerned that the international observer mission...has reported serious irregularities in the voting on November 21.
Since when has this government taken any notice of international observer missions? Or is it just the ones that report a distinct lack of WMD that they disregard?

New Labour - Old Hypocrisy
not to disregards all the rest but

“Not to engage in the modernisation of our armed forces would weaken our defence at precisely the time that it needs to be strong.”
Just how do the proposed cuts to infantry equal "modernisation of our armed forces" ?

How would not cutting the Infantry equal making a museum piece of the Armed Forces?
Cdr Geoff's defence force keeps its head down under fire

Fresh doubts emerged last night about the morale of the Hoon Defence Force after it failed to come to the aid of its commanding officer, Geoff, while he was under heavy enemy fire.
The heavy enemy in question was Nicholas Soames, the shadow defence secretary, not that there is anything remotely shadowy about him. Mr Soames is the biggest weapon in the Tory arsenal, the human equivalent of the supergun which in days gone by our enterprising arms manufacturers supplied in kit form to Saddam Hussein.
Within seconds of opening up, Mr Soames found his range and started landing shells weighing many tons on Mr Hoon, who as Defence Secretary was leading for the Government in the foreign affairs and defence debate on the Queen's speech. Mr Soames denounced "the deliberate downgrading of the foreign affairs aspect of this debate" because Mr Hoon was standing in for Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, who was in the Middle East.
Mr Hoon rose to his feet, claimed that the Tories could have chosen a different day for the debate and accused Mr Soames of "misleading the House".
The Speaker ordered Mr Hoon to withdraw "misleading" and the Defence Secretary apologised, before altering the charge to "inadvertently misleading the House". Mr Hoon smiled at his cleverness but the Speaker was still not satisfied and ordered him to withdraw that too.
Mr Soames's barrage thundered on. Soon he was accusing Mr Hoon of accepting "in a bovine and supine manner" the cutting of four infantry battalions by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor.
Chambers Dictionary defines "bovine" as "Of or relating to cattle; stupid, dull". The Speaker recently ordered Sir Peter Tapsell (C, Louth and Horncastle) to withdraw the word "stupid" about Mr Hoon but Mr Soames was allowed to get away with bovine.
The Speaker's leniency could be because Mr Hoon had delivered an incredibly dull speech, so in that sense at least he was being thoroughly bovine.
Soon Mr Soames was refusing to take any further interventions from Mr Hoon: "No, I've had enough," he said. "The right honourable gentleman has had nothing sensible to say so far. Indeed he is on indefensible ground."
It was at this point, if not sooner, that we expected to see the gallant men of the Hoon Defence Force lumber into action. But sources close to Hoonforce, as it is known for short, said it had been raised to defend Mr Hoon against insurgents operating in the treacherous back benches of the Labour Party and is ill-equipped to face the kind of formidable conventional threat posed by Mr Soames.
Mr Hoon said in his speech that there were now "220,000 trained Iraqi security personnel", while conceding that they still needed to develop "leadership" as well as well as "weapons handling skills". It could be that Hoonforce is in the same position, although the depressing possibility exists that its members simply melt away into their constituencies or pop out for a spot of lunch whenever there is serious fighting to be done.
Kenneth Clarke, the former Conservative chancellor, later joined the assault on Mr Hoon and the Government generally. He said that "horrific events" in Iraq could ruin the Government's attempts to get us to think about other things between now and the General Election expected next May.
I just wonder if the history of the early 20th century has been totally lost on the recent crop of politicians, example.

1919: Ok guys the treaty of Versailles has been signed, we've won the war to end all wars. No need for the forces anymore except to look good on parades. Let's emasculate the defence budget after all, what do we really need those nasty little soldier people for?

1930s: Is that Germany being really unsporting and rearming? Ah well, that Hitler chap seems reasonable enough, we won't have a war.

1938: Ok, that Hitler chap might be just a little less reasonable than we thought. Doesn't matter though, we gave him what he wanted so he'll behave himself now.

1939: Bugger, is that a war in Poland? Maybe we should think about some modernisation (used in proper sense) so we can stop the hun.

1940: Bugger, kicked out of France. Maybe we should have pulled our heads out of our arses earlier. Still, at least we've got the RAF. :D

My point (is there one?). We shouldn't win one war and assume we won't be fighting anything that size ever again. You never know, the next country uncle George and his pet Tony want to pick on might actually have semi-effective armed forces who, God forbid, actually shoot back with big stuff.
the tory's made such a good job the last time they were in "options for crap anyone?"
Don't think you'll find anyone with a brain that agrees that Options for Change was a good idea.

However, this latest bunch of cuts is most definately a cut back too far given the current political world climate.

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