I'm an American civilian with an interest in British politics and defense. I hope I won't intrude too much in the proceedings here to offer some of my thoughts regarding the unfortunate decline of Britain's defense so well documented day after day around here. Many people here say that the reason why Britain has been cutting its defense spending (not in terms of actual spending but in terms of a percent of GDP) is because "there are no votes in defense". In my view, it's worse than that. There is a vicious cycle at work here: i. The typical MP might think: There are few people in my constituency who care about defense. He then concludes that he can cut defense to fund NHS, education, more community outreach advisers,...etc. with little to no repercussions. ii. As a result, troop numbers are slashed, defense procurement is cut. iii. That in turn further decreases the number of people interested in defense because fewer people join Britain's armed forces. People who work in the defense industry get laid off. As a result of fewer current servicemen, there will be fewer veterans in the future. Current veterans will die off. iv. As a result of (iii), with every passing year, fewer people will care about defense, making it even easier to initiate a new round of cuts. The cycle repeats itself. In time, Britain will join Iceland as one of the countries in the world with no armed forces of its own. How to reverse this vicious cycle? Fortunately, there is a way to turn this vicious cycle into a virtuous cycle. It works like this: i. A party leader who recognizes the importance of defense insists upon increasing defense spending. ii. As a result, there is an increase in troop numbers and defense procurement projects. iii. That increases the number of people interested in defense because there are more current servicemen, more people who work in the defense industry, and more veterans in the future. iv. As a result of (iii), with every passing year, more people will care about defense, making it even easier to initiate a new round of defense increases. Allow me to use the US as an example. President Eisenhower was the one who warned about a "military-industrial complex" but it is my contention that this complex is what prevented Bill Clinton from gutting defense. (The Clinton Administration eliminated half of the navy's ships, half of the air force, and 8 of 18 divisions from the army.) I firmly believe that if it wasn't for the fact that the US had a large defense establishment of veterans and defense industry employees, US defenses would have been gutted 15 years ago. The relatively large defense establishment in the US (Estimates vary as to exactly how large it is. The active service numbers about 1.3 million. That does not include National Guard and Reserves, which may double the active service. Nor does it include these people's families, defense industry workers and their families, veterans,...etc. One estimate is that this defense establishment includes about 7.5 million people. The voting strength of the armed forces is disproportionately high because they vote at a higher rate than the general population. In addition, because of the location of military bases and defense industries, the defense vote is somewhat concentrated in certain states and districts, guaranteeing that the senators and congressmen representing them will be that much more attentive to their concerns.) enables the US to maintain fairly impressive forces even in the 1990s when everybody was demanding a "peace dividend". The armed forces in the US is usually associated with the Republican Party. (Studies suggest about 2/3 of active servicemen regularly vote Republican.) That guarantees at least one major party will always be in favor of increasing defense spending. But the size of the defense establishment in the US is such that there are several Democratic Congressmen who come from districts with sizeable defense industries or military bases who will oppose drastic cuts in defense when their own party controls the White House. (Opinion polls in the 1990s actually showed that the general population was in favor of even deeper cuts.) The virtuous cycle suggests that you don't even need a politician who cares about defense of the realm. The virtuous cycle promises support from an enlarged defense establishment to any party that increases defense spending. Therefore, all you need is a politician who cares about his career and is sufficiently far-sighted to realize that there are votes in defense, as long as he's willing to spend money on it. I don't know much about the voting patterns of British servicemen. In the US, servicemen vote above the national average. That gives them added clout. In fact, Senator John McCain's presidential campaign was widely thought to be dead 2 months ago. Now he is the nominee of his party. Many people have noted that McCain's service in Vietnam endeared him to veterans who voted for him in Republican primaries overwhelmingly and that played a major role in the resurrection of his political career. In other words, one can trace a straight line from the defense vote to the presidential nominee of one of the 2 major parties. (Though Democrats get far fewer defense votes, they apparently thought it wise to nominate another Vietnam War veteran in 2004.) If British politicians can be convinced that increasing spending for defense can also help boost their party's support, then the vicious cycle will be overturned. P.S. Alternatively, I can get together with some other Americans around here and send a petition to the State Department and ask them to intercede with your government on your behalf. Though considering how unsuccessful the US has been over the past 2 decades trying to get Canada to increase their defense spending, don't get your hopes up.