Thursday, 24 January 2013

Tories attempt to destroy the army they promised to enlarge

This week the Government announced further cuts to our Armed Forces – 5,300 redundancies in the Army. Cameron seems very confused, one day he is warning us that the UK must respond to the threat in North Africa by working “across the region”, providing intelligence and counter-terrorism assets to Algeria, a close security partnership with Nigeria, building effective security forces in Libya and appropriate training and support in Mali. This represents a potentially significantly increased role for our Armed Forces across the world.

So one day he said we must be prepared to work across North Africa but at the same time he reduces the army. Some would say that the army has the capacity to be reduced but the Generals are having their hands tied behind their back. To try and stop a public backlash the Tories are insisting on voluntary redundancies but to remain a functional army the Generals need to be able to choose who is made redundant.

But many would say that no redundancies can be accepted whilst we are still fighting in Afghanistan and there is further unrest in North Africa.

Labour has previously argued that the Defence Review should be re-opened after capability gaps such as carrier strike were exposed by the conflict in Libya. But while the SDSR did not mention Libya, Tunisia or Egypt, striking given the events of the Arab Spring, neither did it mention Mali, Algeria or Nigeria. A strategy which was flawed in 2010 looks hazardous in 2013.

The SDSR committed the UK to an Army of 95,000, a cut of 7,000, but while the threats we face have increased personnel numbers are being cut further to 82,000, a total cut of 20,000.

While David Cameron has told us that “we are in the midst of a generational struggle”, he has not told us how the new security strategy can be realised with far less troops. Or is he hoping to get by on the plan of Dr Fox – more TA and Reservists?

According to the Tories the gaps in the regular Army capability arising from redundancies are to be filled by a doubling of the Reserves. A recent survey by the Federation of Small Businesses showed that one in three employers said nothing would encourage them to employ a reservist, and the TA is facing recruitment shortages this year.

Though I have great respect for the TA, there is no way they can replace the Regular Army, not even in high intensity peace keeping operations let alone full scale war like we are experiencing in Helmand Province.

But then again why would you trust the Tories? When they were trying to get elected in 2007 they promised to increase the army and at that time Egypt was just a tourist spot!

What happens to those made redundant? To be honest they will get a good resettlement package and in some cases a good pay off but we should worry about those soldiers who are leaving the army as their time is up, those responsible for organising their resettlement and transition to civie street will be more concerned about dealing with the 5,300 troops being made redundant.

In just over 2 years the Tories are destroying the best army in the world, causing more damage to the Infantry and the regimental system that the IRA or the Taliban could ever dream of.

As the Ipswich Borough Council ‘Veterans Champion’, I will doing all I can to help any Ipswich based soldiers who are made redundant.


Ben Redsell said...

Do you think this is down to the £33 billion black hole left in the Defence budget by the previous Government, which the Tories didn't know about until they took over and opened the books? I'm not talking about the deficit, I'm talking about the massive gap between the amount of money Labour budgeted for in the military and the amount of money you spent and committed to spend. That is including the scandalous procurement mistakes that led to aircraft carriers with no planes. Or the really scandalous stuff like sending Snatch land rovers out to Iraq.

The military is changing. Frankly I don't know any Tories who want to see defence cuts. It will mean doing less, because we will have fewer troops to do it with. You know better than I do that the Army will get on with this and cope and do it better than any other military in the world, because that is what they do.

It's a disaster that we get to this position. But the world didn't suddenly start in May 2010. Some level of humility and responsibility from the Labour Party would be much welcomed.

Alasdair Ross said...

We all agree that cuts need to be made but it seems strange that Cameron makes a speech on Monday about the decade of trouble ahead in North Africa then a day later we are making savage cuts.

More annoying for me is that many fellow soldiers fell for the lies of Fox and other Tories about bringing back the third battalions in each Infantry Regiment instead we have reduced further.

The use of snatch vehicles - understandable the anger of parents and loved ones whose sons were killed in snatch vehicles - but throughout the 80's we drove round West Belfast in them and took casualties whilst the RUC drove round in Hotspurs, a better protected vehicle. i myself helped move the snatch from Belfast to Pristina -a great vehicle for urban areas in a peace keeping role not war fighting. We still had them in Sangin but the commanders in the field can choose when to use them. Of course in the 80's when we were taking casualties in snatch vehicles, we had a Tory Government!