Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reply to my letter on Britain's Defence

The letter to which the following is a reply may be read from here:

Our Reference:



20 August 2010

Dear Martin Cole,

Thank you for your recent letter to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Foreign Secretary in which you raised the issue of the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces. I have been asked to reply.

As you will be aware there is an ongoing Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). At the heart of the SDSR will be a thorough examination of our force structure, looking at the overall shape, size and role of Armed Forces personnel and MOD Civil Servants, including the Reserve Forces.

In every aspect of defence, and particularly in the support area, the Government will bear down on costs, seeking improved value for money and greater efficiency wherever possible. This will include following through on the Government’s commitment in the Coalition Agreement to reduce the MOD’s running costs by 25%. This will require some tough decisions with impact in many areas of the Department.

Internationally, NATO must remain the core of UK and the instrument of first choice for collective security challenges. The US will be the UK’s major partner but the Government will also step up bilateral cooperation with France and other partners, and revitalise a broad programme of Defence Diplomacy.

Turning now to your suggestion that we merge the UK Armed Forces with the Armed Forces of Australia and Canada. As the Secretary of State for Defence has recently stated that we are not considering merging or scrapping single services, I think we can discount now the suggestion of merging our entire Armed Forces with Australia and Canada.

I hope that this response has been helpful.

Mark Taylor

I leave it to my readers to decide whether or not this adequately addresses the points that I raised. I have my own severe doubts as to whether NATO, post-Serbian bombing and the Afghanistan mis-adventure, can really resume its role as a purely defensive organisation. Given the crisis within the EU, following gross economic mismanagement and incompetence and the impossibility of determining where the likely break-up tensions of the Eurozone will be felt, stepping up "bilateral cooperation with France" surely cannot be a serious option, let alone while retaining the US as our major partner?

My letter was addressed to William Hague and Liam Fox as conservative politicians and hopefully it will eventually receive a political response. This bureaucrat's reply was nevertheless more than I expected to receive, not least as it marvelously typifies the muddled thinking behind Britain's present foreign policy and the country's supposed defence priorities.



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