Blame for the parlous state of Britain’s defences must lie with politicians
SIR – The first duty of the state is to defend the realm and the freedom of its citizens.
This duty has been ignored by successive governments in the hope that the weakness of our Armed Forces will not be tested (“Weakened Navy ‘can barely now protect the UK’”, report, September 15).
While one would not expect a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn to have the slightest interest in military matters, it is now clear that this Government and its MPS place increasing the overseas aid budget or paying for a “divorce” settlement with the EU above ensuring the nation’s defence. This is against the backdrop of the build-up in Russian and Chinese armed forces, and dangerous instability in the Korean peninsula.
Britain makes a habit of going into armed conflict totally unprepared and just about getting away with it. One day we will not, and the fault will lie with our politicians. Harry Knowles
Ulverston, Cumbria SIR – When I opened my paper yesterday morning, I initially read your headline “Weakened Navy...” as “Weekend Navy...”
Perhaps I was right first time. Peter Fernbank
SIR – The capability of our Armed Forces is not like a tap which can be turned on and off to meet demand.
The increasingly inability of these forces to react to the demands placed upon them can be tracked back to defence cuts over many years. There is a growing imbalance between the perceived influence on the world stage that Britain’s military once wielded, and the reality on the ground.
Lt Col Jeremy Prescott (retd) Southsea, Hampshire
SIR – For all the rhetoric, defence is clearly low on the Government’s agenda.
It is possibly opportune to look at the composition of our Armed Forces. The task of the RAF is to protect the skies over Britain and provide logistical support for troops overseas. In times of need, we must question whether a separate air arm is still required. With the arrival of two new aircraft carriers, it would make sense to give all fighting aircraft to the Royal Navy, and RAF Air Command to the Army. John Marchant
SIR – In my capacity as an instructor at the US Army Artillery School in Oklahoma in the Seventies, I used to give a presentation to American students on the British Armed Forces.
In this, I used to compare size and capability of the British forces with that of the US Marine Corps, a service with its own integrated maritime, land and air components. Until, that is, a student pointed out that the number of service personnel in the whole of the British Armed Services was more akin to that of the US Coast Guard.
Lt Col Paul d’apice (retd)