Blame for the par­lous state of Bri­tain’s de­fences must lie with politi­cians

The Daily Telegraph - - Letters To The Editor -

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

Ban­bury, Ox­ford­shire

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

Ban­bury, Ox­ford­shire

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)

Dawlish, Devon

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