The Royal Marines will be vital to our security as a free-trading nation
SIR – We are an island race with a proud history of independence. To ensure free trade, we need protection for our exports and our imports. We need a Royal Navy, and we need the Royal Marines (report, February 4).
The danger of piracy on the high seas is never far away. Not long ago we had the Cod Wars, when both the RN and RM were essential to the protection of our fishing fleet.
Even to consider cutting any of our Armed Forces at this time is foolhardy. They are the life insurance policy of the nation. The more we put in now, the better the return when they are needed. James Thompson
SIR – There is an after-dinner Grace attributed, I believe, to the Rt Rev Noël Jones, once Chaplain of the Fleet and Archdeacon of the Royal Navy: We thank thee Lord for pork and beans But most of all for the Royal Marines. Commander Peter Baseby RN (retd) Kennington, Oxfordshire SIR – The world is changing, and some methods of warfare have become redundant.
I would suggest that one of them is an assault from the air. Before even thinking about making the Royal Marines redundant, the powers that be should first of all look at the Parachute Regiment. Commodore Kit Carson RN
SIR – As well as supporting moves to protect the defence budget, I would go a step further. Instead of scrapping HMS Ocean, the helicopter carrier, give her a major refit as a specialist disaster response vessel paid for and operated by the Department for International Development.
While maintaining her helicopters, she should become a hospital ship, crewed by RN personnel but with additional specialists such as medics, firefighters, rescue experts and engineers. She could then operate around the world, being stationed at trouble spots to provide aid to refugees or close to the Caribbean during the hurricane season.
The British public would see their aid budget put to use in tangible terms, and Britain could again make a real difference around the world. Richard Lutwyche
SIR – We have an Army with soldiers, planes and boats; we have a Royal Air Force with planes, boats and sentries, and we have a Royal Navy with sailors, planes and marines. They each have their own coordinators, bands, medics and recruiting offices, as well as top-heavy management structures based on wars fought years ago when we had very different defence needs.
It must be time for the Government to rationalise these activities into one fighting force. The savings created would allow us to put the right numbers on the front line in planes, ships and tanks, leaving fewer people behind desks. Brian Tordoff
Chalfont St Giles, Buckingshamshire