Who would be a politician?
In the blink of an eye, instead of occupying the moral high ground, slagging off the government of the day from the comfort of the opposition benches, you now find yourself being force fed an unremitting diet of your own words from those you once took pleasure from skewering.
Apart from treatment of the wounded no other issue is as politically charged as helicopters, which makes the surfacing rumours of a change in the potential order of 12 new Chinooks and 2 replacements even more interesting for the opposition.
Britain is reconsidering its military rotor wing strategy and expects to deliver a new plan to achieve an affordable force later this year, according to the Ministry of Defence
Of course, none of this is any news to people with even a passing interest in the subject and I think we would all be completely gobsmacked if the 12+2 actually turned from hot air to reality the finality of an order reduction is going to cause a political venting of spleen not seen since, well, the last venting of spleens.
The rotary wing capability study will re-examine defence’s helicopter requirement to deliver the Future Force 2020 vision set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review and ensure a balanced and affordable plan which delivers the right rotary wing force mix for defence
Ministry of Defence
The original intention to order 22+2 from the about to ousted Labour government didn’t fool anyone so when this was reduced by the incoming coalition to 12+2 it was seen as a more realistic figure but since then there have been persistent rumours that it would be cut even further, despite public statements to the contrary.
Just in case anyone has forgotten what our glorious leaders have had to say on the subject of helicopters, here are a few selected quotations they can choke on.
Put simply, we need to have a larger army and we need more infantry. It’s as simple as that. It is absolutely unacceptable to send our forces into battle without giving them the right equipment for the job
The Government must explain why our Armed Forces are having to do so much with so little. If we cannot move our forces by air they are more vulnerable on the ground. How on earth did we get into such an unacceptable position
I will give you my promise that we will do everything we can to ensure that whatever you are asked to do, you are properly, fully equipped to do so, to maximise your chance of success and minimise the risk to you
But be in no doubt, this PM is pro-defence, pro-armed forces, passionate about what these people do on our behalf.
Gordon Brown was warned about the shortfalls in helicopters in 2004, yet he went ahead and cut the helicopter budget anyway. This was a catastrophic decision when our forces were at war. Gordon Brown’s talk about new helicopters for Afghanistan masks the reality that the fleet is still being overworked and that the numbers available for operations are too low. Once again our troops on the ground are suffering from Labour’s incompetence
Yes, there are difficult decisions but we will have some amazingly capable defence forces with some of the latest equipment in the world. Including more Chinook helicopters
The Government cut the helicopter budget in 2004 and is now desperately playing catch-up to diminish the effects of its own fateful decision. This state of utter confusion and contradiction by ministers will cause despair amongst the military. Not only does it appear that lions are led by donkeys, but the donkeys can’t even decide what the line is
The Government has a moral duty to ensure our Armed Forces have the equipment they need; instead we have a catalogue of bureaucracy, incompetence and timewasting
Whilst politicians play their games with the armed forces, as they always have, let’s not forget this isn’t a political issue but an operational one.