Well, what a week.
As we all thought and with the inevitability of night following day the MoD will be facing yet more budget cuts.
Sir Peter Wall, the Chief of the General Staff, fired a warning shot across the Governments bow by pointing out that core competencies would be at risk if more shrinkage was visited upon the Army. George Osborne had been as plain as possible previously, stating the MoD would not be immune from further budget reductions. This was equally in response to Phil Hammond arguing that the MoD should in fact, be immune.
Against this backdrop was the unseemly spectacle of politicians playing their leaderships games.
Most recently, David Cameron sought to calm things down by assuring the armed forces that there would be no cuts in personnel numbers.
It might fool some but most will see it as a completely disingenuous and empty gesture because whilst there might be no further cuts in numbers there are impending changes to the engagement model and a host of other things that will be just as damaging to both morale and capability. The equipment budget is supposedly going to rise by a percent but support costs, welfare, housing, training and other personnel related budgets remain on the table.
There is more to an effective armed forces than how much you spend on equipment equipment and simple personnel numbers.
Don’t be fooled by the possibility of Captain Efficiency Savings getting on parade again either.
If the armed forces are to suffer another budget cut then fair enough, but what I find displays a contemptuous ‘snivelling wretch’ kind of cowardice is trying to diffuse the reaction by making empty promises and vacuous assurances that won’t fool anyone.
This is what counts, honesty and integrity.
If a cut is needed, then just be open with those in the services and say we have to do less with less.
To cap it all Danny Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury thought he was being clever but just made himself look a prize tool.
Speaking about how more savings could be found in the MoD he scoffed that surely more savings could be found if the Army has more horses thank tanks.
It is very difficult to say anything about this beyond, what a complete twat, but the reason the Army has more horses than tanks is because SDSR 2010, yes, the one which was created by his government, cut armoured vehicles by 40% yet protected the ceremonials.
Although I do think we should be thinking hard about ceremonials and where the cost of resourcing sits the simple fact is the horse and guardsman’s busby is a recognisable symbol of ‘Britishness’ that draws a large number of tourists and an equally large amount of money into the Treasury, his department.
Today of course was Trooping the Colour, see all them horses, see all them crowds, think of the money.
Personally, I think we have more MP’s than backbones in the House of Commons, perhaps we should look there for ‘efficiency savings’
Contemptible and Facile Fuckwit of the Week Number 1, Danny Alexander
I used to think Phil Hammond was one of the best SoS Defence we had seen for some time, the calm and professional manner in which he handled the wreckage of his predecessor, the various MoD reforms and the professional manner in which the aftermath of the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby was handled all pointed to him being a safe pair of hands.
But this week, whilst in Afghanistan, he made a comment about Afghanistan being the British Vietnam that was unbelievably stupid.
Vietnam, a conflict that has enormous resonance and resulted in the US Army being ‘lost’ for a decade, precipitating a collapse in morale, veterans being marginalised and neglected, a handful of war crimes and an ignominious withdrawal.
Whilst I see what he was getting at, a reluctance for a while in enthusiasm for intervening for the long haul, to start talking like this, whilst in theatre, before we have withdrawn and against a backdrop of the budget discussions seems stupid beyond belief.
A rare misstep from Mr Hammond
Not a fuckwit, but surely a fuckwitted thing to say
Rounding out the trio this week is our very own Prime Minister. Whilst Syria and the wider Middle East carry on with their hundreds of years old religious wars he thinks providing sophisticated weapons, paid for by British taxpayers, will help us to do, what exactly.
Surely the irony of arming Al Qaida and disarming the British Armed Forces cannot have escaped him. This is one of the most inexplicable foreign policy decisions for many years. Arguing that we must do more to stop the bloodshed, by providing yet more weapons to one side in a religious civil war seems simply mad. We will have precisely zero control of them once in country and have enough less control over what happens next.
We seem to be jumping up and down on the sidelines like some excited puppy yet without the means to do anything meaningful because of decades of brown ale defence budgets and champagne foreign intervention tastes.
If the Arab world wishes to indulge in their ignorance fuelled and unenlightened religious conflict with little Russia seeking to jostle for position and Iran doing the same why should we care?
Yes I understand all the arguments about containment, the influence of Iran, nuclear standoff in the Gulf, Mediterranean gas, Qatari gas, red lines and the other arguments in favour of increasing intervention but I keep coming back to the simple question of…
Where is the strategic benefit to the UK?
It’s just not there and its not like we are flush with cash at the moment is it.
Every pound spent aiding the ‘good rebels’ not those heart eating ‘bad rebels’ is a pound not spent on the British armed forces, energy security, policing, transport, health and education.
I give you Fuckwit Number 3, David Cameron
In all of this, unapologetically sweary rant, the impression I get of these trio is they are a bunch of cowards.
They want to hide behind the flag, enjoy in the reflected popularity of the Armed Forces but when it comes right down to it, they just don’t have the backbone to be honest with them and the nation.
I like most people I am sure, accept that if the defence budget must be cut (you might argue yes or no) then it is what it is, just explain that is the case, be forthright, accept that we must do less with less, actually do so and have the backbone to explain to everyone that this is the case, then implement reductions in an equitable manner.
But it is the height of contemptible weasel worded cowardice to cut cut cut whilst telling anyone who will listen that we can carry on as before.
There is nothing wrong with strategic shrinkage, getting less involved militarily in world affairs and having a smaller armed forces because we no longer have the money to do so.
But politicians, please, let’s just have some basic honesty about it