One of the greatest problems with UK defence and security policy is the complete and utter disconnect between aspirations and reality.
Having successively cut the UK defence budget and failed to control the inexorable rise of defence equipment costs the actual capability we have may be perfectly formed with the very best of equipment, but it simply does not match the aspiration of politicians.
The current debate on
ISIS You Know Who in Iraq and Syria shows this writ large for all to see.
This is from my new favourite newspaper, a quote from Julian Lewis, chair of the Defence Select Committee;
I think how I vote [on whether the UK should join US-led air strikes over Syria] will depend on whether the prime minister, instead of making this up on the hoof as has been the case I’m afraid up till now, presents parliament with an integrated strategy, approved jointly by the heads of the armed forces, as something that could produce a decisive result.
A decisive result.
Now that is the funniest thing I have heard all year.
Crispin Blunt, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee also said;
The contribution of the Royal Air Force and the whole coalition operation flying about 5% of the missions now over both Iraq and Syria is not exactly the central contribution to defeating Islamic State
With the elderly Tornado looking likely to receive another service life extension and crews at the ragged edge, commitments to QRA taskings in the UK and the Falkland Islands, air policing in the Baltics and the task of managing the belated improvements in Typhoon capability, what is Mr Blunt expecting?
I don’t think there is anything wrong with carrying a medium sized stick and talking a medium sized fight, but our politicians seem to be intent on embarrassing themselves and placing unreasonable demands on service personnel by thinking they live in 1930’s.
If you want to talk softly and carry a large stick you have to pay for a stick, not a twig.
Whilst we are at it, let’s just remind ourselves, 2% is actually a reduction and considered to be the bare minimum, not something to crow about, no matter how you have cooked the books.