Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Armed forces 'cuts' and reforms

Michael Howard has accused the government of jeopardising the country's national security with reforms to the armed forces.

Mr. Howard argued that:

At a time of growing threats, instability and new dangers, Mr Blair has decided to cut our armed forces.

"This cannot be right. We cannot afford to gamble with our national security."

I wonder if Mr. Howard can clearly and concisely attempt to ascertain why the UK is supposedly under threat from Islamists. Or does he adhere to the tired rhetoric of how they 'hate our freedoms'?

I'm not an expert in military affairs, but I fail to see how the UK can justify stationing military personnel overseas. For example, why do we have troops in Cyprus? OK, yes it may have been a former British colony. Still, it's sovereign now. Cyprus' problems aren't and shouldn't be any problems of ours.

If Howard and the Tories (sorry....Conservatives...let's call them how they want to be called) truly believe in 'smaller government' then they should advocate reducing government expenditure by refraining from sending troops overseas. National offence should be converted to national defence.

If anything, the United Kingdom is blessed by its geographical position, especially when determining potential military threats to it. We are an island nation and any country seeking to invade us would need strong naval forces (Hitler resorted to the Battle of Britain for this purpose during WWII). We are also surrounded by friendly nations. The Republic of Ireland, France, the Benelux countries and the Scandanavian countries are all either NATO allies or fellow EU members.

I may be a layman as far as military issues are concerned, but a strong navy should be the vanguard of Britain's defences. At present, we possess the largest navy in Western Europe. Future governments (be they Labour or Conservative) should do their utmost to maintain such a position.