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Should troop numbers be cut?

23:44 UK time, Sunday, 13 June 2010

Defence Secretary Liam Fox says the UK will not "lose our nerve" in Afghanistan despite refusing to rule out a cut in troop numbers after the upcoming strategic defence review. What is your reaction?

In a speech to the Royal United Services Institute, Dr Fox said the UK faces "daunting" challenges, some resulting from Labour's "mismanagement" of spending. He also promised to try to get "better value for money" when buying equipment.

Speaking earlier, the defence secretary told BBC One's The Politics Show that "we can't surely be saying that we keep the shape and size or our armed forces exactly the same forever. We have to change in the light of the threats the country faces".

Should defence spending be cut? What would you cut? Has the nature of the threats to the country changed?

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Keep the troops. This is workfare for the semi-educated. Get rid of the Trident UPGRADE and lose the 2 aircraft carriers. We are not going to Nuke the Taliban and there are no oceans in Afghanistan or Iraq.

  • Comment number 2.

    Thank goodness we now have a man as Defence Secretary who tells us how it truly is.

    The threat against Britain now comes from a totally different quarter and our troop numbers and weapons should reflect that.

    Rather than increase troop numbers we should look after those we do have and provide them with what they need to defend our nation. Whatever they earn can surely never properly reflect the debt of gratitude we owe them but at least we can make sure they have efficient machinery and suitable equipment.

    We, perhaps, need to take a look at the enemy within and address that problem. Our borders should be made 100% secure despite what Europe thinks.

    I doubt that Liam Fox will go as far as I would like because I believe that our government should look after Britain and let the rest of the world look after itself.

    A nuclear deterrent, in my humble opinion, is something no country can deploy because of retaliation so I am slightly disappointed that it is to remain. I can only hope that Mr. Fox will keep the matter under review and eventually change his mind.

  • Comment number 3.

    The UK is spending £1 in every £4 on public expenditure that is borrowed money. That is unsustainable as it will soon cost the UK more money to service our debt than we spend on Defence and the Health Service combined.

    Defence spending is an area of public expenditure that has to be cut as the British cannot afford to support and maintain armed forces to police the world and go where the Americans wish to fight their next war.

    The sooner the UK gets out of Afghanistan the better. We cannot afford to be involved in a war that has no definitive end result and will take years to win.

    We could also bring the army home from Germany. The British Army on the Rhine was developed from being an occupational army into an army to defend Continental Europe from aggression from the East - why not leave Continental European defence to the Europeans who live on the continent - why should British soldiers be there to die defending Germany?

    The British Army needs to be UK-based and be here to defend the UK, the Navy needs to designed protect the UK and be maritime based and both the Army and Navy be prepared to be expeditionary as a last resort.

    We need to concentrate on protecting the British Isles and not be fighting for the freedom of Afghans who greet our troops one minute and then blow them up with IE devices the next.

  • Comment number 4.

    With our numbers at a low number already, how low can they really go?
    Its also an insult to our forces who are regularly being sent on tours of duty to Afghanistan.
    Do we cut back on out navy even more and then find we cannot respond to an attack on the Falklands, now especially as oil has been found close by.
    Or do we cut back on our air force?
    Why are we actually talking of cutting back our numbers when there's an argument that we need more as there have been too many cutbacks already and the world is not a safer place.

  • Comment number 5.

    Coming from a service family, I'm quite keen to protect the traditions and values of the Armed Forces, but it is absolutely true that the Armed Forces must be 'fit for purpose'.

    The first commitment to be axed MUST be the remnants of BFG (British Forces Germany). Germany is an equal partner in NATO and the EU and is perfectly capable of defending her territory from any foreseeable threat to it. The Cold War has been over for some 20 years now, time to go home. That will free up a staggering 20,000 troops - albeit troops who are mostly unsuited for the current deployments the British Armed Forces faces.

    I'd also like to see fewer people swanning about with egg on their hats. The Navy has more Admirals than SHIPS, let alone more admirals than fleets and the other services are similarly facing an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the size of the Officer Corps.

    It is also high time that the British Armed Forces dealt with it's bipolar disorder problem. Are we a regional or a world power? For far too long we have been trying to be a World Power on the budget of a Regional Power. It's high time we sorted out what kind of role we want in the world of today.

    I would rather see a smaller, more realistic, British Armed Forces that was fully capable, than our current model where we over-specialize, under support and depend upon the Americans for Airlift, Air Support, Logistics and other support.

  • Comment number 6.

    Bearing in mind the scale of the UK's debts I think the answer has to be yes.

    Personally I want to see the break up of the UK and an independent England. A small, peaceful, independent England would have no need for armed forces on the current scale. We could defend ourselves with 25% of the levels of the current armed forces - this would represent a massive financial saving.

    Sadly big Britisher delusions of grandeur still rule the day in the Dis-United Kingdom. The establishment still wants the the ability to project power around the globe. The armed forces still need restructuring. I'd suggest a combined defence force - get rid of the separate entities of the Army, Navy and Air Force and remould them into an integrated force. I think the armed forces should get rid of most of the unnecessary pomp and pageantry as well.

    I near the national war memorial at Alrewas in Staffordshire. The most depressing thing about it are the blank stone slabs waiting inevitably for the names of future dead soldiers from the UKs future wars. Much better for the home nations to go it alone and for the British armed forces to become small defence forces for small peaceful nations. England should lead the way towards a peaceful world.

  • Comment number 7.

    I do Agree that the MOD needs to be sorted out, but this has to be done right, before they go around welding the axe they should look ahead to the future, what are the possible threats, what will the MOD need. One possible answer would be to cut our main Battle tank force by half & invest in Lighter armourd vehicles that ar more suited for places like Afghanistan. We still need new aicraft carriers in case of any problems on our distant post, I think trident should be cut to two subs, if the RAF are to be cut then it should be older arcraft that go & invest in new aircraft that can be upgraded & updated to save costs. I do find it hard how they can cut our troop numbers as they are overstretched now, but I do agree we should be out of Germany now as the cold war is no longer.

  • Comment number 8.

    I would cut the civil service out source to cheaper contracts, and increase infantry numbers.

    As for our nuclear deterrent, in my opinion our country can not be with out it. The fact its there prevents aggression and retaliation and visa-verse.

    I can only hope that Mr. Fox will keep the nuclear deterrent as the status-quo has worked for so long.

    As for pulling troops out of Germany, what if the cold war starts up or an attack comes would our troops, who have, and would have, worked close to the German troop not be better prepared. Both in terrain and language.

    Finally together we stand divided we will fall as would a divided UK.

    We ex service personnel gave our life's, sweat and blood for the Union Jack and we would betray those who gave their life for it if we disbanded it.

  • Comment number 9.

    The war we have to fight is against global warming, and we need to spend a great deal of money adopting a near-zero CO2 policy. The weapons we have now are all pointing in the wrong direction and should be slashed.

  • Comment number 10.

    Liam Fox says that Sir Jock Stirrup & Bill Jeffrey have "not been 'fired' from their roles, and that it would be very wrong to use language such as 'axed'."

    Ermm... would "kicked out on their arses" be more appropriate?

    Really, the whole thing is like something out of Yes Minister. Even the name. I mean, I thought a "jock stirrup" was a device for - what is the military term, Liam? - "protection of the undercarriage"?

  • Comment number 11.

    Britain is no longer a major world power, and our armed forces should reflect this fact.

    In the face of our extreme national debt problems, how much more obvious could it be that we need to scrap the ludicrously-expensive Trident program?

    Then we can pull our of Iraq and Afghanistan - where we have NO BUSINESS BEING - cut troop numbers, and use the money freed up on health and education.

    Who knows - perhaps a decently funded education system will produce politicians intelligent enough not to invade countries thousands of miles away in the first place...

  • Comment number 12.

    The indications are that Liam Fox has, characteristically, brought along his own preconceived opinions and doesn't want to be bothered with the facts - hence the early departure of Sir Jock Stirrup and Sir Bill Jeffrey. He is considering slashing almost everything and, in particular, cutting the most essential of all military capabilities, the infantry, when it's obvious that it is already hugely overstretched in view of the responsibilities we're asking it to carry. Yet the one thing that isn't even up for debate is Trident, our so-called 'independent' nuclear deterrent which is in reality completely dependent on US support. So we propose to put ourselves in a position where we have practically no genuine conventional capabilities and our only response to any level of threat is, by default, the use of nuclear weapons (assuming our US masters permit it)? That would be going back to the 'massive retaliation' strategy that NATO dropped some 45 years ago, because it was recognised as insane. Who is going to take us seriously in our increasingly self-delusional role as a 'world power' if all we can do is point to the nuclear missiles we deploy on US sufferance, while lacking the real military capabilities ever to take any effective action against anyone? Even now, many of the supposed 'capabilities' we have are no more than a sham, kept up to persuade gullible voters that we're still a world-class power. Much of our equipment is either geriatric or affordable only in such tiny quantities as to be merely symbolic. Further cheese-paring cuts will only have the effect of making us an ever bigger laughing stock. There needs to be a fundamental realignment of our position in the world, and Trident should be the FIRST thing to be considered. Sadly, Liam Fox, who prefers American advisers to British, is not the man to take the decisions that are genuinely in this country's best interests.

  • Comment number 13.

    They all TALK about troop-reductions, as did Obama, but never deliver. It's a dying business.

  • Comment number 14.

    A better saving would be to pull out all the troups in Iraq and Afghanistan and leave the Americans to do theri own dirty work.

  • Comment number 15.

    Should Troop Numbers be Cut?
    Having large armies to fight against others under the name of enemies is an old fashioned idea. In this time and age, and in this global village, with excellent electronic communications available, there is no need to have large number of trained soldiers and trained armies to be kept in barracks for years, so that sometimes and for some ones wishes, be employed somewhere, as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Somalia. UK’s culture and civilization with rich sources and information about all lands and all cultures , with having best colleges, universities and experts in education, science, and technology, UK can change its present and future policy in increasing number of troops and try to have contacts with others through colleges, universities and experts in all levels of education, agriculture, science and technology.

  • Comment number 16.

    Certainly not! In such a dangerous world our already overstretched forces are going to become even more stretched. There are plenty of other areas where cuts can be made. How about benefit claimants, Legal Aid, local authorities etc.......

  • Comment number 17.

    No Troop cuts. The Troops will be needed to keep Great Britain's Borders safe when we leave the EU and when the Government start rounding up Illegal Immigrants.

  • Comment number 18.

    We should massively cut all military spending.

    It's absolutely ludicrous that we should be spending billions on defence from relatively minor foreign threats whilst our country crumbles from within. We will be cutting the NHS and education spending considerably over the next few years. So why oh why are we still spending so much cash on wars in the middle east, without ANY proof of payback for the British people or for the region? Since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, we have suffered the 7/7 tube bombings (2005), the rise of extreme inflammatory groups like the English Defence League (EDL) and Islam4Uk resulting in riots and violence, more intrusive and degrading security measures, increased terror alerts/threat levels, and various failed attempts.

    As for the middle east, the conflict in Afghanistan has now been going for nearly a decade, almost as much as WWI and WWII put together. Corruption and drugs are rife and the Taliban are still very active. We have no clear objective - do we chase the Taliban, Alqaeda, Bin Laden or just conservative muslims who want their wives to stay home?! You can't win hearts and minds with expensive fire power. There is no guarantee that the Afghanistan/Iraq will be any better when we leave. What a risk to take for such little reward.

    Cut military spending. Our governments simply can't be trusted to use such a precious resource responsibly.

  • Comment number 19.

    As Liam Fox says the troop numbers need to change depending on circumstances. We have a Armoured brigade in Germany, surely we could bring them home now that the USSR does not look like invading Europe.

    We have to many Top Brass, not enough specialist. Maybe it is also time to be honest about our role in the world. We have been in the front with the US and UN around the world, but we are a small nation punching well above our financial and military abilities. The Paras are going out to Afghanistan for their 3rd tour, not to mention tours in Iraq.

  • Comment number 20.

    People in the UK pay for two armies. We have our own forces that pick fights with anyone they think they can beat and we also pay for the UN, which is an army that will go into a country to help police to populus during rebuilding the country after an ivading force has destroyed it, like the british armed forces.

    Get rid of them all we dont need anymore trained killers and murderers on our planet.

  • Comment number 21.

    You cannot think about reducing the number of military personnel until you have worked out what you actually need them to do. Once the level of commitment and availability of troops has been decided upon, THEN you can work out how many you need - and modify recruitment and retention to suit.

  • Comment number 22.

    When I left the Armed Forces in 2007, after 28 years' service, vast numbers of military posts had been civilianised and "contracted out" (at a more expensive cost!!). I felt in the minority on military bases, as civilians massively outnumbered Service personnel. It was offputting, not only for me, but for many of my Service comrades.
    I was very pleased to take voluntary redundancy, as I'm sure the next Tranches of redundees will be. I was sceptical, as a young recruit, when veterans were saying that things have changed, not for the better! I eventually became one of those moaning old men, whingeing at the bar in the Sergeants' Mess!! They were right - it was not the same.
    The MOD budget could be drastically cut by getting rid of the vast numbers of civilians.

  • Comment number 23.

    What this Government says and what it does are entirely different.

    In an early morning speech to troops at Camp Bastion, the prime minister addressed unease back home by saying the mission in Afghanistan was vital for Britain's national security.
    Cameron, who pledged to "revere" Britain's forces, said: "This is not a war of choice, it is a war of necessity. This is not a war of occupation, it is a war of obligation."
    The Afghans aren't ready to look after their own security. As soon as they are ready, we can go home."
    . He announced:
    • A doubling of the operational allowance, at a cost of £58m a year, to £29.02 a day, backdated to the general election. "I know how hard you all work out here."
    • A republishing of the military covenant to ensure troops and their families are properly looked after with housing and healthcare.
    • That he would ensure the armed forces won the sort of support they enjoyed during the two world wars and the Falklands war. "I want to put you front and centre of our national life again," he said.
    Liam Fox, the defence secretary, said. "If we fail in the Nato training mission it will signify a lack of political will and a failure of moral resolve.
    Should they both have added, ‘Oh and by the way you’re all sacked as your country doesn’t need you any more.’

  • Comment number 24.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 25.

    No cut-backs in numbers. I thought I heard talk that RAF pilots and aircraft carriers were not so necessary now. With Obama around, I don't think we can look over there for help with aircraft carriers.

    If we cut back on numbers and find we need defence in another part of the world where they are more appropriate what we do - retrain?

    With unemployment so high, at least keep people in work, armed forces don't just sit around paper-shuffling.

    I know there is a belief we should pull out of Afghanistan. Trouble is, you can't just up sticks. Perhaps we should not have gone into Iraq in the first place and then Afghanistan. But we did. Have to deal with that, not with if onlys.

    What we learnt from the Boat People from Vietnam and what happened to Vietnamese people left behind when the Americans pulled out means there is no morally easy way out of a country once you have gone in and got local people on your side, and possibly no way safe out either.

    Look at not taking short-cuts instead. I realise this example will be a drop in the ocean, but what about the light-weight LandRovers which have been lost? If the right vehicles had been sent in, those might have remained intact, along with their occupants, and the LandRovers would have been used more appropriately elsewhere. There must be many examples such as this.

    Don't see losing nuclear at the moment as an option either. The new "cold front" seems to be with America, so we can't lose it on the basis that the Americans still have capacity (I don't mean we will go to war with America, they just don't seem to be a reliable ally now).

  • Comment number 26.

    Grim Death wrote: "Get rid of them all, we don't need anymore trained killers and murderers on our planet."

    In an ideal world, I'd agree with you - unfortunately the world seems bent on providing a limitless supply of murderers, and so we need our trained killers to stop them. As Orwell pointed out, those who abjure violence can only do so because they are willing to have others do it on their behalf.

    That said, it does seem that we are in a financial position where we need to cut our costs, one area for cuts is certainly defense. As Megan wrote, though, it would be nice if we worked out how much we had to spend, what we needed to do and devised a sensible shopping list BEFORE knee jerk cuts were made.

  • Comment number 27.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 28.

    6. At 01:06am on 14 Jun 2010, englandrise wrote:
    Bearing in mind the scale of the UK's debts I think the answer has to be yes.

    Personally I want to see the break up of the UK and an independent England. A small, peaceful, independent England would have no need for armed forces on the current scale. We could defend ourselves with 25% of the levels of the current armed forces - this would represent a massive financial saving.

    Sadly big Britisher delusions of grandeur still rule the day in the Dis-United Kingdom. The establishment still wants the the ability to project power around the globe. The armed forces still need restructuring. I'd suggest a combined defence force - get rid of the separate entities of the Army, Navy and Air Force and remould them into an integrated force. I think the armed forces should get rid of most of the unnecessary pomp and pageantry as well.

    I near the national war memorial at Alrewas in Staffordshire. The most depressing thing about it are the blank stone slabs waiting inevitably for the names of future dead soldiers from the UKs future wars. Much better for the home nations to go it alone and for the British armed forces to become small defence forces for small peaceful nations. England should lead the way towards a peaceful world.


    Wanting to be peaceful is one thing, getting peace is another

  • Comment number 29.

    We'd save a lot more money by cutting Civil Service Pensions.

  • Comment number 30.

    DR Fox misses the simple fact that it takes up to five men to do one combat job. In the 2nd World War the UK ran out of combat troops, as did the USA. Soldiers rapidly become more safety conscious, (rightly so) the longer a deployment lasts. The wastage rises rapidly with many men deciding to live with their families rather than die with the Army. Dr Fox needs to read the memoirs of many Officers from the 1940's, or research from the Vietnam War. One historical work that clearly shows how combat efficiency drops is the well known 'Band of Brothers' the book shows how even the best troops can 'go off' unless properly rested.
    The war in Afghanistan is 6 years old, as long as WW2.
    Simple cutting of Infantry numbers will not work. The Government needs to work out the long term liability of the UK, do we save a few pounds by having less troops or does the UK require an Army that can actually do its job.
    Should the UK get involved in 'foreign wars' or should we make a decision to finally 'withdraw from Empire'?

  • Comment number 31.

    Bring them all back home, leave the Afghans and Pakistanis to sort themselves out.

    Based back in the uk they could help law and order in many ways and get ready for the enemy within that is growing while we all live in our comfy lives.

    We need to have our good brave soldiers back home.

  • Comment number 32.

    "The truth is we cant no longer afford to fight other people wars" When Many young men from Afganistan are hiding in the U.K. and Europe to avoid any type of armed service in they army, or police-force. Why should our Heroes' fight and died for them? Bring them all home Please, They have done a great job with courage !!!!

  • Comment number 33.

    If we are short of money and the threat of war is low then I see no reason why we shouldn't reduce the number of our armed forces personnel.

    It probably depends on how successful we are in training the Afghans to secure their own country to allow our troops to return home.

  • Comment number 34.

    Typical Labour over extended the armed forces and under resourced them. Now after their 13 years of mismanagment we have a force not fit for purpose.

    I would rather see a cut to foriegn aid and Legal Aid (provided to foriegners here in the UK) before any reductions to budgets for our armed forces.

  • Comment number 35.

    Troop numbers should not be reduced but some of the 1,300,000 NHS and 500,000 teachers plus university lecturers could be made redundant.
    We also need the numbers of MP's, Lords, etc reduced by 30% to help reduce government spending by £156,000,000,000. It is a waste of time expecting tax rises to increase government income as the taxes on tobacco and alcohol show. Any further increases just depress sales and actually reduce tax income.

  • Comment number 36.

    Cronkist wrote:
    We'd save a lot more money by cutting Civil Service Pensions.

    I assume you're including all pensions paid by the public purse. So we would cut forces pensions as well.

  • Comment number 37.

    Keep doing this, missing a point.

    Our troops don't only go into battle.

    Fire service goes on strike - the Green Goddesses come in.

    Any national emergency - the relevant troops come in to provide assistance, whether it is an airlift, building up flood defences, delivering food to people or livestock stranded in bad weather.

    They are often the most reliable members of the workforce.

  • Comment number 38.

    Troop numbers should not be cut. We are struggling to find enough troops for current engagements. Troops also need to be rotated. They cannot face front line excursions continuously - they need some down time with their families away from the front. This is already a problem. How can they continue with reduced numbers. Lets not gag the army chiefs - lets here the real story. I wouldn't want to put our troops lifes at risk to save some pennies.

  • Comment number 39.

    Of course troop numbers should be cut. Firstly, the Government need to get real and admit that we are no longer a major world power capable of fighting every cause that comes along. Secondly, we simply cannot afford to maintain our current level of our armed services. And thirdly, why are we even considering Trident, a system which like its predecessors, we will never use.
    Cut the numbers. Cut the top brass (we dont need a General for every 40 troops) Cut the waste in the MOD. (Read Lions Donkeys and Dinosaurs by Lewis Page - it will open your eyes)

  • Comment number 40.

    Odd, Liam Fox was so gungho on attacking Iran, I would have thought he wanted to increase troop numbers not cut them.
    The troops pay and conditions need to be upgraded, Fox should take a long hard look at the procurement process, there must be cost savings to make there.

    The elephant in the room is the £100+ billion cost of the Trident upgrade.
    First question to ask, who are we aiming at?
    Second question, why?
    Third question, will the US allow us to fire at them anyway?

  • Comment number 41.

    We can only cut troop numbers if we significantly cut our commitments abroad. We never seem to have understood that we are no longer a world power and continually get ourselves involved in conflicts which have nothing to do with us. We always seem to be provided the second highest number of troops to any conflict/Peace keeping mission.
    At the moment our troops are actually overstretched because of all these commitments. I think the General Public would be surprised if they realised how many areas of the world our troops are deployed, it isn't just in Afganistan.

  • Comment number 42.

    The world is not, never has been, nor never will be a 'safe place'. The threat to both world peace and the peace of individual nations can come at any time and from any source. Situations can also change rapidly.
    Our armed forces should never be cut back. On the contrary, they should be re-appraised on a regular basis in the light of world events. If anything, they should be increased.
    It is short-sighted to suggest that we should scrap Trident and our own nuclear capability just because someone like the Taliban does not have them. Nuclear arms exist as a potent self-defence against any unknown future threat.
    Never underestimate the enemy! Do we learn nothing from history?

  • Comment number 43.

    I would welcome this decision by the lib dems if they were to do this.

    I hope this is the first step to cutting the armed forces to zero.

  • Comment number 44.

    If the troops are there, they need the man power to do the job they are being asked to do.
    if not bring all the troops home.

  • Comment number 45.

    Cut back on our Army, Royal Navy & Royal Air Force?
    Never!

    As for those who say we do not need nuclear weapons. OK, if we get rid of them, what is to stop those countries who hate the West and DO have nuclear weapons from launching against the UK? The UK`s Armed Forces may not be as big as it were, but it is respected world wide by those countries who depend on well trained, well disciplined men and women to defend them and protect their rights of freedom.

    Tell our troops in Iran, Afghanistan and other countries that they are no longer wanted and show them the door, the door to unemployment!

    Talk of cutbacks is just plain STUPID!

    Start the cutbacks in Parliament, where the rouges and thieves think up these ridiculous ideas just to make themselves heard in an otherwise silent world they live in.


    Ex-Forces and PROUD I served.


    NO to Cutbacks.

  • Comment number 46.

    Trident should not be replaced with an equivalent system when it retires.

    It is not flexible enough offer deterrence against smaller states and the missiles are effectively useless without US support.

    Keep a nuclear deterrent, in the form of bombs on the new aircraft carriers and cruise missiles on Astute submarines. Job done £80 billion saved.

  • Comment number 47.

    Disingeuous question.

    This should certainly not just be about cutting troop numbers. There is, it seems, an acknowledgement that our troop set-up is not the best for our present needs. We need to review our commitments and likely future commitments (such as, possibly, Iran) and to ensure that we have in place a properly trained and ready force to deal with these commitments. If that means we need more troops then that is what we do - recruit - but if we need less troops then we shed.

    In all of this, though, the most important thing is to ensure that our troops are properly trained and properly equipped. Once we have decided on the formation of the armed forces we can then look critically at the support required for them. That is almost certainly an area where numbers can be reduced. If we acknowledge that troops are likely to be engaged on forgeign missions then there is no need whatsoever to have highly paid staff bunkered down in London. HQ staff should be minimal, with resources aimed at protecting the front line.

    So I don't think that cuts are inevitable, but rather that the force structure needs to change, with a more flexible set of troops (from all the services), possibly integrated to a single service, with far fewer at the top.

  • Comment number 48.

    We don't need anything like the size of the military we have now, and we certainly don't need Trident.
    Cutting back on spending on so-called "defence" would solve the debt problems in one swoop

  • Comment number 49.

    If Europe wants a share in the oil that will eventually flow from the Americans pipeline destined for the Turkish Gulf shore,we will have to toe the line of military engagement in Afghanistan.The Taliban want international recognition as the legitimate Afghan government,most Afghans(especially women)do not want that to happen.The Taliban want to have their cake and eat it,controlling the potential profits from the extension of the pipeline through Afghanistan,as well as imposing fundamentalist rule over the Afghans.we cannot allow a situation where we abandon the Afghans to their fate as decided by a conflict between the oil giants and the Taliban.Our long-term goal in Afghanistan has been,and is,the overthrow of the Taliban theocracy and greater western-style prosperity for the ordinary Afghans,the pipeline can guarantee the Afghans some economic stability for growth if only the Taliban can be neutralised.Troop numbers will have a huge part to play in this continuing conflict and I genuinely believe that the very recently retired head of the Joint Service Staff should be asked to prepare a paper on what he thinks is required to finish the job and still possess effective and efficient armed forces.Politicians do not know enough about the prosecution of armed conflict to justify allowing any of them to make these decisions based on political expediency.

  • Comment number 50.

    It is 2010 not 1940!

    Britain is not a world power and although some deluded individuals think it is, in reality it never was, just at its peak a big bully!

    There is no need for huge armed forces, a good idea would be to scrap the 3 services and go with the Canadian system CAF.

    A better idea would be to have a European Defence Force.

    There is no need for a new Trident as the old one works, I would like a new car but can not afford it, and the one I have is fit for purpose.

  • Comment number 51.

    I agree that if we are short on money that man power should be cut. Not long ago it was revealed that there is roughly 2 pencil pushers for every soldier and this should be reduced. More efficient procurement of supplies and buying working kit (which mostly rules out european rubbish) at the cheaper price.

    Also the MOD are buying some new frigates which have been highlighed as pretty useless. They are being built in britain to keep our industry open for when we have need for real ships. The frigates have barely any weapons and little ammo to fight with. Also their role is better suited to a number of well armed ship classes that we do already have.

    As for trident, we do need it. No better alternative has been presented and it is typical that the french have let us down. It is not promising that the ships main weapon is still in test with a 50% success rating in testing. Yet its nuclear weapons cannot be delivered any more efficiently and other options would cost far more.

  • Comment number 52.

    I spent 24 years of my life in the Royal Navy, I have seen out strength go from 50 warships to around 30, yet I have seen no reduction in the commitments, that the Royal Navy contribute to,

    Remember when I ship is on permanent duty, you have a ship on station (ship out there) and Ship Preparing to go and a ship that has just spent 9 months operating on its and in need of maintenance before being made ready for some other task somewhere else, That is half the Navy. There is always around 5 ships in refit at any one time, leaving just ten ships to do the job the navy is out there to do.

    If you are going to cut then cut, but cut the commitment as well, that means telling NATO we cannot meet our commitments under the NATO agreement. Meaning that there will be a severe hole in the defences of Europe. It is the Royal Navy that provides the Anti Submarine Capability in the Iceland Faroe Gap, to prevent the submarines breaking out into the Atlantic, and causing the same havoc that Germany caused in WW2.

    This is not Super Power Status, this is survival as not one country in NATO can defend itself without the help of others, such is the Democratic way, when cuts are needed take from the forces.

  • Comment number 53.

    AS previous wars have shown Air superiority is everything. The RAF should be left alone as should be the the new carriers.
    Cut the civil service part of the MOD, but not the civvy storemen & women but the layers of non-productive management.

    Perhaps we should be buying proven systems - a classic example being thr purchase of Israeli comms systems (a couple of million) after the £500million UK system failed in afganistan. Buy American or French if its better VFM ! And put the uniformed military in charge of projects instead of Civvies!

    We should keep the nuclear deterrent- We could have smaller submaries and give the RAF cruise missiles as back up. Trident is just a one use platform - RAF Planes can do several roles .


  • Comment number 54.

    Most people consider that the primary role of troops is to further Britain's interests abroad. For some time, now, I have been of the opinion that this is not the primary reason for maintaining such a large military force. In fact, it is my view that the army are there first and foremost to quell outbreaks of domestic unrest. When the people of this country wake up to the injustices perpetrated upon them by the self-appointed ruling elite and take to the streets, it is the army they will have to deal with.

    Anyone who considers enlisting with the military should think long and hard about whether they would be prepared to shoot their own people in the name of the monarch.

  • Comment number 55.

    no if anyhing numbers need in creased,what we need nonoe of are those promoting a pc agenda on the state payrole

  • Comment number 56.

    I'll happily wait to be corrected here - I remember a report in the late '90s that said it takes 10 years to effectively increase the size of the armed forces and have them battle-ready. So this needs to be taken into account before any reductions take place.

    "9-11", the 11th of September tragedy, showed us that we don't get 10 years to ramp up our armed forces, so the inane thought that we don't need a standing army because we're "not one of the big boys" is completely off point. We must be able respond quickly to any event that occurs where we are put at risk.

    With this in mind I agree that our armed forces are not the right shape for what's required, but I'm prepared to argue strongly that numbers are already at the bottom end of what we need as a country, to protect ourselves and our current interests.

    And as for cutting Civil Service pensions (that came from left-field a bit) The Civil Service is a big entity, and includes police, fire-fighters, doctors and nurses, as well as coastguards and armed forces. Many incumbents accepted lower pay on the understanding that they would benefit at the end of their working lives - through their pension. Because you're spending your extra money just now instead of making hay you now want to limit Public Sector pensions. Well, new entrants already are not allowed on the previous schemes, so your prayers have been answered, and those who form a continuing liability deserve (in my opinion) the rewards for the work they do on an oacknowledged lower salary than equivalent private salaries. Grapes should be allowed to ripen before tasting.

  • Comment number 57.

    26. At 08:09am on 14 Jun 2010, Apolloin wrote:
    Grim Death wrote: "Get rid of them all, we don't need anymore trained killers and murderers on our planet."

    In an ideal world, I'd agree with you - unfortunately the world seems bent on providing a limitless supply of murderers, and so we need our trained killers to stop them. As Orwell pointed out, those who abjure violence can only do so because they are willing to have others do it on their behalf.

    That said, it does seem that we are in a financial position where we need to cut our costs, one area for cuts is certainly defense. As Megan wrote, though, it would be nice if we worked out how much we had to spend, what we needed to do and devised a sensible shopping list BEFORE knee jerk cuts were made.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Your argument is so flawed but then thats what brainwashing does to you, you lose the ability to see the world through your own eyes and only throgh the eyes that you are told to look through.

    The heads up here my friend is look around you and you will see we do live in an ideal world its a beautiful place, it's just everyday we destroy a little bit more of it with our greedy selfish squabbling.

    Its not the world that is creating murderers, it's capitalist pigs like us whos only real concern is folding green and how to get more of it regardless who we kill, maim and destroy in the process.

    How can a society where we have a "ZERO" tolerance to violence in our streets then condone the massacre and murder of foreign nationals on their home soil.

    Oh the hypocrasy, the vile stench of capitalism is destroying not only our world but our planet and quoting Orwell in your defence is ludicrous because our armed forces are nothing more than viscous murdering dogs that do the bidding of the grossly selfish pig like leaders of our unjust society for a few scraps thrown from the table of the endless banquet they enjoy.





  • Comment number 58.

    Fit for purpose is the key word here. One could put a big question mark for having 20.000 people in Germany? Are they defending Germany from the Austrians or what? Also a question can be placed for spending dozens of billion pounds on a couple of submarines and aircraft carriers which obvious are not built for defense and are mainly tools of aggression.

  • Comment number 59.

    46. At 09:26am on 14 Jun 2010, Bradford wrote:

    Trident should not be replaced with an equivalent system when it retires.

    It is not flexible enough offer deterrence against smaller states and the missiles are effectively useless without US support.

    Keep a nuclear deterrent, in the form of bombs on the new aircraft carriers and cruise missiles on Astute submarines. Job done £80 billion saved.

    -----------------------------------------

    Unfortunately it costs more to launch the nukes from aircraft or cruise missile. Aircraft are pretty easy to shoot down and to ensure delivery we would need a lot of aircraft carrying nukes to make sure it gets through. Cruise missiles are too easy to shoot down. As much as we may not like it we need the tridant delivery system but looking for a better replacement in future is not a bad idea

  • Comment number 60.

    Troops should only be cut in Afghanistan as conditions allow, not out of political or economic need. If necessary troop numbers should go up.

    This may become a mute point in the foreseeable future. It won't be long before we will be fighting in Pakistan too. The Pakistan are letting us down by ignoring the needs of the rural poor. The Taliban is gaining in strength there because the poor are desperate.

  • Comment number 61.

    It costs so much now to equip the armed forces and the technology is so advanced that much of the equipment is now provided by foreign civilian contracted companies that retain all maintenance contracts meaning our armed forces don't build their own equipment and aren't allowed to service it. This is in addition to troops now paying more than ever for their accomodation and food.

    I agreed with the Lib Dems before the election on the need to include Trident in the defence review. This was not as the Tory press made out a commmitment to scrap it, but means we actually look at whether we need it or not. By not including it it will make a mockery of our judging of other elements of our defence on their value for money, usefulness and effectiveness. It also makes a hypocracy against other countries not having nuclear weapons when we think they are are an absolute necessity.

  • Comment number 62.

    56. At 09:54am on 14 Jun 2010, teedoff wrote:
    [...] it takes 10 years to effectively increase the size of the armed forces and have them battle-ready.

    "9-11", the 11th of September tragedy, showed us that we don't get 10 years to ramp up our armed forces, so the inane thought that we don't need a standing army because

    --------------------------

    What is an inane thought, is to go to war on purely speculative reasons.
    There were no investigations, very little evidence that survived intact, and very dubious circumstances.

    Perhaps if we had no army to jump in with, perhaps we wouldn't have jumped in feet first?



    I think all Afghanistan has proven, is that you can't fight terrorism with a conventional army.

    [Perhaps the relevance of an army in the modern world is becoming outdated. Soon we'll be living in a world with a single force of militia-police who go running around with persuadertrons]

  • Comment number 63.

    "As for those who say we do not need nuclear weapons. OK, if we get rid of them, what is to stop those countries who hate the West and DO have nuclear weapons from launching against the UK? "

    Which countries are those then? The plain fact is that there is no country with the means and the desire to bring about a nuclear attack on the UK.

    Trident is nothing more than an attempt to "keep up with the big boys" - a delusion of grandeur. Apparently it allows us to hold our heads up and say "yes, we've got the fancy big stick as well".

    It is not a defensive weapon. The idea that Trident keeps at bay maniacial dictators from pressing the red button is a fantasy.

    No sane country would contemplate a nuclear attack on a NATO member; the insane ones don't possess the means. What exactly would we use Trident against if we were attacked? The idea that we have nuclear independence is a fiction - in reality, it is the US President who has control.

    Trident is a useless white elephant that at best can allow us to posture on the world stage and say "we don't play second fiddle to the French".

    We will never give it up though - we will keep on playing the hyprocritical game of "we have our big stick and we''re going to keep it, but we won't allow you to have it"

    The irony is that one of the reasons that so many countries want nuclear weapons is that we, who are THEIR perceived enemies, already have them.

    At heart we're still cave-men playing tribal "who has the biggest club" dominance games.

  • Comment number 64.

    Yes! We proport to be a civilised nation - we should not use force and killing as a means to change the world or dominate the resources it holds.

  • Comment number 65.

    NO. We should, sorry must, increase troop numbers. In order to pay for this we should STOP immediately ALL purchase of arms, tanks and other military equipment from abroad (especially those tanks from America), then set about rebuilding Britains industry to supply our own needs to our own armed forces. This will reduce the benefits bill by more than enough to pay for the expansion and, at the same time, allow us to export our superior technology. Lets face it while '80%' of the new tanks are to be assembled in Britain that is 20% of the money going abroad, all the patents, all production for any spin off business, 500 jobs from BAE instantly lost, and more to follow - how could that have ever been 'good value' for the British economy - it wasn't. We need to spend our money here employing our workers creating equipment for our armed forces. Lets face it we should have learnt from the Falklands, we beat the Argentinians only because they couldn't make the missiles they needed to sink our ships and we managed to prevent them buying any. Can you imagine the next time we need to protect those islands the Americans will just refuse to supply tanks, or the South Americans refuse to supply bullets, or the Belgiums refuse to supply guns, suddenly those British islands will become Argentinians (which is another thing the Americans want as part of their anti-British stance).

  • Comment number 66.

    It would be much too risky to reduce U.K. troop numbers in the current global uncertainty. Iran, North Korea and the entire Middle East all have the potential to "turn nasty" and we are facing the ever present threat of terrorism on our home soil. We must not be caught napping and off guard!

  • Comment number 67.

    Surely there are better and more effective ways of cutting our defence budget. We don't seem to have enough troops to satisfy our existing commitments without over extending them. What commitment would we relinquish if we were to reduce troop numbers?

    Scrap Trident - what possible use is it? We are never going to use it and, compared to the arsenals of the USA, it's a drop in the ocean. Why is it not included in the review? what's so special about it? The money saved by scrapping it would more than pay for decent equipment for the few remaining troops.

  • Comment number 68.

    British military has an over abundance of generals, admirals, and air marshals. The Israeli airforce has twice as many combat planes as the RAF but the RAF has 10 times as many Air Commodores and above. Cutting back at the senior level would save alot of money.

  • Comment number 69.

    Cut the defence budget by 80%.

    Switch to pure homeland defence (that's if the politicians really need to play soldiers and sailors with other people's lives).

    Britain is no longer a world power and we should stop trying to pretend otherwise.

    There is therefore no longer any need for Britain to "project UK foreign policy by military means".

    So we don't need £100 billion nuclear weapons systems, £1 billion destroyers, multi-billion pound aircraft carriers, extremely expensive main battle armour or jet fighters at £70 million a pop.

  • Comment number 70.

    57. At 10:00am on 14 Jun 2010, Grim Death wrote:

    Your argument is so flawed but then thats what brainwashing does to you, you lose the ability to see the world through your own eyes and only throgh the eyes that you are told to look through.

    The heads up here my friend is look around you and you will see we do live in an ideal world its a beautiful place, it's just everyday we destroy a little bit more of it with our greedy selfish squabbling.

    Its not the world that is creating murderers, it's capitalist pigs like us whos only real concern is folding green and how to get more of it regardless who we kill, maim and destroy in the process.

    How can a society where we have a "ZERO" tolerance to violence in our streets then condone the massacre and murder of foreign nationals on their home soil.

    Oh the hypocrasy, the vile stench of capitalism is destroying not only our world but our planet and quoting Orwell in your defence is ludicrous because our armed forces are nothing more than viscous murdering dogs that do the bidding of the grossly selfish pig like leaders of our unjust society for a few scraps thrown from the table of the endless banquet they enjoy.

    -------------------------------------------

    I am guessing your a lib dem supporter or support their views on armies. They too believe that there is no need for an army and that without one there would be less killing. This is an ideal world view which we dont live in.

    Starting as children we learn that if we want something we have to go and get it. In our civilised world that something may be a toy or game. In less civilised societies its food. In the civilised world we are taught to share and be good to others. Yet when the electricity fails, titanic sinks or flood strikes we exist to survive and will do what we can to save ourselves and our family. We become the priority.

    Teaching also focuses on survival. You need good grades to get a good job to live. Even religion teaches such survival as the many massacres by the religious (in the bibles) as well as their history of building armies to fight for land and wealth (catholics are a primary example but islam is up there too).

    We are attacked by extremist groups who are anti western because we have what they want. We have a good life while in some parts of the world they fight over what little resources they have. As a result the gang/cult culture arrives and the few warlords/leaders horde resources to survive.

    In britain we have all but given up public ownership of guns, have a fear of knives, we have an irrational fear of hoods and are very soft as far as the real world is concerned. Our army is one of the few acknowledgements of a real world beyond our own. While in britain we may be going soft the rest of the world is not. There are those who want to kill us. Take what we have for themselves. And without the army we are all but inviting such an event.

    We cannot rely on our allies to fight for us. Europe is tied up by the EU which has a large input from the french (when did they last win a war?) and the US president is cutting ties with the UK much to my disapointment.

    Throughout history the army has been necessary so you can live. You are here to make your statements because our army faught the nazis 60 years ago. We are not blown to bits because our army is fighting the terrorists at the source.

    However civilised we would like to think ourselves we are still only civilised because we have the biggest sword and the best warriors

  • Comment number 71.

    This is a bit of an easy cut to make in terms of being a soft target for the treasury and also because it is workable. Here are some cuts that would not hinder the 3 services.

    1, Withdraw BFG
    Get our personnel and equipment out of Germany immediately. They are not needed there any longer. You might get some who moan about training facilities in Germany being required. There is nothing to stop training exercises taking place there, we just don't have to own/lease it.

    2, Scrap Trident
    The seaborne deterrent is too expensive. Revert back to using an airborne delivery system that would be cheaper, more secure and versatile.

    3, Civi-Service Balance
    Institute a golden rule that the number of civilians employed in all parts of the MoD must never exceed the number service personnel. This rule would encourage the cut in civil service bureaucracy, creating a double saving!

    No personnel, equipment or facilities cut this way. Simples.

  • Comment number 72.

    62. At 10:33am on 14 Jun 2010, Rob wrote:

    "What is an inane thought, is to go to war on purely speculative reasons.
    There were no investigations, very little evidence that survived intact, and very dubious circumstances.

    Perhaps if we had no army to jump in with, perhaps we wouldn't have jumped in feet first?"

    Dont forget without our army we would speak german and hail the fhurer

    "I think all Afghanistan has proven, is that you can't fight terrorism with a conventional army.

    [Perhaps the relevance of an army in the modern world is becoming outdated. Soon we'll be living in a world with a single force of militia-police who go running around with persuadertrons]"

    I think afghan has proven our army is worth every penny. The afghan forces want us there because our army can deal with the situation where theres is unprepared. They are utilising our help to train their own army. Without our help the afghans would be trapped under the strict rule and dictatorship of the taliban and suffer because nobody would help. While the EU debated it was the US and UK forces which hammered the taliban and freed so many people.

    Hats off to our forces

  • Comment number 73.

    The “I’m alright jack” attitude of some on here is appalling
    Lets be clear here - we are talking about making soldiers/airmen/sailors redundant. Paying redundancy payments; placing large swathes of men and women on the dole and swelling social security payments. If they have dependent families in forces accommodation, they have to be found homes by us (at tax payers expense) or local councils (at ratepayers expense). Historically Forces personnel need specialist help to re-integrate into Civvy Street, particularly now where we have yet to see all the mental and physical scars of war become apparent in our returning forces. Where is that money coming from? Or will the NHS and Criminal justice system be the sink hole
    Then we look at scrapping air craft carriers/trident etc. Like it or not our defence industries are very important in keeping UK plc afloat. If these industries lose contracts then we not only lose highly skilled workers abroad (or worse to the dole) but whole communities dependent on the industry withers and dies (look at miner’s / Steel communities in the 80's or Dagenham when Ford closed in 2000)
    When cuts are needed, Defence is always a target and some defence cuts can be managed to allow money to be saved but by cutting without regard to the future consequences will lead us to spending more money than we save and we should not forget in our haste and hype to cut that behind every cut is a human cost.

  • Comment number 74.

    Those who would wish for the forces to be merged would undo centuries of tradition and damage the relationship between the government and the forces. They already work together in joint areas and share sites and resources. The personnel would also hate to be a part of a new "purple" force.

    Such an idea is really insulting.

  • Comment number 75.

    We wouldnt need budget cuts to the MOD if we were not fighting proxy wars for Isreal and the USA

  • Comment number 76.

    If the ConDems wish to find savings they may wish to investigate the outsourcing private sector contracts for IT, mail, payment delivery, stationery, property maintenance and management etc. Most of these are long term and would fail rudimentary VFM investigation by independent auditors.

    We do not need to lose things or people public until the best way of delivering services at reasonable cost is identified. Previous administrations including the Tories have failed to do this.

  • Comment number 77.

    We rely on foreign investment and need a strong force to secure British investment abroad. So cuts would damage investment security and would be unprofitable. That is why cuts in armed forces would be unwise. any threat to our investment security must be opposed.

  • Comment number 78.

    The numbers of troops are NOT the problem -- The MOD had an enormous budget but it employs almost one desk worker in the UK for every serviceman/woman--how much of the budget is spent on these civilians? Now, where should the cuts be? I gather that military personnel seconded to work along side theses civilians now wear uniform so that they can be differentiated-- the miltary are usually astonished at the attitude of the `desk wallahs` to their work-- `what, you are going home when you have not finished the task?-- yes, I`ve done what I`m paid for!!! GET RID OF THESE FIRST.

  • Comment number 79.

    Just to put the Military in perspective. About 100,000 people, or more, die each year in the UK from lack of the best available treatment and street crime. The number killed by foreign soldiers - nil.

    Our next door neighbour, Ireland, manages with minimal armed forces. As do most of our European neighbours, including those with a coastline. Why have we been wasting money and brains that could have been used to make our country a better and richer place for so many years? Wouldn't it be better if most of that money employing all the armed forces staff had been spent on manufacturing radar, new railways, body scanners, anti-biotics, microchips, or anything we have invented, but not had the cash to develop and make.

  • Comment number 80.

    62. At 10:33am on 14 Jun 2010, Rob wrote:
    56. At 09:54am on 14 Jun 2010, teedoff wrote:
    [...] it takes 10 years to effectively increase the size of the armed forces and have them battle-ready.

    "9-11", the 11th of September tragedy, showed us that we don't get 10 years to ramp up our armed forces, so the inane thought that we don't need a standing army because

    --------------------------

    What is an inane thought, is to go to war on purely speculative reasons.
    There were no investigations, very little evidence that survived intact, and very dubious circumstances.

    Perhaps if we had no army to jump in with, perhaps we wouldn't have jumped in feet first?



    I think all Afghanistan has proven, is that you can't fight terrorism with a conventional army.
    __________________________________________________________________

    You miss the point, Rob, as well as the next part of my comment that explained my recognition of the wrong shape of our forces.

    I used 9-11 purely as an example that we cannot expect to have 10 years of notice that a conflict may erupt. If we have no armed forces then we are inviting any other power to walk into our countryy and take over (which may not, depending on your point of view, be a bad thing). If we have a purely defensive force then we cannot aid such entities as NATO or support those who ask for our help, such as the Falkland Islanders. So we must make a decision on what value we wish to be to the world in general and ensure that we can respond to the various requirements that value brings. This may take the form of disaster aid or policing against outbreaks of violence where we have business interests. That's decision that will be made as part of the strategic review.

    You're right that fighting in Afghanistan needs a different approach - and I believe that has been recognised. It's why the emphasis is now on policing and training the local forces. We know there's also the possibility of having to exercise some control in Iran or Pakistan, and this is why we need to change the shape of our forces. I ask the questions - how many RAF or RN personnel have died as a direct result of the conflict in Afghanistan? Why is that? How can we ensure that ground troops have a better chance? We need to change the training for these troops, to help them understand and deal with guerilla warfare, but that doesn't mean we need less or more troops, just a better understanding of what roles they are expected to fulfil in today's combat situations.

    Your final comment (yes, I left it out from the above quote) is perhaps close to the truth in the future, but if there is only one policing force then there is no need for further conflict so they will automatically civilianise and become more peaceful in their approach.

  • Comment number 81.

    A cut in troop numbers is dangerous for us all, and especially would be a very low and callous blow indeed for our troops. All the indications are, (for years) that 'active' tours for our troops are getting longer, and breaks from front-line action is shorter. Therefore, this indicates that we don't have enough troops?

    The recent release of 'open government' information by Cameron and Co., indicate that the MoD in their comfy offices are over-staffed with too many 'chiefs' and certainly too many 'indians'

    If the MoD were competent and effective in their responsibility to supply and provide support AND duty of care for our troops - fair enough - but apparently they have been rather (to be polite) quite the opposite?

  • Comment number 82.

    In view of the current economic situation we cannot afford to fight wars anywhere.Bring home our troops,we cant afford to fight American wars.I thought that Nato was fighting this war but it seems its limited to the US and ourselves with all the others playing a walk on role.So much for Nato.We have lost too many good soldiers and enough is enough.

  • Comment number 83.

    78. At 11:33am on 14 Jun 2010, jnh wrote:

    ...the miltary are usually astonished at the attitude of the `desk wallahs` to their work-- `what, you are going home when you have not finished the task?-- yes, I`ve done what I`m paid for!!! GET RID OF THESE FIRST.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    Quite right. In fact, don't have civis there at all and use reservists whose main job would be to operate the mk1 desk and secondly to supplement manpower.

  • Comment number 84.

    Yes, along with pulling out of Afghanistan immediately.
    However, it is better to keep some kind of armed forces based on need, rather than throw away money on Trident, which has no defence function, but is solely aimed at keeping a place on the security council beyond the UK's sell by date. The more that is spent on white elephants, the less for sensibly equipped and paid armed forces to meet real needs.

  • Comment number 85.

    Once we bring our boys and girls home from worthless Afghanistan, then there would more than likely be a case for a natural reduction in the forces, i.e. not replacing the service personally leaving. However, there would then be a case to actually increase the number of reservists who can be could upon in times of need.

  • Comment number 86.

    The UK armed forces have shrunk steadily and are now the smallest that they have been in modern history - even though our population has grown. There are many 'third world' countries with armed forces larger than ours - including some pretty dubious ones.
    Forget Afghanistan and Iraq; any country needs a viable defence force to maintain its independence. Without it, the country risks being taken over by more powerful states, by terrorists or even by criminals. By being a member of NATO, we have been able to reduce our forces below this viable level through reliance on collective defence. Even collectively, Europe without the USA, is weak.
    This weakness is, to some extent, compensated for by superior equipment (including, of course, nuclear weapons). Maintaining weapons superiority is therefore as essential as maintaining numerical strength.
    Nor can we rely on getting sufficient warning to expand our forces to meet an emerging threat. It takes years, scarce resources and considerable money to train a pilot to combat standard or the crew of a nuclear submarine. It takes even longer to procure and introduce new equipment.
    In reality, politicians always nibble away at the strength of the armed forces in order to save money for more popular projects. We have reached the point where they should stop.

  • Comment number 87.

    We will always need a defence force of one kind or another. If anything the number of troops should be increased but not used by politicians for their own private wars started for the most spurious of reasons.

    The armed forces should be used for the defence of the country and not as an offensive means of changing foreign governments. Afghanistan would not be in the state is in today if we had concentrated on getting rid of the Taliban and Al Quaeda when we had the opportunity instead of invading Iraq.

    It will be very difficult for us once they've established their underground cells in this country and start a real terrorist campaign.

  • Comment number 88.

    One might suppose that if just one university Vice Chancellor has an annual salary of £227,000 - the MoD could re-examine their budget to buy and deploy available equipment to deal with IEDs that are killing so many of our troops in Afghanistan above other threats in that area?

    So, what's wrong with this picture - it's obviously not about money available in UK plc - so is it incompetence; the wrong people in the MoD or years of incompetent Ministers? How about this Gov forced the MoD to consider duty of care of our boys and girls?

  • Comment number 89.

    If we pull them out of Afghanistan we will not need them.

    Our government can then find them some productive employment in civvie street.

  • Comment number 90.

    @77 True Grit

    How much investment do you think Afghanistan has in the UK?

  • Comment number 91.

    The reality is this.

    Our standing army (not RAF/Navy)is around 120,00 soldiers.

    To enable ONE soldier to be operational on the front line in any enemy contact requires the support of 2 to 3 further military personel which includes pilots and ground staff used to transport soldiers and ALL their constant daily needs, it takes lorry drivers to drive supplys & equipment from airports to army base/camps, including other soldiers and other armoured vehicles and bomb disposal units used to protect the transport, ALL the mechanics engineers etc to maintain vehicles, cooks, doctors, surgeons, the list goes on and on and on ALL the way down the line.

    Hence UK actual standard military capability is not 120,000 soldiers it is more like 40,000. In combined operations with Nato our front line troop numbers increases slightly due to shared supply lines.

    In WWII the Germans pushed our expeditionary force of over 240,000 into the sea, other European nations had already been totally defeated and we also had over 350,000 french troops fighting on our side. Our forces were not enough, our planning and strategy were NOT enough.

    Pre WWII, we had MASSIVELY cut our military and much of our equipment was just archaic and useless in comparison to Germanys, just as were our military strategies and it took massive massive effort, years, and many many lost lives for us to claw our way back into something that resembled any decent defensive or attack capability. Britain was basically lucky not to be invaded because Hitler changed his mind, then crazily took on the Russians.

    Ask any historian and if they tell you the truth they will tell you that one of the MAIN reasons that Britain survived WWII, was PURE LUCK.

    Basically, if we cut our already very depleted armed forces then we will be reducing our capability yet further and hence make the use of our nuclear weapons more needed as a reliance of protection and actually be significantly more reliant on their threat potential but also their actual useage.

    Fact is like the Premier league, you do not know where threats from one year to the next will manifest themselves from. A total outsider may come in VERY quickly.

    Just being Man Utd or Liverpool or Chelsea is NO guarantee of fending off potential threats from other perceived lesser teams/threats. Even the FA cup can throw up giant killers.

    Its the same with the world.
    Britain was once a giant killer, due to a set of circumstances which empowered us to that position, we basically did much damage against many powerful nations and also much BIGGER and greater populated nations.

    Those times have changed, ended, and actually reversed, we are now in the position whereby a relatively small number of terrorists and insurgents can keep 5 to 6+ times their number occupied and at bay and causing prolonged damage.

    In place of overal national importance I personally put our armed forces above the NHS and by ANY government actually putting the defense and protection of our nation, 2nd or 3rd in line of importance, in my opinion is basically treasonous as it is more personally politically motivated rather than inteligently/reality motivated, especially when it has already been MASSIVELY depleatd continuously over a long period.

    In a world which is under increasingly immense, seriously huge economic/financial/resources and even religious preasure the chances of it seriously kicking off are greatly increasing, so how our muppetish politicians can decide or pretend where threats will or will not manifest themselves from is just in my opinion a load of pretentious bile.

    Human behaviour and incidents can change as quickly as the weather, one of our already great military problems is that basically we need weeks and weeks to prepare for most incidents of military action whether the Falklands or Afganistan/Iraq. Our reserve supplys of ammunition and other equipment are already at minimal levels and any military action requires hurried orders to be placed to manufacture and supply us with munitions.

    Its like saying to an enemy, hang on a minute, I will be with you soon, give me time to have a quick cuppa first.

    If we reduce our capability of taking any fight to enemys, then basically we are drawing closer the fight to us, which in itself means possible national devastation, of which we would find it massively difficult to recover from and we would basically be turned into a developing country/ 3rd world country with no way back.

    We presently have insurgence of those that fight and die, not for allegience to a country, or not even their own people, but for a mystical supernatural being, and the promise of greatness and wonders in an afterlife as payment for inflicting death and damage on an enemy.

    I personally would like to have no need of armies, or nuclear weapons, but we live on planet Earth not Mars, we live in a place where our species can be so unreliable and attrociously horrific to one another.

    To believe that we in the west cannot be defeated because of our present or past abilitys, is in my opinion no different to calling all of known history a lie.

    Military weakness, whether factual, or just presumed/implied is historically proven to be more of a catalyst for war than to increase prevention.

    Its the nature of our species, regardless of modern ethics, ideals, morals, agreements written on paper etc, the basis of human life boils down to basic existance and survival based upon jungle mentality.
    It is SOLELY because we are presently still quite strong in comparison to many others and because we have been historically strong, that we even exist.

    How much can we continue to undermine and weaken our military and economic strength before we and a weakening Europe/USA are more seen as a viable possibility of defeating our position and power in the world which provides us with and maintains our existance.

    The ONLY FACTUAL way that nature of threats could be a declining reality is if evolution and science/technology was the reverse of what it actually is.

    That is NOT the factual case/reality and it is a factual reality that the number of threats we face today and potentially face has significantly increased.

    The fact is, is that any significant damage or loss of a single major economic/financial city in Europe or much of the wider world would have massive detrimental profound economic/financial effects on the UK. Hence our militarys job is NOT just to protect our own national borders but to protect our complex international intertwined financial and economic system which enables us to exist.

    Presently, we are experiencing the effects of non-war destructive events, in which buildings, comunications, investments, money, wealth have not been totally physically destroyed, closed and wasted, but not totally destroyed, actual physical destruction would enevitably have far greater consequences.
    It must be remembered that there are still many in the world that do not agree with what we have historically done, or what we do now, history is recorded and remembered and not forgotten. Peoples/nations can wait 20 years or 50 years or 200 years for revenge or to re-take/gain power and position.
    When we have been perceived to be military weak in the past, we have fought many battles and wars at great cost to life and ecology and environment, do you really think the future will be any different or change, just because we say we are nicer people now, than we were previously.

    I just do not see the relevence in protecting the NHS in such a way, which is basically solely politically motivated, if we cannot fully protect our nation or the resources which are needed to maintain our existance.

    Basically, this present and previous political mentality of military cuts is that if you look through binoculars and cannot see an enemy, then theres nothing to worry about. It's just such a nonsensical lie.

    I dont think that we should be cutting defense further, either just say, we are going to cut defense spending because we prefer to spend money on NHS, but do NOT lie and deceive and pretend that threats do not exist because then you might as well revert back to saying that the Earth is the centre of all things, its just totally wrong in ALL respects.

  • Comment number 92.

    If this government wants our soldiers to continue their work in Afghanistan they can not cut troop numbers. I have heard reports that soldiers are not getting the legally required rest time between deployments due to shortages. If the government are looking to save money they can start looking to trim the fat from the MOD at Whitehall. Secondly they should remove our troops from Afghanistan, that would save billions of £££ & many hundreds of lives. The government can not expect our troops to continue with their VERY dangerous job in Afghanistan with fewer troops & less equipment. I find it difficult to rationalise the governments refusal to drop the nuclear deterrent in favour of reduction in troop numbers when we're in the middle of the deployment.

    Government support of our troops is a complete joke, the care & support of the troops has been left down to charitable organisations such as the amazing Royal British Legion & help the heroes (because the government won't). I am suspicious that our government are systematically undermining our armed forces with a view to integrating them in to a Euro Army. I have it on good authority that this idea was bounced around the troops by MOD reps from Whitehall & they received, to put it politely, a less than positive result.

  • Comment number 93.

    Just look at the argument on this HYS. We are discussing whether the armed forces should be reduced in size. not because it's a bad thing to go around the world killing people but because its too expensive!

    For gods sake what is wrong with you why am i the only one who can see this? We can kill as long as it doesn't cost us too much, thats your argument, thats what you support, you desevre to be blown out of the skies you really do, you are sick warmongering nasty selfish greed hateful people.

  • Comment number 94.

    I for one find it hard to believe that we can be considering cutting Troops. The guys (& Girls) need a break between tours to re-train and de-stress. Fewer troops will shorten that process leading to casulaties (both physical & mental). Keep the planned Carriers it will provide independent air support for our troops. Don't deplete our armoured forces, we may be up against a real army next time, not Taleban and Infantry will need support. We will never use Trident except in retaliation - too late then so big saving. £1,000+ for chairs in MOD - sort of thing that should go.

  • Comment number 95.

    It's time we stopped trying to "punch above our weight". We should recognize where we really are in the world, give up our automatic seat and veto on the UN security council, and look after our country's own interests instead of trying to be one of the world's policemen.
    This would enable us to make major savings in defence expenditure, including giving up the expensive delusion of having an "independent" nuclear deterrent.

    We have to decide whether to be an annex to the USA or a full member of the European community.

    Like others, I would like England to be given a referendum to decide if we want to stay in the UK or to become a member of the EU in our own right.

  • Comment number 96.

    "93. At 12:20pm on 14 Jun 2010, Grim Death wrote:

    Just look at the argument on this HYS. We are discussing whether the armed forces should be reduced in size. not because it's a bad thing to go around the world killing people but because its too expensive!

    For gods sake what is wrong with you why am i the only one who can see this? We can kill as long as it doesn't cost us too much, thats your argument, thats what you support, you desevre to be blown out of the skies you really do, you are sick warmongering nasty selfish greed hateful people."

    Very few people here want our troops in Afghanistan, but it has been made clear that the government will not pull our troops out. We are concerned at just how much money has been spent there & are acutely aware that any reduction in funding WILL COST MORE LIVES. None of the ordinary folk in this country want us to be fighting wars for oil, but there's nothing we can do about the lazy politician who can't be bothered to do their job of exhausting all diplomatic avenues because it's easier for them to send the troops in first. It's the politicians who are the sick ones, sending young people to their deaths instead of making the Afghan administration organise itself to stand on their own two feet.

  • Comment number 97.

    93. At 12:20pm on 14 Jun 2010, Grim Death wrote:

    Just look at the argument on this HYS. We are discussing whether the armed forces should be reduced in size. not because it's a bad thing to go around the world killing people but because its too expensive!

    For gods sake what is wrong with you why am i the only one who can see this? We can kill as long as it doesn't cost us too much, thats your argument, thats what you support, you desevre to be blown out of the skies you really do, you are sick warmongering nasty selfish greed hateful people.

    ---------------------------------

    You have a strong sense of morality and who is right/wrong. So without any attempt to insult you, I would like you to identify who is right or wrong-

    Peaceful afghans/taliban extremists
    Peaceful saudi/wahabii extremist
    Peaceful britain/nazi germany

    I state the peaceful britain because the libs got a signed agreement that hitler will not invade any further. As we know they did and we were at war. At the time of WW2 we had dismantled a major part of our armed forces which allowed many more people to die because we didnt have the man power.

    It is a proven fact that the stronger you are, the less people will want to attack you. In life you expect to fight back if someone attacks you. It is the same on the world stage where an agressor only stops when defeated.

    This is not about taking lives but saving lives.

  • Comment number 98.

    Less troops (which we can't afford to equip anyway) may mean less willingness to send them off all over the place to get killed fighting in places where we perhaps should not be.

    So Yes, a fine idea.

    We no longer have the British Empire and we can't carry on living in the past. It's "Defence" not "Offence".

  • Comment number 99.

    Said enough already - but make no apology for banging on about our troops being let down, for too many years, by 'OUR' so-called British MoD?

    However, if we thought the last 60yrs were the most dangerous for our species - it will be nothing? There will always be a fight; the only difference, throughout human history, is what we fight about, or fight against?

    Most east, west, north and south societies rely on certain basics for human survival. Normal people doing the best they can and working hard everyday. Unfortunately, across all continents and communities there are concerns over:

    1) Fresh, clean water.
    2) Sufficient basic food stuffs.
    3) Basic light and heat.
    4) Sufficient land mass on which to live and grow food.

    Extremists are intent on forcing the most vulnerable, and everyone else across the world for that matter, back into the stone-age? Yet these extremists are total hypocrites because they are heavily funded by what they purport to despise?

    In other words, this is the wrong time to cut defence in UK and all other democratic nations. Any 'chink' in our amour will be exploited by the usual nutters and criminal gangs, as happens everyday? Defence is crucial and a survival default.











  • Comment number 100.

    Should troop numbers be cut? is the HYS question.

    Absolutely not is the reply.

 

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