Monday, 9 July 2012

Armed forces reform

My own experience of the armed forces is limited to membership of the school cadets back in the 1950. Among other things I learned how to perform  an "about turn on the march" and discovered to my surprise a couple of years ago that I can still do it, whereas an ex-regular soldier friend couldn't.  Maybe he concentrated on more serious military matters. 

Another ex-regular friend who was a parachutist but was invalided out after an accident when his parachute failed to open,  has this to say:
Generally, I am of the view that we should avoid killing, or harming, any living thing, including people. When we are threatened we should use our influence to avoid a conflict, and use compassion to encourage others to abandon the will to fight. 

That said, my view is that the British Army should be capable of protecting our interests and defending our way of life from those with more questionable values, wherever and whenever that may be necessary. Defence being the operative word, and not pre-emptive. Our forces must also be ready to adapt to changing circumstances, and be planning and ready for worst case scenarios. Anything less than that is highly irresponsible. I am not convinced that the current plans would meet this criteria. There are several possibilities, such as the invasion of the Falklands, civil unrest and natural disaster, that in my view un-acceptably rely on the good will of other nations, with different priorities. 

Having served in the Army, I also realise that there is a lot of dead weight to be shed before the organisation could be described as lean and efficient. The combination of the four services to establish joint working procedures and training facilities is a great idea, and this will provide financial efficiencies. Reducing the number of injured and unfit personnel is also a good idea, provide they are properly looked after, replacing them with fit and capable new recruits. 

However, the plan to rely more heavily on the reserves, recruiting on a huge scale, is unrealistic. I was an Army Recruiter in 2011, and recruiting for the TA is very difficult. No matter how many billions you pay a civilian company I do not believe they will achieve the level of manning they require for their plan, or achieve the kind of training and commitment that is given by a full time professional force. It would be far more efficient, and cheaper, to keep the regulars.

Personally I feel we should be working towards the day when  all national armed forces are assigned to the United Nations for use as an international police force.  We have a long way to go.

1 comment:

  1. And perhaps we need to start at the top - there are of course more admirals than ships in the navy, and most generals are commanding a desk.

    These are the people who need to bear the brunt of the cuts, to remove a top-heavy and expensive slice of the armed forces. I have a bad feeling that these people will ultimately "manage" the cuts by removing those below them in active service.