Among the boasting and bluster of our government's defence review published yesterday the one piece of concrete information seems to be that we are to increase our stockpile of nuclear warheads from 180 to 260.
Given that the US already has 3 800, and that it is inconceivable that we could use some of ours without the co-operation and permission of the US, who I understand control the the delivery system, it is difficult to see the point of our having an extra 80.
Maybe it's to appear to be in the same league as France, which has 300 (and their own delivery system) and China which has 320. Russia has 4 300
It is also difficult to see why we should go to the trouble of replacing, or even maintaining, the four Vanguard class submarines in which the rockets and warheads are housed, with new ones called Dreadnought class, though this is not as expensive as I'd expected: a mere £31bn for a lifetime of 35 to 40 years.
This looks relatively modest compared with £37bn for a test and trace system over two yeas which, so far, has had no significant effect of the speed of coronavirus. (A friend has pointed out in a letter to the Guardian that this amounts to around £350m a week: an interesting figure to put on the side of a bus).
Even so there are better things, even militarily, on which £31b could be spent. I have just finished reading "The Changing of the Guard" by a young(ish) author, Simon Akam. This is a detailed examination of the performance of the British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan in the recent operations there.
It does not reinforce the fond boast of the "best little army in the world" skilled from its experience in Malaya and Northern Ireland in counter-insurgency techniques. "We are not occupiers in helmets and riot gear, but your mates in berets with interesting cap badges, here to help you. Above all we are "not the Americans."'
Rather our forces were under-resourced, ill-equipped, badly led. and in both spheres eventuality to be rescued by the Americans.
I know, I wasn't there, but Akam's account seems to be based on a willingness to be sympathetic, and thoroughly documented.
So instead of grandstanding to appear to remain in the big league with nuclear weapons we can't use and a swanky aircraft carrier useful mainly for hosting cocktail parties, let us equip and train our forces properly for the on-the-ground peace keeping and humanitarian operations for which they are likely to be used.