Thursday, August 26

Defence Cuts - The detail

The Government defence cuts an ''improvement'' says Hoon.

The essential truth is that the cuts announced by the Secretary of State for Defence last month will render the UK dangerously short of vital protection. As expected Government spin is telling us the opposite and the Opposition is only meekly protesting.

The UK's armed services are to suffer even more drastic retrenchment than they did at the end of the cold war. Geoff Hoon's cuts will reduce the front line strength to its lowest level in modern times. As any British Subject with any knowledge of World events will know the UK is in the front line in a global war on terror. The defence cuts are a national scandal as an examination of the detail should reveal.

To be axed from RAF is 12,000 men and 108 Jaguars aircraft. The Royal Navy is to be cut by 5,000 sailors and 15 vessels. The Army by 5,000 soldiers and 80 tanks.

The detailed list of cuts is frightening, the RAF will be particularly badly hit. Four out of the 17 fast jet squadrons are to be axed by 2007, which includes all the Jaguar ground attack fleet. The Nimrod reconnaissance fleet will be cut from 18 to 12. RAF Coltishaw is to close and another three RAF stations are expected to be mothballed within the next few years. The RAF is to be reduced from 53,800 to 48,500 personnel.

The Royal Navy will lose six out of 31 destroyers and frigates over the next 18 months.The Nuclear-powered attack submarine fleet will be reduced from eleven to eight vessels. Six minesweepers are to be taken out of service.

The Army will be reduced to thirty six battalions from the current strength of forty. At least eighty Challenger II tanks, which represents a quarter of the total will be cut. Famous cap badges will go as regiments are merged when single-battalion infantry regiments merge to form regional multi-battalion regiments. Manpower in the Army will be cut from 107,000 to 102,000. Some of the detail has yet to be announced, however what is definite is that one Scottish, probably the Highlanders, and also three English regiments will be disbanded.

Mr Hoon told MPs before the Parliamentary recess that 10,000 Ministry of Defence civil servants would lose their jobs as a ''part of improvements to military capabilities.'' Well it is interesting to note that New Labour's Orwellian newspeak is alive and well. As readers of the classic political satire, 1984 will recall newspeak was encouraged by the state as a uniquely self reducing language, so deliberately designed that dissidents had less words available with which to criticise the state as the state became more intrusive.

The angry debate that preceded the announcements had led Hoon to warn the defence chiefs that any sign of dissent ''would lead them to being shown the door''.

Perhaps Geoff Hoon et al should start looking for the door.


No comments: