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Military cuts to leave Britain with weaker armed forces

Lord Tammerlain

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News Analysis: Military cuts to leave Britain with weaker armed forces

Deep cuts in the military budget announced on Tuesday will see Britain without a carrier-borne jet aircraft force, and a significant reduction in fast aircraft and in heavy armor.

snip


Prominent survivors of the cuts are the two aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, the first of which is under construction and the second in advanced planning.

The government has unwillingly allowed the continuation of the program to build the largest and most expensive ships yet operated by the navy, because for contractual reasons it would be more costly to halt work.

The first carrier could be delivered in 2016 and the second in 2019. But one of them will initially see service without any aircraft, because the current fleet of carrier-capable aircraft, the Harrier jump-jets, was axed in the SDSR and the American-built planes to fly off the carriers will not be ready until 2020.

snip

Cameron also revealed that a final decision on the replacement of the four-strong submarine fleet which carries Trident nuclear missiles will be delayed until 2016, after the next general election, by prolonging their service life. This is a considerable victory for the coalition government's junior partner the Liberal Democrat party, which wants to get rid of the submarines and their replacements altogether, and which is now free to campaign in the 2015 general election for that.

The Trident delay will save 750 million pounds (about billion U. S. dollars). In addition the number of nuclear warheads carried on each submarine when on patrol will be reduced from 48 to 40.

snip

But these cuts in military spending are light, at 8 percent of the annual budget over the next four years, at least compared to the cuts that will be announced Wednesday, in a comprehensive spending review that will lop off up to 40 percent of some government departments' budgets.

The military spending cuts, and the protests already raised against them, are small compared to the coalition government's primary task of cutting back the record public spending deficit of 156 billion pounds (about 245 billion U.S. dollars) by 83 billion pounds over the next four years.

The military cuts will also do little to tackle that record public spending deficit, as nearly a third of the government's annual budget of almost 700 billion pounds (about 1.1 trillion U.S. dollars) goes on welfare spending, with a further 120 billion pounds (about 188.3 billion U.S. dollars) spent each year on education.

Suprised no one mentioned this before.
 

Republic_Of_Public

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And I thought Labour cut to the bone. Muslims on computers is apparently our biggest threat now, ITN News said the Tories said, as Al Queida using PCs to hack into security things is expected.


'Out of date' to put troops on the battlefield, apparently. Looks like a bit of joined-up government's in order as foreign aid looks set to rise.
 
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Infinite Chaos

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Military cuts to leave Britain with weaker armed forces.
--snip--
The first carrier could be delivered in 2016 and the second in 2019. But one of them will initially see service without any aircraft, because the current fleet of carrier-capable aircraft, the Harrier jump-jets, was axed in the SDSR and the American-built planes to fly off the carriers will not be ready until 2020.
--snip--

The defence budget in general is a hodge-podge now of recent promises to Nato as well as our promises to the US to maintain a nuclear detterrent.

As an Island nation (and with regard to out naval history) I think we should keep our naval committment but I was sad years ago when we sold the secrets and manufacturing rights of our Harrier jump jets to the US. Now, we can't afford the costly American versions that would be on our carriers and so we'll have the ridiculous sight of aircraft carriers without aircraft sailing off to project "UK force."

Resolving the costs of the future is important - I think sharing costs with France (or anyone else in Europe who has equal technical / quality expertise) is important to build nuclear and other military technology is the only way to go. I also think it's important to maintain the skills base here in the UK for military design and manufacture - our Chobham armour has now been copied and placed on US, French, Israeli and German tanks - cost cutting over the last 25 years has not put efficiency into as hard a focus as our manufacturers should have acheived. Where we have cut costs recently, we've also put troops lives in danger by them not having the right standard or level of equipment to deal with roadside bombs and gueriila tactics.

We're also going to have to think again about what wars and conflicts we get engaged in - Liam Fox was right to hold his ground as much as he could on cuts while we are involved in major conflict.

And I thought Labour cut to the bone --

And you'd be wrong yet again. Institute for Fiscal Studies Report - page 7 may help you.

Previous to that, Callaghan and Wilson's govts both promised to maintain spending on the defence budget at 3% - figures that Thatcher only maintained for the first 4 years of her reign and then she trimmed spending back once the promise had been kept.
 

Republic_Of_Public

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And you'd be wrong yet again.

Sorry to sacrifice more of your obviously mighty brain cells, but Labour did cut back severely. Cheap radios which don't work, soldiers needing to buy their own boots, home barracks worse than slums for army families to live in, crap Range Rovers, guns that don't fire, stuff all gunships.... the shambles carried on.
 

Infinite Chaos

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Sorry to sacrifice more of your obviously mighty brain cells, but Labour did cut back severely. Cheap radios which don't work, soldiers needing to buy their own boots, home barracks worse than slums for army families to live in, crap Range Rovers, guns that don't fire, stuff all gunships.... the shambles carried on.

You didn't read the IFS report did you...

For further info, money badly spent doesn't mean money cut back... money spent on huge military contracts (like Trident / Aircraft Carriers etc) was done at the cost of smaller contracts like equipment for grunts on the ground.
I may dislike Gordon Brown for certain decisions regarding lack of increase as we were heading into both Iraq and Afghanistan - but he wasn't in charge of the dept of Defence
 

Republic_Of_Public

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Which part of the IFS report did you want me to focus on? A tidbit in quotes would help a lot.

There were both cuts and bad spending ruining our armed forces since not long after the war. And not just under Labour, let's be fair. It's been a gradual but impacting decline.

And Brown may not have been in charge of Defence, but as Chancellor he could torpedo any budget increases proposed. And as PM, he teamed up (where possible) with Alistair Darling to keep his own hand going on the Treasury after he left.
 

Infinite Chaos

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Which part of the IFS report did you want me to focus on?

I already said this in my first response. Page 7 has a table which shows actual spend and as a proportion over the last 20-30 years. The whole article isn't that long and is worth a read.

There were both cuts and bad spending ruining our armed forces since not long after the war. And not just under Labour, let's be fair. It's been a gradual but impacting decline.

Agreed and documented by the IFS report - I don't challenge this

And Brown may not have been in charge of Defence, but as Chancellor he could torpedo any budget increases proposed. And as PM, he teamed up (where possible) with Alistair Darling to keep his own hand going on the Treasury after he left.

I sort of also said this above. Labour under Blair and Brown did cut spending in their last 5 years however - as also documented by the report.
 

Republic_Of_Public

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Looks like we've got some nice middle ground here. Believe it or not, I like it when things like that happen. Let's just hold this here as I don't think we should spoil it!


I took a look at that report but the words were run over each other for some reason. Mind, I just about read a lot of it and the graph was nice. Thanks for that.

As it is, I believe that whilst we can't really expect to police the world (and Suez was our last serious try at swinging our weight about in our own right), the future of our armed forces should lie in a small, streamlined defence force. This can be used to keep on top of trouble at home (even if just running the trains right for a bleedin' change if the proper blokes go on strike) or being hired out as specialists to UN or US forces. We have a hell of a lot of past expertise in making and using weapons in special circumstances.

And it would be cheap, just as our masters would like it.


I'd even suggest using the army to run boot camps to get on top of our nation's hooligans and stamp down on brutal gang turf wars. In other words, we should stop looking out so much and start looking in a bit more. The Americans run the international stuff now, so our politicians' jobs should now be to keep things ticking over on the smaller scale and put the kibosh on junk like the EU Army.
 
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gunner

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From the article,

"Cameron told the House of Commons that the SDSR was not driven by the need to cut costs alone, and it would leave Britain able to "punch above its weight in the world".

I would very much like to know how the PM feels this possible. As an example, Aircraft carriers need an escort flotilla of at least 6 vessels. With the reduction in Naval capabilities [type 22 frigates] and the like, its going to be harder and harder to propel some kind of authority of the seas .
We have yet to be told the finer details [base-port capabilities] this will show the true level of cuts. Trident has been deferred until after the next parliament, good news for the workforce carrying out refit work on our existing V-Class.

Paul
 
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samsmart

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Do you all think it would be possible to cut from the other branches of the British military in order to maintain the Royal Navy?
 

Infinite Chaos

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Cut Trident.

I wouldn't cut our nuclear weapon capability - it may be popular in some sections of the UK population - but what I would do is explore ways we could build or get better value for money nuclear weaponry.
We're buying American and there isn't a rival source that is yet politically acceptable so we're simply paying whatever Trident's manufacturers choose to sell at.

I don't think we need a smaller force - the trouble with saying we need a more streamlined force is that it will always face cuts at a later stage in another recession - we need a serious review of what our capabilities need to be, what forces we need for that level of capability and almost have an unwritten agreement not to cut any further.

I do think we need to explore co-operation with France much more - without being dragged into a lunatic option of any EU or "European military" type of scheme.
 

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I wouldn't cut our nuclear weapon capability - it may be popular in some sections of the UK population - but what I would do is explore ways we could build or get better value for money nuclear weaponry.
We're buying American and there isn't a rival source that is yet politically acceptable so we're simply paying whatever Trident's manufacturers choose to sell at.

I don't think we need a smaller force - the trouble with saying we need a more streamlined force is that it will always face cuts at a later stage in another recession - we need a serious review of what our capabilities need to be, what forces we need for that level of capability and almost have an unwritten agreement not to cut any further.

I do think we need to explore co-operation with France much more - without being dragged into a lunatic option of any EU or "European military" type of scheme.

Face it.. the UK is a small island nation with delusions of grandeur. Your military policy is warped with the ideals of the "British Empire". Outside the US, the UK is the only nation with a direct policy of having a military force to use outside its own borders in other than a humanitarian aspect.

That is also why things like air craft carriers and nuclear missiles are expensive toys that the UK can not afford any more. While I understand fully that cancelling the 2 new air craft carriers is far more expensive than actually completing them (and at least they can be used for humanitarian missions), the idea that the UK needs some nuclear deterrent .. against who? The French? The Russians? Iran? Nuclear weapons have always been a fools weapon since using them would be the end of the world as we know it. Hence investing trillions (or in the UK's case billions) in doomsday weaponry is foolish.

The UK should put its limited resources into more productive things other than nukes that sit and rot somewhere never to be used. Trident is a waste of money pure and simple.
 

Infinite Chaos

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Face it.. the UK is a small island nation with delusions of grandeur. Your military policy is warped with the ideals of the "British Empire". Outside the US, the UK is the only nation with a direct policy of having a military force to use outside its own borders in other than a humanitarian aspect.

We're part of NATO and have obligations under NATO to contribute a fair share of forces, we also are part of the nuclear umbrella that NATO operates. If the US walks away from NATO, the only two nuclear powers are France and the UK.

-- That is also why things like air craft carriers and nuclear missiles are expensive toys that the UK can not afford any more.

--snip--

the idea that the UK needs some nuclear deterrent .. against who?

The history of conflict over the last 2-3000 years tells me that peace is a temporary thing. We might think we have conquered war but events say otherwise. I personally prefer that we have the capability to defend ourselves than not.

-- The French? The Russians? Iran? Nuclear weapons have always been a fools weapon since using them would be the end of the world as we know it. Hence investing trillions (or in the UK's case billions) in doomsday weaponry is foolish.

The UK should put its limited resources into more productive things other than nukes that sit and rot somewhere never to be used. Trident is a waste of money pure and simple.

The French also believe in keeping their deterrent, they learned over Suez that the US wasn't the ally we all thought she was. The US keeps us alongside as long as she finds us useful and will drop us at a moment's notice.

I think many military historians learned the lesson of Suez, you never had to and you don't have the same commitments either so I can understand your views. All I ask is that you understand ours.
 

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Face it.. the UK is a small island nation with delusions of grandeur. Your military policy is warped with the ideals of the "British Empire". Outside the US, the UK is the only nation with a direct policy of having a military force to use outside its own borders in other than a humanitarian aspect.

Britain is a country with overseas territories and interests that require a military with the expertise, resources and man power to operate globally. As the largest spender on the military in Europe we have a responsibility to meet our obligations with our allies and NATO. As an important nation financially and thus politically, with responsibilities abroad, we reserve the right to maintain our military prowess, regardless of how much it may offend you.

, the idea that the UK needs some nuclear deterrent .. against who? The French? The Russians? Iran? Nuclear weapons have always been a fools weapon since using them would be the end of the world as we know it. Hence investing trillions (or in the UK's case billions) in doomsday weaponry is foolish.

This i agree with and its an aspect of policy that Nick Clegg has scrapped even though he promised voters that he would not. Its simply a crime to maintain such expensive and unwanted weapons when our country men continue to suffer at the hands of much needed cuts and sluggish global economic performance.
 

PeteEU

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We're part of NATO and have obligations under NATO to contribute a fair share of forces, we also are part of the nuclear umbrella that NATO operates. If the US walks away from NATO, the only two nuclear powers are France and the UK.

That is another matter. I am just talking out from a fiscal vs what you get out it perspective. Making a new trident during a financial crisis as this, is frankly idiotic.

The history of conflict over the last 2-3000 years tells me that peace is a temporary thing. We might think we have conquered war but events say otherwise. I personally prefer that we have the capability to defend ourselves than not.

Yes peace is a temporary thing and I am not advocating dumping the military whole sale. I am advocating using the money available on men and machines and not WMD.


The French also believe in keeping their deterrent, they learned over Suez that the US wasn't the ally we all thought she was. The US keeps us alongside as long as she finds us useful and will drop us at a moment's notice.

The French have the same problem as the Brits. They think they have an "Empire" still and need a military force to set in, in mostly former colonies.

I think many military historians learned the lesson of Suez, you never had to and you don't have the same commitments either so I can understand your views. All I ask is that you understand ours.

The UK was beaten into submission in the Suez crisis by the US. The military lesson there can only be... dont trust the US, and so far the UK military brass and politicians have not learned jack**** from that.

I understand your views of projecting the UK "power" across the planet, something the UK has done since Elizabeth 1st and before that across Europe. Point is, you can not at the present time afford it.
 

PeteEU

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Britain is a country with overseas territories and interests that require a military with the expertise, resources and man power to operate globally. As the largest spender on the military in Europe we have a responsibility to meet our obligations with our allies and NATO. As an important nation financially and thus politically, with responsibilities abroad, we reserve the right to maintain our military prowess, regardless of how much it may offend you.

You have very few overseas territories and interests left. A few islands here and there and of those only 2 are really contested... Falklands and Gibraltar. Even here nukes are useless in those conflicts. You are the largest military spender in Europe.. actually no you are not... France is.

BBC News - World military spending soars in spite of recession

Plus France gets far more "bang for its buck" as it has double the amount of men and women under arms and only spends slightly more than the UK.

And both use so much on the military because they still dream of "empire".

This i agree with and its an aspect of policy that Nick Clegg has scrapped even though he promised voters that he would not. Its simply a crime to maintain such expensive and unwanted weapons when our country men continue to suffer at the hands of much needed cuts and sluggish global economic performance.

Good :)
 

kaya'08

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You have very few overseas territories and interests left. A few islands here and there and of those only 2 are really contested... Falklands and Gibraltar. Even here nukes are useless in those conflicts.

But you should note i did not use overseas territories as a sole excuse, but rather our responsibilities in NATO, and towards our allies in the Middle East in the face of an increasing Iranian threat (including our second largest presence in Afghanistan in NATO and our ability to maintain this presence for as long as necessary).

Russia also continues to maintain an imperialist attitude in Eastern Europe and surrounding areas. Would you think it stupid to maintain a cautious attitude towards Russia, especially in light of the Georgian war?

The geographical locations of our overseas territories (regardless of how contested they are) still require a military with the ability to conduct operations in areas that are far away from Britain. Contested or not, every British territory has the right to an acceptable level of defence and it is in the interest of the British government to maintain this.

You are the largest military spender in Europe.. actually no you are not... France is.

Considering the varying nature of this question, it wouldn't be accurate to say whom spends how much more in Europe, but regardless it does not necessarily mean the French army is superior in any way to the British armed forces.

For example Wikipedia insists we spent 2 million more in 2009 but less in 2010. It will likely change next year, but on a year-to-year bases i believe the UK has kept up the largest budget for its military.

List of countries by military expenditures - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Plus France gets far more "bang for its buck" as it has double the amount of men and women under arms and only spends slightly more than the UK.

And both use so much on the military because they still dream of "empire".

The difference in active personnel is not so great.


Of course in the long run it could back fire....
 
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digsbe

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I disagree with the UK making cuts to their military. In a world where terror threats are growing it is important to have a strong military. Personally I would make cuts to the social programs in the UK and increase funding to the military. But they can do what they feel is best for their country.
 

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But you should note i did not use overseas territories as a sole excuse, but rather our responsibilities in NATO, and towards our allies in the Middle East in the face of an increasing Iranian threat (including our second largest presence in Afghanistan in NATO and our ability to maintain this presence for as long as necessary).

Yes NATO responsibilities are a good excuse. But Trident is not needed as part of NATO imo. As for allies in the middle east...... so what. Are you seriously saying that it is the job UK to defend supposed allies in the middle east?

Russia also continues to maintain an imperialist attitude in Eastern Europe and surrounding areas. Would you think it stupid to maintain a cautious attitude towards Russia, especially in light of the Georgian war?

Because the men in power are former soviets and think being powerful and controlling vast areas is key to success. They should focus more on their collapsing society than on expanding their influence over areas they are hated in.

The geographical locations of our overseas territories (regardless of how contested they are) still require a military with the ability to conduct operations in areas that are far away from Britain. Contested or not, every British territory has the right to an acceptable level of defence and it is in the interest of the British government to maintain this.

Yes I agree, hence investing in new air craft carriers than in a new nuclear weapons system.

Considering the varying nature of this question, it wouldn't be accurate to say whom spends how much more in Europe, but regardless it does not necessarily mean the French army is superior in any way to the British armed forces.

For example Wikipedia insists we spent 2 million more in 2009 but less in 2010. It will likely change next year, but on a year-to-year bases i believe the UK has kept up the largest budget for its military.

List of countries by military expenditures - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

No, according to the statistics France spends slightly more on defence in 2009.. it is a fact. There is no doubt that the UK spends a lot, but the most in Europe is not true. It at best flips back and fourth between the two depending on how the pound is and the situation.


The difference in active personnel is not so great.

No, but total force (which is included in the military budget) France has almost double the amount of active and reserve and para military forces.

Of course in the long run it could back fire....

Yes, but the budget is here and now, and we cant predict the future.
 

kaya'08

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Yes NATO responsibilities are a good excuse. But Trident is not needed as part of NATO imo. As for allies in the middle east...... so what. Are you seriously saying that it is the job UK to defend supposed allies in the middle east?

Excuse me for not being clear but i was not referring to the maintaining of nuclear weaponry, but the military specifically. As a country with allies in the Middle East as well as a war in Afghanistan, yes, i believe it is important we brace ourselves for a conflict with Iran should one ever happen. Iran has added significantly to the uncertainty of the Middle East. With the US trying to push through a missile defence shield, i believe it is clear deep cuts within the British military would not reflect the current affairs of the region. Iran is an enemy of the United Kingdom. Efforts to launch an attack against Iran and destabilize the regime should, i believe, include the British military. Iran poses a threat to Europe. Chances are past attacks on our soil was aided, at some point, with Iranian money. I don't believe we should get to sit this one out.

Because the men in power are former soviets and think being powerful and controlling vast areas is key to success. They should focus more on their collapsing society than on expanding their influence over areas they are hated in.

But they do not and herein lies the problem. For as long as Russia (to a degree) and Iran persists as a foreign policy as well as a domestic and regional problem for the United Kingdom, i believe a strong army is a wise decision. I also believe a country with as much leverage as the UK is entitled to such a military. It does not necessarily reflect imperialism.

Yes I agree, hence investing in new air craft carriers than in a new nuclear weapons system.

Yes

No, according to the statistics France spends slightly more on defence in 2009.. it is a fact. There is no doubt that the UK spends a lot, but the most in Europe is not true. It at best flips back and fourth between the two depending on how the pound is and the situation.

I think you mean to say France has exceeded the UK this financial year, wikipedia says in 2009 we surpassed france by 2 million dollars.

No, but total force (which is included in the military budget) France has almost double the amount of active and reserve and para military forces.

It has almost double the reserve personnel, yes. But this doesn't necessarily indicate that they get more for there buck. Greater expenditure and smaller personnel could indicate a better equipped army. It also depends on the wages of the personnel and other financial aspects of the army.

Yes, but the budget is here and now, and we cant predict the future.

I agree with your stance on nuclear weaponry. But from a competitive/long term/strategic point of view, disarming our nuclear weapons while France maintains them in my view gives us weak footing and it will take some persuasive talk here in Britain to convince leaders that is the right thing to do.
 
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Infinite Chaos

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That is another matter. I am just talking out from a fiscal vs what you get out it perspective. Making a new trident during a financial crisis as this, is frankly idiotic.

Trident II is actually having its life extended - some of the cost is of building new submarines and refurbishment. even the US is refurbishing rather than developing Trident III or whatever new weapon.

There is no roll-out of a new system now - this is to make sure when current delivery equipment needs replacement that there is a replacement ready and the expenditure is long term rather than all being spent all of a sudden during a financial downturn.

To abandon the program now because of a downturn (even a serious one) is frankly idiotic I'm afraid.

Yes peace is a temporary thing and I am not advocating dumping the military whole sale. I am advocating using the money available on men and machines and not WMD.

It does come down to where our potential threats come from - there is no USSR but there remains a nuclear armed Russia, they never went away. China is financially more dangerous to us than Russia could be militarily but we don't propose putting all our resources into buying back our debt or bonds from China. We have to maintain a balanced force and unfortunately one element costs so much more than others - however its effectiveness as a hidden strike weapon is unequalled. Troops / carriers / airfields can much more easily be targetted.

--The French have the same problem as the Brits. They think they have an "Empire" still and need a military force to set in, in mostly former colonies.

It's not about Empire - but about modern threats and power. The French realised over Suez they couldn't trust the US, we and Israel became tied and subservient to the US - the US could withdraw support at any time from NATO or bases in Europe (I wish they would) and we should realistically ally ourselves much more with France (but not in an EU sense).

-- The UK was beaten into submission in the Suez crisis by the US. The military lesson there can only be... dont trust the US, and so far the UK military brass and politicians have not learned jack**** from that.

Well, on one front, we've had a US umbrella at a time we needed it most (USSR threat) but the time has now come for European Nations to take up any slack. The real military lesson (I think) was keep your friends close but your friends that would stab you in the back (the US) even closer.

In recent times, the US can't threaten to dump it's sterling holdings and ruin our economy - China has that power over the US and us to a lesser extent. We don't need to cosy up to the US over their financial hold over us anymore.

I understand your views of projecting the UK "power" across the planet, something the UK has done since Elizabeth 1st and before that across Europe. Point is, you can not at the present time afford it.

It's not simply projecting power - we do have interests and threats, we also cannot foretell new threats - we must maintain a balanced range of military options for whatever comes in future. Undetectable nuclear submarines still offer our most effective strike - throwing that away would be madness.
 

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Basically on Trident. Three of the four 'V' class subs have had their intended maintenance/refuel the fourth is in refit at present. Once the fourth comes back on-line that was supposed to be the end to intrusive work. It looks most likely the first will have to have another intrusive work package, due to the delay already announced. We have to bare in mind as IC has touched on we plan for replacements about 20yrs in advance.


Paul
 

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Independent
Europe has embraced socialism and are reaping its "rewards" now.
 
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