We cannot afford for any of the three services to loose yet more vital capability. It would leave us with a heightened sense of not being properly defended in an increasingly dangerous world. In recent years we have seen how difficult and expensive it is to recover lost capability. We simply cannot go on playing Russian Roulette with our security.
In any case, HM Ships Bulwark and Albion have an important peacetime role to fulfil. The world seems to suffer an increasing number of natural disasters and they are the ideal vessels to support the people and lands affected. Whether it be refugees in the Mediterranean, earthquakes in South America or hurricanes in the West Indies, they can be invaluable, as can the Royal Marines they carry. They can land personnel by either helicopter or straight on to the beach in conditions where airstrips ashore are damaged, and where harbours are either blocked or too shallow.
There has been a lot of debate recently about the use of funds from the “Overseas Aid” budget. Surely the cost of using the Armed Forces for disaster relief should come from this budget and not fall on the Defence Budget?
There must be an answer here somewhere which would enable us to keep these ships and troops as part of our national defence.