The Defence Review is breeding rumour upon rumour. Is this really the way forward when considering the Defence of the Realm?
Of course we cannot afford to have everything we might like in terms of defence equipment, but we must be able to afford what we need. A defence review should not be considering cost in the first instance, but what is needed properly to defend our country and our interests abroad.
The situation in which we find ourselves at the moment is that the defence budget has to find the money to fill a, so called, black hole. This is nothing short of a ludicrous way to organise the First Priority of Government. This deficit has to be written off and an investigation carried out to avoid such overspending again. Nobody seems to want to tell us where this money went and why. Is there something wrong with the procurement process? Have we been paying too much for equipment? Are we buying the right things?
One thing is certain, we cannot reduce, or scrap, vital defence capability to pay for mistakes of the past. How good it is to see the Defence Select Committee doing its job and expressing its concern to government. Their comments must be heeded. It is also encouraging to witness local concern being expressed, as recently in Plymouth.
So, let this review be a genuine defence review, not yet another cost saving exercise. Let us see the Government take the parlous state of our defences seriously, write off the deficit, drop any ideas they have about reducing the number of Royal Marines and amphibious ships, and pledge to uphold their “first duty” and provide the armed forces with the equipment they need and deserve.