Cuts in spending for reserve Forces
It appears that the Ministry of Defence has little regard for morale in the Armed Services, nor of keeping the defence of the realm as the first priority of government.
It is reported that drill nights, training weekends and two-week training activities for the 2,700 naval reservists will be “paused”, although they will remain at “high readiness if needed”. Perhaps somebody could explain how pausing training will guarantee that this level of “high readiness” will be maintained.
The 150 naval reservists currently mobilised, as well as the 300 on the full-time reserve service, will be expected to continue as normal. We hope that they feel appreciated, especially those involved in helping the NHS with the Covid emergency.
The number of Army Reserves training days will also be scaled back from 38 to 32 in an effort that is thought will save £11 million.
Defence UK Patron and former First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord West, called the suspension of naval reservists “shortsighted” and questioned why cuts were needed after having had “such good news about an increase. It’s a bad message for the reservists, it sort of says ‘you’re not that important’,” Lord West said. “The reserves are important to us and one wants to make sure we keep them on side.”
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Defence Select Committee, agreed that the measures were “shortsighted”. He said: “This is very sad news following the welcome announcement of increased defence spending. Securing savings by diminishing the reservist contribution will not just impact on overall operational capability and national resilience but do little to encourage potential recruits to sign up to the reserves.”
An MOD source said that they had difficult and necessary decisions to make to address the financial position, and will not shy away from the responsibility they have to the taxpayer. Perhaps they should remember that their first responsibility to the taxpayer is to keep them safe, and reducing service morale is unlikely to help achieve that.
Defence spending settlement
We welcome the Defence Secretary's announcement of an additional £4bn per annum for the Defence budget for the next 4 years. Any increase in funding for Defence is clearly a move in the right direction and we congratulate Ben Wallace and his ministerial team on securing this budget boost from HM Treasury at this time. It will be unfortunate, however, if all of this extra investment is soaked up by the new Space Command and by the needs of Cyberwarfare, as there are still serious conventional capability gaps across our Armed Forces, the result of decades of under-resourcing as well as poor procurement decisions. If the United Kingdom is to be a Tier One nation with full-spectrum defence capabilities - the 'Global Britain' that the Prime Minister talks about - then we need to rebuild our currently depleted and underfunded Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. This will require more than the £4bn boost that Mr Wallace has announced today."
Andrew Smith, Director, Defence UK
19th November 2020
PRO patria journal - volume 2
Volume 2 of our journal Pro Patria has been published. While covering a variety of topics there is perhaps one common underlying theme - the need for the United Kingdom to invest more in our Armed Forces and the folly of cutting the defence budget for short-term political advantage.
Our Editor, Andy Smith, has assembled quite an array of contributors and I am sure you will agree there is much here from which our political leaders could learn and benefit.
Chairman, Defence UK
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“Defence UK is an independent pressure group that campaigns for a strong and well-resourced Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, to ensure the security of the United Kingdom, her Sovereign Territories, trade and commerce, and to protect her citizens wherever they may be. We also call for a greater commitment by the UK Government to the nation's defence industries, and to non-military services such as the Merchant Navy, Coastguard, Border Control and Homeland Security that are essential to the Defence of the Realm.”