An Examination of Britain’s Modern-Day Defence Capability.
Britain is at a crossroads. As we leave the EU, we face a great challenge and also the opportunity to forge a new identity in an increasingly uncertain world. Our Armed Forces will be critical to our power and prosperity.
For centuries, they have been the envy of the world. Now barely a day passes without reports of diminishing prowess. The number of Navy workhorse ships has been halved and the Army reduced to its smallest size since the Napoleonic war. Our spectacular new aircraft carriers and the F-35 fighter jet programme are mired in controversy. Meanwhile, the Armed Forces face questions about their purpose. The bitter experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan have undermined the concept of the military as a ‘force for good.’ Voters are now sceptical of discretionary wars in faraway places. Aside from sporadic jihadi attacks, few believe there is any real threat to our way of life.
Thus defence spending is no longer a public priority. Politicians know that there are more votes in schools and hospitals, even while they are deploy our troops onto the streets after suicide bombings or, more recently, a nerve agent attack. In what feels like peacetime, no wonder top brass have to justify big budgets.
Yet this country faces an array of new and escalating threats, while Brexit and Donald Trump raise difficult questions over the future of our most important alliances. Have we become dangerously complacent?
Are we still masters of our own destiny, or have we run up the white flag?
Foreword by General Sir Mike Jackson.