Defence Cuts: 10 year rule again?

With Britain’s nuclear program & defence cuts in the news again this week, I’ve noted with interest the fact that Britain’s nuclear program has again escaped the governmental axe. One should not be surprised of course: I consider the nuclear weapons we hold an essential part of our defence strategy as, let’s be honest here, we can hardly expect the US to hold their nuclear umbrella over us forever. However, you have to question why Defence Secretary Liam Fox feels able to sanction redundancies for over 1,000 Navy staff while at the same time increasing Britain’s funding for what are to date decorative ornaments on the mantelpiece of the nuclear nations.Vanguard Nuclear Submarine

There are quite a few arguments that would suggest I am a raving liberal lunatic for not supporting our nuclear program to the full, and if you want to discuss that in the comments below I’m happy to respond & debate this. However, I do find the decision to cut back on some of the most experienced members of the armed forces questionable. For example, the Army decided to cut some of its most senior non-commissioned ranks and have now started a fresh recruitment drive for the Infantry to fill the very roles they have just cut. Going further back through the ravages of time, the Strategic Defence review neutered the ability of both the RAF and the Royal Navy to provide air cover should the UK ever be required to fight at sea again due to our lack of aircraft carriers. Anyway, who needs the Navy? It’s not like it’s the cornerstone of the British Armed forces due to the fact it’s the Senior Service, or that Britain still has overseas territories that need protecting from potentially aggressive neighbours with substantial air power. Let’s be brutally honest here: Are we really going to use nuclear weapons on Argentina should they ever invade the Falklands Islands again? Would that really be a proportional response?

The simple answer is no. In my humble opinion, Britain is selling itself short tactically & strategically now for short term gain. Have I got some news for you, Whitehall: It didn’t work last time you did it. For those reading this who are not Interpol or History students, the 10 year rule was essentially the understanding that because Britain had just emerged from the worst war arguably in Human history, the First World War, the Ministry of War decided there wouldn’t be another war for at least 10 years. This meant a massive stagnation in British tactics, manpower and training between the wars and as other nations like Germany innovated and began to mechanise their forces, British troops were still for the most part bayoneting straw & shooting at flags. When the British government finally realised the 10 year rule may not be such a grand plan, it was 1938, and Hitler had already subjugated most of Eastern Europe and was eying up the West.  In 1939, when Britain did actually go across the channel & attempt to fight the Germans on their terms, all that occurred was essentially a mass retreat across the channel without any of the expensive new goodies the war department actually managed to manufacture from 1936, leaving the British army of 1940 battered, bruised and with a lot of out of date pre-WWI rifles.

Here’s a tip Mr Fox. Don’t try and predict the changing whims of the global strategic situation. I can completely understand we need a nuclear deterrent force as part of our national defence plan. However, nuclear weapons and conventional arms are not mutually exclusive! You can’t maintain a presence in Afghanistan or Iraq with nuclear weapons alone. Fine, look into replacing Trident, but I’d imagine it would help to have people left to crew the subs you’re replacing.