What do we want our army to do?

Listening to those who lead and manage our armed forces, I have been struck by the significant change in the army as we detach ourselves from Middle Eastern conflicts. During the Blair/Brown/Cameron years the UK made a substantial military commitment to Iraq and Afghanistan, as allies of the US and as part of a wider coalition of the willing. The UK accepted the US analysis of the need to respond to the atrocity of 9/11 by seeking to root out terrorists from some parts of the Middle East, and sought to assist in defeating terror groups in the interests of establishing more stable democratic states. Over the years of these conflicts the army had to direct its training to the difficult task of counter insurgency, to fighting with restraint in troubled urban environments. It required a change in equipment as well, with arguments over the number and effectiveness of armoured personnel carriers, and over the best style of military policing of areas with a terrorist presence or threat.

The nation rightly remained strongly loyal to our armed forces, who usually showed bravery, restraint and professionalism in difficult circumstances. The political nation was more divided and unsure about the remit given to our armed forces, and over the wisdom of these military interventions. It was one thing to support troops who did succeed in moving terrorists out or in stabilising an area. It was another thing to be able to assist in the creation of a stable democratic system, a good government and a more flourishing economy to replace the terror ridden troubles of many communities. The interventions did not create stable prosperous democracies quickly, and maybe could not do so. If there was a failure it was a failure of politics, or an over reach by the West who may not be best placed to transform the domestic politics of the area. I was one who thought we intervened too much. I also thought we asked a lot of our young soldiers on the front line, who had to show great restraint when afraid of attack, unable to speak the local language and finding it difficult to identify who the enemy might be amongst a civilian population they were trying to protect.

Today we need to ask what do we want our army to do now? To be ready, seems to be the answer. It needs to be ready in case danger or need arises. That makes training difficult, as you cannot be sure what you are training to do. Some in the army think it makes managing the army more difficult. Providing a positive and exciting career if you all you do is train is a challenge. Whilst most of us like peace and are pleased to be spared the risks and dangers of war, some who join and train to be soldiers do so to be placed into dangerous situations where their actions can make a difference.

The last thing we should want to do is to find a dangerous situation to put our troops at more risk. It is the highest success if having an army there are no wars for it to fight. I am one who thinks the main reason we have a good professional army is as an insurance and deterrent. What do I most want the army to do? To persuade any adversary that it is not feasible to take military action against our home islands and protectorates. My second wish is to have armed forces that are strong enough and professional enough to be able to intervene many miles from home should need arise. That capability means our diplomacy has teeth, and makes negotiated solutions more likely. At the end of any war you need to sit down and organise the peace, establish a new rule of law, and allow self government where you have intervened with force on the ground. If you can sort things out like that without the war, we are all better off. As a member of the Security Council of the UN and a country with interests around the world, we do need to be able to project and use force away from home.

So I invite you to tell me what you want our army to do.

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  1. Mark B
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    I would like our armed forces to do as little as possible and not to involve themselves with others issues.

    Outside NATO and the UN I would like us to adopt a
    less interventionist policy.

    I would also like to see more control from parliament. The PM has, as has shown from the past, had too much power in this. Power that has not been used wisely.

    We need to identify those threats, such as those to the Falklands from Argentina, and build sufficient forces to meet and deter. We should not have to rely on others for a component as has been the case in the creation of a EU army and navy. We should also reduce our involvement with French and send the embedded military people in the MOD hone.

    Ourselves alone.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Surely the No.1 priority right now is to stop the May government giving control of all our armed forces to Ms Federica Mogherini, commissioner without experience of the EU!

  2. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    I only want our army to intervene if a problem is having a direct impact on the UK. I don’t want our army dragged into part of an EU army and therefore at the beck and call of another country. Perhaps, more importantly, I want our army and all forces to be better supported by our governments. Moral is low and its hardly surprising given that finances are stretched. I can remember as far back as the Falklands that our men had inferior equipment which caused many problems. It is right they should be available for helping the police at home when a national disaster occurs and indeed in other places in the world but we need to show them they are appreciated at all times and while the public are good at this, governments are seriously lacking.

    • margaret howard
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      “I don’t want our army dragged into part of an EU army and therefore at the beck and call of another country”

      But quite happy to be dragged into illegal wars like Iraq at the behest of the USA?

      We helped destroy Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan and destabilised the whole Middle East with our interference and caused millions of refugees to swamp Europe.

      Now neither the UK nor US want to help and leave all the misery for the European countries to clear up.

      • Edward2
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

        illegal wars….if you are sure they were illegal then teport that to the police with your evidence.

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted September 21, 2018 at 12:47 am | Permalink

        Margaret you are one rude person! I did not say I was happy with any other wars like Iraq. You mentioned that. Why are so always so against your own country? Why do you think we need the EU so much? Why aren’t you living there yet?

      • Dennis Zoff
        Posted September 21, 2018 at 1:58 am | Permalink

        margaret howard

        “But quite happy to be dragged into illegal wars like Iraq at the behest of the USA?”

        Please address your disgruntlement at the door of one Tony Blair…I am sure he would be happy to listen to your argument and anger, and you would be right in doing so….he alone agreed to the Iraq invasion on behalf of the UK, against its wishes!

        The first and overwhelming priority for the Armed Forces is to protect UK citizens and its legal territories from aggressors. Any secondary military action/operation abroad, at the behest of friendy countries or international organisations, should be taken on its own merits and agreed by Parliament first, not by the PM in isolation!

        From a British perspective, Iraq would not have happened if the UK Parliament had taken decisive action….the UK citizens certainly did not want our Armed Forces to get involved.

        Direct your disgust at the Politicians alone…they are the ones that drag countries into wars, not its citizens….and of course, why do Government allow such tragedies to occur…Business interest perhaps?

        • McBryde
          Posted September 21, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

          “…why do Government allow such tragedies to occur…Business interest perhaps?

          For sure! We only go in and ‘rescue’ people against their ruthless tryants [who, as usual, gas their own people …yawn) so we can neutralise their opposition to our big business [oil or gas pipelines]. In return for their sovereignty we kindly give them our ‘democtracy’.

          • Dennis Zoff
            Posted September 21, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink


        • margaret howard
          Posted September 23, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

          “From a British perspective, Iraq would not have happened if the UK Parliament had taken decisive action….the UK citizens certainly did not want our Armed Forces to get involved”

          That’s no help to those that were killed or the families left to deal with the fallout. Or the children growing up without fathers.
          If these ‘guilty’ politicians went against the will of the people, why do we elect them?

    • Bob
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      “I don’t want our army dragged into part of an EU army”

      Too late, Mrs May has already signed us up for that.

    • Mitchel
      Posted September 21, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      “Providing a positive and exciting career if all you do is train is a challenge” writes our host.

      I noted a couple of weeks ago the Russian MoD’s announcement that they had rotated 63,012 troops,25,738 high ranking officers(inc 434 Generals),4,349 specialists and 90% of their combat pilots in their Syrian campaign.

  3. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Off topic, I see Barnier is not happy with the Irish border plans after all and wants more compromises which I am sure May will be only to happy to give. When is the woman going to show some backbone? Stop trying to please them and just leave. Let them sort it out and come to us. Enough creeping and crawling. Its embarrassing!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      May is totally beyond hope. Not just on Brexit but on housing (yesterday), her bloated state tax and regulate to death agenda, green crap, HS2, Hinkley C, immigration, crime and almost everything else she addresses.

      Margaret Thatcher won three elections (four really with Major as her chosen man until people realised what a wet pro EU fool he was), meanwhile Heath, Major, Cameron and May (all essentially left wing, high regulate & tax, pro EU people) have been electoral disasters. Why does the party never learn anything from this?

      And even Lady Thatcher made huge mistakes (John Major being the main one) and could easily be improved upon.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        And electoral disasters even against desperately weak opposition.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:04 pm | Permalink


        Been looking a lot into solutions for the housing market.

        Without flattering you, you’ve come up with some great ideas on this website, above all, people building their own homes on a much lower budget than buying outright.

        I think this is such a great practical and creative and satisfying solution that could help many young, married couples buy their first home and start and build a family (there are also lots of studies that show people are much more productive in general when they own their own, and no doubt, even more when they’ve built their own and saving lots of money!)

        I really encourage you to explore this and contact the relevant authorities in government and in the media (make for great television, and media in general, if done right) to promote this.

        Best wishes.

        • Dennis Zoff
          Posted September 21, 2018 at 2:19 am | Permalink

          Ed Mahony

          Good suggestion

          Germans have had this self-build program for the past 40 years and it works! I have two German friends that built their own houses, which saved them close to 40% on costs.

          To build your own house from scratch, you need a supportive infrastructure to achieve success….helpful financial assistance/smart building assistance/sound project management skills/helpful local government…and good old common sense.

          It is achievable and many thousands of Germans have achieved their dream home at a much-reduced cost. A great program that could be introduced into the UK….but I doubt the UK politicians have the nouse to allow such a great idea to fly?

          • Ed Mahony
            Posted September 21, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink


            Big financial gains. But also real personal satisfaction in using your own brain and hands to build your family’s home! Something really creative and interesting about this.

            I think we need to get a cultural movement going, like in Germany, to encourage a lot more people to do this. Government could give minor financial incentives (nothing big but just to help the ball rolling) and the media do the rest by creating TV programmes of people building their own homes etc (I can imagine lots of people would really love this) and in other media outlets – but the media to do it in a really creative and interesting way.

          • Dennis Zoff
            Posted September 21, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

            Ed Mahony

            Excellent idea

            ….John, over to you?

          • Dennis Zoff
            Posted September 21, 2018 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

            The Best German-Style Self Builds

            With 60% of homes in Germany self-built, there’s plenty of inspiration to be found if you’re looking for ideas, and a wealth of German manufacturers to call upon to take your project to completion: Link for help…


        • Lifelogic
          Posted September 21, 2018 at 5:09 am | Permalink

          Indeed and they can build it in such a way that they could be enlarged later as needed perhaps as they have a family and as funds allow. Perhaps just stating in a caravan as they build. Unlike many of the industrial rabbit hutches they currently build that often have no potential to extend.

          Relaxed planning, relax the many daft building controls and make “borrow to build” bank loans a bit easier.

          • Dennis Zoff
            Posted September 22, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink


            “they can build it in such a way that they could be enlarged later as needed perhaps as they have a family and as funds allow…”

            Exactly. It would be the icing on the cake….with or without the cherry!

      • mickc
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        Yes I entirely agree! Thatcher should have been the start of the move away from the Wets, not just the only move away from them.
        But as I have always maintained Thatcher was not a Conservative, she was a Radical. She believed in letting the people free to prosper as they wished and were able; those who couldn’t (not wouldn’t ) needed help.
        The Conservatives believe that only a certain class should have power; basically the same as the Socialists but a different class in their case.

    • Alison
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      She’s pretending to show some backbone, in the run-up to the Tory conference. Then she will give the EU what they want and what she wants. Long piece in the Frankfurter Allgemeine yesterday, saying that the EU27 want to support Mrs May until the Tory conference is over (when the FAZ says they see a risk to Mrs May being toppled).
      The reason for the EU27 trying to help keep her in position is that the EU27 want a deal.
      I heard this morning that according to the BBC two EU27 leaders want the UK to have another referendum, to change our minds. One is the Czech leader.

      It’s just SO inconvenient and difficult, you Brits, wanting out.

      • Bob
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        Mrs May has ruled out a second referendum, which based on her track record of subterfuge and doublespeak means it’s a sure bet.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink


        Agreed, the EU want May to stay on, because that is their best hope of a solution that suits THEM best.

        Hence the reason she really has to go, so we get a deal that suits US best.

      • Stred
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        They want the money that May offered and the British army she offered unconditionally, wearing the EU armband. They would be useful for putting down uprisings in the countries like Hungary who refuse to obey zee orders off zee High Representative.

        Personally, I would prefer the army to come home and remind politicians, who ignore referenda and their own promises, that Mr and Mrs Ceausescu thought they could get away with it, until they saw the firing squad.

      • margaret howard
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 3:58 pm | Permalink


        It was just as difficult and inconvenient to get backing from the 6 EU founder members to allow Britain to join.

        Ironically the Germans fought hard to get us in against de Gaulle’s repeated ‘NON’. With hindsight I bet they wish they hadn’t bothered!

        Membership turned us from the ‘sick man of Europe’ into the worlds 5th largest economy but the Brexiteers think they can improve on it!
        They will have a rude awakening.

        • Edward2
          Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

          The EU did a fine job on Cyprus Italy Greece Spain and others too margaret.

        • Julius
          Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

          The EU didn’t have 6 founder members as it didn’t exist until 1993. There were a few pseudo trade organisations before it.

        • Know-Dice
          Posted September 21, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

          margaret howard, I think that you find that ALL European countries have been described as the ‘sick man of Europe’ at some stage in their history.

          If you were a patriot you would understand why this was the case for Britain in the post war years, a war started by Germany.

          So not only did we have the human cost of this war we [Britain] were one of the few countries that honoured their “Lend Lease” obligations to the United States of America.

          • margaret howard
            Posted September 22, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink


            “If you were a patriot you would understand why this was the case for Britain in the post war years, a war started by Germany”

            I agree with Samuel Johnson who said as long ago as 1775

            “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

            And we declared war on Germany both in 1914 and 1939

            Until the 20th century Germany was the ONLY European country Britain had NEVER been at war with.
            And since the 18th cent our kings and queens have all been from the German/Hanover house of Saxe Coburg Gotha

        • NickC
          Posted September 21, 2018 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

          Margaret Howard, The EU did not turn “us from the ‘sick man of Europe’ into the worlds 5th largest economy”, we were already the world’s 5th largest economy in 1972.

      • Steve
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 5:10 pm | Permalink


        “I heard this morning that according to the BBC two EU27 leaders want the UK to have another referendum, to change our minds. One is the Czech leader.”

        The other one was Leo Varadkar (traditional Irish name). The matter of a highly unlikely second referendum in this country concerning British crown subjects is nothing whatsoever to do with them.

        They need to keep their noses out of our business, and frankly I find their attempts to meddle with our constitutional affairs very insulting, if not treasonable.

        “It’s just SO inconvenient and difficult, you Brits, wanting out.”

        Some of us want more than that – like the complete collapse of the EU, which will occur anyway when we leave.

        • Stred
          Posted September 21, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

          The enemy cannot commit treason against their enemy.

        • hefner
          Posted September 21, 2018 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

          No, it was Mr Muscat from Malta and Mr Babis from the Czech Republic.

      • mickc
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        No problem with another referendum; the EU has p**sed off enough of the British people to get Leave a bigger majority.

      • McBryde
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        I agree, Alison. It’s been clear right from the start that May is going to do what she’s been told to do.

        With propaganda help from most of the media, BoE, Treasury, etc and the rest of the Establishment (whatever that really is) Brexit has formidable resistance. John listed a few days ago the fear tactics which keep blasting people. It seems they don’t hear that all of those points have already been demolished many times over.

        People: turn off your TVs, open your windows, and shout:”I’m fed up with you bullies! Leave us alone, and do what we asked you to do!”

        The trouble is, really, that we don’t have a democracy any more.
        (Rant over…)

        It has been clear from the time May got onto her perch that her act is to be a reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher and convince the Brexit voters that she is doing her best for them – while, in fact, she’s intensionally ensuring a minimal exit, if any at all.

        The talk in the City is that, as 50-ish Conservative MPs are fed up with her performance, people are starting to wake up to the real possibility that the current govt will be replaced by Labour within a few months.

        That would be a great way to scupper Brexit. So what if there’s a different government? At least the EU would not be losing the UK from its federalisation dream.

    • BlakeB
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Am tired of listening about the irish border.. why not have the goods bound for NI from anywhere in the world that need EU inspection be routed through Dublin or other Irish designated ports and then be delivered up over the border- that way they will be EU inspected and doesn’t matter if they come south again into the EU.

      As far as the army is concerned we cannot afford anymore to police the world therefore we should join more with UN, Nato and European defence forces for joint security and protection.

      • mancunius
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        Great idea. Even better: Why not have the goods bound for Britain (including Northern Ireland ) delivered to Mr Juncker’s house, so he could personally inspect them there.
        The British army could also pass by his home, for his greater convenience, to hear his orders of the day for their deployment.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        If we had a patriotic government with a spine it would have long ago told the EU that once we have left it will no longer be any of the EU’s business what is imported into Northern Ireland, as with any other part of the UK, or what is produced, modified, used, bought or sold there, or what is exported from there, APART FROM EXPORTS TO THE EU; and for exports across the land border into the Irish Republic and so the EU Single Market we would be prepared to be helpful to them by putting in place UK legal controls over what goods could be taken across.

        And if we had such a government it would have also said long ago that it was not prepared to get bogged down in negotiations for a special trade deal with the EU under the constant threat of a veto from the Irish government, so we would just default to WTO terms.

        November 26th 2017:


        “On the TV this morning it was stated that the UK government is “desperate” to move on to trade talks, but this would be vetoed by the Irish government unless the UK government committed to keeping the UK in both the Single Market and the Customs Union.”

    • Gary C
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      @ Fedupsoutherner

      Unfortunately it would appear the vast majority of our politicians lack the existence of backbone.

      At this stage we are looking to leave with some sort of botched deal that will handcuff us to the EvilUnion. That being the case just who do we vote for at the next general election?

      We need a party that has courage, a party that can lead, a party we can trust. Sadly that’s not what we have!

    Posted September 20, 2018 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    A more pertinent question would be what does the EU and any future EU focused British PM want our armed forces to do?

    Let’s be realistic shall we. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that in twenty years or even less that we shall see EU armed forces in all but name with Germany and France contributing the bulk of its make-up. Will the UK also contribute?

    I see no problem with British armed forces cooperating with other European countries on defence matters but the EU is a political organisation in its own right and the idea of British armed forces coming under the direct control of an EU body or appointee would be utterly unacceptable

    It is important the UK PM is in direct control of all matters relating our armed forces. External political interference is non-negotiable

    • Man of Kent
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Just back from a trip to Holland .
      Chatted with a serving Dutch Airborne officer who said his formation is now under command a German Brigade but with deployment decisions made in the Hague .

      I agree , cooperation and liaison is one thing but command is quite another .

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Exactly but that is what we will get if we do not leave cleanly.

      • Stred
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        That’s convenient. This time, the Dutch can invade themselves, as instructed by the High Representative in Brussels.

    • NickC
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Duncan, Theresa May insists the UK will sign up to a new treaty with the EU which will put our armed services, security and diplomacy under the direct control of the EU. For an example see the recent Bruges group videos with Mrs May slobbering over the EAW.

      • Stred
        Posted September 21, 2018 at 7:24 am | Permalink

        She already has signed the paras over. They are wearing the blue and gold armbands in Bosnia, as ordered by the High Representative. It didn’t need the approval of parliament, so she sneaked them over.

    • margaret howard
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink


      “It is important the UK PM is in direct control of all matters relating our armed forces. External political interference is non-negotiable”

      Unless it comes from the USA as it has in all the recent (illegal) conflicts they have dragged us into.

      • NickC
        Posted September 21, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        Margaret Howard, EU countries were also dragged into those wars too. The USA did not drag us into the Falklands War. And if the USA had not helped out Europe, the Serbian/Bosnian War (1992-95) would have been even more ghastly than it was. Certainly the EU did not help.

    • Richard
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Democracies should be prepared to support each other and NATO has been a good tool for doing that. British (& French) ships providing moral support in the Gulf, SE Asia etc is in our trading interests & seems a fair exchange for the USA & Canada’s continuing commitment to Europe.

      • Richard
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        I am arguing for providing deterrent support alongside existing democracies, not seeking to create new democracies.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    You make all the sensible points. We need the our armed forces to be ready for almost anything that might happen. We need them to be properly equipped and not to have the appallingly managed, wasteful and sometime corrupt procurement system we have seen over and over again.

    Meanwhile we have had to listen to May espousing her idiotic & socialist housing agenda. Showing she has no understanding of housing, aspiration, human nature, economics, the planning system, the cost of building, immigration or indeed anything very much. Is this very silly woman ever right on any issue at all?

    What on earth made her join the Conservative party, let alone lead it?

    James Batholomew has her spot on in the Telegraph today. She is clearly not a conservative and she surely never was. She is wrong headed on almost every single political issue. Her daft solutions would not work. Get rid of her before we get the appalling Corbyn.

    Chequers deal as dead as a dodo says Sir Mike Penning, let us hope so.


    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Quite clear that other EU leaders can see through this woman’s daft ideas. They sensibly ask – What happens in the UK when there are new EU rules?
      She hasn’t thought through that one.

      • BlinkersH
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        None of this has been thought through..not at any level..doesn’t say much about the so-called think tanks that abound..ERG and Policy Exchange?..yes and we know know that the chequers proposal is a dead duck..not wanted by anyone except Mrs May.. so what next?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      I have a letter printed in the Maidenhead Advertiser today, previewed here:


      and the last line:

      “Theresa May must think we are idiots, with memories like goldfishes”

      chimes well with his comments about her “it’s Chequers or nothing” attitude being “a massive insult, not only to my colleagues but also to the voters”.

      I’m sick of seeing her on TV claiming that hers is the only idea on the table when I have offered her a much better idea not only through a succession of letters in her local paper but in a letter sent to her as my constituency MP, acknowledged by her assistant with an assurance that she had taken it on board …

      • Chris
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Well done, Denis. I applaud your efforts.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 21, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        Indeed May does think that. She always talks as if addressing dim children.

        “Theresa May must think we are idiots, with memories like goldfishes”

        I never believed the goldfish short memory claims though. Goldfish would not have survived evolution for very long without remembering what they should or should not eat, what and where they had to mate and what not to get eaten by.

    • Dennis
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      “We need the our armed forces to be ready for almost anything that might happen.”

      Yes that is right. As long as our troops have their tin helmets on they will be prepared to fight off nuclear rockets hurtling from space onto our precious land,

    • Nigel E
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      I agree with most of the points you make in your posts but disagree with ” We need the our armed forces to be ready for almost anything that might happen.” Which is impossible. We need to prioritise threats and address the most important. For example, a while ago now, I ran into a bunch of squaddies in Miri (Eastern Malaysia) on R&R. Turned out these guys were based in Brunei. And it seems from the MoD site that they or their replacements are still there:

      “The British Army in Brunei comprises an infantry battalion of Gurkhas and an Army Air Corps Flight of Bell 212 helicopters. The tropical climate and terrain is well suited to jungle training and the Jungle Warfare Division run courses for all members of the British Army.”

      Jungle warefare? How does this directly impact on the UK. The MoD and large, and expensive, parts of the Army are living in a previous centuary.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 21, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        I meant “as ready as they can be”. Yes of course they have to prioritise and have limited resources.

  6. Dave Andrews
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Set up army camps on uninhabited islands, where the delinquent youth can be conscripted into national service, with training provided by the army.
    There the conscripts can learn discipline, skills and teamwork, and not engender another generation of delinquent youth.

    • L Jones
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      But there would have to be the ultimate sanction of punishment in order to train delinquent and reluctant youth – and there would be plenty of ‘yooman rights’ lawyers ready to shout against that.
      Gone are the days of the concept of ‘duty’ and when it was expected that authority should be heeded, and it would be all but impossible to lick recalcitrant young people into shape, given that they’re not even allowed to be shouted at today.

      • Dave Andrews
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        Perhaps those human rights lawyers should roll up their sleeves and pitch in to help – show everyone how it should be done, rather than challenge anyone else who seeks to tackle the problem.
        See how long they last.

        • Andy
          Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

          Human rights lawyers ensure that we adhere to human rights law – particularly the Geneva Conventions and the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECHR was established by British lawyers after WW2 and is based on British values. What is your objection to British values?

          • NickC
            Posted September 21, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

            Andy, Since you want us to governed by EU values from Brussels, what is your objection to British values?

      • Julius
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Give convicted minor criminals a choice: serve jail time or a reduced sentence in the armed forces.

        • Anonymous
          Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

          What on earth makes you think the army wants them ???

  7. formula57
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    The army should be ready to support the civil power in maintaining law and order at home (especially relevant in these times with quislings and remoaners on the loose).

    It should disentangle itself from the EU commitments to which it has recently been signed-up by the May government by ensuring its equipment and training do not give it the capabilities to fulfill those commitments. That would have the additional benefit of making it less possible for politicians to choose to deploy it to intervene in others’ wars.

  8. Andy
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    I would rather like the army to overthrow this evil government, lock them up and ensure the key is thrown away.

    Then let younger people reinvent Britain as a proper democracy – proportional representation, term limits, age limits for MPs and voters. Immediate and permanent expulsions for any wrongdoing by MPs – and a retrospective ban for anyone who was caught up in the expenses scandal. Drain the swamp.

    • Edward2
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      You should read Lord of the Flies andy

      • L Jones
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        ”Andy” ”read”? Explain.

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        I’m glad Andy said it. It proves what an extremist he is.

    • L Jones
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      God help us with people like you in charge, Andy. We all know your feelings about allowing anyone over 40 any sort of say in their country’s future.
      Thank goodness we have committed, professional people in charge of our Army – yes, some of them over the age of 50 even – imagine THAT! In your Army no doubt they’d all be under 30-year-olds – hide behind the sofa if you’re upset, click ‘like’ on Facebook if you agree with an order, sort of shallow, self-serving ignorant youth.
      Perhaps you’d like to fast forward a few years and ask yourself if, under your regime, you’d be prepared to walk happily into that euthanasia chamber that you’d have ready for your disenfranchised ”old people”.

    • Bob
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Sounds like Andy wants a Cultural Revolution.

    • Stred
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      So that your bloody children, that you keep going on about, can join the EU army and help it expand the the Urals, like your favourite politcian let slip. Not many came back last time this was tried.

    • Richard1
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      its very reassuring to see the most virulent continuity remainers using such foolish and unhinged language. it shows the wisdom of crowds – the majority must have got it right.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      First the young people can clear up the litter they’ve left in parks and on beaches. That includes the so-called educated ones.

      After that they can scrub the train seats they insist on putting their feet on.

      Mine have just gone back to university (thank God !) Both selfish and childish (aged 20) at the best universities and on top courses. Not a clue how to load a diswasher, help around the house or use their innitiative – typical of their age group, not my fault.

      No wonder they couldn’t get their act together and vote to keep us in the EU.

    • NickC
      Posted September 21, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Andy, Be careful what you wish for. A military dictatorship, as you have advocated, would be no friend of snowflakes.

  9. Iain Gill
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    If you want the best answer to this go listen to the special forces sergeants mess with no officer’s allowed to listen, under strict no holds barred everything remains confidential rules.

    You will get far more realism and common sense that way.

    I know most in the forces were more worried about being sent into Ebola outbreaks than going into combat.

  10. acorn
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Take over the government for a decade 😉

    • Iain Gill
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      In the case of the UK it would be replacing one set of public school no hopers with another, as thats what the officer class of our forces is dominated by

      • Stred
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        Ruperts couldn’t be any worse than Theresas, Antionettes and Cressidas.

      • Julius
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        Except none of the Army officers have PPE degrees from Oxford and nor have they been exposed to communist lecturers.

      • L Jones
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        Iain Gill – tripe. Perhaps you should do a bit of proper research before you denigrate the committed, sincere and loyal young men and women who volunteer for our armed forces with the education and dedication to achieve a commissioned rank.
        What do YOU know about the ”officer class” of our forces? Not much, I’d guess. I do.
        Is this criticism of yours inverted snobbery, perhaps?

        • Iain Gill
          Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

          I have worked in army hq among other places, I know perfectly well what I am talking about

          You couldnt be more wrong about your assumptions about me if you tried

      • Norman
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

        That’s what they said about a certain young Mr Churchill.
        And another man of principle who played such a signal role in history, Field Marshal Allenby, who liberated Jerusalem from the Turks in Dec 1917 without a shot being fired, and maintained the respect of all its citizens in dismounting from his horse upon entry.
        Having said that, I know what you mean about a certain type of public school boy. Perhaps true gentlemen are fashioned from unseen influences in their early life, whatever their background.

  11. agricola
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    It is not just a matter for the Army , but one for our armed forces. Protection of the UK , it’s territorial waters, and airspace comes first. Then there is the protection of the Commonwealth. We should continue to act within NATO,but never to become part of any European Military Force outside NATO. The threats that our interests face are of a rapidly, ever changing nature, so we must ensure that our military have the means to fulfil their responsibilities.

  12. Ian wragg
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    More importantly what are you going to do about our decimated Navy.
    Tuesday on BBC4 repeated The Silent War about the submarines in the cold war. Putin and China are once again trying to undermine the West and we are ill prepared for them.
    We should be strengthening our naval capabilities so we can contain any threat.
    What we did in the cold war applies equally today. Remember you can’t rely on the French or Germans

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink


      Totally agree, all of our armed services need much, much more investment.

      We do not even have enough simple fishery and coastal protection vessels which are reasonably cheap to purchase and run, let alone a proper fighting fleet or protection for our new and very expensive carriers.

      Given that our and the World population increases each year, should our armed forces not be increased by the same amount, instead of being reduced.

      Given the length of some armed conflict we have been involved in of late, we need more troops to help them avoid battle fatigue, and mental overload.

    • Mitchel
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      The West has undermined itself by adopting the ideals of the early Soviet Union.Europe is being drawn eastwards by the economic power of China,the ingress of it’s Belt & Road Initiative into eastern and central Europe and Russia’s increasing energy stranglehold and it’s stance both as the flagbearer of conservative values(including the validity of the nation state) and as repository for all views anti-american.Spending more on the military is not going to change any of that.

      I’ve just read the transcript of the Putin-Orban press conference at the end of the latter’s visit to Moscow earlier this week-you can be in no doubt in which direction he is looking for the future.

    • LukeM
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Ian..what you write is of a different time..we are not in the same league anymore and cannot even hope on the US support, especially under Trump, if anything should happen. Your remark about the Germans and French not being reliable is not true..in fact these countries along with other european friends are probably the only countries that we can rely on now.

    • L Jones
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Good point about our Navy. If you read the incomparable Gary Sheffield in his book ”The First World War – Myths and Realities” and see what he has to say about the Navy and its role in our security – it still resonates today. Especially with the Germans and French showing such hostility. (Politically at the moment, yes, but who knows what the future may bring?)
      Si vis pacem, para bellum.

  13. oldtimer
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    War, Clausewitz wrote, is politics by other means. It is conducted between nation states or against hostile rogue groups engaged in piracy or terrorism. It should not be in the business of regime change in other countries. Such was Cameron’s objective in Syria in support of the USA. The HoC, you among them, defeated that proposal. The UK needs to be very careful in its alliances and selective about the conditions under which it commits its armed forces to war. The contribution of the professional army will be limited because of its size and the need to convey it by air or sea to the scene of action.

    It has a role in disaster relief. It should stay out of UK politics.

    • Bob
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      “It should stay out of UK politics.”

      I wish the EU would do likewise.

  14. Billy Marlene
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Just let the Army run itself.

    More adventurous training, skiing, sailing, rugby, hockey, range days, driving courses – and lots of leave.

    ‘Morale’ is civvy speak. Soldiers don’t think about ‘morale’. Their needs are more fundamental. ‘Are the soldiers happy, Sgt Major?’. ‘Yes Sir’. ‘Well, bugger them about some more’.

    Soldiers do not change in a generation. They do what they are told – emptying bins, rescuing grannies from floods, hacking ice from Heathrow runways….

    For those who have not already realised it, the threat is not from military hardware but from digital savvy and climatic fact.

    Prepare yourself for millions, upon millions of starving, desperate entire nations fleeing ruthless drought in the Horn of Africa.

    A few thousand infantrymen are not going to have any impact on that – no matter how well trained they may be.

  15. ChrisS
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    The UK is a major player in the world precisely because we have strong armed forces and an excellent diplomatic service.

    However, the strength of both seems to be waning because of lack of willingness by successive Governments to fund them properly. In the case of the military this has become much worse under Cameron and May.

    The plan for a smaller standing army and a much larger and better trained and equipped reserve was the right one for the 21st century but it hasn’t worked. The army is smaller but the reserves have not been increased by the numbers necessary for the policy to be effective. A rethink is required. Maybe a role in the reserves is not currently attractive enough ?

    The biggest threat is clearly Russia under Putin but I am distinctly uneasy in asking our soldiers to put their lives at risk to defend a country like Germany whose leader singularly fails to spend anywhere near enough to defend it. I have no such problem with countries like Poland who do make an effort and, after all, are long term allies of the UK.

    Nevertheless, while we should be as vocal as President Trump over the failure of most EU countries to spend enough on their defence, particularly targeting Merkel, I feel that in the event of further trouble we would have little choice other than to go to their aid.

    The problem is that Merkel knows that and cynically exploits the fact.

    As for the rest of the world is concerned, we need to be as ready to intervene as before but a lot more selective in what we decide to do. In particular, I’m not sure our politicians have really learnt the lesson that some countries, like Iraq, are not suitable for democracy and can only be held together by a strong dictatorial leader.

  16. L Jones
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    ”If you want peace, prepare for war.”

  17. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, this morning on TV Chris Grayling warned that if Tory MPs did not support the Prime Minister’s Chequers plan then that could lead to a second referendum.

    “Nice Brexit you’ve got here, be a pity if anything happened to it … ”

    Reply Not a good line, and very unlikely. I preferred the Minister who told Leave voters we could end up with no Brexit and told Remain voters we could end up leaving with No Deal. No need to be consistent.

    PS You complain that sometimes I delete one your many very long posts. As you often produce interesting and well researched material I give you more leeway, but when I am busy I do not have time to read and check several lengthy posts a day from you, especially with references in text.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      The best line has to be that if Tory MPs don’t support the Chequers plan, then they should join ERG which would lead to a second and more sensible proposal to the EU, whether May and her “team” are in power or not. A 150 strong ERG would have enough sway, surely, either to push this woman’s brain into gear or throw her overboard?

    • bigneil
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Denis, don’t worry about your binned posts. I claim the title of ” Binned Post Champion ” for this site. John knows my posts are honest but my working class writing tends to lower the tone a bit, so doesn’t get put on. Try posting about green crap, HS2 and IHT ratting. Virtually guaranteed success.

    • Bob
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      “you often produce interesting and well researched material”


  18. Pete Else
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    How about the UK doesn’t bolster illegal US and Israeli wars, doesn’t send special forces to train terrorists in Syria, doesn’t send ships to provoke China, doesn’t participate in maneuvers designed to provoke Russia and doesn’t arm Saudi and other awful regimes? Then maybe the army, navy and air force could actually protect Britain and it’s overseas territories instead of making globalist power grabs across the planet.

  19. oldwulf
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I would like more army resources to sort out the violence at home and less army resources to sort out the violence abroad.

  20. mancunius
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    The EU might well threaten to occupy the British Isles, if they thought they could get away with it.

    By leaving the EU, we have already told them we consider them a threat to our national freedom and constitutional liberties, and that we do not trust them an inch. And now we want to bind ourselves to them militarily, put our armed forces under their control, and at the very least allow them full access to our military secrets?

    I thought repeating the same actions over and over again and expecting different consequences was supposed to be the definition of madness.

    • Jason
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      A little OTT😅

  21. Sakara Gold
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Its worth noting that since WW2, UK governments of whatever flavour have made sure that the British military had a war to fight. This means that equipment can be tested in combat situations, officers could progress their careers having received fighting experience, enlisted men become battle hardened and the staff colleges have recent conflicts to analyse. It also means that the rest of the world recognises that it is wise not to mess with the British.

    Partly on the strength of their success in the major battles in WW2, in the Korean war and insurgencies such as Malaya and Northern Ireland, the British armed forces have long been perceived as world class.

    However, their recent performance in Iraq and Afghanistan is widely seen as – at best – disappointing; under British control, Basra degenerated into a lawless city riven with internecine violence, while tactical mistakes and strategic incompetence in Helmand resulted in heavy civilian and military casualties and a climate of violence and insecurity. In both cases the British were eventually – and humiliatingly – bailed out by the US army. During one particularly successful Taliban attack on Camp Bastion in September 2012 the perimeter guarded by British and Tonga troops was penetrated, a number of US Marine Corps Harriers were destroyed, soldiers died during the firefight and the US military made it clear afterwards that they would not serve under British officers again.

    As you say, the army in Afghan was not given clear objectives by the politicians. The military and the nation like to “win”. In the Falklands, our forces had a clear objective – recover the islands. In Helmand, who can remember why we went in originally? The Taliban, well armed and with ideologically commited fighters, had the advantage of an intimate knowlege of the ground, could disappear back into the population and was able to mount a highly effective classic guerilla campaign.

    So what would I like the army to be today? The army is much smaller than before the Afghan and Iraq campaigns. Now, we could probably only put a single armoured division into the field; with modern high-intensity warfare against a world-class opponent this could be overwhelmed very quickly. Any politician wishing to project force would need to calculate the effect on the nation of mass casualties; this would constrain our diplomacy. In my view the army is now too small to be able to fight a proper war, as opposed to peacekeeping or operations supporting our allies. So I believe that firstly, we should rebuild a credible capability to fight a major conventional war, looking at the current configuration of Russian forces we need more heavy artillery, much more armour, more air mobility, a larger heavy lift capability, massive amounts of immediately available ammunition, close air support (once provided by the Harriers), better air defence systems, a good electronic warfare capability and most importantly good intelligence. All this costs money but will have the necessary deterrent effect that you desire.

    Secondly, I would like to see the army retain an ability to fight a major counter-insurgency campaign should it be necessary. Doubtless by now the staff colleges have had time to analyse what went wrong in Iraq and Afghanistan, senior army staff officers at Andover should be trained with the results of their analysis. To deter an asymetric warfare opponent the potential enemy needs to believe that next time, there is a high probability we will defeat them decisively.

    Thirdly, we must retain training facilities to make sure that our army personnel know what they are doing; well thought out exercises in the field are essential. This would help to regain the high esteem that the US military once had in us.

    Lastly, the government should make it clear to those considering volunteering to serve in our armed forces that never again will they be made redundant whilst fighting in the field. Many ex-officers have commented on the seriously bad effect that this shameful political decision had on morale among the army in Afghanistan.

  22. English Pensioner
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    We should have a large well equipped army ready for action anywhere in the world, but we should only get involved in combat if our country’s interests are threatened. I can see no grounds for having intervened in Afghanistan (we’ve failed there for some 200 years) nor the Middle East. The army should have sufficient capacity that it could be deployed to assist countries in the time of national emergency, such as earthquakes and tsunami, instead of charities and this could be paid from the foreign aid budget.
    We also need a better navy, more smaller ships to both defend the seas around this country following Brexit and also to ensure a world wide presence.
    More investment in technology such as drones would seem to be prudent; why risk pilots’ lives if the aircraft can be flown remotely.

  23. DUNCAN
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink


    ‘Tory Party Chairman Brandon Lewis has emailed local party associations to promote new ‘equality and diversity training’ provided by the party. The service is open to all association chairmen, officers, and members.’

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      It really does need a complete clear out.
      I’ve received e-mails from him claiming they’ve cut taxes.
      The guy’s a joke run by a joke leader.

  24. Norman
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    On basis of shared history and values: avoid being yoked to the EU, except in a very light way (no treaties or interdependence); instead, align more with USA and Commonwealth; no over-reach; maximize effectiveness on every front.

  25. Raymond
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I would agree that there should be extreme reticense, bordering on blancket refusal, for the UK’s forces to become involved in external conflicts outwith NATO, UN and treaty obligations. I think it worth reflecting on the traditional just war theory conditions for legitimate military action:
    1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
    2.all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
    3.there must be serious prospects of success;
    4. the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.
    I would be very reticent about sending other peoples sons and daughters into danger.

  26. a-tracy
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Could part of the training be spent helping us to get our Prisons into order, providing armed guards to take back control of prisons that we are told are in prisoners hands recently in the press or have contraband floated in over walls?
    Could part of the training of the Navy be protecting our fishing rights and doing checks around our coast for unreported vessels?
    Could part of the general training involve helping with armed officers in key points in London, personally it never bothered me when I saw armed officers in London whilst there, in fact, I found it rather reassuring in areas we read all the time are at risk of terrorist activity around Parliament and key districts?
    I have always thought NATO has protected the peace why change?

  27. Fishknife
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    We have never lived up to our responsibilities for our Military, or for that matter, our Police.
    Those who risk their lives for us should be entitled, should they “need” it for themselves and their direct dependents, free Dental care, mental care, medical care, preferential housing, education.
    I would extend those benefits to any Nurse contracting debilitating infections.
    I would qualify “need” in terms of a percentage of average income.

    I believe we have a responsibility to Humanity to insist on basic “rights”.
    Nuclear, biological and chemical use must be prohibited.
    Chinese expansionism is a worry.
    Distasteful though it is Mutually Assured Destruction is the only game in Town.
    We need a mechanism and the combined resources to hold Regimes to Account.
    Overseas Aid should fund the Military when appropriate.

    Thereafter we (the UK) need the freedom to be able to decide what we can and cannot afford to fund.

    The EU’s blindness to the troubles surrounding the Mediterranean is Criminal.

    P.S. Blair was right not to accept Hussein gassing his own population.

  28. Alison
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Dear Dr Redwood, some 15 years ago my father (an author, Scots regiment in Burma, stayed in army after war) wrote a book which my mother didn’t want published, too non PC: it was about the invasion of the UK, Westminster, by the EU army, because of MPs in Westminster, rebelling against the totalitarian EU. Can I send you a copy? (my father and I had it printed secretly…)

  29. MickN
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I saw it reported this morning that ILLEGAL immigration is thought to be growing at 70,000 a year. I would like to see the army supporting the border agency who obviously cannot cope with this problem.

    • Andy
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      The thing about illegals is they they are here ILLEGALLY. Some overstay, some sneak in on planes, many hide in the back of lorries. The great thing about Brexit is that Mr Redwood and co plan to wave lorries from the continent through, without any checks. Your problem with illegals is going to get worse. Shame.

      • Stred
        Posted September 21, 2018 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        Lorries will be checked for human cargo, as at present while waiting to embark.

  30. Chris
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    In reply to your question in the title, we cannot exercise our”wants/wishes as this government has already signed us up to the European Defence Policy, and we have committed to that. It is no wonder that our forces have been run down to conform to a completely different defence model. It started under Cameron, but as usual things were done behind the scenes.

  31. Paul
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Run our useless prisons is what they can do.

  32. Prigger
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    My last and second comment of today. The army should do all I said in my first one, but really they should not need telling twice.

  33. Anonymous
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    What do we want our army to do ?

    Well it won’t be *our* army if we stay in the EU .

    If we actually leave then they should defend British interests when (and only when) they are attacked or threatened directly.

    The interference in the Middle East has been based entirely on “… we fight the war there in order to prevent atrocities on our streets.”

    This is spurious at best but what does it say about multiculturalism in Britain even if true ?

  34. Kevin Lohse
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    John, by rights there should be first an FCO White Paper outlining the threat and,UK commitments. Then the chiefs of staff of the armed forces can draw up a plan to meet the tasks defined by the FCO. THE POLITICAL DRIVES THE ARMY.
    What happens without a current White Paper is that the chiefs of staff are bereft of guidance and unable to define the task. This is very handy for the Chancellor, who can cut resources to the armed forces as it suits his budget plans without worrying too much about any political fallout. Both parties play this game, and under the present Chancellor, the armed forces have been cruelly hit. So you end up with, for instance, 2 super expensive aircraft carriers without an escort flotilla to protect them. Sitting ducks in a combat situation.
    So asking your contributors what sort of an army they want is a pretty nugatory exercise.

  35. Cheshire Girl
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I want them to ‘defend our island’ and possibly provide help in emergencies, if needed. Otherwise I want them to stay out of foreign wars which are none of our business. Our help so often goes unappreciated.

  36. Halfway
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Why is mrs may talking about negotiations..we didn’t vote for negotiations we voted to leave

  37. Chris
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    O/T, but please can you explain Theresa May’s comments on the 4 pm news claiming, dishonestly in my view, that her White Paper i.e. Chequers “is the only solution” to Brexit and a “seamless” N Ireland border? The public is not stupid. We know that is not true. Mr Davis’s own paper/solution should have been ready by now. I fear Tory Brexiter MPs are being far too slow/complacent. May is forging ahead with her plans, and those are what are being presented to Brussels, not the Davis exit plans.

  38. Never been in Army
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I heard once, our regiments egs Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment and Lancaster (? ) would cease to exist or perhaps the former sounds mixing it bit anyway.

    In that any single County regiment was an autonomous or semi-autonomous Command and Control Centre…it would be pleasant if each County had its own regiment, for keeps.

    I know, such a formation, configuration, arrangement, is not really necessary or practicable .
    Unless they are not so.

  39. Julian
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    The short answer is – carry on as before with the changes that technology will bring (drones, robots, satellite surveillance, unmanned tanks, laser weapons etc).
    I think it is a shame we are withdrawing from Germany as it sends the wrong message to Putin.
    Although not so popular now as a policy I would support intervention to remove undemocratic tyrants if it is feasable such as the Sierra Leone Intervention.

  40. BOF
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I agree with much of your vision for our armed forces but it would be totally unacceptable for our British armed forces to be under the direct control of the EU. There are many scenarios where such a situation could endanger the safety and security of our country.

    I do not trust Mrs May not to sign us up to control under the new ‘EU army’.

    Posted September 20, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    No, in Modern English and using it, there is nothing in the Absolute or in bits or/of bits you can truly read properly in the full and to the full.

    Posted September 20, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Andy, doesn’t sound customary for The Andy Burnham of Lancashire or, Manchester to be pedantic

  43. Peejos
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Sadly nobody has grasped John’s point ~ how do you maintain enthusiasm for spending 35 years intermittently training to be a better sailor, soldier or airman, getting more stripes or pips without actually ever using those skills? There will be a steady erosion of competent people frustrated at inaction leaving behind a core of ‘has beens’.

    The quality of training will inevitably deteriorate and pressure for up todate equipment will evaporate. Sadly without real fighting with its adrenalin surges which must mean at the very least firefighting at hot spots around the world, the forces will become an extension of social services. Strike breaking by driving lorries, building flood defences, flying to deter alien aircraft. Not a good career path

    • Chris
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      Take a lesson from President Trump on how to restore pride and fighting capability to the armed forces. Under the Obama administration (and planned under the Clinton administration, but she lost, shock horror) the armed forces were apparently run down by design. Google the 16 year plan to see what had been planned for the USA. Extremely frightening, and something that the US only just avoided by electing (President) Trump.

      President Trump has been and is a huge blessing to all in the western world, although the UK media have not latched onto it yet. We are too much in thrall to the globalists (deep state) here, for whom the EU is instrumental to their plans. That is why the battle to leave the EU is so hard. There are so many parallels with the US and P Trump’s fight against the deep state there. P Trump is winning, and do not let the US and UK media and BBC deceive you.

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        They don’t deceive us. Trump is cutting through here and we are now wondering where our own version of him is.

  44. Andrew S
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    The threats domestically are Russia acting belligerently to expand in Europe, avoiding the UK armed forces becoming part of the EU army, Iran attacking Israel and closing off sea passages, China trying to control South China Sea, Argentina coming back for another go at the Falklands, which a democrat US president could easily support to court favour, and the EU making a grab for Gibraltar.
    I would like our armed forces to be able to act to deter and defend these freedoms. Domestically alone (with NATO i.e. USA), South Atlantic alone, and the wider global scene in concert with our major ally USA. Retaining nuclear submarine deterrent, the two new carriers properly armed and with support vessels, an air force capable of operating in all these potential theatres.
    And a command structure that isn’t owned by the EU but is controlled by our UK government accountable to Parliament. Finally, a competent brave government that stands up for independent United Kingdom.

  45. JJE
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I would prioritise the defence of the realm with properly equipped and trained service people from Army, Navy and Air Force.
    Procurement is an ongoing disgrace.
    And above all no more political nonsense about punching above our weight – let’s protect ourselves against sucker punches first.

  46. Steve
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    What would I want the Army to do?

    Good question.

    Sorry for the length of post but this one’s a hot topic with me.

    I can certainly provide my opinion as to what the Army should not be doing:

    The Army, and our other armed forces should not be in allegiance to European countries.

    History proves that France provokes wars in Europe and elsewhere, then expects us to come to the rescue, and afterwards treats Britain with contempt

    I cite the following facts:

    1) Napoleonic ideology – still prevalent in the french psyche.

    2) Treaty of Versailles – France insisted Germany be knackered.

    3) French theft of German coal during the inter war years.

    4) Half of France sided with axis powers during WWII e.g. vichy. Which shows how reliable they are in a scrap.

    5) The french are still bitter over Mers El Kebir.

    6) De Gaullle ran to England and announced “I shall fight the war from England” involving staying as a guest at Buckingham Palace. After which when his country was liberated at great loss of British and allied lives, he returns to France and gives the famous ‘Non’ to Britain’s request to join the EEC. As if that wasn’t insulting enough, the french made him a national hero. There’s gratitude for you.

    7) In the post war years the french colonies wanted independence, as did ours. We gave ours the resources necessary for them to go it alone. On the other hand, De Gaulle begged french colonies to stay as such, but when that failed the foreign legion was sent in to destroy infrastructure, railways, power stations etc. Leaving them with nothing – see below

    8) Vietnam – formerly french Indo-China. The mess left by the french gave opportunity for communism with America paying a heavy price for it’s containment.

    ( general anti France comments ed)

    Never again I say.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      We certainly need to be alert for what this guy Macron will ( do with ed)those refugee camps on the north coast.

      • Steve
        Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        Sir Joe

        Well as I understand it, non-EU migrants are supposed to be returned to where they came from.

      • Stred
        Posted September 21, 2018 at 7:00 am | Permalink

        He came over and told us that we will be completely killed if we voted to leave.
        Not half-but completely.

    • Steve
      Posted September 20, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Permalink


      “( general anti France comments ed)”

      I make no secret of the fact, but thanks for allowing the post.

  47. Steve
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Andrew S

    “The threats domestically are Russia acting belligerently to expand in Europe”

    and of the EU doing likewise to get it’s borders as close as possible to Russia?

    This is one reason why I think we should have nothing whatsoever to do with the EU in a military capacity. They will keep poking at Russia until she gets sick of it and clouts them, basically.

    • margaret howard
      Posted September 22, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink


      “and of the EU doing likewise to get it’s borders as close as possible to Russia”

      It was the US that expanded into former Soviet territory. It opened military bases there and indeed has ringed the globe with hundreds of bases in 63 countries.

  48. Spareadime
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Yes and after Mrs May’s dismal performance today…with the country’s going down the tubes and here we are discussing the army

  49. Andy
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Mr Macron said those who said that Brexit would be easy – and that those who said they Brexit would benefit the UK – are liars. Is he right Mr Redwood?

    Reply No, he is worried. A No deal Brexit can be easy and we should just get on with it.

  50. Norman
    Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Well, I think we can now see what the EU summit consensus is about. By saying ‘no’ to Chequers, the idea is that a ‘no deal’ scenario will cause such an outcry, that the much vaunted Second Referendum will emerge from the rubble, and Britain will return to the fold. Macron and others have virtually said as much. That’s their game, and of course, our past leaders have been pressing for this, behind the scenes. Our fragile freedom is now in danger. All hands on deck!

  51. Jumeirah
    Posted September 21, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    The British Army, Navy and Airforce were magnificent in the areas that they were sent to and they ‘triumphed’ under extreme conditions fighting and endeavouring to control situations with one hand tied behind their backs and in the full knowledge that they had absolutely no chance of winning and LETS NOT FORGET THAT FOR ONE MOMENT!
    What let them down ( and it’s ALWAYS the case) was Politicians who sent them there in the first place with not slightest NOT THE SLIGHTEST ‘after plan’ . The Military plan, strategise and execute – Politicians talk, order and once committed look speechlessly at each other and hurriedly turn to ‘any other business’ hoping the problem will go away. Get that fixed first before committing our Armed Forces to areas of conflict AND the Chief of Staff should have the right to challenge Politicians regarding the ‘after plan’ to ensure that the aftermath of military intervention does not leave chaos and a human tragedy of appalling proportions. None of this will ever happen of course which means that we should never ‘go in’. Defence of our Realm is all we need – let the others take care of the rest.

  52. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    The tasks for the Army must match its capability and vice versa. We need only 80,000 fully trained professional soldiers, plus 10,000 highly trained reservists plus a large number of lightly trained weekend soldiers – Kipling’s Army of a Dream? Together with a strong fleet air arm, its job is to defend these islands.

    Fighting wars of America’s choosing and military adventures in Russia’s sphere of influence are not automatically part of the picture. We need to decide which wars and sanctions measures are in the UK’s interest. Personally, I am completely uninterested in whether Sunnis or Shias triumph in the Islamic world – just as long as they don’t export their problems and people to us.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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