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Modern Defense for a Modern Britain

Introduction

The Government of the United Kingdom is having to cope with a changing time,
the Cold War such as it was styled, is now over and with that comes a time for
reflection. A time for the people of this country to step back from the matter of
the military and ask themselves the most simple of questions: How do we defend
a Modern Britain?

The answer of the face of it may seem relatively simple, if you buy more planes,
ships, hire more troops etc. then you will naturally be stronger...won't you? We
have recently seen in the Gulf, that having a large armed force does not mean that
you will have a good army. The Iraqi forces were larger, but ill-trained, ill-
disciplined and ill-equipped to fight off the Coalition forces in that area. This
therefore shows where the defense for a Modern Britain lies, in building an armed
force of quality, a truly modern armed force for a modern nation. The United
Kingdom has already led the way with the technology behind many of the many
areas of what might call a 'modern armed force'. Our aircraft, such as the Tornado
Jet, are some of the best in the world, our tanks are similarly some of the best in
the world, and our ships are also some of the best in the world. We know
therefore that we have the capability to create a quality army, but the problem lies
in that too often politicians try to politicise what are issues of national
importance. It might look good to cut spending from the military in order to fund
projects, but what we must ask ourselves is another fundamental question: Can
you put a price of the security of your nation?

The Tornado Jet Fighter – An International


Renowned Aircraft
I do not believe for one moment that anyone could honestly justify the increase of
military expenditure or even perhaps keeping spending the same. Clearly there is
a need for a reduction in spending. The likelihood of a large continental sweeping
across Western Europe are very much remote now, and this means that the need
for a larger conventional force is much less then ever before. We have by chance,
been given a great opportunity to pick the Armed Force that we want, rather then
being forced to have an armed force due to other circumstances across the world.
We must not rush this analysis however, the defense of the nation though perhaps
simply a matter of positioning a few troops here and there to some, is a complex
matter deserving the fullest attention of any good Government and this document
hopes to outline the way forwards for the military as we approach the end of the
20th Century and move into the 21st Century.

British Troops training in Salisbury Plains

Modernising to Victory

In the last Budget, the Government allocated £800m to modernise the British
Armed Forces, and at present we have just over 14,000 researchers in the Ministry
of Defence trying to develop the technology of the Armed Forces of this country.
Our commitments to maintain our troops, procure them more equipment and
maintain our interests globally mean that relatively little can be spent on
developing a better Armed Force. Departmental Spending last year (without
counting the money put aside to fight in Kuwait) totaled some £25 Billion, yet the
modernisation of the British Armed Forces accounted for little more then 3.2% of
the spending. Despite the fact that British Companies are constantly developing
better technology such as the Challenger II Tank or new variants of the Tornado
Jet Fighter or new nuclear submarines, we are left in a situation by which we have
the technology to modernise our armed forces, but we do not have the investment
that we need to make sure that we have the best equipment for them. The
modernisation of the Armed Forces of this country can effectively pay for itself. By
purchasing smarter bombs, better aircraft, better tanks and vehicles you need less
manpower to be able to keep the same fighting effectiveness that you may have
needed in the past. Therefore it is in our interests to start the modernisation
process in order to save funding for the future. The modernisation process for
each of the Armed Forces is slightly different. For the Army, the key must be for
more mechanical infantry units, so that rapid strike operations can occur with
speed being the optimum. In a modern world were satellite, radar and other
inventions have made reaction times quicker, we must seek to make our forces
even quicker to make up for this. By investing in better tanks, we shall deliver the
armoured punch that was the key for our forces in the deserts of Kuwait, and shall
no doubt be called upon in other conflicts across the world should they occur. The
need for modernisation is also apparent in the Royal Air Force. The Aircraft of the
Royal Air Force are soon to be outdated with the creation of faster, more effective
jets that can deliver the same performance but with a fraction of the number that
may other be required. Point point elimination of enemy targets with minimal
civilian causalities is the order of the day, and as such the Air Force must adapt to
this new demanding role that has been asked of it. Lastly, the Royal Navy must
also modernise in order to stay a strong force in the modern world. Our last two
actions have been many thousands of miles from home, and this has made the
role of the Navy pivotal in order to supply the forces on the ground and in the air.
The Navy must therefore also improve in order to meet these changes in global
warfare. The need for rapid response and ability to provide support to ground
troops through aerial attacks is becoming greater, and these are things that only
our Navy can provide. The message therefore is quite clear, the Armed Forces of
this country must continue to modernise so as to provide the most effective use
of public money and to reduce possibly causalities.

HMS Ocean on duty

Finding a new role

With the significant reduction of a possible invasion of Western Europe by a large


power, it would be very easy for the United Kingdom to merely slip into the
malaise of military isolation. However it would be a fatal error for a Government to
do this. The British standing in the world at this moment in time diplomatically
and to some extent economically, is due to Britain's image as a major world
power. Though there are many ways that Britain may be considered a global
power it is due to her ability to carry through her diplomacy that she is able to
create such an image and thus attract investment to her. The British Armed Forces
are also some of the most respected and revered in the world. The Royal Navy is
the most respected fleet in the world, and copied by many nations large and
small. The Royal Air Force is the best trained in the world, and the Army is
considered the most professional force. Therefore we must not squander these
resources by isolating ourselves.

The United Nations Headquarters – Heart of the


International Community

The British Armed Forces must now look to become a part of the much wider
global coalition of international opinion. The Gulf Conflict is a classic example of
what future conflicts will most probably be like. The United Kingdom must
continue to take an active role in both the United Nations (of which we had the
luxury of being a permanent Security Council Member) and the North Atlantic
Treaty Alliance (NATO). Only through maintaining an active global presence shall
we continue to be able to attract the respect that a nation such as the United
Kingdom deserves. Our influence in these organisations however relies on our
economy and our military capabilities. If the United Kingdom wishes to continue
as a global power then we must make sure that our military is well funded and
equip to handle situations that require military force (such as the recent Kuwait
Conflict). Reductions in force as a possibility to complie with the economic climate
that we are currently faced with, but what is reduced in numbers must be made
up for in quality of training and armament. Therefore, it would be strong
recommended that the United Kingdom keep an international outlook in foreign
affairs in a military sense as well as a diplomatic sense.

The United Kingdom must look to the future of global diplomacy and that is based
upon organisations such as the United Nations, but more importantly on our
ability to take part in international coalitions. Our ability to be active in the United
Nations and in organisations such as NATO relies on the military forces that we
can provide to take part not just in major events that may or may not occur, but
also on training exercises and bonding with our fellows across the world. That is
why it is important that the Government invests in the defense of this nation and
keeps investing into it for the future and beyond.

An International Strike Force

As has been mentioned several times in this document, the United Kingdom needs
to adjust its Armed Forces to meet the changing world. The need for a larger
conventional force has long since past, and as such we need to make sure that
our forces are equipped to be moved suddenly so as to be able to counter events
as quickly as they may arrive. The past two major conflicts of the United Kingdom
have been in the Falkland Islands and the Gulf. The Falkland Islands operation was
nearly 8,000 miles away and the Gulf conflict was similarly a large distance from
the main land. As such we need a force that is adaptable to the changing climates
that they will face and also able to operate further away from the United Kingdom.
A large force simply cannot do this, and thus a smaller force but with better
equipment would be a much sounder and more workable option for the United
Kingdom. The United Kingdom has had a history of small peace time Armed
Forces, and once again this seems a prudent time to revert back to such a
method. With a smaller force, the focus on training and equipment would be
larger and the reduction in numbers would be more then made up by the quality
of the troops that are available to them.

The United Kingdom has to face the reality that in a modern climate a large
conventional force would be of no use to the nation, as the possibility of use
would be extremely limited and the chances of event precipitating to such an even
would be almost impossible. Therefore the Government must take the practical
route and reduce the size of the forces in favour of a smaller better equipped and
better trained force which would be more effective in the current climate. A
movement away from such a force would take some time, and there would be no
call for a sudden reduction as that would be dangerous both diplomatically and
politically. However a movement away from such a force would be an impetus for
the modernisation of the British Armed Forces and provide the catalyst for greater
technological improvement to make up for the reduction in troop strength.

The Conflict in the Gulf has highlighted


the need for more rapid deployable forces

The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy must continue to play a key part in this vision.
The Royal Air Force is a key part of the United Kingdom's 'long arm' and must be
well equipped. However the need for concentrated aircraft has been much
reduced, and it would be folly for the continuation of such large numbers of
fighters and bombers. The Government needs to invest more in 'smart' bombs
and other devices which hit their targets and cause little damage to the
surrounding areas. The Royal Air Force must become the spearhead for the global
international task force that the British Armed Forces must become. Likewise the
Royal Navy (as has been addressed earlier) must become the key supply base of
this. The Royal Navy has a long history of being able to sustain large forces in
areas that otherwise would be unreachable, however we cannot continue to
demand so much from this force, and therefore we must seek to give them a
manageable force which they can support without having to sacrifice military
capability. This would require further improvement and even expansion of the
carrier task force of the United Kingdom, and the introduction of more rapid
deployment vessels, such as Destroyers and Frigates. The Army must also be able
to transport itself quickly, either through use of aircraft or ships, but on the
ground the need for vehicle to be able to speedily move them into War zones is a
necessity. Through investments in better armoured vehicle and transportation
devices, we shall be able to improve the effectiveness of the British Army.
The Nuclear Deterrent

Much has been said over the past decade of the value of having a nuclear
deterrent. Some have said that nuclear weapons have made the United Kingdom
more likely to be attacked, while others have said that having nuclear weapons
have made the nation safer. The truth lies somewhere in between these two
values. While having a strong nuclear deterrent is important to make sure that we
can defend ourselves effectively without the need for a larger conventional force,
we also need to make sure that there are less nuclear weapons around the world
so as to make a nuclear conflict more likely. That is why the Government must
seek to take action on the matter of nuclear disarmament.

Trident being launched from a submarine

It is quite clear that with the fall of the Soviet Union and the break up of the Iron
Curtain, that many nuclear weapons in that area may fall into the wrong hands. It
cannot be stressed enough that these weapons be found and the countries that
have them, stopped from being able to use these devices. To allow so many
smaller countries a nuclear strike capability would dramatically increase the
chance of a nuclear war, and given the distance of the United Kingdom from
Eastern Europe it would be very easy for the country to be caught up in this. We
must therefore seek to make sure that nuclear proliferation is minimised to a
select few trusted global powers.

The United Kingdom however, may take this chance to reduce its stockpile of
Nuclear Weapons. Without the major threat of a power on the continent, the
United Kingdom no longer needs to have such a large amount of nuclear weapons
in order to have the same effect. The Government should focus on reducing the
number of weapons but develop ways to make them more effect either by
increasing their range or their ability to penetrate missile defence systems
globally. However, though reduction is desirable, the complete elimination of our
nuclear system is not. The Government should try also to find new ways to deliver
our nuclear deterrent, at present we still have only a few very aged atomic bombs
which provide an aerial attack. The Government should seek to find a way to make
a new aerial launch possible, in the event that our submarine fleet is in disposed
or unable to reach the target.

Training

The United Kingdom's Armed Forces are some of the best trained in the world.
They have been prepared to face the most difficult of climates and situations,
however now that the threat of a major war is passing, it would be very easy for
the Government to decide not to train the troops as hard, or invest as much
money in their training as it had before. This would be a move of the most
extreme folly.

If there is to be a reduction in troop size, which as indicated by this White Paper is


more then likely to occur, then there must be a way to make our reduced troop
numbers more effective. While one way to do that is through modernisation (see
section on modernisation for further details) we must also seek to improve their
training in order to make sure that they make the maximum use of their
equipment and their must important resources, themselves. The British Armed
Forces have always been known for their ingenuity and this respect must continue
if we are to continue to be considered one of the best Armed Forces in the world.
The Forces of this country must be prepared to fight in every situation, in every
climate and with a whole variety of weapons in order to make the maximum use
of the numbers that we have at our disposal.

Constant Training is a necessity to a


modern armed force

Training must also take place on a global scale, by which we must continue our
long association in NATO and the United Nations. By continuing to develop both
external training (working with other nations) and internal training (working with
ourselves and between branches) we shall be able to have the best possible start
for future attacks on this country or if we should so be called, to liberate other
countries.

Conclusion

Therefore we shall conclude with a brief summary of the point discussed within
this document. To be brief there are five areas for the Government to continue to
focus on:

● Modernising our Armed Forces


● Continuing to keep an active global presence militarily
● Producing a more effective strike force
● Improving our nuclear deterrent
● Training our troops better

If the United Kingdom continues to focus well in these areas and does not fall into
the trap of neglecting the Armed Forces of this country then we shall be prepared
for the future in every sense. We shall have a strong backbone to our diplomacy,
the respect of our fellow nations in the international community, providing the
image of a resourceful nation and have given a clear message that the United
Kingdom shall not be slipping into the night.

The Armed Forces of this country are a work in progress. They need constant
innovation, constant change and improvement depending on the climate that they
face themselves in. However if we provide the resources to the Armed Forces for
them to be able to adapt to the changes that they are faced with in the future,
then we shall have a strong Armed Force which we can be proud of. This
document we hope, has laid out the framework for future development in the
coming years in order to prepare ourselves for the next century,