Trident and the Armed Forces.
The defence budget having to be split
between conventional forces and the WMD ‘deterrent’, the armed forces have
never been keen on our costly nuclear weapons programme. The full cost of
Trident, as revealed by the Nature
article, is staggering, and if it were more generally realised that we cannot
even use Trident without United States’ permission to use their guidance system, the objections by the
service chiefs would become stronger still.
Meanwhile, our military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan are stretching resources to the point where it is alleged that the
safety of our soldiers is being put at risk.
basic equipment has been in short supply.
Note the incident of the soldier killed in Iraq
after he had lent his body armour to a colleague who was judged to be more in
need, because there were not enough suits to go around. To quote from a recent (20/8/06) Observer article (Townsend and Brooks) : A recent report by
an all-party parliamentary committee concluded that British troops are having
their safety compromised by ageing or inadequate equipment which urgently needs
contemplating a military adventure consult service chiefs,
the latter’s advice being no doubt restricted to the practicalities of the
venture. But there is pressure on
service chiefs to go along with politicians despite some private reservations
(army chiefs must have had doubts concerning the recent deployment of British
troops to Afghanistan, for example). According to
a former British officer Michael Moriarty writing in the Guardian 29/8/06, a
kind of Parkinson’s law operates within the armed services, in that chiefs feel
they must spend their annual allocation ‘for fear that if they are not seen to
use what they have, funding will be cut’.
Moriarty comments that this has therefore encouraged a willingness to
take part in operations requested by politicians, ‘which in turn has served to
feed the government’s appetite for military interventions’. A vicious circle
bleeding of the defence budget occasioned by our ‘nuclear deterrent’, the
forces could be better funded, tensions between government and the armed forces
would be eased and relations put on a more frank and open basis, to the benefit
of all concerned.