Nearly 31 years after the Argentine ground invasion of the Falkland Islands, and the political rhetoric that preceded the conflict is back again, with Britain being compared to a colonial force by the Argentine President.
History repeats itself!
But, it's hard to imagine that anyone could, with a straight face suggest that Britain could now deal comfortably with another ground invasion of the Falklands - despite plans to reduce the number of regular army soldiers to 82,000 by 2020.
Last night, Downing Street denied reports in today's Times that the government were trying to speed up the number of redundancies - despite documents seen by the News International publication, which suggest up to 10,000 could be nudged toward taking voluntary redundancy. The implication, and likely inference is that such measures could save a few blushes for government.
And it is very difficult for anyone to please even some of the people most of the time when the deficit is as high as it is - but let's put some meat on the bone.
In 1982, our total strength was 327,60.
In 2011 (18 months ago) our total strength was 186,000
In 1982, we spent 5.95% of GDP on defence
In 2011, we spent just 2.98% of GDP on defence
In 2012, that reduced to 2.6% and it's on the fall.
31 years ago, we spent well over double the amount of money as a share of Gross Domestic Product on defence - and we had a little short of double the strength.
Now I'm no mathematician, but if you have ten apples in 1982, and the Treasury eats 6 of them by 2013, it's impossible to solve as many people's quenching for apples.
Politicians then have an impossible job to claw back money to reduce the national debt and our rather large deficit... and only a fool would really believe you can achieve more militarily for less.
So what's the solution? Well the Ministry of Defence rightly recognise the dedication, training and ability of the TA - and actually, with Afghanistan foremost in my thoughts in making this point (but Iraq and other conflicts also apply) the TA have been such a crutch to cover numbers that many reservists have built up the type of infantry experience most new private soldiers could only dream about... but the Times, in it's excellent report on Britain's military capability says it's seen evidence that Britain's TA may not be ready to take on the vast responsibilities planned for them.
On a personal note, I have seen first hand how professional and able our military are to this day. We still have the finest soldiers in the world, and the best training going... but what we don't have is the numbers - and what senior serving army soldiers will tell you privately is that they simply don't have the money they need, for instance, to purchase enough new style pixelated greens that are proven to save lives - that example given to me five months back.
What successive governments, of all political persuasions have done is to rely on Europe to some extent, but America more heavily in the same, and frankly probably correct knowledge that the Americans would "save our asses" as they might say... but it's this kind of view that irritates Americans. one mid-ranking US Officer told me at an official Christmas bash that the high command feel as if we, the borrowers as we are known are relying too much on US resources and expecting the US taxpayer to pick up our tab. "So just how special is that relationship?" he asked.
It's food for thought - so what do you think?
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