Sir, The government’s obsession with the amounts of money devoted to defence is a false indicator of defence capability. Instead we need to concentrate on operational value. Otherwise, the adverse cost ratios resulting from maladroit investment in manpower, skills and equipment will continue to disadvantage us significantly in comparison with our potential opponents.
We urgently need a genuine, non-partisan strategic review that balances what the public wants its armed forces to do with what we are prepared to pay and what is militarily and technologically possible, rather than offering the usual specious excuses for taking resources and capability out of defence. We also need a procurement process that delivers decisive fighting capabilities, not one of which Samuel Pepys would have despaired.
Rear Admiral Chris Parry
Founder member, Votes in Defence
It was preceded by another relevant letter that complemented our position:
THE VALUE OF AIRCRAFT CARRIERS
Sir, I disagree strongly with Andrew Manley (letter, Apr 1) about the value of aircraft carriers. Without them (and a properly constituted amphibious force) the Falklands could not be recovered, should an Argentine coup de main evade our garrison. An inability to respond would be an open invitation to try.
Royal Navy carriers contributed in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Iraq. Were it not for the 2010 defence cuts we could have used them in Libya (like the Italians and US) at a fraction of the cost per flying hour for land-based aircraft and a responsive 20 minutes from the action rather than hundreds of miles and needing expensive air-to-air refuelling. Carriers are hard to find and target with hypersonic missiles, and the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer has a world-beating anti-missile capability that makes them a prime choice to protect US carrier groups in the Middle East. Our new carriers will transform UK defence capability: they will be able to project RN and RAF air power on a scale not previously available at a time and space of our choice, free from any need for host nation support. But like every other aspect of defence capability, they will need proper funding, manning and support — which takes us back to where we started.
Vice Admiral John McAnally
National president, Royal Naval Association