Patrick Christys: We need to reverse the hairbrained cuts to our armed forces

Patrick Christys: We need to reverse the hairbrained cuts to our armed forces
07 Patrick Mono
Luke Ridley

By Luke Ridley

Published: 07/03/2022

- 11:27

Updated: 07/03/2022

- 11:30

Patrick Christys gives his views on cuts to UK military spending now Russia has invaded Ukraine.

We need to reverse the hairbrained cuts to our armed forces.

If the government presses ahead with its idea to slash another 10,000 troops it will reduce our personnel to just 72,500 – the smallest the army has been since 1714.

But it’s just the latest round of cuts. We have been steadily reducing our full-time trained core since 2010, when we had around 105,000 personnel. There was a bit of an increase last year but then, of course these cuts were announced so the slashing continues.

I understand there is a cost of living crisis, and we have to be very careful about where we spend our money BUT surely now most people in Britain would back increasing our defence budget.

The fact is that the world is on a knife-edge and right at the time that this country faces its biggest threat since the second world war we’re currently planning on having fewer troops, ships and planes.

For too long we’ve put huge stock in our nuclear deterrent and plugging gaps in personnel with high-tech drones and technology.

Those things are great, but so are boots on the ground and conventional weapons.

If you speak to military experts like MP Tobias Ellwood, they say that our military could be about to be pushed and pulled in all directions – There is a crisis that may be about to roll through Eastern Europe, China is posturing over Taiwan, it’s often forgotten but Africa can be a bit of a soft war battleground and the Middle East isn’t exactly a bastion of peace.

But it’s not just about boosting numbers, you actually have to entice people to join the army.

If Putin keeps on the way he’s going and rolls his tanks through several other countries I’m sure that’ll get the flags waving and the sign-up sheets filled in, but there’s another way to do it.

I’ve already said that I don’t think much of the younger generation would fight for this country, perhaps a way around that is to incentivise them to do so.

Large parts of our military accommodation in this country are substandard. The National Audit Office said there was still a £1.5bn backlog of repairs and that the MoD was failing in its commitment to provide high-quality subsidised housing.

As of last year, more than half of the armed forces - nearly 80,000 people - were occupying single living accommodation blocks, either on a full or part-time basis.

Of those, the NAO found more than a third - 36% - were living in "poorer grade" accommodation, while almost 2,400 were in housing considered such bad quality that they were not charged any rent.

And another report found that hundreds of military families were living in houses riddled with mould and damp – some were even given leaflets on how to tackle legionaries disease!

And our veterans as well…we have roughly 7,000 homeless military veterans. They must be balking at the site of illegal immigrants being put up in hotels and given three square meals a day while many local councils simply don’t abide by the military covenant and refuse to give them priority social housing and mental health care.

I can understand how in times of peace, or when wars are being fought far away, it could make sense to cut the military budget. But we no longer live in a time of peace, and the war is not that far away. We have to increase the armed forces budget, and do more to look after the people who, frankly, put their lives at risk to look after us.

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