Sunday, 27 February 2011

Is the State Best Serving Us and our Armed Forces?

In my last post I mentioned our lack of a carrier to send to Libya to rescue our stranded citizens. There's a lot more to it than I mentioned and I want to cover it here.

In fact, I've heard on the grapevine of serious issues surrounding this very issue. The lack of a carrier isn't the only issue. The thing is, a carrier is not only the ship, it isn't even only the helicopters on board for deployment to rescue stranded brits: its a fighting unit, which includes fast jet air cover in the form of harriers, which make the air safe for those helicopters to operate.

So scrapping the carrier and the harriers removes a whole swathe of not only naval but aviation capability. No longer can we take aircraft to theatres of operation. Instead we have to rely on friendly foreign airbases to house our land based aircraft, something which isn't always available.

In the case of this weekend's desert extractions, we've had to rely on fixed wing Hercules transports utilising airstrips in the desert flying out of Malta no doubt with fixed-wing air cover in the form of Tornados or Eurofighters. Of course that means that we can only extract people who can travel to or are already at airstrips, leaving a lot of people behind. Helicopters need no runways to operate from.

Another question that needs to be asked is why the (untypical for government) haste to scrap the assets that have been retired and render them beyond use? We already know about the Nimrods that were cut up in public view, but at Christmas I had a look at Ark Royal only weeks after it had docked for the last time. Already the scrapping process had started in earnest.
I have no information about the Harriers, but one can imagine that their fate is something similar.

I have no idea why these assets have been scrapped so hastily rather than being mothballed and keep them in reserve just in case. Sure it'd cost money to mothball them, but nowhere near as much money to keep them operational.

I just think there's something spiteful either in government or the MOD in this rush to put these weapons beyond operational use. Is there rift between the government and the MOD?

In any case, the real losers aren't the government or the MOD, but those people done a disservice by the badly planned, clumsy and poorly executed reductions in capability: us, the people that pay for it all and those from the UK stranded in the Libyan desert.

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