In a must-read column for today's Daily Mail, David Davis says this:
Reverse the cuts before it’s too late…
Just five months ago the Strategic Defence and Security Review stated that it could envisage ‘few circumstances… where the ability to deploy air power from the sea will be essential’.
This assumption has now been blown out of the water..
Had we been able to take immediate action [in Libya], we could have saved hundreds – maybe thousands – of lives. The fact that we weren’t will only serve to remind the Arab world how the West encouraged anti-Saddam protests at the end of the Gulf War in 1991, then failed to intervene as Saddam loyalists killed 100,000 Iraqis in revenge.
There is just one problem. To impose a no-fly zone would require the deployment of fighter jets operating from aircraft carriers – exactly what the SDSR said our military would not need to do for the foreseeable future. Suddenly, days after we decommissioned Ark Royal, the defence review looks very much out of date. Now it must be revisited.
The Government should accept that Britain’s security situation and requirements have changed dramatically since the SDSR was published. It is now time to bring it up to date. Lives may depend on it.
And so say all of us. Indeed, for my part, defence is the one department I wouldn't have cut in the vital rounds of austerity measures.
There has been much talk of late about the "covenant" between our armed forces and society at large. I do not demur from any of it. But the issue here can be put more simply. As DD has explained so well here, the SDSR just got it wrong. This government has proven itself to be the master of magnanimous changes of tack – it should change its mind here, too.
(Post-script: DD does not ask the question directly, but let me ask it of Con Home's well-informed readers: could our current military capacity pass the "Falklands test"? If the Argentines invaded tomorrow, would we be able to repeat Margaret Thatcher's success, or not?)