Today is Armed Forces Day, a day in which the whole of Britain can show our appreciation and admiration for the courageous work of our men and women in uniform.
Whether it be in Edinburgh later today where I will be attending the official celebrations with the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, the Prime Minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff, or one for the scores of parades, ceremonies and festivals up and down the country, we can all celebrate and honour the service our forces provide to the nation.
In Afghanistan last week I was privileged to be able to visit our troops who are placing life and limb on the line to defend our nation's security here at home. Over the last few months I have met many of our servicemen and women who have been involved in first of all, evacuating many British nationals from Libya, and now working around the clock to degrade Gadhafi's regime who continue to threaten the Libyan people.
We can rightly be proud of the bravery and dedication of our soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines who are ensuring Britain remains engaged as a leading nation on the world stage.
This Government has faced a substantial challenge since coming into office but it has done much to put behind us the legacy of years of poor management in Defence and inadequate support for our Armed Forces. It is right that we properly recognise and value the courage and sacrifice that we ask of our Armed Forces.
The Government has had to make difficult choices in its Strategic Defence and Security Review; many of which, given different circumstances, we would not have chosen to make. In doing so we have tried to ensure that the young Service men and women who join today will benefit from a clear vision of the future and a course for the future to a military that is properly manned, equipped with the best we can afford, well trained, and ready to meet the challenges that a complex world might generate.
The UK will retain, despite this difficult period, the fourth largest military budget in the world and continue to have the ability to project power at short notice in defence of British interests and her allies across the globe.
We are building for the future to ensure defence is put back on a stable footing and to maintain the key capabilities we as a country will require to face the current and emerging threats. We will have more difficult decisions to make to ensure that we deal with the financial legacy we inherited, but I want today to pay a clear tribute to all our Service personnel supporting the vital operational activity that we have asked of them now and in the past.
Above all it's about the people that make up our Armed Forces. They are the ones who we rely on and owe so much too. I urge every one of you to go out there today and show your support at an Armed Forces Day event wherever that is in the country.
Their selfless professionalism and courage makes them the envy of the world and continues to ensure the security of everyone in the UK. It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to honour them today.