Friday 4 October 2013

Conservatives Defuse The Army

At the late unlamented Conservative Party Conference, two old soldiers of the Fusiliers Regiment who protested against the size and nature of the Army reductions planned by the Government were ordered, not asked, to leave.

These plans for our military future not only had the effect of chucking out two living old soldiers but also one other, a former Commanding Officer of a battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers during World War One, one Winston Spencer Churchill. 

Perhaps our modern whizz bang Coalesced Conservatives have forgotten him, just who was that bloke whose picture we keep seeing?  Will he deliver the youth, urban swing and working wives votes?

It is unlikely that the issue of what Army we might have and military commitments in the future will be at the forefront of the thinking of the present electorate.

The Army that once played a central role in local communities as well as central government has long been reorganised away from the local and downgraded at Westminster.  From time to time events however bring it to greater notice and superficial media treatment.

As part of the fiddling with the figures the Government is looking to have a different kind of reserve.  This will be one roughly parallel to those employment contracts where you are hired but on permanent standby. 

This is not a good way to try to deal with urgent and critical issues that may arise.  What is more the effect of these contracts in the ordinary employment sector means a work force that is little committed, less capable and more unreliable.

It is a bad "fit" if you are need a real Army in a hurry. If you add up all the potential needs, and needs rather than wants, they require a fully capable body there, being kept up to the mark and ready. 

What is potentially disastrous is to have a body permanently fully committed and often over stretched.  Management theory is all very well, but wars and conflicts are not supermarkets or financial services.

Moreover, the total size of an Army is not a good guide to the actual capability.  One lesson of history is that the smaller the total force in fact the less the proportion that can be effective.  This is a complex matter, but believe me, I skived for my Queen and Country.

What is alarming is that between the shift to Internationalist Socialism in the Labour Party and the frantic dabbling in foreign disasters of the Conservatives desperate to hang on to their Washington DC connections, if only for the equipment contracts, we could have more demands in future than fewer.

Churchill, for all his errors and misjudgments, at least understood the basic principles in a way that his political colleagues did not.  If you need real Defence of The Realm then you need both the numbers and extensive support and provision.

There are more than enough lessons from history, one is the history of the Royal Wagon Train 1802-1833.  When you see what the decision to do without your own transport did in later decades you see what an Army suffered in the many conflicts and domestic disasters that occurred

But if the election results go as expected the most likely command of the day will be "By the left, stop marching.

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