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Investment needed so we can defend our island nation

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 10, 2012

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As the son of a man who was a padre for the Missions To Seamen in Basra, Iraq and Buenos Aries, Argentina and someone who used to glory in the Portsmouth Navy Days as a boy, I have to agree with Dr Harry Bennett (Can we still defend them? WMN, Aug 28).

Our fellow Britons appear to have developed sea blindness and become inward looking – not least the politicians in this coalition government who appear to be ripping the Royal Navy apart.

It might be a cliche, but nevertheless it is a reality that we are an island nation that still relies on our maritime capacity to bring in a high percentage of our food and export the vast majority of our manufactured goods via container ship.

Harry Bennett poses the question "Is our Navy up to the task of defending our international interests and guaranteeing our security?"

With a greatly diminished senior service and the farce of our aircraft carriers having no attack aircraft the answer is too obvious to say, as the Professor from Plymouth University acknowledges by implication.

You have to seriously question the ability of this Government to think strategically and indeed the current capacity of many Brits to grasp the implications of that deficiency in the coalition's thinking.

Yes, of course, it's expensive to keep a fleet prepared to respond to quickly developing situations in this uncertain world.

But it will ultimately be far more expensive not to. Perhaps, the first port of call is to scrap the proposed replacement of Trident, which has no strategic value that is obvious, with Britain no longer realistically in the "worldwide big player" league, and instead invest some of those billions of taxpayers' money in building up a conventional rapid response Navy that is capable of defending our current interests, along with a superb marine wing, a capable and combative air force and a hundred thousand-plus professional army that isn't overstretched when asked to protect Britain and meet its international responsibilities.

The first duty of any government is defence of the realm and this government is clearly failing to do that. Our fellow countrymen need to quickly grasp this and do something to change this sea blindness in 2015 via the ballot box.

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