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Richard Drax MP: We need to rethink plans to cut army
12:00pm Friday 20th September 2013 in News
THIS week, I was one of 25 MPs who wrote to the Defence Secretary, asking him to rethink plans to cut the army.
As many of you will know, the regulars are being cut from 102,000 to 82,000 and the proportion of regulars to reserves increased from 80:20 to 70:30.
This new configuration will then be enshrined in a Bill in the next few months.
The point of our letter is that these changes represent a false economy, driven by accountants, not strategists.
Our first duty is to protect these shores and, further afield, wars and major unrest are demanding our attention.
Yet, while there is more to do, there is ever less to do it with.
We live in an increasingly unstable world and only two weeks ago we were within a whisker of going to war with Syria.
If the army is to be cut, it needs to be more professional, not less.
I have great respect for, and served with, the reserves during my time, but these plans don’t add up.
Reliable reports on the MOD’s failure to meet recruiting targets are circulating and questions on cost savings remain unanswered.
And while this remains the case, there will inevitably be a serious capability gap as thousands of regular troops are laid off.
Expenditure on our armed forces has reduced from five per cent of GDP in the 1980s to less than two per cent today.
A career in the military must appear a risky option to those considering joining.
Yet, from my experience, no other job can give the same skills, self-belief and discipline to young people, many of whom would otherwise struggle to find work.
Over the years, this investment pays dividends, both when men and women are serving and then return to civilian life.
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