Robert Gates’s devastating critique of Britain’s military decline since the Government’s ill-considered 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review is as long overdue as it is welcome.
The former US Defence Secretary, who served under both the Bush and Obama administrations having previously enjoyed a glittering career at the CIA, says the “fairly substantial reductions” to the defence budget undertaken by the Coalition mean that Britain can no longer viewed as a “full partner” by the US.
So far as our national security is concerned, this is simply devastating. Close military cooperation between Britain and the world’s only superpower if essential if we are to stand any chance of defending ourselves, as well as protecting our interests overseas.
But – as I have argued consistently since the SDSR cuts were announced – the Government has blithely pressed ahead with cutting the MOD’s budget without giving the slightest consideration to the damage it has inflicted to our defence capabilities, and the disastrous effect this would inevitably have on our standing as a leading military power.
In response to Mr Gates’s comments, the Ministry of Defence has trotted out its usual formula for defending the indefensible – Britain still has the fourth largest defence budget in the world, still retains powerful military capabilities, blah, blah, blah…