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James

I think many would argue that although defence spending is critically important in a way most other public expenditure isn't, it is just as likely as any other big spending public service to be wasteful and inefficient. Just saying "increase spending to 3-4% of GDP" isn't good enough when we are wasting vast sums on the 'Future Rapid Effect System' (FRES), and other procurement projects designed to fight a 'future war' against a menacing, largish foreign power, when there are much cheaper, high quality alternatives available that we can actually use in our current wars. 'Future War'? Against? Well, nobody has any realistic idea who that future enemy might be.

It seems from this laymans point of view that this is largely a consequence of Tony Blair's 1998 St Malo Agreement, and the later commitmant to a 'European Rapid Reaction Force' (ERRF) - which commits Britain to joint European procurement for projects such as FRES, at the expense of equiping our armed forces for the fights they are actually involved in today.

This ties into the wrong application of expesive kit we already have. The war in Aghanistan, for example, does not arguably require the use of Apache helicopters - designed to combat Warsaw Pact forces marching across central Europe - that cost £46,000 per flying hour to use. This is just one example - I'm sure there are many more.

Until we have sorted out all these underlying structural deficiencies - for example, by pulling out of the ERRF and concentrating on procurement for counter-insurgency wars - then I'm not confident that throwing money at the armed forces will achieve the desired results.

I also freely admit that I've cobbled all these thoughts from Dr. Richard North's excellent 'Defence of the Realm' and 'EU Referendum' blogs. I thought I'd post them up here to act as a talking point.

Malcolm Dunn

What has Sarkozy done? He talks a good game but I see no French troops in combat in Afghanistan. Words are cheap just ask the Darfuris.
There is absolutely no chance at all of Britain or France sending any troops to Darfur in my opinion.We could however provide the rebels with weapons so that they could fight more evenly against the jangaweed and Sudanese Army.

Maduka

Malcom,

Well said. Sarkozy is all smoke and no fire. The British people don't want another Tony Blair.

Jamma

Threats to security? I want some of what you are on. People have said "fear the Jews" or fear "the communists" or fear "the terrorists", these people are people in power who need to make people feel insecure and vunerable so they can control them more easily. This argument can never die while people get scared over rumours weapons of mass destruction and other fear mongering tactics. In Europe we lived through the 2nd World War and we have an appreciation of how bad men get into power, seems something that the US still needs to learn. If you are talking about countries most at ease sending people to their deaths and using WOMD advocating torture then I can give you some pointers.

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