BRITAIN might fail to mount another D-Day now because our armed forces have been so badly stripped back, a defence minister claims today.
Tobias Ellwood insists today’s 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion must be a wake-up call for a major increase in the defence budget.
Issuing the bombshell warning in an article for The Sun today, Veterans Minister Mr Ellwood says: “These commemorations allow us reflect. It is a stark reminder of the perils we face if we drop our guard. The haunting question is – could we do it all again?”
The minister details severe shortages in surface ships, claims the RAF’s six remaining squadrons of fast jets are not enough and the Army’s fleet of battle tanks need urgent upgrades.
Mr Ellwood adds: “We must not kid ourselves. Pressures on the defence budget since the end of the Cold War have left us with one deployable division of 35,000 personnel who could not fight a sustained campaign without allied support.
The defence minister also insists the UK will soon be “outmatched” by resurgent China and Russia, as well as international terror and the cyber threat.
He writes: “The world has entered a new era of uncertainty. Our way of life is once again being threatened.
“We boast an impressive spectrum of military capabilities but unless we make a conscious decision to upgrade our defence posture we will soon be outmatched by the diversity of developing threats that loom over the horizon.”
Ex-Army officer Mr Ellwood sailed across the Channel last night with ageing vets on board MV Boudicca, dubbing it “my most proudest experience”.
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He has joined other Tory MPs to call for military spending to rise to 3 per cent of GDP in a challenge to the Tory leadership candidates.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt echoed Mr Ellwood’s demand for more defence cash yesterday, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We put a lot of energy into delivering defence reviews. And then, over time, we don’t deliver on them.
“Keeping investment in defence is incredibly important”.
We must once again be prepared to adopt that Churchillian spirit, says Tobias Ellwood
JOINING the D Day veterans on board MV Boudicca sailing to Normandy will rank as my most proudest experience as a Defence Minister. To be amongst these heroes, relive a journey they embarked on 75 years ago today, reminds the nation how grateful we are for their service and sacrifice.
Hearing stories of how these brave men lied about their age to sign up, how they were cooped up on landing craft along the English coast waiting for a break in the weather to launch their invasion is truly humbling. They all described the anticipation and trepidation at what lay ahead; however, no matter how scared they felt were all united by sense of duty, a Churchillian determination to succeed and do serve their country proudly and with honour.
The Normandy Landings – code named Operation Overlord – remains the largest seaborne invasion in history. The scale of the attack, even by today’s standards, of deploying a multi-national force of 150,000 troops, targeting five beach heads and the critical enemy held ground beyond, is still difficult to comprehend.
Expectations were high. After years of planning, training and rehearsals, much of which was conducted with utmost secrecy – the first 24 hours in securing a beach head would be critical the operation was going to be that long awaited key pivotal turning point in the war.
Veterans spoke of their nervousness in repeating the disastrous events two years earlier when allied troops attempted to land at Dieppe. Attempting to land against a heavily defeated German defences, of the 6,000 men who made it ashore, half were killed or captured in just six hours.
The character of conflict may change with technology but the horrors of war are the same. The more haunting question they ask is – could we do it all again? I asked what they make of today’s Armed Forces. The tradition of military service had in many cases been passed on to the next generation as many of these Veterans had grandchildren serving in today’s Armed Forces. All spoke of the enormous pride for those who continue wear the uniform today and serve our nation, especially of those who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These 75th Anniversary D Day commemorations allow us to reflect. ‘Lest we forget’ is a phrase we’ve all said – expressing our gratitude – to a previous generation standing up to defend our way of life and values that we enjoy today. But it must be more than this – this was a hard won freedom. It is a stark reminder of the perils we face if we drop our guard. The vulnerability of our country from those who wish us harm – if we are ill prepared, risk averse or unwilling to step forward. These anniversary events should act as a stock check on the threats we face today and our preparedness in standing up to them.
The world has entered a new era of uncertainty – we don’t face a single adversary as we did 75 years ago but a range of complex and diverse threats. Our way of life is once again being threatened. Now summarised as erosion of our rules-based order: the rise of China, a resurgent Russia, a volatile Middle East where extremism is far from defeated and evolving cyber threats that are already impacting on our ever growing reliance to a digital world.
We boast an impressive spectrum of military capabilities but unless we make a conscious decision to upgrade our defence posture we will soon be outmatched by the diversity of developing threats that loom over the horizon. New aircraft carriers are welcome but without accompanying budget increase the rest of the surface fleet will been impacted. Likewise, the introduction of the world beating is F35 is welcomed but our fast jet capability has shrunk from 36 Squadrons during the Gulf War to just six Squadron today. Both our Challenger Main Battle Tank and Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle are over 20 years old and require upgrades. More critically, manpower across all three services is shrinking by around 2,000 personnel a year. New dimensions of warfare such as cyber and space security also demand investment.
As our brave Veterans demonstrated 75 years ago – Britain has gained an enviable reputation as a world leader, we are an innovative nation that solves problems, and defends and promotes hard fought standards and values. But we must not kid ourselves. Pressures on the defence budget since the end of the Cold War have left us with one deployable division of 35,000 personnel who could not fight a sustained campaign without allied support. We must honour our SDSR spending pledges.
The world is now more dangerous than at any time since the end of the Cold War. So, in these challenging timeArmed forces would struggle to mount another D-Day due to cuts, minister warn a step forward to defend the values that make this nation great.
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