This week's security and defence has again centred upon Trident. The Independent reports that the US Defence Secretary has said that Britain must keep its Trident nuclear deterrent in order to secure its “outsized” role in the world. Ash Carter said the nuclear-armed submarines should be renewed because of Britain's “moral” and “historical” standing. The US defence chief added: “It’s important that the military power matches that standing and so we’re very supportive of it”. Renewal of Britain’s nuclear deterrent has sparked a fierce debate within the Labour Party. The Party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, favours unilateral disarmament, yet other members of his shadow cabinet are outspoken advocates.
In addition to the US Defence Secretary’s comments, The Sunday Telegraph reports that former Labour Defence Secretary and NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson has said that the security of the world would be at risk without Britain’s Trident-based nuclear weapons. Lord Robertson said he would “fight” Mr Corbyn’s plan to ditch Labour’s support for the nuclear deterrent. He has already protested in person to the Party leader's team.
Meanwhile, The Spectator reports that former head of the Royal Navy Lord West has warned that the Conservatives risk playing “petty, grubby” politics by planning to delay the Commons vote on Trident renewal. A group of former senior military figures, ex-ministers and MPs are writing to David Cameron and George Osborne next week to urge them to push ahead with the votes on the ’main gate’ decision on the new submarines as soon as possible, after reports that the Conservatives were planning to delay until closer to Labour’s autumn conference.
Meetings have been arranged between the DPF and Lord West, along with a number to other key figures, to discuss the key role the MDP plays in the security of the deterrent and the protection of the defence estate overall. Lord West has been very vocal in support of Trident, and we hope he will be willing to enthusiastically advocate the role the MDP plays in securing both the UK’s nuclear weapons and wider critical national infrastructure.
- Defence Secretary claims that Jeremy Corbyn is ‘bigger threat to Falklands than Argentina’
- Royal Navy relied on NATO to protect British waters twenty times in 2015
- Report that UK air strikes in Syria have killed only seven fighters
- Poor living conditions of soldiers exposed
- Police forces 'sleepwalking' away from communities
- Two Saudi Arabian cadets arrested over rape claim
- £4.8m Troops to Teachers scheme sees just 28 ex-servicemen qualify
Defence Secretary claims that Jeremy Corbyn is ‘bigger threat to Falklands than Argentina’
The Daily Telegraph reports that the Defence Secretary has claimed Jeremy Corbyn is a greater threat to the Falkland Islands than Argentina. The Labour leader’s declaration that he wants dialogue with Argentina to reach an accommodation over the Falklands would “override the wishes of the islanders”, Michael Fallon said. Paying the first visit to the islands by a senior cabinet minister for fourteen years, Mr Fallon said he hoped Mauricio Macri’s election in December would strengthen trade between the countries and lead to closer cooperation on travel and fishing.
Mr Corbyn prompted anger last month when he called for “dialogue” with Argentina over the disputed islands, which 255 British servicemen died to liberate in 1982. Labour’s official position is that the islanders have the right to determine their own future, but there is concern in the Party that Mr Corbyn wants to formally change the Party’s position.
Royal Navy relied on NATO to protect British waters twenty times in 2015
The Independent reports that Britain had to rely on the US, Canadian, French and German aircraft to protect its territorial waters more than twenty times last year, with the Royal Navy’s reliance on its NATO allies far greater than previously thought. During one search, as many as four Allied patrol planes flew to Scotland and operated out of RAF Lossiemouth, amid fears that Russian submarines were attempting to track Britain’s nuclear deterrent by locating the Trident-carrying Vanguard-class submarines.
The MoD has previously insisted the UK was able protect Britain’s nuclear deterrent with other military assets, but in November it was announced by Downing Street that Britain would purchase a new fleet of Boeing P-8 Poseidon to fill the gap. However, these new aircraft will not enter service until 2020 and defence experts have been quick to point out that they are not compatible with RAF mid-air refuelling aircraft, drastically reducing their range.
Report that UK air strikes in Syria have killed only seven fighters
The Daily Telegraph reports that British air strikes in Syria have killed or injured just seven Islamic State fighters, according to estimates released by the MoD. The RAF's operations against militants in Syria have focused on targeting the infrastructure used to support the group, including the oil fields which are a major source of revenue for the militants. None of the strikes involved the high precision Brimstone missile, which was cited by the Prime Minister as the kind of UK asset which would make a “meaningful difference” to the coalition's battle against the Islamic State in Syria.
A spokeswoman for the MoD said: “We are playing a crucial role in a campaign that will take time and patience. Using the right weapon for each scenario, RAF jets have struck Daesh [Islamic State] almost 600 times.”
Poor living conditions of soldiers exposed
The Sun reports that Army families say they are making about 1,000 complaints a week over poor service from the private firm charged with maintaining and repairing their homes, and nearly 7,500 people have signed a petition calling for contractor CarillionAmey to be stripped of its multi-billion pound MoD deal. A probe by the newspaper has found families living in squalid and unsafe housing – where problems included months without cookers, no running water and holes in the ceilings.
News of the troubles comes weeks after The Sun accused joint venture group CarillionAmey of failing to fix dirty water and broken heating at Headley Court, the UK’s rehabilitation centre for war wounded,. In 2014, the Army Families Federation was contacted 2,808 times over accommodation issues – a 23 per cent increase on 2013. Catherine Spencer, Chief Executive of the Federation — an independent group representing the needs of Army families — said in its latest report: “Housing has persistently been top of families’ concerns. 2015 has seen significant issues with the new CarillionAmey contract.”
Police forces 'sleepwalking' away from communities
The BBC reports that the HM Inspector of Constabulary has said police forces could be “sleepwalking” back to an old model of policing where they are “isolated from communities”. In her report on police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy, Zoe Billingham said officers in England and Wales were being taken off the beat to man front counters, do desk work in stations and guard crime scenes. This meant they now had less time for “vitally important preventative work in communities”, she said. Ms Billingham praised police forces, but warned crime prevention work was “at risk if neighbourhood policing is further eroded”.
Ms Billingham added that it was “disappointing” that there had not been more progress on concerns she raised last year.” But she said most forces had been rated either “good” or “outstanding” in terms of tackling the most serious crimes and preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
Two Saudi Arabian cadets training in UK arrested over rape claim
The Daily Mail reports that two Saudi Air Force cadets training in Britain have been arrested over an alleged rape. The recruits, both 21, were held after a woman complained she was sexually assaulted last week. The Saudi men, based at RAF Cosford in Shropshire, are alleged to have carried out the attack in nearby Telford. One of them was arrested on suspicion of rape, while the second was held on suspicion of conspiracy to rape. They have been released on bail until next month.
£4.8m Troops to Teachers scheme sees just twenty-eight ex-servicemen qualify
The Daily Mail reports that the latest statistics have revealed only twenty-eight veterans qualified as teachers under the ‘Troops to Teachers’ programme during the last Parliament. The Government scheme launched in June 2013, and the first group of teachers completed their two-year training in December last year. At the time, ministers claimed that retraining veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts would teach pupils self-discipline and teamwork, and David Cameron pledged to support the scheme when concerns were raised. He told the House of Commons: “We support the programme. It is a good idea and a good proposal, and I want to make sure it is working.” But figures have revealed that only twenty-eight trainees have completed the programme. Around one hundred more are still going through their training – making the cost per qualified teacher around £33,000.