Britain Cuts Military
In the lead-up to World War ii, again the nation was vulnerable. It possessed only a small Air Force and was nearly devoid of tanks. Though Winston Churchill cried out to the nation to rearm as Germany rose again, his message largely fell on deaf ears. Peace through appeasement was the ideal. It took German blitzkrieg in the low countries to finally awaken the British people to the danger they were in, forcing them to scramble to retool in order to save the country.
Lack of military readiness, combined with naivety, twice put Britain’s existence in danger in the 20th century. Today, history is repeating itself—but with a vital difference.
Up to the period of the world wars, the nature of warfare allowed time enough for a nation to produce the necessary armaments and train soldiers even after the declaration of war. Since then, warfare has changed. With today’s weapons, whole cities can be razed within minutes. Precision-guided weapons require only a few aerial sorties to destroy their targets, where it once took hundreds. In addition, the 21st century is far more unstable and dangerous than the previous. Global stability can be altered in a matter of hours. Today, a country may no longer have the luxury of time to build up its armed forces after a danger becomes apparent.
That in mind, consider how stretched British (not to mention U.S.) military forces are. Britain currently is engaged in more conflicts than at any one time in the last 30 years. At the same time, military expenses have soared as a result of poor project management and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This has left the Ministry of Defense £3.5 billion (us$6.5 billion) in the red. The government has called upon the ministry to fix the problem.
As a result, even in this tenuous state of global security, Britain is embarking on unprecedented cuts to its military capability and enacting a radical restructuring of forces to meet budget and a completely new war paradigm. Have the lessons of history not been learned?
Bible prophecy shows this sudden and drastic military shift will contribute to the downfall of the nation.
A New Paradigm
Secretary of State for Defense Geoff Hoon documented Britain’s new model for war in his paper “Delivering Security in a Changing World,” presented to the British Parliament in July. The paper outlines how British forces are to be restructured to function within a coalition framework, focusing on small- and medium-scale expeditionary operations. It is assumed that Britain will no longer engage in the most complex large-scale operations unless it does so alongside the United States in a coalition framework. With Europe no longer seen as a threat, the idea that Britain may ever have to stand alone to defend itself is not addressed. The new structure will not allow this to be successfully accomplished.
Based on reliance upon technology, the new fighting paradigm assumes that far fewer forces and equipment will be required to achieve equivalent objectives. New technology, according to Mr. Hoon, will mean a “shift away from an emphasis on numbers of platforms and of people.” The irrefutable fact that fewer forces and less equipment mean a de facto reduction in the ability to defend the nation was not mentioned.
The logic is that by increasing the technical capability of the military force, it can be reduced in quantity of manpower. At best, this is a gamble. At worst, it is suicidal. “Just how much security the UK forces will now be able to deliver is a fundamental question” (Aviation Week & Space Technology, August 2). After all, as the Scotsman pointed out, no matter how good the communications and control systems are, they need to have troops and armaments to command and control (July 22). And what use is high-tech intelligence-gathering equipment if the military doesn’t have the wherewithal to take action on that intelligence? London’s Mirror described it as the government’s attempt to replace “boots on the ground” strength with “cyber-age science” (July 22).
The occupation of Iraq is a classic example of the continued importance of troops on the ground. Iraq, as well as Britain’s own experience in Northern Ireland, should have proven that fighting even the current threat—terrorism—is manpower intensive.
Britain believes it can get away with the huge reductions because it will achieve its aims in the future by holding sway within coalitions. The idea is that its force structure will allow Britain to maximize its influence on other nations within a coalition at all levels of planning, execution and management of operations. Thus, the Defense Ministry believes that even with greatly reduced capability, Britain can still achieve its wider security policies and objectives.
But basically, all the jargon about modernization, efficiency, flexibility and optimization is just an attempt to cover up the fact that Britain’s military is being decimated.
With the Cold War over, the Defense Ministry assumes direct threats to Britain have been greatly reduced, and therefore British forces and capability can be safely reduced. What silly, naive thinking! Britain, or biblical Ephraim, at this end time is described as being silly and without sense (Hosea 7:11). This is clearly an example of such.
Twice in the past century Britons spilled their own blood defending crown and country from Germany. Even as the German-led European Union continues to strengthen and prepare to rise militarily, this fact is completely discounted in Britain’s new defense strategy. Are there any British leaders awake, as was Churchill before World War ii?
Britain’s drastic defense cuts will affect all three armed services, with the Royal Air Force (raf), Navy and Army all having both personnel and equipment slashed. Notice the severity and broadness of these losses, the biggest for generations:
In all, 10,500 military personnel will be cut, with the raf losing the most—7,500. In addition, 10,000 Ministry of Defense civilian staff will go. The London Times reported that all three forces will be smaller in size than they have ever been (July 22).
The Army will lose four infantry battalions, three from England and one from Scotland. A third of its main Challenger 2 battle tanks will be discarded. Six as90 heavy-artillery batteries will also go. The Army will undergo drastic restructuring, resulting in the further altering of Britain’s famous regimental system—a system which has served it so well in the past—and an anticipated loss of morale.
Four squadrons will disappear from the Air Force and five bases will be closed. By way of comparison, the Air Force’s home-defense squadrons are being slashed to the level of 1936 (Scotsman, op. cit.). Five of the 21 high-tech Nimrod mr2 maritime patrol aircraft—almost a quarter of the fleet—are being axed. All Jaguar fighter-bomber squadrons will be cut. The number of Rapier anti-aircraft missile launchers will be reduced by a half, and High Velocity Missile capability will also be almost halved.
The Navy will lose 12 vessels, including three Type 42 destroyers and three anti-submarine Type 23 frigates—a fifth of its destroyer/frigate fleet—along with their Sea Dart missiles, vital to air defense. Three mine hunters and three patrol vessels will go. For the first time since the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Britain’s surface ships will number below those of France.
And this is all on top of cuts that have already been made in the past decade. For example, in 1990 the British armed forces contained almost 315,000 personnel; in 2000, there were only 213,000 (Aviation Week & Space Technology, op. cit.). Do the math: To say this is a drastic reduction is an understatement. Now, with the current round of cuts, within the next four years the number will drop to 188,000.
With the intensity of the cuts, one would think that all was quiet on the world scene. The very opposite is the case! British forces are already overextended in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and Iraq (Mirror, op. cit.). In the words of the chairman of the Commons Defense Committee, “Please explain who the idiot was who thinks you can cut the infantry at a time when the pressure on them is enormous?” (ibid.). Aviation Week & Space Technology reports that for elements of the British armed forces, overstretch has been a “chronic condition” (August 2). The Army’s manpower, for example, is currently 5,000 below levels set by the government in a 1998 strategic defense review—and now it is being cut by a further 1,500!
Though there are plans to replace some of the defense hardware being cut, by the time the new equipment is procured, it won’t even cover the shortfall let alone fill expanding needs. In the case of the Air Force, which will have less than half the number of crew needed to fly the number of jets supposedly being procured, there are concerns that the government isn’t really committed to the purchases. As for the Navy, the delivery of two new aircraft carriers is not due until 2012 and 2015. As Defence Systems Daily stated, Blair “may well come to rue this restructuring of the UK’s armed forces” (July 22).
However, there is much more to be concerned about than just the cuts.
As stated, the rationale for Britain’s military cuts lies in the new high-tech approach to war. This new battlefield approach entails what is being termed a Network Enabled Capability (nec). “nec is about the coherent integration of sensors, decision-makers and weapon systems along with support capabilities” (“Delivering Security in a Changing World,” www.mod.uk). The system essentially links all aspects of the battlefield together. Information is gathered from every area of operations including satellites, surveillance aircraft and foot patrols, all the way down to the shooters on the ground. It is delivered to command-and-control centers, which can share it with coalition partners and relay engagement commands. The result is expected to be a well-coordinated effort utilizing high-tech precise weapons based on the ground, ships and aircraft.
At the heart of this data and voice network is Skynet 5, a very sophisticated satellite to be built by the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (eads). Paradigm Services, an eads subsidiary, will actually own the satellite and provide critical specialized secure communications services to the British Ministry of Defense under a contractual agreement.
While this may not sound unusual under modern military modus operandi, it is an extreme danger and an Achilles heel for the entire British nation. As the Trumpet has pointed out in a number of issues, eads is a German-dominated European conglomerate. This means that Britain has hedged its national defense, all its troop and equipment reductions as well as future battle plans—the defense of the nation—on a high-tech strategic system whose very lynch pin is being held by a nation that has twice attempted to wipe it off the map.
This is the height of naivety! From a prophetic standpoint, this fatal vulnerability is real. The Prophet Ezekiel states, “They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof” (Ezekiel 7:14). A warning goes out for battle and there is no response! This verse indicates a probable breakdown in military communications.
How silly and naive British leadership is! Even now, the relationship of Britain to the EU is tenuous, and Bible prophecy shows that Britain will not end up a part of the risen German-dominated Holy Roman Empire. Yet at this point, the heart and core of its defense needs involve an essential and vital system that is squarely in the hands of the nation at the core of this fast-rising imperial Europe! It is time for the nation of Britain to hear the trumpet warning being given from God—to turn from its evil ways and return to the one true God who alone can deliver them from their enemies (Ezekiel 33:11).