A WELCOME £24 billion investment in our Armed Forces over the next four years is not to be sniffed at.
However, cyber and space will soak up the bulk of it as defence chiefs meet the growing threat from these two theatres.
Meanwhile, there are ugly rumours that, yet again, our conventional forces could be cut to pave the way for this new technology.
It seems the army is the prime target.
For the last 10 years, troop levels were set at 82,000, although the actual regular strength is just over 75,000.
Now, there’s talk to reduce that further to 72,000.
At a recent meeting of our Defence Select Committee, former UK Ambassador to the US Lord Darroch told us the US regarded an army of less than 100,000 as not “credible”.
And, as a former distinguished general told me: “Technological advance is a must but it becomes fools’ gold if defence persuades itself that it can be a substitute for boots on the ground.”
Last November, the Prime Minister told the House that “cheese-paring” the defence budget for decades risked the armed forces falling below, “the minimum threshold of viability, and, once lost, they can never be regained.”
He added that not only would that outcome be “craven,” but “it would jeopardise the security of the British people, amounting to a dereliction of duty for any Prime Minister.”
If we are to fulfil our role as a truly global Britain post-EU, not least with NATO, we must maintain our conventional forces.
These are needed for a myriad of tasks and not all of them military.
The current pandemic springs to mind.
I conclude with the succinct view of the former general: “These proposals are ill-judged and dangerous. They must be dismissed.”