Tag Archives: armed forces

Airstrikes Alone Will Not Solve the Syrian Crisis

Given the last two decades of failed interventions it is easy to understand why the majority of Britain is opposed to the recent intervention in Syria.

As liberals we must do all we can, as internationalists, to maintain peace around the globe. But also as liberals we cannot allow such abhorrent crimes to continue to be committed by the Assad regime. The silence of our inaction would have been deafening; five years of ignoring the conflict has led us to where we are today.

The scars of the Libyan intervention are still in the recent memories of the West, and conflict still plagues the nation, but our failures there cannot deter us from upholding our moral commitment to prevent war crimes and holding those who commit them to account. The Pro-Assad propaganda, backed by Russia and elements of the Labour party, are toxic: they stand in the way of any meaningful resolution in Syria, and more civilians will die if their interpretation of the war enters the mainstream of political thought.

We must look to our past if we are to make sure that we leave Syria a better place than it is now. The airstrikes are a short term solution, but they are only limiting Assad’s ability to launch another chemical attack, a noble cause but not a path to peace.

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Avoiding a ‘Munich moment’

 

In October of 2010, the coalition government published its Strategic Defence Review into the future of the UK’s armed forces. It spoke of the need to counter the threat from an enemy which fought an asymmetric campaign, citing the growth of Al Qaeda and the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In doing so it ignored the writings of David Kilcullen, perhaps the foremost expert in asymmetric warfare and the hard won experience of our Armed Forces fighting a 30 year conflict in Northern Ireland. Instead it advocated reducing its greatest asset for fighting an asymmetric war, the army, down to 80,000 from its then establishment of 102,000. This loss of 20% of its fighting force was supposed to be offset by raising the countries reserve forces up to 30,0000. Needless to say the MoD is having great difficulty in recruiting reservists.

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Monroe Palmer writes: Reform of the complaints system for the Armed Forces

British soldiers on a training mission in Afghanistan -  Some rights reserved by AN HONORABLE GERMANThe Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill, currently going through report stage in the Lords, has a non-snappy title clearly not dreamt up with Public Relations in mind. It is however important as it includes creation of a Service Complaints Ombudsman and reform of Service complaints system.

As we move into Report stage the Liberal Democrat team, including the valuable contributions of my Lib Dem colleague Martin Thomas (Lord Thomas of Gresford), concentrated on two amendments. One to ensure that a complaint does not disappear if the complainant dies. The second is to carry out an investigation of any allegations of systemic abuse or injustice if it appears to her/him to be in the public interest and that there should be compelling circumstances.

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Nick Harvey writes on yesterday’s Army re-structuring announcement

With Britain’s combat role in Afghanistan coming to an end, so ends the predictability of our Army’s main effort. Looking beyond 2014, we need to restructure our armed forces to face an increasingly uncertain world: ready to intervene to protect our national interest, with the agile and adaptable ability to project force and prevent conflict, as set out in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

So yesterday’s Army 2020 announcement was about restructuring the British Army for the future. Contrary to many claims, it is not about personnel cuts.

Of course, we cannot avoid the fact that the economic situation …

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Lib Dem Councillor Amy Kitcher shows the compassionate side of politics

A touching story epitomising the compassionate side of politics reaches The Voice via Dominic Hannigan:

Prompted by Merthyr councillor Amy Kitcher, wellwishers from all over the borough have come to the aid of Paul Thomas, who was living in a flat in conditions he described as a “living nightmare”.

And the dad-of-two, who is battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, admits that, if it wasn’t for the help of local people, he might even have considered taking his own life.

“If it wasn’t for Amy Kitcher and if I wasn’t such a strong person, I could be dead by now,” the 34-year-old

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Opinion: Veterans ‘stuffed’ again

The UK Military Covenant Commission report identified injustices in a lack of past medallic recognition for those who had served in the British Armed Forces. This led to the Conservative Party policy in their 2010 General Election manifesto and the Coalition “Programme for Government” commitment to undertake a comprehensive Medal Review. But the Ministry of Defence has stuffed our veterans.

The Ministry of Defence failed to publicly notify when the medal review started; what its terms of reference were and when it would report; failed to consult with veterans, and produced unsubstantiated findings based on false arguments. In a matter of weeks MoD …

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Book review: Andrew Murrison on the military covenant

Taking its title from Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, this book by Conservative MP Andrew Murrison is rather a mixed bag. There is much that is interesting and thoughtful in his study of how wider society views and treats the military in Britain, but that is rather let down by a meandering structure which results in some topics being returned to frequently, the flow within many chapters being unclear and indeed the actual origins of the military covenant being largely unmentioned. We get a little detail of who first wrote the words and when, but almost nothing about what triggered the …

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Opinion: policy making is proving pointless

As the Federal Party prepares for the Spring Conference, in Nick Clegg’s homeland of Sheffield, Liberal Democrat policy making, now we are in Coalition Government, is proving pointless.

The award of a National Defence medal, to hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been prepared to put their life on the line to keep the Nation safe and secure, was the first policy motion approved by the Liberal Democrat Party since being in Coalition Government. A veteran’s medal fund ensures there is no cost to the public purse surrounding this policy.
A review of service medals was contained in …

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Opinion: for the want of a nail

Joining the traditional Nativity story of revelation followed by deliverance, this festive season we have been able to enjoy even more revealed truths about our world courtesy of Wikileaks, the Daily Telegraph and more or less any senior Army officer near a microphone.

Although there are moral and technical differences between these sources of information, they have each attempted to lift the veil to reveal the ‘truth’ behind the public face of diplomacy, coalition governance and military strategy. But have we liberals been consistent in our responses to these revelations?

With the diplomatic cables released through Wikileaks, there’s been a strong …

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Farron: “damning” evidence that Labour neglected Armed Forces

A memo released by the Iraq Inquiry today by Lieutenant General Sir Nicholas Houghton, then-Chief of Joint Operations at the military’s Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) to Ministers, shows that Labour ministers were formally warned that the military needed an alternative to the Snatch Land Rover in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tim Farron, Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs & Defence, comments:

This is yet another damning sign that the Labour Government ignored advice from its top military officials on their equipment needs. “As we long suspected, generals told ministers that they needed better equipment to protect

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The coalition agreement: defence and deficit reduction

Welcome to the sixth in a series of posts going through the full coalition agreement section by section. You can read the full coalition document here.

Despite the importance of the two areas, these are two of the shortest sections in the agreement, reflecting how there are a small number of dominating issues.

For defence there is the Trident compromise – it will be replaced unless there is a better value for money alternative. What the wording leaves unclear is the extent to which any alternative has to meet Trident like-for-like in terms of destructive power and constant instant availability. Whether …

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Nick: our Armed Forces deserve better pay and homes

Nick Clegg will today set out plans to improve family homes for the Armed Forces and make troops’ pay fair.

Announcing the plans, Nick said:

The brave men and women of our Armed Forces have been left under-equipped and under-paid by Labour. The Liberal Democrats will change this. Gordon Brown has failed to give our troops all the kit they need to do their job. And he has failed to give them a decent wage for the work they do and a decent home to raise their kids in.

“Someone spending six months fighting half way around the world to keep us safe should not have to worry about leaving their family in a shoddy, run-down home. They should not have to worry about whether they are paid enough to provide for their loved ones.

“The Liberal Democrats will bring forces family homes up to standard in half the time the Government plans, and we will increase the salary of our lowest paid troops by £6,000. We are committed to a fair deal for our Armed Forces. These changes are affordable because we have proposed £15bn of cuts and savings elsewhere in government each year, including cutting waste in the Ministry of Defence.”

Here’s the detail of the proposals from the party’s press release:

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Lib Dems set pace in signing up for Royal British Legion pledge

The Royal British Legion is asking candidates from all parties to sign up to its manifesto ahead of the coming election campaign. Nick Clegg, along with the other two party leaders, has signed up to the Legion’s pledge, meeting recently with its Director General; while defence spokesman Nick Harvey has spoken at Legion fringe events.

The Legion has been keeping a tally of the proportion of MPs from each of the parties who have signed up to its manifesto – and as they comment, “Lib Dem MPs are setting the pace!”

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Huhne urges Labour – “Restore hero cops’ pensions”

Thousands of police officers forced to retire after being injured in the line of duty face having their injury pensions cut back to minimum levels, research by the Lib Dems’ home office team has found.

Previously, officers were allocated an additional sum each year to compensate them for the injuries they received, even when they reached retirement age. However, since Home Office guidance was issued in 2004, many forces have reassessed officers when they have reached retirement age and reduced their injury awards to the lowest possible level. The Labour Government’s recent response to a consultation on this subject …

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Nick launches ‘Don’t Short Change Our Troops’ campaign

It’s been a busy day for Nick… speaking out on the Prime Minister’s contortions over the release of Mr Al Megrahi, confirming his intention to accept Sky News’s invitation to a televised leaders’ debate, as well as launching a new Lib Dem campaign, this one aimed at increasing the pay of the lowest-paid troops by £6,000 a year.

Here’s the summary of the new proposals:

The proposals, which would mean that no service personnel in the Army, Navy or RAF would receive less basic annual pay than a new-entrant police constable or development-level firefighter, would be funded within the

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Daily View 2×2: 17 July 2009

2 Big Stories

Troops need more, says Dannett

The BBC has the interview and the story:

The head of the UK Army has said better equipment is needed to protect troops from roadside bombs in Afghanistan. General Sir Richard Dannatt told the BBC troops “needed more” and added that he would be compiling a shopping list of what was required. … The general’s comments will be seen as careful “parting shots”. …

In return for their service, he says more money needs to be spent on equipment for British forces in Afghanistan. Earlier this week, the general – on his last trip

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Clegg marks Armed Forces Day with 5-point plan to improve service conditions

Ahead of Armed Forces Day, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has set out five priorities the Government must meet to better support Britain’s service men and women.

We must never forget the enormous sacrifices which our service men and women make on our behalf every day. I know from visiting them in Afghanistan that their selfless dedication is truly humbling.

“Armed Forces Day is a chance to show our gratitude, but also to reflect on how we can best support our troops. This Government has failed them too often. That is why I am setting out five priorities Gordon Brown must

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Overstretch

“Overstretched, underpaid and over there” might be an appropriate modern-day take on the infamous line of the Second World War, used in its original form to describe American GIs in Britain. With intense operations on two fronts, in Afghanistan and Iraq, combined with the cumulative effects of underinvestment by consecutive Conservative and Labour Governments, it is a phrase that pithily describes the modern predicament of our armed forces.

Our Armed Forces are a world-class fighting force, but they are not configured for sustained operations at the present rate. The situation has become so critical …

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Opinion: What should the new leader do in his first 100 days? #3

In less than a week, the Lib Dems will have a new leader – either Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne will have succeeded Ming Campbell. Lib Dem Voice is inviting party members to tell us what you think should be his top priorities. Paul Walter and Linda Jack have both had a go. Today it’s David Morton’s turn…

Paddy Ashdown once said that the first thing a third party leader had to do in the morning “was get noticed.” The media’s love of the two party consensus is well known but very real. As it seems that one slip …

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