Why we should support our armed services more

The NHS Nightingale Hospital shows us the value in supporting a properly funded armed services.

The UK currently has a target of spending 2% of GDP on the armed forces, however, that figure includes a lot of spending that doesn’t directly go on the armed forces.

Hopefully, the professionalism of the armed forces in getting resources from A to B and setting up the field hospitals will show why it is important that we increase funding on the armed forces going forward, to make up for spending cuts that have occurred since 2010.

As COVID spread across the country, it became clear that we may have capacity issues. We have all heard stories of public sector projects taking longer than expected so I suspect there was probably a high level of concern that we may not be able to increase capacity on time. It’s at this point that the armed forces were able to step in.

We were able to get the Nightingale Hospital set up in London in around the same time as China built new facilities and we did so without the horrific human rights abuses that go on in China. We were able to do this because we have a highly competent armed forces, albeit one which could do with more cash going forward.

Outside of armed conflict, the armed forces are one of the first areas of spending to be cut according to the IFS. It is clear, however, that maintaining spending on the armed forces outside of armed conflict is incredibly important.

The armed forces aren’t just there for armed conflict, they’re here to protect our country and they have shown how good they are at it. With the focus on public services, I think it is incredibly important that we show our gratitude for the great work that they do for us and how important it is for us to support our armed forces financially.

The work that they have done throughout COVID is a far better advert to join the military than anything Capita has produced, so it’s important that when this is all over, we continue to support them financially so that they can continue to protect our great country.

* Tom Purvis is a member of the Sheffield Liberal Democrats and is standing in the next local elections

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  • Cllr Mark Wright 13th Apr '20 - 12:43pm

    Good post. Our armed forces are an excellent ‘generic’ emergency service who can leap into the role of any other emergency service at very little notice, when required. Something akin to the armed forces would still be required, even if there was no conflict any more, as our reserves.

  • Um…

    My father and grandfather served in the Royal Navy so I am not anti-military but we have to think what military spending is actually spent on.

    Quite a large amount is spent on “toys for the boys” – nuclear missiles, two aircraft carriers etc

    There is a case for these. But it’s not about having troops to help in civil emergencies which of course we should support.

    And despite the heroic actions of our troops I am not sure that many lib Dems would say the billions spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was money particularly well spent.

    Germany I believe spends tens of billions less on defence than us pro rata. So let’s take that money and spend it on preparedness and the NHS directly.

  • We should create a new long-term pandemic preparedness budget and involves defense against bioweapon attacks, which will certainly involve the military. This is how extra defense spending should be undertaken.

  • Michael Sammon 14th Apr '20 - 11:28pm

    Good article, they have been under appreciated for sure. We need to reach out to them better. I don’t think we pay much attention to them so they don’t vote for us.

  • Dilettante Eye 17th Apr '20 - 12:43pm

    Absolutely agree with this article.

    But I’d just add a few words of caution. Beware of litigation.

    The forces have crown immunity from criminal prosecutions by HSE, instead they can only fall foul of a Crown Censure which is maybe a fine and ‘slap on the hand’. So, if you ask the army to ‘throw’ a bridge over a small river, they can probably be driving over it in 24 hours.

    Whereas, asking a general contractor to build that same bridge, will result in at least six weeks of paperwork, method statements, cost estimates, stress calculations & safety certificates, etc. So sadly, regulations and ‘elf & safety’, tend to have a brake effect on anything that requires urgency in the civilian world especially in the kind of public crisis we have now.

    In theory, the forces have an agreement with HSE to mirror the personnel protections that civilians enjoy, but as I said there are no criminal consequences, and no jail if they fail.

    I’m NOT saying that safety regulations should be dumped, indeed quite the opposite. I’m simply making awareness of the fact that a crisis and a need for fast engineering solutions, which the forces can clearly provide, can ‘import’ risks that wouldn’t be acceptable under normal circumstances, and if those fast solutions do not have the appropriate regulatory oversight and go badly wrong!, it would certainly attract litigious ambulance chasers.

    It’s a very strange world we live in unfortunately, where unregulated risk can be the red-meat of compensation lawyers?

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