Retreat from The Threat Reality – DefenceSynergia Support for The Right Honourable Tobias Ellwood MP Chairman of the Defence Committee
DefenceSynergia (DS) has long argued that the United Kingdom (UK) has lacked a Strategic sense of direction since the ‘fall of the Berlin Wall’ and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Successive UK governments since have taken ‘the peace dividend’ several times over. As the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, The Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, pointed out in the House of Commons that at the time of the collapse of the Warsaw Pact the UK defence budget represented over 4% of GDP – it is now just above 2%.
He went on to list the reducing size of the British Army, the fall in RAF combat aircraft numbers and the decline overall in the RN active fleet. Well said Mr Ellwood and amen to that! But is anyone in this government really listening?
Underlining the seriousness of the message that the Chairman of the Defence Committee was delivering in Parliament was the ‘sabre rattling’ by the Russian Federation aimed at HMS Defender whilst in lawful transit off the coast of Crimea in the Black Sea. It is clear that Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) was legally within its rights to instruct the Royal Navy (RN) to enforce international freedom of navigation – as it will be later in the year when CSG 21 will undertake a similar role in the Far East – but was it prudent given that successive governments have left our Armed Forces so thin on the ground that they are exposed internationally? It has not been made clear that HMS Defender was sufficiently armed and protected to resist more serious Russian aggression.
For example: HMS Defender was detached from CSG21 to undertake exercise Sea Breeze 2021 starting on the 28th June. Originally accompanied by USS Laboon and HNLMS Evertsen, on the 22/23 June, Defender made a freedom of navigation transit from Odessa to Georgia, alone.
In the ensuing time the Russian Federation attempted to challenge the resolve of Defender’s Captain and crew – they claimed many things – but Defenders crew saw her mission through. A job well done.
However, given the location and potential isolation of this British warship, given the unpredictable resolve of our allies, what would (could) our Prime Minister have done if the shots had been kinetic not rhetorical, the hits real rather than PR fluff for the Kremlin? What then?
Later this year HMS Defender will be back with CSG21 and facing the next challenge: – the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, or off the Philippines? From the Black Sea to the South China Sea we have too few ships, vulnerable aircraft and, very arguably, a not properly worked up CSG.
Wake up Britain! Well said Tobias Ellwood!