The Science of War: Back to First Principles

By Brian Holden Reid | Go to book overview

10

A STUDY OF EUROPEAN DEFENCE NEEDS IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

Colonel A.M.D.Palmer

This chapter addresses the question of how the security interests of the United Kingdom can best be assured in the context of a changing and uncertain international environment. It reflects a fairly pessimistic outlook on the way that events in continental Europe are likely to unfold. This is a legitimate approach for a soldier to take whose inclinations are liable to lay emphasis on capabilities rather than intentions. It is anyway likely to be balanced by a more than healthy slice of optimism from politicians and civil servants. At a time when the immediate enemy has departed from the scene, and not-withstanding recent events in the Gulf, there is a natural tendency for Governments to concentrate on other matters especially when it can be argued with legitimacy that at least part of the current problems in the former Soviet Union stem from an excessive expenditure on their armed forces. Nevertheless military advice to Government must be sufficiently objective and robust to ensure that decisions on resource allocation are taken with a full understanding of their implications expressed in terms of what can and cannot be achieved by those forces. Ultimately governments will decide on the basis of what the country can afford, but it is to be hoped that the Gulf conflict has shown, inter alia, that the 'shop window' needs substantial stocks in the backroom if capability is to be realistically matched to aspirations.

The current suggestion that the structure of our contribution to NATO should be based on a Rapid Reaction Corps accords well with the needs of the moment to reduce our overall forces while meeting the political requirement of staying as a fully

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