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On the other hand, the knowledge that America and our allies could intercept and destroy incoming missiles would not only make blackmail less likely but also decrease the appeal of ballistic missile programs and so help to slow their development and proliferation.
Except that when intended components of BMD have been tested they have struggled to hit incoming missiles, and those incoming missiles were the US's own missiles of which the specifications were known to the US military and it was known they were coming. What about missiles launched, where it is not known they are coming until they are detected and may be of a unknown type with unknown evasive capabilities.

Surely it is better to work on improving general anti-missile and anti-aircraft capabilities and if later that turns out to have formed an effective shield then all well and good. Jet fighters could be used to shoot down rogue missiles or rogue aircraft.

I think that defence spending should be doubled, but that does not mean I think it should be spent on what is a leftover of systems promised for decades that the US had spent countless billions on. I would far rather that the pay especially of the army was increased; that more jet fighter/bombers, warships and tanks were built; that the army was properly equipped and that the nuclear capability was substantially expanded with more warheads and a far greater launch capability on 24 hour standby. In addition Military R&D is of vital importance.

I broadly concur. The low pay for soldiers, especially in the ranks, is scandalous, as is the standard of recuperative care provided when they have returned to the country from the dog's dinner that is Iraq.

Similarly, the frankly appalling and inadequate equipment that our troops use on operations (such as the wholly inadequate 'armoured' landrover that is common for patrolling work) desperately needs to be upgraded.

I am not sure that our nuclear deterrent particularly needs to be expanded - although it does certainly need upgrading. I believe we already possess quite a reasonable number of warheads.

Geopolitics can change very quickly, throwing up a whole news set of circumstances at any given time. The entire Soviet-block collapsed like a deck of cards in less than five years. Regimes change, leaders change, objectives change. This is why defence must always be a priority. In an ideal world I would like to see money spent on nice things like the arts but we don't live in an ideal world, we live in a world of necessity. A world where we need to be prepared for any eventuality. The defence budget isn't about the here and now, its about what may be. Better to have and not need, than to need and not have.

I agree. David Cameron should make a public pledge to the armed services. Giving them an assurance that Defence will be a major plank in the new Conservative Government.

Promise more pay.

Assure them that they and their families will have homes fit for them all!

Assure them that should they be injured the State will look after them and they will receive PROMPT and PROPER compensation.

Promise to open (re-open) a dedicated hospital for them!

Promise the Great British People that our Armed Services will be increased and get the latest and best equipment.

What a reception such a statement would receive!

Wise words Tony Makara.Increased expenditure is self evident as our forces become more and more obviously understrength and the treatment of our existing sevicemen becomes more obviously completely inadequate.
Expenditure though is only part of the answer, what our forces are supposed to prepare for is equally important.If our forces are going to take part in 'optional' conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan a political case has to be made to the general public.Blair not only failed to do this honestly but he also tried to fight wars where 1) the strategy was deeply suspect and 2) with very inadequate forces needed. The results as we know have been tragic. There is certainly a breakdown of trust between the electorate and our government over these wars and as any visitor to arrse.co.uk can see a breakdown of trust between the armed forces and the MOD. Liam Fox will need to use all his skill to offer a coherent solution.

Tony - Couldn't agree more. Although I'd suggest that we are already at the rather worrying situation if needing and not having.

A case in point - we have a heavy reliance on the Territorial Army as part of our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan; indeed I was talking to a retired Lt-Col at the weekend who does some work with the reserve and he said that there were now some TA personnel who had more operations experience than regular army.

While I am justly proud and supportive of the TA, it is surely a concern that we are needing to rely so heavily on our reservist forces and are facing a serious lack of numbers in regulars when operating in very dangerous conditions.

We're beginning to get it right on crime.

A tax cut would be nice.

A promise to rebuild our armed forces would really get me back on board the Good Ship Cameron...

I think Rudy's got the right idea here, both in terms of increasing the size of the Army and on the need for an effective missile defense system. Obviously, the strength of the American military is far more consequential than that of the UK, but it makes sense to increase our capabilities and to cooperate with the missile shield -- maybe our boffins could get it to work properly!

Tony Makara @ 14.24:

"A world where we need to be prepared for any eventuality. The defence budget isn't about the here and now, its about what may be. Better to have and not need, than to need and not have".

Well said, Tony. The nation's budget is not infinite, so expenditure must be prioritised. Given the current state of the world, Defence must have a higher priority, as the defence of the realm is the first duty of any government. The trouble is that Blair's war in Iraq was an act of aggression against a sovereign state and not, as Blair claimed initially, an action in defence of British interests. I understand that this war has cost us over £6Bn - and counting.

Other budgets will have to streamlined by the application of more efficient management to make cash available for budgets that deserve more.

'Broken windows' policing is definitely the way forward. You don't see many teenagers brandishing guns in NYC these days, but in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool you do...

Just a thought, but with 6BN spend on an enterprise as huge as the Iraq war, it rather brings into perspective the 3.4BN wasted on the failed 'New Deal' How much more equipment could have been bought with even a fraction of the New Deal money?

You have got to be joking. This isn't conservatism. The MOD wastes enormous sums as it is and needs reform. For instance, there are far too many civilian employees, more than 89,000 and projects are managed by constantly rotating military staff with the result that they are irrelevant, out of date, and over budget. The TA is a farce. I should know, I served in it for many years as a patriotic duty.

Any fule can say the taxpayer should fork out more. The MOD is the last place that deserves it.

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