Former military chiefs call on Government to reconsider cuts to Armed Forces
The Telegraph reports that Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, is facing new calls to reopen the Coalition's controversial defence review and restore military capabilities axed to save money:
Fifty senior former military commanders, experts, campaigners and politicians have backed an open letter calling on ministers to rethink cuts to Britain's naval and air power.
The Strategic Defence and Security Review last year made cuts that will leave Britain without a working aircraft carrier until 2020, scrapping HMS Ark Royal and all of Britain's Harrier jump jets.
Recent turmoil in Libya has focused attention on those decisions, and ministers are under mounting pressure to revisit the some of the SDSR's cuts.
Some Whitehall officials believe David Cameron will be forced to "review the review" within months.
Dr Fox has insisted that he has no choice but to make deep cuts, blaming a financial deficit he inherited from Labour. New cuts are expected within weeks.
"We accept the need for savings to be made in the defence budget," the commanders' letter says. "However, the Strategic Defence and Security Review seems to have been driven by financial rather than military considerations."
Highlighting recent events in north Africa and the Middle East, the signatories conclude: "The security landscape has radically changed and some of the assumptions on which the review was based should be reconsidered."
The signatories to the letter include General Sir Michael Rose, a former SAS chief who commanded United Nations Forces in Bosnia during the 1990s.
Other signatories include two former RAF chiefs, Sir Michael Graydon and Sir Peter Squire.
Among the military experts supporting the letter was Michael Codner, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute.
Dr Fox rejected the criticism of the review, insisting that ministers had no choice but to cut defence spending.
"Difficult decisions had to be made to get the defence budget onto a stable footing after Labour left the MoD with a £38bn black hole. The previous Government failed to have a defence review for 12 years and presided over financial mismanagement where the MoD were spending more than its budget," he said,
"The SDSR has allowed us to reshape the Armed Forces to face future threats, making our military more adaptable and flexible in the future.
"We have the fourth largest military budget in the world and are investing in modern cutting edge equipment such as the Joint Strike Fighter, new submarines and new Aircraft carriers."
- Source article, by James Kirkup, Political Correspondent: Former military chiefs call on Liam Fox to reconsider cuts to Armed Forces
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