Tuesday, January 27, 2009

UK Ministry of Defence media comment: UK's military commitment

Ministry of Defence media comment: UK's military commitment
January 27, 2009

In a letter to the Editor of The Times which has been published in that newspaper today, Defence Secretary John Hutton disputes an article published last week in the paper in which columnist Bronwen Maddox claimed that the UK has no significant military help to give the US. Here is Mr Hutton's letter in full:

"The mutual respect the US and UK armed forces have for each other has never been stronger. Our shared commitment is clear - we are the two greatest providers of troops to Afghanistan. And UK troops have taken the fight to the enemy - clearing insurgents; disrupting enemy communication and destroying weapons and narcotics. These are not the actions of a country with, as Bronwen Maddox claims, 'no significant help left to give'.

"I cannot speak on behalf of the Americans. That is better left to them. The US supreme commander in Afghanistan stated: 'I have no plans for by-passing one of our most trusted partners in the mission'. And the US Corps Commander in Iraq said: 'What the Brits have achieved in Basra is incredible. We need to take lessons from their approach'. These statements pour cold water on Bronwen Maddox's view of a 'caustic mood' about the UK's 'slither out of Basra'.

"Our political and financial commitment to defending our nation remains resolute. Our defence budget is second only to the USA and this Government has brought the longest period of growth for 20 years. And by the end of 2009 will have spent nearly £14bn on operations since 2001.

"This is why we can commit to a new generation of aircraft carriers - the only European country to have done so. Also why we have increased helicopter flying hours by 60%, will send 700 more protected vehicles to Afghanistan and have given our troops the best body armour available. These are not the signs of a country shrinking from defence, but of one committed to maintaining its military capability and working alongside its closest ally now and in the future."

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