Sunday, May 14, 2023

Swords into ploughshares? Not quite


In a move that will inundate the letter pages of The Times from ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, (apologies to any Socialists living there) that newspaper is reported as saying, citing sources,  that’ UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace will press ahead with plans to reduce the size of the British Army despite the consequences of the Ukraine conflict and increased military spending by the government.

Infantry are out, more artillery is in.

A government source (?) said,  “We have too much infantry – a legacy of the counter-insurgency wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We need more artillery. The jury is out on whether you need main battle tanks.” 

In 2021, the Defence Ministry announced plans to decrease the number of troops from 82,000 to just over 70,000, while cutting the number of tanks from 227 to 148. However, due to the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev, the idea of downsizing has made many UK MPs and military commanders uneasy, with Patrick Sanders, the head of the army, calling it “perverse” in the context of a major conflict in Europe.

The matter is expected to be addressed in a defence command paper scheduled for release in June.

Another army source told The Times that “the main lesson from Ukraine is you need mass,” adding that “the truth is we don’t have enough infantry and we don’t have enough artillery.”

Sounds like the higher echelons of the British military are concerned for their jobs.

‘In March, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the defence budget would swell by £5 billion ($6.2 billion) over the next two years, with additional funds meant to both replenish stocks of arms sent to Ukraine and modernise the nuclear arsenal.

This comes amid warnings that the UK would not be up to the task if it had to fight with a near-peer adversary. Wallace himself said in January that the army is “hollowed out and underfunded.” In February, retired General Richard Barrons said in an op-ed for The Sun that the UK could run out of ammo within hours in case of a major conflict. He added that the British military cannot currently be regarded as a ‘top tier’ NATO force.

Amid the Ukraine conflict, numerous Western countries, including Germany, France, and Poland, have boosted their military budgets, with total military expenditure in Europe seeing the steepest year-on-year increase in at least 30 years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Institute.’

it’s not known how many cruise missiles were given to Ukraine but in 1996 the UK ordered between 700 and 1000 of them at £790,000 a throw.

Spokespersons for British capitalism were not available for comment as to whether this was a good thing or not; anything which cuts into the profits, achieved through exploitation of the workers, is a bad thing, but at the same time British capitalist interests have to be defended.

The military is mainly sourced from the working class. The majority of the armed forces personnel interests therefore lie with the rest of the working class and the abolition of capitalism.

The working class in those  countries whose capitalism’s executive committee is committing to spending more and more on weapons of destruction need also to be saying NO to capitalism. Enough is enough. The answer is not more guns, missiles, or nuclear weapons. It’s Socialism. The clock is ticking. 

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