Tuesday, 5 April 2011
No Sympathy From Cameron But Obama Knows What Side His Bread's Buttered On
Following the review in October, the MoD said it would reduce the number of military personnel by 17,000 over four years: 7,000 from the army and 5,000 each from the Navy and RAF.
Yesterday the MoD announced the numbers to be cut from Army and Navy personnel: both must lose 5,000 and 3,3000 respectively. The Gurkhas are to be among the first victims of the Army's redundancy programme with around 150 troops facing the end of their military careers. Money needs to be saved now that Gurkhas can now serve 22 years rather than the 15 to which they were previously restricted.
The MoD said that 1,000 soldiers had been told they would be redundant by September and 1,600 Royal Navy personnel were informed they too would lose their jobs. In the Army alone it is expected that around half the redundancies will be compulsory.
The RAF listed its figures a month ago and although yesterday the Air Chief Marshall says forces will be in Libya for at least six months, there would appear to be little sympathy from the MoD or David Cameron.
Why has our involvement in the no-fly zone over Libya suddenly extended to a mid-term operation? Because Barack Obama has pulled the US military out. There are other factors of course but some of them have to do with the development of the situation in Libya itself, with others to do with the complicated relations between the US and its Europeans NATO allies. But what is more important for Obama is that the war in Libya has a direct impact on internal US politics and bears directly on his 2012 prospects. This week it's expected he will announce he intends to run for a second term.
Some say as time passes there are more and more indications that the Libyan rebels are not fighting for democracy and human rights as they were depicted at the beginning the campaign and intelligence reports advise of flickers about the presence of al-Qaeda and Hezbollah members among the anti-Gaddafi forces. I'm sure few people in the UK will be surprised at that news.
Obama has a balancing act to do as no one in Washington would be happy to see Al Qaeda or the like taking the upper hand in Libya, yet Washington presently sees the situation as a stalemate and two US warships, of the initial eleven, have already been withdrawn. 90 US jets have ceased operating in Libyan airspace leaving only 143, (two-thirds of the initial warplanes), to impose the no-fly zone. France and Britain are expected to carry the bulk of the load now the US jets are grounded with other NATO countries contributing in a smaller way, yet we don't have adequate hardware or, if the Air Chief Marshall is to be believed, enough manpower.
Yet David Cameron will continue to chop away and be happy to lose highly skilled military personnel in his quest to 'save' money. The safety of the people of these islands has no part to play in his plans. At least we know, but we've known that since Blair proclaimed war on Iraq.