In a separate but related development, today also saw Prime Minister Gordon Brown order the two biggest ships ever to be built in Britain - and ever to sail with the Royal Navy. The new aircraft carriers, each three times bigger than the flagship carrier Ark Royal, and even too big to be constructed in a single yard - will dramatically increase our military and humanitarian capacity.
Admiral Sir Alan West, retired First Sea Lord, says that the new carriers will give the Royal Navy
...Ability to project power with four acres of British sovereign territory that you can move anywhere in the world.The massive order was welcomed by the Daily Torygraph, but the £20 billion plans didn’t stop the Tories sniping about military overstretch and claiming we’re not spending enough on defence.
Earlier claims that commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq left no soldiers at home to respond to the floods emergency were spiked by pictures on today’s front pages which told the real story.
They showed the Army bringing welcome relief to thousands of flood victims – by helping to deliver four million litres of vital bottled water to those whose taps have dried up due to too much rain!
Not so much the Calvery riding to the rescue, but the Royal Logistics Corps, driving in on their DROPS trucks which were designed to deliver munitions direct to the frontline rather than bottled water to flooded out civilians.
It is true of course that we ask an awful lot of our military, particularly our soldiers.
But what the Tories fail to mention is that one of the welcome dividends of the Northern Ireland peace deal brokered over many years by Tony Blair, is that thousands of British troops are no longer needed to patrol the streets of the troubled Province.
And in Iraq, quietly, but surely, thousands of soldiers have been withdrawn: there are now just 5,500 British troops in Iraq, reduced from a peak of 44,000.
Following today’s aircraft carrier order, Defence Secretary Des Browne was on Channel Four news – but presenter Jon Snow wasn’t interested in the new ships, which secure 10,000 British shipbuilding jobs for a decade and will serve our Royal Navy for half a century into the future.
Instead, Jon Snow was asking Des Browne to respond to their truly chilling interview with the new Taliban commander. The interview was bravely and exclusively recorded by award winning journalist Nick Paton Walsh and a crew in a secret location in the mountains straddling the Afghani-Pakistani border.
Mansour Dadullah’s words demonstrate more starkly than any politician could achieve precisely why the Taliban must be stopped from regaining control of Afghanistan.
Dadullah, make it clear that the Taliban goal is
...to kidnap as many westerners as possible, to fight infidels all over the world and to implement one religion around the world.He has no qualms about seeing children trained to behead infidels and he predicts a spectacular terrorist attack will succeed soon in Britain.
That is why the Taliban must be defeated once and for all and why British troops – like the professional soldiers of the 1st Batallion The Royal Anglian Regiment, currently serving in Helmand Province – must continue to play their part.