10. Defence

Come to the Birmingham celebration of Armed Forces Day 2013 Saturday 29th Centenary Square noon to 1.15 then Victoria Square till 5pm
Video plug for a good turn out of grateful citizens and church members to thank the troops in
Centenary Square 12.45pm prompt Saturday 30th June Armed Forces Day. Please come and bring friends.

And here’s a recent project that I hope to repeat soon – sending “Thank you” cards to troops about to deploy to Afghanistan. These details are now out of date and the next deployment is in preparation. The people these cards went to are now serving in Afghanistan and due to complete their tour of duty in March 2013. So hopefully more details soon.

Then… about defence more generally.

We should honour the military for the work they do for us. They put their lives on the line for us and they do so cheerfully and with great expertise and hard work and at cost to their families. It is the sort of spirit to bring to any job that we need to see more of in our country.

We need to defend our borders in an insecure world amid threats. And this is not just for our own sake but in order to do our work of making the world a better place. We need a secure home base from which to do this. Our airspace is frequently probed by the air force of another nation and we have to be there to show that we care about the integrity of our realm.

We must honour our armed forces by providing them with sufficient pay, housing, equipment and personnel, by care of our wounded and our veterans and of the families of our dead.

We should chose well where to send them but recognise also that such decisions are often difficult and made on incomplete evidence and after sometimes necessarily limited debate.

If we are to be an influence for good in the world it has to be recognised that some tyrants won’t need reasoned persuasion or will only do so if the threat of military coercion is there in the background.

Specifically, and sadly, we need our nuclear deterrent for the foreseeable future. We need deployability so that means adequate numbers of the new Airbus A 400M. We need an intelligent, lithe, responsive and modestly priced defence industry and we need to be careful who we sell any excess to to.

We should continue to value our membership of NATO and of the UN and to play our part.

We should appreciate, promote and fund our service cadet movements that can give young people such excellent training for life as a whole as well as for service life more specifically.

We should write to thank troops about to deploy to Afghanistan and to assure them of our good wishes ( I have details of how to do this to be released soon) and we should turn out in large numbers to say thank you to the troops on Armed Forces Day on the last Saturday of June each year not as uncommitted passers-by but as deeply grateful, thoughtful citizens.