Army chief sees no need to replace Trident

Posted by Louise Edge — 11 March 2010 at 2:54pm - Comments

Trident: replacement costs are spiralling out of control

Former chief of defence staff, Lord Guthrie, said last night that the UK should consider cutting plans to replace the Trident nuclear missile system and build the UK’s largest ever aircraft carriers.

In a speech at the centre-right thinktank the Centre for Policy Studies, he said there was a gaping hole at the heart of Britain's military budget which was "too big to massage, to trim, to rely on efficiency savings and prayer". Britain, he added, faced a "moment of decision" in shaping a new defence strategy.

He is just one of a growing number of senior military figures, including General Sir Richard Dannatt, who are warning against spending vast sums on new weapons systems that are "irrelevant" to modern warfare.

Yet the Labour and Tory parties are still refusing to include the £97 billion cost of replacing Trident in the upcoming Strategic Defence Review. Labour have also indicated they want to exclude the £31bn supercarrier as well. Is this precisely because they know there is little support for it among senior military experts, who would rather spend the money on equipment that the services actually need.

The purpose of the SDR is (or should be) to identify the real threats this country faces and how best to counter them. At a time when funds are extremely tight and all three services face serious staff cutbacks, wasting tens of billions on a strategically unnecessary new nuclear missile system is totally irresponsible.

That's why we are calling on all political parties to commit to a full defence and security review after the election. One that fully reviews the military case for new nuclear weapons and the supercarriers, and addresses the real emerging threats of climate change and energy security.

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