We spend 2.9 per cent of our GDP ondefence, but our young soldiers earn lessthan police officers. That doesn't seem right.A closer look at our defence policy,however, reveals a complicated tangle ofdemands from army chiefs, industry leadersand politicians seeking to look after theirconstituents. Between all these and thechanging, mercurial nature of global politicsand modern warfare, as Robert Foxdescribes on page 4, government seeks tofind a path. All too often, it fails.

This issue went to press before AlistairDarling revealed his budgetary plans fordefence. Bob Ainsworth, the DefenceSecretary, has promised not to make cuts justnow, but the Strategic Defence Review (SDR)of our armed forces which is due to take placethis autumn –no matter who is in power –may end in big cuts, plus a wholesale overhaulof the way things are done.

If our politicians get it wrong, the risk is thatthe politics of self-protection will end upendangering the lives and the chances ofsuccess of the very people who are out there, trying to protect us.


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