Friday, 23 October 2020
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Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
issues from and for policy makers and opinion leaders.
        



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The UK's Defence and Security sector is struggling to come to terms with reducing budgets in a time of austerity. The recent publication of a House of Commons report on the MOD's defence acquisition practices and the National Audit Office's assessment of the affordability of the 10 year Equipment Programme has given industry plenty to digest. This follows the reforms set in train by the 2010 SDSR. Retired Rear Admiral Rees Ward spoke to Nick Watts of Great North News Services for the Defence Viewpoints Interview in the light of these developments, based on his experience in the MOD and in industry.

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For many, France is the old enemy (that is after discounting the Scots. And  the Welsh. And the Irish). For me, from a line of centuries of agricultural peasant the thought that my Saxon ancestors had it all taken away from them after the Norman French invasion of 1066 is an interesting diversion. What Englishman's blood does not quicken at the mention of Agincourt, Crecy, Poitiers?

But the reality is that once the upstart Napoleon got his comeuppance enshrined in the Treaty of Vienna in 1815, France and Britain have become natural allies - Crimea; two World Wars; Suez; NATO.

The Entente Cordiale of 1905 ; Churchill's 1940 offer of pooled nations; the St. Malo Declaration; all underpin joint actions. But the ingrate General Charles de Gaulle, with his rejection of Britain's first attempt to join the European Common Market, put things in a proper perspective. Nations have permanent interests. Their alliances and friendships may be more transient in nature . And a friendship may put the frights under the neighbours - witness Germany's concerns about encirclement which had an impact twice in the last century and which even today underpin their willingness to be the European Union paymaster.

All of this is rehearsed by way of introducing the topic of defence collaboration with France. Should we - and equally importantly, could we?

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