Good Company

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Britannia's Naval Crisis

It's a sad state of affairs when the head of the Navy that produced Drake and Nelson, the protected the free peoples of Great Britain, that defeated armadas, kept Napoleon at bay and ruled the waves has to explain to why England has a navy at all.

I pity the poor First Sea Lord as he fights back against a Royal Army financial thrust aimed at increasing troop levels at the expense of naval ships.

Yes, limited and austere budgets will breed inter-service rivalries. See here:
The head of the British Army has called for infantry “boots on the ground” to be preserved, at the expense of costly tanks, aircraft and ships, before what are expected to be devastating post-election defence cuts.
But to think that the FSL has to go before some crowd in England to defend the fleet:
Within the Royal Navy, I must retain and develop the quality to deliver success across the full spectrum of defence activity up to and including high intensity warfare. At the same time, I also need to preserve the appropriate capacity to be out on the beat every day, across the globe – as the Naval prayer so appositely states – as a security for “such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of the commonwealth may in peace and quietness serve.” Words from another age, but as relevant today to maritime nation that still trades across the world, is made prosperous by engaging across the world and to do so relies on access to the sea.

Somewhere, the ghosts of Royal Navy sailors are quietly whispering:

The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.

"Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
"Britons never will be slaves."

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