This is the price paid for lingering Cold War mindsets in the West. To pay for giant new supercarriers, the British have gutted their fleet, decommissioning practically new frigates and destroyers which are badly needed to hunt Al Qaeda pirates, and interdict WMD smuggling on the high seas, to afford these multi-billion dollar relics of another war. Here's yesterday's UK Telegraph:
The Ministry of Defence has produced a plan to decommission five warships from next April, which would reduce the Navy's capability to the level where it could carry out only "one small-scale operation".
Separate documentation from inside the department suggests that the total number of ships in the Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary could fall from the present level of 103 to 76 in 2017 and only 50 in 2027 — a reduction of more than half.
The information has been supplied in an email from a whistleblowing official inside the MoD, who has given details of a row between senior officials in the department and Andy Burnham, the Treasury Chief Secretary, over the allocation of money to the MoD over the next three years.
The British Treasury has always been a foe to the RN, nearly performing another such devastating cut in the early 80's, but the service was spared thanks to the Argentine invasion of the Falklands in 1982. That timely conflict provided glaring evidence that numbers do count. When Britain lost 5 warships and several damaged to cruise missiles and bombs in the South Atlantic, she had scores of others in service ready to take their place, while still helping to defend NATO's Northern Approaches against the Soviets. What would be the result of further cuts?
"This would reduce the RN's capabilities to just one small scale operation and that is it."
Of course, this is not only the military's fault, but also the welfare state, which places greater importance on providing creature comforts to its citizens, while ignoring the very real external threats to their way of life.
Last week I posted on the US Navy's plan for a smaller carrier centered fleet, and the dangers it foreboded in the cruise missile age.