Changing times

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Britain, with a population smaller than California, has the fourth largest defence budget in the world. It spends more than double the percentage of national spending of most other countries. At a time when we are still running a deficit budget we cannot overspend on unnecessary resources.

The cut of 20,000 personnel in the military (some by natural wastage) still leaves a force larger by proportion than most other countries and leaves many full-time battalions. Major Ritchie’s colleagues (Letters, 16 November) are still going to have adequate resources.

The reality is that threat analysis has changed: 11 September, 2001, 7 July, 2005, Lockerbie and Glasgow Airport were all non-state-sponsored attacks. In the US, more pilots are being trained to fly drones (the weapon of choice against terrorists) than manned aircraft. Our greatest threat is a cyber attack against the banking system, mobile 
telephone network or other utility service. They might have 
already happened as neither the banks nor the government is going to lose public confidence and admit their systems have been compromised.

Aside from public disorder or natural disaster, the opportunities for overseas “boots on the ground” campaigns is reducing. The government policy as shown by the Libyan involvement is only to use special forces on the ground.

The Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns of the Blair and Brown years have shown that military involvement in other countries is counterproductive.

The conditions in the 1930s were vastly different from today, when advances in technology have given the individual 
soldier much greater firepower but have also given the terrorist the capability to avoid them.

Bruce D Skivington


Gairloch, Wester Ross