Bob Stewart MP, noted former commander of United Nations forces in Bosnia and now Conservative member of parliament, has grown so frustrated with the parlous state of the national defence that he has called on presently serving senior officers to resign in protest.
Stewart, who is a member of the commons defence select committee, has long been an outspoken critic on British defence policy and spending, and has expressed his deep concern over the run-down of military capabilities in the face of an uncertain future for the nation, reports the Daily Telegraph. Speaking at a meeting of the National Defence Association, a forum of former senior officers and other interested parties, Stewart admitted the protests of former service people and defence secretaries would do nothing to persuade government, but serving senior officers could.
Calling on the chief of the defence staff, his deputy, and the three service heads of the Navy, Army, and Air Force, otherwise known as the chiefs of staff committee to resign, Stewart said: “My God, that would make a very powerful message. They are coming before committees like mine, saying ‘Well, 2020 is fine, it is manageable, it is working’.
“Would it not be a seriously good signal if some of the people in uniform were to take their responsibilities towards some of their respective services more properly, and offer their resignation. the public would take notice.
“They should actually put their responsible to their people they command as their priority, rather than getting another star”.
Former Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon also spoke at the event and lent his support to Stewart’s views, commenting that if defence spending cuts continued as they had been, there would soon be a realistic prospect of British forces being unable to deploy abroad independently. Instead deploying as a subsidiary asset of an American force, under the direct command of the American force structure, a situation he called a “humiliation”.
Graydon said: “You can’t continue down this route and pretend we are capable of doing the things the Government asks us to do. It is at that stage, it would be my guess, that the Chiefs would have to make some very, very tough decisions”.