I have been an officer in the reserve forces for over 20 years and as such I have a keen interest in defence matters. I commanded a Territorial Army unit which provided soldiers to support the regular army during the liberation of Iraq, I was mobilised as an employers’ support officer in 2004 and have supported the pre-deployment training for troops going to Afghanistan for a number of years. In my current role as Chairman of the London Resilience Forum I ensure that London’s armed forces are fully integrated into the emergency response needs of the capital.
This mix of experience enables me to see defence issues from the viewpoint of employers, the regular and reserve forces, national and regional government and understand the, sometimes, competing needs of each.
As the old certainties of the Cold War disappear into the history books it is more important than ever that country maintains a credible, effective and flexible defence capability. This flexibility can only be fully achieved with the seamless integration of the three services and the regular and reserve element of each. And this most be underpinned by a clear set of foreign policy aims with funding to match.