According to a Times report, a group of generals says that Britain should be prepared to scrap the Trident nuclear deterrent programme.

From the Times:

Field Marshal Lord Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham, General Sir Hugh Beach and Major-General Patrick Cordingley express “deep concern” that the future of Trident has been excluded from the Strategic Defence Review that will follow the election. They caution that suppressing discussion of the issue or dismissing alternatives would be “a major strategic blunder”.’

This comes at a very fortuitous moment for Nick Clegg already riding high in the polls, who is the only one of the three major political leaders to argue against replacing Trident.

With cost cutting exercises to come the generals say that the UK should consider other ways of spending the sum of £80 billion needed to replace the system. They also say that the UK’s commitment to keeping such a system is out of step with the nuclear reduction talks in progress at the moment. They worry that the money spent would then be unavailable for counter-terrorism, helicopters, armour, warships and personnel on the ground.

This will of course be music to every politician’s ears. Generals (but note no Admirals) coming forward to argue for a massive defence programme cut. This will open the way for a massive change in the allocation of public funds. Any new government coming in will almost certainly feel the need for an extensive defence review, in fact the Tories have promised one. Then reality will hit home as the Trident replacement is delayed (not scrapped) and all the funding freed up (and more)  is diverted into other social programmes such as schools, hospitals and the police.

The generals have handed the ammunition for massive defence cuts over to the politicians without a whimper. I wonder what assurances, if any, they got and from whom?

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