Mike Hookem calls for full, public review of WASTEFUL Defence Procurement and MoD spending
Mike Hookem MEP used a short speech at UKIP's annual conference in Torquay to demand a complete review and overhaul of defence procurement and spending, saying; "while procurement waste and political vanity wars continue to flourish; the MoD is swinging the axe over military personnel."
Mr Hookem told delegates, "it is now vital to our national interest and security, to eliminate the unremitting level of waste that the Ministry of Defence and our Government continues to preside over and ignore."
A short film, shown to delegates, highlighted how each 8-hour RAF mission in war-torn Syria costs taxpayers£2.2 million; with a £100 million bill for every 50 missions.
The Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire MEP also blasted the decision not to include 'cat and taps' launch systems on the new aircraft carriers; the MoD's procurement of the F35 stealth fighters; and the Government's decision to reduce numbers in the Royal Marines.
Former soldier, Mr Hookem said, "I, for one, will not even attempt to justify this type of spending"; before going on to outline how the present issues could have "serious effects on the armed forces ability to operate."
The full text of Mike Hookem's conference speech:
As you all know, as a former soldier and airman, I have a deep affinity with the honour of service and duty in the UK armed forces.
So, it hurts me deeply to see the UK Government betraying us, the taxpaying public; and the brave men and women in uniform, who sacrifice so much for so little reward to defend this country.
While we all expect Labour governments to squeeze defence spending; it has been the Conservatives’ under David Cameron, and now Theresa May, who have made the deepest cuts to our military capabilities since the 1930’s.
Therefore, you would be justified in thinking that in these times of heightened threats and reduced budgets, the Government would think carefully about how they do spend the little money that is available.
If that’s the case, you would be wrong!
I would like you to watch this short video that highlights just one of the current issues with military spending.
Now, having seen this film, consider that between January and July this year, Typhoon aircraft flew 254 missions in Syria alone.
When missions flown by Tornado aircraft and Reaper drones are considered - together with the long-running airstrikes in Iraq - the UK taxpayer is looking at a bill of billions.
Bearing in mind that many of the targets in Syria have been little more than pick-up trucks; can any rational person put their hand on their heart and say this is either a cost-effective use of taxpayers’ money or, an efficient demonstration of military power projection?
I, for one, will not even attempt to justify this type of spending!
However, at the same time as the Government lavishes money on airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, other areas of the military go begging.
The fact is, the Royal Navy is now so short of ships, personnel, weapons and fuel, we as a country will be hard pushed to protect our much-vaunted new aircraft carriers; never mind our borders; our fishing grounds; or our international interests.
And while Michael Fallon boasts that the new carriers will be “projecting British power,” the reality is rather different.
Firstly, the failure of the MoD procurement 'experts' to include “cat and trap” launch and recovery systems on the £6.2 billion carriers, means the UK is now tied to the V/STOL capable, F35B Joint Strike Fighter; without which, the new ships are rendered useless.
The F35 programme itself is billions over budget; riddled with engineering and software errors, and bombarded with poor performance reviews.
Surely, it would have been sensible to have carriers that could launch conventional carrier aircraft such as the F18 Super Hornet, as well as being compatible with the aircraft of our closest NATO allies?
But maybe that would have sounded too much like common sense to military procurement planners?
The sad reality is, while procurement waste and political vanity wars continue to flourish; the MoD are at the same time swinging the axe over military personnel.
All branches of our armed forces are now woefully undermanned due to the failure to attract and retain recruits. Yet, defence chiefs have now decided to downsize the Royal Marines in an attempt to plug a £10 billion funding deficit.
You couldn’t make it up, especially when the troops are overstretched on military and humanitarian relief operations.
The simple fact is, it is unacceptable for the fifth largest economy in the world to have a military that is “woefully” short of missile and torpedoes.
A military that is facing such a crisis in funding, that one officer said, “there is a significant challenge and how that challenge is managed will affect everything we do.”
That is why I am today calling on the Government and any right-thinking Members of Parliament to conduct an immediate in-depth public review of our Armed Forces.
It is now vital to our national interest and security, to eliminate the unremitting level of waste that the Ministry of Defence and our Government continues to preside over and ignore.
If necessary, this review should look to an appropriate reallocation of defence spending priorities, to ensure the safety of our Island Nation and, particularly, the security of our energy supplies, trade routes and overseas possessions are secured.