The fight which has recently exploded between the Royal Navy and the British Army over budget cuts has produced language which, had I read it in a political novel or techno-thriller, I would have dismissed as absurd. There is no way senior officers in either service would publicly speak of the other in those words. Surely not.
“This is appalling and should never have been allowed. We will not forgive and we will never forget,” a senior Naval officer said when it was disclosed that the Army had been secretly lobbying the government over their budget share using, it has been suggested, “black ops” assets.
“They must be smoking a crack pipe,” one senior Army officer responded, pointing to an alleged Navy proposal to scrap all of its amphibious warfare ships in order to keep two carriers in the force structure, eliminating the Royal Marines in the process.
The Navy responded by publicizing examples of Army waste, “such as their excess number of senior ranks, phantom headquarters that serve no purpose and spending £800 million on their next armoured vehicles with nothing to show for it,” according to a Defense Ministry insider.
I imagine folks in rival services think that sort of thing a lot, but you don’t expect to hear it said out loud. Certainly not by the British. Good heavens, man, what is the world coming to?
At the root of the dispute is the growing sense of panic in the British Armed Forces over the looming and draconian defense cuts which they face. I also believe that the heat of the internal dispute reflects the lack of light either service has been willing or able to cast so far on the genuine nature of Britain’s long-term defense needs and how best to meet them. When strategic vision fails, all you are left with are squalid little turf wars such as this.About the Author: The major landmarks in Frank's historical interests range from ancient Persia through the Crimean War, World War II, and the modern U.S. Armed Forces, with a lot of stops in between. Frank is fascinated by the unusual, the overlooked, and the surprising. He is the New York Times number one best-selling author of the Desert Shield Fact Book (1991) and he is currently writing an historical novel on Alexander's conquest of Persia – from the Persian point of view.