David Blackburn

Defence matters

Defence matters
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Sir Jock Stirrup’s early departure was one of the worst kept secrets in Westminster. But the ‘resignation’ could have been better handled. The coalition has created a lame duck in Stirrup. And, rightly, Con Coughlin asks why Stirrup is overseeing the strategic defence review if he was sufficiently inept as CDS? It makes no sense, as removing Stirrup and Sir Bill Jeffrey (the MoD’s permanent secretary) is clearly about preparing the way for spending cuts and a new model of UK military intervention.

Liam Fox gave a speech this morning promising a ‘clean break with the Cold War mindset’. He emphasised the importance of maintaining counter-insurgency spending and training; presumably, that will come at the expense of conventional warfare. David Cameron will brief the Commons on his Afghan trip this afternoon, and I expect him to reiterate his commitment to the current strategy – he has said nothing to make one expect anything else. Funding the Afghan mission is the coalition’s number one overseas priority and it will remain so until President Obama begins to withdraw US troops.