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Army 2020

Volume 577: debated on Monday 17 March 2014

Under Army 2020, the Army will be equipped to face future threats after more than a decade of enduring operations and will remain capable of operating across the full spectrum of military capability, either at home or overseas.

The Minister said earlier this afternoon that the MOD cannot be “oblivious” to the country’s fiscal position, but the Treasury cannot have it both ways. If it insisted that the Army had to suffer dangerous cuts in a non-strategic review in 2010, surely in 2020, when the economy will be growing, the Army, in a dangerous world, is entitled to share in the proceeds of growth.

Again, my hon. Friend tempts me to stray into what are perhaps Treasury matters. It is evident that the Ministry of Defence must live within its means, as must all other Departments. There is no national security without economic security. That said, we believe that with Army 2020 we have a credible and realistic plan, and we are determined to carry it through.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that while many of us would like to see more emphasis on and funding for defence within the money available, the rebalancing brings us into line with all other English-speaking countries? May I further report that my local TA battalion has recruited as many people during the last two months as during the previous 10, because at last the pipeline is starting to come unblocked?

On behalf of the whole House, I am delighted to receive my hon. Friend’s positive report. We do believe that we can meet the target. The reserve forces when I served in the 1980s had 75,000 men and women under arms. I have to believe that now, with a larger population, we can get to 30,000 trained, particularly as we start with 19,000 trained now. Put another way, it would require a net increase of only about 20 in each of the 650 parliamentary constituencies in this country across a period of four years. I believe that is eminently achievable and, backed by initiatives such as the corporate covenant to get employers’ support, we are getting on with it. We will deliver this programme.