Tony Blair was right to congratulate the British forces in his speech on Sunday night but he must also remember that they are being asked to carry-out attacks with poor equipment and a lack of funding. Since Blair came to power five years ago British troops have been sent to the Balkans, Sierra Leone, East Timor and now they are involved in attacks against Afghanistan. Meanwhile the defence budget has not increased in fact it has contracted.

The Royal Navy submarine, Triumph which was involved in the attacks on Sunday night is a sister-ship to the ill-fated Tireless which broke-down in the Mediterranean and had to be repaired at Gibraltar.

The same faults were later discovered on all submarines of the class, Triumph included. It was only by a stroke of luck that submarines of this class are fitted with Tomahawk cruise missiles. British aircraft were not involved in the bombing like some reports suggested because Britain simply doesn't have any long-range bombers. The much publicised British Task Force in the Gulf includes capital ships which were in service when most of their crew members weren't even born. The British armed forces have been cut-back to the bone over the last decade and now they are being asked to conduct a world-wide role with limited equipment.

In light of the attacks on September 11 the government is planning yet another defence review. Probably the third or fourth since the end of the Cold war.

If Tony Blair wants the British armed forces to be the world's policemen then he must make sure that they are properly funded otherwise service-people are being put at risk simply because they do not have the equipment for the job they are being asked to carry out.

Jason Moore

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