Defence

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 6:20 pm on 18th February 2019.

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Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly Deputy Chair, Conservative Party 6:20 pm, 18th February 2019

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about the loss of skills, and that is particularly true of what may be thought of as legacy skills. We have been very focused on two main conflicts over the past decade or so—Operation Telic and Operation Herrick—but it is important that we are able to be active in a whole range of future potential scenarios or conflicts. This is not necessarily true of the old cold warriors, but we do not want to lose the skills of people who were trained in a more diverse range of potential conflicts. We must ensure that they are able to pass on that knowledge and experience to new generations.

I turn to recruitment. The British Army advert that was rather lazily described as the “snowflake” advert was greeted with a degree of derision. In my experience, that was unfair, and this goes to the point made by my hon. Friend Anne-Marie Trevelyan. There was a time in the not too distant past—about a century ago—when there were passionate advocates for the retention of the horse as the main method of conducting conflict, and they fought hard against the mechanisation of the British Army. We have a habit—this has also happened in militaries around the world and throughout history—of fighting the last war, rather than gearing ourselves up to fight the next war.