gunships in the air but that could so easily change in another military theatre and at another time.
The majority of the goods on our supermarket shelves still arrive by sea. To keep our sea-lanes open and to maintain our lifelines we need a well-equipped navy and a commando. To maintain air-cover for assets on the ground on land and at sea we need a modern air force.
In naval terms we need our carriers and, therefore, the ships with which to defend and service them. That means, in addition to surface ships, our nuclear-powered attack submarines. The carriers in turn need aircraft and the trained personnel to fly them whether those men and women are drawn from a Fleet Air Arm or from the Royal Air Force.
This Government has had to make some painful savings but our Defence Secretaries have balanced to books and enabled us to embark once again upon capital expenditure. As a result the new military assets that we need are at last coming on stream.
We live in a dangerous world. Few would have predicted, only a few years ago, the territorial ambitions of President Putin in Ukraine or the still murderous threat of international terrorism. We know, though, that we cannot lower our guard. We clearly need our nuclear deterrent and we need to re-affirm our commitment to NATO. Unlike some member states we do not massage our military contribution figures by including spending on, for example, domestic police forces as part of our military budget and nor should we seek to do so.
In human terms it is essential that we respect and honour the Military covenant and to recognise the rights and aspirations, in terms of housing and education and support, of the service families left behind when husbands and wives are posted overseas. The next Conservative government will continue to recognise the duty that we owe to those of whom we demand so much.
* Roger Gale is a post-graduate of the Parliament & Armed Forces Scheme.
It is a matter of political judgement to decide to what extent we are going to defend our interests beyond just the shores of the British Isles, to determine what expeditions we will take part in and those that we will not be able or willing to support and we then have to decide what army, navy and air force resources in men and women and equipment we are able and prepared to afford.
Some believe that we should have just one armed force. I do not share that view. For the moment, certainly, our need is primarily for troops on the ground and for helicopter