Read yesterday that salty old sea dog and ex-First Sea Lord (1SL) Admiral West, Baron of Spithead, has sailed into choppy waters again by transmitting before checking the signal.

Now elevated to a labour life peer West was one of three authors commissioned to write a report for Labour on defence procurement.

Apparently his lofty perch has transformed him into a strident opponent of cuts to the armed forces however

…the former first sea lord said the UK was still a first-rate military power, “not like bloody Denmark or Belgium”. These countries were, he explained, “second-tier powers.”

Really? A first rate military power? I would suggest that one measure of whether a country can claim to be a first rate military power is the ability to act unilaterally when called upon to. (For those that claim that the age of acting alone is past, look at the support the UK received in 1982 from our NATO partners.)

The ability to act alone ensures you are not dependant on other nations to provide support or mutual defence. It is the rationale behind an independent nuclear deterrent that Admiral West has supported for his entire career.

For a Navy to be truly independant it must be able to maintain a combat air patrol. This requires 2 things. Carriers and Carrier Aircraft. Even countries such as Thailand and India who are so destitute we have to send international aid to can manage to deploy these.

Unfortunately the Sea Harrier, which had proven its capabilities in the Falklands, Kosovo, and numerous other conflicts was retired in 2006 before a replacement was even close to being ready. Without these aircraft there was little point to maintaining a Carrier fleet.

Care to guess who was 1SL between 2002 and 2006 when the decision was made to reduce the RN to a coastal defence force reliant on the RAF and other nations airfields?

Yep, you guessed it Gordon Brown favourite sailor Admiral West.

Want to know where his loyalties really lay?

In 2007 he was security minister, and adviser to Gordon Brown, he admitted in an interview that he was not totally convinced to the need to extend detention without charge to 42 days. Within 2 hours after a meeting with Gordon Brown he had reversed his opinion. “Being a simple sailor, not a politician, maybe I didn’t choose my words well,” he said of the U-turn.

Somewhat embarrassing as West was the minister charged with navigating the controversial legislation through the House of Lords.

And I thought integrity was a vital quality in a Royal Naval Officer.

If the Royal Navy, the bastion of this nations security for over 500 years has been reduced to that of a second tier nation, then Admiral West has figured largely in it due to the irreparable damage he wrought on his watch.

“Simple sailor” my short fat hairy arse. More like political climber who sold his soul and his service for a peerage and Gordon Browns approval.

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