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Harrywilliams

Do we need an army?

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I'm having a debate in school,  the motion is: does Britain need an army. Obviously I would say yes, can anyone help me make some main points?

 

many thanks

 

harry

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An army is generally a good idea, even in fairly peaceful times, i.e terrorist attacks. Situations can always change though.

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I'm writing as a foreigner, therefore I have no personal political or patriotic interest in the matter, something that hopefully will make my view as objective as possible...

I'll also be talking about an army in the sense of ground forces only, not as a generic term for every military force.

 

The need for an army depends, in the most general way, from the requirement of countries of protecting their territory and their interests.

Protection of the territory from an invasion can of course be implemented in many ways depending on the geographical location and the political situation. If my closests enemy is 3,000 miles away, a strong navy would be preferrable to an army, if my potential enemy shares borders then an army is clearly necessary. Of course a lot depends on the enemy... if my enemy is so big that I have no chance to defeat them, really some good political cooperation would be more effective than an army. At the opposite side of the spectrum, if the potential enemy is not capable of much, I may just get away with a reservist force rather than investing in a proper fully equipped army.

Where does this leave Britain ? It's an island but it's close to other territories. It's today close to friendly territories, this may change tomorrow but it's very unlikely for a number of reasons: first, regardless of the position on things, Britain and her neighbours are all part of the same economic system and the absence of conflicts within countries part of the system benefit all. There may be tension between say the US and China, but why go to war when the economic ties between the two countries make both rich? Really today wars are fought economically more than militarily, countries impose their power by buying economic assets more than by sending troops, at least within those countries that are part of the system at the same level.

Second, the closest neighbour is another nuclear power. Nuclear powers are unlikely to go directly to war, they may fight somewhere else under someone else's name.

Britain is also a nuclear power, meaning that any threat to the Country has to deal with the potential for annihilation, or at least some very nasty reprisals. So in a sense today, in the same way as it was in the Napoleonic era, a strong Royal Navy is way more important than an army. Of course this being the 21st Century, the RAF would also be vital.

If the main goal of the army is that of protecting the British territory than in a sense a real army is not necessary to Britain, as chances of a succesful invasion are very, very slim. The RN and the RAF can deal with real threats from outside while the police can be made capable of dealing with internal threats (Britain is one of the few countries where antiterrorism special forces are controlled by the military, in most other countries it's responsibility of police forces). A symbolic army would be more than enough.

Of course protection of the territory does not only mean protection from an invasion, however every other form of protection can be left to police forces. There's no need of an army to protect from immigration, there's no need of an army to defend against natural catastrophies, even if armies all over the world often help out in such situations.

 

Then there's the defence of the interests of the Country... and here the point is that every country has to decide what these interests are and what the defence of these interests involve. Does the protection of these interests involve being capable of sending forces overseas ? Does it require being capable of supporting other allied countries with ground forces ? Does it require being capable of mounting the invasion of another country or retaking territories far from home ? Does it require to be able to threaten other countries to abide to our requests, whatever good or bad these requests may be?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the country require an army. As the defence of British interests today involves all of those things and others, then yes, Britain today requires an army. Should British interests in the future change, then the need for an army may change as well. Of course the definition of the interests of a country is a political matter, and as such any discussion on this would violate the no poltics policy of the forum, so I'm not going to discuss if a certain policy is right or wrong, but it's important to keep in mind that the definition of these interests affects a whole lot of other decisions.

 

What I'm writing here should not be a surprise to most as it is something that has always been well in the mind of whoever dealt with British military policies and resulted in the fact that very often during History the British Army had more forces abroad than at home. This happened in the Napoleonic era, in the Victorian age and again during the Cold War. The British Army was rarely a very large force in its history while countries on continental Europe fielded very large armies. Of course at the same time the Royal Navy was for a while such a large force that no country could hope to cope. Defence of the territory mainly in the end of the RN and later the RAF, defence of the Country interests in the hands of both the RN (protection of maritime trade) and the Army (and from WW1 the RAF too)

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I think the reason for a standing army in Britain is a lesson of the first and second world wars. Most particularly the second where the small expeditionary force of skilled soldiers was no match for the war machine that Germany had developed. If it hadn't been for the English Channel forming a natural barrier we would have been in real trouble. It's not about the present need but the possibility of future need that keeps the army a neccessary force. Professional soldiers take time to train even for 'basic' infantry and we don't want to be caught on the hop by an unforseen event. Nuclear weapons are not really viable when the enemy is at the gates as you will take out yourself at the same time.

 

The army as a tool in natural disasters cannot be ignored either. If we didn't have them in times of emergency we would have to employ and train another force who would be simply an army without the weapons training.

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4 hours ago, Giorgio N said:

It's today close to friendly territories, this may change tomorrow but it's very unlikely for a number of reasons: first, regardless of the position on things, Britain and her neighbours are all part of the same economic system and the absence of conflicts within countries part of the system benefit all. There may be tension between say the US and China, but why go to war when the economic ties between the two countries make both rich? 

This was, I believe, essentially the argument made by Norman Angell in The Grand Illusion in 1909, which many people felt proved the impossibility of a general war in Europe. War is not a rational choice, but people do not always behave rationally. 

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4 hours ago, Harrywilliams said:

Cheers Giorgio

 

thanks for the help, just out of interest how long did This take you to write? :) 

 

again many thanks for the help, 

harry

 

 

Really it only took me 10 minutes to type this. Different story about how long it took me to understand the concept in the past...

 

27 minutes ago, Procopius said:

This was, I believe, essentially the argument made by Norman Angell in The Grand Illusion in 1909, which many people felt proved the impossibility of a general war in Europe. War is not a rational choice, but people do not always behave rationally. 

 

I'm not an expert on the history of trade, but I'm pretty sure that the level of international trade today is very different from what it was in the 1910s. Back then Britain was a superpower with a lot of trade between Britain itself and the colonies/dominions, today trade is between countries. This is even more true of the level of interdependencies among economies, anything that could affect one of the 10-12 major economies of the world is likely to have very adverse effects on all others in a way that was never seen in the past.

In general though I don't agree on war being an irrational choice, it is on the contrary IMHO a very rational choice and it has been in most armed conflicts of the past. It can be debated in many cases if war was the best choice in a given situation, that's sure, but irrational ? I sure don't know every conflict of the past but for all the ones I can think of I can see a large number of reasons that may have brought governments and rulers to decide that it was worth sacrificing men and resources in return for that something that they expected out of victory.

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Here in Ireland people often ask the same question, particularly as ours is quite small, not that well equipped and in any case could only provide token resistance unless the invader happens to be Costa Rica! But I think an army is needed. Now the Irish Air Corps, that's another matter as I feel it's more akin to an exclusive flying club that's useful as a source of pilots and ground crew for Ryanair.:devil: Controversial!

 

But anyway I do believe we need an army not least because of another self styled army with a well known three letter title would take full advantage and we'd have an army none of us want!

 

But that's us, each country has it's own reasons for having an army. Many less than democratic countries use it keep the people in their place. But that's a double edged sword, witness Mr Mugabe's fate.

 

But we're talking about Britain in this case. England's army in it's origin was to keep the rebellious, Scots, Irish and Welsh in their place and of course their respective armies aim was to rid themselves of the English. Of course you can add the Vikings and the Normans to that mix as the unfortunate Harold had to fight them both. But of course at the time, national identities were not so cut and dried. 

 

But in a modern context with the absence of the empire the modern British army is almost entirely devoted to protecting it's and the vaguely nebulous 'western' interests throughout the world. With very little few threats from within Britain itself you can imagine how some people might wonder what's the point in this modern era. 

 

The problem with armies is that in times of peace they're a useless waste of resources. When threat arises they're the only thing standing between you and tyranny. My biggest argument in favour of having an army is that without an army. That vacuum might very well be filled by someone else's army. The same applies to a weak or mere token army. 

 

I would say that when we say Army we should really refer to the military in general, Navy, Air Force and Army. 

 

So yes a military is needed. What form it takes is another matter. 

Edited by noelh

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Because it has the title 'Army' lets not forget that they are also a very powerful and well equipped disaster relief tool, with resources no civilian contractor can match, also they do a lot of unseen and little publicised work in Africa building schools or doctor's surgeries, etc.

Here in Blightey too they are there as a security, search and rescue, flood relief and disaster relief organisation of vast experience, so before even firing a bullet they have many chances to use their resources and skill  to good effect.

Do we need an Army....you bet.

And my lad is in the process of joining so it gives him something to do instead of pestering me so win-win.

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18 minutes ago, noelh said:

 

So yes a military is needed. What form it takes is another matter. 

A good point Noel and one that Adam Roberts' 2010 novel New Model Army dwells on in a fascinating examination of the sociology and philosophy of ground forces within the structure of the nation state.

 

(My phrasing there  makes it sound rather portentious when in fact it's highly readable..)

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Without the army, what is an immature, aimless, drifting 17 year old going to do with his life...................I speak from experience!

 

John.

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Without an Army military modelling would not exist?  There would be no requirement to model vehicles, tanks or figures to model as an army does not exist...., so begs the question, do we need a Navy or even an Air Force?.............If that were the case, Tamiya, Airfix, Trumpeter would not exist.....because we have armed Forces it provides jobs for the modelling Industry and provides a past time for historians and modellers...................simple answer to the question, yes we need an Army otherwise shelf of doom and glass cabinets would be empty!!!!!:worms:

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1 hour ago, Bullbasket said:

Without the army, what is an immature, aimless, drifting 17 year old going to do with his life...................I speak from experience!

 

John.

He would do what I did - join the Royal Navy.

 

Dave

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Reasons for an army:

 

Deterrence of hostile neighbours.

To support the civil powers.

A flag for the nation; i.e. a visible expression of its pride and values.

To exert diplomatic influence.

To find a constructive use for citizens with energy and aggression.

To seize and hold others' land and property.

 

Edited by 3DStewart
Extra ideas.

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On ‎30‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 09:56, davecov said:

He would do what I did - join the Royal Navy.

 

Dave

No chance! I get seasick watching David Attenborough's Blue Planet.

 

John.

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Some interesting answers and good points, stuff to make you think. I think we need our Army and all the armed forces but I also think they should be bigger, stronger & badder. To mutilate a few quotes, it was explained to me thus;

 

Jaw jaw is better than war war, but rough men stand ready to visit violence and there comes a time when the politicians need to stop and the men in black need to appear out of the darkness and do their work. It's okay to die for your country but why not let the other guy die for his.

 

You get the gist.

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