I've just been watching William Hague on TV being interviewed about the evacuation of British Citizens from Libya and I was very far from impressed.
France, Russia, Ireland and a number of other countries have got their citizens out, but so far no British Citizen has got out other than by his own endeavours.
One plane stuck at Gatwick, others awaiting permission and worries about civilian crews. What's happened to the RAF? It still has trooping planes at Brize Norton. And even if they aren't available and civilian crews are unwilling to fly, I'm sure the government has the powers to requisition suitable aircraft and could find crews, RAF or otherwise.
Waiting permission? Well why haven't the aircraft already been positioned in, say, Malta ready to go in at a moments notice? And as for permission, the French and Russians didn't bother and a couple of fighter aircraft would dissuade the Libyan air force from doing anything silly.
Lots of the British are in remote desert camps. Where are our helicopters? Whoops, sorry, I forgot, the MoD still have them on order. Even so, I would have though many of these remote camps have some kind of airstrip, if only for light aircraft, but anything is better than nothing. What about desert convoys and dropping our paras as an escort. Isn't that why we have paras so we can put troops into such places. Somehow, if the government stopped worrying about what the Libyans think, it should be possible to organise evauation to Egypt.
The reason that I believe this country should have a strong military is so that we can, in the limit, defend our country, but more importantly so that we can assist and protect British citizens abroad should the occasion arise, something the military, and particularly the Royal Navy with the Marines, used to do extremely well.
We have now shown how incompetent we are (other dictators please note) and have let down our citizens, not only in Libya, but elsewhere in the world where trouble could erupt. We have maybe thousands of ex-pats and holiday makers in the gulf states, I wonder if Hague and the Foreign Office incompetents have even considered what to do if the trouble spreads to these from Bahrain.
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