Whenever costs are being squeezed the departmental PR machine goes into overdrive. None do this better than the ministry of defence which alternates from mawkish support of our 'brave boys' to warnings of the massed hordes of foreign invaders threatening the channel ports.
Something has to give, somewhere, of course. An article in the Telegraph by retired General Sir Richard Dannatt probably shows the way things are going. Dannatt is well connected in Tory circles and would hardly have been allowed to write the article if it weren't what the Government were trying to project.
The article suggests that one of the two new aircraft carriers, which is already half built and paid for, should be kept on, but in mothballs. The saving on the other one and the reduction in the number of aircraft needed would pay for more frigates. We would pull out of Germany and those soldiers could be based at the airbases which would no longer be needed. Apart from scrapping some tanks and heavy artillery the army and the Royal Marines would be kept roughly as they are.
There is a lot of imprecise mumbling about the nuclear deterrent, some saying it would be Trident based, others going out of their way to avoid mentioning Trident at all. Whatever, the decision will be delayed as long as possible. For myself I have always wondered whether we couldn't replace it with something which made a smaller - but still substantial - bang, and cost half as much. Say big enough to bust an Iranian subterranean silo but not big enough to destroy every Iranian city at the same time. A smaller bomb could be delivered from a variety of different platforms, which would surprise Johnny Foreigner just as much as it coming from a secret submarine.