Letter: British peace forces

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Sir: Donald Macintyre is right to warn against further deep cuts in the defence budget (Comment, 5 December), as these would relegate Britain to the "third rank" of military powers. Those who want our spending to fall to the European average have no qualms at this prospect but now is not the time to abdicate this country's prominent role in upholding international security.

The military provides an essential enabling force in the pursuit of an ethical foreign policy. Further peace support operations, involving peace enforcement, peace-keeping and post-conflict reconstruction will require both a high- and low-intensity military capability, as well as diplomatic effort, humanitarian aid agency involvement and developmental assistance. British forces perform superbly in these situations.

Nor should Britain sacrifice its ability to contribute to Gulf War-type operations. We should not leave it to the US and France to shoulder this burden alone.

When we send our armed forces into action they must be given the best chance of achieving their goals with the minimum casualties. This requires expensive, modern equipment.

It is incumbent on those who wish to preserve Britain's ability to assist in the delivery of food to the starving, to prevent genocide and defend the victims of aggression to resist those who wish to plunder the defence budget further.

Dr STEPHEN PULLINGER

Executive Director

International Security

Information Service

London WC2

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