The Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Mark Francois, it seems, has just issued a call-out notice authorising the mobilisation of Reservists for operations in Northern Iraq. Mostly this will be RAF personnel, only if willing and supported by their employers, and only a few of them.
This is, we are told, ‘fully in line with our policy of having more capable, usable, integrated and relevant Reserve Forces’.
Quite. That is the policy. But we should be clear that even if the principle is decent enough – why have Reserve Forces we cannot use? – it says quite a lot about the present state of the Armed Forces, in this instance specifically the RAF.
The current mission in Iraq is minute. It is so small that on its own it would not so much as blow down a pack of cards. The last Ministry of Defence notice of action reported two Tornado GR4s attacking an ISIL target. That’s two aircraft.
And we need to call out the Reserves for this?
We may have been forced to pare the Armed Forces to the bone by the unfathomable budget deficit, but it is deeply worrying if we cannot mount this meagre operation without calling out Reserves. What happens when we need to deploy a proper military force?