Last week in Parliament and across our community, we joined together to celebrate our armed forces with Armed Forces Week. This matters because our Army, Navy and Air Force work tirelessly to protect our nation all year round. They protect our national security, carry out important peacekeeping work, as well as fighting terrorism.
Our Armed Forces help secure regional and international security, working in partnership with our country’s allies around the world. This global work includes delivering aid, tackling drug smugglers and taking action against pirates on the high seas.
Since the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Parliament authorises the crown to maintain standing armed forces on an annual basis. A special committee sits to confirm this. Last week in Parliament I was honoured to sit on that committee to confirm and authorise the continuation of our Army, Navy and Air Forces.
We tend to think of our armed forces as full-time. Yet reservists play a vital role too. Last week on Reserves Day, I met with Royal Navy reservists in Parliament to hear about the special and important contribution they make to keeping us all safe.
Our community has its own longstanding armed forces tradition. On Sunday, I was proud to represent our community at Deal’s Drumhead Service and Parade. A truly impressive display, and a moving recognition of what our armed forces do for us.
In an unstable World, it’s vital we invest in our armed forces. That’s why there is a record strategic investment programme and an extra £5billion boost was announced in 2023. Our Armed Forces are taking a leading role to train brave Ukrainians in the defence of their country. They are also providing humanitarian crisis support following violence in Sudan and the horrendous Turkish earthquake earlier this year.
I have seen first-hand the dedication and professionalism of our service personnel. As the private parliamentary secretary (ministerial aide) to the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace’s team during the operation to withdraw from Afghanistan. I was incredibly impressed by the calm and courage shown by our armed forces as they evacuated more than 15,000 people in days from a volatile and intensely dangerous situation.
Over recent years, support for veterans has been stepped up. This includes support for health and tax incentives for businesses to employ veterans. Action is also being taken to tackle veteran homelessness through the Reducing Veteran Homelessness Programme.
We will never forget how our armed forces keep our nation safe. It is because of the bravery of the men and women who serve that we are free and able to enjoy our way of life. That’s why we celebrate all those, past and present, who perform such a special role protecting each and every one of us.