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Dashboards versus Instinct

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Written by Adrian Hill

The Prime Minister is reported to have requested a Goldman-Sachs-style “dashboard” review of the invasion and Britain’s support for Ukraine. Our regular observer and veteran of international conflict tells him what he should be looking for.

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Dear Rishi,

Any ‘dashboard’ also should show what you don’t get from Ukraine – ask your dashboard how many British servicemen and women have been killed in Ukraine?


Let’s keep it that way.

What else does the dashboard tell anyone with a grain of common sense?

According to Katharina Buchholz at the World Institute in Kiel, the leader board for supplying military aid to Ukraine is as follows: –


Britain was able to help in the nick of time, then keep helping, only because we had resigned from the EU. Fortunately we are once more governing ourselves. No longer tied to a stake called ‘what the Germans and French find most convenient and comfortable’, no longer hamstrung by their cosy relationships with Russia for energy supplies and cheap manufacturing.

Russia invaded Ukraine twice because it was not a NATO member. The EU’s big mistake was flirting with Kyiv, offering membership, including in its rival security structure to NATO.


German purchases of gas piled money high enough for Russia (GDP less than Italy’s) to risk a quick war.

Russia invaded Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014.

NATO – meaning the Americans, Britain, Poland and the Baltic States, Canada and most listed above – only moved when Ukraine was again invaded at the start of this year. The reputation of the alliance stands or falls on sticking by Ukraine. They don’t need our troops, they show what an ally, determined to defend themselves, can do. They desperately need our industry and America’s geared up to make enough arms and ammunition, enough medical kit, enough electricity generators and so forth to keep them in the fight.

They do need training in a safe and calm environment, which we’re providing.

NATO members in Northern and Eastern Europe need the USAF, US Navy, RAF and possibly the RN providing air power.

Russia threatens an offensive this winter or next summer. According to the Institute for the Study of War in Washington DC, who work with public sources, there is no sign of that happening as winter starts and they are doubtful Belorussian forces would take part. Obviously Ben Wallace and the Ministry of Defence have their own dashboard providing the very latest intelligence. Russia still occupies a large stretch of southern Ukraine and the Crimea. The Russian military machine is calling up large numbers of reservists and conscripts.

Their main offensive at the moment is a charm offensive aimed at the Russian people to convince them that their government and greasers of its military machine know what they’re doing. Leaked polls by the Kremlin show barely one in four Russians still support their war in Ukraine.

Do we need to rebuild the British Army of the Rhine along the frontiers of the Baltic States? Definitely not. Poland alone has ordered nearly a thousand new tanks and six hundred self-propelled guns from South Korea. We need a modern army, one that can go anywhere on the planet by air, operate regardless of the terrain or infrastructure, deliver decisive blows.

One with reserves larger than its own payroll.

As the Chief of our Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, explained recently at the Royal United Services Institute, a generational struggle has begun for control of the planet. The new axis are China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. My own dashboard from serving as a soldier and diplomat all over the world offers a clear message. Our naval and air forces, globally, remain more important to an island people restoring their ability to trade globally among the planet’s fast growth markets, no longer caging themselves in an EU that produces only 15% of the planet’s GDP and that proportion shrinks every year.

The future already happens in the Far East, India, Africa and Latin America – and dare I shock EU Jacobites, the Commonwealth.

As for instinct, I prefer regular and reliable intelligence combined with razor sharp minds, bags of imagination, above all luck. Professional perfection, courage, fitness and stamina are simply qualifications needed to land the job in the first place.

I say all this, Rishi, after serving in three big wars, three major internal security operations and three cold wars – one of which overnight turned very hot indeed !

You have one of the best defence secretaries of the last sixty years. He’s repairing the appalling damage done to all three services by Cameron and Osborne. Our navy and air force should double in size.

America has its credibility at stake – South Vietnam, Afghanistan – I doubt if the White House, whoever lives there, wants to add Ukraine to that list.

Britain’s credibility is also on the line this time.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our men and women in uniform.

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About the author

Adrian Hill