Tuesday 21 April 2009

On the ball … as always

Mr Gerald Howarth, shadow defence procurement minister, was displaying his usual excellent grasp of military equipment yesterday during a House of Commons defence debate. Says Mr Howarth:

Mention has been made of the inconsistency between the Ministry of Defence's core programme and the urgent operational requirements, which I accept are essential if we are to protect the lives of our servicemen and women. But where is the strategy for Land Systems to replace a fleet of 35 to 40-year-old CVRT armoured fighting vehicles? I haven't a clue what CVRT stands for. I think that it is —

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. If the hon. Gentleman is not sure, I am sure that the House is mystified—and those outside the House even more so. Perhaps he can seek advice.

Hon. Members: Come on, Gerald, what are you going to do?

Mr. Howarth: I think I am going to phone a friend, actually. I am looking around for my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr. Blunt), who might bail me out. CVRT? I know that the "T" bit is "Tracked". Forgive me; I am sorry about this failure. Anyway, they are armoured fighting vehicles that are 35 to 40 years old, and I believe that the Department needs a strategy. The Minister mentioned new "dog" - type equipment—further to confuse us all — that is being introduced: Coyotes, Wolfhounds and goodness knows what. I do not believe that this is a substitute for a strategy; it is a strategy that we need.
Just to help you out, Gerald, CVR(T) stands for Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked). But then, you knew that really, didn't you? You were just testing us. That was all part of your own strategy. (The piccy is a Scimitar, by the way, one of the CVR(T) family – but then you knew that as well!)

We are in such good hands.