FALKLANDS war hero Sir Jock Slater is in ‘absolutely no doubt’ Britain’s two new aircraft carriers will help the navy beat its recruitment woes.
The retired First Sea Lord – who sailed the UK’s last working carrier HMS Illustrious into the 1982 conflict – is convinced HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship will spark a boom in new sailors joining the navy.
His words come just a week after a report by a Tory MP claimed Britain’s armed forces were being ‘hollowed out’ as military recruitment stalled.
Speaking of the importance of the two new carriers, the distinguished officer said: ‘I’m in absolutely no doubt at all that this is a major step in the right direction to drive up recruitment but these things all take time.’
His comments come after Commodore Jeremy Rigby, Portsmouth Naval Base’s boss, said now was ‘never a more exciting time’ to be in the navy.
Sir Jock, 79, added the role of the Senior Service and the nation’s other military wings had never been more vital.
With the surge in terror attacks and the fractious nature of Russia and North Korea, he said a strong military presence was essential.
‘It’s now well understood by many, many people – not least our political masters – that this is an island nation that requires a strong navy,’ he said.
‘But let’s not forget, we’re also talking about the army, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Marines.
‘All of those require definite investment and that’s got to come forward if we’re going to continue in the front league.’
A report by ex-armed forces minister Mark Francois said the navy and RAF were both running at 10 per cent short of their recruitment target, with the army shortfall at more than 30 per cent.
Responding to the study, the Ministry of Defence said recruitment was one of its ‘top priorities’ adding they were ‘aware of the issues’ and working on them.