Strengthening the ties with our Armed Forces

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Last week the House of Commons gave the Armed Forces Bill a second reading without dissent and with little fanfare.

The Armed Forces Bill is the means by which parliament, once every parliamentary term, provides for the continuation of the three services as standing forces.

The nation is rightly proud of the men and women of the Armed Forces.

As we approach Remembrance Day and the commemoration of those who laid down their lives for Queen and country we also hold in our thoughts those who even now stand ready to do the same.

Those who take up that burden should be rewarded by the proper discharge of our duty of care to them and I am pleased that we have put the Armed Forces Covenant into law and that the Community Covenant is now established across the country – adopted by every local authority and by 700 businesses.

The Armed Forces are part of the warp and weft of our country – everyone knows someone who has served, does serve or wants to serve.

And wherever I go in the world to visit our Armed Forces at work I find someone from our great city.

During my tenure as Minister for the Armed Forces I want to strengthen the connection between our Armed Forces and the public they serve still further.

We politicians need to explain better why we undertake particular operations and how warfare is changing so that the public understands what our forces are for and how they work.

This is particularly important as we undertake more, but less high-profile – work to head off trouble before conflict occurs, aid, capacity building, security support, training of other nations’ forces and deterrence.

Portsmouth, home of the surface fleet, and soon the new carriers, will be a key tool in this work.

My aim is for every community in the country to have an understanding of the services and feel ownership, gratitude and pride towards them.