Recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq, Desmond Swayne, MP for New Forest West came to Hurstbourne Park to talk about his experience on active service.His audience was the North West Hants Conservative Political Forum, chaired by John Winchcombe.
He explained how people in Iraq were delighted to be liberated from Saddam Hussein, and hardly any now wanted to wind back the clock. "However, they don't like being policed by foreigners and they could do the job more effectively themselves. So part of my job was, with the Italians, to train Iraqis to become policemen."
He pointed out that the Territorial Army - of which he was part - had been relied on heavily by the Government to maintain the numbers in Iraq, and that employers had been generous in allowing reservists to go on tours of duty.
"They may be a temptation, on the part of the Treasury, to cut back on the regular army and to rely on the volunteers - who are much cheaper. But that would be a mistake. People expect the reservists to be called out on this scale when there is a real crisis - not to be an alternative to a regular Army."