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Now and then you hear criticism of what is sometimes seen as peripheral or wasteful expenditure of our very limited defence budget. In this I might include showing the flag visits by HM Ships, grand ceremonial parades involving military bands, the Red Arrows air display team and so on and so forth.

 

I suggest that the criticism is completely wrong. Defence forces have their greatest impact when they prevent conflict without firing a shot.

 

Ceremonial events are part of the diplomatic soft power we exert in seeking to bridge gaps between peoples, make friends and spread influence. They also build national morale and speak of confidence and optimism. This is defence money well spent - and we are the best in the world at it, too.

 

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