This week we remember the sacrifice of thousands of service men and women who have, over many years, given their lives for our freedom. We also remember the courage of the young men and women who take huge risks for their country today, in Afghanistan and recently over Libya.

Evesham, perhaps uniquely, has two major Remembrance events one on the Sunday itself and another in Bengeworth a week later for the all the Royal British Legion groups of the Vale. This year I must be in the other large town in my constituency, Droitwich, on Remembrance Sunday, but I look forward to being in Bengeworth a week later, the first time I have attended the event as a Defence minister.

To see again the respect and support that the people of Worcestershire demonstrate every year for our armed forces will be a real encouragement for me in my work procuring and supporting the equipment our army, navy and air force need to do their job.

Although the Defence budget was in real crisis 18 months ago, and although we have had to take some difficult decisions to get it back into balance, the good news is that our troops in Afghanistan are now better equipped than they have ever been. Indeed, the Americans are now looking with envy at what our armed services have to fulfil the challenging tasks assigned to them.

In our protection of the Libyan people during their struggle for freedom, British service men and women had outstanding equipment - their Tornado and Typhoon aircraft and Apache helicopters, their submarines and frigates, all equipped with what they needed to do what we asked of them. So they were able to help bring liberty to a nation that had been tragically oppressed for decades.

As, with the people of Mid Worcestershire this Sunday, and again a week later, I commemorate with gratitude the sacrifice of generations past, I will also be thinking of the young men and women who put themselves in harm's way today and of our duty to provide them with the best possible equipment to help them do their vital and dangerous jobs.


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