Summer recess

The recess is drawing to a close but I havenít been on holiday. Thatís because, as a defence minister, Iíve been on duty as a result of the Olympic and Paralympic games and splitting my time between Worcestershire and London.

Sadly I havenít been able to attend any of the events themselves but I know from friends what an amazing atmosphere there was at all the venues. As a defence minister I am particularly delighted at the wonderful reception our armed forces got.

Last week I visited HMS Ocean, our amphibious assault ship, on duty at Greenwich providing security on the river and in the air. It was clear the crew were very proud of what they had achieved in London, and last year off the coast of Libya. They have performed exceptionally well in two very different missions so it was encouraging to hear just how generous in their thanks the audiences at the Games have been. Some people have even been buying drinks for them, just to show their appreciation. Thatís the kind of thanks that goes down very well!

Iíve also been to meet 4th Mechanised Brigade as they prepare to undertake their second tour in Afghanistan. As defence equipment minister I was pleased to hear the commanding officer say to the journalists who were there that this would be the best prepared and best equipped task force the country had ever sent on operations. Although good news like this rarely gets reported, I know how much it means to the many Worcestershire families who have relations and friends with the Armed Forces.

These have not been easy times to be in defence, as we cope with the dangerous economic conditions the country faces, but we can be reassured that our Armed Services are the very best in the world and that they have the training and equipment they need to do their important work. Perhaps most importantly, they also have the support of the British people.


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