The 250-page study from right of centre think-tank Civitas said that creating a new force of troops entirely focused on humanitarian relief would allow Britain to mount swift emergency relief operations to deal with famine and disaster.
Civitas said emergency relief was the most effective form of aid because its immediacy meant it was not prone to the corruption and waste which have bedevilled long term British aid programmes in other countries.
The think-tank said the UK’s aid policy was “naïve” because it was founded on “ideological conditioned fantasies and delusions” about “the behaviours of rapacious political elites in poor countries”.
Civitas said: “The armed forces have the capacity to deliver certain key kinds of emergency aid more quickly and more effectively than any NGO or international aid agency.
“Given the threat to core capacity presented by the Coalition’s deep cuts to the Defence budget, it would serve two complementary goals if some of DfID’s excessive and unmanageable budget were transferred to the military.”
The idea of training a force to specialise in disaster relief has merit. Sniffer dogs and infra red detectors to aid after earthquakes, food transport specialists for famine hit areas, combat accountants (in PJ O’Rourke’s great phrase. People with wads of cash who know how to bribe to get things done.) and so on.
Why anyone would think that infantry or armoured troops would be any good at this is beyond me. You might as well say that all MPs should be trained to do something useful with their lives. They’re simply mutually incompatible propositions.