Introduction to the scheme
General Sir David Richards – Chief of the Defence Staff
It is a pleasure to give my very strong support to the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme which, for over twenty years, has successfully engaged members from the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the European Parliament with the activities of the Armed Forces. At a time when the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force are engaged across the globe, we particularly value the opportunity this scheme presents for parliamentarians to get a closer look at what we do.
It is through visits over the year, including to Afghanistan, the Falkland Islands and the Caribbean, to ships, airbases and army establishments - both in the UK and abroad - that members of the scheme will see the drive and determination of our forces. Members' operational visits, in particular, give an opportunity to see at first hand how it is, the quality of our people which underpins our overall ability to sustain operational success over time, and the training and equipment required to support them in this essential task to support the national interest in an uncertain world. This year, as the decisions made in the Strategic Defence and Security Review begin to take effect, the insights provided through the scheme will help to inform debate and provide a wider understanding of the post-review force, which must be capable of reacting to a number of diverse threats.
I cannot emphasise enough the benefit of engaging with personnel from all three services, whose daily activities play such an important role in government business. The Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme facilitates that engagement in an environment that allows a frank exchange of views and open discussion. This ability to connect with all ranks is the great benefit of the scheme, and it has an enviable record of success. Its goal continues to be to enable parliamentarians to be appropriately informed and alive to the issues affecting capabilities of the Armed Forces.
I encourage you to grasp this opportunity and return the enclosed application form.