Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt spoke about the ‘full value of Defence’.

The speech transcript that follows is exactly as delivered.

In a few days’ time the nation will pay tribute to those who fought on D-Day. From Portsmouth’s Southsea Common to Bayeaux Cathedral…we will stand in silence recalling the incredible operations off the coast, in the air and on the beaches of Normandy.

When we commemorate those events this week what will be in our thoughts? Will it be the landing craft, or the reconnaissance planes, or the supply ships. No. Our focus will be on the veterans, and all who made that immense endeavour possible.

From the civilians who came together at a moment’s notice to build the Mulberry Harbours… wrap up small arms components and sew ID badges…

…to the merchant sailors that swelled our naval force…and enabled the critical transport of men and supplies….

…to the mighty endeavour of that 62,000-strong British element of the 21st Army Group who charged up the beaches

…and those who made the ultimate sacrifice in those dark days.

It was, according to Churchill, “the most difficult and complicated operation that has ever taken place”. It was so called ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It is the testimony of those who were there that will captivate us in the coming days. People like Bill Fitzgerald, just eighteen years old, as he along with his comrades stormed those beaches. Then as now it is the people who made the difference. And in defence, if we do not put our people first we will fail to generate and maintain the capability that we need. And we will have broken that covenant between the state and our communities and those who step up to protect them.

As I speak the men and women of our armed forces are working across the globe combatting terrorism …working with allies and partners to build up the resilience of fragile states… …delivering humanitarian aid to those most in need… …standing up for our values of democracy, tolerance and justice and achieving great things.

I want to put on record my congratulations to Brigadier Celia Harvey who was selected today to be the Deputy Commander Field Army as a Major General. The third Female Army Major General 2* and the first female reserve 2*. My congratulations to her.


We often say what an amazing job they do, because they continually provide us with opportunities to say so. We must take care of them. While they are serving and after they have served.

That is why we will shortly consult on protecting against repeated investigations and litigations against our veterans and AF personnel into historic operations outside the UK. Actions which are not motivated or serve justice, and also consult on paying higher levels of compensation for those injured on combat operations, or to the families for those who have been killed.

Nor should any solider, sailor, airman or women be asked to serve our country and not be sufficiently rewarded. The armed forces are exempt from the living wage, as they are in effect, on call 365 days a year, but I am determined to ensure the lowest paid members of the armed forces are lifted to ensure that none of them are below an acceptable salary to live well on. We are undertaking work to determine what a living wage looks like for those who can be called on day or night.

They should get a living wage.

That is what I will be arguing for in the decisions on this year’s pay review, and it will be a spending priority for me. It is the right thing to do, but I also recognise that the decision to serve is not motivated by money.

People are motivated by what they will be doing and what that achieves in the world and the values that underpin it: protecting, serving, doing your duty for your country.

Central to that is to understand what the Army is for.

That sounds a simple question, but it is one that I am often asked, including by members of the British Army themselves. How can we build connections with our communities, how can we have a strong narrative to recruit if we cannot say what our purpose is.

The reality is, the world is changing and the threats increasing from a diverse range of sources. As earlier speakers have said, Cyber attack is now the new normal. Between 2016 and 2017 NATO saw such attacks on its infrastructure increasing by 60 percent. Whether the origin is Russia, China or North Korea…or from hacktivists, criminals or extremists…the cyber threat can bring down our national infrastructure and undermine our democracy.

All the while, we’re having to deal with the hybrid dangers as nations increasingly employ proxy actors to carry out aggression and intimidation at arms-length but now below the threshold of armed combat.

Whatever the correct response to these new forms of aggression, in many cases their deterrence relies on a credible threat of hard power. And the reality is wars are still won or lost on land. We need to seize and hold territory endures and yes, the future may look very different in years to come, but meantime, while armour is relevant it must be capable, and we must be competitive.

We have not been.

Challenger 2, has been in service without a major upgrade since 1998. During this time the United States, Germany and Denmark have completed two major upgrades, whilst Russia has fielded five new variants with a sixth pending.

Warrior, is even more obsolete, and is twenty years older than those operated by our key allies. Since Warrior’s introduction in 1988 the United States and Germany have conducted four major upgrades and Russia has invested in three new variants.

So we must invest in our warfighting division, and it is critical we honour the commitments we made in the SDSR 2015 to maintain a world-class divisional war fighting capability, through upgrades and new vehicles, equipped to win wars in the information age…with advanced sensors and automated search, tracking and detection systems.

At the same time, I am keen that we shouldn’t overlook the advantages of more joint ways of working. Look at the successes of the Joint Helicopter Force which brings all battlefield helicopters under a single command.

Why can’t we do something similar with robotics and unmanned vehicles across all the services…by building a hub overseen by Joint Force Command? Not only will we be able to work better with industry and have a more integrated approach, but we will also be able to plug into what the rest of government is doing too.

At DFID in my previous job I did a huge amount of work on drones, new designs able to lift heavy payloads, and get medicine and supplies into conflict zones and solve many headaches that humanitarians were facing. We boosted creativity through challenge funds and setting up an innovation hub. I think we should be doing more of this in Defence and supporting growth.

In that way to we can create a common mission with the country that is wider than defence: The security and prosperity of the UK, that is what we are for. That is how we will serve our country. And those who put themselves forward to serve are special people.


There is more that we need to do to avoid people dropping out of the recruitment and training pipeline. Currently, for every eight applicants one soldier enters training. Just last year that figure was 12 applicants for every soldier. So we’ve made some good progress but we must do better.

I am challenging the army to reduce that ratio to six to one. It’s also worth reflecting that, once a candidate passes the assessment centre we still lose up to seven per cent of applicants before they commence training. I want us to re-engage with these individuals that have dropped out. Individuals who felt a call to serve. Why did they leave? Was the army not for them? Have they considered another service? Have they considered a career on the civilian side?

If we are serious about bringing up all our forces to the required strength then we must pursue every register of interest.

And we also need to do more to encourage our people to remain in the forces –when they’re thinking of leaving or have reached the end of their current contracts. We already allow people to transfer between different services…offering quicker recruitment and rapid promotion to those with unique talents. But to say we haven’t really sold this is an understatement. We need to make sure that is not just feasible but positively encouraged.

It makes sense when the British taxpayer has invested so heavily in a person that we make best use of that person in the service of their country.


We have to maximise every efficiency.

But in making our pitch to the treasury we also need to talk about the full value of Defence. And that’s not just about jobs in industry, supply chain and services , or export sales, or inventions, or defence engagement which we often mention. It’s also about social mobility, and the fabric of our society.

The Army is a place of great opportunity. You take people from all walks of life. You give them a sense of purpose, belonging and family. Indeed, you give them a home away from home and imbue them with those precious values of courage, discipline, integrity, respect for others, loyalty and selfless commitment. As Army Gunner and drummer Hussein Sadiq put it: “I ended up finding that the Army’s core values reflected my own.”

But the Army does something even more than that. It fires ambition. The British Army has a long and proud history of discovering exceptional character and talent in people which nobody else could see or be bothered to look for.

Rebecca Smith from Grimsby was at rock bottom and sleeping rough. She took a decision to walk into an Army careers office. She became a vehicle mechanic within the (REME) and rose rapidly through the ranks to corporal as a Challenger 2 expert. Having been recognised for her exceptional leadership talent she was recently commissioned from Sandhurst and is now on her young officers’ training course…returning to the REME as a second lieutenant. Her previous hard times are now a distant memory.

The British Army has taught many to read and write, academic and practical skills, enabling huge numbers of people to have the tools they need to be active citizens.

And just as I want defence to do more on the UK prosperity agenda I want us to do more on social mobility agenda too. At a time of rising knife crime and prevalent gang culture in some parts of the UK, the Army’s ethos can make a real difference to young people. It can offer hope.

Defence has so much to offer, in our armed forces and our cadet units, but also in the fantastic organisations that sit in our communities alongside us. I have been so struck in particular how Military Preparation colleges have enthused those who other education establishments fail to inspire. They have encouraged study and physical fitness, self-confidence and self-worth, a sense of duty and service. And they have given some youngsters options where they had none.

I believe it is time to use the skills and lesson learned at these colleges and elsewhere in the Army to address this national blight of gangs and weapons on our streets.

Today I wish to announce, in support of the Ministerial Taskforce on Serious Violence, that my Department will be holding a summit involving Military Preparation Colleges and those working to divert young people away from gangs and violence. We will bring all that we have to offer to this issue.

Courage is inspirational.

We will never forget what the Army accomplished on D-Day seventy-five years ago. It still inspires us still today. An achievement which founded not on having the most powerful weapons but on having people equipped with extraordinary courage, ingenuity and determination.

Today’s Army shares those qualities and our people are going out of their way across to globe to make a difference…protecting innocents…lifting people out of poverty…and providing hope for others from Estonia to Afghanistan, from Iraq to South Sudan.

Yet, as we look into the future, an age in which the dangers are changing and growing, we will depend on our people more than ever.

So we must look after them, like never before.

That is my priority.”

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Daniele Mandelli

Only had a quick flick through will study and absorb later on, but.

” Historic operations outside the UK.”

N Ireland is inside. So what of the hounding of our soldiers there? Why only outside the UK?


Yeah I noticed that one to Daniele!! I hope it was a mistake but I’m not confident…

Daniele Mandelli

Politics and deliberate terminology IMO mate.

Do they really make mistakes or read from carefully cleared scripts? This was a major speech not an offhand remark.

Sounds very Army centric but it would be given the audience.

Will be interesting to see what she has to say about the RN and RAF.

Paul Bestwick

I watched the above speech and there was a comment that inside the UK any process needed to fit in with the Stormont agreement, but that the MoD was looking at a number of ways to approach this. Her speech a couple of weeks ago at RUSI was Navy focused, as it was the 1st Sea Lords Conference., she starts speaking at about 8 mins 30 sec in.

Daniele Mandelli

Thank you Paul.

Paul Bestwick

I thought the speech I referenced above was a good speech.


Hounding? well dont shoot civilians then

Daniele Mandelli

Well don’t blow up civilians then.

They have been pardoned, our soldiers have not.


Why should they be pardoned? if they are guilty of a crime then they deserve to be punished

Chris H

@Jon – Tell you what Jon rather than make smart arsed comments on here go give Tony B Liar a call and ask him why he pardoned murdering IRA scumbags, released more from prison and issued them all with immunity letters valid for the rest of their lives. And then ask the two faced lying creep why he failed to THEN issue the same guarantees to the British Military personnel who had been sent there to protect both Catholics and Protestants from those cowardly murderers he set free and pardoned? When you get an answer do get back to us… Read more »


British Troops operate under British Law, if they have commited a crime then they should tried for it, why should they be given immunity? seems to be the common theme with those claiming the enemy are monsters but when some of ours do the same then they should be given a pass, similar to Marine A who commited a war crime and was filmed doing so but had people lining up to make excuses for him. Funny when you talk about equal justice

Chris H

@Jon – Actually I totally agree with you and with the concept of military accountability and justice. The problem here is that political expediency has distorted the judicial process and its independence by giving immunity (with a few exceptions) to one side and not to the other. Either you have equality or you don’t. What we have is Animal Farm stupidity where ‘we are all equal except some are more equal than others’. It is THIS basic injustice I rail against. I am in no way defending anyone but then we have de facto defending of terrorists by creating the… Read more »

andy reeves

don’t take the media into the field, they might see something, then we’d have all this left politically correct holier than thou rubbish


Marine A was filmed by his own guys, nothing to do with the media, “holier than thou rubbish” you mean rules of war?

andy reeves

stupid offensive comment


Which comment is offensive?

Chris H

@Daniele Mandelli – A very simple concept with which I totally agree. But others here seem to want to side with the IRA….


Im siding with the law and seeing those punished who have commited a crime, but as usual the old worn out trope of claiming anyone who speaks out against our “heroes” are on the opposing side

Chris H

@Jon – “well dont shoot civilians then” So what you mean is we should never have shot one IRA murdering scumbag then? Because they were all ‘civilians’ and hid amongst the ‘civilians’ in their communities like the cowardly bastards they were. It was war and people die in war and not all are combatants. Ask the poor people of Caen and Bayeux and hundreds of French villages that were killed by both sides as we liberated France. We are, 75 years on, honouring and respecting and thanking 90+ year old veterans as we rightly should. But some 50 year old… Read more »

John Robinson

You know exactly what is meant by “dont shoot civilians”, or are you suggestting they were all holding weapons or that the Para’s couldnt tell the difference between those armed and those unarmed? There is no evidence that any weapon was fired at them, responding to stone throwing with bullets is not proportional. it wasnt war in Northern Ireland, not even remotely the same as Normandy, but you carry on making excuses

Chris H

@John Robinson – It would be helpful if you didn’t misrepresent what I have written. Indeed I made PRECISELY that point that in war (for which read armed conflict as well) innocent civilians will be harmed and I quoted the french civilians killed after the Normandy Landings. A figure of 20,000 in the first week has been recorded. I never at any time made any comparisons between the two as regards size but made the point about innocent lives being lost in armed conflict. Maybe that was too subtle for you? Its a sad fact of life and especially of… Read more »


It wasnt a war and you are comparing Paras shooting stone throwers to artilley bombardments and airstrikes, not even remotely similar and just becuase you say its war doesnt make it so, they were terrorists, I served in NI, I dont your faux anger and ranting about body parts, how do you think the people felt seeing their unarmed relatives and friends gunned down by British Soldiers?

Chris H

@Jon – and despite my clear rebuttal you insist on peddling the lie that I am claiming what happened in Normandy was the same as NI. I NEVER BLOODY WROTE THAT. WE CLEAR NOW? I was making the rather obvious point that in any war / conflict innocent people become casualties. Is too much for you to comprehend or does your confirmation bias deny you recognition of that simple but utterly regrettable fact? And trust me Old Son there is nothing ‘faux’ about my anger. It is very very real when I read people like you keen to nail soldiers… Read more »


Ive never said anything about not nailing members of the IRA so dont lie about that, it was not a war and deliberatly shooting some stone throwers is not “collateral damage”, thats murder.

Chris H

@Jon – You Old Son are very very close to getting a very full dose of Anglo Saxon verbiage to show the contempt I feel for people like you who adopt this Leftie Do Gooder appeasement attitude. But I will not do that because I quite like posting on here and what I would write if I got started would have me banned. So you are free to peddle your re-write of what 30 years of ‘Troubles’ was or was not. You are free to persecute one side but not the other as you wish if that eases your confirmation… Read more »


Its not a re-write of anything, it wasnt a war and I have never said to only persecute one side, you clearly have issues with reading and as for the “leftie do gooder” nonsense, well Im not surprised to be honest, its the usual insults that flow when anyone dares say UK forces did something wrong, run away now

andy reeves

well said chris. too many wussy politically correct lefties on here. none have, ever done anything for their country, but don’t miss a chance to put the boot in on those who have, these pathetic simpering fools should go elsewhere, i’ve served my country, i’ve been shot at, bombed in the falklands as a prison officer i’,ve seen murder suicide and sides to the human nature many on here could only imagine and to read these holier than thou dullards on here saying junk like don’t shoot civilians then, that is just offensive, ill informed fantasy. if you are one… Read more »

andy reeves

i was in ireland, i was shot at, but the rules of engagement and fear of the above type of morally and politically correct pacifists, lining up to put their simpering ‘weak ill advised boot onto those who serve us and live in this dirty world, proportional? get a life, find a seat in the real world. and stop posting offensive rubbish i am those like me who went to that festering bigoted, two faced part of the world, a place where you wouldn’t get into a car without looking under it first. if you weren’t there, and very few… Read more »

Chris H

@Andy Reeve – Not a lot needs adding to those two pieces of wisdom and experience. Fine words Sir. I don’t let on much but I have served, seen war, got the scars and many in my family have as well. And I feel exactly as you do. Let those who seek to criticise us and others who served walk / yomp / TAB a mile in the shoes of those who have endured the wrong end of a GPMG and then let them say the same crap. I am not sure my Uncle who fought in WWII and survived… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Bravo Andy and Chris. More power to you both.

andy reeves

agreed ignore the politically blinkered fools above. life is not black or white,the subject can be, but isn’t applied equally when lying war criminals like blair et all are conveniently forgotten, corbyn wouldn’t have jailed the scum in the first place, he’d be too busy having tea a read of mao’s little red book, with the likes of adams and mcginnis

andy reeves

whats the logic in that statement? what are you banging on about?

John Robinson

Nice words, I doubt any action will be taken though


I have been impressed with Mrs Mordaunt for some time, she seems to have a lot of common sense and a drive to do the right thing. She is probably the first DFID minister in years to actually hold that department to some form of accountability. Doesn’t matter how you dress this up – The military needs more funding, probably £8-12bn pa. A point that I often raise myself is that the military does take people from any background and turns them into something. I have personally benefitted from this and can say I shudder to think where I would… Read more »

Chris H

@pacman27 – Absolutely cracking comment there Sir. I remember as a timid 13 year old joining 150 City of Oxford Air Cadets and all the brilliant experiences that gave me as a schoolkid. It restored my confidence after being abused at my boys school and ended up with 3 stripes. What I particularly recall is (as you say) Royal Marines NCOs visiting us to teach us how to drill properly. They must have done a good job because we won a NATO drill competition. The Father of our Drum Sergeant Major (yes we had one!) was an RM and what… Read more »