Following in the wake of the announcement by Bush that he intends to implement the long-expected pull-out of US troops from Europe and Asia, the Telegraph today reports RAF concerns about the withdrawal of 48 of the 72 F15s US fighter aircraft from Lakenheath in Suffolk.
Withdrawal of this force will represent the depletion of Britain's air defence capability by twenty percent and, it seems, "military chiefs" are concerned that the "restructuring" will leave Britain's air defences vulnerable at a time when the country is axing a fifth of its own fighter force and all its Jaguar ground-attack aircraft.
But what is extraordinary about this report is a comment by an unnamed senior RAF officer who levies the charge at US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld and his policy people, that they "do not seem to care much about allies - just protecting their own".
Excuse me? Under the aegis of Gordon Brown, Hoon has announced savage cuts in the air defence capability of the UK, he is funding the Eurofighter as a competitor to US aircraft, which he hopes to sell to export customers in preference to US models, and all the time is promoting the "European Defence Identity" as a means of building the EU into a "superpower" to counter US influence.
And then this jumped-up little Brylcream boy has the sheer bloody nerve to expect American taxpayers to expend their hard-earned tax dollars on a fleet of modern, extremely expensive fighter aircraft to defend Britain, so that Blair can strut his stuff on the world stage without having to foot the full bill for the defence of his country.
Get real. We should count ourselves fortunate that the US is prepared to leave 24 of their F15s behind.