A defence force is like insurance: asking for cover when the house is burning will not work; nor can an effective military be created when a threat  appears. But threats can arise quickly. Consider the 1982 Falklands war, the 1991 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the 1996 Ugandan/Rwandan invasion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the 1998 Eritrea/Ethiopia war, rebels overrunning half of Mali in 2012, Seleka seizing power in the Central African Republic in 2013 and Russia seizing the Crimea in 2014. All erupted in a matter of days, not months.

By contrast, rebuilding a defence force takes years: new systems take a decade between order and service entry, then troops and officers must still learn how to employ them, and there is a limit to how many can be absorbed simultaneously. Educating, training and developing officers takes decades, not years, and shortcuts will be paid for in casualties...

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