longer in the specialist reinforcement role. The scale of equip ment of these two Commandos and their sea-lift and the degree of
Army support would have to be further considered. I should make
it clear that we could only do this on the understanding that
there would be no significant extra costs for the United Kingdom,
and that the full and close co-operation and assistance of our
Allies would be forthcoming.
10. As regards the Atlantic and Channel Commands, I am glad to
be able to say that we are ready to convert HERMES to the CVS
role two years earlier than we planned to do i.e. in 1976 instead
of 1978; to earmark the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ENGADINE for
assignment to CINCCHAN; and to earmark some additional aircraft
for assignment to SACLANT in the visual reconnaissance role.
The precise accomplishment of these objectives will have to be a
matter for further consultation.
11. We are very ready for the further discussions envisaged in
this letter to begin as soon as may be convenient. But in the
Defence White Paper which I expect to be published in the middle
of March, we shall make it clear that apart from these particular
measures mentioned in the letter, which are being considered as a
result of the views expressed to us in the course of consultation
with NATO, the proposals which were put to the Alliance last
December and outlined at the same time to Parliament will now
represent the firm decisions of the British Government on our
future defence programme.