'An Indefensible Defence Strategy...'

SDSR and future procurement options.....

  • HMG - Dodging critical decisions since 1888 ?

    Votes: 18 50.0%
  • A lost opportunity to re frame some basic Qs.

    Votes: 13 36.1%
  • Sensible,given the dire financial circs dammit

    Votes: 3 8.3%
  • We is broke bro - waddya gonna do ?

    Votes: 2 5.6%
  • Huzza! We heart Doc Fox !

    Votes: 2 5.6%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .
I am posting this here rather than in the SDSR folder because it relates specifically to equipment and future procurement decisions.....so bite me.

From last week's red top rag...er...the Financial Times Editorial :

An indefensible defence strategy

Liam Fox promised that October’s defence review would be a “clean break” for Britain’s military establishment. There would be cuts, sure enough, but also the promise of a brighter future.
Well, cuts there have certainly been: the review imposed real reductions of 8 per cent on the armed forces’ budget over the next four years. But the brighter future is proving harder to perceive.

A particular concern is that the defence secretary has not explained how he will prune the “unaffordable” £38bn of unfunded equipment orders he inherited. Rather, he has pushed this question out to 2015, beyond the scope of the defence review. However difficult the spending squeeze in Whitehall, this is a poor decision.

Procrastinating on these orders makes it impossible for the UK to set out a sensible military procurement strategy for coming years. Britain’s defence industry, which had been looking for clarity from the review, still lacks the tools to plan for the future. That is bad for the armed forces, undermines the defence-industrial base and may ultimately weaken Britain as a military power.

Of the giant overhang, the coalition estimated that about £20bn related to equipment programmes to be paid for between 2010 and 2020. This has now been shunted into the five years beyond 2015, meaning the shortfall must be absorbed in half the time.
Deferring this expenditure will, of course, lead to additional costs. The government will have to pay industry to keep idle capacity ticking over while it waits for the delayed orders to be placed. The final total will be even higher.

It is hard to see how this bill can be met. The armed forces and the defence industry are clinging to some vague assurances given by David Cameron that military spending might rise in real terms after 2015. But the scale of the increase needed would be truly heroic. In effect, you would be talking about effectively doubling the rate of equipment spending simply to close the gap. In the absence of a major international crisis, this does not look politically viable.

Moreover, a heroic effort would be required simply to deliver the forces the coalition says that it wants for 2020. And it would suffice only if efficiency savings were achieved elsewhere in the defence budget – most notably through the £4bn or so reduction in personnel and basing costs that the Ministry of Defence hopes to achieve over the next five years. Any slippage and the gap would widen further.
This would only fund the military’s legacy wish list – including the Joint Strike Fighter, Trident and the FRES armoured vehicle programme. There would be no scope to respond to any changing military needs – for instance to develop cyber capability or unmanned combat aircraft.

The idea these decisions represent the basis of a new, realistic defence strategy is hot air. They offer no possibility to reshape the MoD’s relationship with industry – or to develop new capabilities that the UK may need in future.

Indeed, what Mr Fox has done is to ensure a continuation of the constant squeeze the defence industry has faced since 2005, when the UK’s last under-funded defence industrial strategy was triumphantly unveiled.

Mr Fox’s policy of dither has several undesirable consequences. First, Britain will continue to pursue a raft of unaffordable defence projects. Some will inevitably be cancelled after large sums have been spent on development. This will lower public confidence in procurement and make it harder to increase military spending at all.
Second, the defence industry will remain on a drip-feed, and will doubtless respond by withdrawing further capacity. This may by default erode vital strategic capabilities that Britain wishes to preserve.

Third, the MoD will cut the things that are easiest – such as the research budget. This is especially short-sighted as it risks progressively degrading Britain’s ability to develop cutting-edge weaponry.

Britain needs a properly worked out defence strategy. This means defining what it wants the armed forces to do, what kit they need and, by extension, what indigenous technologies are required for strategic reasons. The defence review did not adequately answer these questions. Mr Fox must bring more clarity.

He must also now identify the programmes that should be cut and create a sensible profile for defence spending, which can be properly funded. Only when he has done this can Mr Fox claim to have delivered the clean break that he originally promised
and Doctor* Fox's response in the letters Column:
Reshaping of the MoD is a process, not an event
Published: December 6 2010 05:57 | Last updated: December 6 2010 05:57

From Dr Liam Fox MP.

Sir, I was perplexed to read your editorial “An indefensible defence strategy” (December 2), which misrepresents the challenges we face, the changes we have brought about in defence and the progress we have already made. I have said we must bring our equipment programme and our resources back into balance. I am also determined to give the UK armed forces and industry greater certainty about our plans......
some text missing
Bare :batman:

*no relation to Dr Fox, Chair of Cunning at Oxford University, I am assured


Book Reviewer
The point about defence industry investment and planning is well made. The Defence Industrial Strategy from 2005 was aimed to give an idea of where money would be spent and what capability MOD wanted to retain in the UK. It was clear then that they expected some companies to withdraw from the market one way or another as funding drew down. Unfortunately in some critical UK sovereign areas the results have been difficult. In at least one core area which is UK Eyes only there are now no companies actively working (they all effectively withdrew operations at around the same time for the same reasons) and MOD is having to spend money on make-work to keep the vital staff going.
to be honest don't think we have had anything but a treasury lead review since ww2 and thry have mostly been wrong.
no need for areoplanes missles will solve all are problems
tsr2 cancelled
cold wars over no need for smelly infantry anymore next year bosnia kicked off.
fres and networked capability techno bollocks of the worst kind you canna put he firepower and protection of a chally2 and fly it on a c130 and even if you could how are we going to supply it and its crew with ammo fuel food pimms etc?


Book Reviewer
Mr Fox says we must get our defence 'back in the black'.

By that I presume he doesn't mean in the sense of 'profit and loss', because profit in these terms is 'winning' and loss is of course 'losing'. 'Losing' or 'being in the red' means the loss of lives, the losses of campaigns, and perhaps as was so nearly the case after Dunkirk . . . losing our freedoms.

But I'm sure he knows that defence of the realm is not about runnnig a grocery store, where cost cutting will hopefully balance a profit and loss account - in fact, Dr Fox, it's quite the reverse.


Book Reviewer
Given that the Govt appear to be pinning their hopes on Lord Sliveen to pull their procurement process chestnuts out of the fire I'm guessing a further bout of re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic is set to commence.

Any SofS (and any Chancellor) would do well to heed the words of former Communist party member
and Anzio veteran Denis Healey, when he had the job :

'Without strong Defence you don't have hospitals, roads or schools...what you have is a pile of ash...'
a cheap defence policy trident and tactical nukes. **** with us we are going nuke early
ocean going patrol boats for police work **** with them your getting buckets of instant sunshine.
light infantry forces for defense peackeeping work if we suspect your funding people trying to hurt us bucket of instant sunshine time.
if in doubt go nuke early


Mr Fox says we must get our defence 'back in the black'.

Does that mean more RTR!!!

But all I have ever seen on procurement, reviews and the application of business practice such as JIT it that it has led us into a sorry mess. But blame has to be shared; we do not know what we want and when we want it and how we will use it.

The time lag on procurement of major platforms is so long that I really do wonder how we ever got Spitfire, Lancaster etc. in the old days.

Our obsession with developing our own instead of looking to buy offshelf.

Our requirment list that demands global capability even if we have no means to deliver it and certainly no logistic back up even if we could get it there.

The use of outmoded equipment in new platforms be it guns, ammo or, heaven forbid, the BV, all means we still continue to require backdated systems retrofitted (?) to new equipment.

The 120mm tank gun is a classic example of this but there are many many more.

Our latest obsession has been UOR, we now have more platforms made by different companies with spares, maintenenace and training requirements that would, to be fair, terrify any Bde about to deploy (G4 must be made of shopping list supermen).

Each new tour with a different Bde structure throws up different demands and ideas, but no one is putting it all together and saying hang on I thought you wanted Mastiff for convoy escort, I thought you wanted jackal for SF support, now what do you want and please show me a mission analysis and how you intend to integrate it with what you have and how it will make a difference.

I have said it elsewhere but I do actually feel sorry for the MOD as they are bombarded with the next wish list after every 6 month tour.

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