"Boris Johnson to take aim at MoD over wasted cash..."

Seems you missed the emerging threat of resurgent France. That'll be job jobbed on the Strategic Defence review then . . . .

'The government's fishing minister has warned the EU that the UK has taken “sufficient” steps to protect its waters after Brexit, as fears grow of a French blockade. The Royal Navy boasts three extra vessels, the Home Office will provide a further four and the government can call in help from the private sector, George Eustice said. A new control centre has been launched, 50 extra fishery protection officers have been recruited and there will be “aerial surveillance”, a House of Lords inquiry was told. “We have significantly increased our enforcement capability,” Mr Eustice said, adding: “We think that is sufficient.”

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For clarification/confirmation . . . .
The Royal Navy boasts three extra vessels, the Home Office will provide a further four and the government can call in help from the private sector, George Eustice said.
"The planned decommissioning of older vessels had been shelved and more staff given training to board vessels, with “warranted” powers" . . . These would be the (original, 79.5 m long), 3 x "River class . . . of offshore patrol vessels built primarily for the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom".

. . . although I am surprised/disappointed that no mention has (yet) been made of purchasing/including the " . . . fourth ship, Clyde . . . constructed at Portsmouth Dockyard and (which) replaced the two Castle-class patrol vessels for duties around the South Atlantic and the Falkland Islands" . . . with its useful lilly-pad flight deck.
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The Royal Navy boasts three extra vessels, the Home Office will provide a further four and the government can call in help from the private sector, George Eustice said.
These will be the 4 x " . . . Customs and Excise's fleet of 42-metre (long) customs patrol vessels . . . built in 2001 in Damen Shipyards in the Netherlands (with) a steel hull with an aluminium superstructure.[2] Much effort has been expended in making her quiet to reduce crew fatigue; her engines are raft-mounted, decks throughout the ship are of a floating type, and her compartments are constructed on a box-within-a-box principle.[2]".
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Although I am (again) surprised no mention has (yet) been made of a 49.7 m long, fifth Border Agency cutter . . . " HMC Protector is a Border Agency (customs) cutter of the United Kingdom, formerly the Tavi of the Finnish Border Guard. She was originally built by Uki Workboat in Finland and was acquired by the UK Border Force in 2013. After a period of refit, the vessel was officially launched by then Home Secretary Theresa May on 17 March 2014".
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Her sister-ship, is STILL available for hire/charter/sale, and it would be a missed-opportunity if the Government does not acquire her!


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Yokel

LE
Now what was I saying about needing a proper review of capabilities and skills needed in the defence industry (and civil service, and the Services themselves)?

Review into defence and security industrial strategy

The review will identify how the Government can take a more strategic approach to ensure competitive, innovative and world-class defence and security industries. It will also suggest how defence in particular might better drive investment and prosperity across the UK.

The Ministry of Defence will lead a cross-government team, engaging closely with industry, Parliament, and other stakeholders over the course of the review. The findings will feed into the broader Integrated Review of foreign policy, defence, security and international development that the Government is currently conducting.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

Our relationship with industry is crucial to maintaining the UK’s position as a Tier 1 military power. The review will ensure we are in the best position to support industry whilst guaranteeing the most advanced, world-leading capabilities for our Armed Forces.
 
Not a bad roundup by Matt Uttley, reproduced in full. If accurate it suggests, unsurprisingly, that this review will ultimately be as ineffective and inefficient as its predecessors.

'This year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the film Groundhog Day. The film charts the story of a weatherman, played by Bill Murray, out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. Caught in a blizzard that he did not predict, he finds himself trapped in a time loop in which he constantly relives the same day despite all his best efforts to get his prediction right. After indulging in hedonism and committing suicide numerous times, he begins to re-examine his life and priorities. This Groundhog Day cycle is an apt characterisation of the attempts of successive British governments to formulate and implement major defence policy reviews.

'Defence reviews have historically been initiated in response to widespread parliamentary and public criticism that the preceding defence review is no longer fit for purpose. This is either because defence budgets have proven inadequate to fund stated commitments, or because of substantive, unforeseen changes in the strategic environment. Then follows a period of ‘phoney war’ or stasis between the government deciding a review is needed and the review actually starting.

'Next comes a policy formulation phase, where officials seek to bring budgets and commitments back into line against a backdrop of rumours, claims and counterclaims about where the financial axe should fall. Some form of document, usually a white paper, is then published.

'This is followed by the inadequate implementation of the new review. Failure at this stage frequently stems from flawed or over-optimistic assumptions about ‘efficiency measures’ intended to ensure a durable balance between defence resources and commitments. Alternatively, failure arises from false or flawed assumptions about the likelihood of future wars, the nature of those wars and the regions in which they will take place.

'On the back of this failure the whole cycle starts again.

'The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) inherited by Theresa May’s administration is already exhibiting the hallmarks of previous failed reviews. Despite the creation of a National Security Council and the integration of the National Security Strategy with defence policy, to enable government to provide a strategic direction that was so clearly lacking previously, the 2015 SDSR repeated the same optimistic funding assumptions that its predecessors made. This has been exacerbated by the paralysing effects of the Brexit vote, the fall of sterling, particularly against the dollar, and a world that looks increasingly threatening.

'The May government’s ongoing National Security Capability Review is following the classic pattern of its predecessors. The 2015 SDSR is proving unaffordable and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is confronted with a major financial hole, reportedly of some 20 billion pounds over the next decade. Predictably, rumours are already circulating about where the financial axe will fall.

'Some commentators have proposed ‘solutions’. Edward Lucas, writing in the Times, has advocated recreating an armoured force in central Europe to deter Russia whilst cutting the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, thus abandoning the United Kingdom’s ability to come to the aid of Norway in the face of Russian aggression. In other words, a 21st century version of the Maginot line with all its attendant weaknesses.

'Others have proposed alternative ruses based on historical myths. For example, Michael Clarke, adviser to the House of Commons Defence Committee and former Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute, has argued that the MoD has never been responsible for funding the replacement for the nuclear deterrent, and therefore its inclusion in the current defence budget is unreasonable. Yet, the inclusion of the cost of acquiring the current Trident system in the defence budget was one of the central reasons for the 1981 Nott review. Similarly, Lord West continues to perpetuate the myth that Britain lost the ability to retake the Falklands in 2010 with the scrapping of the aircraft carriers as part of the 2010 SDSR when, in fact, the capability had been lost much earlier when the Sea Harrier was taken out of service during his time as head of the navy.
As with previous defence reviews, various retired senior military officers are complaining that their views have not been listened to, and that the rumoured cuts cannot stand. Similarly, advocates of one or other service are pushing their wares. Following tradition, Dr Graham Moyes made the standard call for the abolition of the Royal Air Force in a letter to the Times letters page published on 15th January 2018.

'For Dr Julian Lewis, Conservative Chair of the House of Commons Defence Committee, the solution to the MoD’s current financial woes is far more straightforward. The defence budget should be raised from two percent to three percent of GDP to ensure that national defence policy ends are matched by appropriate budgetary means.

'All this raises the question of whether defence, like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, can ever escape repeating the same storylines. For Theresa May, the state of defence looks like one more insurmountable public policy problem. A number of senior Conservative MPs, including James Gray and Tobias Ellwood — the latter a Defence Minister — have indicated that they would rebel against any further cuts. Buying off defence may look politically appealing to the Prime Minister but she also knows from her Chancellor, Philip Hammond, that the country’s finances remain problematic particularly given the pressures on the National Health Service. As a former Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Hammond also understands the scale of the financial plight affecting the MoD in detail.

'This cacophony of competing voices, alongside the Prime Minister’s other pressing policy concerns, suggests that the Groundhog Day cycle is set to continue. In the meantime, the government may continue to swing between hedonistic optimism about its ability to control the defence budget and a continuing policy of death by a thousand cuts.'

Andrew Dorman is Professor of International Security at King’s College London and Commissioning Editor of International Affairs.
Matthew Uttley is Professor of Defence Studies at King’s College London.

 
More grist for the Cummings mill.

Equipment delays threatening UK military capability – report
(Reuters, by Andrew MacAskill, 18 Mar. 20)

'The fighting capability of Britain’s armed forces is being put at risk by delays in producing important new pieces of equipment, the government’s spending watchdog warned on Wednesday.

'Delays have hit a wide range of projects including the F-35 fighter jet, offshore patrol vessels and battlefield communication systems. A report by National Audit Office (NAO) found about a third of the military’s 32 most important projects are behind schedule. The new equipment is on average more than two years late before it can be at full operating capability, the report said. Failure to deliver these projects on time will lead to overuse of existing assets and increase costs, it added. “Things need to change and change fast. There are risks to national security if not,” said Meg Hillier, who chairs parliament’s public accounts committee. “The whole culture needs an overhaul.”

'The watchdog’s conclusions come after Prime minister Boris Johnson announced a review of Britain’s defence and security strategy, which will include a focus on military procurement. Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s senior adviser, a critic of past procurement, last year described the military procurement process as a farce and accused the forces of “squandering billions of pounds” on unnecessary hardware. According to the NAO report, a persistent problem is equipment delivered either late or faulty by suppliers. The military’s delivery teams are under-resourced and lack essential skills, contributing to delays, the report said. Six of the 32 projects face shortfalls of more than 20% in their programme teams. “It is essential that the MoD improves the way it introduces important new defence capabilities into service,” said Gareth Davies, head of the NAO. “This includes ensuring that pressure to be seen to deliver quickly does not lead to it accepting incomplete projects.”


 
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Mölders 1

Clanker
Nothing new about delays to new equipment is there.......!?

The Typhoon for example is/was years behind schedule entering service and went billions of pounds over budget.

The F-35 has been absolutely cursed with technical problems so much so that it too is years late and billions and billions over budget.

The two new Carriers went over-budget.

The list goes on.
 

bob231

War Hero
How much of this is lack of rigour/sensible appreciation of risks in the plan, though?

In other words, how much of the cost and time overruns are actually what it would have cost regardless, but the bid was over-optimistic?
 

Mölders 1

Clanker
How much of this is lack of rigour/sensible appreciation of risks in the plan, though?

In other words, how much of the cost and time overruns are actually what it would have cost regardless, but the bid was over-optimistic?
Anyone who can answer that question correctly, will become very rich.
 
How much of this is lack of rigour/sensible appreciation of risks in the plan, though?

In other words, how much of the cost and time overruns are actually what it would have cost regardless, but the bid was over-optimistic?
A huge amount.

Client side, the priority is to get your project funded in competition with all other government projects. To do that, the tendency will always be to underestimate both the cost and the scope. Get it approved and then ask for more once it’s committed.

Supply side, the only way you’ll win is to bid low. So you underplay the risks and look for the opportunities. Those places that you know have been left out of the project in order to get it through (see above).

Optimism bias adjustments are supposed to deal with this, but the tools only work with common projects. The novel and contentious like many defence procurements, H2S etc aren’t modelled.
 

bob231

War Hero
In that case, given it is glaringly obvious (and @bobthebuilder has yet to become very rich), are we failing to identify these risks and optimism biases because we're institutionally incapable/perverse or are we not putting the right people in post?

If the latter, how do we square the need for some sensible uniformed input against the lack of business experience of uniformed personnel (noted routinely on this site)?
 

Yokel

LE
Remember the rare talents Governnent has in being able to change requirements throughout the time a project is running, and to try to save money in the short term by delaying delivery, at the expense if overall cost. That was how the carriers were both delayed and cost more than they ought to.

No business would do that.
 
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In that case, given it is glaringly obvious (and @bobthebuilder has yet to become very rich), are we failing to identify these risks and optimism biases because we're institutionally incapable/perverse or are we not putting the right people in post?

If the latter, how do we square the need for some sensible uniformed input against the lack of business experience of uniformed personnel (noted routinely on this site)?
The processes are there to properly identify, quantify and manage risk and opportunity. The problem is that most leaders lack the numeracy to fully understand them and park risk with a subject matter expert alongside all of the other things that they don’t properly understand.

All to often, businesses park risk with QHSE. Abbey Wood bring in consultants to make sure that the risk management process are complaint. In other words they manage the process, not the risk.

There are organisations that are very good at risk management and who tend to bring in projects in tone and budget. When you go it to a project meeting and Risk is the first item in the agenda, you know they’re serious.
 
Sir John Parker's most important recommendation in his shipbuilding strategy was to ring fence capital budgets for projects. In other words, here's your budget, crack on and deliver.

In the UK MoD we have a culture of here's this year's budget, don't underspend, don't overspend and be advised we may change your funding profile in a savings measure or ABC option. That means a chunk of the project staff are continually looking at fiddling with near term project finance, rather than dealing with real risk and actual technical progress. Which all gets reported in glorious technicolour by NAO, PAC etc, because that's what they can identify.
 
Sir John Parker's most important recommendation in his shipbuilding strategy was to ring fence capital budgets for projects. In other words, here's your budget, crack on and deliver.

In the UK MoD we have a culture of here's this year's budget, don't underspend, don't overspend and be advised we may change your funding profile in a savings measure or ABC option. That means a chunk of the project staff are continually looking at fiddling with near term project finance, rather than dealing with real risk and actual technical progress. Which all gets reported in glorious technicolour by NAO, PAC etc, because that's what they can identify.
It’s not a “culture”, its the law.
 
Sir John Parker's most important recommendation in his shipbuilding strategy was to ring fence capital budgets for projects. In other words, here's your budget, crack on and deliver.

In the UK MoD we have a culture of here's this year's budget, don't underspend, don't overspend and be advised we may change your funding profile in a savings measure or ABC option. That means a chunk of the project staff are continually looking at fiddling with near term project finance, rather than dealing with real risk and actual technical progress. Which all gets reported in glorious technicolour by NAO, PAC etc, because that's what they can identify.
The problem with ring fencing is that it stiffly ignores the income side of the balance sheet. The reality is that someone has to manage the Government’s near term cash flows and that requires programs across government to spend what they say they’re going to spend when they say they’re going to spend it.
 
You're both correct. As was SJP. Which is why bringing projects in on time and budget is more difficult in public organisations than commercial.
 

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