Economic Research Council Report - Cost Effective Defence

#1
We've just received an email from the Research Director of the Economic Research Council highlighting that they have just completed a report on the state of Defence Spending. A quick scan of the press release below shows why I think it is a must read!

The full report is available as a free download from here

PRESS RELEASE

Britain's military is in crisis; under-equipped, undermanned, undersupplied and severely overstretched. Spending is not matching aspirations and there is an emerging consensus that this must be addressed. But what is the most intelligent way to apportion those funds in terms of costs versus capabilities?

The Economic Research Council, Britain's oldest economic think-tank, has commissioned Lewis Page, author of "Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs - waste and blundering in the Armed Forces" to explore how the UK could radically reorganise its Armed Forces within the existing budget to finally move them beyond their redundant Cold War footing. Page explains in detail what equipment and capabilities needs to be bought and discarded and how funds can be found for a 50% pay rise for combat troops. Page
lucidly illustrates how;

· Disproportionate resources in money and personnel are spent on;

i) Anti-submarine warfare
ii) Superfighters
iii) Surface-based defence against enemy air attack
iv) Overcoming enemy armoured forces using ground units
v) Delivery of explosive strikes deep in enemy-held territory

· Insufficient effort is being made in;

i) Provision of deployable ground combat troops with a small logistical footprint
ii) Utility/transport helicopters
iii) Both heavy and light military air transports
iv) Sea-based aviation of every type

Page finished by making detailed reccomendations for;

A) Savings - 7 areas that could be cut

B) Spending - 9 areas that need resource

C) Cost-neutral improvements - 11
 
#2
the free download link on the Economic Research Council web site, points to a report on energy security, not cost effective defence.
 
#4
Looks like a capital read for this evening - it will be interesting to see what Lewis Pages MoD/ARRSE detractors say.
 

Auld-Yin

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#5
Phew!!!!

Page does not mince his words. At times he comes across as very cynical and bitter, especially towards civil servants and public duties Regiments/Battalions. However he is advocating a complete change in the way in which all 3 services are structured, based on the premise that we will only be fighting insurgency type wars and that we will never have to fight a 'heavy' war again, or at least in the foreseeable future.

While I have to agree that we do not have the troops to carry out the tasks being asked of it with the present hostilities to de-nude virtually all services to the sole aim of getting more infantrymen on the ground is a bit short sighted. I agree with some of the cuts recommended such as the super-fighter project, but we will have to maintain a capability, which may appear redundant at present, but may not be in a few years or so.

IMHO politicians should be taking big decisions now to target money in such a way as to deal with the situation we are encountering. By this I mean instead of reducing the number of personnel just because we can't recruit to that level is not the way to do this. If the job is not attractive then make it so. Increase pay dramatically (this was done for teachers a few years ago), increase post career benefits through pension, employment opportunities through offering education during service to enable qualifications to be gained. I did like the notion put forward by Page that the Police and Fire Service should have a quota for recruiting ex-servicemen.

If this can be done and the right numbers are reached then the forces can go back to doing what they can for their men and women. More training, more time between op tours or major training exercises, more time to actually look after our people.

This will cost money, but if this country wants to maintain the reputation it currently, and rightly has, in its Armed Forces then it is time that money should be made available for this.

My views here are a bit simplistic I know, in that I think Page has gone too far in his restructuring without considering how long it would take to rebuild the heavt elements if the situation changed. But what is clear is that we currently require more fighting soldiers and there does not seem to be any urgency by the politicians to ensure that the correct numbers and quality are available. That is what needs to be addressed, and NOW.

AY
 
#6
I would generally agree with Auld-Yin.

It seemed to me that much of the report could have been written by tony blair*! If you don't agree read the last few pages again.

Ski.

edited to add - *By that i refer to the short-term thinking. the blaim culture and the apparant lack of support for the assumptions made.
 
#7
SkiCarver said:
It seemed to me that much of the report could have been written by tony blair*! If you don't agree read the last few pages again.

Ski.

edited to add - *By that i refer to the short-term thinking. the blaim culture and the apparant lack of support for the assumptions made.
Even with your late addition I genuinely do not see how you can make that statement. I would guess that you are not familiar with the authors previous work on this subject.

This document is very timely, its recommendations for deep structural changes seem balanced and long overdue.

I will be commenting further once I have digested it

Many thanks BCO for posting this.


I would add that the papers recommendations read like top notch pornography penned by a master.
 
#8
This is a top-notch report itemising very necessary changes without undue emotion or drama. Unfortunately, it treads on so many toes and attacks so many enshrined ideas (we've always done it like that) that I fear it's essentially unworkable.

As much as I admire the sentiments expressed, I believe he's working from a hopeless premise; namely that anybody in the MOD is genuinely interested in changing things for the better within the British Armed Forces.

But the report itself is absolutely and marvellously spot-on. Excellent drills!

MsG
 
#9
armchair_jihad said:
SkiCarver said:
It seemed to me that much of the report could have been written by tony blair*! If you don't agree read the last few pages again.

Ski.

edited to add - *By that i refer to the short-term thinking. the blaim culture and the apparant lack of support for the assumptions made.
Even with your late addition I genuinely do not see how you can make that statement. I would guess that you are not familiar with the authors previous work on this subject.

This document is very timely, its recommendations for deep structural changes seem balanced and long overdue.

I will be commenting further once I have digested it

Many thanks BCO for posting this.


I would add that the papers recommendations read like top notch pornography penned by a master.
you are correct that I am not familiar with the authors previous work, but i do not believe that a requirement to forming an opinion on this report.

I will try to explain my previous post.

First I would like to apologise to the author as this will be more harsh than my original post was intended to be. There are a number of good points, but on the whole I have reservations. One of my main concerns about this is the government can use many of the points to justify cuts without doing the costly things which are required to offset the loss. That is something that governments, particularly this one, are good at. That is the reason for my comparison with the style of TB.

Item 1.
page 34, basically says don't give more money to MOD before re-structuring.

page 36, lots of expensive orders to be place before cost saving implemented.

Basically, sound-bites which on there own are good and logical, but overall can be spun to say whatever you like. typical tony.

Item 2.
Many of the assumptions are not supported and seem to be chosen to justify the conclusions. typical blair.

Item 3.
Dealing with the current issue only with little apparent regard to the future. (cancelling orders for expensive, long lead-time items. Tanks, Fighters, ships) These cuts can be easily justify any cuts the government want to make, and they do not have to give anything in return.

Item 4.
Big issue in newspapers - we need more helicopters. Report - I Tony Blair say we should have lots of new helicopters, aren't I clever.

Item 5.
The two big items which the current government have brought in (JSF, Two carriers) are given prominence and the previous governments’ project (typhoon) is slated.

Item 6.
The whole report talks about getting more equipment from the US. Good for 'our tone' and his job prospects in the states when he hands over the presidency.

Item 7.
current noise in the media about how much soldiers are paid. Let’s pay them a lot more, more like the enormous amount the police and firemen get. (two birds with one stone, I want the army to get more and a dig at the police/ firemen.)

Item 8.
If the changes do not work out, the foundations for the blame have been laid. Page 10 first paragraph.

Item 9.
Page 37 point 18, classic tony blair, to increase his power.

There are many more, but as I have said I do not believe that these points are fair to the author as they are spun to make my point.

As mentioned before, I do believe there are many good points in the report and some very interesting perspectives. I believe that, as the report puts precedence on the army, it will receive a very good hearing on this site. I will be very interested to hear what the RN and RAF guys have to say about it.

It will be very difficult to implement the recommendations of this report without the government using it to make hidden and massive cut-backs. I also feel a little uneasy about the lack of consideration to training infrastructure and the long-term need to maintain a military-industrial capability.

Ski.
 
#10
Pretty good stuff generally, although I am not convinced about discarding all CR2 & the move from AI to Mechanised - esp considering the discussion currently ongoing about deploying WR to Helmand. Tank on tank action might be less important but I can't see that protection, mobility and firepower have become irrelevant yet.

Even mentioning SAXON in a paper about the future rather reduces its credibility in my eyes. Its not my areas of expertise (actually I don't have one of those anyway) I would have preferred to see some sort of a suggestion about a quick buy of LAV or something similar to replace SAXON & augment WR. And yes, I know that is FRES, but the problem there is the F.
 
#11
My own view of Lewis Page is that he does a very good impersonation of an embittered, self publicising, money seeking and blinkered intellectual pygmy. After 11 years service and 2 rings round his sleeve, he is a military expert and strategic genius. He sells books and magazine articles for money and fair play to him for that.

He seems opposed to warships "in depth" that can extend presence across our world interests, combat aircraft that can do anything more than CAS and ships with a realistic ASW capability. He looks at the Cold War period and compares it to the Tribal firefights we now get involved in. His "vision" is totally reliant upon allies and dependable foreign trading partners and a Britain that would probably not deserve a permanent seat on UN Security Council. He seems blind to the increase in High Seas piracy, contraband running, conflicts over diminishing resources and emerging giants like China and a newly confident Russia. The length of time it takes between writing a SOR and receiving the eventual kit for service, interspersed with Treasury hindrance, seems a complete mystery to him. We all buy cars and washing machines so what's difficult about that.

It worries me that someone with his flare for presentation and sensationalism should be considered seriously by experts. He is worthy of a place in the Prime Minister's Office, though.
 
#12
SkiCarver

your wrong on all counts, he's been at the fore of this argument for a couple of years now - if anyone is bandwagoning its not him; its his bandwagon. His book Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs created main stream public awarness about this issue. Before his book all the public had was grumbling rumours from the uniforms and happy, happy press releases from the MoD, you should read it.

He's a experienced but angry man, he does make irritating gifts to his enemies like cluttering up good reports with mentions of SAXON ( agreed Dilfor ) or V -22 Osprey. He is also 100% enamored and uncritical of American Kit and sometimes does sound like a Boeing / GD salesman.

However idiosyncrasies aside his real strength is that he informs key opinion formers and decision makers who are not mired in the MoD /BAE syndicate. He’s a name on this issue now no matter how much MoD apparatchik sniping goes on.

The broad principle of this report are sound in my opinion and he’s bang on the money in regards to pay. I fully agree with his recommendation numbers 1 – 19 (agreeing with 18 three times), I don’t agree with 20, not really sure about 21, 22 – 29 are good with 29 being very good.

Though I do see that BOWMAN remains so it may be that GD got to him in the end.
 
#13
AJ,

We are in agreement on points 17 & 29.
I am glad we managed to find some middle ground! ;-)
A number of the other points have great merit; I am just not convinced that the financial sums add up. (See below)

I would like to say at this point, that I do not consider myself to be a military expert; however I do try to keep informed.

My main issues I have with the report are the style and lack of depth. Some major assumptions are thrown in and not highlighted, supporting evidence not referenced and the risks and costs not detailed. I will detail one example.

Item 13. From the list "Spending measures (to commence before saving measures)

£5bn allocated to purchase 1000 TLAM. If these need to be in place before the saving measures are commenced with, where does the money come from?

The assumptions inherent in item 13.

The 1000 missiles are "more than enough for any genuine deep-strike needs." – All the eggs in the TLAM basket. What happens if we run out of these long lead-time items, or the US refuses to sell them to us at some point in the future?
TLAM will be effective for deep-strike. - Bearing in mind that it would take years to find an alternative, can we be that sure that TLAM will be effective over long time-scales. Also it assumes adequate intel is available to provide targets for the TLAM prior to launch. We need other assets to provide these targets; a piloted aircraft can find targets.
With “the second batch of Astute submarines” this “would also render the Royal Navy invulnerable to surface ships” - USS Cole. (RIP)
“and confer useful abilities in suppressing enemy SAM networks.” – Really! This goes back to the additional assets required to provide targeting for TLAM. If that additional asset is an aircraft, why not simply put anti-radiation missiles on that? (predator?)


I could go into more detail than that; however my intent is not to ‘rubbish’ the report. It does have some interesting suggestions which are worthy of further study, but this report on its own is, to me, unconvincing. AJ, you have suggested I look at the authors’ previous work; I will endeavour to do so.

Bad CO, thank-you for posting the link, the report is an interesting read, and the discussion worthwhile.

Ski.
 
#15
A lot I don't really agree with in there.
He assumes that we will only ever be facing paramilitaries or minor armies and that a lot of our capability is not needed. Firstly it is impossible to predict what will come up in the future so its best to be prepared. Secondly minor armies are dangerous and the assumption that they will be poorly trained and equiped is not realistic.

Also, while I think we are getting far more Typhoons than we need, that doesn't mean we don't need some. It accurately states that our ground to air defense is not all that useful, and then says, well why don't we get rid of our air to air defence too. Just because we have amraams doesn't mean we don't need a capable fighter to go with them. Otherwise we could just buy a couple of big 747s load em with missile and hey presto, air defense.

Now onto the navy. I can't remember how many ships the navy said it needed, buts its more than we've got and a lot more than what is suggested. It says Destroyers (whose main role is fleet air defence) are rarely used so should be scrapped. Thats all very good until you remember that the things they're protecting are also multi-million pound ships. Getting our ships sunk through lack of air defence is not very cost effective now is it. (I could rant on about this for a while but I'll stop now. To think Britannia once ruled the waves.)

Overall it seems to be advocating a massive reduction in the roles of the RAF and RN. That is not to say I disagree with everything it says, but alot of things are a bit dubious.

Agree completely: 9, 11, 12, 17, 24, 29
Partially agree: 1, 8, 10, 14, 18
Disagree: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 16, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 28

I realise this is a bit of a misbalanced post, but I'm tired angry and sober, and there was a lot of reasoning in the main body of article that was bad. Just take it as read that I agree with SkiCarvers last post etc. There's a lot more I want to say but need some kip.
 
#16
I generally agree with the previous posters.

Given there's so much cynicism on ARRSE about every army-related document from the Govt and MOD, it would be useful if the many opinionated and informed posters outlined what they would increase and sacrifice in a similar vein.

Obviously, I think we all agree that the complete sacrifice of armour and orientation of the Army towards becoming a heavily armed Gendarmerie would be shortsighted. Please sir, can I mention the "3-block war" now?

I'm afraid thats as buzzword-friendly as I get. Oh, and please, lets not use the word "kinetic". It such a bullsh it word. Every adaptation of such buzz words and other fashionable euphemisms by field commanders gradually makes us complicit in the MoD approach to defence.

Language is important. Concise, accurate, effective English contributes to the Army's practical and pragmatic character and outlook. Most importantly it keeps us focussed on the troops on the ground.

Reliance on impressive sounding terms and the vague, concept obsessed thinking that accompanies it has lead to the poor defence planning we are living with now.

Rant off.

On another note, I was extremely suprised not to find a single reference to the TA in the document. Not out of a sense of chippiness, but the opinion that we need to formally plan how TA can best be an integral, useful component of the Army without sarificing employers' ( and therefore the wider public's ) consent.

Incidentally, would it be such a teribble thing for UK Plc to resign itself to the status in the world that it deserves?

Charlie
 
#17
POL

I have to admit that the tone of Mr Page's arguments does suggest more than a little arrogance which detracts from any sense he may, or may not, speak. Notwithstanding this, his relatively limited experience and various hobby horses, however, there seems to me to be a worthwhile debate over what future operations we are likely to get involved in. At one end of the spectrum is the view that the recent 'tribal conflicts' are essentially a short lived aberration with inter-state conflict likely to resume at some stage in the future, and at the other end is the view that inter-state conflict is officially dead and tribal wars are exactly what we should be gearing up for. Rupert Smith, whose arguments (perhaps unsurprisingly) come across a little better than Lewis Page, would seem to suggest that the truth lies closer to this end of the spectrum than the other. That said, non state-actors still have access to heavy weaponry (as Stooge points out) and I do not believe light infantry are the only force we will ever need. I do think, however, that where Lewis Page & Rupert Smith may converge, is the rebalancing from strategic-level forces that actually have limited utility (long range bombers/ASW) to forces that are generally more useable (AT/CAS/littoral ops).
 
#18
Agree with several comments posted so far, and don't agree with every finding that Lewis Page makes in the report.

But do others here consider that this is a good vehicle for bringing debate into the public sphere?
 
#19
ABrighter2006 said:
But do others here consider that this is a good vehicle for bringing debate into the public sphere?
I am of mixed opinion about that one.

As a way of bringing debate within the military it is good, because as has been shown in the posts on this topic, we won't all agree with the report or each other but we will talk about this sensibly and intelligently.

This might not be such a good way of bringing the debate to the public. It covers quite a large subject area quite briefly and has a lot which could easily be quoted out of context for political means or just by people misconstruing the meaning. Also people might take this report as gospel, and that this is the way things should be done because a report said so, without actually studying the report in detail. At the end of the day, this report is just on how things could be done within the current budget.
 
#20
Stooge said:
Now onto the navy. I can't remember how many ships the navy said it needed, buts its more than we've got and a lot more than what is suggested. It says Destroyers (whose main role is fleet air defence) are rarely used so should be scrapped. Thats all very good until you remember that the things they're protecting are also multi-million pound ships. Getting our ships sunk through lack of air defence is not very cost effective now is it. (I could rant on about this for a while but I'll stop now. To think Britannia once ruled the waves.)
I think your not being fair here Stooge, as a Navy man Lewis does, one assumes, know what he's talking about, in his previous work he makes a big thing that the career path within the Navy is governed by command of Destroyers and Frigates (regiments if you will), with all the sentiment attached. This has distorted the balance of forces within the Navy and is failing to produce another Jackie Fisher though it does produce far too many standard issue Admirals all of whom have to given something to do. He points out that their actual fighting value and air/sea defence capability have little changed from the Falklands War (not good) and anti ship missiles are now much better – sunburn etc. And you don’t have to mount air defence exclusively on dinky modern versions of WWII boats.

What Lewis is suggesting is creating two US style Carrier battle groups – increasing the size of the Carriers currently being built, if anything this will help us move back towards a position of Naval prominence – the battle of Midway proved that Carriers are the only game that counts at sea. I would much rather have the Fleet Air Arm with 120 + aircraft being able to supply CAP and CAS to our chaps where ever in the World than the current set up thank you. Perhaps some of the frigates could be moved over to the FCO for ceremonial duties…..

It’s inexcusable that the only Submarine capable of launching special forces ops has been retired without replacement and that the booties come poor second in floating hotels.
 

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