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Financial Times - MoD budget up only 0.9 per cent a year

#1
Just in case anybody missed this - I'll take the Financial Times calculations over Gordons any day.

Military outburst is fired by frustration

Just when the prime minister needed it least, five former heads of the military stood up in the Lords and attacked the government for failing to look after the armed forces.

Gordon Brown will find it hard to dismiss his critics as know-nothings. The peers – Lords Bramall, Craig, Inge, Guthrie and Boyce – represent all three services and headed the military for a total of 15 years between 1982 and 2003.

Behind their fierce and sometimes personal attacks on the prime minister lies a growing frustration with the government over the exhaustion of the armed forces.

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged on for longer and cost more lives than anticipated. They have meant the military has been operating continuously at an intensity way above that planned since 2002.

Apart from the toll on the troops – some units have returned from Afghanistan in the past 12 months having suffered 10 per cent casualties, either killed or wounded – the military has been destroying equipment at an unprecedented rate. It means, as the Lords was told on Friday, that equipment is being cannibalised and it has been impossible to train troops on some equipment because it is all in Afghanistan.

In spite of this, the government’s three-year comprehensive spending review, announced in July – and described by Admiral Lord Boyce as “derisory” – settled on real spending growth of just 1.5 per cent a year. The government has insisted the settlement continues the longest period of unbroken real growth in defence spending since the 1980s. But this followed what General Lord Guthrie called on Friday “a peace dividend that was unwisely large” and defence spending now of 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product, which is half what it was in the 1980s.

The settlement must also accommodate inflation in defence equipment of at least 7 per cent a year, £1bn of spending for the replacement for the Trident nuclear deterrent – which the government said would not affect the conventional forces – two large aircraft carriers and a further £550m for upgrading what Lord Boyce called “slum accommodation” for servicemen and women. The figures show a sharp jump in the sums to be ­written down because of depreciation, eating into the budget for operations, which includes wages, training and other non-war fighting expenses.

As the Financial Times disclosed last month, after depreciation the current budget is set to rise by just 0.9 per cent a year – which helps to explain predictions of further cuts in the size of the Royal Navy. The Treasury does make extra allocations for spending in the warzones but they are widely said not to cover the true costs of operations.

The settlement had Mr Brown’s fingerprints all over it. Tony Blair, in a January speech that was seen as a message to his successor, said Britain needed “hard” military power, as well as the “soft” power of diplomacy and economic aid. This would mean increased expenditure on the armed forces in both the short and long terms, Mr Blair said.

The settlement suggested that Mr Brown chose to ignore his predecessor. According to Gen Lord Guthrie, Mr Brown “was the most unsympathetic chancellor of the exchequer as far as defence was concerned”. While the chancellor’s job is to say no to departments the military could, in the past, appeal to Mr Blair.

With Mr Brown as PM – and no one seen as likely to stand up to him, including Des Browne, the defence ­secretary – the former service chiefs fear there is now no champion for the forces within the government.
In full (susbcription)

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5347331e-9a1e-11dc-ad70-0000779fd2ac.html
 
#2
Why should I believe this obviously disreputable rag when our 'ex-holder of the purse strings' PM and part-time SofS for Defence are telling us that the Defence budget is hunky-dory and our troops have never had it so good?
 
#3
armchair_jihad said:
Just in case anybody missed this - I'll take the Financial Times calculations over Gordons any day.

Military outburst is fired by frustration

Just when the prime minister needed it least, five former heads of the military stood up in the Lords and attacked the government for failing to look after the armed forces.

Gordon Brown will find it hard to dismiss his critics as know-nothings. The peers – Lords Bramall, Craig, Inge, Guthrie and Boyce – represent all three services and headed the military for a total of 15 years between 1982 and 2003.

Behind their fierce and sometimes personal attacks on the prime minister lies a growing frustration with the government over the exhaustion of the armed forces.

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged on for longer and cost more lives than anticipated. They have meant the military has been operating continuously at an intensity way above that planned since 2002.

Apart from the toll on the troops – some units have returned from Afghanistan in the past 12 months having suffered 10 per cent casualties, either killed or wounded – the military has been destroying equipment at an unprecedented rate. It means, as the Lords was told on Friday, that equipment is being cannibalised and it has been impossible to train troops on some equipment because it is all in Afghanistan.

In spite of this, the government’s three-year comprehensive spending review, announced in July – and described by Admiral Lord Boyce as “derisory” – settled on real spending growth of just 1.5 per cent a year. The government has insisted the settlement continues the longest period of unbroken real growth in defence spending since the 1980s. But this followed what General Lord Guthrie called on Friday “a peace dividend that was unwisely large” and defence spending now of 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product, which is half what it was in the 1980s.

The settlement must also accommodate inflation in defence equipment of at least 7 per cent a year, £1bn of spending for the replacement for the Trident nuclear deterrent – which the government said would not affect the conventional forces – two large aircraft carriers and a further £550m for upgrading what Lord Boyce called “slum accommodation” for servicemen and women. The figures show a sharp jump in the sums to be ­written down because of depreciation, eating into the budget for operations, which includes wages, training and other non-war fighting expenses.

As the Financial Times disclosed last month, after depreciation the current budget is set to rise by just 0.9 per cent a year – which helps to explain predictions of further cuts in the size of the Royal Navy. The Treasury does make extra allocations for spending in the warzones but they are widely said not to cover the true costs of operations.

The settlement had Mr Brown’s fingerprints all over it. Tony Blair, in a January speech that was seen as a message to his successor, said Britain needed “hard” military power, as well as the “soft” power of diplomacy and economic aid. This would mean increased expenditure on the armed forces in both the short and long terms, Mr Blair said.

The settlement suggested that Mr Brown chose to ignore his predecessor. According to Gen Lord Guthrie, Mr Brown “was the most unsympathetic chancellor of the exchequer as far as defence was concerned”. While the chancellor’s job is to say no to departments the military could, in the past, appeal to Mr Blair.

With Mr Brown as PM – and no one seen as likely to stand up to him, including Des Browne, the defence ­secretary – the former service chiefs fear there is now no champion for the forces within the government.
In full (susbcription)

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5347331e-9a1e-11dc-ad70-0000779fd2ac.html
This article seems to support increased spending on Defence but note the underlined bit.

Clearly, so far as the FT is concerned the Army is totally to blame for its kit being blown apart by its enemies, and no doubt in due course it will announce that soldiers have only themselves to blame for being killed or wounded.
 

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