Funding Woes Bring Out Lobbying Efforts of UK Def Indus

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by jumpinjarhead, Sep 8, 2009.

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  1. Defense Spending
    Future Funding Woes Bring Out Lobbying Efforts of British Defense Industry, Service Chiefs
    Daniel Darling
    September 8, 2009 Daniel Darling

    As NATO nations struggle to tackle today’s security threats they are also left to plan for tomorrow’s potential wars. This forces governments to balance short-term equipment requirements against medium- and long-term needs. Today’s counterinsurgency in Afghanistan may turn into tomorrow’s anti-piracy operation in the south Atlantic, peacekeeping mission in Georgia or conventional firepower conflict in defense of a fellow Alliance member. Because of this, defense officials must continue to advance armament programs that will equip their nation’s military without losing sight of the longer view and what future threat(s) may emerge. Such a balancing act encounters greater difficulty when juxtaposed with diminishing budgetary allocations.

    This is the challenge confronting each NATO country during a difficult economic period. Nowhere is the challenge felt more acutely than in the United Kingdom, where burgeoning public debt, rising unemployment, escalating defense costs, industry pressure and military service rivalry have begun to collide.

    The British military today remains one of the few ‘full-spectrum’ armed forces left among European NATO members, affording it the capability of projecting power beyond its immediate shores. As an island nation with limited resources, the U.K. is conscious of its vulnerability and the need for its sea lanes to remain open. Since the Second World War the British security outlook has largely been defined through close partnership with the United States and collective security within NATO.

    In order to be able to conduct operations alongside U.S. forces and to project power abroad, the U.K. has outfitted its armed forces with modern platforms for land, sea and airborne missions. The cost of ‘keeping up appearances’ with American forces and conducting two out-of-theater combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has borne a heavy price on the British Treasury, which currently is facing large budget deficit burdens. Adding to the weight of this burden is that the British economy is still struggling to emerge from recession, and whatever recovery it experiences could be at risk of a relapse.

    Against this dour economic backdrop has been the deluge of negative reports in the British media concerning the British military mission in Afghanistan and the rising number of casualties suffered. Complaints stemming from the lack of troops, proper armored vehicles and transport helicopters have become common fare in British dailies.

    Lost in the debate over Afghanistan is the bigger picture, which is not pretty one from the vantage point of the British military. Large, expensive defense projects remain mired in the procurement pipeline, while others - such as the $18-20 billion Trident nuclear deterrent replacement program - have yet to begin. The surfeit of big-ticket defense programs has resulted in a yawning divide between equipment requirements and financial resources, with some estimates placing the British defense equipment budget gap at $6 billion - and others at much higher figures.

    This shortfall cannot be easily bridged, particularly after the combined costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have drained some $21 billion from the British Treasury. Meanwhile, a lack of adequate financing has forced the British Army to place a cap on its future growth, despite complaints of over-stretch and lack of sufficient manpower in Afghanistan emanating from military ranks.

    With an election looming in 2010, both political parties are promising to forge a new Strategic Defense Review (SDR). Ever-mindful of political headwind, both British industry and the armed forces service chiefs each begun to make their cases for why money should be funneled towards their interests. Sensing that large defense spending cuts are looming and eager to ensure their pet projects are protected, service rivalries have escalated.

    The Royal Navy views its two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers as untouchable. Though these will together run over $6.5 billion - not counting being outfitted with a fleet of expensive F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (the cost could reach some $16 billion depending on the number of jet fighters ordered), the Navy argues that without them it will struggle to provide offshore assistance to British expeditionary operations or protect British interests abroad. But the Royal Navy also has another ongoing project, for six Type 45 (Daring-class) anti-air destroyers, which has suffered from cost overruns and in-service date slippage. Critics charge that this program supplies scant value when the Royal Navy currently faces little threat from an enemy air force.

    The Royal Air Force (RAF) has suggested bringing all combat aircraft under its fold and in the process experienced push-back from the Royal Navy. The RAF has already seen an order for the second-half of its third production batch of Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets cut by the MoD, while consideration over whether to halt participation in the future Airbus A400M strategic transport aircraft project begins to gather steam.

    The British Army, meanwhile, has witnessed its program for a future family of armored vehicles known as FRES (Future Rapid Effects System) flounder in delays, indecision and budgetary shortcomings. Because of the increasing use and sophistication of roadside bombs - first in Iraq and now in Afghanistan - the MoD has been left scrambling to provide troops with mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) armored vehicles through Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) channels. While these new vehicles, including the Mastiff and Ridgback, will help protect troops on the ground, calls for more transport helicopters have gathered apace. Though no doubt a necessity, what British forces in Afghanistan need as much as armored vehicles and helicopters are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other intelligence-gathering equipment. Yet some of these programs, such as the Soothsayer communications intelligence program have been cut by the MoD in an effort to save money.

    Finally, into the fray has jumped a concerned British defense industry. Fearing what program cuts the next government may administer, the U.K. Defence Industries Council (DIC) launched a lobbying effort on September 1st aimed at pressuring the government’s approach to the next SDR and ensuring defense spending does not take a hit. In particular the defense industrials are concerned that projects that ensure substantial work-share - including the A400M airlifter, the Astute-class submarines, Queen Elizabeth carriers and Type 45 destroyers - remain in production and are not subjected to the chopping block.

    But ultimately the next British government will have to make tough choices, including first and foremost where to cut government expenditures in order to rein in budget deficits. Cutting defense spending while operations in Afghanistan remain ongoing surely seems the impolitic thing to do, yet efficiencies may be gained from eliminating defense programs that are no longer economically viable, nor relevant to the current types of asymmetrical wars being fought by British troops. The Trident nuclear program may be the first place for the next government to start. While defense chiefs want to protect their cherished programs that are meant to perform in conventional-type high-intensity scenarios and industry wants perpetual jobs and steady state orders, both may have to scale-down their expectations.

    Simply put, the U.K. is currently not in economic position to fund today’s wars while preparing for tomorrow’s unseen scenarios. A choice must be made whether to shape the British military to tackle current threats, or spread investment to the point it can no longer adequately respond when called upon to a theater of operations such as Afghanistan - where anti-air destroyers are of little value.
  2. born a heavy price "to keep up appearances" my bum. 2.2-2.5% is not a heavy price. especially when the defence industry contributes almost 15% to our manufacturing capability.

    the conclusion also operates on the basis that military spending can only be stagnant. it doesnt entertain the possibility of giving it the slice of the cake it requires to fulfil its obligations to our country and our partners. something I find a severely worrying trend with politico's and journos and even within the MOD.

    good article otherwise though.
  3. Daniel Darling's article is cr@p. He takes a list of individual items and throws them together and assumes a coherent argument will create itself from the muddle he puts on paper. It didn't.

    It is articles like this that make funding problems even less understandable as they simply lead the reader up the wrong garden path. End of.
  4. There is more than enough money to increase the defence budget.

    It's just not politically viable. Taking away Prada's child benefit and Mustafa's JSA to buy Type 45's, Eurofighter Typhoons and Aircraft Carriers just won't do. Plus how would we house asylum seekers and finance the European Union if we increased the defence budget?
  5. I only posted for information and debate--no endorsement of it on my part.
  6. Nevertheless, an accomplice in the dissemmination of drivel.

    Only outstanding question standing is whether Darling is a complete idiot, a bored blogger cutting and pasteing to look busy and knowledgeable, or a blogger pushing an deliberate agenda.
  7. it encourages discussion and it was a good article to post. contribute yourself.

    yeh your right, different to every other newsource :/
  8. I suppose I could say the same about your post. In any event, you did not have to read it, did you? I find that often even "drivel" has one or two points worthy of the read, if nothing else than to cause you to think a bit.
  9. The point has to be made that a "Budget" is simply a "Budget". The number can be moved up and down depending on the priorities of the day. As someone mentioned above, 2.5% of GDP is not really all that much in a Trillion Pound economy. As in any household budget sometimes money needs to get shifted from one pot to the other.
  10. Defence has always been low in the list of priorities as it is just not a vote winner. A good war, at a good time now that’s a different matter the problem at the moment is the wars that we are involved in are just not, well Gucci enough with plenty of good news stories to affect the way the Government priorities spending. A good Falklands that’s what they want flags waving, ships steaming into Portsmouth and street parties up and down the country now that is war.

    Flag draped coffins just doesn’t motivate the public to argue for or agree to an increase in spending, what they worry about is petrol at £1:05 a ltr, schools out of control and dirty NHS wards. We will just have to get used to being so low on the food chain that anorexia will look like a good option.

    When the Tories start talking about SDRs then believe me be afraid be very afraid.
  11. Absolutely, plenty of money for defence if only Cyclops would stop throwing it at his pet socialist projects. Apart from that, if more was spent on defence then companies like Rolls Royce, Thales, BAE, Smiths etc would perhaps take on more apprentices. At least that would let some young folk get a decent start in life rather than Cyclops's state funded apprenticeships in dance instruction and all that sort of bollocks.

    Increasing defence spending is good for the forces (if spent in the right way of course) and good for the economy. Win win, but I don't expect Cyclops to see it that way!
  12. Of course I didn't have to read it. Unfortunately, you posted it and the only way anybody can comment on it is to read it. Or do you prefer people to comment without having bothered to read it and just guess its contents?
  13. Many thanks-I will take note of your standard for "acceptable" articles in future.
  14. It would be most helpful if you would introduce your cut & pastes with a brief introductory commentary of your own. Along the lines of: thought this was rubbish but offer it for general comment, or, brilliant article needs reading.

    Give the public a real chance to decide whether the text is worth reading before starting.

    As a matter of fact, what were your thoughts on the piece? Or don't you have any and just wanted to deluge ARRSE with new threads?
  15. Point taken and corrective action imminent. It is not my goal to inundate otherwise swamped ARRSE readers with internet detritus--I had erroneously thought it better to post without editorial so as not to skew the discussion at the outset.