Military Covenant - Conservative Partys interim report

#1
Liam Fox (Shadow Defence Secretary) and the author Frederick Forsyth will be publishing the interim Report of a Conservative party commission investigating the health (or otherwise) of the Military Covenant.

Summary of interim proposals on BBC Online: 17 June 08
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/uk_politics/7458224.stm

Further information available in the Daily Telegraph: 17 June 08
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/new...t-preferential-NHS-treatment,-Tories-say.html

Copy of interim report (in MS Word format) available at:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/00679/Health_of_the_Coven_679539a.doc


For the views of matelots on this topic see Rum Ration below:
http://www.navy-net.co.uk/cpgn2/index.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=14696#244955
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#2
A surprisingly mealy-mouthed document in my view, which completely ignores the huge elephant sitting, farting menacingly, in the entrance hall to Main Building: underfunding. What the Tories need to promise is a full-on Strategic Defence Review together with a commitment to fully fund its findings. Tinkering around in the existing budgets won't work.
 
#3
I think Tory penny pinching could actually be what we need in some respects.

Imagine how good it will be if we stop paying two or three times the going rate for our kit. Some of it might be slightly lower quality, but at least you’ll get it (mainly helicopters) and you might even get three times as many!

I know the world doesn’t work like that, but I can dream cant I?
 
#4
Nobody within military circles has said the military covenant is broken"
Ministry of Defence spokesman

I'm starting to wonder if the bolsheviks had a point ?
 
#5
cpunk said:
A surprisingly mealy-mouthed document in my view, which completely ignores the huge elephant sitting, farting menacingly, in the entrance hall to Main Building: underfunding. What the Tories need to promise is a full-on Strategic Defence Review together with a commitment to fully fund its findings. Tinkering around in the existing budgets won't work.
Have a look at the provisional recommendations, not just the ones the BBC chose to focus on. Does the second answer your concern?
Our Provisional Recommendations

• The Military Covenant should be clearly established and written into tri-service doctrine as the fundamental pillar of the relationship between military personnel, society and government. It should also offer clear guidance on what the service community can expect as a result of this compact.

• The Covenant will not be repaired without tackling overstretch. Commitments and manpower should be matched through a defence review repeated every four years (the average course of a Parliament).

• The Secretary of State for Defence should be full-time and the minister responsible for veterans and personnel should be at minister of state level.

• Public shows of support for members of the Armed Forces and veterans should be encouraged with corporate and civic sponsorship wherever appropriate but without placing an undue burden on hard-pressed personnel or on already stretched military operations.

• Recently disbanded Schools Presentation Teams should be reinstated and head teachers should be issued with guidance that encourages members of the Armed Forces into schools.

• Combined Cadet Forces should be encouraged in state schools with limited military exposure, and veterans should be encouraged to volunteer as leaders with corporate sponsorship being sought.

• The wearing of uniform in public should be encouraged at the discretion of unit commanders. Personnel in the MoD should lead by example.

• We believe that compensatory leave entitlement should be available to those whose flights home are significantly delayed and leave should be deemed to start on release from the relevant UK airhead or parent unit.

• Positions held by relocating service families on waiting and dental lists should move with them so they do not have to start again. A duty should be placed on NHS Trusts to ensure that this happens.

• There should be a review to determine the potential that the Royal Hospital Haslar site has to provide healthcare-related services to the Armed Forces.

• The idea of a pupil premium to help school children from disadvantaged backgrounds should be adapted to reflect the needs of service children.

• All service accommodation should be brought up to an acceptable living standard as soon as practical. We also recommend that a special review into the defence estate should be conducted. Receipts from any asset sales arising from the review should be used to facilitate the refurbishment programme.

• We recommend that a review of the LSAP scheme is undertaken to determine how it or an alternative can better promote home ownership, including whether restrictions on renting property bought using LSAP could be removed.

• Compensation for injury sustained on active service should have regard for functional mental and physical impairment rather than a formulaic assessment of individual injuries. We look to the Government’s review for an improvement to the current situation.

• The MoD should desist from hiring barristers to defend its position at coroners’ inquests.

• The Commission recommends that there should be a comprehensive review of the administrative efficiency and effectiveness of the Ministry of Defence with a view to ensuring that decision making and business processes match best practice in organisations of comparable size and complexity. We anticipate savings.
The last one could be particularly interesting.
 
#6
"• The Commission recommends that there should be a comprehensive review of the administrative efficiency and effectiveness of the Ministry of Defence with a view to ensuring that decision making and business processes match best practice in organisations of comparable size and complexity. We anticipate savings. "


Define administrative efficiency - do you mean clerks doing admin work, or do you mean staff officers doing all the work that needs to keep Defence going? Admin clerks are a dying breed - MB is shedding them by the hundreds (quite literally), and hopefully many of the currently underemployed service clerks there will be redeployed (thinking of a directorate which has 9 clerks to support 20 odd desk officers - almost all military and which has little for them to do as an example).

If you mean the staff officers, then you need time to create an HQ structure which is broadly stable and which gives time for it to bed down and work, rather than cutting for cuttings sake. Streamlining is a classic example of where ostensible savings are being lost in the desire to create new ideas, none of which will get time to bed in before the posts created are either offered up or lost in another review. Lets try and have a stable structure for 4 - 5 years perhaps?
 
#7
jim30 said:
"• The Commission recommends that there should be a comprehensive review of the administrative efficiency and effectiveness of the Ministry of Defence with a view to ensuring that decision making and business processes match best practice in organisations of comparable size and complexity. We anticipate savings. "


If you mean the staff officers, then you need time to create an HQ structure which is broadly stable and which gives time for it to bed down and work, rather than cutting for cuttings sake. Streamlining is a classic example of where ostensible savings are being lost in the desire to create new ideas, none of which will get time to bed in before the posts created are either offered up or lost in another review. Lets try and have a stable structure for 4 - 5 years perhaps?[/quote]

With Staff Officers in place slightly longer, say 4 or 5 years? I'm increasingly firmly of the opinion that many posts in the Army should not go "All Change!" every 2 years, that in fact 4 or more years should be the norm. I strongly suspect too much goes Pete Tong because far too many chiefs get their fingers in the pie far too often....
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#8
PassingBells said:
cpunk said:
A surprisingly mealy-mouthed document in my view, which completely ignores the huge elephant sitting, farting menacingly, in the entrance hall to Main Building: underfunding. What the Tories need to promise is a full-on Strategic Defence Review together with a commitment to fully fund its findings. Tinkering around in the existing budgets won't work.
Have a look at the provisional recommendations, not just the ones the BBC chose to focus on. Does the second answer your concern?
Our Provisional Recommendations

• The Military Covenant should be clearly established and written into tri-service doctrine as the fundamental pillar of the relationship between military personnel, society and government. It should also offer clear guidance on what the service community can expect as a result of this compact.

• The Covenant will not be repaired without tackling overstretch. Commitments and manpower should be matched through a defence review repeated every four years (the average course of a Parliament).

Etc etc...
That isn't a commitment to a strategic defence review, that's an aspiration to hold a regular manpower review which is a very different beast.
 
#10
jim30 said:
"• The Commission recommends that there should be a comprehensive review of the administrative efficiency and effectiveness of the Ministry of Defence with a view to ensuring that decision making and business processes match best practice in organisations of comparable size and complexity. We anticipate savings. "


Define administrative efficiency - do you mean clerks doing admin work, or do you mean staff officers doing all the work that needs to keep Defence going? Admin clerks are a dying breed - MB is shedding them by the hundreds (quite literally), and hopefully many of the currently underemployed service clerks there will be redeployed (thinking of a directorate which has 9 clerks to support 20 odd desk officers - almost all military and which has little for them to do as an example).

If you mean the staff officers, then you need time to create an HQ structure which is broadly stable and which gives time for it to bed down and work, rather than cutting for cuttings sake. Streamlining is a classic example of where ostensible savings are being lost in the desire to create new ideas, none of which will get time to bed in before the posts created are either offered up or lost in another review. Lets try and have a stable structure for 4 - 5 years perhaps?
I take your point Jim, and this is a somewhat simplistic example but financially similar. In my last job in service we determined the requirement for a new training aid - a cutaway Rolls Royce engine, I personally wrote 3 business cases for that training aid, they went through my chain of command, then IPT a Defence Estates chain of command (installation) and I was told no 3 times, despite constant complaints from the technicians we were trying to train that they had no visual representation of what they needed to understand. Finally I was given the opportunity to bid for an underspend ( a friend gave me a nudge and a wink) again we went through the administration nightmare that is staffing to be told yes - total cost £23k + 3 years.

I'm a civvy now, one of our regional account managers recently told me that a company we represent need to develop a training programme, I listened to his proposal, established that there was a need, wrote a project summary and forwarded this to my director, the same day I got a phone call asking if my rough order of costs was within 50%, once confirmed I established the contractor most capable of developing the course and wrote a contract. The company are looking forward to piloting the course in September- total cost £23k + plus 3 days of effort from people who have the financial authority to do their job.

In the real world authority and responsibility fall down to the most suitable level, in MoD they climb upwards in a chaotic ladder of mis-communication, misunderstanding, control and self importance. They climb so high in fact that often (not always) the people making the decisions are so detached from its repurcussions that they then have to play the silly question game.

I'm sure if someone who works in any part of the MoD sat down and thought about it, there are considerable savings to be made in both time and finance even if that only involved removing some levels of bureaucracy it would be a good thing.
 
#12
People in glass houses should not throw stones, who shut the BMHs, who carried defence review after defence review every single one led to cuts. Options for Change 1,2,3 and 4(AMS only). Yes in the late 70s and early 80 we were Maggies boys, how things changed, the cause of problems today are decisions made then.
 
#13
Uh, no, the cause of problems today are decisions made in 1998, AFTER labour got in, you can't blame the tories when all the cuts have been while they've been out of power and all the procurements coming in now were signed off before the elections
 
#14
Grey24-7 said:
Uh, no, the cause of problems today are decisions made in 1998, AFTER labour got in, you can't blame the tories when all the cuts have been while they've been out of power and all the procurements coming in now were signed off before the elections

Were you paying attention in the late 80s and the 90s, up to May 1997?
 
#15
The evil Tories are not the only cause but they did their bit. The question is when they get into power will they reverse any of the bad decisions made now. The answer is no they too will have to balance the books and the MOD are always a safe bet for a cut, it is easy to stand on the outside and criticise, ask them for policy commitments and watch them squirm.

Procurement has many problems most of them are the naivety of the civil service in the lack of attention to detail in specification and contracts for new equipment. They all believe that the Defence Industry will not try to pull a flanker with contracts, and we all know they will, “you asked for a box we gave you box now you say how big the box should be, yes we can make the box but it will cost you. We made the box to the size you asked now you want to specify the colour, yes we can make it but it will cost you”. How many times should this allowed to happen before we get the message and develop an more robust procurement system?
 
#17
Grey24-7 said:
Uh, no, the cause of problems today are decisions made in 1998, AFTER labour got in, you can't blame the tories when all the cuts have been while they've been out of power and all the procurements coming in now were signed off before the elections
Rose tinted spectacles methinks.

Housing

Maybe they could commit to buy back some of the good housing stock they sold off to Annington Homes in 1996 gaining £1.67 billion.

We then leased them back at £140 million a year, with a clause that when they were no longer needed and sold, 25% would go to the treasury, By the end of 2006 the treasury had gotten back £140 million :roll: .

The so called objectives of the sale (of the best stock) being:

To transfer to the private sector property which the MoD did not need to own
themselves

To improve management of the quarters through greater involvement of the private
sector

To secure improvement in the quality of married quarters, by raising sufficient funds to upgrade the bulk of quarters in the United Kingdom to ‘grade-one’ condition; and

To secure value for money through a competitive sale.

Have those requirements been met (especially point 3), how often is the issue of accommodation raised and HM loyal opposition harrumph loudly.


Procurement

The Bowman project actually began in the late eighties but, as so often happens with Ministry of Defence programmes, more than a decade was spent trying to assemble a contracting consortium which could both do the job and was politically acceptable.

The project's first big disaster came with the 1996 collapse of competition between the Siemens Plessey Systems (SPS)/Racal "Yeoman" team and the ITT "Crossbow".

Manning

Options for change or the “peace dividend resulted in a reduction in UK regular forces of 60000 over the three years 1992 to 1995 (including almost 32000 redundancies), whilst the Defence Costs Studies led to a further loss of 22500 military personnel over the two years 1995 to 1997

These cuts persisted despite the first Gulf war, ever increasing deployments to the Balkans and an era of global unrest.

Politicians, don’t you just love them :wink:
 
B

Brandt

Guest
#18
It is a bit thin and tabloid, in my opinion. The one massive issue that they have missed is the failure of the comprehensive approach.

I was sitting in Iraq a few years ago, with me & my guys in unprotected tents and portakabins, being rocketed, then going out on patrol and being blown up because we had no effective countermeasures, armour, or helo topcover. My major issue was not the kit- although it would have been nice to have some good stuff- it was the fact that the small bubbles of security we were creating were not being filled by DfID, the FCO, NGOs or anyone else, so they imploded again. We knew what we were doing was not leading towards a long-term solution and was therefore pointless. That is what p1ssed me off.

Ironically, this is the one thing that the Govt could fix at almost no cost. It would just take a large dollop of leadership, some b@lls to change the way things work, and a bit of foresight. HMG create some sort of inter-agency team, bring in the brightest and the best from all departments (including the Services) and give them the lead on Iraq/ AFG/ Foot & Mouth/ whatever. Also, critically, give them control of the budget, and the authority to give strategic direction to the Mil/MOD/ FCO/ DfID/ etc. In a perfect world, the PM would issue them his CONOPS, having devised a long term strategy, and they would conduct a msn analysis and full estimate, coming up with a campaign plan (I use military terms for ease of expression only).

Before anyone accuses me of being naive, I fully understand that this is perfect-world stuff, but I ask: where is the 'vision' being offered by today's politicians? There is none; worse, there is no strategy, no cohesion and no leadership. That, I believe, is why so many clever, good people are leaving.

It seems ironic that 68 years ago today, a politician gave a speech that galvanised Great Britain and her Allies, at a time when we looked doomed as a nation. He had a vision, however improbable, and by God he made it happen. Gordon (and indeed David): read this, count yourself lucky, and grow some b@lls:

"What General Weygand has called the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour.""
 
#19
Is this the same bunch of crooks who did so much damage to the Services in the 80s and 90s?

Or have they really changed their spots? Yeah, right.

We are living today with the damage that the Conservatives did then (MQs, failure to maintain the Estate, trashing our medical services etc).
Labour arrived and pressed the pedal to the metal without any thought as to how we would be refuelled or maintained.

Litotes
 
#20
Lots of people appear to be taking this terribly seriously, perhaps even analysing this garbage.

It's just a party political broadcast dressed up slightly differently. As CPunk says, it doesn't address the biggest shagging problem of all - no fcuking money - and more pertinently, doesn't offer to solve the problem by adding to the budget. Contrast this with Sarkozy's actions this week!

All the window dressing about the CA, EBO, political blah blah blah and the enduring requirement to have some sort of review et etc is all utterly besides the point. We've been operating at the limit of sustainment for several years now on the back of an outdated piece of Defence Strategic Guidance and no-one even noticed.

I am genuinely astonished that anyone would expect it to 'reveal' anything other than the most bland of bland generalisations. The Armed Forces are over-stretched: no sh!t Sherlocks.

Someone mentioned the best leaving early: it was ever thus. All that is different is that a greater number of aggressively low average types are leaving as well, in such numbers that there is a distinct vacuum appearing. Not my problem: I'm off!

Prox = aggressively low average and proud of it.
 

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