National Defence Debate Starts Here

#1
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5311544.stm

Gen Dannatt, who took over from Sir Mike Jackson last week, said: "We are running hot, certainly running hot.

"Can we cope? I pause. I say 'just'."

He called for a national debate on whether enough resources are being given to the Army and said Britain was doing "more than its share of what is required in Afghanistan".
We should follow the lead of General Dannatt. ARRSE is the best public arena for a national defence debate. It is a tragedy that it takes the deaths of 14 men to push this issue right to the top of the news agenda.

Fodder for debate:

- The last attempt to balance task against resources was the 1998 Strategic Defence Review. This was flawed as Eurofighter and Trident were excluded.

- Everything else since SDR has been driven by the overriding desire to cut costs. The "New Chapter" was absolute drivel.

- Lives may well have been lost due to cutbacks.

- Key capabilities have been lost. Sea Harrier - no organic Fleet air defence for the forseeable future. MLRS may be mothballed.

- Regiments have been forcibly merged, damaging the ethos of the British Army.

- Personnel have been treated with contempt - redundancies, manning control, an inferior pension scheme, substandard accommodation, risible pay increases, unending overstretch. Bliar has not even visited the wounded or families of the deceased (I bet the closest he has been was at the election in Sedgefield when Reg Keys stood against him). The wounded are treated as an embarrassing dirty secret by MoD refusing to release figures. A Federation is seen by many as the only method of ensuring they are looked after properly.

- The only activity to see a substantial increase in resourcing is "corporate communications". 200+ media posts. Lying is more important than funding operations.

- Ministers without exception and certain Service chiefs have demonstrated a criminally negligent lack of leadership, a refusal to accept responsibility and a willingness to lie rather than debate the facts.

- British foreign policy is deranged, incompetent and surrounded in deceit. Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have been catastrophically mishandled, leading to troops overstretched in two theatres with no exit strategy. The deceit surrounding WMD and every other aspect has corroded trust in all aspects of public life, including the deployment of the Armed Forces. This latter point is not particularly relevant to funding but an indication of the political climate in which any funding debate occurs.


There are similar threads and I will understand if this one is merged ( :oops: ) but I thought a wide-ranging thread using the "national defence debate" suggestion of CGS would attract attention.
 
#2
Good initiative - lets just make sure the window lickers are kept out of the thread.

I would suggest that you further define areas of debate, leaving British Foreign policy well out of it. Otherwise the streached but not overstreached types will blank it.
 
#3
armchair_jihad said:
Good initiative - lets just make sure the window lickers are kept out of the thread.

I would suggest that you further define areas of debate, leaving British Foreign policy well out of it. Otherwise the streached but not overstreached types will blank it.
Can't leave foriegn policy out of it because that's at the very root of the issue. We need to decide, as a nation, what we want to acheive on the world stage and then fund the military adequately to achieve those ends.

If we simply want to defend our own homeland in the current strategic environment, we could probably quite safely do so on abudget of £10bn, maintaining minimum core capabilities that can be built up if the strategic environment changes. If, however, we want to go charging around the world with Uncle Sam's posse and play a leading role in that posse, we need to spend at least £50bn and probably a lot more to be taken seriously. At present, we're trying to be a big player but without the funding to follow through. One day our bluff may be called...
 
#4
armchair_jihad said:
Good initiative - lets just make sure the window lickers are kept out of the thread.

I would suggest that you further define areas of debate, leaving British Foreign policy well out of it. Otherwise the streached but not overstreached types will blank it.
Must disagree AJ. British foreign policy has created most of the pressing problems we see in our Armed Services today.
Politics invade almost everything in our lives and politicians decisions have got us in the situation we face today. The eager rush to commit our Forces to Afghanistan ignored the risk of escalation and its affect upon our already strained resources - as Gen Dannatt said, "can we cope? I pause. I say 'just'." What if the pressure increases?
Politicians need a dose of reality. if the 'Top Brass' are unwilling or unable to give it to them then the only hope is for the great British public to be made aware of this potential disaster. The threat of electoral wipe-out concentrates politicians minds better than anything else.
 
#6
hansvonhealing said:
armchair_jihad said:
Good initiative - lets just make sure the window lickers are kept out of the thread.

I would suggest that you further define areas of debate, leaving British Foreign policy well out of it. Otherwise the streached but not overstreached types will blank it.
Must disagree AJ. British foreign policy has created most of the pressing problems we see in our Armed Services today.
Politics invade almost everything in our lives and politicians decisions have got us in the situation we face today. The eager rush to commit our Forces to Afghanistan ignored the risk of escalation and its affect upon our already strained resources - as Gen Dannatt said, "can we cope? I pause. I say 'just'." What if the pressure increases?
Politicians need a dose of reality. if the 'Top Brass' are unwilling or unable to give it to them then the only hope is for the great British public to be made aware of this potential disaster. The threat of electoral wipe-out concentrates politicians minds better than anything else.
The problem is that that approach gets away from the core issues of Army resources, it will be hijacked by every malcontent around thus easily dismissed debasing any constructive points that may be raised. Its not Foreign Policy that has caused the problems its the Treasury and incompetance at the MOD over many years.

If you want to discuss Foreign Policy then keep it initially seperate from equipment and funding issues until you have come to a unified position.
 
#7
AndyPipkin
Can't leave foriegn policy out of it because that's at the very root of the issue. We need to decide, as a nation, what we want to acheive on the world stage and then fund the military adequately to achieve those ends.
Yes I agree - if the British military was for purely home defence,then it would be a lot smaller, possibly similar to Scandinavian military formations, with a smaller core of professionals, backed up by a home guard* type formation 10/12 times it's size. Such countries also contribute towards UN/NATO missions, however not in the globe trotting 'Risk' style manner of the current government.

Surely it should be as simple as saying (for the government planners at least) "right,this year owing to numbers/budget, we can only manage x-number of peace support/NATO operations.." etc ?


(*Gordon Brown would love the HG option, as they are unpaid volunteers,who I believe can only claim for any out of pocket expenses)
 
#8
In attempting to frame this debate, let me posit this: Currently UK Defence spending is supposed to retain the ability to:

1. Make a meaningful contribution to a US-led major warfighting coalition;

2. Lead or be a leading contributor to an EU-based medium-scale operation;

3. An independent capability to do smaller scale ops like Sierra Leone; and

4. In extremis, attempt another Falklands.

Are we meeting these criteria? If not, how can they be met within the current or any likely future budget? Are these criteria relevant? If not, what should they be changed to?
 
#9
SDR at least tried to balance committments with resources. It would be an interesting comparative exercise to see how that formula works now...we appear to be in two medium-scale wars!

I think foreign policy debate has its place, as long as it is in the context of resources. As much as I look for opportunities to rant about Iraq etc, this is not really the place.

We can accept that the current situation is the one that needs resourcing, or look at downscaling our overseas committments to suit the resources we have, or somewhere in between.
 
#10
armchair_jihad said:
If you want to discuss Foreign Policy then keep it initially seperate from equipment and funding issues until you have come to a unified position.

Agreed. The Clausewitzian separation of policy making and policy execution is, IMHO, sensible but it's impossible to discuss the two in isolation. It makes sense to debate the thrust of foreign policy rather than the minutiae, such as isolationism versus global policeman rather than should we go into Iran / Syria / N. Korea et al, then it's actually possible to discuss the funding and planning of defence requirements in a sensible context.
 
#11
armchair_jihad said:
hansvonhealing said:
armchair_jihad said:
Good initiative - lets just make sure the window lickers are kept out of the thread.

I would suggest that you further define areas of debate, leaving British Foreign policy well out of it. Otherwise the streached but not overstreached types will blank it.
Must disagree AJ. British foreign policy has created most of the pressing problems we see in our Armed Services today.
Politics invade almost everything in our lives and politicians decisions have got us in the situation we face today. The eager rush to commit our Forces to Afghanistan ignored the risk of escalation and its affect upon our already strained resources - as Gen Dannatt said, "can we cope? I pause. I say 'just'." What if the pressure increases?
Politicians need a dose of reality. if the 'Top Brass' are unwilling or unable to give it to them then the only hope is for the great British public to be made aware of this potential disaster. The threat of electoral wipe-out concentrates politicians minds better than anything else.
The problem is that that approach gets away from the core issues of Army resources, it will be hijacked by every malcontent around thus easily dismissed debasing any constructive points that may be raised. Its not Foreign Policy that has caused the problems its the Treasury and incompetance at the MOD over many years.
If you want to discuss Foreign Policy then keep it initially seperate from equipment and funding issues until you have come to a unified position.
But who decides the resourses allocated to the Army? Also, I think you'll find the Treasury is part of the government that decides foreign policy.
If our Forces are committed to military adventures by politicians, then the ''equipment and funding issues'' change....'Carts and horses' come to mind!
 
#12
DozyBint said:
armchair_jihad said:
If you want to discuss Foreign Policy then keep it initially seperate from equipment and funding issues until you have come to a unified position.

Agreed. The Clausewitzian separation of policy making and policy execution is, IMHO, sensible but it's impossible to discuss the two in isolation. It makes sense to debate the thrust of foreign policy rather than the minutiae, such as isolationism versus global policeman rather than should we go into Iran / Syria / N. Korea et al, then it's actually possible to discuss the funding and planning of defence requirements in a sensible context.
your lovely, did you know that
 
#13
I agree we should have a national debate and this forum would be a good place to start. Can I though make an appeal for our civilian and older ex military followers that military type abbreviations are only used after the full definition has been shown in full. We can't have a debate unless everyone understands what they are reading! Please.
 
#14
Here is my 2p.

The idea that our defence policy is based on only being prepared to fight a war as US auxiliaries is a betrayal of sovereignty that would have the media baying if it was written of the EU rather than the US.

However, if we are going to offer an auxiliary force then lets get it right.

There is a huge mismatch between the plans to 1) provide a small contribution to a US led coalition 2) Follow the US in developing ever more IT intensive weaponry and 3) build our own IT. The money that is being spent on the network ed battlefield is utterly wasted. We don;t buy IT sensibly and its utter madness to keep pace with the US.

We are very good at providing disciplined troops that are needed for lower levels of conflict that the US do very badly. This is also joined up government as its jobs and a way to harness the aggression of lower skilled young people.

If the US wants our soldiers as part of coalitions deployed mainly for US foreign policy ends then the US should pay for our IT and technology to operate with them.
 
#15
Pteranadon said:
If the US wants our soldiers as part of coalitions deployed mainly for US foreign policy ends then the US should pay for our IT and technology to operate with them.
I understand your point, but if that came to pass in a formal capacity, the US would want ownership of doctrine and training and then we really would become a 51st State. :evil:
 
#16
Pteredon, after Kosovo many people predicted that in future conflicts the US would do the high-intensity, warfighting phase and the Europeans would end up doing the relatively low-tech peace enforcement/counter-insurgency/peacekeeping work thereafter. As it was put, the US would 'do the dinner' and the Euros would do the 'washing up'. This was generally thought of as a bad thing but is probably an inevitable result of the mismatch in defense, and particularly military R&D spending, between the US and EU.
 
#17
I think an important fact is that we are ranked 2nd ( link ) in the world for Military expenditure (that is if the Chinese are telling the truth about theirs) but only around 27th for manpower ( link ). And with the percentage of our GDP going to military expenditure only being around 2.7%, which while admittedly isn’t only £2.46 a fortnight, its hardly a massive sum/percentage when considering the commitments expected of the armed forces.

Although one has to ask, just what in the world is the money being spent on? With all the talk of a lack of resources, and the need for cutbacks, perhaps we should be more concerned with the apparent hole in the piggy bank. If we look at raw figures, France who’s military budget is around $44 Billion USD, compared to our $48 Billion they are getting much better bang for their buck, to the tune of 460,450 personnel compared to our 250,000. We are now aware that the MoD is spending a few billion on consultants a year, but even so there is money unaccounted for.

We can afford to put more money into the military, most likely another one or two percent of our GDP without any real strain on the treasury, but before we do that we first have to find out where we are haemorrhaging sterling from and stop it.
 
#18
Drago_Drake said:
I think an important fact is that we are ranked 2nd ( link ) in the world for Military expenditure (that is if the Chinese are telling the truth about theirs) but only around 27th for manpower ( link ). And with the percentage of our GDP going to military expenditure only being around 2.7%, which while admittedly isn’t only £2.46 a fortnight, its hardly a massive sum/percentage when considering the commitments expected of the armed forces.

Although one has to ask, just what in the world is the money being spent on? With all the talk of a lack of resources, and the need for cutbacks, perhaps we should be more concerned with the apparent hole in the piggy bank. If we look at raw figures, France who’s military budget is around $44 Billion USD, compared to our $48 Billion they are getting much better bang for their buck, to the tune of 460,450 personnel compared to our 250,000. We are now aware that the MoD is spending a few billion on consultants a year, but even so there is money unaccounted for.

We can afford to put more money into the military, most likely another one or two percent of our GDP without any real strain on the treasury, but before we do that we first have to find out where we are haemorrhaging sterling from and stop it.
Where's the money gone? can I suggest the following read

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0434013897/?tag=armrumser-20
 
#19
armchair_jihad said:
Drago_Drake said:
I think an important fact is that we are ranked 2nd ( link ) in the world for Military expenditure (that is if the Chinese are telling the truth about theirs) but only around 27th for manpower ( link ). And with the percentage of our GDP going to military expenditure only being around 2.7%, which while admittedly isn’t only £2.46 a fortnight, its hardly a massive sum/percentage when considering the commitments expected of the armed forces.

Although one has to ask, just what in the world is the money being spent on? With all the talk of a lack of resources, and the need for cutbacks, perhaps we should be more concerned with the apparent hole in the piggy bank. If we look at raw figures, France who’s military budget is around $44 Billion USD, compared to our $48 Billion they are getting much better bang for their buck, to the tune of 460,450 personnel compared to our 250,000. We are now aware that the MoD is spending a few billion on consultants a year, but even so there is money unaccounted for.

We can afford to put more money into the military, most likely another one or two percent of our GDP without any real strain on the treasury, but before we do that we first have to find out where we are haemorrhaging sterling from and stop it.
Where's the money gone? can I suggest the following read

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0434013897/?tag=armrumser-20
Again, R&D alone doesn’t account for a lot of the cash, while we are the worlds second biggest spender (can you see a pattern emerging?) on military research, it was only around £2.6 Billion last year (and one could ask, just what did we get for all that?). Again not pennies, but it still leaves money yet to be accounted.
 
#20
I agree, apparently it would only cost 250 million to give everyone in the forces a 50% pay rise - just think what that would do for retention and recruiting. There is a hole somewhere and its eating a great deal of money.
 

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