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Op Olympics Teaches Hammond "Contingent Capability"

A rather warming interview in the Independant today, where the pros and cons of having a Military not based purely on JIT and commercial principles/private sector practices are looked at with somewhat of a clearer vision than before.

While this is good, what will be of more interest is to see what Lessons Identified (and learned?) SJC and MOD take away from Op Olympics. In many ways, the high profile of the Olympics G4S "bail out" overlooks this was already a planned operation of some significance (10K troops plus committed by end of last year on MACA/DSR taskings).

"Military succesfully completes pre-planned UK Ops tasking" doesn't quite have the same ring as "Army saves the day"

I do like the "contingent capability" concept, however I would like to see an objective post A2020 review of JDP02 Defence Contribution to Resilience (and other associated docs) as significant bits of the MACA infrastructure look like they have been hacked about and "re-militarised" (not necessary a good thing)

Philip Hammond: 'Games humanised the face of armed forces'
The Defence Secretary used to think the private sector was superior – but, he tells Oliver Wright, the Olympics have changed thingsTuesday, 14 August 2012

Of all the legacies of London 2012 it was perhaps the most incongruous and unexpected. Just a few weeks ago when ministers announced they were calling in the troops to check bags and frisk spectators coming to the Games it looked like an act of desperation by a Government caught on the hop. In many ways it was. But now it all looks rather inspired.

The biggest deployment of uniformed troops on Britain's streets since the Second World War (12,000 in total) was one of the defining and positive images of London in 2012. Army commanders – who back then were complaining about being overstretched and plummeting morale – are now delighted at the force's new profile.

And for their boss, the Conservative Defence Minister Philip Hammond, what started as a rather sorry affair has paid an unexpected political dividend.

Sitting in his office in the Ministry of Defence on Friday, he is the first to admit that he's rather thankful now that G4S failed to measure up to expectations.

"It would be disingenuous not to admit that from our point of view – from the military's point of view – it has been a fantastic opportunity," he says with understated delight. "In two weeks they've been able to do two years' worth of engagement with the public.

"It has humanised the face of the armed forces. In Afghanistan the image is of people in helmets, and kit, and tooled up. But underneath all that are people you can enjoy a drink with in the pub or a bit of banter at the checkpoint."

The episode has curiously had another effect as well: it has changed the Defence Secretary's thinking about the merits of the public sector.

When Mr Hammond was drafted in to replace Liam Fox nearly as year ago many service chiefs approached his appointment with trepidation.

A self-made businessman before entering politics, he had the reputation as something of an ideological bean-counter: someone who believed that the private sector was always more efficient, capable and preferable to the state.

Military commanders feared they would not have a champion in Hammond – prepared to stand up to the Treasury to protect their budgets and always pushing them to do more for less or, worse still, getting someone else in to do it for them.But, Hammond says now, "I came into the MOD from a private-sector background with a starting prejudice that we have to look at the way the private sector does things to know how we should do things in Government.

"But the story of G4S and the military rescue is quite informative. The G4S model says 'Here is a cost envelope within which I have to deliver an outcome and I have to do it incredibly leanly with very little resilience'.

"G4S were literally hiring people and expecting to deploy them three days later. They were trying to build up a management structure overnight and they placed a lot of dependence on the work force – for example getting them to schedule their own shifts by accessing an internet site.

"The military came at it from the exact opposite extreme. 'What's the job that needs to be done? OK, we'll do it. Whatever it takes we'll provide massive resourcing.'

"And that's why everything has operated so smoothly. When you go through these search lanes everything hums. That's because for every three people doing the work there is one watching them and there are two other watching him."

Hammond gives another example. "When I asked a question recently about if we wanted to have a Typhoon aircraft available at point X in the UK – what would it take, the answer was we'd need to deploy four aircraft and 60 engineers. Why four aircraft, I asked? Well, you say one but we always like to have two and we need a back-up aircraft just in case and we'd need the fourth just in case something went catastrophically wrong with the back-up.

"Now if you asked G4S the question they'd have the aircraft and they'd probably fly it in with two blokes in case anything went wrong with it. It is a completely different ethos and way of operating."

So which does he now think is better? "That's the thing that I'm learning – that the application of the lean commercial approach model does have relevance in areas of the MOD but equally you can't look at a warship and say 'How can I bring a lean management model to this?' – because it's doing different things with different levels of resilience that are not generally required in the private sector.

"We don't ask the military to prepare to maybe be able to do something or to have an 80 per cent chance of delivering. We ask the military to be in a position that, if we ask them to do a task, they are absolutely able to do it for us."

You can almost hear him formulating his argument with George Osborne.

There are other things Mr Hammond, 56, has had to learn in his job as Defence Secretary: not least a new language.

"This department has a language all of its own," he says. "Everything has an acronym. I learnt a new one just yesterday. I questioned something in a briefing and I was told, 'Don't worry about that, sir, it has been OBE'd? What was OBE'd? Overtaken by events," he laughs, adding: "The military never uses a full word if they can create an abbreviation."

But even if he learns the language Hammond faces a formidable task putting Britain's military forces on to a more sustainable footing.

He is overseeing a massive cost-cutting exercise which will see the size of the regular armed forces cut from 102,000 to 82,000, while trying to find another 15,000 reservists to fill the gap. Somehow he has to manage the MOD's vast procurement budget and try to ensure that billion-pound equipment overspends are a thing of the past.

Then there is the small matter of successfully managing our exit from Afghanistan and trying and ensure that, as one senior politician put it privately, we don't just leave behind a well-armed, well-trained civil war.

Much of his effort so far has been spent trying to formulate a new strategy for procurement and he recently announced that he had for the first time "balanced the budget" so that the armed forces could live within their means.

Time will tell whether the paper accountancy translates into real savings. But Hammond says he is confident that the financial discipline is now in place to make it work.

"Balancing the budget is not so much an exercise in making the numbers add up – which we've done. It is changing the culture to accept that we can't say, 'I think we need another three frigates and we'll worry about how to pay for them later'.

"Nobody would say that any more. There is a clear understanding that there are set resources and we manage that. The military are seeing there is a way of working within the budget."

In terms of cutting force numbers Hammond is unequivocal that this has to happen in order to ensure that Britain does not end up with what he has described as a "cardboard army".

"There is a moral and a practical dimension to it. You shouldn't send people out to do a job which you cannot afford to equip them to do.

"There are examples around the world where army numbers are bigger than the budgets they can justify. So you have got people in barracks playing cards because they can't organise exercises since they don't have the money or the kit. That is not a position we want to be in."

Hammond is unlikely to be moved in the expected autumn reshuffle – but as a politician he knows that his time to embed these changes will be limited.

And, as if to remind him, in the ministerial waiting room there are pictures of all predecessors going back to 1964 – 20 in all – including six in the last seven years.

So can he do it?

"I'm pretty confident that we are creating an irreversible momentum in this direction," he says.

"We are putting in the checks and balances which will make it very difficult for politician or generals to go back to the bad old days."

Fighting talk. But if he does succeed it will be a truly lasting legacy.

More here Exclusive: G4S proves we can't always rely on private sector, admits minister - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

However, this resilient structure will now take 2 years to recover from Op Olympics Army warns Olympic Games recovery will take two years | UK news | The Guardian

Army warns Olympic Games recovery will take two years
Military faces big task to get back to normal, says planning chief, after deploying 18,000 troops to London 2012 duties
Monday 13 August 2012 20.30 BST
The armed forces will take two years to recover from their involvement in the Olympic Games because so many personnel have been deployed at short notice and taken away from normal duties, the military's chief planner for the Games has said.

In an interview with the Guardian, Wing Commander Peter Daulby also warned that critics who wanted a smaller military put the country at risk of not being able to cope with these kind of civil emergencies, or a "national strategic shock".

Daulby, who was put in charge of the military's Olympic planning 18 months ago, said the need to send thousands of extra troops to the Games at the last minute after the G4S debacle showed "the country needs a military for more than war fighting".

Describing the Olympics as the largest peacetime operation ever performed by the armed forces, he said: "It just shows you the dangers of pulling the military down. I am sure that there are some people who think that if we are a smaller military power we will be less likely to get involved in international operations.

"If we shrink the military, do we really understand what we are losing? Look at the speed with which we pushed up the throttle. It proves the military offers the country a huge amount of resilience."

Daulby, 45, was one of several senior officers who spoke to the Guardian about the military's contribution to the Olympics, which increased more than threefold from May last year.

Then, only 5,000 personnel were expected to be deployed, but that increased to 18,000 when the Olympic organisers Locog admitted they had significantly underestimated the number of security guards needed at the venues – and G4S conceded it had over-estimated its ability to recruit and train the extra staff.

"We were originally planning to provide niche capabilities," said Daulby. "When the requirement for venue security was doubled, that was a bit of a game changer. We had to generate 18,000 people. That does not mean that there are 18,000 spare people. It means that the government has prioritised [the Olympics].

"It will take two years to recover from this, to get back to normal, to get everything back into kilter. You can't expect them to go back to normal routine very easily."

He said the UK's commitment to Afghanistan had not been affected by the Olympics, but the military had exceeded by 6,000 the maximum number of people he thought the Ministry of Defence could supply.

"Anything above 18,000 and you start to shut down elements of defence," he said.

"We put a bucket of men up and that was taken. We put another bucket of men up and that was taken. We have proved we can do it … most people think they have done something really special here. I think there is a great sense that the UK has nailed this."

The rush to train and get everyone ready meant "we were building the plane at the same time as flying the plane", he said.

"We did not think that it would be healthy for the Olympic Games to be too militarised. Our fears were not well founded. It has been an enhancing experience."

Brigadier Richard Smith said the scale and difficulty of the military's role in London 2012 was comparable to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"In terms of threat it is not comparable, but in terms of scale it is more than comparable. The complexity of the basing and the training to get them to task … it's been a massive operation in a short space of time.

"In Iraq and in Helmand, we could build up over time and establish ourselves. For this we had a short space of time and we had to get it right first time."

Smith said the armed forces had realised the need to reconnect with the British people after years of operations abroad, and admitted there was anxiety how the public would react to so many people in uniform at a sporting event.

With the UK withdrawing from Afghanistan, and British bases in Germany being closed, too, the public will need to get used to seeing more of the military, he said. "It is a really important point. We recognised we have an opportunity to set conditions for us when we are predominantly UK-based armed forces. We want to easily connect with the people from whom we are drawn. This has given us the opportunity to show us as professional and approachable human beings."

Smith said the military had tried to be flexible when presented with concerns, including those from some competitors. "In the equestrian community, they were worried that the helicopters from HMS Ocean would scare the competitors in the dressage at Greenwich Park. We adjusted the flight paths so they did not. We didn't want to blunder in as a blunt tool."

Asked if the military could mount a similar operation in five years' time – when defence cuts will have stripped 20,000 posts from the army – he said: "I am not going to answer that. Give us a challenge and we will rise to it."

Among the most difficult tasks in the days before the Games was finding enough portable toilets and showers to equip Tobacco Dock, east London, where 2,500 personnel were stationed for the Games. The military works on the basis of one toilet for 10 people, and one shower for every 20.

"It has been a mammoth task," said Major Austin Lillywhite. "We had to go to Ireland for the portable toilets. We couldn't find them anywhere else at such short notice."

The MoD hired 192 coaches to ferry troops to and from the Olympic venues, and spent £300,000 on equipment such as TVs for entertainment at the temporary bases.

It also signed a laundry contract so that military uniform for everyone on duty had been cleaned and ironed.

"We want the men and women to look a good standard. If they all turned their irons on at the same time in the morning, the power would go down."

None of these contracts are coming out of the military budget. The Treasury and G4S will be paying for the military's extra contributions.

G4S announced on Sunday that it was giving £2.5m to the armed forces as a goodwill gesture. The donation will go towards welfare amenities, including sports equipment, and to sports associations which have backed serving athletes, including rowing gold medallists Heather Stanning and Pete Reed.


Let's hope that those who are nailing their colours to the "Total Support Force" concept take note.

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