Privatise the armed forces

#1
Although a regular lurker, I had to register today after I saw Poison Dwarfs comments on another thread. The title is obvious enough and explains were I’m going with this.

PoisonDwarf said:
The thing is, we all know fine well how incredibly inefficient the MoD is
Remember IiP - the MoD employed a shedload of management consultants to come in and patronise us and put up posters. The unit I was in at the time was charged about £1000 a day for some girl who came in, compiled some studies and put posters up.
If we were able to cut the BS we could actually do a lot more, but we're continually hampered by bureaucracy and, quite frankly, some half-wits in key positions.

Buying a PC costs about £1500 for something you could get for £300-400. That's a criminal waste of taxpayers' money and that's money that could be spent fighting the war.
The problem you describe are not peculiar to the armed forces, the problems you describe are endemic to all state run organisations. The answer is not more managers or less managers, the answer is a completely different approach. You have to privatise the armed forces.

It not as crazy as it sounds. If the armed forces were privatised they would not run amok. They would be chartered with a framework of rules laid down by government in the same way that private military firms are already operating. Perhaps the spilt could be done at the division or brigade level.

After all if private enterprise can build an aircraft carrier can they really not run it? Private enterprise manages to operate oil rigs, airports and nuclear power plants and have done successfully for years. Although it is worth noting that all of those that used to be state run suffered the same problems as the armed forces face today, essentially too much waste inefficiency and bureaucracy.

Government could contract a firm or number of firms to provide security for our national borders. Firm X might cover the north sea area, Firm Y the irish sea area and so on. If a firm has lax standards or are failing to intercept Russian jets taking liberties with our air space, fire them, give the contract to one of the other firms that will. Of course we have seen time and time again that when private enterprise manages something they tend to get it right as they don’t want to lose the contract.

Overseas operations might pull in a multitude of firms. With operations or security for a region being doled out as appropriate based on that firms niche area of expertise. And if foreign firms can supply manpower for a non-sensitive support roles why not bring them in.

The secrecy issue is a non-issue. Most armed forces R&D is now done by private firms operating under a level of secrecy. Operational intelligence could be done by specialists and disseminated to the firms subscribing in that operation or area.

The average solider already feels more allegiance to his regiment rather than his government anyway. Only right now if his pay and conditions are shite he has no options. If the armed forces were privatised a soldier could switch to another defence firm offering better pay and conditions, better equipment etc.

Firms that took best care of their men would attract the best men and would prosper. Firms that treated their boys like mushrooms (left in the dark and fed shit) would only be able to retain the dross and would start losing contracts. They would either go out of business or shape up real fast.

Further, it would be a true meritocracy. If some bright C.O was getting frustrated operating within his firm he could at any time leave and setup a new firm handling whatever niche he had spotted.

In the current system do you really expect some bureaucrat you have never met to be fighting your corner, getting you the best? But if some able manager’s bonus rested on being able to secure a certain defence contract and in order to secure that contract he had to make sure that he retains an able and happy fighting force, you can bet keeping his fighting force able and happy would be at the very forefront of his mind.
 

BrunoNoMedals

LE
Kit Reviewer
#2
You been playing Metal Gear Solid?
 
#3
And private military firms such as Blackwater or Sandline have been such a success? Think it through. Please.
 
#4
Kingbingo said:
SNIP

If the armed forces were privatised they would not run amok. They would be chartered with a framework of rules laid down by government in the same way that private military firms are already operating.

SNIP

.
You mean like Blackwater / Xe?

Sorry, got work to do and will have a proper bash at this later.

Edit to add: Bo11ocks, Idrach beat me to it.
 
#6
I can picture it now - CASEVAC request for BUPA helicopter turned down because head office hadnt paid this months subscription. CLP's (Sponsered by Sainsbury's) cannot supply the 100000000 rounds of 5.56 you requested and instead have substituted the order with 100 7.62, 100 red smoke and 6lb of carrots
 
#7
It worked for a while in the U.S with Blackwater didn't it :wink:
 

Fronty

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer
#8
I'm sure they have been a success... For their shareholders and employees. Certainly they have made enough money from the employing countries.

But privatising a county's citizen army? I feel sure that this would be as much of a good idea as the privatising of the rail service was/is.
 

Grownup_Rafbrat

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
Kingbingo said:
In the current system do you really expect some bureaucrat you have never met to be fighting your corner, getting you the best? But if some able manager’s bonus rested on being able to secure a certain defence contract and in order to secure that contract he had to make sure that he retains an able and happy fighting force, you can bet keeping his fighting force able and happy would be at the very forefront of his mind.
Having worked for a number of years in 'outsource' companies, who do work for both the private and public sector, I have to disagree.

The target is to make money for the Company, the directors and the shareholders. They claim it's to provide quality staff, excellence in business, and all that Business School Cr@p, but they're all about budget and the bottom line. Training to do your job, increase your skills or widen your knowledge? No chance, unless it's the latest mandatory 'ethics' or 'data protection' hour. Planned workforce? Resources to do the work properly? No chance as that costs money.

As to a happy workforce, you only need to look at what's happening in the DWP who are on strike at the moment to see how rubbish that is. Coalface Jobs are being moved overseas, numbers of staff are being slashed and those left are working longer and longer hours to cover the holes, and people are just moved from outsource-company to outsource-company when one loses a contract.

Managers have responsibility but no power, because rules are made by executives in US Head Offices, and if you think for one moment that THEY give a stuff about security, happy workforces or anything other than meeting that month's numbers, you are sadly mistaken. I know of one instance where the US Department of Defence had to be brought in to enforce UK law re hosting of secure data within the UK!!!!
 
#10
The answer is not privatisation, but employing some bigwigs in the MoD who have a commerical background and thus can weed out the bullshit in contracts, and come down on contractors who aren't playing ball.

I've seen what happens when you get someone with experience of the commerical side come into a public enviroment, costs go down, efficiency goes. Completely different way of thinking.
 

Grownup_Rafbrat

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
Agree with that, Turk. These outsourcers don't have giant teams of corporate lawyers for fun, and I've often wondered who the heck can have signed off to some of the contractors I've seen Government Departments working under.
 
#12
drain_sniffer said:
I can picture it now - CASEVAC request for BUPA helicopter turned down because head office hadnt paid this months subscription. CLP's (Sponsered by Sainsbury's) cannot supply the 100000000 rounds of 5.56 you requested and instead have substituted the order with 100 7.62, 100 red smoke and 6lb of carrots
I find it interesting that people always assume that anything privately run would not operate when everyday life proves the exact opposite. All around us we see privately run businesses operating efficiently while state run businesses waste money and fail to deliver.

When you go into Sainsbury’s they have row and rows of stuff you want to buy. They hardly ever have empty shelves. If you do your shopping online with Sainsbury’s or Tesco’s how often do you order a bag of carrots and get a pack of Salmon turn up on your door instead?

Compare that with the armed forces today, do have efficiency, do you get all the supplies and equipment you need? Why gripe about the armed forces on a daily bases, yet the moment you suggest actually changing anything immediately pooh-pooh it as inconceivable. It goes to show the impact of a lifetime of conditioning to the status quo. Parting thought. Do you think that if Sainsbury’s or Tesco’s were state run they would be anywhere near half as efficient as they are today? Do you think they would be as cheap and well stocked?
 
#13
Despite the obvious piss taking, privatisation along the lines of a mercenary army is never going to work he does sort of have a point.

Something as simple as asking if the army will pay you MMA to go on a course and being told no but what they will will do is pay for a hire car + petrol. (Plus pay a civvie to book the car)
I remember back in the late 90s the jocks in Germany asking if they can exchange their rail warrant allowance for a flight (8 hour journeys to and from Stansted compared to flying straight into Glasgow) The boys wanted it because it saved them a lot of time but more importantly it could have saved the army money as the flights were cheaper then the rail tickets, but again were told no because that was the rules.
Spending vast amount of cash on fixing up blocks due to be demolished with in a few months because it is March and they need to spend the money so they get the same budget in April.
And so on.
Tens of millions (and probably 100s of millions) are spunked away ever year, A civvie company would sort it out or go bust, the military just diverts funds from places where its needed.
 
#14
You honestly think it is much better in the private world? I got an informal reprimand because I ordered printer cartridges from the internet (at a 50% saving) because I wasn't using the commercial office supply partner - whose CEO happens to be the wife of our CEO...hmmm...and ignore the Time and Motion people who turned up and told us that engineers workload was too random to assess...but still chanrged us £20,000 for the report.

S_R
 
#15
Turk said:
The answer is not privatisation, but employing some bigwigs in the MoD who have a commerical background and thus can weed out the bullshit in contracts, and come down on contractors who aren't playing ball.
I’m glad you mention that. Despite outsourcing largely being a successes both in terms of service and cost in the NHS there are always examples where the contractor is shit and the managers let it slide, particularly in cleaning more recently.

If you did privatise the armed forces to make it work you would need a parliament with switched on characters who can determine if a defence contractor is delivering and needs to be sacked or given more work. You might argue that our politicians are a bunch of fuckwits, then again you might argue that if some power was wrestled away from bureaucrats and given to MP’s when they actually had some real power and responsibility the electorate would take a little more care in selecting them.

Incidentally the NHS has at various times brought in ‘Bigwigs’ they invariably quit shortly after as they discover they cannot get anything done within the ingrained culture.
 
#16
I can see that a PMC could undertake certain limited, closed-ended operations. Would the various PMCs have to bid against each other to get the contract? All it takes to screw up is one company under-bidding the others and finding the savings out of essentials- such as sufficient ammo, perhaps.

I would suggest that a task such as supporting the various Task Forces off Somalia could be suited to a PMC, if they had very clear terms of engagement.

I would also point out that the Royal Fleet Auxiliaries are civilian-manned and that there may well be scope for such a role to expand.

If this doesn't make sense, please ignore- I'm running on 56 hours without sleep ATM
 
#17

this could be the PT kit/cap badge....

What did you have on your corn flakes this morniing kingbingo? Crack?
 
#18
and what if one company ends up with an 80% marketshare?
that would be one powerful CEO, able to invade and subject any country/government/polititian. switch sides to the highest bidder in the middle of a conflict. provoking/causing conflicts to get new contracts etc etc

scary thought, good basis for a science fiction novel/film though ;)
 
#19
Idrach said:
And private military firms such as Blackwater or Sandline have been such a success? Think it through. Please.
It's not as black and white as that.
I suppose it would depend on how you measure success when it comes down to Blackwater in Iraq. I'm sure their fcuk up's would pale into insignificance when compared with some acts carried out by the U.S/British government and armed forces.

It's far from being a new idea,
I think im right in thinking that, the East India Company was a private military and most old Army Regiments were raised privately by rich folk.

As long as the new private " British Army" pays aswell as the likes of Aegis then i'll be a happy man.
 
#20
Private enterprise doesnt always work as well as we would like to think and at the end of the day the losses incurred by commercial failure are generally financial. But in the military losses generally mean lost lives. Which is unacceptable. However the MOD COULD benefit from a bloody good shakeup and the injection of some commercial principles - one of them being accountability. The MOD procurement system was recently described as being sclerotic with officers and senior civil servants being unable or unwilling to take decisions, leading to delays in capital investment projectys being realised.

Oddly enough, working in the commercial field now, I see some parallels between what I used to do in the army and what I do now. Cordoning off a large part of a city and tying up emergency services, re routing traffic, evacuating thousands of people and so on, has an effect on the economy - it costs money. So the incident has to be dealt with safely and economically. Similarly keeping seismic crews rolling along gathering data means having to be really sharp on procedures and safety and keeping disruption of the project to a minimum. In both cases, safety is the number one principle. And in both cases cost effectiveness is number two. So accurate and decisive actions are needed. The UK MOD seems to have lost track of this basic principle.
 

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