Realistic Options for Defence Cuts

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by meridian, Sep 20, 2009.

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  1. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    We all know they are coming and no moaning about dole scroungers, immigrants, civil servants, NHS waste or quangos

    There is no doubt billions can be saved by cutting out lots of things but make no mistake, defence will have to share the pain of other departments.

    We always tend to focus on equipment but the biggest chunk of the MoD's budget is people.

    What are the realistic options available to cut the MoD's budget

    Nothing off limits, structural change, binning the RN or RAF Trident, Typhoon, cutting pensions, FRES, housing, cutting certain ranks, shrinking the army or anything else in between.

    Personally I think CVF and the F35 are prime candidates and there has to be a very serious look at aquisition performance/DIS, whats your thoughts?
  2. Not starting wars that cost a lot of money in far away lands would be a good start.
  3. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    That raises a good point, would finance be a driver for early withdrawl from Afghanistan
  4. Interesting question - what is your starting point though - balancing budgets or a proper defence review?

    If the former, then my bet goes for extending OSDs and running on extant capabilities to the deteriment of bringing new kit into service, while at the same time not actually cutting any existing programmes.
    If the latter, then I would suggest looking hard at a range of serious options such as privatising abbey wood, seeing what non essential elements of defence can be contracted out, and so on.

    Until we get genuine long term guidance that will be funded correctly, we will continue to have a situation where the doctrine and policy looks good and drives procurement, but the affordability of it means that we will continue to make in year cuts in a vain effort to sustain pocket superpower status.
  5. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Jim, the starting point is the obvious need for serious public sector cost reduction, forget strategic reviews, the strategy will follow the budget.

    There is very little political capital in incresing taxation, cuts it is

    However unfair and however one might look at other departments to shoulder the burden the basic fact is that the MoD is not immune from the knife and is seen by many as being profligate and wasteful. When you look at MRA4, Typhoon, Astute, FRES etc etc that is a difficult position to defend against, whatever the simiar waste in other departments.

    The options for a slice here and a slice there are long gone as are the options for keeping kit going for longer or outsourcing to a PFI. All these have been done, defence as a percentage of GDP is at an all time low and there seems very little political will to change that.

    So ANY option should be on the table, what would you offer up
  6. Operations are funded from the Treasury Reserve mate, not directly from the Defence Vote (as I understand it anyway!) so not sure that this would make much of a difference to the Defence Budget per se.

    What would (and as a pension prisoner myself I hate to say this) is the cost of military pensions. As one of my mates puts it, "Where else can you walk out of the door at age 40 with a guaranteed income for the rest of your life?"

    Now we can debate the pros and cons of the moral argument for paying said pensions (lifetime of service to The Crown etc) but I doubt that would cut it with the bean-counters.


  7. My counter argument to the bean counters would be…

    'What civvy job can you spend 22 years being expected to get killed 24/7/365 in return for a pension?'
  8. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Oil Slick, you are missing the point mate

    There is no counter argument no matter how compelling, big cuts are the order of the day and it seems to be pensions, leaving age etc should be in the mix

    Besides that, the nature of the job is not an argument for pensions but better wages when serving

  9. So you are saying that you have spent every hour of every day on ops since you joined.
  10. tbh, I think a great deal of the expense of these programs is the lack of direction and delays. If programs could be guaranteed to provide a steady income to the contractor, over a period of decades the cost would reduce dramatically. for example, leaning how to design and built subs every 10-15 years casuses massive waste. If companies knew that there was going to be one sub every (say) 4 years, they can plan accordingly, and maintain currency on the type.

    As to the level of the defence budget, I suggest we must start with our desired place in the world. From that everything else flows, size of navy army, nuclear deterrant etc.

    1. decide on our place in the world.
    2. develop initial SDR to achieve this and set up an ongiong review process.
    3. maintain a (minimum) 20 year plan, so suppliers can develop accordingly.
    4. Pay whatever bill is required to achieve the above.

    if the government is willing to find £200bn to rescue the banks, what is the limit of the budget when the goal is to avoid the collapse of civilisation!

    Pay the price for peace, or ......

    we must certainly end the situation where every program is run with the sword of damoclese hanging over it, leading the supplier to charge more, and work with very short term goals.
  11. Na, the people he works with just really don't like him :wink:
  12. I think we will have to remove capabilities. I don't think we can afford to run on eqpt to an extended OSD; in order to save money, that capability must be removed.

    Of course, the important question is which capability can be removed? And we need a comprehensive defence review first. Do we have the time for that, or will Mr Cameron cut first and ask questions later?

  13. The new CGS signposted the way on Thursday night at Chatham House.

    Worth a read before answering the question.

    I feel that we need a regular (say every 5 year) Defence Review, like the US carry out -and it must be funded.
  14. Expect more PFI's and more areas of the MoD moving to 'trading fund' status. Also expect areas to be hived off to the private sector so that the staff are off the books.

    The only problem with all of the above is that it doesn't actually save any money, on paper it does, but on paper they inflate the MoD costs and deflate the private costs.

    Hopefully they actually carry out an assessment that is both real and useful, instead of the usual rubbish reports that are started with an aim to reduce or rubbish certain areas and pretty much lie to make the report give that result at the end.

    The one good area to be in over the next couple of years is in a consultancy agency i fear, because they will be earning a fortune coming up with reports telling government departments how they can save money and pass business to their friends in industry.
  15. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    The US QDR is about the most political thing in the world

    Moving wooden dollars around has been done and the sope for more is much less