Should we plan on "No Large War for 10 Years"?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Charlie_Cong, Apr 21, 2010.

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  1. Interesting article by Alan Mallinson in The Times today - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article7101360.ece

    Essentially it argues:

    a. Current Defence Spending is unaffordable

    b. That being so, that there's little point attempting to simultaneously fight COIN and keep the formations / equipment / readiness for other parts of the war-fighting spectrum

    c. Far better to spend what little money we have on the war we have, and laying the groundwork for regeneration in the medium / longer term.

    Obviously along the way, whichever party is next in government needs to avoid the temptation to pretend that - given our economic circumstances - we can keep our present world-class status. If Trident, a permanent place on the UNSC and the vestiges of the "Special Relationship" are lost as a consequence, then so be it.

    I expect many responses along the lines of "how scandalous that we can't afford something so essential" etc - but given that the UKAF won't have the money required, how best do we deal with it?

    The "No war for 10 years" policy set out by Churchill in similar circumstances in the 1920s in ways did not work, and may have set the grounds too easily later for appeasement, but it was a necessary and logical response which enabled us to fight high intensity - but med to low scale - campaigns abroad while building the infrastructure ( if only for the RAF ) for the first phase of the world war that came.

    Barring significant new funding from somewhere ( which is nigh in impossible and, to my mind, unnecessary given the wider problems of UK Plc ) the next government will have to adopt some similar policy, however disguised. Far better that than to bodge along, hollowing out our Armed Forces.

    Given that we must somehow keep the residual knowlege of war fighting, and keep a reserve, no matter on how small a scale... where does this leave the TA? For the first time ever, I have the stirrings of support for the crusty old buggers in the TA forum...

    Charlie
     
  2. Food for thought C_C the solution will inevitably lead to the stagnation and neglect the army experienced in the 1930s. One hopes the UK's potential 'conventional' enemies will have the decency to hold off during the retrenchment.
     
  3. Hopefully this maybe seen as an expression of context (1st shot) for the Defence Review. Either increase spending as a % of GDP to maintain current aspirations, or maintain current levels of financial support and reduce our level of ambition. As he states, we need to get into politicians heads that we are already pared to the bone and that any further "efficiency savings" will not throw up the resources required to keep going as we are. Effectively he is saying that we institutionalise "Entirety". This does not sit comfortable with me as I believe that we will lose what makes us good in becoming effectively a commercial organisation geared up to fighting the current battle, and never looking further that that. Thus we will lose in the moral and conceptual domains and be a poorer entity for it.
     
  4. When it's only 2.5% of our GDP, I can't see how
     
  5. udipur

    udipur LE Book Reviewer

    I refer you to the learned Rupert Smith's book on how warfare has changed irrevocably.

    We no longer have 'industrial war' where two antagonistic fronts meet, behind each are ever lengthening lines of supply to interdict. It's now 'war of the people', summarised so well by Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam when he referred to pyjamas as useful for fighting in during the day and ready for formal wear with some pearls in the evening.

    How many large scale wars have we fought since Korea? Looking at the most effective impact of offensive strikes over the past thirty years, I would have to say that they have been staggeringly low key in their sophistry, yet we insist on spending millions if not billions on increasingly complex equipment.

    The threat is amongst the communities in which we patrol daily. We won't know if the smiling cornershop owner is friendly or whether he wants to blow us to smithereens and may jolly well attempt it.

    The war of the next ten years is a cultural one and the threat is far more insipid than someone trying to lob nukes at us.

    Don't think for a moment that the Chinese are resting, either. They are happy to bombard our IT systems on a regular basis and why not take out our single largest resource upon which we depend without firing a round? Sounds like a fun strategy to me.

    Oh, and do we really need parachutists?

    (I am now standing back, with anti-blast shades on so bite, you bastards...)
     
  6. Exactly - we spend more on quangos and the diversity advisors
     
  7. I see the elder Moltke is being taken out of context - always a useful tool when trying to make a point, particularly if you are an intellectual chimp. Moltke the Elder would have been apoplectic at the idea. What detailed planning would the Staff undertake except - "Oh it's OK - we aren't going to have a war but if we do we will panic a lot."

    And the comparison with Churchill is also at load of nonsense because the RN would have been able to deter any attack upon the UK or on the high seas despite (or because of) the Washington Treaty. Get rid of quangos - that will pay for the lot.
     
  8. I would say it's not the defence budget that's unaffordable, it's the budget full stop.

    Every time one of these debates is started it raises the point that there is fat to be trimmed when quite frankly the Armed Forces as awhole would make Karen Carpenter look positively chubby.

    There clearly aren't billions to be saved in the MoD but across Government as a whole I reckon you could easily find that. But that wouldn't be a vote grabber.

    As for 'no large war for 10 years' I don't think any wars been seen that far in advance since the first bout of unpleasantness with the Hun.
     
  9. Whilst "among the people" is very now and indeed relevant we cannot afford to stand stillin our thinking. As already alluded to we are being left behind by China http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GhostNet in many ways. This is where the future war is already taking place.
    Population centric has been happening for a while and, while relevant, we are still thinking in conventional, even outmoded, terms. There may be an inter state war in the near future but we might not fight it (exclusively) kinetically. When we narrow our thinking and field of vision we get left behind. This will be the consequence of such an approach.
    Ultimately, if we are forced to do it for financial reasons then so be it, but it must be absolutely clear that this is government policy and not military short sightedness.
     
  10. The Military budget is only unaffordable because Broon has chosen to prioritise other areas of spending.
    There is more than enough money to have double the Armed forces we currently have if we just stop spending more on "welfare" for non-contributory members of society than we raise in income tax.

    Slice the NHS to essential care only but do it better. Stop giving money we havn't got to other nations as a bribe to, for example, be greener.

    Basically stop wasting money elsewhere and properly fund what should be the Nation's number one priority - the defence of the Realm. (Oh and we could save a fortune by not getting involved in other peoples business. Think how well equipped the Army could have been by now if we had had all that UOR money but not actually been in Iraq/Afgn and spent it on core capability instead)
     
  11. Stand by for even more ARGIE aggro in the S atlantic if this goes ahead and any other tinpot wanker who wants to have a pop at Britain! FFS wont the fucking politicians ever learn! To paraphrase a wise man, "If you want to live in peace, talk softly but carry a BIG STICK!"
    If they want to save money just stop pouring BILLIONS into the EU and the bottomless pit that is third world aid and stop wasting money on all the government sponsored "human rights" & "multicultural" industries that our current idiots seem to love so much!! :x :x
     
  12. Interesting point, but I doubt that the next large scale war we will face will entail a direct threat of invasion to the British mainland... Why should any future adversary bother when they could significantly undermine our ability to fight by cutting off our access to natural resources ( far less securable by naval power than in WW2 ) and use of network warfare and stirring up proxy wars among the people?

    As for deterrence, we now have - or are currently planning on - NATO, our own nuclear deterrent and presumably the US one too. Although the first two factors seem to be becoming less reliable shields as time goes by...

    As for killing the Quangos, demanding greater efficiency from the NHS & limiting its scope, and dramatically cutting back on the welfare state etc... - all of these are possible and necessary but are unlikely to be slashed to the degree to which the Armed Forces can continue to be structured to face all threats to some degree. The politicians who have the vision for such a radical restructuring of the state won't have a popular mandate for that, no matter how many votes they get. And I don't see the next government - from whichever party - having a significant majority which might enable them to push through such ruthless reform.

    Expanding the % of GDP we spend on defence, in the middle of a massive recession? With no imminent conflict to concentrate the mind? With the political class, and much of the electorate, tired of well-publicised defence procurement projects wasting billions?

    Leaving the EU?

    Do you realistically imagine either of the above coming about? Or, more likely, a gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan with no more expensive UORs to drain the Treasury or casualties to diminish the public's support and sympathy? I know which I see.

    So... the answer to the problem of avoiding killing Karen Carpenter is what? 10 years of retrenchment, or a bolder move towards greater cooperation with allies?

    Do we need an independent nuclear deterrent? Or would a formalised arrangement with the US to come under their umbrella do?

    Do we need independent arms ready to face all threats, each structured to be able to expand to a grand scale? Or a combined force structured like the USMC?

    Charlie
     
  13.  
  14. No need to go apoplectic, RM!

    Can you see the support and funding for a larger Navy? Can you tell me which parties advocate one? And, as I mentioned, our access to resources is far less governed by sea power than in the past.

    If the Quangos were heavily cut, would that produce enough money for the scale and expense of type of Armed Forces we need to be ready to counter all threats, with no concentration on one? And would the money go to the MoD? Do you see a party advocating that? Or cutting back quangos, reforming social security, a host of other savings AND cutting the MoD?

    Whats wrong with UORs? Could we have forseen the need for the tank in 1910? Or the need for 17pdrs to be standard in 1938? Or the need for up-armouring in 1997? So long as the MoD adaptable i.e. able to quickly identify what we need, able to source funding relatively easily, and bring them into service quickly whats the problem?

    If you read Mallinson's article he doesn't argue for a tin pot army, but for the investment in infrastructure which might enable us to regenerate, rearm and intellectually adapt quickly in the future - as the Reichswehr did in the 20s, and the RAF in the 30s. You could say that in some respects Germany re-armed too soon, leaving them with a huge stash of relatively flimsy tanks & aircraft which - once in became apparent that the war couldn't be won by the initial push - were beaten by the wave of Russian & US kit which arrived just in time.

    There is a need for a debate within defence - if the SDR hasn't actually been laid out behind closed doors already - with some devils advocate, because sticking to orthodoxy simply isn't going to produce a solution.

    Defence is posing & facing a massive problem now, and unless it offers a good - albeit imperfect - solution one will be imposed. And with the Treasury at the reins it's far more likely to be one which covers most bases but leaves us ineffective at any than the military experience and boldness which made the above two examples a success in the long term.

    We can bang the table and write disgusted letters to the Daily Telegraph for all we like for what good it will do. i.e. none. An appeal to the British political class & public to ringfence ( or even expand, orthodoxy of many ARRSErs ) defence will fall on very stony ground. What do you think when you hear / read that the Arts sector wants to remain untouched to preserve "Britain's Cultural Vibrancy", that "we can't cut back on overseas aid when so many are dying abroad from preventable diseases" or that poverty in Britain demands more money & tax, not less?

    Like it or not, to the average voter and politico, defence is simply another part of the public sector competing for cash.

    Posing a realistic, fundable alternative will bring more results than obstructionism. However, planning in times like these requires some pretty bold choices - the kind we regularly demand from politicians.

    But are we - in defence - any better?

    Charlie
     
  15. Alan Mallinson in The Times today - www.timesonline.co.uk/...101360.ece


    Just read through it. It's lightweight and facile. It also glosses over some tricky points hoping no one will spot them.

    1) Does anyone really believe that any Government would increase Defence spending after the imposition of a "Ten Year Rule" that the author thinks will never end ?

    2) The author seems to think some units are stood around doing nothing. can anyone name any unit that hasn't sent someone on tour in the last 3 years ?

    3) Other than the MoD own inablity to plan procurement properly and HM Government's inablity to stop pissing around with the defence budget, can anyone think of any way procuremnet could be speeded up ? Procurement is in a shite state because MoD is largely incapable of planning and running projects properly and someone keeps stealing all the money, forcing delays that cost more.

    By the way, planning is a complete waste of time without equipment, or men trained in the use of that equipment.