Sunday Times SDSR Latest - army levels safe, huge cuts to RN, RAF and CS to follow.

Discussion in 'Strategic Defence & Spending Review (SDSR)' started by jim30, Sep 19, 2010.

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  1. Taken from the Sunday Times (or rather a website with the article as I refuse to use that stupid paywall)- normally I'm fairly cynical of most reporting - particularly the Times which is legendarily innacurate or susceptible to printing 'agenda driven leaks', but given that we're now seeing decisions being taken, its possible there may be a grain of truth in this one.

    “The incoming head of the armed forces, General Sir David Richards, has persuaded David Cameron to spare 20,000 soldiers from the Treasury axe after convincing him they are vital for the Afghan war.

    He told the prime minister that the army needs to maintain its strength of about 100,000 troops for it to support nearly 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan for the next five years.

    The Royal Navy and the RAF will bear the brunt of the cuts imposed under the Strategic Defence Review.

    It is a victory for Richards, who has outmanoeuvred Ministry of Defence officials. Cameron has accepted that it would be politically damaging to slash the army at a time when it is fighting alongside America and other Nato allies and when casualties are at their highest level since the start of the war in 2001.

    The forthcoming cuts will be the deepest for nearly 20 years, when the armed forces were slashed by a third.

    Other service chiefs are furious. Nearly half of Britain’s fighter jets and more than a third of the navy’s frigates and destroyers will go. Plans for two new aircraft carriers will still go ahead at a cost of £5 billion. But there will be a sharp reduction in the number of jets operating from them.

    Richards has spent the summer making the case for protecting the army from cuts, insisting that it needs to retain its seven combat brigades to provide enough units for six-month tours of duty. In an unusual move, Richards was appointed directly by the prime minister after he interviewed candidates.

    A senior army officer said: “This deal is a realisation that we can only succeed in Afghanistan if we back the army to the hilt and concentrate resources where they are needed.”

    Senior government sources say the first key decision on the future of Britain’s armed forces was made early last week, and that cuts to Britain’s £38 billion military budget will now be limited to just over 10%.

    Despite Richards’s success in protecting troop numbers, he has had to agree to “brutal” cuts of £5 billion a year to the parts of the military not directly involved in Afghanistan.

    Defence sources say the RAF and the Royal Navy will each have to save £1.5 billion a year, and to cut 10,000 jobs. There will be further savings of £2 billion a year from cancelling procurement projects, closing military bases and making 10,000 civil servants redundant.

    General Sir Richard Dannatt, the former head of the army, told The Sunday Times that the proposed deal would allow Britain’s armed forces “to maintain their national stance” and he described it as “not a complete show-stopper”.

    However, the deal could still be blown apart depending on the outcome of heated arguments about the replacement for Trident.

    Dannatt described the Trident issue as a “political game changer” and said it would not be manageable for the MoD to have to find the money for Trident from within its budget. “If you delay Trident and look at alternatives it would be adequate,” he said.

    Sources say Richards would accept a trade-off whereby conventional forces are spared deeper cuts if there is a delay until after 2015 in ramping up spending on Trident. Under existing plans it would cost £5 billion to fund the first phase of the replacement for Trident over the next five years. Pleas by Liam Fox, the defence secretary, for the Treasury to pay for the new nuclear deterrent separately from the MoD budget are likely to fall on deaf ears.

    Fierce arguments are expected within the national security council over where the axe will fall in the RAF and Royal Navy.

    However, The Sunday Times has established that plans to buy 22 new Chinook heavy-lift helicopters — pledged by Gordon Brown to help troops avoid Taliban roadside bombs — are to be scaled back to only 12. Most of them would not have been ready for six years, after Cameron’s deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    Upgrades to keep 35 Puma helicopters in service for another decade are to be scrapped and their base at RAF Benson closed.

    The RAF is expected to confirm that it will retire at least half of its 160 old Tornado and Harrier fighter jets early, leaving the future of RAF Marham, Wittering and Lossiemouth in doubt.

    The Royal Navy will go ahead with plans to close its Devonport dockyard and nine older frigates and destroyers are to be retired.

    Although the navy’s two new aircraft carriers now seem safe, the air group to operate on them will be significantly reduced to fewer than 40 aircraft. A £700m replacement for the amphibious carrier HMS Ocean will now not be built and one of the new carriers will have to act as a floating base for the Royal Marines.

    A £300m upgrade of the Royal Navy’s 35 Sea King amphibious assault helicopters is to be scrapped, and they will all be retired within five years.

    Richards, formerly head of the army, left behind detailed plans for efficiency savings across the army when he handed over to his successor, General Sir Peter Wall last week.

    Army savings will be measured in “low hundreds” of millions and much of this will be ploughed back into the Afghan war chest.

    The vast majority of the 20,000 British troops currently based in Germany will be found new homes in redundant RAF bases in Britain by the middle of the decade.”
     
  2. So where's that going to put the future of our balanced defences in five or six years when the requirement for troops in Afghanistan dwindles to next to nothing?

    That said, something like this was on the cards right from the start and only reinforced by the appointment of General Sir David Richards as the next CDS:

     
  3. Theoretically, by then the economy will have picked up so cutting the army isn't on the cards anymore.
     
  4. Oh well, lets just hope the Armed Forces don't have to fight a major air war or that the Royal Navy don't need to put a major number of vessels to sea for one reason or another.
    But at least the banks got their money.

    Sad really from the biggest navy in the world 70 years ago, to **** all now.
     
  5. I call bullshit.
    No more credible than the bollox all the other newspapers have been spouting over the recent months.
    It is nothing more than conjecture.

    Cut a third of the Royal Navy destroyer/ frigate fleet, yeh right.
     
  6. Jag - I'd say a worse case cut of 9 escorts is entirely feasible. If I were looking at the options I'd be running 3 at the moment - firstly delete Type 42 now, which removes 5 hulls from service which are utterly knackered. There would be risk taken on area air defence for 3 years until the 45s are worked up, but its a possible money saver.
    Secondly I'd look at a 'delete T22 Batch 3' which are 4 hulls using a unique set of missiles and which all are over 20 years old and needing expensive refits soon to keep running on.
    Finally I'd look at a 'delete non Type 2087 sonar equippped T23 Frigates' which would remove 5 Type 23s from service.

    The delete 42s option is the least painful, and could be termed a realism measure. Losing the 22s or 23s will hurt badly. Either way those 3options, all credible, present the chance to cut 14 hulls in total, leaving a future fleet of 6 T45s and 8 - 13 T23's.
     
  7. T42 and T22; been expected for a long time in the Fleet; redundancies in the order of 3,500. Nothing new....
     
  8. Fully acknowledge your points on the age and efficiency of various ships, however we all know that the 1998 SDR put the minimum requirement at 30 frigates/ destroyers. There is no reasonable argument that the requirement can now be reduced to 20 or less. Nobody is going to believe that, no matter how Army centric their view point.
    Given that Sea Harrier is long consigned to dust gathering binning Type 42's now leaves the RN criminally weak. Yes they might be old and tired but the T45's aren't ready and their number has already been reduced well below what was deemed necessary.

    What this article is suggesting is a surface combatant fleet roughly consisting of 2x Queen Elizabeths (one reduced to LPH capability) a dozen T23's, 6x (of which only 2 are yet floating) T45's and thats about it.
    It doesn't work. It simply does not give the RN enough ships to perform the duties required of it right now, never mind a capability to actually fight anybody.

    No matter what the SDSR comes up with, everyone knows that cutting the RN further than it already has been cannot be justified.
    Labour gutted the Royal Navy. There is nothing more to be cut and the RN is already pared to the bone. If the urrent government decide to cut it further it will be a disaster.
    A few weeks ago we saw the idea tried of sharing naval capability with the French and it was virtually laughed at, the government know their isn't much of the Navy left to cut.

    Lets be entirely honest and if we are non partisan, the RAF hasn't faired a great deal better
     
  9. I said "balanced defences", not just a land-centric Home Defence Force. I don't want to see the Army cut either but there will be a lot of expensive personnel floating around UK barracks.

    An obvious flaw in the ST article is the statement that the Army is having to provide "nearly 10,000 soldiers" in Afghanistan. A thousand of the 9,500 forces in theatre are RN and another thousand are RAF. This doesn't include the Naval Service RMs of 40 Cdo (currently deployed) or the RMs of 3 Cdo Bde who form the bulk of forces every fourth Herrick deployment.

    For a flavour of the 1,000-strong contribution of the RN to Afghanistan while still operating a worldwide fleet of ships, submarines and aircraft (link), read the Rum Ration thread at RN on active service in Afghanistan. It's one of the few places you'll see any mention of it. :)
     
  10. msr

    msr LE

    Which leads to the inevitable press quote that we have 180,000 personnel in our armed forces and can only deploy 10,000.

    msr
     
  11. Well I hope Richards can hold Dave to that.

    There's a couple of dodgy assumptions behind this:
    1. Exit from the Pashtun war by 2015, we may want out bad but wantin ain't the same as gettin
    2. The prospect after that of veterans returning to a place on the dole queues create space for Trident renewal, a Tory PR nightmare
    3. The economy does not tank again, not good, really not good
     
  12. Jag

    I'm a naval man, and have been all my working life, and you are preaching to the converted - I think it is absolutely scandalous to even consider a 30% cut to the RN, and destroy our global standing while refusing to look at the elephant in the room - namely the fact that the Army continues to insist that it cannot keep more than 7500 troops deployed on HERRICK if it drops to below 100K.

    I think the suggested cuts to the escort fleet would be an utter disaster which if taken would destroy British seapower for no real gain. I don't want to see them raised, let alone taken and I genuinely fear for the security of our nation if these go ahead.

    As for Dunservins point - I am one of that 1000 strong contingent at present, and am amazed at how many matelots and RAF personnel are out here. I would have a hell of a lot more sympathy for the Army if it was solely carrying the deployment can. Instead the RAF and RN will get 30% manpower cuts and still be expected to pick up the wide range of jobs we do now, while the Army looks like taking almost no cuts and maintaining its current commitment. Surely the logical answer is that if the RN and RAF take the fall for the Army, the Army has to 100% (outside of direct aviation jobs) man HERRICK?
     
  13. Jim, it will. HERRICK optours, post the current 3 Cdo Bde rotation have been slashed - especially at the PWO level. We won't be supporting the Log Bde effort either.

    Interestingly, 16AA Bde Hq is also out of the HERRICK rotation, so more pressure on the rest of the Army to keep it all up!
     
  14. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    If we end up with only one proper carrier in service, let's hope nobody picks on us when it is in refit. And let us hope the people who planned all this understand how long it takes to get to Persian Gulf, Falklands, West Indies (where, in case people think that is some sort of jolly, we have defence responsibility for our dependent territories), and contributions to NATO, let alone keeping up skills through major exercises and passing those skills on to allies even more thousands of miles away.
     
  15. Yeh sorry :oops:

    In truth, I might not be a Cameron fan, but I don't believe that Cameron or Fox are stupid enough to decimate the RN for short term gain.