Tories should spend serious money on defence

#1
With the news that Labour has suffered a huge fall in its poll rating, maybe we should be seriously considering Tory policy...

Telegraph

Tories should spend serious money on defence
By Allan Mallinson
Brigadier Mallinson, a military historian and novelist, was a soldier for 35 years
17/04/2007

The "cash for sailors" affair is a case of chickens coming home to roost. The Defence Secretary, Des Browne, has been badly let down by the MoD, but the MoD has for a decade and more been progressively starved of proper resources, politicised to an unprecedented degree, and the ethos of its Servicemen denigrated.

The 25th anniversary of the Falklands is an instructive moment to reflect on this mess. In the dying days of the Callaghan government, the Armed Forces were in dire straits: equipment was woefully outdated and pay so bad that many Servicemen were on income support. Soldiers were being killed daily in Northern Ireland, all three services were hard-pressed to meet commitments at the height of the Cold War, while at home, in the "winter of discontent", they were driving ambulances and fire engines, emptying dustbins and burying the dead.

Yet within a year of Margaret Thatcher's election, the Chief of the Defence Staff was able to speak of "this government's tremendous gut feeling for defence".

Without that gut feeling, that priceless boost to morale, the task force would not even have sailed, let alone been able to retake the Falklands. It wasn't just the pay rise or new equipment (Navy cuts had actually led to a ministerial resignation in 1981), it was the confidence that ministers understood the services, a world where things had to be done differently because ultimately it was about success on the battlefield: life and death.

The shadow defence secretary, Liam Fox, writing here last Friday ("Labour is our forces' worst enemy"), wrote that Labour does not understand what our Armed Forces' reputation is based on, "values of dignity and duty, and loyalty to the elected government of the day". He concluded that "our country needs a government that does [understand]".

The "cash for sailors" fiasco bears him out, but would a Tory government truly understand? I mean find the money. It was, after all, Tom King's defence review, "Options for Change", after the collapse of the Soviet Union, that so drastically cut service manpower, while not getting to grips with expensive Cold War equipment programmes, setting the course for a decade's waste and overstretch. Lord King has now been given the job of rethinking Tory defence policy.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/04/17/do1701.xml
 
#2
Bring on Defence Cost Study 16, 17, 18! It's just what the Army needs........They could call it the Strategic Capitulation Review.........

Once David Cameron (whom I do support incidently) gets his budget managers involved, the Army will be reduced to a single battalion of Royal Army Bicycle Corps, comprising 500 politically correct morons all quoting EU legislation at each other. The bicycles will obviously have to be owned under a Private Finance Initiative and maintained under some form of over-price contracted support...........forget futures.........invest in bicycle repairs kits...........you heard it here first..........

Unfortuneatly the PC brigade wields much political sway in this sorry land we now live that the Armed Forces are fcuked.............bring back Maggie...........

Cameron is our last chance.......
 
#3
we probably already spend enough on defence what does'nt happen is we don't get value for money :evil:
 
#4
Brighton Hippy - you have no idea what you are talking about! 'Probably spending enough on defence!' Do you ever read the papers?

Put simply, UK defence spending is at an historic low - Greece spends more of their GDP on defence than UK! And they don't deploy their military outside of their end of the med FFS! The budget is so small as to be inadequate to pay the bills at the end of the year - HQ's were given extra Xmas leave to reduce the electric bill! (I jest not).

Recent headlines highlighted proposals to axe all parachute training to save £1bn a year for 4 years. (Neutral analysts pointed out that it would probably cost almost as much to re-establish the training, negating most of the savings!) Whether this proposal evolved to policy I do not know.

Simulataneously, it might just have caught your attention that the British military is pretty engaged on operations, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan. All this when there is barely enough (in time, money or resources) for soldiers to receive the annual training stipulated by the military!

It is absolutely barking mad that the very same government to have made greater use of the military than any government other than WW1 & 2, has, since its election been slashing the budget of that same military. (Incidentally, even after that defence budget increase so trumpeted by Gordon Brown a couple of years ago, the defence budget was still smaller than when Nu Arbeit came to power, so don't go there!)

If the Tories are indeed serious that the govt have failed the country, (and I don't believe there is too much debate on that point anymore), they should, as a priority, conduct their own defence review and produce a defence policy worthy of the name - the sooner the better.

That policy should include, at the very least, restoring the Infantry Battalions to their former size, of not actually increasing it, increasing the training budgets across the board, improving accommodation standards of both single and married personnel and ensuring that equipment currently on operations is maintained and, if required, replaced out of an operational budget, not the peace time budget, as I believe is the case now. They should also reduce some of the H&S barricades that are currently impeding, or even preventing, training and introduce a compensation package with suitable remuneration to ensure soldiers are not disadvantaged because of it.

I could go on, but I will not - as, sadly, I am not convinced that David Cameron is anymore interested in defence or the military than Tony B Liar, Gordon Broon, or any other Nu Arbeit MPs or reps. It will probably be more of the same, until UK gets politicians who not only have convictions, but are also connected to reality and not crippled by politically correct ideology. (Tip - don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen!)
 
#5
El Gringo said

"Recent headlines highlighted proposals to axe all parachute training to save £1bn a year for 4 years. (Neutral analysts pointed out that it would probably cost almost as much to re-establish the training, negating most of the savings!) Whether this proposal evolved to policy I do not know."

Gringo

The axing of all jumps was not a proposal but a supposedly confirmed act - it was going to happen on 12 Jan.

Except it didn't. Who saw the leaked document, or had an anonymous source, or told the fib - The Times.

Another confirmed act that never happened was the death of the Red Arrows - something else we've heard nothing about since
 
#6
Sven said:
The axing of all jumps was not a proposal but a supposedly confirmed act - it was going to happen on 12 Jan.

Except it didn't. Who saw the leaked document, or had an anonymous source, or told the fib - The Times.

Another confirmed act that never happened was the death of the Red Arrows - something else we've heard nothing about since
Or the decision/policy was reversed due to negative publicity in the press.

Don't know the correct answer any more than you Sven, just adding another possibility to your list. :D
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#7
Oh, right, OK Sven.

So the Times, the torygraph, the scum, the daily fascist and the grauniad are all a bunch of liers who are just saying stuff to make it sound like the forces are underfunded. Well you're probably right.

What about all the military personnel from all three services, from the very top brass down to the fighting squaddies who are ALL saying the same thing, not to mention a large number of politicians, ex-forces and EVERYONE on ARRSE apart from you and some other hippies?

Spurious stories aside, it is commonly known to everyone bu the most blinkered, stupid or Bliar/Brown/Browne that the forces are MASSIVELY underfunded even for peacetime operations, let alone to battle fronts. You have seen the state of the armed forces accomodation haven't you? You've heard the tales of Selly Oak? There are LOADs of stories, and most of them are spot on.
 
#8
Biped said:
Oh, right, OK Sven.

So the Times, the torygraph, the scum, the daily fascist and the grauniad are all a bunch of liers who are just saying stuff to make it sound like the forces are underfunded. Well you're probably right.

What about all the military personnel from all three services, from the very top brass down to the fighting squaddies who are ALL saying the same thing, not to mention a large number of politicians, ex-forces and EVERYONE on ARRSE apart from you and some other hippies?

Spurious stories aside, it is commonly known to everyone bu the most blinkered, stupid or Bliar/Brown/Browne that the forces are MASSIVELY underfunded even for peacetime operations, let alone to battle fronts. You have seen the state of the armed forces accomodation haven't you? You've heard the tales of Selly Oak? There are LOADs of stories, and most of them are spot on.
Have I argued against this point? In fact I believe that I posted the fact that we were at our lowest point in spending as a proportion of GDP since the 30's.

Some papers and News channels are intent on doing the government down and so include those spurious stories in their arsenal. It was wrong of El Gringo to include the lies in His post and I simply pointed it out.
 
#10
Sven said:
Some papers and News channels are intent on doing the government down and so include those spurious stories in their arsenal. It was wrong of El Gringo to include the lies in His post and I simply pointed it out.
El Gringo wrote that it was a proposal - which seems perfectly acceptable to me and far from a lie. It was YOU who chose to redefine it into something else.

Secondly, can you PROVE that The Times lied, or is it just your opinion?
 
#11
They should.

But they won't.

No public popularity in defence spending, in this pervasive climate of "Tommy go away!".

It is a shame and a towering disgrace.
 
#12
When I posted this thread, it carried the full 'Telegraph article. Somehow it has become an edited version. Sadly, this has resulted in the highlighted part being omitted...
Here it is again:

And the Army? The Army desperately needs more men. Its actual fighting strength has almost halved in the past 15 years, while manpower-intensive commitments have increased annually. John Reid, Des Browne's predecessor at the MoD, did not envisage the present troop levels in Afghanistan when he committed us to Helmand; and yet the escalating need for troops is in the very nature of war. It is fashionable to say that history does not repeat itself. It does if you make the same mistakes.

The Army needs more men not just because of the calculus of commitments and resources but for critical mass. The Navy and RAF have critical mass, too, but calculated in ships and aircraft. "The Navy and RAF man equipment," goes the old saying, "the Army equips the man." If the Army's true fighting strength falls below 100,000, which it has done, it is unable to get the combat arms and the various supporting arms and services in the right proportion. It also finds it harder to recruit special forces, war-winning strategic assets.

When the Treasury demanded its Northern Ireland peace dividend, initially 10,000 men, later whittled down to 2,000, the Army had to axe four infantry battalions to preserve the "enabling corps" - signals, engineers, logistics - otherwise operations in Iraq, the Balkans, and Afghanistan could not have continued. The cuts therefore bear heavily on the boots on the ground, and the strain is showing. What is needed is a recalibration, recognising the old adage that the man is the first weapon of war.

Announcing recently a "Forces' families manifesto", David Cameron said of support for Servicemen and their families: "My position is clear. We aren't doing enough." This is a start, but there has been more than a decade's neglect of the services' most important asset, the individual soldier, sailor and airman.

The dismantling of the military medical services, for example, must be thoroughly reversed. It will all take time and money, and a great deal of personal ministerial attention. Ministerial attention would at least be something the Tories could give without cost. The Duke of Wellington is remembered as the man who did the most to defeat Napoleon, but it was successive ministers whose great imagination and patience solved the Army's and Navy's chronic manpower shortages (and by subtler means than the press gang and emptying the prisons).

But one area above all needs unequivocal and urgent attention: the human rights and health and safety legislation that is hamstringing the forces. As Charles Moore argued here on Saturday ("Human rights or a navy we can be proud of?"): "The essential point of an army or a navy is for when things get really bad. So it is for matters of life and death, not as social therapy, that soldiers and sailors must be trained." This is something the Tories could show they really understood by a commitment to overturn that legislation, international or otherwise, which demonstrably runs contrary to the interests of national security. Here would be some beef. Here would be what the Chief of the Defence Staff at the time of the Falklands called the Tory "gut feeling for defence".


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/04/17/do1701.xml
 
#13
brighton hippy said:
we probably already spend enough on defence what does'nt happen is we don't get value for money :evil:
Thats New Labour to the core. We spend plenty of enough on everything but it all still goes down the toilet.

Look at the NHS prime example.

Our political masters wish to commit to ever more situations (presumably cos George told them too) but will not provide the tools and the kit (for here read money) to enable operations to be conducted in a safer manner.

Be under no illusion spending restrictions on the part of this Government has cost us dear in lives lost.
 
#14
Sven,

All these money saving 'scare stories' tend to be options derived from a ministerial edict to slash spending and won't always be enforced, hence they appear to be lies. This would seem logical given the timing of the 'leaks', when all departments are looking towards next years STP and justifying how much money they require. My experience tells me that the stories you've highlighted are only the tip of the iceberg and that the next 18 months will see some dramatic/traumatic measures to save a bit of cash!
 
#15
Qoute:

Sven's funding to slashed in new spin war at central office! Bliar fully supports sven fund as the largest single increace in PPI spin festing since the torys cut svens pocket money' and has every confidence in him'

link
http://www.daily spin.org/wah
 
#16
I am not convinced the Tories will be able to spend as much as they might wish and I reckon we could spend smarter. What would also be neat is a review of commitments that gave the Nation a sensible spectrum of defence options and then tried to stick to the agreed script. I remember chatting to an Aussie who claimed their Defence Dept came up with just that and whenever they were pushed beyond agreed commitment they asked where the compensating reduction was to made and shifted capability accordingly. I would not want to see us shrink to the size of the Aussie forces, but we may get there by sheer government neglect. Maybe the guy was feeding me BS and the Aussies do not have senior commanders prepared to risk post career sinecures and awards and say the politicos are breaking things.
 
#17
I truely hope that the Tories do realise that a credible defence budget and proper checks and balences including perhaps ceaseing some PPI and restoring some elements back into public control need to be addressed ASAP.

Some of the points El gringo makes show how little has changed, over the years of MORE for LESS.

I personaly would like too see the Liberal Democrats also step up and get there hands dirty with a credible defence policy.

But frankly i fear we can trust none!
 
#18
SAKR_AL_AMN

Of course they won't be able to spend as much because they'll have to contend with the legacy of long term PFI style contracts that have been the strategic goal of MoD procurement under this government. Changing things in the future and incurring the heavy 'breakout' clauses or 'remedies' will haunt us for the next 20 to 30 years and cause untold damage to Military capability.
 
#19
Blue_Monkey said:
SAKR_AL_AMN

Of course they won't be able to spend as much because they'll have to contend with the legacy of long term PFI style contracts that have been the strategic goal of MoD procurement under this government. Changing things in the future and incurring the heavy 'breakout' clauses or 'remedies' will haunt us for the next 20 to 30 years and cause untold damage to Military capability.
I realy would like to see if the tories got in! They them turn round and tell the private companies with there over prices snake oil contacts to 'Go do one'.

the reality is though we are tied into substance lite resource poor ether support untill some one grows a pair.

This Growing a pair would also 'do well to be adopted by education and heath' but that is for another thread too discuss.
 
#20
halo_jones

The point by which we need to Restore the Military back to a credible force (without massive funding) will soon be gone, and is in many areas of support or procurement. Financially it would, in the future, prove impossible to convince the taxpayer of the benefits and would not be a vote winner.
 

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