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UK military to get biggest spending boost in 30 years

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
That £5Bn isn’t part of the MoD budget, it’s covered by central Government.

The Army isn’t and hasn’t been meeting its manning targets, so it’s getting more money that it actually needs to run itself. This is the bonus they’ve wasted.
This has been duly noted and pointed out by the other heads of Service.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
The British Army left Afghanistan 6 years ago.
Thats 6 years with a £5 Billion budget bonus.
What has the Army managed to deliver with that £30 Billion windfall?
You think the Army got that money?
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
That £5Bn isn’t part of the MoD budget, it’s covered by central Government.
Don't bother - he doesn't understand that the Army didn't for HERRICK or any other op, Financially that is - it paid in plenty of other ways as you are only too well aware.
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Key point; you may think you have been involved in “it” for most of your career, but the reality is that you have been involved in the old world for most of it.

I'd delicately disagree, but PERSEC and commercial issues impose a certain amount of discretion. (And when did the "old world" become the "new world" anyway?)

I will say that - just for one example - having software-controlled weapons turning up as threats, rather than exclusively our own capabilities, has quietly overturned a few apple carts. There's a considerable amount of work going on - and, to their credit, the Land Warfare Centre are heavily involved in some of it - about "okay, so what could this change mean?"

The world of incremental change, where it was possible to build develop and build something over a twenty year period and gain technological overmatch. The world where the military-industrial complex was technology leading.

The fact is, military technology is no longer technology leading. Nowhere near.

And has not been for... at least a few decades?

Part of the work I was doing as a junior engineer back in the early/mid 1990s was finding ways to cope with the fact that military customers had gone from the lords and masters of semiconductor development and production, to annoying niche customers who got told we could go skip-diving for the components we wanted: a "big order" of 1,500 microprocessors over five years, was what they turned out between startup and morning coffee (see the 1994 Perry Initiative)

We have private companies building reusable space systems FFS. The bright brains and the R&D money in technology is all in the private sector.

I have not mentioned drones. Deliberately so. But I’d be willing to bet that there will be a quantum leap in battery technology this decade.

A major issue is the unpredictability of the future.

For one example, "virtual reality" has had a bout of hype as revolutionising all sorts of things; and, let's be fair, it is actually rather good fun shooting zombies in a game of Arizona Sunshine (while tripping over the cat). But the enthusiasm of a few years ago has subsided into "actually, it's still a bit of a fun niche, just cheaper and better performing, to bolt onto existing gaming".

In typical generational format, "Virtuality" had been trying the same thing on a fraction of the processing power and display resolution in the 1990s (anyone remember the Trocadero Centre? they had a trial VR game there...) and despite much hype, no concrete results. British Aerospace were tinkering with a virtual Copehill Down for some of their FIST work for the Army, but as far as I can tell it ended up mostly being a "look at the cool technology, now let us talk to you" draw rather than a productive research tool.

"Mixed reality" likewise... has yet to produce the hoped-for transformations (what did happen to Google Glass?). The Internet was an academic curiosity and a place for students to download scripts for the Rocky Horror Picture Show in the 1980s, and a hobbyist niche in the 1990s, before broadband connections enabled massive downloads from charity sites fundraising for young ladies so destitute they couldn't afford clothes (some cynics say that the reason VHS beat Betamax in the 1970s was because there was more porn released on the cheaper VHS than the technically-superior Betamax).

I'd recommend a 1980 book by Dave Langford, entitled "War in 2080" - we're nearly halfway there - and note how many of his proposals and concerns have dropped out of the mainstream consciousness, and how few of the issues that are actually currently concerning us are mentioned. (Not a slam at Mr Langford, it's an entertaining and not-too-serious read - such as his comments about the limitations of any then-credible 'laser rifle', needing a full environment suit and weighing as much as a full Bergen plus a golfbag-sized projector... to be outranged and outgunned by an AK-47, still not badly wrong now except we might not need the suit)


But to return to the notion of maritime platforms being rendered "rapidly obsolete" - the French Jeune Ecole thought that small, fast torpedo boats would overwhelm mighty battleships ('swarm attack', anyone?) to which the answer was the "torpedo boat destroyer" (later just 'destroyer'). When 'submarine torpedo boats' became a threat, the destroyer was rapidly adapted to counter them. A constraint on the design of submarines and other smaller warships, became the ability to carry aerials for the newfangled "wireless telegraphy" that was allowing communications beyond the range of flag hoists and signal lamps. As aircraft became an increasing threat - first as scouts, then as strike platforms - ships with the margins to add air-search radar and AA weapons were able to avoid being driven from the seas.

For as long as we need to use the seas to move stuff from place to place, we'll need ships, and a way to protect them. One of the truly positive (if partly accidental) successes the RN's had in recent decades, is going from building the smallest ships possible (Types 42, 22, 23) because the Treasury thinks "smaller ships are cheaper", to building large ships with more margins for the decades of "didn't know we were going to need that, hope there's still enough space, weight and power to add it!" they'll see in service through an uncertain future.
 
What I do blame the Army for - and it ties into the Simon Akam book - is that there is something about the Army's culture that makes it impossible to act coherently.

Any CGS worth their salt - as the Strategic leader of the British Army - would have looked at HERRICK (and possible TELIC) and noted that if the 'close' fight is COIN then a little bit of the Army needs to do the 'deep' and work out how it's going to do the polar-opposite. Whilst I applaud Richards for ENTIRETY, on reflection he threw the baby out with the bathwater.

A point of order here - Richards may have been an Army officer, but he was acting in his capacity as CDS, not CGS. Under Op ENTIRETY, all three services to a kick in the balls - but as a land-centric operation, the Army was probably more affected than others.

The ‘answer’ that Defence wanted after 2010 was that the Army should be re-written as a force capable of deploying multi-role Bdes, in scenarios no more challenging than a slightly more aggressive Op AGRICOLA or sub-Saharan intervention. This was not the future the Army had really planned for, and it took years to persuade otherwise - but in the meantime, that was the reality they had to work with.

As ever, this is not about capability, it's about the hard thinking to inform buying capability quite quickly. I'd look at the RAF seedcorn process for MPA as the exemplar for this: where was the seedcorn for Heavy Armour, Mechanised/Wheeled Strike, Air Defence*? You're talking about - at best - dozens of people over the period, probably less that the number of people Infantry Regiments authorise to be part of the Regimental Parachuting teams on "employed elsewhere" terms.

I’m not sure where you’re going with this seedcorn thing? The RAF lost its MPA capability in entirety - as did the Navy’s carrier force (unless you count helicopter ops from Ocean) - and the only way it could maintain capability was by operating with another country, ready for the day it would be needed again.

On the other hand, the Army never lost its tanks - only the planned upgrade. Once HERRICK roulements had finished, Armd Regts went back to training for combined arms operations in the UK and Canada (for which many here have lambasted it). In the meantime research and analysis continued, such that when the policy was reversed in 2015/16, it had a clear idea of what was needed in its future MBT force - with a change to CR2 LEP scope shortly afterwards. All that took time - not least because industry were increasingly frustrated with the on-the-bus/off-the-bus approach, and because of the constant sniping from the sidelines in Main Building (where comment was often not dissimilar to to is thread).

Finally, I'm not sure that saying the Army has never said 'no' is a good thing.

On that I would agree - however, given current behaviours, I’m not convinced that the other Service Chiefs would have welcomed that altruistically...


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
I'm pretty ENTIRETY was Richards in his CGS hat - it started in 2009 when he moved across from CINCLAND.
 
I'd delicately disagree, but PERSEC and commercial issues impose a certain amount of discretion. (And when did the "old world" become the "new world" anyway?)

I will say that - just for one example - having software-controlled weapons turning up as threats, rather than exclusively our own capabilities, has quietly overturned a few apple carts. There's a considerable amount of work going on - and, to their credit, the Land Warfare Centre are heavily involved in some of it - about "okay, so what could this change mean?"



And has not been for... at least a few decades?

Part of the work I was doing as a junior engineer back in the early/mid 1990s was finding ways to cope with the fact that military customers had gone from the lords and masters of semiconductor development and production, to annoying niche customers who got told we could go skip-diving for the components we wanted: a "big order" of 1,500 microprocessors over five years, was what they turned out between startup and morning coffee (see the 1994 Perry Initiative)



A major issue is the unpredictability of the future.

For one example, "virtual reality" has had a bout of hype as revolutionising all sorts of things; and, let's be fair, it is actually rather good fun shooting zombies in a game of Arizona Sunshine (while tripping over the cat). But the enthusiasm of a few years ago has subsided into "actually, it's still a bit of a fun niche, just cheaper and better performing, to bolt onto existing gaming".

In typical generational format, "Virtuality" had been trying the same thing on a fraction of the processing power and display resolution in the 1990s (anyone remember the Trocadero Centre? they had a trial VR game there...) and despite much hype, no concrete results. British Aerospace were tinkering with a virtual Copehill Down for some of their FIST work for the Army, but as far as I can tell it ended up mostly being a "look at the cool technology, now let us talk to you" draw rather than a productive research tool.

"Mixed reality" likewise... has yet to produce the hoped-for transformations (what did happen to Google Glass?). The Internet was an academic curiosity and a place for students to download scripts for the Rocky Horror Picture Show in the 1980s, and a hobbyist niche in the 1990s, before broadband connections enabled massive downloads from charity sites fundraising for young ladies so destitute they couldn't afford clothes (some cynics say that the reason VHS beat Betamax in the 1970s was because there was more porn released on the cheaper VHS than the technically-superior Betamax).

I'd recommend a 1980 book by Dave Langford, entitled "War in 2080" - we're nearly halfway there - and note how many of his proposals and concerns have dropped out of the mainstream consciousness, and how few of the issues that are actually currently concerning us are mentioned. (Not a slam at Mr Langford, it's an entertaining and not-too-serious read - such as his comments about the limitations of any then-credible 'laser rifle', needing a full environment suit and weighing as much as a full Bergen plus a golfbag-sized projector... to be outranged and outgunned by an AK-47, still not badly wrong now except we might not need the suit)


But to return to the notion of maritime platforms being rendered "rapidly obsolete" - the French Jeune Ecole thought that small, fast torpedo boats would overwhelm mighty battleships ('swarm attack', anyone?) to which the answer was the "torpedo boat destroyer" (later just 'destroyer'). When 'submarine torpedo boats' became a threat, the destroyer was rapidly adapted to counter them. A constraint on the design of submarines and other smaller warships, became the ability to carry aerials for the newfangled "wireless telegraphy" that was allowing communications beyond the range of flag hoists and signal lamps. As aircraft became an increasing threat - first as scouts, then as strike platforms - ships with the margins to add air-search radar and AA weapons were able to avoid being driven from the seas.

For as long as we need to use the seas to move stuff from place to place, we'll need ships, and a way to protect them. One of the truly positive (if partly accidental) successes the RN's had in recent decades, is going from building the smallest ships possible (Types 42, 22, 23) because the Treasury thinks "smaller ships are cheaper", to building large ships with more margins for the decades of "didn't know we were going to need that, hope there's still enough space, weight and power to add it!" they'll see in service through an uncertain future.
@bobthebuilder when it comes to military technologies and strategic capabilities, you are out games here. Stick to being a captain of industry, try turkey they seem to be buying all the latest bullshit going. Or Iran. North Korea likes people like you.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Finally, I'm not sure that saying the Army has never said 'no' is a good thing.

Depends how you look at it. Personally I think politicians getting the answer 'no' to the question 'can you do this strategic task that's popped up?' is an indication of failure by someone. I don't think that someone is the RN, but still.
 
Last edited:

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
Depends how you look at it. Personally I think opticians getting the answer 'no' to the question 'can you do this strategic task that's popped up?' is an indication of failure by someone. I don't think that someone is the RN, but still.


It's a failure of leadership, and it's not the civilian one.
 
Depends how you look at it. Personally I think opticians getting the answer 'no' to the question 'can you do this strategic task that's popped up?' is an indication of failure by someone. I don't think that someone is the RN, but still.

The problem is, if the answer is always “yes”, then we will remain structurally underfunded and investments will always be delayed.

Our political system doesn’t reward good boys and girls working hard, it firefights failure to a minimum level.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
It's a failure of leadership, and it's not the civilian one.

You seem very sure about that. Is it really a failure of navy leadership that they don't have more ships, or is it a political failure not to have left them with enough ships to do tasks that are directed by politicians?
 
You seem very sure about that. Is it really a failure of navy leadership that they don't have more ships, or is it a political failure not to have left them with enough ships to do tasks that are directed by politicians?
It’s a carrier problem, which now is fashionable.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
You seem very sure about that. Is it really a failure of navy leadership that they don't have more ships, or is it a political failure not to have left them with enough ships to do tasks that are directed by politicians?

well, our Great White Chiefs have put their big boys pants in when the time to put them on and not only made very painful decisions for the longer term greater good of the Service, but told Politicians ‘No Sir, I cannot do that’.
You can do that, and get more funding, but it requires your to have vision, to deliver effect, and promise to deliver even better effect in return for more funding.
See huge big War Canoe swanning off in May to deliver an appreciative PM some serious getting up the Chinese noses effect.

‘Nothing succeeds like success’

you see, that’s a huge difference between the Army and the Navy.
no one in the Green corner seems to have a clue what this weeks plan is, or any idea what the current vision is, if any.
However, in the Dark Blue corner, we’ve had one true vision, with all hands behind it for over a decade, and know what the vision is for a decades time.
 
@bobthebuilder when it comes to military technologies and strategic capabilities, you are out games here. Stick to being a captain of industry, try turkey they seem to be buying all the latest bullshit going. Or Iran. North Korea likes people like you.
I deliberately avoid debates about “military technology” as it is not an area where I have any current knowledge or, indeed, much interest. My point is that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will dislocate almost all of our current technological norms and that includes “military technology”.

I used inverted commas around “military technology” deliberately because military technology is now something of a niche, where once it led global technology advances. The technologies that will dislocate current military development are spill overs from other industries, not military developments. Meanwhile the capabilities that we have invested in are largely legacies from the 20th Century.

The ideas that I have contributed to this thread are based on extensive readings on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including Klaus Schwab, David Barno and TX Hammes. I am sure you wouldn’t resort to ad hominems when debating with them.

Interestingly, the World Economic Forum did not identify peer to peer conventional warfare between developed countries as a threat to global security in the in its 2016 report.

 
I've been involved in elements of it for... well, you could say most of my career, having started work supporting one of the first software-controlled weapons and seen how "throw away the old ship and build a new one" has been replaced by "take out that old Ferranti 1600 with its 64K memory and put in something like a IBM AT, with ten times the storage and 120 times the processing speed..."

20 odd years ago I had a couple of quite drunken conversations with a small group of clever types from what was then Royal Ordanance.
They were discussing a new weapon concept then in planning, when I asked how they figured out how much computing power they would have to work with in 15 to 20 years when the weapon was intended to be in use the response was "we guess"
 

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