Where's the Strategy

Discussion in 'Strategic Defence & Spending Review (SDSR)' started by meridian, Oct 11, 2010.

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  1. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Why has the Strategic Defence and Security Review descended into an argument about equipment?

    Where is the strategic vision from which equipment requirements should fall?

    Why are the service chiefs and politicians so completely unable to articulate a strategic need for any of the major equipment programmes?

    What is our national interest?

    Where is the STRATEGY
  2. To all apperances this is a spending review, not a security review... whenever officials have spoken about the strategy then the word 'Flexible' seems to pop up most... which basically seems to cover the fact that they don't know from Government what strategy is required of them, and the government don't know what strategy they want to follow.

    From my distant perspective it looks like we've got a group of headless chickens in office when it comes to foreign policy and a group of top brass who are content to stick their head in the sand (not afghan sand though of course) whilst trying to protect their own little empire. This will continue until one of the chickens (preferably the PM) grows a head, directs some policy and breaks-up these little empires. Thats not going to happen though, as according to that C4 dispatches program the boss of BAe has more influence over the PM than any of his generals... which implies that our defence is really ran by the sales staff of BAe telling us what we need... not a happy thought.
  3. Theres nothing STRATEGIC about it. Is is now spiralling downwards into a TACTICAL debate.....
  4. Auld-Yin

    Auld-Yin LE Reviewer Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    IMO it has absolutely nothing to do with Defence at all!!! It is just a Treasury led exercise which has the very good chance of slipping into a Whitehall farce. Unless some politicians can come up with some foresight and courage, we is fooked.
  5. Yes the 'SDSR' is undoubtably totally Treasury driven and extremely rushed to boot. In that sense typical political BS.
  6. Strategy needs to come from Foreign policy given that the military are merely an instrument of said policy no different in essence to the overseas aid golf club.

    This was meant to be a Foreign Policy led review which would identify our overseas interests and therefore dictate our Defence requirements. As even the Secretary of State recognises, it is now purely being conducted as a spending review.

  7. Some years ago, I was meeting and greeting a new Chief Instructor: firm of jaw, clear of eye and disease free. He was much enthused that, finally, he would have a direct impact on how young men were trained. So much so that he refused to have the usual Me Wall in his office and instead put up a simple sign: Training Drives Resources, Not The Other Way Around.

    He threw his papers in 18 months later, a bitter and disillusioned man. He realised that he was wrong: Resource - that is, Cash - drives everything. The strategic element of this exercise, as the ones before, will always be tailored to the funds available.

    Any perceived threat will always be the one that we can afford.
  8. There clearly isn't one.

    Civil servants wary of MoD top job - Defence Management
  9. If the Type 45 destroyer case is anything to go by, then we only have half a plan (IIRC we wanted 12, but only bought 6). It might be an idea to drop a level of technology and build some WW2 or 1960s designs which could be constructed in a few weeks. Using older analogue systems instead of computers would save a few bob in licence fees, and seamanship skills might be improved if navigators have to think more. And if the sailors do not think of the boat as a giant computer game, divorced from reality in that sense, they might actually open fire next time they face the Iranian Navy.

    Considering for a moment what we need these ships for, namely power projection, reinforcing America, rescue missions and weather stations, I think all we need are robust hulls with proven abilities, and technology that is reliable and good enough, rather than cutting edge.

    Getting back to the rumour front, when you are an old fart like moi, you wonder at how many mistakes will be repeated in this exercise. For example, wasn't there a review a few years ago that resulted in a West Country HQ being closed, with cover being supplied from York? At first, people had to drive to Bristol from York every day. Then there were some accidents on the road, possibly because people got tired, so houses were rented in Bristol and the overall cost ended up more than was saved. Now if what I hear is correct, the Scottish HQ and some other bits up here will be shut, with cover being provided from York. I'm sure we all get the picture.
  10. Background realities:
    1. The country is virtually bankrupt and public funding has to be radically reduced across the board. There is no compelling reason - such as an impending assault upon our shores - to except the MoD from this austerity.
    2. Given the lack of direct conventional threat to the UK itself, a big question hangs over the effectiveness and viability of a large standing military organised and structured towards a conventional opponent/threat.
    3. The argument - and usefulness - that this large standing military can be justified and used as an instrument of foreign policy and intervention has been exposed and discredited over the past decade.
    4. The is no imperative or obligation upon the UK to continue as the world's policeman.

    Current context:
    5. Every new government feels it needs to stamp its own impression upon the military and thus 'strategic' reviews are more often shaped by domestic politicking than changing strategic circumstance.
    6. The current political imperative is clearly fiscal not military, nor security. Having a 'strategic' review is more a case of working out how we plan to utilise a smaller and less well equipped force than it is to shape a military to best counter the real threats. ie, this SDSR is not about 'what do we want to do and how can we best do it', rather 'what can we manage with whatever we get left with'.
    7. The tighter the fiscal restriction, the more bitter the inter-service rivalry for scarce resources.

    Conclusions drawn:
    8. Inter service rivalry means that each one is bitterly fighting a war of self-preservation rather than a combined op to secure the best military for the country. Pet projects are being pushed for the sake of personal pride and dogma.
    9. The country will end up with a whole raft of big-ticket equipment projects that are unsuited to the current tasks and security challenges evident and likely. To finance these projects, major cuts are going to have to be made to manpower levels and total platform numbers. The hit to overall mission versatility and flexibility will be severe.
    10. This well result in UK defence & security (and foreign) policy being dragged into two competing camps that will leave the UK exposed and marginalised: US and EU. For example, a CVF will only be able to provide a relatively minor flag waving exercise within a powerful US task force and/or provide the flagship for an EU force that will never get the political decision to do anything meaningful. Bizarrely, this suits the admirals as they get to train and play with the big boys and tell the Froggies what to do!
  11. Afghanistan, although important, should not be the driver for any DLOD development (Training, Equipment, Personnel, Informatrion, (concepts & Doctrine)Organisation, Infrastructure and Logisitics (and interoperability as an add on!)).

    The Goverment should decide on our place in the world (IMHO it should be the ability to defend British terriotories (including the Falklands therfore do not remove the Amphib force), be able to act as part of a coalition but to be able to 'go it alone' when the Govt decides we need to.

    I am not convinced that we need big carriers (we need maritime aircraft to protect the land forces and the navy), maybe more amphib ships and heli carriers and assets to protect them. We also need to protect UK and allied lines of communications (both trade and military).

    In terms of UK airspace defence we need to protect the UK and NATO airspace (remember that attack can be the best form of defence). We need to retain intelligence capabilities off all kinds (including cyber terrorism as this is going to be the 'next big thing.' We also need to move things around in tactical, operational and strategic sense - air lift and helicopters.

    For fighting on the ground we need a mix of heavy, medium and light - warfare will be amongst the people now and therefore we need to be equipped. However we should retain the ability to fight 'old style' and smash things up if we need to. We should also fill any identified capability gaps to ensure we have the best asset for the job to make it less painful.

    We need to train properly and coherently. We need to remove everything stove pipes everywhere.

    More importantly we need to think what we are being told to do and equip for that. If we need to lose capability then turn to the right, gain some height and march on. I believe my Regt will lose some prime assets soon and we must get on with it and accept - lobbying and slagging other parts of the Armed Forces off is not going to get us anywhere.

    In procurement there is a lot of wastage but this comes from poorly defined needs and the fact that industry has us over a barrel. The procurement areas need to accept change and adjust accordingly - they are very manpower heavy but then that is the culture they work in - to remove that overmanning, remove the red tape and streamline everythimg. I would suggest working in a lean manner and provide guidance and support for every aspect of the CADMID cycle rather than a loose set of rules which everyone interprets differently!

    The most important thing we have are the people; this uncertainty is affecting them combined with frequent rotations on HERRICK, poor pay, some awful accommodation (both SLA and SFA), a lack of coherent training, a lack of 'fun', concerns over pay and pensions (which I ams sure will be affected even though we contribute the largest amount per person in the state pension scheme (via the X-factor reduction in pay which gets used a lot to tell us that our pay is good)), a reliance on charities for resettlement after leaving the Army and after being injured (which is a very British tradition and cost effective as the MoD budget doesn't have to pay for it) but does show the UK MoD in a bad light) - I could go on. The important part of the Armed Forces, the people, need to be told the truth and not spun media crap.

    Small rant over; in sum, we need some of the capabilities we have/are currently procuring, bin the gold plating and retain the core capabilites. Look after the people, define our place in the world (with some gidance from above) and get on with it.

  12. No, it has spiralled so far past Strategy and Tactics that it is currently a fiscal debate. Which to be fair it always was going to be. I am afraid defence has been so successful over the past sixty years, that people have forgotten what it actually costs.
  13. Inded and we will no doubt equip for that. Then stand back and watch in amazement as we attempt to grapple with an angry grizzly bear, using the gerbil-tongs which we had applauded on entry into service as "state of the art" and "flexible".
  14. 1919 - 1930

    The Army carefully reverted to what cost the least to do, namely Colonial warfare and gave up on a whole tranche of warfare that was costly and too hard

    1941. The BEF got butt****ed big style becasue of decisions made 10 years and more ago.

    Lesson? Do I need to get the crayons out ?
  15. And even in those doldrum years, I don't think spending on Defence ever dropped below 2%...