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British Defence Policy

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What is Policy?

Literally, 'policy' is a deliberate plan of action to guide decisions and achieve rational outcome(s). The term may apply to government, private sector organisations and groups, and individuals. For the Armed Forces, this traditionally involved finding somewhere new and taking it. And if it wasn't new, or was inhabited by ignorant people with dark skin, we'd take it anyway. In general terms, the policy could have been said to amount to little more than 'Do as thou whilst, as long as the Union Flag flies over it at the end of the day.'

In these more enlightened times in which we live, it involves doing exactly what the USA tells us, regardless of the blood price.

Output 1: We must do what the US tell us.

The Role of the Military-Industrial Complex

All countries need 'stuff' to go to war with. It is in the very nature of technology that each increase in offensive capability is rapidly (over)matched by an attendant increase in defensive capability. This is called an 'arms race'. It should be noted at this stage that an 'arms race' is a very costly exercise and it was one of the these that ultimately bankrupted the USSR.

As a former global power - and one with current massive pretensions to same - the UK has always needed lots of nice shiny weapons. However, this simple aspiration has always been complicated by one massive factor: they must be made in the UK.

Output 2: We must buy British.

Now, as anyone with even half a brain could tell you, the Great British Workman is famous for running over costs, being late, doing a crap job and generally failing to deliver even modest capability for even near to the asking price. Quite how they can be expected to deliver increasingly complex bits of kit on time and to order is beyond anyone sane. Oh, hang on...

So why must it be made in the UK, and especially in backwards part of the country? Simple: votes. No-one in their right mind builds an aircraft carrier in Scotland these days: it would add about 40% onto the asking price and delay the whole thing by years. The only way this would ever happen would be if the Prime Minister was Scottish and looking for an easy vote grab.

Output 3: Defence policy is centred on keeping the rabble in power, not in generating actual capability.

In addition, a key strand of UK defence policy has traditionally been to invest massive amounts of cash in projects to develop kit that:

  1. We don't need (see Eurofighter Typhoon)
  2. That doesn't work (Nimrod AWACS and Bowman), or
  3. Both.

Output 4: There is no such thing as 'crap kit' if Outputs 1-3 are met.

Rebalancing Forces

Oddly enough, unlike keeping alive Regiments which have been in continuous existence for several hundred years, this is a tradition which New Labour have been happy to maintain and even encourage.

This may come as a surprise, as 88.2% of the Armed Forces were unaware that Bliar et al actually had a Defence Policy!!