More money and better spending has been our guiding principle, this might be a rather outrageous statement to make but one has to wonder if throwing more money at a dysfunctional Ministry of Defence would actually be counter-productive?
The Ministry of Defence hovers between two uncomfortable positions, the high cost of supporting operations abroad on one hand and on the other, a desire to maintain the mystical ‘balanced capability’. The £32 billion budget means that spending priorities can lurch between these two posts, applying pain equally without having to decisively focus on one.
We fail to adequately resource operations in order to balance future capabilities but these future capabilities are always compromised by budget pressures, a vicious circle.
A serious reduction in budget would force the issue, no hedging, no muddling through and not relying on wishful thinking as a strategic option.
The MoD needs to get lean and focus on core activity and is the only way to achieve this, a big budget reduction to force the issue?
Its a topical discussion, todays events at the Chilcott Inquiry and subsequent controversy over whether Gordon Brown (the then Chancellor) funded all military requests or not. Former senior officers and civil servants are lining up contradicting the Prime Ministers point of view, safe to voice their concerns now their pensions are firmly secured (can’t rock the boat when it might actually have done some good old boy) but do these individuals carry any responsibility or is it simply too easy and lazy to blame the Treasury under Gordon Brown for all the very real equipment shortages; soldiers going over the start line with 5 rounds of ammunition dressed in green and without body armour or desert combats.
£32 billion is not an unsubstantial amount of money and given the systemic problems with the MoD would an extra billion here or half a dozen billion there actually have made any difference or just perpetuated the current cake and arse party that is the Ministry of Defence equipment strategy.
In truth, no one knows, but what is certain is that those doing some of the shouting, maximising those pre election media opportunities, share the blame and no amount of money will ever be enough until we sort out some of the underlying problems.
Money for current operations and equipment supporting those operations aside, strong medicine might be the only way of driving real reform forward, not the shuffling of deck chairs style MoD reform we have become used to.