Some interesting news floating about today.
General Sir Richard Dannatt
Speaking on the Radio 4 Today programme the former Chief of the Defence Staff discussed options for the future
I think by anyone’s recognition we’ve got too many tanks, too much heavy artillery, too many fast jets.
The navy needs to look very closely at what it needs to be. And I think, particularly as far as fast jets are concerned, a number of contracts need to be looked at. One of which is the air-to-air refuelling contract, which was a shameful one, very, very expensive two years ago.
A new government has got a chance to look a number of contractors in the face and say ‘hang on, things have changed. We’re going to do it differently’. We can make a lot of savings on the equipment programme and still do what we need to do.
We need three separate armed forces that work superbly together on joint operations,
In a separate Telegraph article Sir Richard expands on the issue, praising the formation of the National Security Council.
Nick Harvey MP
Nick Harvey was the shadow defence minister for the Liberal Democrats and this continuity can only be a good thing. Both the Secretary of State and this minister have held Defence portfolios for quite some time and will no doubt have built up some experience. Replacing Bill Rammell the new minister told the North Devon Journal
It’s a big job and a big honour to be asked, particularly at a time when we have got a major conflict in Afghanistan and the challenges of the strategic defence review.
It makes for interesting times, particularly as it’s a coalition government.
I have been very critical of about how the Labour government treated the armed forces, as were the Conservatives.
I will try to do everything possible to improve the situation for the armed forces. We do so during an economic crisis.
Nick Harvey has been a strong advocate of forces welfare and the military covenant but is vehemently opposed to a replacement of Trident and supports much greater integration with Europe on defence issues.
Here are a few other choice quotes from him.
- This report shows the shambolic state of the UK’s defence equipment programme
- It is exasperating to learn how pervasive the culture of denial and deception among MoD officials is when it comes to acknowledging the £21 billion funding gap in defence procurement
- Labour’s slow response to a clear shortage of helicopters in Afghanistan has been shameful
- The sad fact is that a lack of helicopters and armoured vehicles suitable for Afghanistan has persistently left our troops ill-equipped for their mission. Meanwhile, the Government has continued to fritter away vast amounts of money on Cold War projects like Eurofighter and Trident
- This is yet another example of the Government making empty promises to our Armed Forces. The brave men and women who have risked life and limb in service of our country deserve better
- Mine detection equipment is clearly a vital capability in Afghanistan. With IEDs now the biggest single threat our troops are facing, any failure to provide them with enough metal detectors is simply unforgivable
- Our brave service men and women have suffered enough as a result of this Government’s disastrous record on military procurement.
- The Government has presided over a decade of overstretch and spiralling costs without being straight with the public about the consequences
- If the Government is not prepared to resource our commanders properly, it should not be putting troops on the front line
- The military campaign cannot succeed without a political and civilian surge to win over moderate elements within the Taliban and regain the confidence of ordinary Afghans
- It is painfully obvious that when our frontline troops are desperately short of helicopters and airlift, we should not be pushing ahead with the costly, Cold War irrelevances of Trident and Eurofighter
- These aircraft are unnecessary Cold War relics. The Government has put Britain in a position where we are being forced to throw money at this massively expensive project while our troops on the front line are crying out for the helicopters and armoured vehicles they desperately need
- While there is a need for modernisation of our reserve forces, any cut in numbers could be like a slap in the face considering the massive contribution they have made
- This report is a damning indictment of the lack of leadership at the MoD. It is incredible that only 1 in 5 of MoD staff feel the department is well managed
- It is a dereliction of the duty of care owed to our service personnel and their families that they should have to face a battle over good standard accommodation on the home front
- It beggars belief that the MoD can blow so much on poor project management while our troops are risking their lives because of a lack of armoured vehicles and helicopters
- This report shows that the MoD is riddled with incompetence
- Unfortunately, the military price tag will not in itself bring success in Afghanistan. We need to see all NATO allies pulling their weight, alongside greater involvement of regional partners, including Iran, to create a stable Afghanistan
- The MoD’s Defence Planning Assumptions have been operating in a parallel universe for many years now
- When the Government’s terrible record on major IT projects is brought together with the MoD’s catalogue of failure on procurement, it is no surprise that we see this perfect storm of incompetence
- On this occasion, the lions in Afghanistan have been failed by the donkeys in Whitehall
And my personal favourites
- While the British nuclear fleet has a good safety record, if there were ever to be a bang it would be a mighty big one
- We must be sure that an economic downturn does not water down the support to the military particularly at a time of heightened threats
Over to you Nick.