Towards SDSR 2015 – 01

As the run in to SDSR 2015 starts and inevitably the conversations lead to what cap badge, ship or aircraft is going to be cut I thought it would be good to have a conversation about the underpinning strategic assumptions that might inform these discussions instead of focussing on equipment, what UOR’s are being bought into core (or Equipping for Contingencies as I am informed its now called) and how many ships/planes/tanks we want.

One of our regular commenters, X, made a good point the other day that got me thinking and have been discussing something very similar on another forum. The point was more of a question, why does the UK concentrate its defence effort delivering contingency capabilities that are used very infrequently instead of seeing the things that we always seem to get involved in more often than not continue to be under resourced and therefore reliant on the UOR system?

One might argue that the Army is still putting all its eggs in the combined arms manoeuvre basket, the Royal Navy is equipping to face a submarine threat and the RAF is still heavily focussed on air dominance to the detriment of upstream engagement, rapid intervention and more security focussed roles.

It’s not a point of view I entirely agree with but it’s a point worth debating.

The collective readership of Think Defence leaves me mostly speechless with their all-round common sense, vision and free thinking, I want to harness that and try something a bit trendy vicar.

With this in mind, how about taking part an experiment in crowd sourcing?

Starting with a group derived definition of what the UK’s national interests are, then progress to a discussion of what the impacts and likelihood of disruption would look like, a spot of risk analysis and then that lot should lead to a set of priorities that our merry band think should inform the subsequent ‘means’

This is passive, it focusses on impacts to our interests instead of how our interests might not only be protected but advanced as well, so, I want to try and weave this aspect into the mix.

We can make use of polls and multi edit posts that pick up from comments.

If you think this is a good idea, would be interesting and worth your time let me know in comments and I will start working on the behind the scenes stuff.

Still plenty of time but as you know, planning and preparation prevent piss poor performance!

PS

To my blogging hombres, Sir H, Chris, Jedi and even those from outside the UK like Sven, RP Defense, Chuck and Sol, do you fancy joining in?

About Think Defence

Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!

102 thoughts on “Towards SDSR 2015 – 01

  1. John Hartley

    Well my pennyworth, is that war , wars, often break out , about a decade after global financial problems. So the period 2015-20 is likely to be dangerous. This is when UK defence capability holidays are at their worst.
    Who is the threat? Probably no one obvious. A stable country may no longer be, if struck by economic & political turmoil.
    When HMS Ark Royal left service in 1978, who thought we would need a big carrier to deter Argentina in 1982?
    In the 1980s we thought we would never fight in the desert again & sold our desert uniforms to Iraq! Come 1991…..
    Who predicted 9/11 leading to British troops in Iraq & Afghanistan?
    Or the Arab Spring? Or Mali?
    The UK needs a well balanced defence as it is hard to predict the exact threat, but the threat is or will be there.

  2. Simon

    “…why does the UK concentrate its defence effort delivering contingency capabilities that are used very infrequently instead of seeing the things that we always seem to get involved in more often than not continue to be under resourced…”

    Because we invest in defence and then get involved in waging offensive action overseas.

    In other words our offensive capability is continually compromised by lack of money but the governments still like to think we can play with the big boys in various hot climates and be International Police and slap wrists.

    If you take as read a need for some (not necessarily the numbers we have) Typhoon, Frigates, Army and Apache (plus other essential items needed to defend our shores) it then becomes an exercise in predicting the future and investing in the equipment required.

    Policing “no fly zones” seems to have happened a few times recently as does wandering around a country (or two) looking for men with guns. This requires a carrier and soldiers in an APC being able to call in an air strike as a show of force.

    My belief, and I don’t really like it, is that we can afford to lose Tornado, the amphibs (not 3Cdo) and most of our heavy armoured vehicles.

    There, that should get things started ;-)

  3. Chris.B.

    “Who is the threat? Probably no one obvious”.

    If we’re using history as an example, and I take it you’re referring to the rise to power of a previously shunned small party that gains a lot of support in a short span of time using populist policies and rhetoric to drive itself forward, despite a distinct lack of experienced and credible politicians to fill the needed positions after an election, then the future threat to peace in Europe is obvious…..

    …. it’s us.

  4. John Hartley

    Chris.B
    I think the threat could be a WW1 scenario, where no one wants war, but terrorism, old animosities & allies drag a region into war.

  5. ChrisM

    Further away…one of the Gulf Arab nations we have tooled up goes bad (hopefully not Saudi).
    Nearer….Turkey goes Islamic, Greece goes to the colonels, two sets of leaders need a popular enemy…and have one right next door.
    Really near and extreme – Spain and/or Italy break up.

  6. Gloomy Northern Boy

    A very interesting idea – I look forward to participating if I can contribute anything useful. My own starting point is that the wars of the next century are likely to be about resources…and that potentially makes the Overseas Territories very important, as well as ideas like concentrating DfID expenditure and forward deployed assets in a handful of key places where we can make really firm friends – like Sierra Leone.
    (Originally one of your thoughts I think; certainly one I have seen discussed here)

    I am also inclined to think the USA will turn almost exclusively towards its near abroad and the Pacific – and in consequence we and Europeans will have to do more. Oddly, what concerns me is not that we can’t, or won’t ultimately win – but that we will try not to for so long that when we finally get serious the consequences will be truly horrifying.

    Finally, I take a broad view of defence – energy, food and education all matter – as does a balanced economy including high tech manufacturing – but all of them as the means of maintaining our position in the G20 by which means we can maintain our comparatively comfortable carry-on; and that means we are not and should not become an off-shore Belgium. We are at our best out there doing, trading, active in the UN – which means the RN/RAF need the global reach to sustain an Army appropriate for serious expeditionary warfare, and if necessary do it alone in some circumstances – and we need Trident II…

    I guess what I am saying is I have little patience with the idea that “Somebody else should do it” because in the end and within limits doing it is what makes us who we are…which all in all is pretty bloody good.

    I look forward to the series!

  7. Observer

    “Because we invest in defence and then get involved in waging offensive action overseas.”

    Ouch but particularly true. Most other countries keep near their own borders. An expanded mandate to cover other parts of the world requires an expanded budget to match, one that does not seem to be happening. The UK needs to either 1) Cut down on overseas commitments or 2) Find a new source of income to pay for its overseas ambitions.

    Step 1: What are the UK’s primary goals with regards to the Armed Forces?

    1) Territorial integrity (i.e Home Defence)
    2) Protection of sea LOC to ensure economic security
    3) Intervention for the protection/evacuation of British Nationals in foreign countries in event of unrest

    Think these are more or less the key ones, all the rest about aiding allies, putting down dictators and showing the flag all can be said to be bonuses. As long as you can keep the core of the country intact, the rest can be ignored or out endured, even terrorism.

  8. Jeremy M H

    @Observer

    While I would agree with your three those really don’t seem to be the priority of the UK government at the moment.

    I would say they do not consider the aiding allies portion as optional and would go so far as to say that it is put right behind number 1 and damn near before 2. The UK has sacrificed MPA and a lot of escorts while it has really invested in its expeditionary capacity (C-17, Amphibs ect). I don’t think planning can go forth without assuming that role is critical, at least not useful planning.

  9. Observer

    Which is where the budget explodes. :)

    I suspect a bit of WWII thinking might be involved in the calculations, for other countries, beating the “enemy” back past the border is considered the endgame, for example, India and Pakistan and the Kargil incident, GW1 or even FI. The UK and the US on the other hand, probably believes the endgame only happens if you drive a column of tanks into the enemy’s city hall, a POV that is more akin to conquest or global war than defensive warfare, hence GWII and getting stuck in Afganistan. Interesting how history can shape priorities.

    Jeremy, I agree that the current priorities are arranged as you describe. My point was – are they the correct priorities?

  10. Chuck Hill

    @ Observer, “Step 1: What are the UK’s primary goals with regards to the Armed Forces?

    1) Territorial integrity (i.e Home Defence)
    2) Protection of sea LOC to ensure economic security
    3) Intervention for the protection/evacuation of British Nationals in foreign countries in event of unrest

    How does protecting the EEZ of the overseas territories enter into this?

    Could current navy could protect SLOCs without help?

  11. jackstaff

    Chris B.,

    Cheek ;) Also a fair point. (O/T best luck to your Niners, too.)

    Chuck Hill,

    That’s a very interesting talking shop you all had there. Good to see some serious pondering of that scale and depth among navalists.

    Observer,

    As @Chuck and @Jeremy MH said before me, good list. I’ll get back in a moment to why I think the third may take on a new priority, but now I’ll just say the first has quite a lot to do with non-military resources and approaches, and with a serious rethinking about just what the Reserves are, and are there to do (let’s remember that was a huge chunk of what Haldane’s reforms were about) much more on the lines of the sort of reserve forces I find closest to my current doorstep, the Militia (more properly these days, the Primary Reserves of the Canadian Land Forces Command), and the US National Guard, both of whom have historic and well-defined roles in disaster relief and gendarmerie work. (And perhaps in the process help reverse some of the militarisation of police forces that has infected even the UK, I remember when it was a thing that the Special Patrol Group had shoulder holsters with .38s in them, and you bloody well ought to get off my lawn then… :) Wrt the EEZ and Britain’s strategic assets down the length of the Atlantic, more motivation to consider institutional shifts like a proper HM Coast Guard on Norwegian/Yank lines, or Jed’s RFA-driven model. (Might get some joined-up integration with commercial shipbuilding, corporate networking, and the Merchant Fleet in the processes, thus thinking about security in broader terms than Defence.)

    On that point, @GNB damn right it’s a broad canvas. (Conversations with my oldest girl, doing her degree in public health w/ concentration in epidemiology, is a reminder of that any time we get talking about her planned shop.) It’s a reminder of so many things (we should not trivialise the fact that an important aspect of last year’s Olympic ceremonies was saying, “right, Beijing, you have gob-smackingly spectacular pageantry staged by a well drilled cast of millions? Well feck off, ‘cos we have the Beatles.”) Among the many things that cross my mind about the nature of “security” just two right here. First, that I think nation-states are going to get another opportunity (as they had the first half of the 20th century, but please God if you’re there and we ask nicely minus the world wars) to prove their resilience and to evolve further, in the face of multiple “pulls” that threaten to tear them apart or render them irrelevant. And it will be interesting politically because you’ll see folks from what we spent two centuries calling the Right and the Left pooling together, those who favour the possibilities offered by citizenship and national community stated in broad and resilient fashion (I say “resilient” rather than “flexible” because it makes the point I’m shambling around better.) Douglas Carswell and John McDonnell on Europe and civil liberties are just canaries in the coal mine.

    As for how to engage with a messy world of what the social scientists call cross-cutting cleavages (not like the barmaid from Sale, x, mind out of the gutter…) clearly a lot of it has to do with “non-defence security” and the parts that do fold in the military can, I suspect, be done quite effectively on a vastly smaller scale than the institutional military currently proposes. Two examples to make it specific. First, I’d bet that getting two (rather than one) replacements for RFA Diligence, with one available to chunter up and down the coast of regions where the UK wants to develop ties, helping to repair knackered naval/coast-guarding kit and make ties at the working matelots’ end with local security apparatus would do as much or more than a squadron of “Black Swans.” On the Army side, there’s no need for *seven* brigades worth of “adaptable” infantry (a jobs program for brigadiers if ever there was) to do the work a half-dozen British Army Training Teams of a couple hundred diverse specialists, thoroughly educated in their fields, are better suited for living and training among regional armed forces. Also, working to re-establish at a global level the intellectual credentials of the service academies (we all know how specialty courses like Punisher or what “Them” get up to in Herefordshire and Wales are regared globally) would do quite a bit of good I think. Togo Heihachiro, the most famous architect of Japan’s vault to naval power, was intensely proud all his days of having been at Dartmouth. King Hussein always looked back fondly on his time at Sandhurst. These things can add up.

    ChrisM,

    Nice to see someone mention Greece/Turkey/Cyprus. Thanks for that. Been banging that drum since the Credit Crunch. Sir Terry Pratchett had a wonderful line in an early book, “a dog is three meals away from a wolf.” Same can be said of nations, particularly those with adversarial internal histories, and economic crises. HMG has needed to get the French Connection UK out of the SBAs for a very long time — there are other and probably better ways to lilypad into the Middle East, and these days the GCHQ setup would make more since on, say, Masirah in any case. At the very least get out of Dhekelia and the fiddly bits so there’s just the one defensible point with a big airfield and a little bit of sea egress to hoof it when things get ugly.

    Oh, right — back to that thing about nations and their citizens abroad. I have a worried suspicion that foreign nationals, especially those working for MNCs, are going to become an important tactical piece of area denial and “fourth-generation warfare” (otherwise known as actually thinking strategically?) in the next couple of decades. People who haven’t spent decades playing one powerful Western or Eastern sugar daddy off another are going to realise that time is one of the greatest weapons to use against developed-world foes: time that gets ahead of complex bureaucratic responses from military and diplomatic resources, that forces the hands of politicians who like to draw things out in order to avoid awkward questions before election time, and time that feeds into the nature of Western news cycles. One or two good news cycles of disaster inflicted, even if it provokes Western retaliation, also buys you (the REDFOR miscreant) multiple news cycles of recrimination after; swift and well-played blackmail or atrocity is a force multiplier. We’ve seen it in miniature with things like Beslan and the Bombay attacks where, rather than using hostages as media spectacle and political leverage, they were tools of psychological warfare and access-denial weapons of convenience during mass-casualty attacks. (In other words, they weren’t bargaining chips as in the great hostage crises of the 70s-90s, but rather means to confuse and muddy response to relatively wide-ranging and deliberately plotted massacres.) That makes Observer’s third priority an increasingly complex and challenging one for the services.

  12. Repulse

    Good idea TD.

    If we are listing the UK’s defence priorities I think we need to go back to first principles and list at a highlevel what are we trying / willing / able to defend and what are the associated threats to each. At the end of the day it all comes back to health, wealth and religion (or ideology), that is the same focus for us as it is for our potential aggressors.

    My first stab for the UK…

    Health:
    - Self explanatory, but thinking along the lines of the individual to go about their lives without fear of death (e.g. by terrorism) or disease (plague etc).

    Wealth:
    - maintaining or improving our relative living standards through trade and utilization of our natural resources

    Region / Ideology:
    - Freedom of the individual and democracy.
    - The right of self determination for the UK and it’s dependencies.
    - Assisting the weak, protecting the vulnerable and a sense of fair play.

    All these are in the context of we understand we are not a superpower any more.

    Look at the threats to these to these and this what we are protecting against. Some could argue that the biggest threat over the next 10 years is the EU…

  13. ArmChairCivvy

    I can already visualise Repulse’s dimensions as a triangle.

    Namely, threat assessments regardless of how sophisticated they are in constructing the exposure – probability – impact, and – available counters, tend to boil down to lists that people then spend their time disagreeing about (mainly about the order of the line items as that tends to prioritise investment in counter-means… stirring up the vested interests).

    So plotting such lists into the triangular space would also implicitly (and visually) tell something about the values (ideology?) driving or dominating the exercise at hand.

  14. Simon

    Chuck Hill,

    That MFP article is quite interesting…

    I’d suggest the EEZ falls into Observer’s point 1.

    I’d suggest the current RN can protect SLOCs but only at choke points and/or escorting large fleets of vessels at a time.

  15. Simon

    Just remembered, we did this in…

    The Summer of Strategy

    I ended up with…

    Threats:

    1. Terrorism
    2. Piracy (trade disruption)
    3. Proliferation of restricted goods (narcotics, firearms, uranium, etc)
    4. Resource contention/extortion (oil, oil and more oil)
    5. Natural disaster
    6. Attack/invasion

    Causes:

    1. National instability
    2. Breakdown of international law and alliances
    3. Disparity of wealth
    4. Belief (both religious and bigoted)
    5. Revenge

    Strategy:

    1. Securing UK, EU and world financial stability
    2. Upholding international laws
    3. Rebalancing the disparity of world wealth
    4. Undermining powerful and corrupt belief systems
    5. Mediating conflict

    …with…

    1 and 3 are mostly financial
    2 and 5 are diplomacy and force projection
    4 is (hopefully) covert ops and (probably) force projection

  16. Observer

    @Repulse

    I do understand that the motivations of both an aggressor and yourself do matter in terms of response and tactics, but I do not believe they really matter at the priorities level.

    Why?

    Because you have to defend the territorial integrity of the UK regardless of the aggressor’s motivations. There is no way you can say “If they invade us because of religion, we fight them, but if they invade because they want to loot the place (wealth), we let them.” No, if you have a goal, it is irrelevent what opposition or motivation you face, it is something to strive for. The degree/type of opposition would influence your material, numbers and tactics, but not the basic goal to “keep them off our lawn!!”.

  17. martin

    Interesting Questions TD
    I think we need to acknowledge that a lot has changed since SDSR 2015. The Arab Spring has obviously been the main security factor and there are a lot of lessons to be learned from Libya. Secondly the announcement of the US that it will be pivoting towards the pacific means that our primary ally and let’s face it the one we base our expeditionary forces on may not be there the next time we have to act.
    We also have to acknowledge that our other principal security partner the European Union is likely to further decrease its military expenditure and will thus be less able to act while as its political importance grows on the world stage will probably be forced to become more involved on the world stage. We also have to acknowledge that a United States of Europe is an inevitability and will likely happen in the 5 years post 2015. For political reasons the UK will not be able or willing to join. Some form of renegotiation of Britain’s role in Europe is inevitable. Our friends in UKIP and the Tory party seem to believe that Europe will be so desperate to keep trading with the UK that they will bend over backwards to let us stay in the single market but throw out all the Brussels autocracy. I think this position is at best naïve and worst down-right dangerous to the UK. So in the medium to longer term the UK may find it’s self far more isolated than today. However all of these threats also open opportunities.
    The USA’s pacific pivot means more room for us in the med and Middle East. We should try to further capitalize on our position in these areas.
    The Arab spring and increasing security threat around the med will make Europe more concerned about its security just at the time when it is cutting its own budget and its number one protector the USA has f**ked off to the other side of the world. There is zero chance that Europe will increase defence spending and the dominant German position in the EU makes further cooperation beyond NATO and self defence very difficult. This all means that given the right resources the UK could become Europe’s knight in shining armour. We could use this position in EU negotiations to gain a better deal because we have little else to offer in exchange for access to the single market.
    The increasing security threat from North Africa will require intervention and a much more joined up approach between the foreign office, defence and DFID. We should look to expand our soft power base in key African regions and we should definitely consider using foreign aid money to train local forces to provide better security because as we learned in the stan there is no point if giving aid unless we first have security.
    In addition we need to realise that post 2012 the UK is at an all-time high in terms of the rest of the world’s view of us. We need to further capitalize on that.
    We should look to replace the medical facilities provided by RFA Argus and instead build two dedicated hospital and disaster relief ships. These vessels should be paid for by DFID and should spend much of their time making port visits in Africa. Coordination of Royal visits at the same time as the hospital ships should also happen for maximum PR and good will.
    Most importantly SDSR 2015 must acknowledge that in the medium to longer term the defence budget must rise back up to around 2.5% of GDP and that the Trident successor cannot realistically be funded by the MOD budget.

  18. Observer

    @martin

    Don’t mind the knight in shining armour part, but who’s going to pay for it? The piggy bank is stretched enough as it is.

  19. martin

    In terms of changes to the services
    Air force
    The air force needs to be able to replace many of the aspects provided by the USA for operations similar in size to Libya.
    We need an extra 8 A400M’s
    In addition we need to purchase AAR kits for all of our A400M’s allowing for a fleet of up to 30 AAR’s to be available when added together with the voyager fleet.
    Sentinel must be retained
    A purchase of no less than 5 P8 Poseidon’s to provide additional ELINT capability as well as ASW capability for expeditionary forces.
    A full commitment to develop a Mantis derived UAV for persistent ISTAR as well as an MPA supplement.
    Further development of the Taranis UCAV prototype to provide long range deep strike and ISTAR in high threat environments.
    A further purchase of 48 F35B’s should be made when budgets allow.
    The Typhoon must be further integrated in the air to ground role and additional funding to keep tranche 1 typhoon’s in the air. Typhoon and F35B must replace Tornado until a Taranis UCAV is operational.
    After withdrawal from Afghanistan the RAF should look to forward deploy assets in the Persian Gulf as part of British efforts to enhance cooperation with Gulf States. These assets should focus on ELINT/SIGNIT and ISTAR and we should also consider deploying Typhoons in the region If not only to encourage others to buy them.
    Navy
    The navy will be required to be able to deliver in a 24 hour period no less than 100 longer range land attack missiles used in support of an allied operation for SEAD and other first night of operations targets. To achieve this T45 destroyers should be equipped with Mk41 strike length launchers and additional purchases of TLAM should be made the T26 should also incorporate strike length launchers from day one.
    A firm commitment to the T26 program must be made and the purchase of more than 13 hulls should be considered post 2020.
    Additional funding should be found to operate two LPD’s and both aircraft carriers.
    There must be a commitment to deliver 12 hulls in the MHPC program.
    Recognition that the current escort fleet is insufficient to carry out the required tasks. As fleet operations begin to resume this problem will become increasingly severe. These fleet operations as part of the JEF will also put additional pressure on RFA vessels which will find it harder to plug any associated gaps.
    As such an urgent purchase of a Khareef OPV should be made to be permanently deployed in the Falkland Islands as a partial replacement for APT (S) and a further purchase of an additional Clyde style OPV should be made to be permanently based in the Caribbean to replace many of the functions of APT (N). Additional OPV purchases should also be considered to allow for UK based refits of these vessels.
    The navy should permanently station one T45 and one T23 in the vicinity of the Gulf as long as Iran remains a threat. The RN should also maintain its current MCM force in the area.

    Army
    Recognition needs to be given that the Army will require at least five years before it is ready to commit to any large scale operations.
    Restructuring under Force 2020 should continue un-hindered. It also needs to be noted that the Army will require additional funds to re construct its vehicle fleet post Afghanistan and that FRES SV and FRES UV must be made a priority.
    Lessons from Afghanistan should also be learned and the UK should not commit large scale ground forces to a protracted campaign unless it is in response to a direct threat to British interests in Europe, the Med or the Middle East.
    As part of its sustainment force the Army should partner its sustainment brigades with countries in key strategic regions with one brigade assigned to each of the following areas.
    North Africa
    Middle East
    West Africa
    East Africa
    South East Asia
    The main purpose of these brigades should be to foster cross boarder military relationships by providing training and other support.

    Space
    Space has become even more important for HM Forces to conduct operations. UK forces must look to exploit space further and consideration should be given to low cost tactical satellites using both optical and SAR imagery along the pioneering lines developed by SSTL with TOPSAT.
    Rogue states armed with ballistic missiles will represent an increasingly larger threat to the UK and its allies especially in the Middle East. Consideration should be given to development of an Aster 45 ABM system to be based onboard the Type 45 destroyer with one of these ships permanently on station in the Persian Gulf to provide protection to UK interests and nations such as Qatar and Kuwait.
    Joint Expeditionary Force
    The UK should look to gain commitments from as many other EU nations as possible to the Joint Expeditionary Force. This force should be seen as Europe’s prime expeditionary warfare enabler and it should be capable of operating with or without US support. Britain should form the core of this force and be prepared to pick up any slack left by the French. The purpose of this commitment for Britain is to gain additional political traction with in the European Union as well as enhancing the security of the entire Southern European region.

  20. martin

    @ Observer – I agree funding is an issue short of the usual answer of raiding the DFID piggy bank :-)

    However everything is relative. All that matters is that our budget is a bit higher and better spent than Frances. This should be easier to do given just how f**ked France is. Europe actually spends more than enough on defence its just badly spent. We need to focus allot of our efforts on providing the things that they don’t and won’t have like AAR and C4ISTAR. None of which are that expensive to provide in relation to things like Frigates, Fast jets and heavy armour divisions all of which our friends on the channel have in abundance.

  21. Simon

    Martin,

    I like the list.

    If you look at Chuck Hill’s link it contains: What areas of the budget should be targeted first? What should be targeted last?

    It is navy centric but a great idea to do on all the services.

    e.g.

    RAF

    Scrap Tornado.
    Do not cut investment in Typhoon strike capability.

    RN

    Scrap amphibs.
    Do not cut investment in TLAM on T45 or both carriers being brought into service.

    Army

    Scrap more (not all) Challenger II and AS90.
    Do not cut investment in FRES.

  22. Martin

    @ Simon – don’t think I would ever agree with cuttings then amphibs they are cheap as chips to run and pretty vital to our expeditionary strategy. Not sure if we have spent money upgrading the Tornados yet. The cost in 2010 was rummoured to be a saving of some 7 billion which would be significant and could probably be better spent else where in the current climate although we would have to get of our backside pretty fast to integrate SS on the Typhoon.

  23. Topman

    @ Martin

    ‘Not sure if we have spent money upgrading the Tornados yet.’

    It’s happening now, Cap A and Cap B upgrade it’s the final version of Tornado. It’s an upgrade similar to the Germans.

  24. ArmChairCivvy

    Topman, what is it actually “It’s happening now, Cap A and Cap B upgrade it’s the final version of Tornado. It’s an upgrade similar to the Germans.”
    - it has been in the works at least as long as I have been on this blog, so I already forget (the number to be upgraded was cut by just over a half a dozen, I also seem to remember, was it to 96?)

  25. Topman

    @ ACC

    Without taking this further OT, you can find out the detail on the upgrade via the NAO report.

  26. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @TD – I promise not to to talk about equipment, but I think @Martins underlying point is right; if we are to succeed outside the United States of Europe (which is coming) and retain our place somewhere in the G20 (which we need to remain as comfortable as we are) we need to play to our outward looking, trade with the world, engage with the big issues – and that requires MOD spending no less than at present and probably somewhat more – thus the argument for forward deployment, “HM Coastguard” et al – we need to find a way to fill some of the space the Cousins will have vacated by 2030, or sooner if Hilary Clinton becomes a two term President.

    The big issue is to persuade people that this is a good investment, and for that ideas that you have previously floated about using DfID much more strategically and off-setting some defence logistic cost thereby is compelling, as is a very serious look at the BOT EEZs and the wealth they might hold; we need to build a clear presence right along the Atlantic Ridge, and make friends in Africa (starting with Sierra Leone – who might well join the UK if asked) – and that presence needs to be science led, by our existing excellent Oceanographers…

    Why? Because our other option is not to be a self-contained offshore Belgium; they will always be rich because the whole rich European World passes through them…we must make our money by making damn sure that the rest of the world passes though us…we must be outward looking; and that means being willing to take stuff on, not for other peoples sake but for our own.

    Also, because what I am concerned to defend is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland…the place that made the modern world…not some nasty Little England of mealy-mouthed curtain twitchers who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing at all!

  27. Mark

    Very interesting idea

    The deterrent should be in the mix I think. Security of the uk home islands and territories from state aggression, terrorist activity, and natural disaster is the the priority. P5 responsibility of checking nuclear/chemical/bio proliferation is as important as ever.

    Watching and disrupting of trafficking, narcotics money laundering ect is of growing importance as this is usually a funding stream for terrorist and fail state actors. Security for trade and energy supply though I think this is a lessor concern that some portray for the uk. I think Africa and south Atlantic will grow in importance as natural resource requirements slowly shift from the Mid East. Clearly with our ties in the Far East thru trade and the emergence of china will loom on the uk radar.

    With the ever growing world population and travel combined with changes in climate uk citizen or territories in danger from natural disasters or requiring emergency evac will likely increase.

    One area not brought up much is the world of 24hr instant media. The ramping up of media coverage of certain situations can result in pressure being applied to a government to intervene somewhere which may not of been the case in the past. When we do intervene every decisions is analysised to the nth degree which can make situations worse or better. Any incidents that are negative in an overseas intervention can result in a higher terrorist risk back in the uk from sympathisers and the strains that may imposes need much more attention paid.

  28. Simon

    TD,

    There you go. Just pick out all the bits from here and create a voting system. Perhaps you can let each of us simply vote for most and least important, rather than prioritizing the whole lot?

    I think that is where Chuck was coming from.

    I think you’ll need to value some of the decisions a little like playing fantasy football and buying your team.

  29. Simon

    Martin,

    Re: scrapping the Amphibs.

    I was trying to demonstrate a situation where you can’t have everything (carrier and amphibs)… based on the voting system that appears evident in Chuck’s link.

    I’d like them too, but maybe we simply can’t afford them as well as escorts, carriers, OPVs, SSN, trident, etc.

    Hence the need to prioritise a) the threats, b) the perceived causes, and c) the strategy (and kit) needed to protect us from them.

  30. Chuck Hill

    Simon says: January 24, 2013 at 09:45 “Chuck Hill, That MFP article is quite interesting…

    “I’d suggest the EEZ falls into Observer’s point 1.

    “I’d suggest the current RN can protect SLOCs but only at choke points and/or escorting large fleets of vessels at a time.”

    Two related points, the first related to policing the EEZ and the second related to protecting SLOCs, and why they both require MPA and OPVs

    RE EEZ:

    I think is is obvious you need at least minimally equipped MPA to surveil the EEZ. For now lets look at the surface ship requirement.

    The UK clearly does not police the bulk of their EEZ the way they police that immediately adjacent to the European Islands.

    I have been trying to devise a measure to provide a rational basis for determining how many vessels are required to adequately police an EEZ and the number I keep coming up with is that within 24 hours it should be possible to get a vessel on-scene, for SAR, marine environmental protection, law enforcement, or assertion of sovereignty.

    Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EEZ#United_Kingdom

    If we assume 20 knots, ideally a single vessel could cover 126,000 square miles. The European EEZ is 298,718 sq miles, so you would need at least two vessels available to be in position to respond effectively, which it appears you do, but the total UK EEZ is 2,627,651 sq. miles, so you would need 21 vessels available to provide an effective presence (plus additional vessels in maintenance, work-up etc.). They could be Amphibs, RFAs, frigates, OPVs, or perhaps something even smaller waiting in port.

    While you have adequate patrols in European waters and perhaps in the Falklands, coverage in other areas falls far short.

    Re SLOCs:

    I think if you look at the figures, I think you would find, there are so many merchant ships and so few submarines, that all the torpedoes and cruise missiles, carried by all the submarines in the world, could not actually make much of a dent in the world’s trade.

    The real danger is that if the merchant vessel crews (who are unlikely to be Brits, Americans, or even Europeans) feel they will be abandoned if their ship is sunk, they may refuse to sail. Consequently it is very important that there be provision for rescuing the crews of merchant vessels that might be sunk. A network of helicopter equipped ships would be necessary to provide this assurance. They could of course be aircraft carriers, Amphibs, RFAs, or frigates, but OPVs are by far the cheapest and the least likely to be required for other tasking.

    Subs may have priced themselves out of the commerce raiding business. They may have become too precious and carry too few weapons to make good commerce raiders.

    On the other hand, long range cruise missiles launched from containers and inexpensive UAV-ISR may have given new life to the use of auxiliary cruisers as commerce raiders.

    We need to make sure that every time a merchant ship is attacked it provides a datum. And we will need MPA to prosecute the datum.

    You need MPA and (because there will never be enough true warships to do it) probably OPV to both police the EEZ and to respond to attacks on merchant ships in the SLOCs.

  31. Chuck Hill

    Mark says: January 24, 2013 at 22:53, “Would the humble sea mine not be the cheapest most effective way to shut down these routes.”

    Would certainly cause a problem. Since WWII mines have caused more damage to US Navy vessels than any other weapon. They can be place by subs and aircraft, but innocent looking vessels can drop them too. With mines the threat may be as effective as an actual sinking.

    They are also likely to be useful against enemy subs too.

  32. Fedaykin

    If you drop the Amphibs Simon there is no point having the carriers or the escorts. The Amphibs are relatively cheap to run and essential for the nations expeditionary capabilities. In recent years Albion, Bulwark and the Bay’s have proven to be some of the most useful and flexible types in the fleet. All we would be saving is the yearly operational costs.

    On to other things:

    Tornado has already had its OSD brought forward to 2018 so retiring it earlier makes little sense as it is an essentially paid for type with plenty of spares now they have cannibalised the F.3 fleet.

    I see the decision to retire Sentinel being quietly reversed, within months of SDSR 2010 it was shown to be very useful. What is also interesting about they type is the recent upgrades made to it. I was talking to some Sentinel crewman last year at Waddo and what unclassified stuff they could tell me was very interesting. The recent upgrades made significantly enhance it but have been done with little fanfare. The internal workstations have been upgraded and an improved Satcom system installed. This removes the need for the silly ground-stations as it can talk and transfer data directly back to Northwood. The updated Satcom takes up a lot less internal space and the aircraft now has space for other stuff that can talk over the datalink. One area they are toying with is imagery, when Canberra was retired a concept was put together of using the Global express as a replacement. It has good altitude capability and the crew can work shirtsleeve in the back. The offer was never taken up but with the freed up space in the forward section of the canoe they are considering the logistics of putting cameras in it and using the workstations and Satcom. Work has also been done looking at adding extra modes to the radar to allow an over water capability. Sentinel could potentially turn its hand to several new roles, the RAF are clearly keen to keep going on reports like this:

    http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=21528:axed-sentinel-reconnaissance-aircraft-could-be-reprieved-after-libya-performance&catid=35:Aerospace&Itemid=107

  33. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Mark – Hard to get hold of and hard to set in large enough numbers to be really useful for most non-state operators I would think, and actually for a good few states…and if a state sets a minefield it is or could rapidly become an act of war…mind you in my idle moments I have speculated about remotely managed underwater launch points for Unmanned Underwater Vehicles in a handful of key places…like those Islands down south; and in fact all our other bits of rock; should have left one somewhere near HK as well…

    If I now disappear, it means somebody else thought of this first and MI5 are giving me a manicure with the mole-grips!

  34. jackstaff

    GNB,

    Ref: “what I am concerned to defend is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland…the place that made the modern world…not some nasty Little England of mealy-mouthed curtain twitchers who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing at all!”

    Amen. A. Men. And this does enter into the broader complexion of strategy: the multiple and forgotten virtues of the Union (including the way it has repeatedly stood in the way of carving an island of suburban curtain-twitchers — I’d stare just as hard at Wee Eck and the penny-ante Scots Nats — back up into corporate-feudalist bits rather than sustaining a diverse, representative government of citizens.) That and pushing the pendulum back towards actually-representative government, which gets us back (across the world, really) to the centuries-old struggle against the “unearned increment” hogging all the political power (for which see the banker-and-bureaucrat Electors of Charlemagne PLC in Brussels.) If you don’t have a functioning nation-state at deep levels, it gets hard to articulate policy and establish strategic goals.

    Re: a United States of Europe, I’d take a flyer in completely the opposite direction, that in the next five to eight years that goal is going to collapse back into regional blocks, some of which unfortunately (and the farther south and east you go in Europe, the more so) have an unfortunate potential to be volatile. One of the reasons so many key folk in the EU are keen to stress its inevitability and rev up the timetable is because it’s a classic bluff driven by their keen awareness of the strong odds of collapse.

  35. Challenger

    @Fedaykin

    It would certainly be interesting to see how far Sentinel can be developed, it’s a fantastic asset and interestingly one of the few recent major acquisitions that was both on time and on budget. I think they are safe from the axe at the moment, especially now that they have been committed as the UK element to the NATO alliance ground surveillance initiative.

  36. Martin

    @ challenger – it’s so good the RAF offered it up for cuts because they thought the other services would bend over backwards to keep it.

  37. Observer

    Think we got sidetracked to nuts and bolts again.

    Other than the 3 priorities I bunged out, are there any others that seriously require consideration? For example, the need to invade other countries? Like, for example, Argentina?

  38. Not a Boffin

    Observer

    Unfortunately your priority 2 is a bit more complex than it looks. There is no immediate direct threat to SLOCs in European waters. What there is are various indirect threats to world SLOCs which are likely to require some fairly aggressive military actions to counter.

    If by “protecting SLOCs” you’re thinking lots of DD/FF doing classic WW2 convoy or defended lane sea control, think again.

  39. Observer

    I’m just trying to set the framework for the most basic of defence priorities, I know it’s almost minimalist in the nuts and bolts section. Just trying to see what we need the nuts and bolts to do first before we start riveting.

    As for SLOC, I do understand it’s more complicated than WWII. I was thinking Tanker Wars AND Somali “fishermen” with a side job when no one is looking. Not to mention some really interesting political/legal manuvering behind the scenes. There is a very interesting reason why Singapore was pushing so hard for the SLOC conventions that most people don’t usually bring up, and it actually involves economic warfare with our neighbour.

  40. Bobblelink

    Interesting that space has been touched on; we may need to consider independent launch capability if the US turns its back on us and things get frosty with the EU; some investment in Skylon and a cheaper more basic sattelite launcher (using aircraft) should be considered; funded by the Department of Industry perhaps

  41. martin

    One of the main issues with conducting and SDSR is that there are very few threats if any to the UK directly and most of the few that do exist don’t require military responses. Maybe we should focus on just how much we want to get involved in other peoples wars and a serious debate on weather we should just give up our seat in the UN Security Council to help pay for all the things the the British people seem to want like an extra series of strictly.

    @ X Most little Englanders hate the term :-)

  42. Alex

    back to that thing about nations and their citizens abroad. I have a worried suspicion that foreign nationals, especially those working for MNCs, are going to become an important tactical piece of area denial and “fourth-generation warfare” (otherwise known as actually thinking strategically?) in the next couple of decades

    Good point. There are so many of ‘em – the UAE Brits are a town the size of Wigan and bigger than Oxford and that’s only one community. Given that the Government’s economic policy, in so far as it has one, is to chase Gulf money ever harder, we need to worry seriously about this. (Also, if this keeps up I expect to see more emigration; I rather think a lot of young folk who are “travelling/studying/working holiday/backpacking/being a random laowai” are going to suddenly find they’ve emigrated without really setting out to. I certainly know a couple of people who did that. You know, you’re having a lot of fun and you hear the job market’s terrible back home and suddenly BANG you’ve got a Chinese wife and a business.)

    Especially if we’re going to try for a period of well-earned rest and not starting quite so many wars, I think the typical operation is likely to be a short notice projection to protect UK nationals in (somewhere). You’d probably want to look at the French for clues (especially as operations like that always seem to end up supporting their broader foreign policy).

    I took the piss a bit about Hague and Fox planning for an evacuation from the UAE with cruise liners off Fujairah and not having much of a plan for one in Libya, but “how do we look after 10,000 UKNATS in somewhere weird in 36 hours’ time” is a pretty good question to ask. The FCO has made an effort to get better at this sort of thing after dropping the ball a couple of times.

  43. Mark

    x

    Interesting video I take it we don’t do that anymore?

    Chuck I guess we don’t even have to lay that many even a couple of real mines interspersed with a load of fake one could have the same effect.

  44. IXION

    Martin

    Given His last job as Gvnr of Hong Kong should that not be ‘Patten’ pending:)

    Anyway good luck with the whole Kids thing.. I do not know if you are the energetic extreme sports type, but trust me for all the highs and lows, etc….. You are about to discover the meaning of the word Knackered.

  45. Chuck Hill

    @Mark says: January 25, 2013 at 15:17

    “Chuck, I guess we don’t even have to lay that many even a couple of real mines interspersed with a load of fake one could have the same effect.”

    They close the port. Most ports don’t have up to date route surveys to identify mine-like objects. It takes a long time to determine if a route is clear. Just in time manufacturing means industries shut down. People are out of work. Its almost as bad as a longshoreman’s strike.

    Understand the blocks of salt used by cattle ranchers as “salt licks” make excellent mine-like objects to drive the mine-hunters crazy. Old refrigerators too.

  46. John Hartley

    Random thoughts
    Thanks to the Empire we still have some strategic dots scattered about. DfID money should at least be used to make sure they have airports & deep water quays ie an austere capability to take C-17 or T45. This gives Britain a unique global deployment capability.
    Plus tourism, could you imagine the adventure sports available in South Georgia if it had the airport & hotels?
    Self defence/Home Guard/Risk of Mumbai style terrorist attack/ gays being harrassed by islamic jihadists in London. We may need to look again at UK gun laws. Allowing the private ownership of M4 5.56 assault rifles is a recipe for all those massacres, but leaving people defenceless when vast numbers of illegal weapons are being smuggled into the UK is not ideal either. At the height of “the troubles” 11,000 private individuals were licenced for a self defence handgun in Northern Ireland, many only .22s . The Indians may have the right idea about this. An individual with a permit from the police can get a small .32, either a Webley revolver clone or an ancient Browning .32acp self loader clone. Neither is enough gun to go on a killing spree, but both can ruin a terrorists/muggers/burglars/rapists day.

  47. Simon

    John Hartley,

    “…either a Webley revolver clone or an ancient Browning .32acp self loader clone. Neither is enough gun to go on a killing spree, but both can ruin a terrorists/muggers/burglars/rapists day.”

    So can a crossbow and they’re entirely legal. They also benefit from not being particularly concealable ;-)

  48. Simon

    Observer,

    I think we need to add mediating the balance of power in the world. It’s essentially what we’ve been doing of late since there was no direct threat to our soil, no sea lane problems, and nobody to evacuate.

  49. Simon

    Chuck,

    You suggest a 24-hour EEZ response and then seem to use a 10-hour figure in your square mile calcs. Any reason? By rights each ship could ultimately cover an area of 723,000 square nautical miles or almost one-million square statute miles.

    Obviously our total of 2.6 million square miles is over about 15 separate regions so would require at least that many assets to cover it.

    Jumping to the OPV/MPA requirement for SLOCs. Is this an accepted angle on the threat to trade (i.e. the fact that the crews need assurance of rescue rather than defence in the first place)?

  50. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @TD – Reading responses from the point when I turned in last night, there seems to be an important difference between those of us who believe we should engage with and influence the world as much as we can because that stance defines who we are and what it is that we are defending…and those who are much inclined to fold the tents, concentrate on the social/economic needs of our “ain folk” (possibly including those elsewhere?) and leave the rest of the world alone as much as possible.

    I consider both positions to be morally and philosophically sound, although I very obviously hold one and fundamentally disagree with the other; but I think we need to find some way to explore the issue without a descent into vulgar abuse – or perhaps some sort of steer from yourself as to how you see things?

    I should add that my belief in the engaged and interventionist approach is in part philosophical – I think in the final analysis that starting to see ourselves as a rather larger offshore Belgium would do us even more harm than the withdrawal from Empire; and would leave us as a rather nasty “Little England” – a place I would no longer recognise, and that I would not want to raise my Boy in. (But I stress I use those terms to describe how it would feel to me, not as an offensive caricature of those who take the other view) However it is also practical – with few natural resources I do not believe we can retain our place in the G20 without going out into the world in the ways I have described – and the world we are going out into is growing no safer; we need to keep our hands in if we are to survive and flourish in it.

    I might add that in my view if the other strategy prevails, our only coherent option is to fully embrace our Membership of the United States of Europe as soon as possible, probably by a game-changing decision like joining the Euro; and then sit alongside Germany and France as the collapse that @Jackstaff envisages takes place to our south and east…

  51. paul g

    a rather weak link to the thread, but in view of the review being in 2015, does anyone think that the new big cheese RAF who will be in the seat by then, might have a different view on what they want as he’s the first non FJ chief? IE his career was as a chinook pilot.

    Just a thought!

  52. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @PG – Possible; another issue just pointed out by Sir H on Thin Pinstriped Line is the lack of 4* Sailors by then…

  53. jedibeeftrix

    well put GNB –

    “there seems to be an important difference between those of us who believe we should engage with and influence the world as much as we can because that stance defines who we are and what it is that we are defending…and those who are much inclined to fold the tents, concentrate on the social/economic needs of our “ain folk” (possibly including those elsewhere?) and leave the rest of the world alone as much as possible.

    I consider both positions to be morally and philosophically sound, although I very obviously hold one and fundamentally disagree with the other”

  54. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Err – thanks; thing is, if TD is going for a kind of crowd-sourced SDSR which crowd does he want to source? Or is he looking for two wholly different options? I can see practically no common ground between them…

  55. Chuck Hill

    @Simon, January 25, 2013 at 20:31

    “Chuck,

    “You suggest a 24-hour EEZ response and then seem to use a 10-hour figure in your square mile calcs. Any reason? By rights each ship could ultimately cover an area of 723,000 square nautical miles or almost one-million square statute miles.

    “Obviously our total of 2.6 million square miles is over about 15 separate regions so would require at least that many assets to cover it.”

    Thanks for checking I did make an error, but not as great as you found. Since the EEZ is not drawn around the ship, the requirement would be to get from one side of the EEZ to the opposite extreme.

    A simple circular EEZ around a single point with a 200 nmi radius would include 125,64 square miles and would require a ship to make 16.67knots to go from side to side even if it passed through the center point the EEZ is figured from. Most EEZs are not shaped like that but that alone would probably justify a ship using the criteria I’ve suggested.

    If we by chance had a 240 mile radius EEZ (20 knots x 24 hours to cross) That would be slightly less than 181,000 sq. nmi. If we considered a more linear EEZ 200 nmi or either side of a line then one ship could meet the criteria by covering an area 400×266 (480 nmi diagonal) or 106,400 sq nmi.

    So that gives a possible range from 106,400 to 181,000 sq nmi.

    I did take a closer look at the overseas territories.

    The Falkland Islands, at 212,693 sq nmi probably requires two ships constantly available.

    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands at 559,667 sq nmi probably could justify at least three.

    Bermuda at 173,890, Assension at 170,525 and St. Helena at 171,783 justify one each.

    Tristan da Cuna with 291,400 and 624 miles between the extreme north and south ends of its EEZ can probably justify at least two.

    Pitcairn Islands with 322,823 probably justifies at least two.

    The British Indian Ocean Territories at 246,552 probably justifies two but one relatively fast vessel might serve.

    The Turks and Caicos, Montserrat, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, and the Cayman Islands, are a bit more complicated. They total only 174,935 sq nmi which would suggest one ship, but it is more than 1100 miles from the Cayman Islands to Montserrat with a land mass in between, so perhaps there should be at least two ship to cover this area.

    So I would estimate you need about 16 ships on patrol or standby for the overseas territories. Add at least two more for the European waters (298,718 sq nmi) and you need about 18 ships on patrol or standby.

  56. Chuck Hill

    @Simon, January 25, 2013 at 20:31

    “Chuck,…Jumping to the OPV/MPA requirement for SLOCs. Is this an accepted angle on the threat to trade (i.e. the fact that the crews need assurance of rescue rather than defence in the first place)?”

    Apparently this is accepted because neither the US or UK nor all NATO combined is building enough escorts to make convoys a viable option. As noted, there are many many merchant ships and relatively few submarine weapons, so jumping on flaming datums is a viable strategy if you have the MPA to do it, but to keep the ships moving there has to be a rescue system for the merchant ship crews. If the rescue ships also tow towed arrays and carry ASW helicopters too that is all to the good, but first we need the rescue organization.

  57. Gloomy Northern Boy

    OK then – a thought provoker – I think the real key to our defence is our place in the world – the Security Council Seat, our role in various alliances (some of them more active than others, but all of them potentially useful if we invest in them); however, in my view we can only justify those things if we keep the Nukes and maintain a capacity for expeditionary warfare; if we withdraw much further from those capabilities those alliances will fall away, there will be pressure on us to leave the top-table at the UN and NATO, the Cousins will be unlikely to support the renewal of Trident…the question is do people accept that proposition, or if not why not?

    I guess what I am saying is that if we reduce capability much further, we lose not just the capability but also the leverage (which actually matters more)…at which point could we defend any overseas interest, or indeed anything at all bar our native turf…is there (as I fear) nothing at all for us between the Premiership (where we still are) and a Sunday Morning League in the local park…and if so what is it?

  58. Observer

    Good point Gloomy, and if losing the seat also means losing control of the ability to control events, that might not be in the UK’s best interests. Penny wise in savings, pound foolish in that you let blind chance take a bigger role.

    In this case, how about this for a cost savings? With carriers, you do not need as many land based airfields, so some of the bases can be closed while the carrier takes up the slack. IIRC a very large chunk of the budget goes into facilities maintainence, and having air power projection with a carrier AND a UK air base is redundant. If the RAF is needed in the area, leasing of local airbases in other countries can be done. If the deal does turn sour, you still have the carrier, and possible American carriers as backup.

  59. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Observer – a good thought – how few UK Airbases could we function with in peacetime, especially if UK Air was routinely and regularly forward deployed – how much easier, for example to do the Mali task from Freetown?

    How about putting most active squadrons into forward deployed air wings to the Atlantic Ridge, the Med and the Gulf/Indian Ocean with the UK facilities concentrating on recruiting/training/deep maintenance – and building up stocks both of aircraft and pilots in the RAFVR, as we did from 1936 onwards? (Could also forward deploy elements of the “line brigades”, and logistics – I envisage “HMG Logistics” embracing the RFA, an air equivalent, and secure warehousing – perhaps purchasing from Freetown and helping build up the SL economy?)

    After all, if we need a major air effort from the UK we have lots of runways for dispersal – they are called “Airports”.

    PS The obvious overseas development aspects suggest a budget where some of the cost might be offset from..!

  60. Phil

    Seems to me our policy is based on four strands:

    (1) To conduct swift small scale complex and non-complex interventions on a global scale, in extremis unilaterally but more preferably with passive and active support from partners (the lack of active and passive support suggests lack of support for the intervention as a whole which means the task is immeasurably more difficult). This requires an emphasis on relatively light, genuinely rapidly deployable forces as well as the ability to swiftly build international consensus – the effort thus includes not only the MoD but joint action with the Foreign Office and No 10.

    This might be a Sierra Leonne scenario or an equivalent of the Mali operation.

    (2) To contribute niche capabilities to allies undertaking similar operations as discussed above. The forces useful in this role are useful in the following main role.

    (3) To lead or have a significant and real voice in medium and large scale interventions by possessing an armed forces capable of generating (i) sufficient deployed mass and (ii) those niche capabilities included in (3).

    (4) ‘Up-stream’ normal jogging conflict prevention, engagement and stability operations. This requires a truly joint and concerted effort encompassing a large number of UK agencies and Central Gov Departments along with a wide scale liaison with NGOs and intra-state organisations and alliances some of which we in the West probably have not really heard of.

    Role 4 is clearly the one where we stand to gain the most in the long term, and it is also paradoxically the easiest to achieve capabilities wise, but the hardest to actually achieve in practise since it’s very success will undermine the reason for the existence of the armed forces. Nobody needs as many fire engines if there aren’t as many fires.

    This will be our main effort and our most challenging.

    If we relate these to the Army:

    (1) The Army is scaled and organised and has given certain units the focus and capabilities to conduct such small scale interventions.

    (2) The Army has niche ISTAR capabilities and SF utility along with far softer and less visible but completely essential logistical specialists able to offer advice and command.

    (3) The Army will maintain its heavy war-fighting capability to allow us to take the lead or have a significant voice in coalition large scale interventions.

    (4) The Adaptive Force will provide for these upstream engagement taskings and it seems likely formations will be embedded in geographical areas. There will be forward deployed forces but they will be adaptive forces of light infantry and specialist training teams which rather happily are the cheapest to sustain and the best for the role.

    The hole that is emerging now is in medium-sized enduring operations.

    Nobody wants to go there after Afghanistan. There is no official appetite for such things.But the armed forces are being sensible enough to realise that they will probably still be called upon to conduct such operations. There is a potential fault line here between political expedience and real world events and this is the point of maximum danger.

    This schism between the real world prevalence of medium enduring operations and the political desire to ‘not go there’ would be on my SDSR 2015 Risk Register, especially since the small scale complex interventions have a habit of becoming enduring in nature.

  61. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Phil. Spot on – all of which argues for the forward deployed strategy for air wings and ISTAR/UAV/UUV (mostly on our bits of rock) – and a serious Navy that keeps sea lanes safe and open as we need them, with CVF Groups available to add weight where needed; (and HM Atlantic Ridge Coastguard?)

  62. Phil

    I don’t see any reason to forward deploy fast jets, personally I think the kind of up-stream engagement stuff really calls for increases in the effectiveness of organic ground fire-power. Forward deploying fast jets is expensive. Better I think to continue developing relations and alliances that mean we can drop into an airbase like we have done in Italy several times.

    ISTAR assets are obviously best utilised nearer the places they are needed I agree with you.

    The Navy no more needs to conduct unilateral large scale operations than the Army or Air Force does. Keeping sea lanes open is an international job and this is again where our upstream engagement (showing the flag, fighting pirates) and our ability to lend mass (CVF and Astute) means we can be a big voice in that.

    The overall and fundamental theme to these four roles is uncertainty.

    Upstream engagement is a way of managing the risk of this uncertainty and the heavier tools are a way of dealing with the consequences of that uncertainty. It is the reason why I support CVF, it is useful in the uncertainty since it can if needs be take on a powerful fleet role, but in the everyday engagement and small interventions it also has a useful role (albeit wider than the initial FJ carrier scope).

  63. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Phil – I believe that being forward-deployed might help considerably with medium sized enduring operations – no better way to convince people you are there to stay than being there to stay; also makes more sense of an idea about recruiting local troops that has been floated from time to time…is there a state potentially friendly enough to us for the rebirth of the Royal West African Regiment to be plausible? can those living thereabouts in Commonwealth states legally sign up for HMAF?

    Just a thought.

  64. Phil

    I don’t think its realistic and I don’t think penny packeting troops like that makes sense – it goes against the basics.

    I think the forward engagement model as per Army 2020 makes sense. Small training teams and plenty of exercises and military assistance. Might not sound like a big difference on paper but in reality it is. Small training teams and exercises and military assistance doesn’t need anything like the scales and support a combat ready light infantry battlegroup does.

  65. ArmChairCivvy

    I had trouble fully understanding Phil’s leading in part, but I think his concluding part is spot on, as is the army bit:

    “our policy is based on four strands:….”

    “If we relate these to the Army:
    (1) The Army is scaled and [will be?]organised and has given certain units the focus and capabilities to conduct such small scale interventions.
    (2) The Army has niche [joint?] ISTAR capabilities and SF utility along with far softer and less visible but completely essential logistical specialists able to offer advice and command.
    (3) The Army will maintain its heavy war-fighting capability to allow us to take the lead or have a significant voice in coalition large scale interventions.
    (4) The Adaptive Force will provide for these upstream engagement taskings and it seems likely formations will be embedded in geographical areas. There will be forward deployed forces but they will be adaptive forces of light infantry and specialist training teams which rather happily are the cheapest to sustain and the best for the role.

    The hole that is emerging now is in medium-sized enduring operations.

    This schism between the real world prevalence of medium enduring operations and the political desire to ‘not go there’ would be on my SDSR 2015 Risk Register, especially since the small scale complex interventions have a habit of becoming enduring in nature.”

  66. John Hartley

    I think we make the mistake of thinking we get to choose what the next war will be like, when it is the enemy that makes that choice for us.

  67. Phil

    Well we don’t have a choice John. We can only do a risk assessment and try to manage the risks in various ways. Sometimes we’ll be ready, sometimes we’ll be caught on the hop. Embrace the chaos!

  68. Repulse

    @Gloomy, re:Security Council Seat. I agree but cannot see the status quo continuing for long. The “best” the UK can hope for is that the Security Council expands to include Brazil, India etc, the worst is that we get kicked out. There is also the option that the UN becomes irrelevant.

    An alternative to be explore however is that the UKs seat is used to represent the Commonwealth and Frances the EU.

    Still the UK should still have the military weight to deserve the seat also as you say.

  69. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Repulse – I agree – but rather than wait for somebody else to open the batting I would favour making the proposal about Brazil and India ourselves – in parallel with moving to a “forward deployed” strategy and with at least one Carrier Groups at sea – thereby raising our credibility as reliable friends amongst the smaller Commonwealth States in Africa and our SEATO Allies – this might possibly maintain our role amongst the new 7-Seat UNSC, especially coupled with a decision in favour of Trident II or some credible alternative.

    My underlying thinking is that if all we want to do is defend the Home Islands we could do so with a regular force comprising ISTAR, enough interceptor squadrons to maintain the necessary 24/7, 365 days a year patrol; a handful of OPVs and SSNs; and the Brigade of Guards to train and command a Citizen Militia on the Swiss model. The Nukes would also be nice, but if we withdraw to this extent we will get no help from the Cousins in renewing them, so that notion is illusory.

    However, if we want to defend anything else at all – overseas interests, the BOTS – which we should for both moral and practical resource availability reasons – we need the kind of capacity for Expeditionary Warfare proposed (if not really resourced ) in the last SDSR.

    And finally, we could only ever use that capacity on our own account with absolutely no thought for anybody else…but if we are more generous in the way we engage with the world that generosity acts as a massive force multiplier with respect to the UN/NATO/SEATO – and helps to keep us at the top table, which in its turn helps keep us in the G20, which in its turn allows us in large part to make our own fate and influence the world in our favour – and allows us a pretty comfortable carry-on at home.

    End of sermon, sorry all!

  70. x

    GNB said “a Citizen Militia”

    Beg your pardon, but last time I looked I was a Crown Subject. Citizen? Pffft. ;)

    EDIT: Um. I still get my choice of M4 or M16 and 2,000 rounds of 5.56 do I? No hard feelings…

  71. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @CH – Apologies, but I think the principle remains the same; with alliances we get out what we put in, plus some; also I thought we did still have treaty obligations in those parts – perhaps you could enlighten me?

    @x – Very sorry – Crown Militia is no doubt the operative term; not my call on what they issue, as I am pretty firmly opposed to the idea…I prefer the old place out and active in the world, not folding up its tents and going home.

  72. Chuck Hill

    @Gloomy Northern Boy, January 27, 2013 at 23:29, “@CH – Apologies, but I think the principle remains the same; with alliances we get out what we put in, plus some; also I thought we did still have treaty obligations in those parts – perhaps you could enlighten me?

    The US has several bilateral treaties, I’m not aware of UK treaties for the area, but there is no longer a NATO counterpart for Asia. Perhaps if China keeps trying to push their neighbors around there will be. There is ASEAN, but that is not an alliance.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEATO

  73. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @A McL – Thanks – I thought there was something out there…so one of the Brigade HQs with ISTAR and relationship building responsibilities that @Challenger advocated on his 13.31 comment on the SDSR thread would have a starting point; unless the RM Commando Brigade did that job…

  74. Mike Edwards

    Right, what will happen. Austerity will work exceptionally slowly, we won’t be fiscally viable as a Country until 2020 based on current forecasts.

    Tories will lose next election, after 7 years of a stalling economy the public will be fed up. Labour will get in, and a

    NAVY – Straight off the bat we will Sell/ Cancel one Carrier.
    Trident will get a Refurbishment, and kick this issue another 10 years on in the long grass.
    RFA’s Cut.
    Mine Hunters reduced.
    OPV increased.
    2 x T23 cut.

    ARMY – Heavy Armour will be downsized, to just the Royal Tank Regiment (Other’s like Hussars will go)
    All the older AFV’s will go, ( Scimitar, Spartans, FV432′s, Bulldogs, etc).
    Army Air Corps – Will have probably a 1/3 of A/c mothballed into controlled environment storage.
    Future Lynx/ WildCAT cancelled.
    Yorkshire Regiment will lose another Battalion, Rifles will lose a Battalion, Royal Welch will probably go.
    Draw down in REMF’s – Logisitics, REME etc.
    Will bring back all the Regiments to the UK.
    Future of BATUS under review.
    Possible purchase of Cheap APC’s (US Stryker / MOWAGS).

    RAF :-

    4 – 5 Bases to go.
    C130 will go early as ATLAS steps up, with C17 covering gap in interim.
    EUROFIGHTER we will probably try and sell these off to someone keeping maybe 120.
    Tornado Gone.
    PUMA’s Gone.
    SEA KINGS Gone.
    Tristar / VC10 Gone.
    F-35 for ROYAL NAVY FLEET AIR ARM ONLY.
    Investment in more UAV’s.

    All my speculation on gut instinct and thinking more from a politician Cost / Efficiency / Stupidity side, lets see how much comes true.

  75. Cassandra

    (1)The definition of national interest no 1 as “territorial integrity” must go beyond conventional geography to take account of the impact on our economy and our way of life of globalization and the internet. Defending our territory now entails having the capacity to defend our networks in cyberspace. When the next existential threat to UK might be computer-generated havoc, what will we need to rely on to protect us? In terms of impacts, what use are megatonnes, when megabytes can do the job far quicker, far cheaper, and with far less traceability? That is not an argument for scrapping Trident, but it is a consideration when thinking about the cost of maintaining or replacing it.
    (2) As long as UK elections continue to be fought and won promising Scandinavian levels of welfare at US levels of taxation, our economic outlook will remain too weak to afford and maintain more than a (too) few billion pound weapon systems. (F 35 anyone?) Maybe a more serious, systematic and creative analysis of “asymmetric” approaches to defence is called for? It’s interesting that the Viet Cong managed to defeat first the French, then the Americans, the Cambodians and not least the Chinese, defending their territorial integrity, all on a fraction of the budget of their adversaries, and all within the last 50 years. That is not to suggest new uses for the Crossrail tunnels! But it does make you think if you put GCHQ/cyber + C4ISR + special forces on one side of the balance, and F35 + CVCs on the other, and ask the question, which of these can we afford to sustain at world class levels of effectiveness for the next 20 years, because the answer is unlikely to be all of the above.
    (3) The “entente frugale” is, of course, one way of squaring the budgetary circle. But that means thinking strategically about our relationship and integration with Europe and France in particular, which is something apparently beyond the grasp of our political masters and the media which pulls their strings, except to reject it. Within the European theatre, however, it has a lot going for it.
    (4) Maintaining an independent deterrent is the elephant in the room. Is scrapping our ultimate insurance policy worth the saving? No. Is it worth seeing whether we could reduce the premiums on the policy? Yes.

  76. Chris.B.

    @ Cassandra,

    1) A lot of the Cyber stuff gets over blown. Not that it’s not a risk, but a lot of the stuff that is touted on the news as “hacking” is really just people having their login details swiped and a lack of observation of basic IT security measures. Other than data theft, there are also limits to how much damage can really be done by computers. Not really in the interest of IT security specialists to mention that though, as then their ability to make buckets of money scaring the s**t out of executives becomes a little limited.

    2) If you remove the cost of debt service then we don’t do too badly in terms of spending vs income. As time passes the debt burden will gradually ease, the economy should naturally pick up, so tax income will rise and welfare spending will lower a little. Althought the short term outlook is not great, the long term economic outlook is still quite positive at this stage.

    3) You’ve hit a subject close to my heart right now with the idea of relationship building in Europe. Opportunities abound.

    4) Hot potato. Not going there.

  77. Mike Edwards

    @Chris B – Cyber Security is not Overblown at all. As someone in the industry, let me say:-

    1. Technology – The UK and it’s NATO allies depend on the critical edge of technology, much of how that technology works is very highly protected in order to maintain that qualitative edge over potential adversaries. Knowledge of those systems, it’s capabilities and vulnerabilities (from a Risk Mitigation point of view, as no system is perfect) is highly prized by those who would seek conflict or potentially be our adversaries in the future.

    State-sponsored Cyber attacks / Information exploitation / capturing of data is conducted specifically to get hold of sensitive information (Like the Acoustic Trials data of the Astute Class submarine for example, or Communications interception, Technical details of items such as the Sea Viper missile etc). This information has to be protected, but very well funded, protected and skilled Black hats (true Talented individuals not the little script kiddies/ suicide hacker you are referring to) can and will get through.

    Cyber Security (from a National Security standpoint) is not about stealing your YOUTUBE profile or blogspot login, although often this is useful in reconnaissance / Probing of government / Defence Industry systems.

    This is way-off topic, but please don’t be under the impression that Cyber Security is some Media Creation, if it was do you really think Businesses would be spending Billions hardening their network infrastructure?

  78. Chris.B.

    @ Mike E,

    “This information has to be protected, but very well funded, protected and skilled Black hats (true Talented individuals not the little script kiddies/ suicide hacker you are referring to)”
    – For someone ‘in the industry’ you seem to be very unaware of the fact that a) those kiddies have been responsible for the majority of serious cyber attacks in the west against both commercial and government entities and that b), the Chinese cyber ninjas with their banks of supercomputers etc that are often used to scare the shit out large corporations are using many of the same techniques as the kiddies, because they often work against lax security measures.

    “State-sponsored Cyber attacks / Information exploitation / capturing of data is conducted specifically to get hold of sensitive information (Like the Acoustic Trials data of the Astute Class submarine for example, or Communications interception, Technical details of items such as the Sea Viper missile etc)….. Cyber Security (from a National Security standpoint) is not about stealing your YOUTUBE profile or blogspot login, although often this is useful in reconnaissance / Probing of government / Defence Industry systems. ”
    – Really, well I’m glad you clarified that for me. And here was me thinking the dastardly Chinese were after Camerons Facebook login so they could put photo-shopped pictures of him and the Queen on it.

    As pointed out above, most of the serious IT security compromises in recent years (including a breach of the USAF for example) have occured through fairly simple scams used to get hold of peoples login details for things like e-mail, which have then been used to access supposedly secured networks. Mainly because that produces the most consistent results, with the least amount of effort.

    As for the Astute trials data, something tells me BAE wouldn’t just leave that lying around somewhere that can be accessed from an outside source. So a combination of fairly basic physical security and IT security measures should eliminate 99% of threats to that data. Some more advanced access measures should finish the job.

  79. John Hartley

    After Eastleigh, the next election might be, LibDems cling on to their seats, but with tiny majorities, Tories stand still, UKIP breaksthrough in a handful of seats, Labour builds up bigger majorities in its heartland, but fails to breakthrough in the South. Large numbers of people stay at home & do not vote.
    Although the pols would like more defence cuts, world events may scupper that.
    If all our computers are built in China, then there is no cyber security.

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