The Think Defence Year in Review

This a quick review of 2013 at TD Towers and a look forward to 2014.

A Message from the Dear Leader

Always my number one thing to say at the end of the year.

So, thank you to the readers, commenters and contributors to Think Defence.

Thank you for your perseverance, patience and efforts without which this place would be a much poorer place. If Think Defence does have a strength it is that I think we don’t take things too seriously (it is only the internet after all) but we don’t trivialise either.

Thank you to the many people that send me interesting news and information through the contact system or via email, am not brilliant at responding to everything in a timely manner so the thank you is also an apology.

Thank you to the numerous people that give me permission to use their images in posts and the MoD photographers and news types who do such a great job in both providing compelling photographs and making them accessible.

Thank you to Parliament, the MoD and defence industry who all strive to provide as much information for public  discussion as possible within the constraints of security and commercial confidentiality.

Thank you to the many other defence bloggers with whom I share information, ideas and compliments. I hope I haven’t missed anyone off when I give a shout out to the very kind gentlemen at Defence with a C, Thin Pinstriped Line, Chuck Hills Blog, SNAFU, Defense Industry Daily, CIMSEC, LiveFist, Hush KitInformation Dissemination, Bring the Heat Bring the Stupid, Defense and Freedom and Military History Now .

I am a big fan of the online defence  community collaborating on developing discussions, hope to do more in 2014.

Thank you to everyone that posts links to Think Defence on other forums, UK and abroad.

Finally, an apology if I have upset or disappointed anyone, never my intention.


Depending on how you count, Think Defence, gets roughly a quarter of a million views per month.

It fluctuates depending on a number of factors but traffic has grown steadily in the year, total for the year being about 3 million

Yea ha

The majority of traffic is from the UK (66%) with the USA (9%), Australia (3%), Canada (2%) also making significant contributions to the ‘non UK traffic’.

London (16%) and Bristol (6%) were the two largest traffic source cities.

Windows is still the main operating system for desktop visitors, weighing in at 63% with Chrome and Internet Explorer used in equal proportion.

In the mobile world, iOS is dominant with 69%, Android at 27% and the balance being made up of Blackberry and Windows Phone. Matching the screen resolutions points to the iPad being the most popular mobile device for consuming Think Defence content.

The ten most popular posts were;

  1. Obituary for the Main Battle Tank
  2. Boots on the Ground
  3. Time to Fit Strike Length Launch Cells to the Type 45
  4. The Price of Cocaine
  5. Looking Forward to the an F35 Future (The Promise)
  6. The French Defence White Paper
  7. The Type 26 Global Combat Ship
  8. The End of a Maritime Strategy
  9. Hollow Force
  10. Is a 2nd Hand Shopping Trip a Good Idea

40% of inbound traffic comes from search engines (mostly Google), 40% direct (i.e. people typing the address into their browser) and social and referral traffic makes up the balance.

Social traffic is mostly Twitter and referrals from other sites comes from a collection of sites including the Thinpinstripeline, Warships 1, Military Photos, Arrse, pprune, wikipedia, defence with a c and others.

Apart from Think Defence (and variation thereof) the most 10 popular search terms by which people found Think Defence were;

  2. Rivet Joint
  3. Stanag protection levels
  4. Warrior TES H
  5. Type 26 Frigate
  6. A400M Atlas as MPA
  7. CVF
  8. Atlantic Conveyor
  9. Santa Claus Amphibious Falklands
  10. Type 45 Upgrades

No, I don’t understand number 9 either!

The most commented on posts by month were;

The Top 10 Most Commented posts were;

  1. Time to Cancel FRES SV?, by Jed, 690 Comments
  2. RN OPV’s What do Patrol Vessels Do?, by Jed, 380 Comments
  3. The French Defence White Paper, by Think Defence, 377 Comments
  4. UK and Syria – The OLAAR, by Phil, 373 Comments
  5. Hollow Force, by Repulse, 357 Comments
  6. The End of a Maritime Strategy, by Think Defence, 354 Comments
  7. Small Carriers or No Carriers, by Think Defence, 346 Comments
  8. Looking Forward to an F35 Future – Part 5 (By Sea By Land), by Think Defence, 287 Comments
  9. Obituary for the Main Battle Tank – or its Future, by Monty, 262 Comments
  10. Army 2020 July 2013 Update, by Think Defence, 255 Comments

Between the contributing authors and I, 846 posts were published in 2013, averaging 70 per month

There are now 2.4 million words on Think Defence spread across 2,236 posts.


The secret formulae for what makes a good post with loads of comments and views continues to elude me but these are my personal favourite posts and highlights from the year;

January (46 posts)

February (23 posts)

The Port Stanley Runway series was a massive piece of research which explains the low post count for the month.

March (43 posts)

I started the Ship to Shore Logistics series in March which did not complete until December, another pretty large piece of research.

April (73 posts)

April seems to have been a busy month with 73 posts including starting the UK Complex Weapons series

The month was started with an April Fools Joke

May (64 Posts)

June (94 Posts)

July (65 Posts)

August (107 Posts)

The busiest month of the year

September (100 Posts)

October (74 Posts)

November (81 Posts)

December (75 Posts)


Another thank you, and it is a massive one, to everyone that has thrown a few quid into the kitty.

I run Think Defence because I enjoy it and not as a commercial venture.

The reason I reluctantly asked for donations earlier in the year was simply because the site has grown into a bit of a traffic monster and the low cost hosting and free software model that worked when traffic was low could not support this increased traffic.

It varies from month to month but Think Defence costs about £2k a year to run

Total donations this year have been £365 from 30 people

This goes a long way so once again, my heartfelt thanks.

Social Media

Think Defence has a presence on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr and Twitter

That’s called being down with the kids!

Think Defence on Facebook; I use this mainly as a mirror for posts from the main site

Think Defence on Tumblr; I also use this mainly as a mirror for posts from the main site

Think Defence on Pinterest; I use this to share the odd image

Think Defence on Flickr; The Flickr image store has pretty much all the images used on Think Defence, and more, split into a number of sets. In total, the Flickr image store gets about half a million hits per year.

Think Defence on Twitter; with 2,086 followers and 8,632 tweets I am probably more active on Twitter than the others

2014 Plans

Site Design

No doubt I will get pissed off and contemplate whether to carry on or give the whole lot up as a bad job, you should also expect a redesign at some point, gotta keeps things fresh!

Minor site improvements are also in the pipeline and a lot of behind the scenes tinkering on speed optimisation, will also have another look at comment SPAM which I know is an irritation but consider that this year, Think Defence had the dubious pleasure of seeing about half a million SPAM comments.


On the to do list is;

  • A detailed multi part series on Army vehicles with Monty, Chris, Mr Fred (hopefully) and others, an exercise in collaborative writing. Any volunteers, please let me know
  • Towards SDSR 2015
  • Finish off the Complex Weapons series, Storm Shadow, Paveway IV and SPEAR
  • Like the Ship to Shore series, something in the same vein on expeditionary air logistics
  • Another look at the SIMSS Not a Frigate concept
  • Learning lessons from Johnny Foreigner
  • A Humanitarian Response Capability
  • Coping with a declining budget, how low can you go
  • Army fixed wing aviation
  • Upstream engagement with the RAF
  • Will the UK ever buy equipment from Russia?
  • Decoys and deception
  • Is the UK Defence SME is alive and well?
  • Containers and pallets (it’s been a while)

I quite fancy covering a bit more history (I say that every year), does anyone have any subjects they would like to see covered?


An obvious question, am I, the commenters and contributing authors making this place a worthwhile yet not too serious place on the internet for those interested in UK defence issues?

How can we do better?

Is the balance between short and detailed posts right, does the subject matter span work?

And Finally…

Thanks again, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Oh, and if you have a fiver spare, drop it in the post at Holidays 4 Heroes



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!

31 thoughts on “The Think Defence Year in Review

  1. Swmming Trunks

    A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you TD and all Think Defence readers.

    Been working on a post(s) for awhile now – hopefully New Year will see it finished!

  2. Mark

    A thank you to you TD for giving us a forum to indulgence in conversation with like minded individuals and to all of TD commentators with whom we enjoy such hearty debate. Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

    Ps anything with cvs in the title will ensure a several hundred post I’m sure!

  3. John Hartley

    I thought Tumblr was for porn? Or are we defenceporn now? Any road up, a momentary lapse from cynicism to wish TD & all the commenting elves, a merry Christmas. God bless you everyone. Normal miserable commenting resumes on the 27th.

  4. Sir Humphrey

    Merry christmas TD!

    I remain in awe of the way you’ve pulled together a superb website and wider web presence into something which is a genuinely credible, fascinating and insightful look at UK defence today.

    Best wishes for 2014!

  5. Challenger

    Another year of great posts and hearty debate nearly over!

    To TD and all his regular members/commentators a very merry Christmas!

  6. IXION

    Twas the night before commissioning and all through the carrier
    not an plane was stirring not even a Harrier.

    When outside the porthole there arose a noise most frighting
    I knew at once it must be a lightning (II),

    “Up typhoon, up FRES,up T26
    Up must go the budget or we,re all in a fix.”

    Cried RT, Cried Phil we need more pounds shillings florrins or groats
    even if it is for Andrews floaty little boats.

    Gloomy was gloomy, APATS more get up and go
    And various contributors chanted……… We are still a world power you know.

    We argue we shout we get our engines ‘revvin’
    And we were all unaccountably rude to someone called Kevin.

    So this year we’ve argued this year whose wrong* and whose right**
    But merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!

    *you lot
    ** me.

  7. dave haine

    A most useful site…It would be nice if the powers that be followed it too and commented…

    Hey there’s a thought…see if you could get phil Hammond to do an article…. Or CDS…

    Anyway, thanks very much TD….

  8. Gloomy Northern Boy

    A very happy Christmas to the Alphabet Soup, wherever you are and whatever you are doing. I wish you well…even you @IXION…may the Widow be chilled, the Claret old, the Whiskey smooth and the Turkey…of course…STUFFED …along with us all!

    A surprisingly festive Gloomy

  9. Sir Humphrey

    “Hey there’s a thought…see if you could get phil Hammond to do an article…. Or CDS…”

    Interesting idea but highly unlikely to happen – but always worth asking the right people!

  10. Think Defence Post author

    Thanks all, Merry Christmas

    Bob, you might note a a couple of your posts from last night got binned because 2014 is the year when we all try and be polite and civil.

    In the last 12 months I have had a very hands off approach to moderation, changing only a few and binning even fewer and by and large that’s the way it should be.

    No problems with disagreement, no problems with telling someone their ideas or fanciful or ridiculous but am not going to tolerate rudeness or personal attacks any more

    Hope everyone is OK with that approach going forward

  11. Robert Franklin

    First time poster, long term reader. Would like to thank you unconditionally for all your hard work, one of if not the best defence blog out there and for me has been an invaluable resource whilst studying my masters for well informed educated opinion. Not to mention a goldmine of information!

    So thank you again, and have a day off for Christmas!


  12. Mike W


    I can do no other than echo Sir Humphrey’s comment:

    “I remain in awe of the way you’ve pulled together a superb website and wider web presence into something which is a genuinely credible, fascinating and insightful look at UK defence today.”

    He puts it superbly. Best wishes for Christmas and the rest of the festive season .

  13. Chris Werb

    This site is about as civilised as defence discussion fora get and that’s what keeps me coming back more than anything else. Merry Xmas everyone and thank you! :)

  14. mr.fred

    A detailed multi part series on Army vehicles with Monty, Chris, Mr Fred (hopefully) and others, an exercise in collaborative writing. Any volunteers, please let me know

    I’m certainly flattered to have even made this much of an impression. Not sure how much I could contribute off-hand. I am a reactionary soul at heart (i.e. reacting to things rather than being pro-active, not the political reactionary. Although maybe there is a link between the two) – much of the time I’m chucking peanuts from the cheap-seats.

  15. Commodore

    A very happy Christmas to TD and the usual crew.

    Hopefully, this year I will post more without the fear or seeming that I sound that I have my military knowledge from the Daily Mail hanging over me.

    Thank you to all for helping me learn how useful and well worth the taxpayers money the RAF Reg is ;)

    Jokes aside, TD has allowed me to gain an ‘informed opinion’ of all things military, cheers lads (or lasses) thank you for that. I used to think that it was only who had the biggest gun, but now I know that it’s about having that gun be deployable, affordable, realistic to what you want to do with it, and what threats is that gun facing?

  16. Jed

    Merry Christmas, all the best for the new year TD.

    Thanks for providing an outlet for my ramblings. I am glad I seem to provoke lots of comments, but that is due to the readership. I write a monthly article for a professional web site, where I was one of the top ten contributors for 2013 by readership, but I don’t think one of those articles has ever got more than 5 comments !

    Happy New Merry everyone (as we say in Yorkshire) !

  17. Gloomy Northern Boy

    For those unfortunate not to have been born in God’s Own County, could I stress that we only say “Happy New Merry Everyone!” immediately after consuming eight pints of Timothy Taylors Landlord Bitter, and shortly before we assume a recumbent position alongside the Bar, the better to admire the very fine ankles and white patent leather stilettos of the bottle-blonde from Barnsley we have been trying unsuccessfully to drink into a state of good natured compliance since the lady in question tottered in for the early bar on the way home from the Works Do several hours earlier…

    In the absence of an intriguing collection of Tattoos or a Bentley in a colour not normally found in nature parked up outside our efforts will, in practically all cases be unsuccessful…however in the odd case breakfast (including black pudding and fried bread) will follow…if Guinness is offered, youv’e got a Keeper, especially if you have already made friends with the household Lurcher…

    A happy Gloomy to all.

  18. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @wf – It is – but my liver now needs to lie down in a bath of warm milk until Twelfth Night…

    No more silliness now though…I am on a public warning…on way to naughty step now Boss.


  19. Martin

    Thanks for a great year TD. I would echo Jed’s comments. One of the best things about TD is the free flow between articles and comments. Its one if the most enjoyable things about writing on this site being able to list an idea and having it ripped to shreds by people who know what they are talking about. Its akin to the peer review process in science journals and something I think unique to Think defence.

    I think the changes in format over the past year have been good and some of the contributing author articles have been fun (although not as well informed or constructed as the admins).

  20. IXION

    Been giving things some thought over last few days: – from my perch on the naughty step. Alongside others.

    Given contents of now removed posts by others and the attitudes expressed. And my own at the time heartfelt reactions which never made it to past moderation:- It appears there is little useful or welcome I can contribute now or in the future. If I were to hold true to my views and beliefs.

    I regret things got personal in the way they did.

    I also have issues in real life which make it difficult to contribute financially to the site, and I must concentrate on the day job. I may be involved in a different type of Defence than this blog addresses, but it is even more poorly resourced than our brave boys in uniform.

    In view of the last 2, I had been considering IXIONs fate for some time anyway. It seemed unfair to indulge my interest at TDs expense, and to my family in view of my duty to support it.

    I had started outlining 3 pieces on

    1) The future of fighter aircraft.
    2) Intermodal transport
    3) commercial component Armoured vehicles.

    I was also going to have a look at cyber warfare.

    But hey ho.

    However after posting my genuine good will christmas message to all. I flicked over to the Hollow Force post and discovered stuff there that drove me first to anger, and then to weary resignation.

    TDs quite sensible reaction does not change the facts of what was said or the general ‘piling in’ by many with he usual stuff I have heard for the last 30 years In bars and dinner parties. etc

    So there it is.

    Warfighter IXION over and out. (and i know tgats not the right RT phrase).

  21. Chris

    I’ve just noticed this:

    “A detailed multi part series on Army vehicles with Monty, Chris, Mr Fred (hopefully) and others, an exercise in collaborative writing”

    Oo-er! This must be punishment for spending too much time writing comments and not enough doing proper work – sort of e-detention…

    Not sure I can add a great deal to the knowledge others bring. No doubt at some time TD will issue a book plan for his intended publication at which point the contributors will all go pale and look for their passports

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