The We Haven’t Got a Clue Review

Having a wade through the SDSR, the parliamentary debates and follow up written questions and answers one is left with the impression that the Government and MoD have done this hatchet job dressed up as strategy in somewhat of a rush.

On the subject of British Forces Germany

QUESTION: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the costs of reinstatement of facilities in Germany when UK armed forces personnel stationed there have left.

ANSWER: Detailed work is now under way to consider how this will be implemented, and reinstatement of facilities will form an important part of this planning. At this stage it is not possible to provide an accurate estimate of likely reinstatement costs.

QUESTION: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of the draw-down of troops from Germany; (2) what procedure he plans to use to effect the draw-down of troops from Germany; (3) what his timetable is for the draw-down of troops from Germany; (4) where he expects armed forces personnel drawn-down from Germany to be based upon return to the UK.

ANSWER: More detailed work will now be undertaken to identify precisely how this will be implemented. It is therefore too early to say what the financial impact will be or specifically where returning personnel will be based.

TRANSLATION: We haven’t got a clue but it should turn out alright on the night

On the subject of Civil Service redundancies

QUESTION: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the 25,000 reduction in civil service personnel he expects to be achieved through redundancy

ANSWER: It is too early to say. Discussions are under way with the trade unions to determine how the reductions may be achieved through various means including natural wastage and voluntary early release, thereby minimising the need for compulsory redundancies.

TRANSLATION: We decided on a round number and haven’t got the first clue how we will achieve them, this is a strategic review mind you, not a cost cutting exercise

On Defence Estates

QUESTION: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he plans to take to reduce expenditure by rationalising defence estates.

ANSWER: No decisions have yet been made on changes to the management of Defence estates.

TRANSLATION: We haven’t got a clue what we are doing but come on, less forces will need less land

On the sale of the Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre (Port)

QUESTION: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how he plans to proceed with the sale of Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre.

ANSWER: The project implementation plan is being developed. I will write to the hon. Member when this is complete.

TRANSLATION: Can you see a pattern developing here

On those famous cancellation costs

QUESTION: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what penalty payments his Department is liable to pay in respect of the cancellation of contracts announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

ANSWER: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) will be engaged in an extensive programme of commercial negotiations with its suppliers in the coming months, as part of the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) implementation process. This will focus on the areas where savings can be delivered and contract changes are required as a result of SDSR measures. Any liabilities as a result of contract cancellation or amendment will only emerge from this process.

TRANSLATION: We don’t really know and haven’t been arsed to ask but them big boys in the corner told us they would be big.

On consolidating Regional HQ’s

QUESTION: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what procedure he intends to use to determine which two of the 10 regional brigade headquarters will be closed; (2) what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department arising from the closure of two of the 10 regional brigade headquarters; (3) what savings he expects to accrue to his Department from the closure of two of the 10 regional brigade headquarters in the next 12 months; (4) what assessment he has made of the potential saving to the public purse of the reduction in the Army’s non-deployable regional administrative structure; (5) by what means his Department plans to reduce the non-deployable regional administrative structure of the Army; (6) what estimate he has made of the cost of replacing the four regional division headquarters with one UK support command; (7) what estimate he has made of the potential savings to the public purse consequent on replacing the four regional division headquarters with one UK support command

ANSWER: A project team was established in June 2010 to examine and rationalise the Army’s non-deployable regional administrative structure after the publication of the SDSR. This team will continue the detailed work of identifying the most cost-effective way of achieving this transformation.

TRANSLATION: Shit, we have been rumbled

So despite the SDSR appearing to be an indiscriminate cost cutting salami slicing punt that has is moving forward on a wing and a prayer, it’s good to know the MoD has carried out an Quality Impact Assessment.

QUESTION: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to publish equality impact assessments undertaken by his Department as part of the comprehensive spending review; and if he will make a statement.

ANSWER: The Ministry of Defence has carried out equality impact assessments as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review and the spending review. Records of this will be kept for a minimum of five years and will be made available to third parties if requested.

TRANSLATION: Fill in your own blanks

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Victor Grumpy
Victor Grumpy
October 31, 2010 6:31 pm

Did you not manage to dig out the “how much will we be getting back from Lockheed” question ? If we are no longer using F35b we do not need to fund the $13M to incorporate shipborne rolling landing, or are we going to deduct it from our EU contributions (to help out Italy & Spain)? We could make it as a nice donation to the US&A as we are awash with cash ?
Or if you have a grumpy head on what the bloody hell is the MoD doing letting contracts on the 15th and the government cutting their legs off on the 19th !!! information domanace, the way forward ? they cant even work a bloody telephone to save $13M.

Mike W
October 31, 2010 6:40 pm

Sir Jock Stirrup made an appearance on the “Andrew Marr Show” this morning. When asked by Marr whether the SDSR had been carried out too hurriedly, he replied that it had been carried out fairly rapidly but that to have done it over a longer period of time would have carried its disadvantages.

His argument was that the SDSR had been completed within the same time scale as the more general financial review. If it had not been, then the services would have been faced with a specific allocation of money for defence and would have had to work within exacting limitations. As it was, they (the Defence chiefs) were able to negotiate without an exact amount having been allocated. They had negotiated with some success (i.e. the MOD had got more money than it would have done if the Review had been carried out over a longer period). I hope that I have paraphrased the gentleman’s words accurately.

Do you think, admin and others, that there is some validity in his argument, or was he guilty of a kind of sophistry?

paul g
October 31, 2010 6:45 pm

would it be wrong to have an annual SDSR “lite” just so things could be “tweaked” if needed if our teutonic chums decide that they want the soon to be deserted bases clean enough to eat off, costing squillions then a rethink might be needed, I personnally would keep one garrison open just for options and give the chance of an overseas posting that doesn’t involve getting mortared!!
If it’s set in stone now until 2015 we’re pooped (more than now)

paul g
October 31, 2010 6:47 pm

oh i did you read that the top brass had a right teddy out the pram moment when it came to shitcanning the education allowance, nice one gents priorities eh!!!

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
October 31, 2010 8:03 pm

I was under the impression that the Government had announced that there would be a rolling review of defence from now until 2015. This was announced prior to the SDSR and appeared to ne a kind of safety net in case things went really t&%s up.

What Sir Jock actually does make some sence as at least it gave the MoD some ammunition to defend itself from the Grim Reaper ie the Treasury.

Isn’t there also an on going major review into defence processes and proceedures?

It is amazing though how long the SDSR stayed in the news, around 24 hours until the Comprehensive Spending Review was published! Was this a coincidence? With the hornets nest stired up by the announcements on Benefits no one is going to publish anything regarding defence, let alone debate it.

Phil Darley
October 31, 2010 8:16 pm

Has anyone picked up on Gordon Bruin insisting that the carriers are re-configured in scotstown and NOT France. Where the fcuk did this comfe from?

October 31, 2010 8:21 pm

More like it TD, a touch down.

What about a blog on the architect:

Dr Fox promised a review that was going to leave Defence as a whole stronger – but in the end, he turned in national capability for notional capability.

October 31, 2010 8:22 pm

Foreign Policy Blog (not as excellent a source of debate as this one, and it has yukky American spellings) currently has an interesting article touching on the UK’s inability to defend the Falklands – and fixes it in the context of various UK governments making similar ad-hoc, hashed decisions as the SDSR for the past forty plus years.

We’re in decline, but we’re sure as **** not managing it. Cut a bit, cut a bit, cut a bit more. What have we got left? Them’s our forces, silly! (What do you mean they look unbalanced? Cheek.)

What we won’t do is pull out of Afghanistan. We’ll always cut corners for our own citizens, but we won’t let the yanks down defending an unbelievably inept narco state that’s on permanent intensive care. (I mean, we’d look bad. We can’t have that.) If you ask me, the Taliban are welcome to the dungheap. I’d rather we were garrisoning a place that paid taxes, and the residents liked us.

November 1, 2010 12:54 am

The UK does not lack the ability to defend the falklands, simple. We lack the capability to take them back, but then realistically we did before the SDSR too.

The amount of ignorant US articles in their press after the SDSR was staggering. Hey, if they’re feeling that sorry for us and think we’re that weak we should apply for some of that US military aid!

November 1, 2010 7:58 pm

Doh! I meant the Washington Times.

With ineptness like this, I could work for the MOD.

November 1, 2010 8:00 pm

Andy, to be honest, the author was writing more along the lines of ‘this is what happened to the UK, we’ll probably repeat it because we aren’t any smarter’.