Revisiting SDSR

There has been a growing opinion that the cuts announced in the SDSR have gone too deep and that it should be reversed, with some of the capabilities given a reprieve.

I don’t think any sane person thinks the SDSR had anything at all to do with strategy and of course we have politicians saying one thing and doing the other, getting punchy with capabilities we either no longer have or will soon be rid of but is there a good case for going back and revisiting the SDSR, especially in light of operations in Libya?

No, I don’t think there is.

It would be easy wouldn’t it, to just wave a magic wand and make Nimrod reappear from the landfill site or aluminium smelter, but unfortunately BAe have yet to develop such a capability (stand fast DE&S) but despite the painful cuts announced, implemented and about to implemented, what SDSR did was put down a marker, the MoD has to stop living on the ‘Jam Tomorrow’ diet  and above all else needs to regain a measure of financial credibility.

Just throwing a handful of cash at the dysfunctional mess that seems to be parts of the MoD is not the answer, it never is.

Of course no one wanted to see the Largs Bay, Harriers, CVS, Type 22’s, Tornado squadrons, Sentinel and Nimrod MRA4 etc go to the knackers yard and especially, the cuts in training and personnel budgets but what is the alternative?

And, let’s not forget the reductions in personnel across all three services and the MoD, people lives are going to be seriously affected, all of have them having given a great deal in the service of their nation.

I for one think defence is a special case, especially when compared with for example, the overseas aid budget, but that is a political decision beyond the boundaries of what the MoD can influence so the fact is, cuts in capability were inevitable, however much, I am sure every single reader of this blog will agree, they are wrong.

But that does not mean that one half baked, knee jerk reaction i.e. the SDSR, should be compounded with another, for example, bringing back the Harriers.

Some people have taken on the mission to get the Harriers back at all costs with almost religious zeal, but this single service, single capability focus does no one any favours and to be honest, just sounds like the usual service centric nonsense that has done so much damage to the UK’s defence capabilities over the years.

Nimrod has gone, the Harriers are gone, Largs Bay has gone (pending the small print), the Type 22’s are about to go and perhaps in some ways, we need to look ahead and build from a more solid foundation, with less wishful thinking about where the money is coming from.

If there is a case for a better SDSR than was SDSR, it is in making decisions underpinned by a sound strategic vision.

So I find myself somewhat conflicted, of course it would be great to reverse some if not all of the SDSR cuts but deep down I know it would be a short term fix for a long term problem and if there is one thing the MoD is not in short supply of, it is short term fixes.



The Guardian are reporting that a deal has been brokered by David Cameron to provide some respite to the MoD as it seems PR11 has yet to be fully concluded.

The Treasury and the Ministry of Defence have struck a deal to fill a politically embarrassing £800m black hole in this year’s defence budget, averting further disastrous job and programme cuts at a time when Britain is involved in two major military conflicts.

The deal, brokered by Downing Street, comes as speculation increased that senior military figures are pressing David Cameron to reopen the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) less than six months after it was completed. Cameron is reluctant to do so.

The defence secretary, Liam Fox, would have been wounded politically if he had been forced to impose fresh cuts.

But there is some scepticism that the deal agreed by the Treasury and the MoD will produce the savings the two sides claim.

Smoke and mirrors, a short term bridging loan or a genuine rethink?

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April 7, 2011 2:40 pm

As this government has flip-flopped over forests and now is doing the same over NHS reorganisation, isn’t it to be expected that SDSR should be brought up again as well? I’m surprised the Harriers aren’t already on fire dumps to avoid the temptation to reprieve them.

April 7, 2011 2:44 pm

I am happily surprised to be able to say that I agree with almost all of the above.
The one thing I think we should keep is Sentinal,it is apparently doing sterling work now that it is up and running and we really could do with keeping this capability.
It is a nearly new system paid for and as far as I know doing what it says on the tin,after MRA4 it would be criminal to scrap it.

April 7, 2011 3:39 pm

Two Points
Libya is not a reason to redo SDSR, but SDSR should be be redone because it was so bad.

MRA4 Nimrod didnt work.
It wasnt about to be cleared for flight, every review threw up more and more and more problems.

Jan Guest
Jan Guest
April 7, 2011 3:45 pm

Seconded – there is no point going back on decisions that are already in motion but saving Sentinel surely wouldn’t cost so much as to throw the whole budget out of whack?

Any doubts about the wisdom of SDSR should be used to inform future choices not attempt to go back in time. All that Libya has proved is that politicians appear to see no link between what they do in terms of defence spending and what they do in foreign policy. Until that link is established it does not matter how much is spent they will always over-reach.

April 7, 2011 3:49 pm

In some respects this is a defeatist attitude; however we must all admit the that however bad the MoD is at managing its procurement projects, in the end it is purely and simply a matter of politics.

We have not statesmen, only petty politicians. We have no one really taking them to task on their lack of vision or strategy. Hence we end up with very tactical attacks based on specific single issues e.g. bring back the Harrier while we still can (because we could).

This is just a small scale example of the large scale problem. If we could bring back Harrier by robbing the education or health budgets and not taking from somewhere else within defence would we ?

Relatively speaking the UK spends a lot on defence. Relatively speaking European NATO countries as a whole do not. Relatively speaking we are often seen as ‘relying’ on the massive budgets and military might of the USA to protect NATO Europe – and some of us have governments that pay back the interest by getting involved in USA foreign policy, including all its bad decisions.

So its all about politics, both the desire and the compulsion to reform MOD and defence procurement, but also to either “step up, or shut up”. I have said many times before that I would be happy to see a Coast Guard and a Gendermarie based around home land defence, with some forces declared to NATO for collective defence, as long as we give up our seat on the UNSC and stop pretending we are still head of the empire.

Alternatively, if we want to pursue our own foreign policy agenda in the world at large, including taking our security much more seriously, then we need to fund it properly. So where is the money coming from ?

Personally I would never ever cut education, because that is the foundation of the future. So with the demographic spectre of an aging population, do we all accept that days of universal healthcare as we currently know it are over ? Because we know the NHS / Welfare are just going to eat more and more of the states funds.

Now, lets put ourselves in the politicians shoes – with a horizon no longer than the next election, how are you going to argue for a massive reform of the health and welfare system, so that you properly fund defence when we will be into our 10th year in Afghanistan, and have recently been dragged into intervention in Libya for the most vague and woolly of reasons ? Yep, that’s going to work well as a platform for re-election……..

We are consigned to a life of political mediocrity, governance by sound bite, and eventually we will probably all convert to Islam and Shar’ia law when we are finally fed up of it all….. :-(

Rupert Fiennes
Rupert Fiennes
April 7, 2011 4:11 pm

I think SDSR was appalling, but Libya does not justify GR9 Harrier’s, although they would probably be even more effective than the Tornado’s given carrier proximity. Carriers are needed because of without them, naval operations effectively cannot be defended from air attack. Sadly, that was lost in 2006 when they retired the Sea Harriers, although why the RN didn’t sign up to the AV8B Plus program I have no idea. But given the 9 years until the new carriers arrive, keeping Ark Royal in service rather than Ocean, plus some GR9’s and Sea Harrier’s is just very sensible

April 7, 2011 4:21 pm

The reality has not changed, there is no money to spend and there is debt. It is that simple really.

I am quite convinced that a lot of the NHS budget is used up on people with self inflicted illness (smokers, drinkers, the obese etc)and that money would be better spent on the military. However, no government is ever going to hit the NHS that hard and the burden of our unhealthy nation will continue to take a greater portion of our money.

Callum Lane
Callum Lane
April 7, 2011 4:38 pm

SDSR should be revisited because Libya has shown that the initial ‘S’ part of the SDSR was fundamentally flawed. If the strategy is flawed then all else that flows out of it will also be flawed.
Furthermore while it is (IMHO) too early to tell whether or not the turmoil in the Middle East constitutes a strategic shock (much depends what regime ends up running Egypt and what happens with Syria) I think that we are looking at the beginnings of a strategic shock and we will probably have to revisit SDSR on this basis sooner then envisaged.
Get the strategy right and then the kit to implement the strategy.

April 7, 2011 4:46 pm

‘The desire and compulsion to reform MOD and defence procurement’
This in my opinion is going to be a battle of attrition.
Liam Fox is everyones scapegoat and I suppose that comes with the territory,but many before him have tried to reform the MOD and many have failed.
The grip that senior civil servants have on this organisation is going to be very difficult to dislodge,they will fight tooth and nail to hang onto power and they have years of experience of political infighting to back them up.
A light hearted but somewhat truthfull insight into the situation is the old TV favourite ‘Yes Minister’.
The machinations and skulduggery exposed in this series by professional civil servants were laughable but true,as a comedy it was a smash hit but as a social expose it was even more so.
Bernard Gray at DE&S has vastly more experience in dealing with business and hopefully is more than a match for the ensconced team that he has taken charge of.
I really would like to see someone of his experience as an adviser to Liam Fox and let internal politics wither on the vine.
I know this is not going to happen but hey ho,we can only hope.

April 7, 2011 5:17 pm

I think there is a difference between inconsistent and flawed strategy and ‘not at all strategic’. Too many people seem to look at SDSR without examining it through the prism of the NSS. Taken together the two make sense *mostly* but fall down in a number of areas. This is then compounded by the Goverment acting in a profoundly non-strategic way (Libya) and ignoring what it wrote less than a year ago ie to be:

‘more selective in our use of the Armed Forces, deploying them decisively at the right time but only where key UK national interests are at stake; where we have a clear strategic aim; where the likely political, economic and human costs are in proportion to the likely benefits; where we have a viable exit strategy; and where justifiable under international law’.

If it actually acted like this, most of the capability loss/gap decisions can be understood against the background of ‘austerity’ (and making the UK credit rating the ‘centre of gravity’ for the UK is actually a strategic decision, even if it is unpalatable).

Callum Lane
Callum Lane
April 7, 2011 5:44 pm

“This is then compounded by the Goverment acting in a profoundly non-strategic way (Libya) and ignoring what it wrote less than a year ago ie to be:

‘more selective in our use of the Armed Forces, deploying them decisively at the right time but only where key UK national interests are at stake; where we have a clear strategic aim; where the likely political, economic and human costs are in proportion to the likely benefits; where we have a viable exit strategy; and where justifiable under international law’.”

On the nail!

Michael (Civ.)
Michael (Civ.)
April 7, 2011 6:07 pm

I don’t think it can be re-visited even though i think it should be.

I think Libya changes things in a big way, however, politically, it’s just not possible to take another look at it or even talk about changing it.

Think about what the Chief of the RAF has already said, in public even, also the fact that we are now once again fighting two wars. Alright, the army is not on the ground fighting in Libya but the war is yet young! I know, i’m looking at this in hindsight, so too are a lot of other people.

The fact that our experts, the FCO, MI6/MI5, MoD are being asked to do the impossible (predict the future), and are incapable of admitting that they have no idea what’s going to happen next, leads me to think that the idea of taking a capability gap is insane.

What next? Nobody has a clue….

Now, i don’t know why i do but i have a horrible feeling that in 20 years time people will be looking back & saying what a bunch of absolute idiot’s they were back then & that what was about to happen was obvious to anyone, that it was as jarring as someone with a lazy eye & as impossible to miss.

So TD, i’m sorry, but repectfully, i have to disagree. I think what we are now doing is burying our heads in the sand rather than taking account of the new realities around us & planning accordingly.

Michael (Civ.)
Michael (Civ.)
April 7, 2011 6:16 pm

Ahh just read Matts post, i very much agree with it.

The thing is, is that the Gov. is doing the exact opposite while at the same time using the above argument as a justification for cutting defence capabilites. You couldn’t make this up if you tried!

April 7, 2011 6:28 pm

While I agree I dont think that the entire SDSR should be revisited I would make a couple of changes. I would retain Astor and fit the camera as a matter of urgency. I would also consider retain 1 of the 2 tornado squadrons they plan to scrap in the summer or maintain larger numbers in the remaining 5 squadrons perhaps 16 a/c squadrons to maintain fe@r. Other than that I would consider the balance of a/c in the FSTA or making more C17 procurements or look at the support helicopter fleet. Other than that I wouldnt make any other changes. If money was needed to allow this I would look at the reducing army number further and a reduction in forces in Afghanistan.

April 7, 2011 6:44 pm

Libya does not justify bringing back Ark Royal.
But it does help a lot in making the case for not screwing up with the NEXT carriers.
When i talk about carriers, i do it thinking of CVF. Against those, there’s no argument that stands a serious confrontation.

The only decision that might be reversed is about Sentinel R1. And i hope it does get reversed. A little hope does exist.
For Nimrod it is too late, better to think about a long term suitable replacement.
For Largs Bay it is also too late, since it was sold, but i never would have cut a Bay class ship.

And the Type 22s… well, that’s another cut that should be reversed, but there’s no way it is going to happen.

However, the MOD will probably be spared, thanks to Libya, most of the additional billion of cuts in PR11 that was expected.
It is already a good result: last rumours were that the whole Tornado fleet was doomed to cover that additional cut, after all, and now this will almost certainly not happen.

The last big big thing we have to learn about is the Army’s armor fleet. PR11 might kill it.
I read a comment on here saying that the Telegraph had been wrong in its “50 Challenger II” tanks forecast, but it is early to say they were wrong: the data about the cuts to the armor fleet are yet to come out.

In the best case, the army will be left with 5 Type 38 tank regiments (Type 38 on the paper, in peacetime many tanks would actually be in storage, of course)

5 x 38 = 190 + a dozen for 1° RTR (total holding in the region of 207 tanks, down from current 345, if the 40% figure of the SDSR is respected)

Whole Bulldog fleet at risk of being retired.
Vector will be retired and scrapped.
Many CVR(T) [some sources say ALL] will be retired.

Uncertainty on Warrior numbers too, and Warrior upgrade possibly delayed for one year more.
SDSR mandates “warrior in each multirole brigade”. This SHOULD, in a logical world, mean 5 battalions safe, 4 more re-roled to Light Role and maybe 1 or 2 could be disbanded.

But there’s no certainty about the 5 battalions figure: a figure as low as 2 battalions was also mentioned.

AS90 regiments are likely to go down to 18 guns for regiment if the 35% cut is respected and not worsened.

Truth is, the SDSR isn’t even that bad, unfortunately…! The true measure of how bad things are will be evident only when PR11 and the Army restructuring plan is published. Which is why we should all be careful in our arguments. It is not over yet.

April 7, 2011 6:44 pm

SDSR in reality is a done deal. Bar more money being found for defence it is not going to be revisited.

Like others i’d like to see sentinel kept if possible.

What Libya may do is force the Treasurys hand over PR.11

April 7, 2011 7:01 pm

As per Nobel Prize winning Economist recent comments on the BBC, UK has been in around the same level of debt for about the last 100 to 200 years:

Wibble said – “there is no money” – yes there is, it’s been prioritized accordingly and being spent on other things – you mean “there is no money for defence” – which might be considered as fair enough, if HMG is then realistic about its tasking of the armed forces.

CivvieMatt said: “making the UK credit rating the ‘centre of gravity’ for the UK is actually a strategic decision” – there is no problem with UK credit rating, we are still seen across the global financial system as a good risk, we are a country which does, and remains able to pay its debts. Having a bad credit rating is a worry for Portugal and Greece. Creditors are worried that they will never see payment from these nations – hence EU bail outs.

April 7, 2011 7:02 pm

I agree with some of the comments above, Libya does not mean carriers, but it does mean that we should be looking at keeping our manning levels up, keeping Sentinel, SLEPing our T22’s rather than binning them, and look at increasing our support helicopter numbers.

If more money magically appeared and we need more fast jets, then I might looking at seeing how hard it would be to bring our Jaguar’s back into service (I have read they are in storage rather than cut up or left on an apron somewhere to rot) with Honeywell engines that India will buy for their Jaguar’s, as Jaguar’s are perfect for flying in sandy places. I would also likely look at buying some ATR 74 ASW’s or C-295 ASW.

BTW did anyone see that the rebels are calling for Tiger’s and Apache’s to be deployed to Mistra, given we could not base them in Libya without breaking the UN resolution, then only option I can imagine would be to basically sail a small carrier into port and operate the attack helicopters off the carrier.

April 7, 2011 7:12 pm

I do really think that the navy should have let the type 22 go 4 years ago and kept the 3 type 23s. It would have been cheaper to maintain and I know the capabilities of the individual ships would have been less but we would have possibly been able to keep more this time round.

Jaguar not a mission of it coming back. The most sensible decision would be to accelerate the typhoon stand up.

Matt (another one)
Matt (another one)
April 7, 2011 8:13 pm

The defence budget is being cut because it helps the billionaires who own our government. We just gave them a trillion pound bailout so their income could increase by 25% on 2008 figures (’tis true). That money comes from the general budget, even though the debts weren’t ours.

In previous years, the UK had factories or assets to pay debts. (Even ones that we shouldn’t have assumed responsibility for.) Now: nothing. We lost more manufacturing jobs and factories under Labour than we did under Maggie Thatcher. The City has cost us more in the bailout that it ever produced in taxes (about a 3:2 ratio). No other country owes as much as the UK, apart from maybe Luxembourg. Not as a percentage of our GDP, anyhow. About 450% of GDP.

And you’ll love this: economists use a respected formula to work out the gap between rich and poor in a society, called the ‘Gini co-efficient’. Measures inequality, basically. Our Gini co-efficient in the UK is worse than Egypt’s (check it for yourselves). Out of 45 European countries, we’re 42nd for inequality. We actually have a proverty profile closer to a Latin American banana republic in the 1980s than to a normal European nation.

It’s the only way the wealthy can make money now: squeeze every penny from us, because UK Ltd doesn’t have anything else to give them. And given that they own the government, why won’t they press for defence to lose funding? They hire the PR agencies that control the news. They own our newspapers and TV stations. They own the lobbyists and think tanks that draw up new laws. That’s why we have redundancies, but we’re buying as much new kit as can be afforded, like a carrier that gets called a ‘disaster’ by its own manufacturers [ kit gets paid for, defence contarctors and their lobbyists are satisfied. Scrap it? Well, it’s paid for, so they don’t care now. Lose squaddies? Why not, they don’t have a union. Just keep buying the kit, it helps billionaires.

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
April 7, 2011 9:53 pm

I think the whole concept of the SDSR is flawed. If you look at the Eurofghter/Typhoon Project, that was really started in the late 70’s (not withstanding a few BAC studies earlier), and wasn’t delivered until 2003 – a period of 25-ish years.

That’s 5 SDSR’s worth.

Imagine the strategic ebb and flow in 5 documents of the type we had last year, Eurofighter would have been axed after the 3rd one. At the outside.

And this doesn’t just apply to Eurofighter. The CVF project was started in 1999 and won’t be commisioned until 2016-2018, a period of 19 years.

Or nearly 4 SDSR’s worth.

So, any carrier-haters out there needent worry, there’s another 2-3 SDSR’s that can be used to “make the tough decisions” and knock the CVF project on the head!

My point? You can’t have stategy that doesn’t last as long as the projects is spawns – otherwise inevitable changes in the strategy direction will mean that nothing will ever get built! Or maybe that is the (Machiavellian) long term plan?

April 7, 2011 9:55 pm

@ Matt (Another One)

What a load of tripe. I’m sorry to be so harsh, but it’s thinking like this that clouds the reality of the situation and leads people into the usual “down with the bankers, down with the rich” rubbish. I don’t know, maybe more people than I expected are yearning for a Soviet style state where you get told where you’re going to be working for the next 40 years etc.

The facts of the matter are that companies like BAE will probably take less than 5% of the cost of the new carriers as profit. I’m not saying that I’ll cry myself to sleep worrying about poor old BAE’s bank balance, but I’m a realist.

April 7, 2011 10:03 pm


I think your likely right on the Jaguar, but given all the press recently on bringing back the Harrier and thinking outside the box, the Jaguar is simply a way more useful strike platform than the GR9’s and would be way more use in African/Middle-east centric defence policy than Ark Royal and the Harrier’s would ever have been.

April 7, 2011 11:24 pm

“we need to look ahead and build from a more solid foundation, with less wishful thinking about where the money is coming from.”

Exactly, the only real ‘reverseal’ on the horizon may be the Sentinel R1, I hope!, and even then they’d avoid the embarassment by saying the SDSR said a lot of ifs and buts on that score.
Either way, I agree with the post and most of the comments.

April 7, 2011 11:27 pm

Uh, no tubby, the GR9 knocks the Jag into a cocked hat, with the GR7 you might have had an arguement, but not the GR9.

The GR9s and the T22s are the only thing you can make an arguement to bring back, with another air war to conduct our fleet is going to take a pounding, so bring back the GR9s, even if only for a year to take soe of the flight hours and as for the T22s, we are woefully short of hulls as is, and since the 26s are miles off the navy should fight tooth and nail to keep what they have.

Michael (Civ.)
Michael (Civ.)
April 8, 2011 12:14 am


About the update:
I think it will be a bridging loan, with deeper cuts to follow later on to pay for it. A re-think would be politically poisonous, as there would then be a clammour from everyone to delay or downsize the cuts etc etc.

Which is just postponing the inevitable pain for another day. I think we need to redo it (the SDSR) & cut other stuff to pay for it.

@Mat(another one)

I didn’t really agree with the size of the bank bailout at the time. I thought they saved far too many of them, that they should have let some of them go under if only to encourage the others not to make such a pig’s ear out of it again.

Yes, the banks did screw it up, helped by the cretins in the last government & the FSA.

However, how many people worked or still work for all those banks that were bailed out? What about their families, responsibilites both financial & family? Not everyone who works for a bank is a millionaire, what would have happened to them? We are talking about thousands & thousands of ordinary people you know!

What would have been the effect of saying to the banks, “You screwed up, except to cover our statutory obligations, we aren’t giving you a penny!”.

I think the results would have been spectacularly messy. I’ve never seem a real Depression & frankly i thank god that i’m not a witness to one right now. Sometimes i think that most people just don’t realise that a depression was a real possibility.

We are where we are, with a now ballooning deficit due to not only the bank bailout but also the effects of the recession & the stupidity of running a deficit in a boom. Now we have a falling tax take as buiness’s go bust & increased welfare payments due to the numbers unemployed. Tax’s have to & will go up & the unemployed’s numbers will certainly increase before it gets any better.

To me, the idea that it’s ok to pay £40 + Billion in interest payments alone while we are fighting 2 wars is just wishful thinking. I think we need to get to a situation where we are not borrowing anything as fast as possible.

Otherwise your childrens, children will still be paying massive interest bills every year just on the current account deficit. Never mind even starting on the actual debt.

What narks me off, is that all those numpty’s in the HOC are scared silly of explaining to the public, in blunt language, the actual situation. Instead they are just going to borrow more money to cover the cost of this, that & the other.

The reason i read this site, is cause i support the military & get hacked off when our governments send our people off to war ill equiped & ill prepared. This has been the situation for decades and i had actually hoped that maybe this time it would be different.

Sometimes i feel very much like pavlov’s infamous dog.

Defense of the realm is supposed to be a core priority for any Gov. Most of them simply don’t want to even think about it, let alone plan for it.

One other thing, at the moment i am unemployed & no, i don’t just want a job in the defense industry. Or a Bank.

April 8, 2011 12:26 am

@Michael (Civ)
‘About the update:
I think it will be a bridging loan, with deeper cuts to follow later on to pay for it’.

Even a bridging loan would give the MoD more space to get that £500m from Oman.

April 8, 2011 2:36 am

I know its the Sun but I thought this was quite humourous

‘An about turn could mean a reprieve for a squadron of 12 Tornado GR4 bombers, ALL NINE scrapped Nimrod MR4 spy planes and two of four Royal Navy frigates.’

Obviously didn’t see the pictures of the Nimrods we have.

April 8, 2011 3:10 am

Michael(Civ) – ref the bailed out banks – in the US the “publicized” banks Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae are already returning a profit to the Federal Treasury.

Surely it can’t be long until RBS and others are doing the same for HM Treasury ?

Ref: “To me, the idea that it’s ok to pay £40 + Billion in interest payments alone while we are fighting 2 wars is just wishful thinking. I think we need to get to a situation where we are not borrowing anything as fast as possible.”

Well various Nobel prize winning economists would argue that speed is not of the essence and that “austerity” budgets can cause more damage than good. Instead getting borrowing under control and ensuring growth in the economy, which in turn means you can actually make your interest payments is more important. Having said all that your absolutely right that cost of ongoing operations in Afghanistan could be cut with an immediate withdrawl. Apologies to the average Afghan, but you don’t seem to want our help that much, so “screw you” as the saying goes….. Sorry… :-(

April 8, 2011 7:56 am

RE “as it seems PR11 has yet to be fully concluded”
– is this the reason why we are staying so long on the RAF
– army stuff being so controversial that decisions take time to make/ come out?
– we will be commenting on what should have been, always the “favourite game”, against the planning outcome

The whole MOD planning system is a riddle: Top line budget holders vs main operational budget holders, 23(!) sub-strategies to deliver a strategic direction (change?) without a clearly written strategy to map all that to etc
– no wonder it takes time

Callum Lane
Callum Lane
April 8, 2011 8:59 am

“The whole MOD planning system is a riddle: Top line budget holders vs main operational budget holders, 23(!) sub-strategies to deliver a strategic direction (change?) without a clearly written strategy to map all that to etc”

and the generals wonder why it is so difficult to communicate internally!

I hear that PR11 has been resolved (white smoke but no name!!). Comments in the press make me think that elements of PR11 (and not the SDSR) may be looked at again, especially for Air and Maritime assets. I would be surprised if Land got a reprieve, nor do I think (ion balance) they are a more deserving case then Maritime and Air.

April 8, 2011 9:43 am

I see from the Torygraph that 1£billion. (black hole), is to be dealt with by delaying programmes and deffering payments etc.

Looks like we are back to fantasy budgets…. Business as usual!

Brian Black
Brian Black
April 8, 2011 10:35 am

With another £4Billion loaned to Portugal due to our EU and IMF liabilities, our financial bail-outs seem to be slowly catching up with the spending cuts.

Those people who know about this sort of thing seem to be saying that Ireland, Greece and Portugal will more than likely default on their loans and we’re going to lose a fair wad of cash.

Spain next, probably, and when that happens the Euro zone implodes – apparently.

So, I reckon there’ll be more money for defence in the next few years just as long as hell freezes over and the hole in my ass heals up.

April 8, 2011 10:39 am

Hi CL,
Must be something like that “I hear that PR11 has been resolved (white smoke but no name!!)”
– lots of iterations behind “closed curtains”
– no Defence Board minutes anywhere – that much for the increased transparency
– I will write to NAO and ask them when are they going to “inspect” DOD for their implementation of the “Clear line of Sight” accounting policies and reporting; or perhaps the Parliamentary Defence Committee (who would be one of the key beneficiaries)

Callum Lane
Callum Lane
April 8, 2011 11:04 am

I would second all of that.

OPSEC on PR11 has been very tight, an indication perhaps of the pressure that the budget is facing.

Matt (another one)
Matt (another one)
April 8, 2011 11:07 am

@ Chris B.

‘Clouds the reality’? What a load of bollocks!

Some TD commentators can’t wait to play ‘fantasy armies’ and pontificate on the strategy and kit we should have, with no reference to economics. Well guess what, economics keeps coming up because it pays for everything. I’ve posted here god knows how many times and *once* I talk about the underlying financial causes of our defence posture, and that’s too much for you? In the middle of a debate about a budget-driven defence review?

And you don’t even have the ability to raise what I’ve said factually, item by item, to explain how I must be wrong? You just think ridicule will do the job?

Debt at 450% of GDP is going to fuck with our defence budget under any circumstances, Einstein!

*We have no money*. The conservatives piddled away North Sea oil and gas revenue in tax breaks and bribes, Labour piddled away the money they borrowed to bribe people to re-elect Gordon Brown, seeing a 60% increase in public spending. You can pull this data from impartial sites all over the web, or get it from sources as varied as The Economist and The Guardian.

You think military power doesn’t flow from economic power? Funny that Centcom is calling the US budget deficit the biggest threat to US security then, isn’t is?

You wonder why the *only* people who have received more money from the government, rather than a cut, have been investment bankers?

We’re losing frigates and manpower because we spent a trillion quid propping up investment bank losses that we had no legal obligation to. And we’re slowly racking up other debts because we spend way too much on middle class welfare so politicians can win over swing voters.

I’m not a hippy dippy lefty. I run a consulting firm – I’ve sat in on government meetings for the kind of stuff that’s being cut right now. I’ve worked directly, or with suppliers, for the MOD and police and NHS and more, and for central government departments sitting in on meetings with permanent secretaries or answering parliamentary private questions. It’s all politics, and it’s all about who can buy influence, period.

Nurses and doctors: unionised, no budget cuts.
Bankers: give most of the political donations, so they get handouts.
Defence contractors: lots of lobbyists, lots of union members building kit, so we commit to buy most of the stuff we already said we would – even if we scrap existing kit to pay for it.
Armed forces personnel: no union, so they get laid off.

Phil Darley
April 10, 2011 2:59 pm

Matt (Another One)

The truth hurts…. You are right of course. What a fcuking mess thus country us in! I am struggling ti know how to respond. Unionise the armed forces? There is something similar (names escapes me). What about some form of Armed Forces watch dog, a defence select committee / NAO but with teeth, maybe that would help.

I think we are screwed as the general public really isn’t that interested. They don’t like to see “Our Boys” shit on but are not prepared to pay extra taxes or sacrifice other services to have more ti spend on Defence. When you see what a complete mess the MoD makes of the money it has, you can’t really blame anyone for not wanting to chuck more money at it.

I honestly believe it will take a major defeat fir the Country to wake-up to how important Defence is. Basra was nearly such a defeat but has been well covered up. So it will have to be a really public military humiliation, to change the publics view!

April 10, 2011 3:34 pm

RE ” So it will have to be a really public military humiliation, to change the publics view!”
– Sierra Leone got close to it, but with proper escalation, was turned into a glory story
– Kosovo looked good at the time, has disappeared from the newspaper headlines… since, has grown into the hub of organised crime in Europe; once the poor souls had been saved

Good use of public money?
– Kosovo was marketed by the then PM as “new doctrine of international community”
– Resolution 1973 was hailed as the new dawn for UN & UNSC

Case by case will not take us anywhere, except to chaos. Permanent rules/ criteria, and permanently earmarked resources to intervene in time is the only solution (and also, the only way to share the burden between major nations equitably, rather than them all being expedient, all the time)

April 10, 2011 11:05 pm

What is a “marker”? (I’m a Rugby League man, we don’t take marks.) What do you do with one once you’ve got it? It’s like “credibility”.