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?