Expensive Civil Servants in Charge

Tempting fate for a second week, how about a look at the perception that MoD civil servants cost a fortune because they get paid loads

Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many employees of his Department were paid (a) between £80,000 and £100,000 and (b) in excess of £100,000 per year in each of the last five years.

Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 19 December 2012, c836W)

Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford, Conservative)
holding answer 10 December 2012

The number of employees of this Department who were paid in excess of £100,000 and between £80,000 and £100,000 in each of the last five years is set out in the following table. All figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

Staff with basic salary over £100,000

Civilian Military Total
2009 50 660 710
2009 50 810 860
2010 50 920 970
2011 30 970 1,000
2012 30 930 960


Staff with basic salary between £80,000 and  £100,000

Civilian Military Total
2009 90 1,110 1,200
2009 90 1,360 1,450
2010 80 1,450 1,530
2011 80 1,360 1,440
2012 70 1,340 1,410

Surely some mistake…

Does this fall into the ‘more information needed’ or ‘myth busted’ category?




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February 8, 2013 7:19 pm


February 8, 2013 7:42 pm

Excellent TD – I’d seen this elsewhere and was wondering if anyone would pick it up.
The harsh reality is that everyone in the Military at Lt Col or above (a very substantial number) earns more than a civil servant at Grade 6 level – beyond this point there are less than 300 MOD civil servants. This is before allowances are included.

The truth is that the military are very well renumerated, and possibly too well renumerated. If you have a tight budget, at some point either headcount, or salary levels, need to be reviewed.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 8, 2013 7:52 pm

Civil servats pay scales do not match the military. The argument is teh number of them we have vs the number of service personnel they supply a service for.

On to the pay rates.
All OF5 Full Colonels/RN Captain and Group captains are on between 80 and 100K basic at all levels.

OF 6 or 1 Stars are on between 80 and 100K until level 5 when they pop above 100K.

All 2 stars and above earn more than 100K.

Now what skewes the figures are things like Medical officers, I knew a GP qualified reasonably senior OF3 who was earning 100K plus a year.

The figures still seem quite high and I wonder if sepcialist pay has been included as it would appear as basic pay on someone simply looking at a spreadsheet.

Paul R
Paul R
February 8, 2013 8:15 pm

Also you have to wonder the costs of consultants are. The government likes sacking civies to then rehire as consultants later.

February 8, 2013 8:27 pm

Might I point out another possible factor? We need to cross reference the numbers with the people they oversee.

For example, if the ~30 top paid civil servents are overseeing a total department of 3000 people, that is an oversight of one boss per 100 slaves… cough er.. subordinates, but if the military structure has 186,000 people under 660 top officers, that is one boss per 200 people, so despite the larger number, the military system is actually twice as efficient. (Example only)

Long story short, we must look beyond mere numbers but also the size of the structure that is supposed to be organised. Big structures will by their nature require more people to oversee.

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 8, 2013 8:48 pm

I think we need to look beyond the MoD, to the public sector in general. Gordon Brown took on half a million non-jobs. Paying for them is pushing up taxes(VAT, business rates,etc)& killing the recovery. Leading to larger deficits, which will results in soldiers,sailors, policemen, dustmen, nurses losing their jobs to balance the books. A simple rule of thumb for non-jobs, if the position did not exist in 1996 then why is it needed now? Lets not forget the Canadian in charge of the BoE is on over £800,000 pa. Hardly bread & water at the top of the public sector is it?

February 8, 2013 9:49 pm

tee hee

Now I am no longer in the service it makes me very amused to see all the excuses/explanations proffered for facts that undermine some of the strongest held myths eg that officers are poorly paid and could do so much better in civvy street (see also; boarding school allowance/CEA, why we need so many 3*s etc)

A bit like the posh boys in charge thread elsewhere, try as we might, the facts are quite damning.

February 8, 2013 10:04 pm

Don’t High Court judges get about £180,000?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 8, 2013 10:09 pm

After my last post, please forgive the typos (trying to watch rugby and type at same time). I decided to look into my MO theory some more.

In 2011 Medical Officers who were consultants earned between 80-100K at lvl 2-9 and over 100K at level 9-32.
GP qualified MO and Dentists at OF 3 and above earned between 80-100K at lvl 1-3 and above 100K from lvl 3 till lvl 35.

Non Gp qualified MOs earned above 80k from lvl 10-29.

Now in 2009 there were 568 Medical Officers and 235 Dental Officers on the TRAINED strength. I bet they make up a large proportion of the earners over 100K.

February 8, 2013 10:40 pm

Observer – those 30 MOD civil servants currently ‘oversee’ a department of some 70,000 people (albeit a shrinking one).

The 660 military seniors ‘oversee’ an organisation of some 100,000 Army, 35,000 RAF, 33,000 RN regular personnel.

No matter how you spin it, the military cost vastly more than their civilian equivalents.

February 8, 2013 10:51 pm

“Civil servats pay scales do not match the military. The argument is teh number of them we have vs the number of service personnel they supply a service for.”

Sorry, I’m going to bite here.

I for one am sick and tired of the ridiculous view held in some quarters that only the military can do some jobs and how dare there be a civil service in support. Some people seem to think that it is outrageous that there are civil servants at all.
Bluntly the fact is that military personnel are obscenely expensive to use, and they are often utterly wasted in jobs which have little to do with going to war, and everything to do with feathering their nest in some quiet little backwater regional HQ being paid nearly £60K per year as a passed over SO2 (plus allowances) to do a working week which most people can only dream of.
Something is really wrong with a system which allows Corporals employed in central London to be on a package worth well north of £40K per year including travel and accommodation plus food allowance, to do purely administration jobs which can be done by a civilian for less than £17K per year.
We seem to stick to a tired old view that somehow the military have a ‘can do’ mindset, but that civilians are untermensch who just dont get it. Having worked with some truly appalling military personnel who seemed more concerned with sports afternoons, AT, late Monday starts, early Friday finishes and ensuring they did ‘phys’ during the working day, I’d suggest that many military figures are far from the ‘vunder vace’ that we somehow assume they are.
I am sick and tired of people suggesting that there is a something wrong with employing civil servants to do jobs to the same standard, and same level of productivty as military figures for barely a third of the cost. Somehow all the arguments about wasted funds dissapear when we look at our heros in MTP, and we forget they too are fallible.
Perhaps if we were truly honest we’d ask ourselves why the military has struggled to sustain a 10K force in HERRICK for 10 years, despite having over 200,000 regular and reserve personnel to draw on, and why so many people seem so able to avoid doing tours (and before people start criticising me, I’d note I’m a veteran of both TELIC as a civvy and HERRICK as a military officer, so have very definitely been there and bought the t-shirt). We dont ask the truly pressing questions about whether we have too many military personnel and whether the balance requires less uniforms and more civil servants to deliver the same outputs for far less money. Instead we seem fixated that only someone in uniform can do the job. The end result is a loss of talent of the best civil servants, particularly in project management who walk away to industry because their pay is so low, while truly dire military officers remain in a job for life (or till 55) earning more than 95% of civil servants will see in their working lives, often doing a job for far less stress or effort. Is this really in the best interests of defence or the nation as a whole?
As a nation we seem to love the stereotypes that the military is wonderful, the civil service are scum and never actually question whether this is true or not.

Here endeth the rant…

February 8, 2013 11:03 pm

“Perhaps if we were truly honest we’d ask ourselves why the ARMY has struggled to sustain a 6K force in HERRICK for 10 years, and the RAF needed 2000 bods for handful of aircraft

Fixed it for you. No need to drag the RN into your little rant. Remember when 3Cdo was in theatre the Army numbers were even less and the RN was still operating world wide, maintaining CASD, etc. etc.

February 8, 2013 11:05 pm

Actually X I will ask the question of the military as a whole because HERRICK has been a purple operation requiring all three services, and all three have perhaps been found wanting.
Ultimately, there is a lot of surplus manpower which if the willpower existed could be either put to good use, or gotten rid of for very little difference.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 8, 2013 11:09 pm

Sir H,

Read my post reference Medical Officers skewing numbers. As for Corporals on 40K in London, I agree that it is not good value but you cannot be on ops all the time and having admin jobs to rotate through keeps them “gainfully” employed. One thing for certain is that we could not do it the other way around and have the civil servant rotate through a Patrol base in Afghanistan every so often.

The military personnel that worry about their sports afternoons etc should be judged by the ability to get the job done, not putting in “face time” at the office hoping for a pat on the head! if they are not putting enough time in to get the job done then they should be hauled over the coals. if they are then fair enough, it is swings and round abouts.
Chances are lot of these people are very used to working 100 hour plus weeks as a constant when required, with few complaints. So when they are in a “shore job” they should of course get the job done but if Joe Bloggs wants to impress his boss by rewriting a memo for the 5th time at 1730 on a Wednesday afternoon I would not expect to sit and watch him. It is his core career and he will be as proactive as he wants to be.
I was not actually having a go at civil servants in my typo ridden sentence you quote but rather explaining the argument often used against them. I have worked with some very good ones and some god awful ones.

As a “nation of shopkeepers” we seem to have little time for administrators.

Assuming you went from the Military to being a Civvy that is a weird way around to have done Herrick and then Telic.

February 8, 2013 11:32 pm

All – I’ve been a reservist all my adult life so have done tours while sustaining two very different careers.
For the rest of your comments, while I dont doubt that a small number (and I mean small number) of military personnel do put long hours in at home, my overwhelming experience has been for years that most of them in the UK do a job which hours wise is not disimilar to any other job – namely a normal working week with the odd spot of working late. The military doesnt have a monopoly on doing long hours, and I’m afraid I have no time for the line that is spun in some quarters which makes out that our brave boys do 80 hour weeks in the office as well as theatre – its a myth for the most part.
Go to any UK military base after 4pm – 5pm on most afternoons and you’ll find it a ghost town, with maybe one or two civilian and military staff working a bit later.
Don’t get me wrong, I have huge respect for the fact that sometimes life in a blue suit, or a pinstriped suit can mean major hours, long times away from home and a lot of hassle – but this increasingly rarely means that its about being away from home and being shot at. In reality most people now are very much in a routine of doing normal jobs, with the odd detachment away. This is in fact little different to normal life for most people in high pressure jobs where travel is required, and we shouldnt kid ourselves otherwise.
As for the idea that an administrator is rotating HERRICK then back to UK – in reality its just a round robin of shore base, office job, occasional short time away. Its an utter myth to think that all UK personnel are constantly only having a break prior to heading back to HERRICK or TELIC (as was). Just look at the life led in NELSON or many Army garrison units – people working 8-4 days with an hour for lunch for many years at a time, with a much much smaller number actually being pinged for a military life in a meaningful sense.
I dont want to sound negative, but I am fed up with the myth that our entire military is a bunch of warry afghan veterans. In reality a relatively small amount did HERRICK, and its getting smaller. For most people military life is a desk based office job with the odd spot of mandatory training, and the very small risk of an op-tour. They are very, very well paid for a job which for the most part needs no formal qualifications, and involves a very comfortable and subsidised lifestyle.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 8, 2013 11:53 pm

Sir H

I was in no way inferring that average military personnel do long hours in a normal office or camp or base or airfield. i was referring to deployed personnel and only some standard office workers.

If you take a normal ship simply UK waters running the hours worked, especially by watch keepers etc soon begins to add up. The deployment cycle may be beginning to fall off now but it has been pretty hectic since 2003. Since 2003 I have done Ops in the Gulf twice with a Ship, a tour in Kabul and a land based tour in Iraq as well as a MONOGRAM tour in another sunny place. That is not an unusual profile.
Now I am not arguing that during non deployed Ship times and during shore jobs I put in 80 hour weeks but when you have had as I did on my first Gulf tour 9 days off in 8 months and been in defence watches averaging 19 hour days the rest of the time, then your appetite to put in 50 hour weeks in the office upon your return is somewhat diminished. Hence my swings and round abouts comment.

For most people military life is a desk based office job with the odd spot of mandatory training, and the very small risk of an op-tour. They are very, very well paid for a job which for the most part needs no formal qualifications, and involves a very comfortable and subsidised lifestyle.

I do not think that is the case for most but it certainly is for many. The fact remains that small chance or not, these people are prepared if asked to put their life on the line for their country. Anyone can apply!

February 9, 2013 11:26 am

Oh X, the Navy are just as culpable from my experience… you mean “Don’t bring the RM into this…” ;)
At my current N. London post, puddle pirates are a dime a dozen, but I don’t often see RM’s.

I agree with Sir H’s opinion really, I’d rather be elsewhere and have seen MoD civil servants who have proper officer quality.
Maybe its just the view that since servicemen and women (of whatever uniform colour/cap badge) are seen as more expendable/hard working with no need to pay ‘bonus’ or manage as ‘softly’ as Civil servants, they dump uniformed staff in such positions since “what else would they be doing? Scratching their arse on some ship/airfield/camp…”. Its silly.

We probs will see an increase in uniform staff as civil servants numbers reduce :/

February 9, 2013 11:41 am

Puddle Pirates? PUDDLE PIRATES? ;)

You don’t see many RM for two reasons,

1) Their camouflage and concealments skills are top notch. There has probably been a whole troop living in your desk draw and you haven’t noticed.

2) They are probably somewhere picking up Army slack….

Seriously before here I have said that I see nothing wrong in shore drafts. Civilianisation may appear cheaper but when you are loosing leading rates or younger POs because they can’t consolidate their home life then are we making any savings?

Sir H needs to keep his pro-Army anti-RN ramblings for ARRSE or the monkey house at the zoo. :) ;) (Only jokin’ H)

February 9, 2013 11:55 am

“Civilianisation may appear cheaper but when you are loosing leading rates or younger POs because they can’t consolidate their home life then are we making any savings?”

I’ve believe this is also applicable to the uk sar tasking and small ship patrols around the uk as along with ability to display leadership skills in less dangerous surroundings.

There is a balance and both need each other and think sir h has a point. Reserve forces can play a part here too.

February 9, 2013 12:05 pm

“Sir H needs to keep his pro-Army anti-RN ramblings for ARRSE or the monkey house at the zoo.”

I’ve seen phot’s of Sir H in uniform – and he wasn’t wearing green…

I think the truth lies between Sir H and APATs. It is amazing to see that there are plenty of people who have been in since 2001 and have done one or no tours since then. And then I know others who have gotten smashed on HERRICK and before then TELIC. These tend to be the individuals plucked from their usual units either as backfill or BCRs or specialists. I know one FIST chap who had about 6 months off with Weds sport afternoons etc after April 2011 and has been since then on exercise and now PDT for the next HERRICK. I also know some individuals who constantly volunteer to go away, one Sgt did back to back HERRICK tours.

But certainly, most of the military these days don’t have it so bad.

There is a significant minority who have been mercilessly smashed and are all used up, but most of all three services are ticking over and getting their Friday lunchtime knockoffs, AT and long weekends.

The whole hard done by Tommy thing is a media generated myth. You talk to young Toms and they know full well they have it good – they have over a thousand beer tokens a month, even more if in Germany, and I know in Merville Barracks, there are some Toms who have to live out due to lack of bedspaces on Camp and they actually get paid MORE for the inconvenience!

The picture is complex. You can’t generalise.

February 9, 2013 12:28 pm

Phil said “I’ve seen phot’s of Sir H in uniform – and he wasn’t wearing green…”

True. The RAF must be infested with them. ;)

February 9, 2013 12:57 pm

I think the lessons are we need to think about the jobs that need to be done, decide on how many depts are needed and of what type, select the leaders…and then cut everything else. Forget the grandstanding about who’s paid in six figures, remove those with too little responsibility and the headcount will drop away in the middle and the bottom of it’s own accord….

February 9, 2013 1:00 pm

Yup and the way to make more money in business is to sell more shit at less cost to you.

February 9, 2013 1:04 pm

This reminds me of the usual “we should cut back office staff and put more bobbies on the beat” type thing. Of course all the work done by the back office people doesn’t disappear into thin air, so the most natural replacements are the bobbies that should be on the beat, who earn considerably more in a lot of cases than the back office people.

So you end up with a situation where reducing back office staff and hiring more police results in precisely the opposite effect you were looking for, in that the number of police officers on the street actually goes down, not up.

Speaking to a friend a while back, she believes a similar thing is happening in Nursing. The emphasis on cutting back on office staff, hiring more nurses as managers, and the shift to nurses taking on more and more clinical and diagnostic roles (Nurse Consultants etc) is shifting nurses progressively away from their traditional role as carers and more towards being mini-doctors (with mini-doctor salaries).

Sometimes more is less.

(Just waiting now for a wave of articles in the rags about “effects based policing” and “effects based medicine”).

February 9, 2013 1:20 pm

Can’t agree more Chris.

As someone has said, there is little respect for the administrator anymore. Back office is another word for parasite in many people’s eyes, yet if you want an effective organisation you have to have an effective back office.

Basics Done Right™

I live by this, if you can do the basics well, most other things take care of themselves to a large extent.

How are you ever supposed to run an effective organisation if the back office is given short thrift and nobody keeps proper records, nobody can store and recall information very well, nobody funds IT solutions to help, nobody develops a proper structure and gives it the respect it needs and funds continuing professional development?!

Every bastard wants to be in charge or be writing policy and nobody will give a clerk a second look, until they’re cut back in the latest budget cuts and suddenly the policy maker has to draft his own memo’s, organise his own workload, file his own papers and struggle with an IT system nobody has bothered with.

If you have an excellent back office you set the front line free. They can pursue their objectives with complete focus. There is nothing but friction and stress generated when £30,000 a year professionals are supported by minimum wage, high turnover back office staff.

It amazes me how the organisations I have worked in literally teeter on the edge of disaster because they won’t sort out the basics because the basics are below them. When your license to operate is based largely on keeping records and being able to recall data, the fact you don’t bother with it and struggle without any sort of system baffles me beyond words.

You need an efficient back office, and to too many people efficient means small, but it means just that, efficient. If you invested in it you could have a small back office AND an efficient one and thus release your front line workers to focus. The number of organisations that are somehow walking without being able to crawl baffles me, how they don’t get found out baffles me further.

February 9, 2013 5:24 pm

Phil – we agreed you wouldnt spread the photos of me in rig after I’d posed specially for you…

The knee length shorts / socks combo was a particular fave of mine!

February 9, 2013 7:10 pm

@ Phil

I was part of logistics trial for a large utility company. I and the other person with who I worked knew the industry and knew the area the trial covered. We worked out of the same depot as the drivers making the delivery runs. We knew stock levels and indeed what the stock looked liked and its function. We knew the engineers in the field. And the system worked very well.

Once the company were happy the trial worked they shut us down and went nationwide with the system. They set up a call centre with agency staff who didn’t know the industry, didn’t know the areas they were covering, and their system collapsed. Of course what they implemented wasn’t the system that worked.

February 9, 2013 7:21 pm

X – army contribution to HERRICK has rarely been as low as 6K (since we topped the 9k mark)- less the 3 Cdo rotations. The last PERSREP I saw (in 2012) had a much greater number of Army in theatre. This 6K fig seems to have gained traction when denigrating the Army’s ability to force generate mass. Of course, the Army is doing a bit more than just HERRICK. When the proper sums are done by grown-ups,the amount of leeway is very small.The proper sums need to factor in commitments like high readiness contingency and training, and it needs to deal with considerable complexity (such as the basic building-blocks of force generation – BGs and Bdes – can be very different sizes embracing a variety of roles). The “why, oh why can’t we generate more than 6K from 100k” cry is disturbingly naive and dangerously simplistic (because politicians get shit like this fixed in their minds – like the bollocks of “20k troops in Germany waiting to face the Soviet hordes” of Liam Fox fame -a bit of a surprise to 7, 4, 20 and 102 Bdes who hadn’t seen many Soviets in Bosnia, Iraq or Afghanistan).

Sir H – your rant made me giggle – my current job has a large CS component. They go home at 1700. The only people left in the dept, up to 2000-ish, are the SO2 / SO1 / AD. And 2 of those have deployed on year-long op tours in the last 2 yrs. However I’m not going to be making a fool of myself by drawing out crass generalisations about the whole of defence from this!!

February 9, 2013 7:45 pm

@ Andy

I was having one of my pro-RN rants. The grown-ups here ignore me when I go off on one.

Saying that I do find it interesting when you say the Army “is doing a bit more than just HERRICK” which smacks of there being brigades and divisions poised on the borders of HM’s enemies. Of course there are none of those. Apart from the re-enforced company in FI, the SAS (doing the less complicated tasks left over from the SBS ;) ), and the Guards bashing around London your “bit more” really is well just a “bit”. The much smaller RN has ships and submarines all over the globe doing real work; still manages to visit land lock lands like Afghanistan to help the Army out. If you think WO and senior NCOs teaching Third World armies how to stack blankets, which end of the rifle the bullet comes from, and how to do all those tasks in an eco-friendly-gender-balanced way is real work then good for you. :)

February 9, 2013 8:23 pm

Andy – I’ve worked in similar departments myself – but for each office you find the military guy working late, you’ll also find plenty knocking off on time.
This isn’t having a dig – after all in an ideal world we’d all go home on time, but I do get very tired of the cliche that day in day out across HM Forces only the brave military work long hours while penny pinching civil servants clock off on the dot – its an outdated myth.

February 9, 2013 11:33 pm

X – Your maritime viewpoint is obviously fogged in – your list of commitments is missing a few chunks – Cyprus, residual commitments in NI, Mali -as well as all those other little tasks (trg teams etc) you mention which while easy to knock still have to be done (something to do with Foreign Policy?). More importantly those Bdes no longer required to feed the Afghanistan grind are now re-cocking and training to provide a contingent capability – something that takes time and resources if you’re going to do it properly. But hey what the hell – it’s only walking around with a rifle – anyone can do that (even matelots!).

Sir H – understand why you get tired with the cliches but the appropriate response should be a nuanced, accurate description of what really goes on, not a rant which over-generalises and reinforces some of the other myths out there. As a regular soldier, I also get fed up with the simplistic generalisations that unfortunately get carried over into debate amongst a militarily illiterate public, press and government.

February 10, 2013 1:10 am


“..army contribution to HERRICK has rarely been as low as 6K (since we topped the 9k mark) – less the 3 Cdo rotations…”

– Quite right. The 6k only refers to the 100k-strong Regular Army. If you count Reserves (circa 10% of Army personnel deployed), the Army’s total contribution has approached 7k with the balance of the 9.5k deployed comprising Naval Service (RN & RM) and RAF personnel. As X has pointed out and I believe you’ve conceded, the Army’s contribution has been significantly lower whenever 3 Cdo Bde has spearheaded HERRICK.

– I don’t have figures for the RAF but as at 12 November 2012, Naval Service personnel had been issued medals/clasps for service in Afghanistan on 17,387 occasions (RN: 9,051. RM: 8,336). However, these figures disguise the fact that many of the personnel concerned (especially RMs, FAA and medics) had deployed four, five or more times since 2001; they weren’t issued any extra medals and clasps for deploying more than once. As some pre-2005 RN & RM information was lost during the transfer of data from the single service Medal Office databases to the new tri-service Ministry of Defence Medal Office in March 2005, these figures are likely to be underestimates.

February 10, 2013 2:13 am

And let the ultimately pointless dick waving begin!!

February 10, 2013 10:49 am

TD – Total manning complement if all ships were manned is in the region of 3000 for escort force, 1500 for LPHs and LPD, 12-1500 for the SSN/SSBN force and roughly 1000 for the minor war vessels.

This assumes every ship at sea right now, which would never happen. on a standard daily deployment of say 5 escorts, 2 SSNs, 6 MCMVs, an LPH and and SSBN all around the globe on actual tasking (East of Suez, FIGs, FRE, one spare for the escorts, plus 4 MCMV in the Gulf and 2 on NATO duties, 1 SSN east of Suez, 1 west of Suez, the ARG and the Bomber), then you’d be looking at roughly 1700 plus deployed command staffs etc.

All figures are very ‘back of a fag packet’ though.

February 10, 2013 12:16 pm


Two thousand? Where “total number of crew currently aboard” is concerned, double this and add it to take into account all the ships (including survey vessels) and submarines at sea (take a look around any naval base), naval air squadrons, forward support units plus personnel embarked in RFAs, etc., while engaged in activities ranging from BOST and COST to fleet tactical and equipment trials. Even ships in maintenance have a reduced crew.

So that’s more like 6,000 of 27,000 not getting home at night.

P.S. Your anti-RN agenda is showing againIs it raining at High Wycombe, too? ;-)

February 10, 2013 12:29 pm

@ Andy

Now I never said anything about brigades working up, deployed, or returning from Afghanistan did I? Entirely different matter.

But if all you can come up with for the rest is Mali, NI(?), and Cyprus well it is hardly 21st Army Group about to make an armoured thrust deep into the enemy heartlands is it? I know some who pop to Cyprus for the weekend.

I bet if British Army withdrew every training team it had from abroad it would make very little difference to FP. We send training teams to Anglophone West Africa; the French send a brigade to Mali and grind the enemy into the ground. Sorry I don’t really subscribe to the “Guns at Batasi” fantasy. In the Third World loyalties on the ground shift too easily and money talks too loudly. And force counts for a lot too.

February 10, 2013 12:32 pm


P.P.S. Why don’t the RN personnel in Afghanistan count in your reckoning?

February 10, 2013 12:38 pm

And off we go again.

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