Operation Patwin – Costs to the MoD

The UK MoD operation to respond to the humanitarian crisis following Typhoon Haiyan was called ‘PATWIN’

For those interested in the cost to the MoD

Operation Patwin was the principal humanitarian relief operation to which the UK armed forces contributed in 2013. The armed forces supported Department for International Development efforts using assets including HMS Illustrious, HMS Daring, two RAF C-17 strategic lift aircraft, an RAF C-130 tactical lift aircraft and a logistics support team in the Philippines. The civilian transport in the area improved, and DFID agreed that military support was no longer required after 10 December. The marginal cost to the MOD is estimated at about £10 million. This sum will be reimbursed by DFID under the terms of a memorandum of understanding covering military support to humanitarian assistance missions.

Oral answer to a parliamentary question

This cost is of course, exclusive of the supplies delivered but 4Kg packs of instant noodles probably don’t cost a lot!

Getting food to people in need after Typhoon Haiyan

 

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a
a
January 13, 2014 9:31 am

“This cost is of course, exclusive of the supplies delivered but 4Kg packs of instant noodles probably don’t cost a lot!”

And also those were probably paid for by DFID anyway.

“The marginal cost to the MOD is estimated at about £10 million. ”

Amazing. I’d never have guessed it was so little. That’s _sixteen hours_ worth of the Op Herrick budget.

We really need to do more of this stuff; in terms of soft power, profile of the armed forces, etc it’s ludicrously cost-effective.

Brian Black
Brian Black
January 13, 2014 11:34 am

And it’s about eight hours of the DfID’s budget.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
January 13, 2014 11:50 am

Not just internationally either, troops helping out at home during floods etc must be dirt cheap but good for building military, community relations at home.

Chris.B.
January 13, 2014 12:07 pm

“We really need to do more of this stuff; in terms of soft power, profile of the armed forces, etc it’s ludicrously cost-effective.”

— Is it though? It’s the RightThingToDo ™ and I’m glad we did it. For what we’ve spent we’ve potentially saved lives and made a big difference to the people we helped, which is something we should be very proud of as a Nation.

But how much ‘influence’ does it really buy in the region? It certainly can’t hurt, and it demonstrates some of our capabilities, but how much more cost effective is say a Defence Attache? As for the profile of the armed forces, it was briefly in the news, with some fleeting mentions of a warship being sent, and then gone. There were no extended news pieces on the ship and crew and their benefit to the country etc.

craig
craig
January 13, 2014 12:44 pm

Does the marginal cost include the opportunity cost of diverting those assets from other taskings?

Waylander
Waylander
January 13, 2014 1:24 pm

.B

Both Daring and Illustrious got quite a lot of coverage on the BBC, and Illustrious had a spectacular welcome when she arrived back in Portsmouth.
Some of the BBC News clips are probably on YouTube.

Chris.B.
January 13, 2014 1:53 pm

@ Waylander,

They did a few 2-3 minute pieces about the general situation, which included a few shots of the ships and a mention in passing. There’s a hell of a long way between that and coverage that actually sticks in peoples minds and makes a lasting difference to their perception. I suspect if you were to grab a random sample of people off the street now and ask them to name the ships involved and what they did, few of them would have much of a recollection.

And I was under the impression that all our ships got a warm welcome when they returned to port?

a
a
January 13, 2014 2:48 pm

They did a few 2-3 minute pieces about the general situation, which included a few shots of the ships and a mention in passing. There’s a hell of a long way between that and coverage that actually sticks in peoples minds and makes a lasting difference to their perception

I suspect it’ll stick in the memory of the girl in the picture for a while, though.

Certainly there was a lot of commentary in the Philippine media comparing the US reaction (hordes of ships, planes, marines, vast amounts of aid) to the Chinese one ($1 million, grudgingly delivered), which is pretty salient in view of what’s going on round the South China Sea. The message “We will be there for our friends and allies in times of crisis” is a good one to be spreading around.

As for the profile – well, that’s why we should be doing more! Basic public relations: you have to keep telling the same story over and over again to make it stick, and if there’s a story on the BBC every month or so about HMS InsertNameHere delivering aid to the storm-battered citizens of X, then it’ll start to sink in.

Chris.B.
January 13, 2014 3:54 pm

@ a,

It might stick in her memory for the rest of her life. But a) unless she becomes prime minister at some point, that’s of dubious value, and b) even if she does, the delivery of a package of aid doesn’t change the geo-political reality of her nation. Look at what the Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, South Africans, Indians and others have done for us over the years. Look at the blood they’ve spilt fighting alongside us, to our advantage far more than their own.

And what did that blood buy them? Independence maybe. But what “influence” has that bought them with us in the long run? Our biggest ally is the US and our closest trade partners are mostly in Europe. Our inclusion in the EU often detrimentally affects trade with countries like South Africa and others because of EU tariffs. That is their long term reward for helping us in our hour of need.

Aid like this is a good thing. It makes a real difference to the people that receive it. But we should be delivering it on the principle of good will and a desire to do a good thing, not based on how much “influence” we think we can buy. Because in reality it probably has little effect in the long term.

martin
Editor
January 13, 2014 3:55 pm

Good to see DFID is at least footing the bill but I can’t help thinking DFID should do more. The Aid budget has become so large that its likely to be a victim in the next round of cuts. Disaster relief is an area where they can secure some real public support and teaming up with the forces to for instance build a couple of hospital ships could go a long way to gaining them some public support that they desperately need.

If the Tory’s get in after 2015 then the budget is likely to be cut at least in half to 0.35% of GDP. If Labour get in then they can probably kiss their 40% increase goodbye and settle for the 0.5% outlined by Blair in the G8. Their only hope at present is another Lib Dem coalition which I pray does not happen again.

Great advert for aircraft carriers though. Pretty effective piece of kit in the face of such massive destruction and great for the press. If I was the navy I would get the RFTG following every CAT 5 Hurricane I could in future great advert for the RN if they can show up with in a day with an aircraft carrier, LPD, Hospital ship etc. Might even get lucky and catch another Katrina in the USA. Imagine the press of RN Merlin’s lifting people of their roofs in the USA. Might even get a budget for a third :-)

a
a
January 13, 2014 4:04 pm

It might stick in her memory for the rest of her life. But a) unless she becomes prime minister at some point, that’s of dubious value, and b) even if she does, the delivery of a package of aid doesn’t change the geo-political reality of her nation.

So there’s no point in any form of positive publicity, soft power etc, because nations will always make policy decisions based solely on a hard-headed analysis of the geopolitical reality. That’s one point of view, but it’s not the only one – I’d personally argue that emotional responses have a lot to do with how national governments act…

Dunservin
Dunservin
January 13, 2014 4:07 pm

B.

“They did a few 2-3 minute pieces about the general situation, which included a few shots of the ships and a mention in passing. There’s a hell of a long way between that and coverage that actually sticks in peoples minds and makes a lasting difference to their perception. I suspect if you were to grab a random sample of people off the street now and ask them to name the ships involved and what they did, few of them would have much of a recollection…”

Actually, there was a series of TV reports and newspaper articles from embarked journalists. You do know it’s not obligatory to begrudge or belittle anything not achieved by the Army, don’t you?

I also suspect that at least as many “people off the street” would be unable to name any Army units (apart from the ‘Royal Marines ;-) ) or RAF/FAA squadrons deployed in Iraq/Afghanistan during the past 10 years.

(Can you guess I’m finding displacement activities to delay having to complete my end-of-year accounts?)

Chris.B.
January 13, 2014 4:40 pm

@ a,

“So there’s no point in any form of positive publicity, soft power etc, because nations will always make policy decisions based solely on a hard-headed analysis of the geopolitical reality.”
— Not that there’s no point, we just have to be pragmatic about what really makes a difference to people. Providing aid in this manner is the street equivalent of buying a bag of sugar for your neighbour to replace the one they lost when their house flooded out. It’s a nice gesture for which they’re very grateful, you might even make their Christmas card list, but they’re not going to consult you for your opinion next time they think about buying a car. If you’re lucky they’ll return the favour should it happen to you in the future.

In a world of multi-billion pound budgets, national interests, resource competition and political battles, a £10 million aid gift is small fry. You cannot expect nations to push their own interests aside on a regular basis just because we did something nice for them one time. The world doesn’t operate in this manner. Prime Ministers and Presidents have to look after the interests of millions of people. They ultimately will put these interests first.

If you want to influence someone, you have to be able to offer them something tangible going forward.

@ Dunservin,
I wasn’t trying to belittle or begrudge anything. I think it’s a great thing what we did. My complaint is that people are getting a little too excited about the advantages of what is – in the grand scheme of things – a pinprick.

Look at Libya. What was our reward for ousting Gaddafi and his cronies? A pat on the back, a polite thank you, and then a subtle gesture that our work was done and now we could leave. Back in 1940 France, Belgium and Holland were invaded by one country, while another fought alongside them and then ultimately helped to liberate them at great expense in blood and treasure. Today, which of those two countries (ally or invader) has a closer relationship with and more influence over France, Belgium and Holland?

If we look at Afghanistan and the amount of blood and treasure spent, how much real influence has that purchased? At times Kharzi seems almost annoyed by our presence.

“I also suspect that at least as many “people off the street” would be unable to name any Army units (apart from the ‘Royal Marines ;-) ) or RAF/FAA squadrons deployed in Iraq/Afghanistan during the past 10 years.”
— You’d probably be right. Which is my point. The general public does not think about defence in the way that people on this site do. News reports have a tendency to slip from the mind within hours if not days of seeing them. Usually it takes a documentary for people to really sit up and take notice.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 13, 2014 5:14 pm

‘You do know it’s not obligatory to begrudge or belittle anything not achieved by the Army, don’t you?

I also suspect that at least as many “people off the street” would be unable to name any Army units (apart from the ‘Royal Marines ;-) )’

How unlike the Navy to be dining out on the exploits of the real fighting unit within their organisation.
I’m starting to believe the Navy really do live in a world of bitterness and failed promises, just like a spurned first wife.

JamesF
January 13, 2014 5:23 pm

You might not realise it but both Rwanda and Mozambique are new members of the commonwealth, and UK PLC has invested plenty in both military and aid support (and a mix of both) – Mozambique has massive offshore gas resources and hey ho, British Gas are one of the major investors. Rwanda has probably the most efficient armed forces in central Africa and they along with other allies (and aid recipients) Uganda and Kenya have taken the lion’s share of the manpower hit on intervention in Somalia.

Nigeria is one of the so-called MINT countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey) – the upcoming group of major global economies. UK aid to Nigeria will place us well – and not only provide a platform for influence over Islamic radicalization and energy security. Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are all developing vast new offshore oil and gas fields – again major recipients of UK aid and military assistance. Companies like Tullow Oil, Lonrho and British Gas are all calling in with major concessions to operate these fields and contribute new ports and infrastructure.

Aid is also linked inherently to UK strategy towards preventing radicalization in Pakistan, Afghanistan and parts of Africa. Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing extractives-led economies on earth, and Myanmar has vast potential – and long term UK support for the pro-democracy movement is paying off through influence.

I think the idea that it is either DFID or MoD is misguided, and somewhat old hat – driven by poor coordination, unseemly turf wars in Whitehall and the Daily Mail.

The US might be a good model. They do both big aid and big defence. For a reason.

a
a
January 13, 2014 6:18 pm

“You cannot expect nations to push their own interests aside on a regular basis just because we did something nice for them one time.”

No, that’s why I said we should do it a lot!

Brian Black
Brian Black
January 13, 2014 6:24 pm

I think Chris is looking for some kind of immediate kick-back from the work of HMS Dumbledore and HMS Illuminous in the Philippines, but it doesn’t work like that.

Making friends and networking is about playing the long game, and about building up a reputation for ourselves. The Philippines aren’t going to start pandering to our every whim just because we delivered aid recently, but doing so will build on our relationship and will present a positive image worldwide.

Delivering aid in an emergency like the typhoon will probably do more for our image abroad than funding the various Guardian-reader friendly projects that soak up many millions of our aid budget, but which go unnoticed by national leaderships because they just don’t care.

Chris.B.
January 13, 2014 6:27 pm

@ JamesF,

“Mozambique has massive offshore gas resources and hey ho, British Gas are one of the major investors”
— Note the key word, investors. As in, offering a tangible benefit to the nation concerned by investing money in projects that will benefit the host nation, whilst offering skills and experience. They’re not just off loading a few aid packages and hoping that it will all come good in the end. They’re offering something much more, something that directly benefits the long term future of the host nation. And, lets be honest, probably a few bungs.

If you look at Kenya that’s a relationship we have spent a lot of time, money and energy investing in. Not a one off “here, have some food and blankets”. Comparing Kenya to the Philippines is ever so slightly disingenuous.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 13, 2014 7:39 pm

Interesting discussion. Maybe I am slightly naive, but I do think that this sort of humanitarian assistance is indeed money well spent, but the value is gained in the minds of 50-100 key influencers in the local jurisdiction ( in this case the Philipines), and I would suggest only gained to Britain’s enduring credit when cemented over the following months by the work of our defence diplomats (and no doubt others in the UK Embassy).

I think the work of defence diplomats is often overlooked, and is very effective for the cost.

To take one example, the old man was Britain’s Defence Attaché to Greece as his last active posting. He ran the Defence Section in the Embassy, with a Commander RN as the Naval Attaché to assist him, an RAF WO as the fixer, 3 locally employed civilians, and all of the Brits had rented houses and some domestic assistance. There was an official car. Total cost perhaps £1 million a year.

I managed to wangle a four month attachment to his staff to help out on the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Crete.

In his 3 years there, he ran one royal visit for the Cretan shindig, 5,000 Commonwealth veterans visited for the same, a dozen exercises were conducted by the RM and Sandhurst, a half dozen RN ship visits were concluded, several enduring secondments established for the Greek Army as they converted to AH 64 ( with industry in the UK benefitting from contracts) and a huge amount of intelligence gathered on Greek interests in the developing civil war in former Yugoslavia. He also acted as New Zealand’s DA as the could not supply an officer to fulfill that role, for which the NZ government paid the UK government.

Not to big up the old man, as other DAs do the same, and both his predecessor and successor in post either initiated or concluded these activities, but merely to note that this sort of diplomacy is extremely cost effective, and when integrated with high profile stuff that is necessarily of short duration, then the overall results much more than a single event.

dave haine
dave haine
January 13, 2014 9:25 pm

Drip, drip, drip….

If we rock up and help whenever someone needs help, doesn’t matter that it’s only a bag of sugar…it will get remembered.
Every person that is helped by a squaddie, matelot or erk, will remember them with kindness.

And little by little, we develop a image. And if as RT says we have a good embassy staff, that can help with sound advice and sensible assistance, somewhere we develop influence…

Funnily enough, according to Sir Christopher Meyer, it was Blair and Cameron that ponced around with the embassies, not allowing them to do what embassies do well.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 13, 2014 9:42 pm

The Japanese give lots of foreign aid, but its usually in the form of Japanese manufactures like Toyota Landcruisers. I wish DfID would give work to British caravan & mobile home manufacturers, with big numbers sent to the Syrian border & the Philippines.

paul g
January 13, 2014 10:07 pm

not forgetting the positive effect it has on the people carrying out the work as well, it will be 20 years this july that I deployed to rwanada and looking at the photos now and remembering what we achieved still gives an enormous amount of pride.
I came back as I was hitting my 12 year point the make or break when deciding wether to cut and run or go for the full stretch, that tour influence me a lot.

Dunservin
Dunservin
January 13, 2014 11:45 pm

@DavidNiven

“How unlike the Navy to be dining out on the exploits of the real fighting unit within their organisation.
I’m starting to believe the Navy really do live in a world of bitterness and failed promises, just like a spurned first wife.”

Ah, someone else with the parochial view that power and influence can only be gained or exercised through violence and the only fighting worthy of consideration involves plunging the Queen’s bayonet into the bellies of her enemies. That’s not to say the Royal Navy isn’t very proud of the Royal Marines and their complementary skill at arms for force protection duties or their constabulary skills for boarding operations, etc. It’s the reason it has them.

As TD has said, Army personnel were embarked in HMS Invincible during Op PATWIN and we mustn’t forget the RAF’s contribution of C-17 and C-130 flights. No bitterness here. I applaud everyone’s efforts but I don’t like snide (and bitter?) criticism to go unchallenged.

Although our Defence Attachés present an opportunity for the yellow press to rant about the number of OF-5s and OF-4s not driving ships, submarines, regiments, squadrons or other units, I concur with others who believe them to be excellent value. Furthermore, there’s nothing that improves their local credibility more than the regular but non-intrusive nor persistent presence of British naval and/or other military units.

martin
Editor
January 14, 2014 9:07 am

The 10 million spent on this op by DFID at least gave me a warm fuzzy feeling where as the 12 billion a year spent on girls schools, theme parks and dictators jets just pisses me of so on that basis this mission was great value for money. The UK is already held in such high regard across SE Asia its difficult to see how we could get more from any amount of soft power. Around 20% of the population walk around wearing a union jack at any one time.

Indeed I think the UK is held in high regard by most people outside of the UK and this is largely due to soft power media, industry, history etc.

a
a
January 14, 2014 10:21 am

merely to note that this sort of diplomacy is extremely cost effective, and when integrated with high profile stuff that is necessarily of short duration, then the overall results much more than a single event.

Oh, absolutely. I didn’t mean to imply that DAs, etc were useless and should be ditched.

not forgetting the positive effect it has on the people carrying out the work as well

Also a good point.

ChrisB – sure foreign investment can be beneficial, but it isn’t automatically so. Chinese investment in agricultural land in Africa has been pretty harmful to the local population, and they know it. How’s the public image of Shell in Nigeria, for that matter?
Ultimately an investment happens because the investor wants to make money, and the locals know this – they know that British Gas isn’t there just out of love of the Mozambicans.

Indeed I think the UK is held in high regard by most people outside of the UK and this is largely due to soft power media, industry, history etc.

Media, and in particular the BBC, which is a terrifically good brand worldwide, for all that people here seem to regard it as some sort of devious Trotskyite operation…

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 14, 2014 12:30 pm

,
‘Ah, someone else with the parochial view that power and influence can only be gained or exercised through violence and the only fighting worthy of consideration involves plunging the Queen’s bayonet into the bellies of her enemies.’

Not at all, I understand the uses of both soft and hard power completely and have been involved in both in my travels. I have also had the privilege of being a member of a corps who works with all cap badges/arms and services including at one point the Joint Force Harrier and have garnered a broad understanding (not expert) of the countries military workings.

It does not bother me that the RAF fly the support helicopters or that the medic in my unit may be from the Navy, or the fact that the highest ranking British officer in a land campaign was not from the Army at the time I was there. A letter was not written by myself to the head of the RAF asking ‘where are you, you B*****d!’ when a Dutch F16 provided me with CAS.

What concerns me is effect and budget and that we have the resources of support helicopters and CAS etc. regardless of which service supplies them, and that they deliver required quantities at the right time as efficiently as possible. However generally I have found that the Navy view (I am not assuming this is your view, just a sweeping generilisation) is that it is impossible for any other service to conduct operations as efficiently and that no other service has any technical ability, coupled with we need more ships at the expense of the other two services because its not fair and its all an RAF conspiracy etc.

So for this reason alone I cannot stop myself from prodding the senior service now and again (they seem to bite so easily) not that I am bitter of it, far from it It’s just a sarcastic comment regularly heard on the air from the rear rank of a morning parade.

There is no hostility intended, perhaps I should start using smiley faces :-)

Chris.B.
January 14, 2014 1:37 pm

@ a,

“Ultimately an investment happens because the investor wants to make money, and the locals know this – they know that British Gas isn’t there just out of love of the Mozambicans”
— I’d agree that British Gas probably doesn’t give two tosses about the people it affects. And while the locals may not be fond of British Gas, the government of said country is because they’re helping to untap the countries resources and make them money which they badly need to drive their development.

a
a
January 14, 2014 4:30 pm

And while the locals may not be fond of British Gas, the government of said country is because they’re helping to untap the countries resources and make them money which they badly need to drive their development.

Yes, if there’s one thing that history teaches us, it’s that the governments of poor countries are always amazingly fond of the Western companies that exploit their natural resources, and never use them as political scapegoats or subject them to high taxes or nationalise their assets.

jamesf
January 14, 2014 10:30 pm

a,

I guess I was making a link between BG getting the concession rather than CNOC – good old UK influence (like DFID funding the development of good legislation for oil and gas and putting advisers in key ministries etc.) undoubtedly helps create a conducive environment for UK investors. If I recall Nigeria nationalized all BP’s assets way back before DFID.