SDSR 2015 Sacred Cows

In the prelude the last Strategic Defence and Security Review one of the most memorable soundbites was from Major General Buster Howes RM;

Our current defence aspirations are unaffordable, so very hard choices will have to be made.

Sacred cows make the best beefburgers

It is actually an older saying but the point was well made.

Unfortunately, as we all know, SDSR 2010 was less about making hard strategic choices and more about shoddy last minute interservice horsetrading. I suppose the only real sacred cow was Nimrod MRA4, I don’t count Harrier because there was (and is) a rather Gucci replacement in the pipeline.

I tend to be a bit pessimistic but I simply cannot see any meaningful increase in the defence vote and combined with rising personnel and welfare costs, defence inflation, the PFI bow wave and the heaving wedge of cash that will be demanded by the Vanguard replacement programme.

This means hard choices and by hard choices I mean cancellations, disbandments and withdrawals.

We all understand the overall strategic intent is to maintain balance with a full spectrum of capabilities at ever reducing scale.

My first question in the post is to ask if that remains a valid approach, can we continue to strive for the very best in capability terms whilst accepting the inevitable trade off of decreasing mass?

Are we now at the point where the British Armed Forces are a very sharp but very brittle glass spear?

Instead of this

Copy of equilateral-triangle1

A well supported and sustainable balanced force with resilience and endurance

Are we know this

equilateral-triangle1

 

High end exquisite platforms with no strategic depth or endurance.

In other words, a glass jawed heavyweight (or all fur coat and no knickers if you fancy another analogy)

This leads to the second question.

If this is the state of affairs, overstretched personnel, skill shortages, poor logistics capacity, fleets within fleets and not enough consumable stocks, the what next.?

Would you invert that last triangle with the subsequent reduction in top line capacity?

What that means in real terms is accepted very real cuts in headline capabilities or culling a herd of sacred cows because in the words of my recently favourited author (US Army General Gordon Sullivan);

Hope is not a strategy

Or put another way.

 

Which leads me to the subject of the post.

Sacred cows.

There are many that could be culled to provide the headroom to make what was left more robust and sustainable.

And so to the final question.

What do you think the sacred cows are, think radical, think bold, think big.

 

 

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mike
mike
October 31, 2014 9:33 pm

Well, seems our Amphibious capability is getting sacrificed for ‘fight-ey ships’

Hohum
Hohum
October 31, 2014 9:39 pm

To go back to another thread, the UK did not have “strategic depth or endurance” prior to 2010 as the British military failures in Basra and Helmand ably demonstrated. This compounded by the reality that the willpower does not exist within the wider populace for sustained military engagement.

Thus, forget about depth. If what Britain wants to be able to do is quickly blow things up that are far away that is what it should focus on, which means keeping the high-tech sacred cows and finally culling the cap badged ones.

Do not let Afghanistan or Iraq cloud your judgement, both were failures for the British Army and at a policy level the lesson has been learnt, Libya and Iraq 3 are being fought with planes, missiles and bombs, not guys in IED magnets. It is now the RAF fast jet fleet that is showing the greatest signs of overstretch- unsurprising given the savage cuts it took, but it is now the engaged force and should be protected and enhanced where possible- notably through the now agreed to provision of sea basing via the QE class.

Challenger
Challenger
October 31, 2014 9:43 pm

@Mike

Anything to back that assertion up?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
October 31, 2014 10:01 pm

I could live with a reduction in the Army if it meant all the units remaining were fully mechanised, preferably leaning to medium weight over light. The trouble with the army is that even with more cuts we will need to spend a fair amount of money for vehicle replacements and consolidation.

Army Wildcat, so we can get Apache upgrade?
Maybe look at the new build Bronco’s Boeing offered for the US LAAR programe as an Apache replacement if the upgrade cannot be afforded. (can land on a carrier and maybe carry the Vigilance pods for a crows nest type?)

I think we could lose a couple of Amphibs (although to be honest I think they are getting eyed up to pay for the second carrier)

Centralise all infantry (RAF Regt and RM) training in Catterick?

Disband either 17 port and maritime RLC or 1 assault group RM?

Acquire a multimission airframe for ISTAR/MPA etc retire Sentinal and Shadow (TD’s favourite, modular)?

I agree with Hohum we need to give the RAF an uplift in the next SDSR.

Challenger
Challenger
October 31, 2014 10:24 pm

We all know that the only two avenues which lead to significant savings are the complete deletion of capabilities (salami slicing alone doesn’t really cut it) and reductions in manpower.

The RN and RAF don’t seem to have any more personnel to lose (plus i agree that in light of current ops the RAF could well be prioritized anyway) but i wouldn’t be surprised if the British Army sees a further hefty reduction down to 65-75,000 regulars and 20-30,000 reservists.

I’d welcome a real attempt at cap-badge amalgamations and fewer, larger regiments to maximize on efficiency when it comes to administration, basing and training. But this has been a forlorn ambition for a long-time now and clearly hasn’t yet been achieved despite repeated attempts.

Not sure what else could be cut, their isn’t much left! Perhaps AAC Wildcats partly given to the FAA (can’t see the navy operating all 62 examples) with the rest put in storage or cannabilised for spares. Sadly maybe a couple of amphibious vessels will be cut as well.

I have a fear that alongside a handful of big sacrifices we will see a whole raft of peripheral and petty trimmings of capabilities again. Might we see 1 of the RFA Forts and 1 of the Waves/Tides scrapped early, the Points let go off in favour of ad hoc chartering, a clutch of Hunt’s/Sandown’s deleted or Astute No.7 cancelled?

The Other Chris
October 31, 2014 10:31 pm

Incomplete selection of UK Sacred Cows to chew the cud over:

– Apache.
– Trident.
– T26.
– Army Wildcat.
– Challenger 2.
– Cap Badges.
– UOR System.
– F-35.
– Separate Services.

These are where capability exists in more than two other forms, where a capability has a cheaper modern 1-1 capability replacement available, where capability itself is questioned or where there is no other option. I’ll let you determine which represent which.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
October 31, 2014 10:55 pm

Sacred Cows, how about HM Treasury and all the faceless idiots within for starters? Or MP’s yearly perks and wage rises, while switching second homes? Or the overseas aid budget, cut even a fraction, the EU madness, and the £200 Billion benefits bill. Utter bonkers, this country. We have plenty of money, we just pour it down the drain.

Seriously though. My humble opinion on potential cuts.

“There are many that could be culled to provide the headroom to make what was left more robust and sustainable.”

Firstly I do not believe in this, since cuts are a prelude to cuts, followed by cuts, followed by impending cuts. This has been going on since OFC in 1991, we hear all the usual crap from the politicians at how it will make the forces ” more agile ” and ” ready to face the challenges of an uncertain world ”

Bullshit. When did having less of everything make a military more agile? Hamstrung more like.

HMG will cut, then down the line it will happen again, as they will lose few votes for it, and that is all they care about! The public also, in the main, sadly seem to care about their Giros or who is on X factor more than their armed forces, and soon forget, where’s the likes of us feel the pain.

The things that I believe really are sacred cows that must not be cut, and things that might, are –

RN

Carriers and the FAA.
Amphibious Ships and the RM.
SSN force.
The RFA.

These give the strategic reach and I would have the RN prioritise all 4, at the expense of everything else. So less escorts and MCMV.
Maybe the OPV news is a step in this direction? More cheaper vessels and less top end, those left kept to defend the key assets?

Army

I cannot see any cuts to the Reaction force, and our genuine High Intensity War fighting division, especially as we have but 3 Armoured, 3 Armoured Recc and 3 AS90 Regiments left!
So no cuts here, or to 16AAB beyond what has been taken off already.

I would remove more Infantry Battalions from the Adaptable Force, and close more barracks. After 2010SDSR cocked it up by saving cap badges at the expense of capability, we ( stupidly in my view ) cut RE, RLC, RA regiments when several of these could have been kept to make another Brigade, maybe 4th, in the Adaptable Force deployable, to go with 51st and 7th, the two famous names.

As it is we now have more Infantry Battalions than we can deploy, as the enablers are no longer there to Brigade them into a useful formation, and only 2 truly deployable Brigades out of 7 “Infantry Brigades.”
As we still have, ( is it 31? ) Battalions I can see more cuts here.

As for bases, do the CAM really need Kneller Hall?! Does closing this compromise national security? As an example. What about Beachley Barracks, or Chester, Hounslow, or Tern Hill, all with single Battalions in residence? What do we lose closing these and placing the Battalions elsewhere? At every Defence review all you read in the papers are local MP’s howling about the loss of their base and the effect on the local community, they don’t give a stuff for the security of the nation or what they add to it. That it is there is all they care about, not WHY its there or the role it plays.
Its like the fuss years back over closing the RM School of Music in Deal!

In London District selling Hyde Park may fetch a tidy sum.

I have no problem with senior officers having OSR’s, as befits their rank. Whats the CDS to do? Entertain visiting military chiefs in a 3 bed semi in Surbiton??? Ridiculous. That’s just left wing class warfare.

And being a proud Monarchist I would not want to see any cuts to the Guards Division, the HCMR and the Kings Troop RHA. They are part of the fabric and identity of this nation, my nation.

RAF

The stupidity of cutting our Fast Jet force from 22 in 1998 ( I think ? ) to 7 is now clear with the force called on time and again to bail HMG out as they don’t want the political fallout from boots on the ground. So we have the farce of 8 jets making political points over Iraq so it looks like we are doing something.

So no cuts to Fast Jets.

To me, the Transport, Tanker and ISTAR forces are also indespensible, as is the SHF with the vital Chinooks.

I can only see cuts possible to the RAF Regiment, and maybe more bases that do not have Runways, Hard standings and all the supports like SSA, GPSS links etc. The Training pipe line has been cut or civilianized already so apart from closing Linton I see no scope there. What about RAF Woodvale? Come to think it, there aren’t many Stations left as they closed them already! What about Halton? Or Henlow? Could their functions be moved?

Wider MoD, Central Budget.

Other assets I would Ring fence are the DSF for obvious reasons, although maybe 21/23 SAS would be merged or removed? I don’t really know since I don’t know their true capability in supporting the regulars?

PJOB’s overseas must all stay, as must the vital Intelligence sites at several locations in Cyprus and elsewhere.

Bases that must be kept in my view include our 3 Naval bases and their associated DM Sites and OFD’s, RAF Main operating bases, Salisbury Plain Training Area and all the garrisons around it, HQ sites and their associated comms, hardened accomodation like Northwood, High Wycombe and DCMC. Marchwood, the main munitions sites like Glen Douglas, Kineton etc, Fylingdales and the RAF ASCS radar and comms sites, and specialist sites like PATA, Digby, RAF Waddington etc.

On the Nuclear front, can SSBN’s safely go down to 3?
Can we stop CASD?

I would still fund Successor and Trident, as I think the idea of Cruise Missiles being a genuine alternative to SLBM’s laughable.

I don’t see much scope for further cuts I’m afraid, apart from one.

Why not make the ultimate cut, and finally belittle this nation HMG, and withdraw from the UNSCP5? Then we can be nobodies and save a fortune.

That is the hypocrisy that annoys the most. They want to remain a player without funding it, laughable as this country is somebody and should indeed be a proud member of the UNSC with the military clout to back it up.

Mark
Mark
October 31, 2014 10:58 pm

First the politcal sacred cow I would start with a strategic withdrawal over the next 5 years from the Mid East. We are out of cards to play in region both military and politically and our economic dependence on the region is now much reduced.

Strategic priority should be given to collaboration with norway in particular for increased security of the North sea and Baltic.

Sacred cows I would not continue with the f35 or puma helicopter. Replacement of the strategic Intel aircraft with smaller more net centric aircraft teamed with a more istar orientated typhoon (no further purchases beyond those already ordered) only fastjet force supported by an increased strategic uav force.

Removal of challenger warrior and scout from the army replaced with the german puma. Disbandment of the amphib and airborne brigade and replaced with a special service briagde.

Decommission the Lpds and turn the carriers into large uav/helicopter sea base platforms for the special service units a la kitty hawk in afghan.
Astute numbers increased to 14 and a vertical launch capability similar to the Virginia class added paid for by deleting the trident replacement. Type 26 numbers reduced to 6. Replacement of the RFA stores ships accelerated.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
October 31, 2014 11:22 pm

Sacred cows?

Let’s start with about 3/4 of the Royal Armoured Corps, my old branch of the Army. We don’t need tanks at all, given that there are better ways of delivering firepower, manoeuvre, and shock action (the holy trilogy), and for about one tenth of the price. Pick any 3,000 metre plus ATGW, any type of flatbed, and some officers with their balls on fire and some imagination.

Then there’s the Navy. Christ, it’s an institutionally dinosaurian self-licking lollipop. It needs very little on the surface, and lots sub-surface. And to stop with the pretension of the Marines: hand them over to the Army who can train and use them properly for operational effect.

As to the Kevins, best they get out of manned strike or ISTAR. No one sensible will be doing that in ten years with manned platforms, and it is ruddy expensive anyway. Let the Navy do the Strike thing. Stick with transport, but try to send your Movers on courses in being Human.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
October 31, 2014 11:36 pm

Good grief, I forgot the RAF Regiment. Sack the lot of them. Including the Queen’s Colour Squadron, whose performances leave most of us speechless with bemusement that as taxpayers we are actually required to pay for that sort of nonsense.

And the “fighty” end of the RAF Regiment is worse. I had control of No 1 Squadron in Bosnia for 6 months in 1995, reportedly the crème of the Regiment, all para trained, and about 30% of them drafted in for this tour. They were absolutely fucking shite. It was a relief when they were replaced on roulement by a company of the Cheshires, who knew their arse from their elbow.

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 1, 2014 12:29 am

@ RT problem is then some unfortunate proper infantry would be lumbered with the job of protecting airfields. I don’t think it’s fair to inflict that on proper soldiers. However, force protection is I think an RLC responsibility using chunkies, and chunkies are reasonable at that (if we ignore their allowing a car load PIRA to bluff their way through the gates of HQNI).

I agree about precision strike, GMLRS is just fine (dropping two in quick succession down a manhole in Afg shows they are precise), add some ATCMS to go a bit further. Satellites, SF and cav to find targets, UAV until the AD environment becomes too hostile.

The key missing capability is to be able to quickly and precisely locate the coy and battalion level comds. Coordinated precision hits on these will cause units in most armies, including some NATO ones, to collapse very quickly as fighting forces.

jed
jed
November 1, 2014 12:56 am

Massively expensive sacred cows we could do without:

1. Perm. Membership of UN Sexurity Council
2. SLBM / SSBN based independnt nuclear deterrent
3. F35

Of course 3 means carriers become big helo carriers, but such is Frakkin life. Give them a Converteam EM catapult and Avenger UAV’s , Merlins with NSM or eve V22 for AEW.

But really what national security tasking sacred cows can be turned into burgers ? East of Suez intervention / engagement in any form ? Ability to do non-combatant evacuation of British nationals without coalition assistance ? War on drugs maritime policing in the U.S back yard in the Caribean ? Want can you get the numpty fools of HMG to give up in the form of their ambitions ?

NG
NG
November 1, 2014 1:27 am

@ RT in today’s environment i think they navy needs more amphibs to transport the marines and the army around. But my idea is geared towards operations like Mali. But i like the idea of putting the RAF regiment under the control of the army to make them better at airfield defense without sapping the strength of the infantry battalions

The army’s plan to integrate the reserves doesn’t make much sense to me though at least for the infantry and what i have read around here and other blogs. Like everyone else has said its time to dramatically change the infantry and concentrate equally on infantry, artillery, engineers, and logistics.

For sacred cows, infantry cap badges seems to be the only one that you’re government cares about and everything else is on the table.

@ DM get used to arguing over bases we have it just as bad both for active bases and reserve/guard bases.

overall i think that because of events over the last year you guys might not get cut to much. Our military might have to cuts a lot of people and platforms to fit within the congressional cluster$^@$.

rant over

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
November 1, 2014 1:47 am

The NHS? Beveridge identified five great social evils which could and should be conquered, but didn’t set out in great detail how that task might be tackled…and certainly didn’t suggest that the best approach was to nationalise a wide range of existing community, municipal and charitable provisions…turn them into massive state-run bureaucracy…and then systematically turn the whole process into a substitute for organised religion, the High Priests of which demand an ever-larger sacrifice of the national life-blood year on year, with the supplicants routinely encouraged to believe that they have “24 hours to save the NHS” or some such nonsense…

Sort that shibboleth out, and we could (and I would) spend 1% of GDP on DfID…with three times that on Diplomacy, Intelligence and Defence…and by way of forestalling some of the bright ideas that will no doubt emerge in this discussion could I point out that despite being a small foggy Island with practically no natural resources and a population in the middle range we remain one of the richest places on earth, firmly in the top ten by most measures…and in consequence we have astonishingly easy and comfortable lives by comparison with all our own ancestors and practically every other inhabitant of the planet either alive or dead.

An important reason for this is that in any likely round of the chip pissing competition that is international relations, the UNSC Seat, CASD, and some (albeit limited) expeditionary capacity gives us a massive institutional advantage…the competition is largely played out according to rules we have set and in consequence we enjoy the privilege of pissing on other people’s chips as they sit to eat them at their own kitchen table…

Anybody who imagines that giving up those advantages would somehow make our lives better even in the medium term is sadly mistaken…not least because a five-hundred year history that some of us might regret but that cannot be rewritten leaves the world absolutely lifting with bad people who hate us and want to kill us…our only coherent position is to keep them at a safe distance. We are viewed for the most part with a mixture of envy and loathing, but mingled with just enough fear and respect to hold our own…give up the last two and our enemies who grow ever more numerous will most assuredly seek to move the chip-pissing competition from their kitchen to the back bar of the Dog and Duck.

We would all do very well to bear that in mind.

Both Surly and Gloomy.

Jed
Jed
November 1, 2014 2:28 am

Gloomy

If I read your last correctly your specifically connecting our global economic standing with UNSC membership and nuclear deterrent ?

Wtf ??!

Please explain the linkages and connections ? UNSC is a joke and will be forever due to the power of veto. How is it connected to the UK’s current wealth ? Deterrent / MutuLly Assured Destruction has helped us achieve this wealth how exactly ?

Or did I miss read your comments ?

Now I do agree that expeditionary capability and a willingness to use it does indeed bring us an amount of international influence.

By the way I did not advocate unilateral nuclear disarmament – just don’t think we need 4 very expensive SSBN’s to deter an evil Russia / China anymore. Not the same as having some delivery capability to deter rogue states / non state actors.

What might be much much more useful against all those bad people in the world might be VLS tubes in 10 or 12 Astutes and a very nice stock pile of TacToms not to mention turning the SSBN fleet into SSGN.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
November 1, 2014 2:53 am

– No…I’m identifying the UNSC as a key part of the mix which secures our place at the top table, the CASD as a likely component of the membership fee, and the whole shebang as a critical part of the leverage that we use to help set the rules that in general play out in more in our favour than not in terms of wealth-creation and comparative competitive advantage over other states, and keeps us in the top ten or twenty by all measures of national success. Certainly, the Security Council is more likely to stop things than do things…but I’d say being one of just five powers able to use it in that way is pretty critical leverage…as to the Nukes, in the end even the Lib/Dems didn’t come out against them…they proposed pretty much the tray of fudge I think you just advocated, which most others pretty swiftly dismissed as unworkable…furthermore, no Government which gave up CASD would do so to spend more on conventional defence; they would do so to save money, reduce overall defence expenditure and seek to back out of the party; having failed to notice that there is just the one room and outside the door there is nothing but the void.

What is massively useful is not the things themselves, but the leverage they confer…but beyond registering our difference of opinion the argument is sterile because we will not change each other’s minds and the only way to test either proposition is to actually change the status quo and see what happens…an experiment to which I will remain firmly opposed because it would be an irreversible step with unknown consequences which in my view would certainly be bad and might well be catastrophic…

GNB

Tinman
Tinman
November 1, 2014 3:24 am

@RT Shurley they would have been II Sqn? But don’t let that stop the outrage.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 1, 2014 3:36 am

Obsvr,

What airfields need defending, and if they do, largely the job is still being done by the Army. Think Bastion, MPA, Akrotiri… The thing about the RAF Regiment is that they talk about guarding airfields, but don’t actually do very much of it. And there is literally no point at all in the RAF Regiment unless they are actually guarding an airfield, which they don’t do very much of. You certainly don’t want them anywhere important.

Frankly, if they want to have six squadrons, I’d build four squadron’s worth of married quarters in Port Stanley, then they can rotate around guarding MPA with a one in six sunshine tour in Cyprus.

Utterly pointless in 2014 (and for decades beforehand).

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 1, 2014 5:24 am

Tinman, yes, I’m sorry a typo. Number II Sqn, not I Squadron.

They crapped out in the Sipovo Chicken Riot. Had a flight down there for some local elections, got hot and unnecessarily flustered when a charity chicken donation was perceived to be biased, started firing shots in the air and sparked a full blown riot. Nobs. It took proper soldiers to calm things down, and after that I reduced their tasking to local defence of the Metal Factory.

Ian Hall
Ian Hall
November 1, 2014 8:21 am

A really big sacred cow? How about combining the helicopter capabilities of all 3 services into one?

Repulse
November 1, 2014 8:52 am

My sacred cow hit list:

– CASD
– Amphibious Assault (above company level Strategic Raiding)
– Independent naval patrols by FFs / DDs (can all be done by OPVs)
– RAF fighter offensive ops which are not launched either from the UK (or BOT) or a CVF. Hence the scrapping of the RAF regiment.
– Ability to perform Army divsional ops outside of ww3 and a widespread call up of reserves. Combined with a further reduction of regular Army numbers with cap badges going to reserve forces.

Repulse
November 1, 2014 8:58 am

Oh, and off the back of my cull, I’d opt for more Astutes and a third CVF group (with escorts). :)

Martin
Editor
November 1, 2014 9:12 am

not really much left to cut. Transfer RM to Army, cut RAF regiment, reduce adaptable force, transfer RAF helicopters to AAC.

This way they can cut about 20,000 personnel out of the army but keep the official head count above 82,000.

Seems like all that is left to do. Personally I am still in favor of sacrificing strategic depth to maintain a broad range of capability. Nine times out of ten its capability rather than depth that is required and as we found out in 1982 with our 50 frigates and destroyers and 15 SSN’s strategic depth is of little use without a broad range of capability because an enemy will always strike you where you are weakest.

The Other Chris
November 1, 2014 9:18 am

I’d rather we didn’t slay all the cows. I’d rather budget was increased at ROI+1% while preserved at 2% GDP once properly reached and at least 20% spent on new equipment / R&D.

You know, what’s been promised.

Ending combat options in Afghanistan has got to have eased the money issues…

Chris
Chris
November 1, 2014 9:35 am

Like all these things the question really needs to start with ‘What must the UK Armed Forces be able to do?’ – surely without a list of ‘must do’ tasks its almost folly to decide to ditch capability or strength? Unless the focus is purely on replacing current inefficient old-fashioned military capability with newfangled efficient equivalents, ie the same effect for less cash (a pipe-dream in most cases), or we have in the forces equipment/personnel/structures that have no military value and which can be removed without impact, then the first question ought to be ‘What capability are we prepared to lose and as a result what tasks are we no longer prepared to perform?’

In my opinion.

This ought to be a grown-up discussion with the Forces, Defence Chiefs, MOD and Government getting to a common and well documented (and costed?) strategic capability profile, so that the Government clearly understands when it commits to military action 1) it must be within scope of the capability profile, and 2) it has a cost the Treasury must pay.

Phil
November 1, 2014 9:54 am

The inverted triangle is not a bad thing in my opinion. It is a more realistic view of what armed forces should look like at the moment. As I have argued before it takes far longer to regenerate a capability than it does to expand an existing one.

Strategic depth is something to be generated when needed.

Observer
Observer
November 1, 2014 10:20 am

But Phil, can depth be so easily generated? I know your hypothesis of high force density on the ground forcing a war of attrition and stalemate, and if that is true, then ground lost would be very hard to regain, making it imperative that you lose as little as possible in the initial stages.

Dan
Dan
November 1, 2014 11:02 am

The obvious sacred cow have cap badges.
With the withdrawal from Germany we are no longer planning to fight a major European engagement so let’s stop pretending we are.

If we want the ability to rescue British citizens from chaos or revolution overseas we need a relatively small and light force.
If we want the ability to back up either local African Union or UN peacekeepers when things go wrong as we did in Sierra Leone, we are bringing heavier power, Nigeria or India provide the numbers.

Nato reverts back to its original ‘in-area’ mission which means support for the Baltics and Norway, but the ground forces can come from Poland and Germany, if we are not contributing Armed Divisions and we are not going to then the odd battle group is irrelevant.

East of Suez intervention we tried to get out of in 1968 and we need to reconfirm that decision, Helmand and Basra were both failures in tactical terms and almost irrelevant to someone else’s bigger operation in strategic terms. If politically we feel obliged to contribute to wider US led operations we need to stop demanding to be 2IC as if it is 1945. If France as P5 UNSC member chooses not to take part in Iraq, but to take part in Afghanistan, to send a peak contribution of 4,000 not 10,000 to go home in 2012 not 2014, why do we feel obliged to do more?

Involvement in Asia is a joke in terms of our capability. By 2020 India will have 3 Carrier Battle Groups, nuclear Submarines and weapons, an army of well over 1,000,000, China even more powerful. What can a battalion or a battle group do in that context?

SSBN CASD keeps being reported as required for P5 UNSC, but it is nonsense, the 5 seats were carved out before nations had nuclear weapons, Russia stopped continuous at sea deterrence deployments in 1991 and while it has made more deployments in recent years it is still not at back at Continuous. China has SSBN capability but it is intermittent availability and certainly not Continuous.

Britain and France will keep their seats for the foreseeable future because the point we agree to reform the security council, lots of tensions immediately break out about who gets the seats. Germany, Japan, India, Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa all have demanded a permanent seat in the past.

Fedaykin
November 1, 2014 11:29 am

Well my observation is that all three services NEVER call their own equipment or personnel “Sacred Cows”!

Noooo their own equipment and personnel are “Essential Elements” to maintain the defence of the nation.

On the other hand all three services are very happy stating that the equipment and personnel of the other two are “Sacred cows” that should be cut to ensure their “Essential Elements” are maintained at full strength or even expanded! (Even leading in one case to a certain green leaning service staffing a whole office just before the 2010 SSDR to release press statements about how another blue service shouldn’t be getting certain floaty flat things)

Thus we get the inter-service p00 flinging contest that certain people here (You know who you are!) so enjoy!

This is of course with them forgetting that the “Essential Elements” that they are so keen on defending are often dependent on the availability of the other two services “Sacred Cows”! So continuing the p00 flinging inter-service circle of life!

Hakuna Matata to you all!

;-)

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
November 1, 2014 11:42 am

“Unfortunately, as we all know, SDSR 2010 was less about making hard strategic choices and more about shoddy last minute interservice horsetrading.”

That would be fair comment if we took sdsr10 as start and finish in October 2010.

I don’t think you can do that, as I always view the changes in May 2011 as part and parcel of the same process.

In which case salami-slicing definitely would not characterise the exercise.

Why those two halves were separated…. politics?

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 1, 2014 11:43 am

A big hole in Britain’s defences is the lack of a modern SAM system. Surely we would need the RAF Regiment to man it? THAAD, MEADS, SAMP-T, any of those would do.
I am worried by falling numbers. 107 RAF FJ, 8 +6 RN escorts, falling helicopter numbers & the Army down to 82,000. Seems there is no room to take losses should we face a nasty shock.

Mike W
November 1, 2014 12:09 pm

Cuts, cuts and rumours of cuts! Most of you have not talked about anything other than “sacred cows” that could be cut since this thread was started. Aren’t you all a sceptical, even cynical lot? Aren’t there any grounds for optimism?

Now here’s a more optimistic view. Are things not just a little bit different this time around (at least as far as the equipment budget is concerned)? OK, so I’m an ingénue, an innocent abroad, a Candide, or whatever else you care to call me but consider the following:

The second annual Defence Equipment Plan was published fairly recently. In his introduction to it, Philip Hammond said, “The report sets out our plans to spend around £164 billion over the next ten years on new equipment, data systems and equipment support costs, including once again a healthy provision of £4.7 billion for contingency, as well as unallocated funding of £8.4 billion.

Now that total of contingency and unallocated headroom totals some £13 billion. Isn’t it the case that the whole defence programme is on a more stable and affordable footing than for many years? For the first time this year the MOD did not have to make significant reductions in the scope of the core Equipment Plan in order for it to be affordable.

Am I just being incredibly naive and gullible and swallowing all the Government’s propaganda? I think, as far as equipment is concerned, we are better off than for many years. However, as far as manning goes, well, that is another matter!

Phil
November 1, 2014 12:11 pm

Yes it is Observer. We increased our contribution to the Central Front throughout the 80s and we generated several armies in WWII in significantly less time than its taken us to build our CVFs. We also generated more depth and capability from 2006-2012 for Afghanistan although in a more subtle manner.

Observer
Observer
November 1, 2014 1:18 pm

Phil, I was thinking more along the lines of WWII and by the time anything was done, the Germans were knocking on France’s door, and to get the Allies back into that particular theatre required an operation that spawned many movies. :)

I agree on the ability to recreate capabilities and units, but losing ground, I’m not so sure.

Dan, people go on and on about million man armies, but the reality is that most countries don’t move armies in million men units, the logistics can’t keep up. What they can do is feed in units one at a time and try to meatgrinder the enemy to death. I’d be surprised if China or India had an expeditionary force of 200,000 men. Local defence, maybe they can afford the million men logistics. Invading another country? Not likely. You’ll more likely get numbers like 100,000 vs 100,000 or so.

PJS
PJS
November 1, 2014 1:23 pm

@ Daniele Mandelli – I want to applaud your spirit.

lots of good stuff mentioned.

I have to agree its time the RAF Regiment went – but I would have a significant number of personnel re-assigned across armed services – from SFSG to catering – so not a lot of saving.

I have said before on the Defence with a ‘C’ Blog – I would transfer over Albion and Bulwark to RFA to replace Argus – they would rotate as they do now, act as PCR and now even the blindest policy makers can see the utility of such a capability, so funding is from DFiD

Dfid funding is also used to facilitate assets for any HADR contingency – three C17s [the production line ends soon], appropriate helicopters, a proportion of the MARS SSS ships so that they have suitable facilities to cover hurricane season et al, a dedicated high readiness medical and specialists brigade.

I am of the view that every pound of Dfid funding should first wipe its face through a British firm.

Here is my ace to provoke discussion – The entire Royal Army Medical Corp – are transferred to the reserves… its one vocation where the majority could be contributing to the NHS while UK plc is not heavily committed and taking major casualties. As HMG is the employer for both organisations so release for duty would be very flexible… savings can be made as no financial incentives to an employer need be made. The excellent lessons learnt from dealing with appalling trauma has been ground breaking and benefited the NHS …

On a lesser scale the same principle can be applied to Vets, Lawyers and Police.

No one mentioned the Ghurkhas? I am a little surprised. My grandfather served with them in Burma and have a sentimental attachment – but, yes, surprised no one said cull the lot. That would be a major saving.

I would say its time we got out of the nuclear deterrent game. Lets be frank – we will never use it [Yes, I know that’s sort of the point]. But how much would be saved, as I would still want to build 4 SSNs – to maintain the drumbeat/industrial capacity… but no, Mr. Treasury – if HMG wants the ‘bomb’ then pay for it from a different budget line.

Stop buying more and more, and more, ‘vehicles’ – someone explain to me why we have 400 Panthers and yet to man-in-street it seems to serve the same purpose as the 400 Foxhounds… Forgive me,but why do we have over 7000 MAN support vehicles – that will be almost 1 truck for every 12 soldiers… we have 12, 000 land rovers 12, 000!!… something is not balanced – sell surplus like we have to the Latvians – let the Army reuse the funds.

And what of the £8 billion on the ‘white board’ – the contingency we have been told, is available for some priorities…

I repeat my stance – there is the necessary money out there – our politicians just choose to spend it on other matters.

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 1:51 pm

@ PJS
‘The entire Royal Army Medical Corp – are transferred to the reserves’

I assume you would mean RN and the RAF as well? Who would provide medical cover on a day to day basis on regular units?

Ian Hall
Ian Hall
November 1, 2014 1:57 pm

Why not cut RAF Northolt? Then lease it to a civilian contractor as an extra runway for London. Note the word lease, with the money raised being used to fund extra forces or equipment?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 1, 2014 1:58 pm

‘Who would provide medical cover on a day to day basis on regular units?’

Don’t worry I would presume we would keep the Bupa arrangements and Spa treatments for the RAF ;-)

Mickp
Mickp
November 1, 2014 2:01 pm

As some have said its the sacred cow of ambition that needs curbing, then equipment and manpower fall into line. Strong Uk and BOT defence, and active but limited coalition contribution to short term intensive ops in a defined area of operation and a standing heavy deterrent force with a framework to facilitate regeneration of forces in a once in a generation maximum effort threat. I think we are just about It’s a rebalance from the middle priority to the first that I think is needed. As for raf regiment I see a wider role for a dedicated base and national critical infrastructure defence force. Perhaps that’s where they come in. A key to this all is defining our area of operation and I think this is where we with our European allies need to work much more closely and effectively to credibly cover North Atlantic, europe, med and west/North africa. US only involved if direct Russian threat. Only SSNs East of Suez. Leaves US to fully refocus on Far East and Pacific for peacetime positioning

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 2:13 pm

@ Ian Hall

There’s no real space to do much beyond what it handles now, a few business jets and some mil traffic. It would add little to london’s airports. I doubt any company would be interested unless there were major changes to it. Last time I was there I remember it was in a very urban area, i don’t think the locals would be too happy. It’s just had an overhaul, quite a bit of money was spent there on collapsing various units such as when Uxbridgre closed.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
November 1, 2014 2:21 pm

I hope Mike W is right.

Maybe with the headroom money set aside, and Russia stirring, HMG may actually wake up and SDSR15 may not be as bad as what we have become used to. Lets fear the worst, and we may end up relieved.

I agree with certain other posters that capability is better than depth.

GNB you made me laugh and put exactly what I feel about our UNSC seat across rather better than I and with much humour. Agree! :-)

PJS
PJS
November 1, 2014 2:27 pm

@ topman – My caveat was the desire ‘to provoke discussion’ – so don’t claim to have all the answers…

but I envisage, with a lower operational tempo, that a suitable number of reserves are made available to meet the needs of day-to-day requirements, with appropriate rotation per harmony guidelines.

I can’t seem to find the staffing numbers – just when I need them – but they number in the low thousands and transferring to the reserves would also make a significant contribution to the aspired number – and reduce the number of combat arms needed to be provided by reserves by the same.

Rocket Banana
November 1, 2014 2:27 pm

Is it not easier to look at what is utterly essential and then look at the optional extra we tend to target in cuts?

Holding an adversary’s high-value assets at risk is something that provides true deterrence and therefore CASD and our SSNs are some of the most valuable assets we have.

These then need protecting so require MPA. This happens to provide submarine and surface detection, identification and prosecution capabilities. It only needs supplementing with AWACS to give long-range air monitoring and we should be able to “see” much of any attack.

Scrambling some Typhoon with A2A and maritime strike capabilities is then all we really need until our shores are breached.

Once breached we need an army… but then, when was the last time we were breached?

The mad thing is that if the above is logically correct then why the hell do we not have MPA and maritime strike capabilities for Typhoon?

We also need mini versions of the above for our BOTs… or a mobile version based around a carrier with an SSN, Merlin (MPA), Merlin (AEW) and an effective interceptor.

I agree with above statements about a huge lack of SAMs which would also be of benefit to the UK mainland defence network.

So:

Global air strike is a nice to have. It costs loads because of A2/AD, the need for stealth, the need for space supremacy and the need for a huge bomber to “go the distance”.

Amphibious assault is a nice to have. Is it needed? Can 3Cdo become a middle tier army capability?

A long-endurance expeditionary army is a nice to have. Is it strictly necessary to be able to sustain a division at range?

mike
mike
November 1, 2014 2:35 pm

Or spending could stay the same, no increases, no deductions.

That is a positive in my book, but there is one thing that could shake things up; the major CASD costs looming will make it difficult to work with HMT, and the inevitable squabbling,

“The RN uses it, they pay for its upkeep”
“Out of core MoD budget”
“Its a purple asset”
“Use savings from post Afghan”
“Its a political asset, HMT pays for it”
“Its never going to be used”
“Piggyback off the Americans… again”

ad infinitum

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 1, 2014 2:38 pm

@Simon
The answer to your question is there is no credible conventional threat to the UK. Instability in other areas of the world which hampers trade and affects the world markets is a far greater threat to UK interests than being invaded. That is why our ability to influence events elsewhere both Politically and if required Militarily is more important.

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 2:45 pm

@ PJS

So they would be part of the NHS then rotated to the miltary when required? I suppose some might quite fancy it. But even all the medical staff tri service would be a drop in the ocean in the NHS. I think there is a country that does work that way (can’t remember which) but I think we’d be lost a lack of focus. A forgotten about arm of the NHS, perhaps not totally forgot but less than the control and focus that we have now. I’m not sure it would save alot of money.

Rocket Banana
November 1, 2014 2:53 pm

APATS,

“… there is no credible conventional threat to the UK.”

Excellent! So does that mean we can let our guard down? Are you sure that it isn’t the fact that we have a mostly credible defensive infrastructure that makes this the case?

What about unconventional threats?

PJS
PJS
November 1, 2014 2:57 pm

@topman

Again, I am just putting ideas out there – of course a small full time HQ would be needed, but, yes, units would be on a reserve basis and on rotation.

There is a saving to be had – sure not huge – but its the aggregate of the marginal gains.

The same system could work for the RMP/Mod Police…

I had thought of applying it to the catering corps but

My point is that the burden of finding savings would not fall on the combat arms

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 3:04 pm

@ PJS

I know you’re just putting ideas out there, as with ideas there could well be issues. The question I ask when dealing with ideas that are more about people than equipement, would you want that career? I’m not nit picking, just asking.

PJS
PJS
November 1, 2014 3:16 pm

@topman

I understand – and i thank you for taking notice of my long winded email with the buried [in the detail] idea…

I think that we are dealing with a very unique vocation … that it is a calling to help, the sick, the injured, the dying… and to that end, whether its military personnel or a civilian traffic injury … these very special individuals will rise to the task…

it makes sense therefore -with operational tempo lower – their skills and expertise is better used treating the NHS patient than waiting in barracks …

anyway… I had other ideas …

Observer
Observer
November 1, 2014 3:35 pm

PJS, it’s a job, like any other. Some good days, some bad ones. You just survive as best as you can.

jamesF
November 1, 2014 3:38 pm

If it were up to me I would reconfigure around a maritime strategy –

Army/Marines realigned around a Joint Expeditionary Division (3 Cdo, 16 AA and an Armoured Infantry Brigade) + garrison and light forces (adaptable force), loose two AIBs.

RAF/FAA fast jet/strike reconfigured around 6 Squadrons of carrier capable F-35 and an OCTU and 4 squadrons of UCAV (reaper/scavenger/and later whatever comes of Taranis. Loose Typhoon and Tornado.

Navy to 10 multirole SSN/SSBN (all Trident/TLAM capable), 22 escorts (8 Air Warfare, 8 ASW and 6 GP), 22 multirole MHPVs, 2 Carriers, 2 LPHD (one with casualty clearing/aviaiton support role) and current Amphibs. RFA 3 LSS/Repair Vessels, 6 Tankers, 6 Sea Centurions. Replace SSBNs and later Astutes, Forts, Hunt/Sandowns, Survey Ships, OPVs, Ocean, Argus, Diligence, Protector with new multirole SS(B)N, LSS, LPDH, MHPV types over time, increase T-26 to include additional 2 AW and 1 GP hulls.

RAF support 8 C-17, 22 Atlas, 8 SF C-130J, 4 P-8, 4 Sentinel, 4 Sentry, 2 Airseeker, 12 Voyager, 6 Air Shadow. Loose 2 Sentry, 1 Sentinel, 16 C-130, 2 Voyager.

Helicopters. 38 Merlin MR2 – 10 Crowsnest Capable, 25 Merlin HU4, 74 Chinook HC4/5/6 (8 SF), 48 Apache AH64E (new buy), 62 Wildcat. Loose Puma and current Apaches.

Other. Keep watchkeeper (and arm them), buy around 30 VTOL and 40 small UAVs (Scaneagle 2?) for RN.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 1, 2014 3:47 pm

@Simon

“Excellent! So does that mean we can let our guard down? Are you sure that it isn’t the fact that we have a mostly credible defensive infrastructure that makes this the case?

What about unconventional threats?

I am not arguing that we let our guard down at all. My post was in response to your comment about maritime capability on Typhoon as part of a UK defence posture.

As for unconventional threats that is really the realm of the security services with the military providing kit and or muscle as required.

My point is that although to some it may not seem so the actual level of conventional protection of the UK is tailored to the threat. We are far more likely to suffer as a consequence of events far from the UK shores than a direct conventional attack on the UK.

Andy
Andy
November 1, 2014 4:03 pm

The trouble with the “sacred cow” terminology is to assume that they are less needed and so only survive to play “willy waving” on the world stage.

For me you cannot avoid the bare fact that we are entirely dependent on imports to survive everything from gas, oil to bananas and everthing in between.

What will happen in 2015 is by and large already decided.

Australia have been very impressed with the Bay class LSD and will by hook or by crook buy or lease (initially) a second one to rotate one Canberra and one bay.

T26 will be more of a multi-purpose warship with a balanced AAW/ASuW/ASW with a secondary (and limited) land attack capability and total orders will be reduced.

British army will be reduced further to around 72-75000 maybe 78000 in the short term.
50 Apaches to be upgraded.
F.35 confirmed (sadly) as the only game in town.

Hopes and wishes and dreams not in any particular order are.
10 C.17.
Retain RAF “J” hecules.
Confirm the order for 22 A400M with options to buy unused “second hand” post 2020 if the need arises from Germany or France or Spain.
Re-iterate the confirmation made by DC to operate both QE class CVs in rotation.
A reverse u turn to cat n trap with hawkeye and growlers
Astute class to be retrofitted with VLS silo aka VPM for tomahawk (or a second “B” class with VPM).
RM to raise a fourth commando to replace the rifles as the fourth manouvre unit in 3CDO.
Army air corps to have sole responsibilty of current RAF helicopter fleet.
ISTAR kept and updated and increased with a growler squadron or two for the RAF.
A maritime patrol variant of the Voyager.
Batch 2 OPV are a supplement and not a replacement for batch 1.
The current para battalion returned to the parchute regiment and and a new, seperate SFSG.

Observer
Observer
November 1, 2014 4:06 pm

james, Watchkeeper (Hermes) is too small to be armed. As for going down to the pure F-35 fleet, it’s not really a course I would recommend if I had a choice. Sometimes, the US can be extremely stupid, and it would be very bad if they were to embargo key parts because they disliked a foreign policy of yours. Happened to Indonesia, all their US made planes became unservicable over the years, hence there is a fair preference for Russian stuff, the Russians for all their sins, are less likely to play the embargo card.

And I would like to see your force structure rationalization instead of just random numbers. What kind of squadron organization are your aircraft going to fit into?

JamesF
November 1, 2014 4:09 pm

To make clear on Expeditionary Division. 16AA and 3 Cdo Brigades would need protected mobility (mix of Warrior 2 and Scout), and each assigned an Scout equipped Armoured Cav Regiment and upped to 4 battalions each (reassigned infantry battalions). New truck mounted 155mm artillery too. AS90 and Light Gun to go. Armoured Infantry Brigade would have four battalions in Warrior and one with C2 or maybe Leopard 2 (to improve interoperability of small tank force with allies) and Arm Cav Regiment. Mastiff/Ridgeback will be reassigned to improve protection for support forces (RA, RE, RLC, REME etc.). Utility vehicle will not be procured. Army reduced by 6 Battalions of infantry, 2 Tank Regiments, 1 RE Regiment, 2 CS Logistic Regiments and 2 Artillery Regiments, 2 Brigade HQs etc. Could consider a larger buy of AH-64E to make up for loss of tanks.

Radical, but we can’t do everything now, so better to focus on our strong suit, expeditionary operations at range?

JamesF
November 1, 2014 4:12 pm

Observer. I though I read somewhere that the Army has an aspiration to arm Watchkeeper? It could surely carry LMM or the Free Fall LMM unveiled at Farnborough? Would provide a useful indirect precision fire capability for RA, no?

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 4:15 pm

@ PJS

I know, just trying to put a bit of flesh on some of the ideas, that’s all.

Observer
Observer
November 1, 2014 4:19 pm

James, I really don’t know. My gut call on the Hermes 450 which I’m more familiar with is that the entire plane is actually rather small. Hard to see where the weapons can go, not to mention the entire aircraft is fairly light, so any weapon is going to be a fair fraction of the total weight, which will affect speed, range and endurance. Add that to the fact that these guys tend to land rather hard, a weapon on board is going to cause very severe stress either to the carriage or the wings. Hell, even taxiing, you can see the wings flex. I would hate to see how much they would bend with a weapon under them.

Phil
November 1, 2014 4:27 pm

it makes sense therefore -with operational tempo lower – their skills and expertise is better used treating the NHS patient than waiting in barracks …

Most of them don’t hang around in barracks. They work in Med Centres or in an MRS or Hospital Unit. Having a regular element to the AMS is what has enabled us to fling a field hospital at Sierra Leone without a long work up.

Observer
Observer
November 1, 2014 4:43 pm

Oh yes, and as an add on to what Phil said, it’s usually a requirement that every exercise has a medic following it to provide on site medical coverage, so that usually spreads medical staff numbers low. I don’t think medics really get a chance to laze around during the day, there is always something that needs doing.

JamesF
November 1, 2014 4:51 pm

On aircraft squadrons –

1 Squadron with upgraded Sentry (or replacement), 1 with Sentinel,1 with P-8, 1 with Shadow, 2 with armed MALE UCAV, 2 with armed HALE UCAV, 4 with Merlin MR2/Crowsnest, 6 Lightning II, 2 Merlin HU4, 7 Wildcat (3 Maritime, 1 SF, 3 Utility/Light Attack), 4 Apache, 6 Chinook (1 SF), 1 C-17, 1 C-130 (SF), 3 Atlas, 2 Voyager, 1 Lightning II OCTU, 1 Merlin OTCU, 1 Chinook OCTU, I Wildcat OCTU, 2 armed watchkeeper regiments, scaneagle on all surface ships including RFAs, 1-2 VTOL UAVs on all escorts.

F-35s in two wings at Lossiemouth and Marham
ISTAR fleet at Waddington
UCAVs in two wings at Coningsby and Waddington
Apaches at Wattisham
Merlins at Culdrose
Wildcats at Yeovilton
Chinooks at Benson
SF squadrons (C-130, Chinook, Wildcat, Dauphin etc.) at Odiham. I-2 C-130 could be converted to AC-130?
Atlas, C-17 and Voyager at Braze
Watchkeeper and other army UAVs at Boscombe Down
Navy UAVs at Culdrose (1-2 VTOL on each escort, scan eagle on all surface ships and RFAs)
Comms squadron moved to Heathrow or other London Airport
– Northolt closed.

El Sid
El Sid
November 1, 2014 5:01 pm

They looked at arming Watchkeeper a few years ago, LMM was favourite :
https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/06/watchkeeper-then-and-now/#Armament

The fact that little has been heard since suggests either it didn’t work or someone wanted to differentiate with Reaper?

Observer
Observer
November 1, 2014 5:07 pm

James, that looks … expensive. And there are some duplication of roles. If your ship has a helo, it doesn’t need to carry Insitu’s Scaneagle as well. UAVs for those ships that cannot carry their own helicopters, which in the RN’s case, is very few.

Edit: delayed post, was referring to the force structure, which looks like a lot of gold plate.

Observer
Observer
November 1, 2014 5:11 pm

El Sid, I won’t be surprised if it didn’t work, the Hermes is really a small plane.

jamesf
November 1, 2014 5:11 pm

Observer

UAVs can provide 24/7 persistent surveillance – you need several to cover the sea control area. Helos max 3 hours endurance – better for response rather than surveillance. I see helos primarily as a weapons platform whereas UAVs are pat of the ships ISTAR capability providing persistent long range surveillance.

Observer
Observer
November 1, 2014 5:14 pm

James, no they can’t. Not the small ones you are thinking of. The ones that you are talking about are somewhere along the lines of a small private plane. Look up the Reaper and compare it in size to the Scaneagle. I dare say it is almost 3-4 times the size.

Mike W
November 1, 2014 5:15 pm

Andy

“For me you cannot avoid the bare fact that we are entirely dependent on imports to survive everything from gas, oil to bananas and everything in between.”

Agree with you wholeheartedly on that one. We cannot restrict defence of these islands to our own goal-line.

“British army will be reduced further to around 72-75000 maybe 78000 in the short term.”

Heaven forbid. If that happens I shall leave the country. We have seen over recent years and campaigns the undeniable need for boots on the ground. Even Andrew Marr on his show last week asked the question of Mr. Fallon: “We’ve cut the Army too much, haven’t we?”

jamesF
November 1, 2014 5:21 pm

Observer

Yes, I know what scan eagle is, I was at Boeing UK recently talking scaneagle. Endurance is not correlated with the size of the platform – a Block D scan eagle aircraft, flying at Boeing’s test range in Boardman, Oregon set a type endurance record of 22 hours, 8 minutes. As I said you need several to provide persistent surveillance. You would need a whole squadron of wildcat and crews to provide the same level of surveillance as 1-2 UAVs can.

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 5:30 pm

I thought this was supposed to be about 2015? Some of the stuff in here looks 2030 type of stuff.

Observer
Observer
November 1, 2014 5:42 pm

:) I did say lots of gold plate, though to be fair, Scaneagle is fairly old. Still useful though, think other units have already gotten theirs, especially the training detachments in the US. Unfortunately, I’m too far down the totem pole to be upgraded on it yet, though rumor says this year or next.

Ian Hall
Ian Hall
November 1, 2014 5:51 pm
Reply to  JamesF

Agree RAF Northolt to be closed , but a third runway-almost within spitting distance of Heathrow.? Worth it’s weight in gold.

The downside, it’s right slap back in the middle of Tory controlled Ruislip, but the rental income could pay for an entire squadron . If the MoD was a business, then it would be looking at how to raise money.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
November 1, 2014 5:52 pm

A lot of these lists are in my opinion fantasy. With our industrial and political participation in F35 through the 2 billion? we put into R&D as a Level 1 partner it is inconceivable we will pull out. The carriers need the aircraft, and they will have it.

I think minor improvements and losses more feasible.

8 – 10 replacement helicopters for 657 Sqn to replace the Lynx’s. DSF has the budget and the political clout so they should get something.

Same with 47 Sqn, small no of C130J retained if there is life left in them, or a small no of aircraft ordered for the SF support role.

If Northolt closes, it will be flying operations only. MoD has just rebuilt much of the station and moved units from Mill Hill, Bentley Priory and Uxbridge there. It is seen as a key site in London District along with Woolwich.

1 or 2 extra C17, if the line is still open?
Replacement for Argus.
Replacement for Dilligence.
3 MARS for 3 Forts.
Beef up 16 AAB with 1st Battalion RGR, as was with 5 Airborne once.
Extra OPV’s to replace any T26 reduction for standing tasks.
Close a few more surplus bases, primarily army barracks.
Couple of Light Infantry Battalions cut.
Confirm the 48 F35, but make them all FAA.
Compensate the RAF with a squadron of P8.
Moving cost of Trident back out of MoD’s budget is the ultimate wish, but fantasy most likely.

I would not be happy with another big cut to the army, which is where the pool for UKSF selection comes from. Reduce that too much, lose the quality our SF have or lower standards.

As Trident, comprehensive Intelligence links and the UKSF give us worldwide clout all these should be maintained.

The suggestion of putting an entire corps like RAMC into the reserves was an intriguing idea, could it really work? I’m always struck by the number of Field Hospitals in the Reserves compared with just 3 in the regular army.

Putting fantasy fleets aside, I think I would be relieved if things stay the same at the next SDSR with same funding and the extra 1% confirmed.

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 5:55 pm

Why is there a sudden need to shut Northolt? Who are we going to lease it to?

jamesF
November 1, 2014 5:55 pm

Topman,

I guess I’m looking at a 2030-40 outcome, but to get there would need to start in 2015. Decisions on C2 LEP, utility vehicle procurement, new artillery, T-26, F-35, Apache replacement, C-130 retention (if any) new MPA etc. are all likely to be made in he next planing cycle.

Observer

Agree on scan eagle, it is old and Scaneagle 2 is the latest iteration – It doesn’t need to be a specific type, but both small and larger UAVs are a cost effective addition to RN ships in my view and we have been slow off the blocks in terms of naval capabilites (12 leased scaneagle for use on gulf deployments to date – as well as some funding for AugustaWestland to develop a optionally manned VTOL UAV concept).

jamesF
November 1, 2014 6:01 pm

Daniele,

I think there are 8 wildcat already earmarked to replace the Lynx in 657 Sq. 4 new buy and 4 from the original order. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20111221/DEFSECT01/112210306/U-K-Special-Forces-Use-Wildcat-Variant

The Other Chris
November 1, 2014 6:09 pm

When you track back through the Watchkeeper releases, arming them drops out of mention following the first MAA evaluations and growing concern over armed killer drones in the press.

Certification to transit through non-segregated airspace was probably far easier without considering weapons as well.

On top of this, consider the primary role: Spotting for Royal Artillery. Watchkeeper is part of a system consisting of artillery and the shiny new EXACTOR trailers.

With regards whether they could be armed, there was strong suspicion even before reports coming out of “Protective Edge” of Israeli 450 variants with Hellfire and lightweight freefall bombs e.g. Viper Strike though an indigenous weapon of that type is definitely not beyond them.

Mark
Mark
November 1, 2014 6:14 pm

Came across this recently looking at were we get our coal oil and gas from makes Intersteing reading I thought especially as our trade lines was brought up.

http://www.eia.gov/countries/cab.cfm?fips=uk

I was once told Northolt is a net contributor to UK defence as it makes more money from biz jet landing fees than it costs to run.

PJS
PJS
November 1, 2014 6:16 pm

We all know the ‘S’ in SDSR stands for strategic… the question has to be asked does UK plc need a viable Naval Ship building Industry – I, for one, believe we do.

Ordering just 8 Type 26 is not enough to maintain the viability.

We can not base decisions, for production that will stretch out to 2030, solely on the ‘austere’ policy of today. The social cost, alone, of not having ship building on the Clyde, will be measured in massive benefit payouts and the collapse of the local economy [ easily equating to the cost of a couple Type 26 over a decade], in the short term, and ultimately, Scotland leaving the UK, as it would be just what the SNP need …

Again, I, for one, do not want this scenario …

An order [to accompany the SDSR] for 16 Type 26 – phased over 16 years [though to me too long] – does not mean we pay for it next parliament. Worse scenario, average of £500m per year to maintain the industrial drumbeat [and the Union] is petty cash. [a few thousand unemployed ship builders on benefits will cost north of £100 million a year].

I know all the forum users care deeply about the issues around our national defence… I only wish we could join together some how to animate the conversation in our favour, perhaps one of the senior forum users should stand for election on the ‘defence’ ticket… I will cover the deposit!

Andy
Andy
November 1, 2014 6:23 pm

TD

As a newcomer what would be your sacred cows thay you would keep and what do think are “nice to have” and what cows would end up as beefburgers

JamesF
November 1, 2014 6:24 pm

TD

Haha, guilty, m’lud!

So the sacred cows are retaining a mechanised infantry division. And retaining Typhoon alongside F-35.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
November 1, 2014 6:28 pm

Hi James F

Re JSFAW Wildcats.

My understanding was that option was mentioned some time ago but then the extra 4 Wildcat + 4 converts has disappeared from MoD documents and announcements.

So its a bit up in the air at the moment.

Gabriel’s blog talks extensively on this subject in his latest update.

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 6:42 pm

I think last check it brought in a few million pounds, <£5m.

Observer
Observer
November 1, 2014 6:48 pm

Think what you need to do is to “rationalize” the armed forces that you want. Scrap everything on paper and start out new with a blank sheet. List down your jobs that you believe needs to be done, then match a reasonable unit type to the job. When you finally got it all down, that is the bare basics of what you need. No future tech, no specific model of FJ/Helo/Ship, just the basic type, then work on the force structure.

So how big do you think an army to defend the UK needs to be? An army corp size? 2? How many ships are needed to safeguard UK’s SLOC? How big an airforce does the UK need for defence? For external deployment?

Ian Hall
Ian Hall
November 1, 2014 6:50 pm
Reply to  Topman

There is a big need for a third runway at Heathrow, 5 miles away at Northolt is a third runway. A veritable cash cow with the right developers , provided that money then goes back into the MoD coffers and not squandered on HS2 or DifD .

Jules
Jules
November 1, 2014 6:50 pm

Regarding Argus, what great ship!
I’d bin. Albion and Bulwark plus Dillegence and get another Argus, it’s big for carrying stuff, has hangers and lifts for Asw choppers and I’m sure we could make it work for Sub support, two like the cvf so that we always have one in service. We could pull thru the comes centre from the Albion, We’d love the docks on the Albion but gain airlift, I feel the bays are enough for that, would liked to have kept all four but the Albion are starting to stick out like two sore thumbs?

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 1, 2014 6:59 pm

If you look at the angle of the Northolt runway, it would clash with a third runway at Heathrow. The existing Northolt runway is too short (5525 ft). Most of the bigger biz jets need 6000 or 6500 ft. A new, more East-West runway on the existing Northolt site, would not clash with Heathrow & using a ruler & a map, I think you could squeeze a 6500 ft runway on there. By the way, Hoon proposed a new short 7200 ft runway for Heathrow, that was stillborn. You just need to free up the existing main runways, so I would put the short haul, commuter planes on to a shorter version of Hoon’s runway, say 6700 ft. That would minimize disruption to the locals.

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 6:59 pm

I case of build it and they will come? I think it would easier cheap and quicker to get an extra runway at heathrow that start a huge development of Northolt and other RAF bases.

TED
TED
November 1, 2014 7:06 pm

Cut what exactly?

I agree with others that Army Wildcat is not worth having, but its practically in service now. So Lynx AH7s can disappear. Maybe even AH9 but it does need to be a gradual process. Not a harrier job of retiring the aircraft and then waiting what 10-12 years for a replacement!!! We aren’t far off retiring sea king either. Happily someone managed to scrape a replacement out of ohh the RAF.

If we just sorted out replacements in time to actaully replace a platform when it retired that would be lovely. If we could also have some value for money I will do front flips!

Rocket Banana
November 1, 2014 7:16 pm

Sorry APATS,

I asked two questions: MPA, and maritime strike on Typhoon. I therefore saw your response as literally no conventional threat to the subsurface or surface picture.

However, as point of discussion, why is something so relatively simple missing from our inventory considering how effective a deterrent to surface attack it would actually be? We have E3 to pick out a target at 400km and Typhoon to “have a look” and a wing-man to launch a couple (or four) missiles from 200km if we felt it important enough.

It’s like buying a house but not bothering with windows because it doesn’t “sun” very much in the UK ;-)

I utterly agree with your sentiment though: “We are far more likely to suffer as a consequence of events far from the UK shores than a direct conventional attack on the UK.”

…although recent Russian activity makes me worry :-(

The Other Chris
November 1, 2014 7:22 pm

@Mark

The Algerian oil pipeline volume is interesting, supply has also been very steady over the last few years.

Worth considering when looking at TuNor’s Solar Furnace farm initiative in neighbouring Tunisia:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29551063

Note the Iceland hydro-electric cable idea at the bottom of the article as well.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 1, 2014 7:23 pm

@ Simon

Money and priorities, it is a higher priority to develop the means of dropping precision munitions on land targets and developing things like Meteor than to spend money on a capability far less likely to be used.

The Russians did a bit of sabre rattling and probably a max effort and it did not even extend NATO QRA assets.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 1, 2014 7:29 pm

What’s wrong with Wildcat for the Army? Lynx was about the most bloody useful thing on the battlefield. Basically a Transit van that could do 150 mph in a straight line, and deliver all sorts of useful stuff almost anywhere. Plus, it didn’t involve the Kevins and their ridiculous tasking procedures, flew in worse weather than a Puma, and I could task one direct from the G3 Ops cell in 1 Armd Div Main. Or several. Or a whole Squadron. You could hang TOW off them, or rip those off and turn it into a casevac aircraft in about two hours.

The pilots spoke proper Army and could not only read maps but understood grids, and were not afraid to get down and low enough to do a proper stealthy recce. They also understood interaction with other formations.
More useful than an entire Air Force, I’d say.

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 7:29 pm

House prices are pretty cheap in Lincs, so probably not much for sleaford tech ;)

Seriously, you would get in the tens of millions easily I would have thought. Is anywhere big enough or big enough to expand? Not nit picking, just thinking out loud.

Rocket Banana
November 1, 2014 7:33 pm

APATS,

We don’t seem to be developing ways of dropping precision munitions though. There’s no large investment in Reaper – the perfect current loitering strike asset! There’s no investment in a long-range bomber. There’s Taranis, I suppose, but its some way off in a challenging and changing world.

Why develop Meteor? What threat is that designed to counter that we are likely to see? Russian Bears? Syrian Migs don’t really warrant it. ISIL/ISIS aren’t likely to pose a threat AMRAAM or AIM9 can’t deal with.

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 7:33 pm

@ RT

It’s expensive, it’s smaller than the one it replaces. From rumours from the pongos they got lumbered with it because the navy wanted it. I think it’s back to VFM, if you’d given the pongos the budget of their proportion of Wildcat I doubt they would have bought it.

Some Bloke
Some Bloke
November 1, 2014 7:37 pm

Well, if it’s a manpower reduction you’re looking for, how about DE&S? I do some business via this lot and the whole organisation is staggeringly inefficient. You could randomly sack 50% of them and not really notice from a productivity perspective. Admittedly there’d be some extra short term chaos but it’s so chaotic there anyway I think it’d be lost in the overall picture.

TED
TED
November 1, 2014 7:38 pm

Hay Ive no problem with having the aircraft type you describe. But to advance on your analogy of a transit van, we seem to be paying the prize tag of a mercedes sprinter.

How does the price of the UH-72 (?) the 145 (or is it 145) the yanks have gone for in the same role?

The Other Chris
November 1, 2014 7:41 pm

@Simon

Anti-ship hasn’t gone away: We still have Harpoon. Spearfish and Stingray are still ship and sub killers (Mk 54 development pointed to the Stingray speed, depth and seeker combinations if USNI are to be believed). Sea Skua still packs a wallop.

Just around the corner are FASGW(H) and FASGW(L). Should P-8 be purchased or leased next year then SLAM-ER as an already integrated weapon system becomes a real possibility that could be procured quickly*.

Longer-term, LRASM and JSM are on the cards. Always a chance Tomahawk sees a new lease of life as well.

EDIT: Regarding Reaper, only just brought into Core and before SDSR 2015. Watch this space, I think.

*ITAR dependent, though if we’ve gone all-in with the Project Poseidon co-development (not just Seedcorn) as we have with Project Airseeker, who knows?

Phil
November 1, 2014 7:45 pm

BBMF and Red Arrows. Mag to grid.

IXION
November 1, 2014 7:50 pm

TD

Like you say, not only are people not slaying sacred cows here they are slaying things they think they can lose like the RAF, and then redeploying the savings.

Here is a list of what we could to try and not in the real world miss at all.

1 Security council seat
2 SSBN
3 Nellie and Dumbo
4 Tornado
5 RAF as a separate force ( been through all the arguments on this)
6 The Tanks
7 Merge the Army into 1 logistics Reg. I infantry Reg. 1 Recce Reg. Merge Marines Paras etc into 1 Ranger Reg.
8. Scrap the heavy amphibians
9 Merge training as you suggest.
10 Cut army to provide deployable mobile medium armoured brigade and sustain anywhere in Europe.
11 Butt out of anything outside Europe except Falklands.
12 Leave the spams to catch the drug runners in Caribbean.
13 Grow up and learn to like mayonnaise on chips.

Is that enough beef burgers???

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 7:51 pm

The latter is always a popular vote, but BBMF is a bit harsh isn’t it?

The Other Chris
November 1, 2014 8:03 pm

BBMF? Some Cows are genuinely sacred, n’es pas?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
November 1, 2014 8:03 pm

-evening – having become Belgium, what would you then have us spend the money on? :-)

A curious GNB

Jules
Jules
November 1, 2014 8:12 pm

@RT
Would you rather have twenty odd Wildcats or twenty odd upgraded Puma’s?
Interested in your perspective, would it be better to have a chopper that could land a squad and generally carry a bit more or does the extra size of the thing start to impede it’s utility and just make it a bigger target?

Rocket Banana
November 1, 2014 8:19 pm

TD,

You were going to analyse the threats to this nation for your SDSR series. What happened to that?

IXION
November 1, 2014 8:28 pm

TD
Thats about it.

Its about slaying not just sacred cows but also a few Dragons and myths and such. And re arranging a countries ego to face up to a few home truths…

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 1, 2014 8:28 pm

Jules,

I’d rather have both, but not Kevins flying the Pumas. I once had to attract the attention of a Puma crew who had landed in the next door (and wrong) field in South Armagh at the end of a 5 day patrol, so I was helpful and fired a Schermuly towards it. The sodding thing flew straight and bounced off the perspex cockpit, at which point the nonces buggered off sharpish, and worse, bubbled me to the Brigade Commander who had to be seen to do something. Cost me lots of extra duties that did, but the boys were cheerful enough even with an extra 15 mile tab back to Forkhill. They hated the cunts as well.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 1, 2014 8:30 pm

Sacred cow no1 the phrase

‘we still punch above our weight’
A look at what we require to provide the minimum for our obligations to the BOT’s, NATO and self defence everything after that is desirable and based on our strategic policy.

Absolutely everything that can be tri service in terms of training etc needs to be, just to be as efficient as we can with the budget regardless of SDSR’s.

So for instance all the medical services, Military police, EOD, airframe tech’s, groundcrew and clerks etc all infantry training held in Catterick for everyone no separate training establishments for the RAF Regt and RM.

All rotary wing aircraft combined in to the military air corp or similar.(they already do pilot training tri service)

Sort out the cap badge politics once and for all.

RAF and Navy basic training combined possibly some Army with them as well depending on role.

All officers basic training at one establishment.

Any units duplicating roles disbanded or amalgamated.

I do not want to go down the Canadian route but we are not really big enough to have lots of dividing lines for very similar roles either.

There will be no time like the present to do it after all the jointry we have just done in the last campaign.

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 8:34 pm

@RT
‘fired a Schermuly towards it’

Ahh the unofficial ‘I’d rather walk back than get a lift’ signal.
No doubt there’s a crusty nav somewhere thinking ‘remember those dozy pongos who walked to the wrong field’ ;)

The Other Chris
November 1, 2014 8:35 pm

Regarding combined training, I always liked the USMC line “riflemen first” whether it be urban myth or not. Lends itself to a concept nicely.

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 8:38 pm

@ DN

‘So for instance all the medical services, Military police, EOD, airframe tech’s, groundcrew and clerks’

In fairness I think that’s pretty much happened for all bar groundcrew which is in the process of happening. It’s tied up with the reuse of RAF Lyneham or possible expansion of RAF Cosford.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 1, 2014 8:43 pm

@Topman

I’m thinking of going one step further and properly combining them, as in walk into the careers office and say I want to be a medic and thats it your a military medic, not RAF or Navy etc.

That would give more career avenues as you could be posted to a ship and if you get fed up get posted to Brize etc. I know a lot of the schools are combining (slowly) I think now is the time to go the whole hog in respect of similar trades.

So in some respects a purple trade.

The Other Chris
November 1, 2014 8:51 pm

British Army not having “Royal” in front of it ;)

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 1, 2014 8:55 pm

If I had my way it would have “Republic” in front of it ;-) (or DavidNiven’s)

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 8:57 pm

It’s sounds different, but I can only see that working with single service. Although it might work with medics. off the top of my head don’t the Germans have a ‘medical service’ that covers all three service and are posted as you suggest?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 1, 2014 9:04 pm

Topman,

The crusty old Nav may well be thinking that, but my navigation was proven to be correct in the inevitable stewards’ enquiry. There was also a good reason that we had chosen the field that we were in: the field the Kevins liked was overlooked by the Concession Road on the Border, and there was known to be a 12.7mm DShK in County Louth. Which is going to mess up a Puma, 12 soldiers and 3 Kevin’s much more than a Schermuly.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 1, 2014 9:05 pm

‘off the top of my head don’t the Germans have a ‘medical service’ that covers all three service and are posted as you suggest?’

I couldn’t tell you, but if they do we can look at theirs and see how it works. I know not all trades are similar even though they sound it, so they will have to be looked at. I do think that all the rotary should just be pooled into an air corps with no specific loyalty to any service.

The Other Chris
November 1, 2014 9:11 pm

R(epublican/oyal) Rotary Corps?

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 9:12 pm

@ DN

I don’t know if they are about now, although the idea isn’t new, it was first thought of about 1943 for a ‘medical service’ in the german forces, totally OT I know, Speer thought a good idea. Infact he thought all sorts of things should be tri service.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 1, 2014 9:14 pm

The Germans have a centralised admin and command function for all medics. Medics themselves still wear single service uniform and are members of their service but other than a few specialist trades their admin and postings are managed by the central medical “branch”.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 1, 2014 9:24 pm

@Topman

‘Infact he thought all sorts of things should be tri service.’

If only we had the ruthless efficiency of the Nazi’s to fall back on for SDSR 15 ;-)

@APATS
‘Medics themselves still wear single service uniform and are members of their service’

Any reason why they do? people more likely to take orders from them etc if they are from their service?

TED
TED
November 1, 2014 9:27 pm

Joint force helicopter anyone?

Or if RT prefers just let the pongos drive all the helicopters. Hey why stop at helis, lets have them bombing about in fjs transports, and floaty things. Ohh and unter sea not so floaty things.

Better than letting them sit around on their elbows all day :D

Topman
Topman
November 1, 2014 9:29 pm

@ APATS
I thought it was some thing like that, thanks.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 1, 2014 9:31 pm

‘R(epublican/oyal) Rotary Corps?’

I’m sure a few regiments hedged their bets during the English civil war with names like that :-)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
November 1, 2014 9:37 pm

@TD & IXION – we already have pretty hefty budgets directed towards education and skills training, and research into a wide range of issues which certainly should include energy and food security…if these are in your view inadequately resourced, surely that is because poor decisions are being made as to where and how to direct effort…how would adding more resource actually help? Neither of you chaps are daft, which means that you know as well as I do that chucking more money at problems doesn’t necessarily help to solve them…and indeed that in the global scheme of things the UK remains a high tax/high spend and broadly social-democratic state which directs practically all it’s public spending into a wide variety of welfare issues already…

@David Niven…”I’d have the word Republic in front of it”…well you could try joining the Labour Party, many of whose members share your sentiment and try to persuade them to run for office on the basis of removing HMtQ, but experience suggests that you won’t attract overwhelming support…or perhaps go for the SWP or Respect or some such…or just set up a party of your own and emulate the UKIP phenomenon.

Whichever approach you adopt, I look forward to ice-skating to your victory party across the frozen lakes of hell… :-)

GNB

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 1, 2014 9:58 pm

@GNB

‘just set up a party of your own and emulate the UKIP phenomenon.’

Funny you should say that, I was tinkering with the idea of setting up the ‘common sense party’, hopefully dupe a few of the communist party members to vote for me if they read the ballot paper too quickly, hopefully I would be pretty much guaranteed the daily mail “It’s not f*cking rocket science” vote plus the daily Telegraph “how hard can it be to ………….. ?” vote.

But then I thought that by calling it the ‘common sense party’ with myself having limited common sense it would be similar to lying to the electorate. I have however come realise that all the electorate believe that politicians are lying b*stards so there would be no harm in running for parliament as the public would only be disappointed if they were to discover after 3 years in office that I did in fact have a modicum of common sense.

So I will look out for you at the victory party, the voulevant’s and Canapés are going to be a kaleidescope of taste and sensations. :-)

NB don’t forget your ice skates.

Mark
Mark
November 1, 2014 10:02 pm

How about the royal flying corp for all the rotary assets or even it’s modern name…..

Interesting toc but not sure of the practicalities of transferring solar power from Africa to the uk I would of though the amount lost in the transfer process would be huge.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
November 1, 2014 10:25 pm

@David Niven…not sure the readers of either the Torygraph or the Nazi are ready for republicanism yet, although the Communists obviously are, so that might work out for you…or will you tuck that idea somewhere deep in the manifesto where no one will spot it until you sweep to Downing Street…I’ll look forward to the party, especially the voulevants…are they like vol au vents at all? :-)

GNB

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 1, 2014 10:38 pm

@GNB

‘are they like vol au vents at all?’

Sort of but spicy ;-)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
November 1, 2014 10:42 pm

@DN – Excellent – I’ll sharpen my skates…

GNB

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 1, 2014 10:51 pm

@GNB

‘I’ll sharpen my skates…’

Calm down it won’t be that sort of party!

Jonathan
Jonathan
November 1, 2014 11:47 pm

I would say the only true sacred cow ( and therefore inviolate) is having three services.

a
a
November 2, 2014 3:52 am

Leave NATO – or, rather, have the current CGS make it publicly clear (to the Defence Sel Com, for example) that “in my professional opinion we will no longer be able to meet our commitments to our NATO allies if these cuts are made, and therefore I believe our only honest course of action will be to withdraw from the alliance”. That might focus some minds.
The current cuts, RUSI reckons, will take us below the 2% minimum (which to be fair is where most of NATO is already).

Observer
Observer
November 2, 2014 5:45 am

a, that’s suicidal. Without NATO as an excuse and a benchmark for defence spending, you will get people slicing the military budget to fund their own interests at will. After all “We no longer are part of NATO, so our defence commitments can be reduced” or “We have a lack of external enemies, our military budget can get by on 1%”.

NATO, while troublesome sometimes, also acts as a fence to ring in your defence spending and protect it from raiding by other departments. You seriously do not want the UK’s defence posture to end up something like New Zealand’s do you?

NG
NG
November 2, 2014 6:58 am

Why do you guys have you’re support helo’s in the RAF?
And the way you guys plan to integrate you’re reserves seems like a bad idea

Nick
Nick
November 2, 2014 8:26 am

I think the first sacred cow to sacrifice is a POLITICAL one. Namely are we in the Intervention business or not post Afghanistan ? If we intend to be (and I think our politicians do intend that) then you need to determine what is the maximum fighting force we are likely to deploy (in this I don’t include any support head count, which would be on top) for how many years based on a range of assumptions regarding the local environment.

The local environment may be from something like Mali, through Afghanistan/Iraq, right through to something similar to Ukraine in terms of the level of equipment any potential adversary may be equipped with.

I think this consideration ought to be a major element of assessing what the UK Army might look like. This also pays into what the RAF and RN can contribute in terms of air support.

The second big sacred cow is also POLITICAL. Are we in the nuclear deterrence business or not ? If we are, then do we want the “safest” possible deterrence (Trident replacement pretty much on an as is basis) or are we happy with something simpler, cheaper and also less effective.

The next level issues, which may actually be the most prominent points of the SDSR in 2015 are second order points (eg RM into the Army, do we want to retain amphibious assault capability, reorganizing the Army, Training etc which have been discussed above).

Although its not directly relevant here, actually our biggest single driver is rebalancing the UK economy away from low wage manufacturing and service towards high skilled, high paying manufacturing and service. We need to grow both GDP and GDP per head if we want to fund Defence at the current (c 2 % of GDP level) at all. Contrary to current political myth, you cannot cut government borrowing deficit, cut government spending as a whole and cut taxes at the same time without destroying the UK as we currently know it.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 2, 2014 9:45 am

I read this in an article from ‘defense News’

‘Following what could be a messy election, where a minority government can’t be ruled out as the result, is a defense and security review and, perhaps most menacing of all for the sector, the setting of budgets across government departments for several years beyond the 2015/16 financial year.

Media here reported last week that treasury officials have already been knocking on doors at the MoD warning of a possible 7.5 percent reduction between 2016/17 and 2020/21 as part of a new effort to repair public finances.’

It’s pretty obvious that the NHS and DFiD are going to be spared any cuts so I was expecting everyone else to have to make some to balance the books, but I was not aware a figure was being banded around has anyone got any knowledge of any this?

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141101/DEFREG01/311010019/UK-Pushes-Through-Programs-Ahead-Polls

Nick
Nick
November 2, 2014 10:33 am

DavidNiven

No specific knowledge, but the amounts don’t seem that far out based on the economy.

Some basic numbers for you. Current total government spending for Fy14/15 is planned at 679 billion (excluding debt interest) and the government is currently borrowing just about c100 billion of that.

If you apply a 2 % inflation to spending cost on 679 billion budget, annual spending will increase by about 14 billion pa, whatever you do (probably higher in some sectors of the government, assuming wage restraint continues).

If you don’t want to raise Taxation from current rates, the gap in fy 2015/15 (c114 billion pa) can only be closed by a 15 % pa cut in total spending (never been achieved ever, including across the last 4 years).

Let’s assume 50 % of the gap is closed by economic growth with unchanged tax rates. The remaining 60 billion or so pa would represent a 8 % cut across the board.

In reality the EU target for current government deficit is 3 % pa and the cuts will be spread over many years, so the total value of the cuts will be higher than the 60 to 114 billion pa needed (depending on your GDP growth), but spread over a longer period meaning a smaller gradual cut pa. Something like 7.5 % doesn’t sound unreasonable, assuming you continue to fund Pensions (which are about 60 % of the welfare budget of 200 million pa), Police, basic healthcare (inflation cost due to aging population, medicine cost inflation of greater than 2 % pa and medical equipment spend) etc.

The problem for the current government (at least so far) is that the recovery hasn’t generated earnings growth (and hence personal tax, NIC and VAT tax increase) and may well not do so for several years. That means Osborne’s deficit reduction plan wont be delivered, meaning cuts will most likely continue after the next parliamentary term (ie past 2020) and the amount planned for 2015/2020 will actually be larger than the current OBR forecasts estimate. Factor in any tax decreases on top, the picture just gets worse.

Unfortunately, it seems the last 4 years haven’t fixed the underlying economy at all (and worse personal debt levels have hardly declined at all, meaning the scope for debt fueled consumer driven growth a la 1985 to 2007 is zero unless we are completely mad). We have tread water at best. In context cutting the EU contribution and DFID budgets to zero, would only cut the deficit by about 15 billion pa (assuming that we didn’t need to spend anything at all to replace this at all).

A cut driven approach needs to target pensioners (0 % increases) means testing state pensions and extend pension age by several years as a start. Then you would need to make significant across the board cuts everywhere else. You would probably need to means test most other benefits, and make real cuts in the amounts paid. School and Hospital fees for the “wealthier” to access state education at all etc. Take a look at this if you want to get a feel where “wealthier” would start:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_in_the_United_Kingdom

The average salary in 2001 was 22,000 pa. Give or take, about 55 to 60 % of tax payers wall at or below the mean salary.

I suppose something like late 1970’s/early 1980’s UK but worse would be the best way to characterise what the UK would look like, but without North Sea Oil to tide us over.

Aubrey's Shadow
Aubrey's Shadow
November 2, 2014 11:10 am

Many of you good people do enjoy chewing the fat of doom and gloom, in the knowledge that you’ll probably be able to sit under the halo of righteousness when the snot-gobbling politicians dress-up (well, that as well…) cuts as focus and efficiency. You’re probably right.

But I don’t think that it need be this way. Say 2.5% of GDP enshrined in law henceforth, would infuse real bite to the capabilities of the UK’s Armed Forces. Imagine the transformation to the fantasy fleet fun.

Political will is all that’s needed, to ring-fence defence at 2.5%, and I can’t see how a politician could miss the attraction of upping the Forces and British industry at the expense of the Overseas Aid vote, and a few other fripperies. It’s not difficult at all, and if used imaginatively and intelligently, a high proportion of the defence spending should re-cycle through the economy anyway, and generate exports. That would need politicians to learn how to see round the numb export licence blockages of Civil Servants, of course, but there’s forever hope.

Oh and finally, the answer. It’s 15 Astutes.

AndyC
November 2, 2014 11:29 am

I can’t believe we’ve got to 142 comments and nobody has mentioned cutting the overweight number of chiefs rather than the indians!

Let a Sqdn Leader command a squadron rather than a flight! Let a Wing Commander command a wing and not a squadron. Let a Group Captain command a Group not a wing. And let there be only one Air Marshal. Cut the numbers accordingly and save a fortune in top salaries.

Oh, and apply this to all the services. Cut the waste and huge salary bill at the top and that’ll give you the room to maintain current force levels.

The Other Chris
November 2, 2014 11:38 am

Please refer to the two triangles in the original article :)

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
November 2, 2014 12:10 pm

@ Maturin – “But I don’t think that it need be this way. Say 2.5% of GDP enshrined in law henceforth, would infuse real bite to the capabilities of the UK’s Armed Forces. Imagine the transformation to the fantasy fleet fun.”

I have long supported 2.5% as the goal i would personally choose, but the reality is that we have long since blasted through that floor.

People have often looked at the NATO 2.0% rule as irrelevant, i rather think they’ll be changing their tune in the run up to SDSR15 as the draw-down of afghan operations exposes exactly how diminished the core budget is!

They’d be delighted to hold the line at 2.0%, and so they should, because without operational expenditure bloating the SIPRI figures to 2.3% we’ll quickly see that we’re down to 1.9% of GDP.

If you want a political target for Defence Spending then NATO is it…

That, or 2.1% of GDP, so that we can say:
1. We’re exceeding our NATO obligations which is a necessity given our ‘leadership’ role
2. Tories can sell it as exactly three times the DfID budget

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 2, 2014 12:15 pm

Should we look here to help gauge our spending priorities?

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/357483/4_Gas.pdf

Key results show:
Gross UK production of natural gas in Q2 2014 was 3.8 per cent lower than in Q2 2013
(
Chart 4.1
). Within this, production of dry gas remained almost unchanged (0.9 per cent
lower), whilst associated gas produc
tion decreased by 6.1 per cent (
Chart 4.2
).
Total imports have fallen 20 per cent in Q2 2014 compared to Q2 2013, driven by low
demand. This has almost completely been due to a decrease in pipeline imports whilst total
LNG imports have remained broadly stable on last year. The volume of Norwegian gas into
the UK has decreased substantially, down over a third versus Q2 2013 (
Chart 4.4
).
Pipeline imports decreased by 31 per cent compared to Q2 2013, whereas LNG imports
remained similar (down 0.5 per cent). (
Chart 4.4
). Pipeline imports accounted for 57 per cent
of all imports in Q2 2014, versus 65 per cent in Q2 2013 (
Chart 4.5
).
Gas available in Q2 2014 was 16.8 per cent lower than in Q2 2013, at 162 TWh. (
Chart 4.3
)
Overall UK gas demand decreased by 14.8 per cent in Q2 2014 compared to Q2 2013. This
was primarily driven by domestic and other
consumption (down 28 and 22 per cent
respectively). This reflects the warmer tem
peratures in Q2 2014 versus the previous year.
Gas used for electricity generation was similar in Q2 2014 versus Q2 2013 (down 2.0 per
cent) whilst industrial consumption was down by 4.6 per cent (
Chart 4.6
).

Is it time to have a true European Energy grid system? would it be worth it in the long run in view of national defence?

Chris
Chris
November 2, 2014 12:25 pm

Aubrey’s Shadow – ref “defence spending should re-cycle through the economy anyway, and generate exports” – only if the spend is on UK product. While the political elite (and general public) believe best value is in saving a few pennies on ticket price by buying from foreign suppliers and letting British industry go to hell in a handbasket (rather than spending a few pennies more on British products creating British jobs, British tax revenue and British export potential), then an increase in defence spending is just opening the taps a bit wider for worsening balance of payments.

While it can’t be denied in the 70s/80s UK industry was dysfunctional and needed fixing (horrendous ‘Us & Them’ in-fighting twixt unions & management), Maggie’s solution of open international competition for everything was very much a quick & dirty measure to make things look better (as in the country no longer hamstrung by industrial relations) as quick as possible. That she accepted the Monetarist advice wholesale, advice from a US economist, and that the US gained advantage as a result, might be seen as unfortunate. US weren’t the only international players to turn predatory – while the US gained contracts over here and took over a number of UK businesses in sectors previously protected – or at least buffered – from foreign attention, its not hard to see how well the French did out of the deal too (EDF, Thales) but there are many more countries in the mix. See http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/features/1146256/buying-britain/ The article suggests foreign ownership is good and not to be resisted, but this may be a view founded on maximising individual wealth (investors) rather than maximising national wealth. Sometimes the latter should benefit at the cost of the former.