Captain Efficiency Back on Parade

163

We all know the Government has been under huge pressure from an array of sources on 2% of GDP spending.

Despite it being an arbitrary target (like 0.7% on overseas development) with little relation to any kind of rational security or risk analysis the need to achieve deficit reduction savings and the need to carry on ‘talkin a good un’ means that there was only ever going to be one way to square the circle.

Clever sums…

blackboard-math As predicted

I don’t think you need one of these to decode that

Four-rotor German Enigma cypher machine, 1939-1945.

A thousand slices of this

Salami-Slicing

That will result in decreasing defence capability and personnel that want to leave whilst slipping under the radar of the Telegraph.

The actual figures have been detailed here, but a quick summary.

FireShot Capture - Chancellor announces £4½ billion of mea_ - https___www.gov.uk_government_news_c

The more things change, the more they stay the same, except of course the widely trailed £1b is only £500m

Oh goody goody, defence has come out of it well.

That of course, is what they want you to think.

What would be nice if the government said something like;

You know what, we are going to spend alittle less on defence and do a little less. We think it is a reasonable risk in order to get the deficit under control because that is the real risk to the nation.

There is nothing wrong with doing less with less, nothing whatsoever.

Maybe some moral and political courage to match the courage showed on a regular basis by those that will actually be affected by this would not go amiss but efficiency savings are usually not achieved in full, which means real savings have to be obtained elsewhere.

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Nick
Nick

@TD

The more worrying question is what will be announced in the forthcoming budget. This table doesn’t include the 12 billion welfare savings that underpin the deficit plan (before you tack-on the election spending commitments). Watch this space ?

Beno
Beno

Politically the average British Joe has very little day to day interest in defence and even less interest in paying for it.
However genetically as Brits we still think of ourselves as a first rate power ( and so we should ).
This leads to a somewhat interesting paradox. You can cut the funds for defence and you will get votes. But for god’s sake don’t in any way indicate that the UK can’t kick ass with the very top rate countries in the world else your political dead meat.
The total big headed certainty that we can do what we bloody well like, and let Jonny foreigner beware if he or she dares to contradict, is our very birth right.
The concept that an enemy might lay a toe inside sovereign realms UNTHINKABLE !
But the idea that we have to actually pay for this service, and it is not just a function of this magically imbued green and pleasant land…. This is somewhat difficult?
Either way the 2% will be honoured, what they are scared about is that with projected growth figures, they won’t commit to 50bn + a year in ten years’ time (@ 3% growth compound), till the money has already come in.
Beno

Nick
Nick

A source rather than newspaper coverage. Cherry picking – Defence would see a c33 % reduction is spending between 2010 and 2020 if the governments deficit reduction plan is followed through on. This is potentially a minimum number given the election spending/tax commitments.

http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/7765

The Other Chris

Headlines on R4 just now intimated Defence was amongst a handful of the departments achieving bulk of their savings via underspends.

Nick
Nick

ToC

good or bad though ? Not doing something you planned to do or something costing less than you thought..

The Other Chris

That was the newsreader’s headline. No details. Sorry.

The Ginge
The Ginge

Nice word “underspend” what it doesn’t say is, ah we are saving £100m this year by not recruiting the engineers the RN needs, so certain ships will not sail because they don’t have enough staff, no they don’t say oh we are cutting 3 ships from the fleet, in effect you have. Same with the RAF, so we will not equip and buy enough equipement to have anymore than say 12 Typhoons capable at Theatre Entry level, not recruiting any new pilots this year or enginners or we will pay freeze all grades so that good quality engineers walk out to go and work for double the money at Heathrow or Stanstead.
The list goes on, because that £500m underspend is for every subsequant year, the budget has lost £500m, this year you might (although I would argue you have no wiggle room on this) underspend by that amount and not hit capability that much, but remember in 10yrs time you are still going to be £500m light plus the lack of growth on that £500m compunded. So if the defence budget finaly goes up by say on average 2% over the next 20yrs, that £500m “saving” costs you £750m a year by 2035. In total in that 20yr period you have lost £12,891,658,597 or £12bn thats an awful lot of kit or wages you are not paying in that 20yr period. Let alone factor in defence inflation that kit bought now is going to be exponentally cheaper than bought in 10yrs time.
when America talks about “hollowing out” this is exactly what they mean.

CheshireCat
CheshireCat

To be honest with the current state of things, if the MOD have been smart enough to save up enough money to cover this parliament’s savings requirement then ‘standing still’ is a better result than it could have been.

Clearly the above is caveated by how the underspend was achieved, either not spending or purchasing more cheaply than budgeted, but I can’t help feeling it could have been a lot worse, which is probably just indicative as to what a poor state commitment to defence spending has fallen.

By the way, whatever happened to that £8 billion ‘headroom’?

Chris
Chris

CC – what happened to £8Bn headroom? A fair bet it slid back into HM treasury’s grabbing mits, very quietly and without any fuss. Then at some later date the Treasury can give a small proportion back with a huge fanfare of vote-hungry proclamations. “See how responsible we are! See how we have increased the defence budget by £500m!” is so much more likely than “See how we have returned 6% of the budget we took!”

That might be seen as a tiny bit cynical.

stephen duckworth

£500m , what relief when it was leaked £1bn . Anyone ever played cards , bridge , poker ? Anyone think we have been bluffed or finessed?
On this budgetary savings there is more than one way to skin a cat , how about moving all the C17’s and A400M’s onto the DfID . We snatch them back or lease as required for the same rates as they give the RAF , same for warehousing HADR supplies etc.

The Other Chris

Differentiate between pots of cash for equipment (where the contingency and headroom pots sit) and the annual budgets (where the £500m p.a. savings need to happen).

Here’s the last NAO major projects report:

http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Major-projects-report-2014-and-the-equipment-plan-2014-to-20151.pdf

Page 16 is the Equipment budget breakdown (Note: Equipment, not Operational i.e. salaries, pensions, scram, diesel, etc) and you can clearly see both the Contingency (c.£4b) and Headroom (the “£8b” being mentioned) pots.

Also note these figures are built up over the years described.

The “Headroom” figure (the c.£8b across the plan being quizzed) makes up the majority of what’s been referred to as the Unallocated budget which is c.£9b. Add to the Contingency of c.£4b.

Salami ahoy!

Beady
Beady

Many people on here and other defence forums assume that the public have little interest in defence. I’m not sure that is entirely the case. The situation is that the public have very little idea of what our forces are capable of, and neither does the “meeja”. Plus, it’s not a good idea for people in the forces at any level to bemoan our capabilities. Apart from giving comfort to our enemies, it would be a career threatening move. Contrast that with any other department and vested interests are falling over themselves to paint the worst picture possible. So the general public (thick though they may be) gets limited information on defence. Whereas they all know about the “cuts” and “austerity” in other areas, they don’t get such a picture of defence. If it ever came to a situation where our forces had to be used and the shortfalls were exposed, THEN you wouldn’t hear the last of it. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen in reality.

Martin
Martin

Of this was the on,y cut required it would be of little issue. Indeed between the underspend head room etc we could probably get away with a cut of over 1£ billion with out having mich impact. My fear is osbornes looking for atleast £4 billion though again. A Tory government with a thin majority has to be the best outcome for defence spending but then me thinks those same back benchers that profess to caring about defence of the realm are far more worried about breaking out of the EU, bashing immigrants or cancelling HS2 to hold the government to account on defence spending.

Rods
Rods

IMO stupidity in still playing the 1991 peace dividend games in a currently ever increasingly dangerous world. If Ukraine does not with Western help contain Putin and his invasion of Ukraine, then Moldova will follow and then where Putin needs conflicts to stay in power it is inevitable that other European countries along with NATO solidarity will be challenged.

In such an environment we will have to fight with what we have got as there will not be the time for anything else. All this against a backdrop of Russia currently increasing their military spending at a level not seen since Soviet times. Feels like a rerun of the 1930’s, will Dave play the role of the arch appeaser Chamberlain to buy us time to rearm?

Hohum
Hohum

It’s worth looking at this from a politicians perspective.

The services went charging into Iraq and Afghanistan only to humiliate themselves (they needed bailing out by the US on both occasions) then enthusiastically bombed Libya- the result being a failed state resplendent with an ISIS presence and spewing immigrants out into the Mediterranean. The net result being little public support for any sort of military operation (as we saw with the Syria vote) so from Cameron’s perspective, whats the point in funding defence when he can’t do anything with it and its of questionable utility even if he could?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

‘The services went charging into Iraq and Afghanistan’

I’m pretty sure sure it was more than the services that wanted to charge into Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s the little matter of parliament voting in support of Iraq and the Afghan mission was supported by the leaders of the 3 main parties until a vote in 2009 by parliament to stay in Afghan.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

‘A Tory government with a thin majority has to be the best outcome for defence’

The Tories have never been a party that is strong on defence. They have cut defence consistently throughout history whenever they could, as they see defence as government spending just like any other.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix

Just to be contrary: they cannot subscribe to arbitrary measures like 2.0% because its arbitrary. They have said they’ll await the requirement of the sdsr15, so an efficiency saving only adds credibility to that narrative.

What matters is that they prioritise defence and that is best demonstrated by meeting 2.0%, even if it requires a bit of creative fudge. You can only add pension costs in once…

stephen duckworth

SDSR2015 The rewrite , is due for Cabinet digestion on or about end August / beginning of September , the end of the 100 days . With whatever amendments the Cabinet make it is due for publication the end of October IIRC. Expect the usual leaks etc but I expect , due to pressure from over the pond the obvious one carrier ready at all times and associated marine forces etc AND one armoured medium/heavy division ready at all times for overseas deployment within NATO. The Carrier Battle Group can stand in for cover for the Sixth fleet in the med if called eastwards and the Armour to counter Putin if required.

Hohum
Hohum

DN,

The services were all for it and merrily telling the politicians how easy it would be.

Are you about to tell us that Labour are the party of defence? If so don’t bother, only idiots believe it. And as taxation is immoral anyway I will take the Tories.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

Hohum

The services might have been merrily telling the politicians how easy it would be but it’s the politicians (either via the elected prime minister or parliament as a whole) who have the last say and not the senior leadership of the armed forces.

No I’m not going to say that Labour are pro defence either.

Hohum
Hohum

DN,

Politicians make their decisions based on what they are told by the services.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

Hohum

I would hope they are basing their decisions on more than one source of opinion, and they can always so no.

S O
S O

“to get the deficit under control because that is the real risk to the nation.”

It’s not. Interest rates barely exist even for 10 yr bonds, liquidity is guaranteed by BoE, the debt is in GBP, most of the debt is debt to the own citizens (or is it still “subjects”?).
Deficits merely mean delayed taxation. The delay may be out of politician’s cowardice and ineptitude or because the secondary effects of taxation would be critically worse than a deficit’s secondary effects.

In other words: Instead of dictating the high-income/rich folks “give us more money” the government asks them for a loan and promises (tiny) interest payments.

Where’s the “threat” in all this?

The interesting thing about “fiscal troubles”-induced military spending cuts is that they show how much of the military spending was actually unnecessary, luxury. In the case of Greece the entire spending for their puny imagined cold war with Turkey was unnecessary – 2-3% GDP p.a.!
The luxury part that wasn’t about “defence” of the UK at all, but about providing toys for politicians to play great power games, was apparently about 2% GDP p.a. as well.

Midlander
Midlander

Agree that the 2% is pretty arbitary, it just looks very difficult to connect that to either the current international context or the role the political leadership want to play.

Beady hits the nail on the head about the comfort signals it sends to those bent on mischief are counterproductive and increase the risk of stuff happening. Its not very quiet in Donetsk at the moment

But everything must have a logical explanation, a guess might be that this really be about the political leadership concluding that being world financial centre and no votes in defence and the US will sort it out means we have to be a bit more minimum/low profile in our defence posture – a sort of Nuclear armed version of Austria.

More worrying with Russia suffering via low oil price, the incentive is to stir things up more to get the price up……more rubles for more hardware.

To the hills!

Hohum
Hohum

The threat?

Simple, just because a debt crisis and/or hyper-inflation hasn’t hit yet doesn’t mean it won’t. I know there is a delightfully charming myth on the left, and pushed by paid Russian trolls, that debt is not a problem because its not real. Well it is a problem because it is real as multiple countries have found out in the past.

And yes, we all understand that your agenda is to explain to Europeans how Europe doesn’t need any defence spending and Vladimir Putin is lovely.

You got found out: http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/apr/09/kremlin-hall-of-mirrors-military-information-psychology

Observer
Observer

The 2% isn’t quite a number picked out of a hat, it was a historical agreement that NATO countries should spend at least 2% of their GDP on the military, which means that the 2% limit is supposed to be sacrosanct. What all the maneuvering is about is how to “keep the law” without keeping the spirit of the law, so you get budgets sliced very close to the edge and maybe some double counting and “future spending predictions” involved.

It does make a bit of sense as the UK is in a very safe location. Unfortunately, history has shown that “safe” can turn “unsafe” at the worst possible times in short notice. The problem now is how to balance a decent budget that does not overspend for the safety of the UK, yet retain enough steel that when push comes to shove, your response can be a shovel to the other guy’s head. This is also unfortunately not an isolated consideration, if your hostile neighbour has, for example, 100 planes, you would want 120-150+ as insurance. Without someone to compare against, it becomes hard to figure out if you have “enough”, “too much” or “too little”. From 1996 onwards, the USSR has not been used as a comparison for too long, with us thinking they are down for the count. Recent events have shown otherwise. On the bright side, we now have someone to compare against again.

El Sid
El Sid

@SO
” Interest rates barely exist even for 10 yr bonds”

UK government is paying an average of 3% on £1.5bn of debt, which works out at about £46bn every year before you think about repaying the principal. Compare that with a defence DEL of £35.4bn/year. So if we didn’t have the debt run up by previous governments, we could double defence spending and still have an extra £10.6bn/year to throw at whatever pet projects one wanted.

Observer
Observer

SO, all defence spending is unnecessary.

Until you need it.

Observer
Observer

Sorry Hohum, did you mean Russian debt or British debt?

Repulse

Whether it is 1% or 5%, I just want a clear strategy. The fundamental issue is the nation has no clear vision on what it wants to be.

Phil

How do you expect a country of nearly 70 million to have one clear conception of its national interest and / or what it wants to be? My employer has 7 members of brass and they can’t agree on a solid vision either.

The elephant in the room is that whilst the Cold War provided a strong narrative for foreign policy the period still didn’t see a unified concept of a national interest much beyond a natural survival instinct of “don’t get destroyed”. Remove any strong narrative and you amplify an inherent problem when it comes to organising humans – we all have different views, interests and perceptions of problems. Strong threats provide strong narratives and help narrow the range of views on what the national interest is, but they don’t massively narrow the range of views on how to attain that national interest. And even that variance of views on the overall national interest still doesn’t entirely go away (1940 being a good if overused example).

Observer
Observer

Welcome back Phil.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim

The problem I have always had with defence spending is that Politicians can never tie aspirations to resources in their own heads. They love to strut around the world stage and write cheques with our Armed Forces the latter can barely afford. Simply look how the forces we can deploy are so out of balance with what we want them to do, and how they have shrunk. Yes we can send eight fast jets and a few Reapers to bomb IS, but compared to even the French, it is a pathetically small force and could be classed as a simple PR tool.

The coming SDSR needs to first and foremost establish what our realistic role in the world is to be and this must match the resources the Government is willing to put in to our Armed Forces. I hove no problem with a shrinking Defence Budget if out worldly aspirations also shrink. SDSR 2015 is going to be resource driven, be decree of the Treasury. We are going to get a few headline gains, most probably a limited number of Maritime Patrol Aircraft to be delivered around 2018-19 and the initial order placed for the first couple of Type 26 vessels for the navy. There will then a lot of recycled announcements regarding the F-35 and FRES(SV) buys and covered by this smoke and mirrors dance will be substantial salami slicing of everything else and a quiet reduction in the reserve requirement which they realise they cannot meet anyhow. Yes the numbers of regulars will remain constant but we already have severe shortages in key areas across all three services.

Finally any mention of FF2020 will vanish from the records as it is going to be unaffordable with out the “Promised” 1% increase to the overall Defence Budget, so we will hear repeated statements praising our modern and flexible Armed Forces without any elaboration on what they can actually do or more importantly what they can no longer do.

Repulse

@Lord Jim: I agree, but at the moment I’d say Cameron is doing less strutting on the world stage than we have done for hundreds of years – this is making our allies nervous. I don’t think this is a problem, the problem is a lack of clarity in our intended role in the world and not focusing just on the capabilities that we wish to provide.

Rocket Banana

Perhaps we simply need to ask: who’s the enemy?

If you go by most sources, it is still terrorists. Can’t quite understand why we need “carrier strike” and a reduced army strength for them!

After that it’s supposed to be (cyber) espionage so surely investment in intel gathering assets is a priority? UAVs, SIGINT, SSNs, plenty of frigates…

The Other Chris

Correction: “Who will be the enemy in 30 years?”

Rocket Banana

Okay, let’s scale our forces to meet a future threat and fail miserably to deal with the ones we currently have.

There’s certainly a balance to be struck, but predicting the future didn’t work for Michael Fish.. and he’s a weather man like John Kettley.. ooh, I feel a song coming on ;-)

Repulse

@Simon: Yes, the most immediate threat is terrorism, and (taking today’s headlines from the US at face value) so is Cyber defence, therefore the capabilities you suggest are very much needed.

However, I’d say Carrier Strike is also very much needed. CdeG has been used by the French in their fight with ISIL and I’d argue that the more flexible CVF design would even be more appropriate for the job IMO. What is not needed however is an mechanised / armoured division. If the UK wanted to get involved in the fighting, mobile SF units backed up by support RM / Para units based offshore would be the way to go. The other thing to note is that by investing in that model it is a capability that can operate globally at short notice, covering 80% or more of the world’s population.

However, alongside the immediate needs the UK needs to plan for less likely / but high impact (peer on peer) scenarios as well as considering how to protect global interests including supporting key alliances.

The nearest we have to a peer-on-peer situation is a slide back into a cold war with Russia and “skirmishes” on the borders of the EU. Therefore, in priority order for the UK I would go for:
– strong naval force / MPA presence in the North Atlantic
– strong QRA Typhoon force
– naval support for NATO/EU forces in the Mediterranean and Baltics
– mechanized / armoured division held at low readiness but with frequent training exercises.
– CASD (or alternative)

To protect global interests including supporting key alliances, I would go for the following in priority order:
– Low level training support / technology sharing
– Increased intelligence gathering capabilities and sharing
– CBGs / ARGS & SSNs to “cover” the US if needed, and to also support alliances like the Five Power Alliance through high-end training exercises – e.g. showing that the UK has the capability to operate globally without having to support expensive global bases. To me sailing a CBG around the world every five years would have a much bigger impact than putting a battalion or two in the Middle or Far East.

Martin
Martin

its worth noting that for all the talk of France in the fight against ISIL that the UK is still in second place for number of strikes carried out in Iraq. Recent reports also state that all 10 of our reapers are on active duty in several locations plus Tornados over places like Nigeria.

Wee are obviously not engaged in Syria but then the government did loose a democratic vote in parliament over military action there.

Perhaps David Cameron’s rhetoric is now (post Libya) more inline with what he is willing to spend. I do still believe though the the UK must committ to the 2% target even if it has to be a fudge. we can talk about capability matching threat level but we can never judge the threat level and capabilities costs money. It’s not a perfect target but for an institution the size of NATO it’s probably the only one that can be used. NATO is just as important now as it was in the Cold War maybe even more so. It’s the only Organization on the planet that will keep the likes of Russia and China in check. we must continue to support it.

The Other Chris

It’s not about failing to deal with current threats, it’s about the length of time it takes to develop counters.

We’re combating current events with a combination of mature systems/processes that were conceived 30 years ago by designers trying to think ahead and a comparative scattergun approach of UOR-style reactions.

Observer
Observer

@Simon

And I’m wondering why you need the army to deal with terrorists. Those are threats for the police, not armed forces. In that light, does it mean that you can scrap the army, air force and navy? Because if that is the logic, when you really start to need an army, it is already too late.

Chris
Chris

TOC – yes, but… No-one (least of all it seems the military analyst) has a crystal ball that accurately defines the future capability either in terms of functionality or scale. Its all best guess. I don’t have a problem with rapid procurement to deal with urgent needs, just because there isn’t really much alternative if the stuff on MOD’s shelves isn’t right for dealing with the immediate threat.

In my world (weird as it might look to outsiders) the MOD would be capable of understanding their largely understandable difficulty in predicting the future (resulting in the truism that the military always procure the best equipment to help them better fight the previous war) and would adjust their equipment plan to suit. This would then lead to a focus on both faster URD-to-Equipment formal procurement processes, and a move to buy basic robust equipment and platforms which by design would be reconfigurable in short order – in essence moving the UOR bit down the food-chain from complete platforms or major systems, to new standard interface modules (machinery, hardware, software or combination) to fit into extant equipment.

At the moment, it seems when MOD determine they need a new sofa or new washing machine, they run a competition between Wimpey Barrett and Persimmon and buy a new house incorporating sofa & washing machine. The rest of us don’t find it that hard to fit what we need within the existing house. While buying the whole house shiny & new looks really flash and might impress the neighbourhood, its a very expensive way to resolve shortfalls in capability.

Brian Black
Brian Black

Isn’t it at least good news that the government is sticking to the 2% figure?

This cut has probably come about because growth has been a shade lower than expected for the first quarter of this year. So defence spending creeps to 2.02%, or whatever, and Osborne snatches the extra back. The MoD can apparently still do what it wants to do by covering the small difference with efficiency savings.

If growth is slow, and the chancellor has such a tight grip on any excess spending, where it could affect the MoD is with some of the upcoming procurement.

If in any given year, spending absolutely must not creep above the magic number of 2%, then we could begin seeing little contract packages of two T26 at a time, rather than half a dozen or more. And while that might help keep spending down in any given year, it could cost a whole lot more in the long-run. With other big deals coming up -submarines, Lightning, vehicles- quite substantial lumps of money could be shoved down the line, but would still have to be paid for eventually.

Alex
Alex

just because a debt crisis and/or hyper-inflation hasn’t hit yet doesn’t mean it won’t.

look, people have been promising one real-soon-now since 2009. Also, SO has never come across as pro-Russian to me; more like “obsessed with the hordes from the east”.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

‘Isn’t it at least good news that the government is sticking to the 2% figure?’

They’ve only promised to stick to the 2% this financial year after that, who knows? but after listening to various interviews I have a feeling that defence will be lucky if future force 2020 is funded properly. Personally I do not mind if defence is cut as long as it is part of a foreign policy that runs in parallel with our military capabilities.

Aubrey
Aubrey's Shadow

@DavidNiven
“The Tories have never been a party that is strong on defence. They have cut defence consistently throughout history whenever they could”
This is a good point. Despite his gold-blindness, and profligate welfare jam jar, Gordon Brown did order 2 carriers with a potential half-century legacy. Do we think that a Tory government would have ordered 2 carriers to be built in a Labour heartland ? Whatever you might say about the unions, they have been effective at getting ships built over the decades. I know he didn’t order many others, and his motives were selfish, but the carriers could have been lost forever….

@Hohum
Labour the Party of Defence ? instinctively I’d say no, and take your point, but…. I’d be very interested to see what the actual spend/increase/cut record has been of all administrations since the war. And SDSR 2007 v SDSR 2010 – what’s the best defence outcome – not fully funded but strategic review or almost fully funded yet non-strategic review ?

The Other Chris

None of the parties fare well under scrutiny. CVA? TSR2? Delaying CVF until contract penalties were higher than just building the things?

S O
S O

“Observer

SO, all defence spending is unnecessary.

Until you need it.”

That’s mere smartassery.
There’s not just all or nothing – there actually is an “enough”, with additional spending being wasteful.
It’s difficult to know in advance where that threshold is, but ex post we can observe that drastic cuts were enacted for no harm to the nation. This means what was cut was almost certainly unnecessary.
It’s not a perfect evidence, but better than whatever evidence the proponents of more military spending can bring to the table.
It’s thus not surprising that an irrational counter would be provoked by pointing at such evidence against more military spending.

@El Sid:
2.5 % p.a. approx
http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/GUKG10:IND
Inflation rate was about 0.5-1.5% p.a., I don’t know if those bonds are inflation-correcting or not.

The interest rates in the UK are extremely and historically low.

Repulse

@SO: “we can observe that drastic cuts were enacted for no harm to the nation. This means what was cut was almost certainly unnecessary. It’s not a perfect evidence, but better than whatever evidence the proponents of more military spending can bring to the table.” – The fact that the UK armed forces were not funded to enable it to meet the UK Government’s demand to fight two major conflicts (Afghanistan and Iraq) is surely beyond dispute?

The proponents of more defence spending I feel are just reflecting the known that government aspirations (especially over the past decade) have been woefully out of kilter with funds.

As I and others have said – no-one will argue if the UK government decides a strategy and funds it properly. Also, no-one will argue if the government stops delaying necessary kit acquisition to meet the strategy which results in higher costs. In fact, if there is no mismatch between strategy and budget, we’d probably get rid of much of the inter-service bickering nonsense.

Observer
Observer

@SO

The problem with your premise that if there is no immediate effect to something, it is ok can be pushed to an all or nothing conclusion. All defence budgets can be cut to 0 right now in reality if you do not have a hostile neighbour. There really is no need for defence if you are not actively at war. Until someone does turn hostile. But since reducing the defence budget to 0 does not currently harm the country, it’s all right isn’t it? Let us just do away with defence and put it into welfare or education. Maybe the US will come to help us when we are in trouble later, so we shouldn’t waste any money on an armed force at all?

There are limits SO, and just because the results are not immediate does not mean that there isn’t a negative effect. Even more ridiculous is to say that a defence budget enacted in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the time of the “Peace Dividend” is still sufficient for a resurgent chaotic Europe. Times change, what may have been “enough” then might be “insufficient” now. What is worse, it is harder to manufacture equipment from scratch than to maintain it, IIRC it takes 5 years to make a plane, 2 for a ship. If anything happens, 2 years is a long, long time to wait, even assuming there are no disruptions. Your country can be overrun in months, much less years.

stephen duckworth

@Chris
“a move to buy basic robust equipment and platforms which by design would be reconfigurable in short order”
The CVR(T) programme produced a base model if understanding is correct which was adapted as time went on to caring needs as they appeared. The Scout series all ready has several models defined but I am sure could be adapted to specialist roles, anti-tank missile carrier , 120mm mortar carrier etc if the need proved sufficient. A similar core assembly of parts in effect in the form of a wheeled equivalent would seem the next logical step.

S O
S O

You see imaginary trouble in imaginary situations.
Europe, “resurgent and chaotic” or not, is easily safe because there’s hardly any threat. All those people impressed by Russian brazenness and aggressiveness and army and whatnot are impressed by what’s the equivalent of a mobilized Romanian military (since that’s what the Russians can muster in the West!).
The Russians have hardly any military power in Europe, and cannot call on their Asian troops without giving up deterrence against the Chinese, Muslim uprisings and nationalist uprisings there.

Budgets were cut, nothing bad happened.
The burden of proof that more spending is advisable is on the pro-more spending side.

And I’m not easily impressed by fearmongering. Sadly, fearmongering is seemingly the only thing that appears to drive military budget discussions in public nowadays. Hardly anybody looks at allies, at neutrals, at unfriendly powers, at geography and then comes to a conclusion about advisable budget sizes.
Such a look at realities would reveal that Europe’s military spending and military power are vastly greater than required for a 1:1 parity with the sum of all threats to itself (invasion, air attack or blockade).
A look at the insanely spending Americans is pointless, since we don’t prepare defence against them. The relevant perspective is Russians + Belarus + Med Arabs. And they have hardly any military power. The only alliance defence Achilles’ heel is the scenario of a coup de main against the Baltics – but more spending doesn’t change that. A reallocation of spending would do.

Mike
Mike

“no-one will argue if the UK government decides a strategy and funds it properly” surely that depends on the strategy. Strategy has not been a strong point of any government for quite some time.

Rocket Banana

I’d love to have a broad-spectrum capability. But if that capability means that each components is so small that it becomes ineffectual then I’d rather plan properly to prevent piss-poor performance.

Ultimately a submarine industry with a dozen SSBN+SSN along with home-built (yes, that’s what I’d prefer) MPA and interceptor jets with maritime strike capability is all we really need. Add to that the presence afforded by lots (yes, lots) of frigates and intel gathering assets we should be able to keep tabs on much of the things happening in the world. We can then also police our SLoCs.

We’d then need to deploy an army.

The notion of small-scale raiding (which it seems is all we’ll be able to do with carrier strike and our single amphibious battlegroup) is very, very expensive and not much use against terrorist networks or cyber warriors and spies. I also fail to see how they’d help stop WMD proliferation in comparison with a strong intelligence service.

Yes, I’d love to keep them, but they are very much at the bottom of the list of requirements.

Yours regretfully,

Mr D. Advocate

Chris
Chris

monkey – I don’t share your warm feelings toward Scout/FRES. Considering the rumoured internal configuration that leaves such a large vehicle, relatively lightly armed, with room for just three personnel. Or PMRS without a turret and room for (I think) a total of five. The driveline is not particularly flexible and is pretty large; I’m not even sure the engine/transmission would readily swing round to the back for rear-engined options as the transmission seems to have been shaped to fit the pointy nose. As far as I can tell Scout and its family will all look APC shaped and have little more internal space than CVR(T). This to my mind is not a flexible or modular approach.

Those few who have seen my designs might note my engineering concept has proper flexibility designed in from the outset. Much more modular than Boxer; more flexible than SEP. This is because I figured out the need for rapid development of new role variants already exists, and its not met by decade-long competitions nor is it well served by panic-buys of whatever Uncle Sam can spare.

So I don’t find the ASCOD/Scout a particularly good modern modular flexible vehicle, nor a good example of how to approach any wheeled vehicle buy. Sadly though I don’t think the purchasers have enough imagination to see past a virtual showroom of Piranhas Boxers SuperAVs and AMVs, all designs of the last century and pretty rigid in their configurations.

Repulse

@Mike – true, but I stand by the thrust of my point. I think we would all like the government to grow some balls and show some direction / transparency.

@SO: I’m really not sure where you are going with your arguments. If the UK’s strategy was solely for the defence of mainland UK and the EU, and that we plan to have 10-20 years to re-arm, yes we could spend much less. But it’s not.

Repulse

@Simon: “We’d then need to deploy an army.” – how and why? Without a CBG and ARG then you really need some very friendly neighbourly nations and time / money to build up capabilities ready to engage, whilst events could have moved significantly on.

Carrier air strike is not a all singing and dancing capability and has it’s limits – but it’s flexible and allows the UK to go and project force globally in the most efficient way IMO. Also, without significantly more funds the UK should not try to operate anything larger than a brigade sized force unless it’s a direct threat to the UK (not a made up one) – Iraq and Afghanistan has shown this.

stephen duckworth

On a more pressing need than some replacement escorts in 5 years or a new wheeled armour (other than UOR’s) Ukraine I anticipating the need to bring in external peacekeepers on an urgent basis ( rather than wait 3 months for a UN resolution) . Previously special Presidential decree could legalize the use of external military forces on Ukrainian soil but now Parliament has endorsed it included the deployment of foreign controlled WMD , that’s to say Nukes , on its territory , you know , just in case :-{
http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://rt.com/news/265093-ukraine-law-foreign-forces/&sa=U&ei=4eBxVd2DGMSVsgGGkICwDQ&ved=0CBcQqQIwAQ&usg=AFQjCNG_v3QR5BI4K3HaPnk1jjxjk5_F1Q
Again I will say in IMHO our European based heavy armour and accompanying kit needs to be ALL based in the easternmost NATO countries , not 1000 miles literally where it will actually be used in anger. If migrants start landing on Europe’s southern shores in MBT’s from LCAC not sinking wooden fishing boats then I’ll rethink it but untill then a little bit of logic wouldn’t go amiss.

Rocket Banana

Repulse,

Why? Because there’s little point in knowing what is going on if you can’t do something about it when needed.
How? By amassing force on the border and/or arranging to land equipment with the government of the nation harbouring the terrorists.

We have had rather friendly neighbours in most cases where there is a land border.

I’m not sure having a CBG and ARG will help anyway, it simply isn’t big enough to force an army over another nations shore. Is it big enough to capture a port? Maybe. maybe not.

Carrier air strike … it’s flexible and allows the UK to go and project force globally in the most efficient way.

I would counter that with the same questions you originally asked me. How and why? In particular, what relevance does it have to terrorism, cyber espionage and WMD proliferation?

As ever, your faithful,

Mr D. Advocate

Tim UK
Tim UK

The French will spend less and still have more capability.

Observer
Observer

Simon, pay homage to CS Lewis, sign off as Wormwood. :)

SO, whatever makes you happy. If you want massive defence spending cuts for Germany, it is hardly my concern. I’m more comfortable with my country’s level of defence spending, but that does not affect Germany does it?

El Sid
El Sid

@SO
We’ve had a brief blip down – rates for that 10y gilt reached 1.5% a few months ago – but if you look at the national debt as a whole, we’re effectively paying 3%. And even so – it’s such a huge number that even 2.5% of £1.5 trillion still amounts to more than the entire defence budget. So I’d disagree that “Interest rates barely exist” – the size of the debt is so huge that even historically very low interest rates still mean large interest payments. What’s really scary is that 30% of City traders have only ever known base rates

El Sid
El Sid

I wouldn’t get too romantic about the French position – they spend so much more on their deterrent that they’re looking pretty thin in other areas, notably they haven’t got any kind of replacement/supplement for CdG lined up, and only buying two Horizons didn’t do much for unit costs there.

S O
S O

The interest payment son UK public debt are overwhelmingly to British creditors, and thus overwhelmingly a distribution issue, not a threat to the nation.

Furthermore, the size of the current debt and current interest payments are almost entirely irrelevant to the question whether to reduce the deficit now or not. This is counter-intuitive, but any educated economist should understand that those expenses are sunk costs. They happen anyway, whether or not the deficits are reduced or not.
The relevant costs are the costs added by the deficit and the (long term) interest rates for financing it.
At 2.5% p.a. interest it’s easy to find public expenses worth this cost – particularly infrastructure, preventative health care, research and education expenses.
The current obsession with deficit control is not founded in textbook or any other established economics. It’s political ideology.

I’m generally in favour of getting a national budget right and balanced, but I’m even more set against narratives driven by political ideology instead of analysis. The asserted “threat” by debt and obsession about deficit-cutting is as well-founded as was the invasion of Iraq. People believe it, though there’s no evidence to back up their priority.

Mark
Mark

An extract on government debt.

The Bank of England bought £375 billion of gilts in their quest to support the UK economy between 2009 and 2012, which represents about 25% of the total gilts outstanding and about 23% of UK GDP. Since the Bank of England is an arm of the UK government, though acts independently when setting monetary policy, then these gilts represent debt that the UK owes to itself – each year the government pays interest on these gilts to the Bank of England, which books the interest as income and can be used to pay a dividend back to the government. On the national balance sheet, the gilts are an asset of the Bank of England but a liability of the government, and so cancel each other out. Although when QE was originally announced in 2009, it was expected to be temporary and would be unwound; ie the gilts sold back into the secondary market, when policy was to be tightened again, it is now clear that this remains a long way away and policy tightening will initially be implemented through interest rate increases. These gilts will be held for a long time. The advantage to you in cancelling these gilts is that the ratio of debt to GDP falls from around 90% of GDP to around 70% of GDP and the UK balance sheet suddenly looks much healthier in absolute terms and compared with the major European countries as well as the US and Japan. The pressure from being an economy with too much debt disappears and gives you as politicians much more flexibility in how rapidly you need to deal with the debt. Further, ahead of the 2020 election you will have lots of very attractive charts showing that the UK has much less debt than all those around – what a sound economy the UK will seem to be. – See more at: http://www.morningstar.co.uk/uk/news/133345/would-cancelling-qe-gilts-boost-the-uk-economy.aspx#sthash.6SjdWBbT.dpuf

Repulse

@Simon: Having a Division on the ground doesn’t mean you can do anything about it. You said yourself that terrorism was the primary threat; if that is the case please tell how you plan to use it to defeat ISIL, without faliing into another Iraq / Afghanistan II? Even if you could use it you would near a base to build up your force (please name one?) and 6 months to get your kit there and logistics by which time Baghdad could have fallen. An alternative approach is to train / arm the local forces and back them up with advisors supported by strike aircraft / UAVs / TLAMs / Special Forces used to disrupt / attack terrorist supply lines / bases – all of which can be supplied from a CBG / ARG within a month without having to build and secure land bases where the locals don’t want them.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

@Repulse

If you are training local forces then why would you need an ARG? If you have host nation support then you can just fly in your special forces/trainers etc just like we do in Kurdistan.

Repulse

@Simon: further to my last comment, I agree the UK needs the ability to fight cyber espionage and WMD proliferation; but neither could be done via an Army division either. Investment in diplomacy, BMD and infrastructure hardening is needed with a level of MAD capability either through CASD (for WMD) or cyber attack capabilities (probably through GCHQ).

The UK defence budget is big enough to do this, and support a CBG / ARG / SSN global maritime based strategy as well as doing keeping the UK safe / supporting NATO through QRA / MPA / EEZ Patrol asserts with an Army Division held at lower readiness.

Also with a maritime strategy I am not saying the RN wins it all; I’m quite happy for all carrier F35Bs (bar a few air defence a/c) / MPAs / long ranged UAVs / Tankers to be owned by the RAF, and all “commandos” (outside of fleet protection) to come from the army or by led by the army.

I actually think that SDSR 2015 may actually deliver something close to this…

Phil

As I’ve long argued you need some clarity on threats and then you need to swallow some hard lessons regarding them.

Something which I think is hard to argue against is that at the moment there is no realistic peer enemy and won’t be one for at least 12-18 months, more realistically 3-5 years. That really should drive us to reduce high end capabilities to the minimum required to regenerate a multi-divisional / CVBG / air expeditionary force capability in 3-5 years. This as a matter of deliberate policy.

To me in a very broad brush that means an Army able to deploy a division and a Corps HQ. A Navy able to deploy a CVF but with minimum carrier strike capability and instead focused on the LPH role. And an air force with smaller numbers of more capable platforms with a big emphasis on UCAVs, ISTAR, air mobility and precision stand-off munitions – with a large pool of training aircraft, mostly in storage.

What we’ll use on a daily basis, as it were, will be light and medium infantry directed by ISTAR and employing stand-off precision weapons with penny packets of heavier capabilities. We’ll mostly use the air force primarily to service that ground capability or replace it to some extent where the politicians go wobbly. The Navy will spend 98% of its time doing what it has always done and been effective at – presence operations and littoral operations. That doesn’t need full spectrum carrier strike or large numbers of first rate escorts.

Repulse

Phil: “That doesn’t need full spectrum carrier strike or large numbers of first rate escorts.” I actually agree with this and would say that the @20 escorts and 2 CVFs actually deliver this. With the CVF design it will cover the LPH role also plus a reasonable carrier strike (@16-24 F35bs deployed). It also allows the UK to grand stand a high-end CBG on global training exercises showing that the UK remains a powerful ally to have. This needs to be protected ahead of an army division ready to deploy. I just wish there were more SSNs…

Phil

Not having CVF hasn’t stopped us being effective for the last 40 years. Remove the ability to deploy a division and all of a sudden we couldn’t have carried out almost all of our operations over the last 40 years. Northern Ireland required a division, the Falklands required a division, Bosnia and Kosovo did, Afghanistan effectively did, Iraq did (twice). CVF is a wonderful thing to bash Chinese internet fan-bois over the head with but in the real world it has currently limited utility. I only support it because its a capability that has taken 18 years so far to try and regenerate and we’re still several years away!

Rocket Banana

Repulse,

How would I use an army division to defeat ISIL? Deploy it and eradicate the military hardware ISIL is acquiring. And yes, I’d need a base in Turkey, I guess.

However, I’m not sure I see how a CBG and ARG will help. You suggest fielding strike aircraft we don’t have(or Tornado from RAF Akrotiri), UAVs (certainly not from a carrier), TLAM (in pitiful quantities from SSN or alternatively SS from Tornado/Typhoon) and Special Forces – which certainly don’t need to come from a carrier.

I wouldn’t suggest that cyber espionage and WMD proliferation is fought with an army division. I’d suggest it is fought with intel and covert ops. Again, backing up the lack of need for a carrier.

Lastly, I agree with both yourself and Phil in that the capacity that needs to be delivered by CVF is probably more of an LPH role. So if we’re going to field a glorified LPH with a handful of jets then perhaps we should find an alternative to the “jet” part as I still think F35B is extremely high risk and high cost for the effect that a) a few will deliver, and b) they will cost.

Screwtape ;-)

Repulse

@Phil: I’m not saying remove the ability to deploy a division but hold the capability at lower readiness – say 3-6 months to generate.

The C(VF)BG would have worked to a much greater effect in Libya and in my view even in fighting ISIL. As for not having the capability for the last 40 years, we did but it was on two platforms the Invincible and Ocean classes.

Observer
Observer

Phil, shouldn’t it be the other way round? Remove the easy to regenerate lower end capabilities and keep the long lead higher end?

Repulse

@Simon: I personally think that using a Division to attack ISIL will have the same end result as Afghanistan – early success and then years of road side bombs, terrorist attacks, alienation of the local population and then ultimately a embarrassing withdrawal.

MSR
MSR

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A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth

S O said: “The current obsession with deficit control is not founded in textbook or any other established economics. It’s political ideology.”

While the level of acceptable deficit is largely a political choice it *is* Keynesian economic orthodoxy that when the economy is growing you aim for a surplus. With Conservatives in charge it is entirely unexceptional that they would attempt it, as it is simply the same as they have done in dealing with previous recessions.

Current borrowing and spending decisions should keep one eye on future threats and shocks in the same way defence decisions do.

Phil
Phil, shouldn’t it be the other way round?

Snazzy quotes.

And no I don’t think so. Because we use the lower end stuff all the time. If we were isolationist we could do it that way around.

Phil

@Repulse

That’s pretty much what we are doing. The division will take 6 months probably to deploy.

Rocket Banana

Repulse,

I agree so much with your opinion that it would be another Afghanistan that I would suggest we change the objective.

Go in.
Decimate their warfighting capability.
Get out.

Then use ISR assets and covert ops to determine when we do exactly the same again, and again, and again. It’s also reasonable to use ISTAR assets with a more “distanced” strike capability as we are now.

Basically some clinically executed battles with a simple strategy of attrition for winning the war.

Observer
Observer

Phil, good point. So basically you can’t cut anything. The high end because it takes too long to regenerate and the low end because you are using it constantly. Oh well, that’s life.

Phil

You can cut high end stuff, you just need to be realistic about the differing thresholds and how much of it you need and at what level of readiness you need it at for a particular threshold.

Phil

How would you improve rapid reaction TD?

Chris
Chris

Phil – want to buy lots of my neat air transportable armour then? Five to a C-17, two to an A400M and if you like one in a C-130. Would that be rapid enough?

S O
S O

It’s a bit more complicated.
It’s not only about growth, but also about whether the economy is still recovering. The UK GDP and UK GDP/capita is still several per cent below the figures of 2007! A lost decade, the UK would have a approx. 15% bigger economy if it had maintained the long-term growth trajectory!

This is still economic crisis times, not boom times. This is the time where the Keynesian recipe is to spend much, or at the very least not to crunch the budget.
The conservatives got it backwards and the public pays too much attention to growth rates instead of the relative level compared with 2007.

Topman
Topman

@ TD

‘I think our rapid reaction forces are too light and not mobile enough’

You think they should be heavier and more deployable?

The Other Chris

The question is begged, if we wish the ability to deploy (and sustain!) a Division: A Division comprising what?

Chris
Chris

TD – ref FRES thinking – as it changed so much between inception and contract, which bit of FRES thinking, as in which of the many concepts, do you align yourself to?

Phil

What’s a useful size rapid reaction force to deploy?

What sort of operation do we expect it to cope with and for how long; and thus what sort of sea / air mobility assets would we then need?

Where do we expect it to operate (a European rapid reaction force is a totally different beast from one required to deploy globally) and finally, seeing as its to be rapid, will that mean we have to practically plan that it won’t deploy as part of a coalition force and give it a wider spectrum of capabilities?

Some sticky questions I think.

Martin
Martin

I agree with TD. The basic thinking behind FRES was good and still relevant today. Infact for instances like dealing with ISIS is would be very handy indeed. What we need to do is accept than any vehicle useful enough to be transportable in numbers won’t be light enough to sustain a blast from a large IED. We need to evolve our tactics rather than the vehicle. So rapid deployment to theatre and rapid exit. Make way for heavier follow up forces. All so forget about using the vehicle to equip half the army. It’s should be bought in small numbers and used by a force that could almost be considered a special forces armoured unit. as Chris says it should be sized so we can fit 2 in an A400m. The contract should be based on the best armoured protection available that can fit into the transportation allowance which is around 15tonnes. Also something that can perhaps have additional armour bolted on later in theatre as the threat environment evolves.

Observer
Observer

Unfortunately, rapid reaction forces tend towards light infantry, not vehicles. The quantity of material (pardon me for calling men material in this case) that can be shipped in by air is very drastically changed the heavier and bulkier each unit gets.

For example, a single airplane can transport 200-300+ men in a single flight, which is a very potent though slow moving force. In comparison, the same flight can only ship in a dozen or two LSVs, which still is a potent force, though much less than a few hundred men. Then we come to MBTs. One per flight. Maybe two. While each unit is impressive in their own right, only two of them do not constitute a potent force as a whole. So we can see that as individual effectiveness increases, paradoxically, total force effectiveness actually drops.

So if you are looking for “rapid reaction” forces, focus on infantry and very light vehicles, not armour. In this case, the lighter the better.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim

Rather than “rapid reaction” forces I would prefer to see us develop a viable and effective “reaction force”. This would be similar to what the French deployed to Mali with equivalent equipment. The bulk of the French infantry are at least motorised in VABs, not the best protected AFV but a damn sight better than a 4ton truck or Landrover. Add to these VBL Recce/AT vehicles and pretty potent AFVs such as the AMX-10RC and you have an effective mobile force. They also have their version of the Parra and RM Commandos and the heavy stuff, but it is their light and medium forces that are most commonly used and usually together.

FRES(SV) will be a good light tank etc. but it will be more at home working with the heavy boys. Being tracked it lacks in theatre mobility needing transporters to travel any real distance. I am being guilty of sounding like a repeating record but the Army needs a wheeled AFV/FRES(UV) as a matter of urgency, more so than the warrior upgrade, challenger refit or even additional FRES(SV)s. Why do we still have the idea that light role infantry are still viable except in certain elite units such as the Paras. IF we had followed the French ideal, we would not have had to UOR so many MRAVs if we had bought the right platform for FRES (SV) or better still stayed in the Boxer programme.

Observer
Observer

Which comes back to Phil’s point on what do you want your force to do. COIN? Hold off an invasion? As an independent force? As part of a coalition? In what timeframe? By what means of transport?

Nick
Nick

El Sid, @SO

it seems to me that you’re both right. The UK government debt of 1.4 trillion isn’t cheap to finance even at 2 to 3 % interest rates. However, a very high proportion of the debt is 10 year + duration, which means that the UK has locked in historically low interest rates on a very large debt number, in a situation where global interest rates may well rise. The trigger for this will be US Fed driven (US interest rates returning to more normal levels will probably cause a deal of problems for some emerging economies).

So long as the UK can afford the interest cost, the debt itself will be rolled over and replaced by new debt (or not) over the next 8 to 20 years. In today’s money terms, the UK can easily fund the interest cost out of its taxation income. In addition, nothing stops the UK from printing new money to fund the interest payment or borrowing money to pay interest. The main reason why this isn’t done as it is thought to cause inflation. However, the ongoing financial crisis (from 2007) means that the risk doesn’t apply at all. In term, higher interest rates (when they return as they surely will), will also deflate the value of the loan principal in real terms.

For anyone who wants to think of Government debt as though it was a mortgage, 1.4 trillion is about 2.3 times annual government income (c600 billion pa). Again for context, the “value” of UK housing stock, which supports about 1 trillion of mortgage debt, is somewhere over 5 trillion (then add corporately held property, farm land, government owned property etc etc).

This isn’t an excuse to not sort out government borrowing (at c5 % of GDP it is on the high side), but it is relevant to the timing of doing, especially if you choose to only do the reduction by decreasing government spending.

There is no economic justification for getting into surplus in a 3 to 4 year period (in fact acting quickly creates unemployment across the economy). This is ideological. The other ideological driven assumption is that UK government spending should only be 35 % of GDP (USA levels). Since this is approximately the current overall level of national taxation, it follows that the UK government spending reduction will not create a net tax reduction for UK citizens as a whole.

Just to state the bleeding obvious, every benefit cut (family tax credits, rent aid, unemployment etc) will mean a proportion of the UK will have less money to spend (reducing the private sector economy) and every government service cut/reduced which is still needed will have to be paid by the user (private health care, unemployment insurance are obvious examples, but parents may find that they need to buy the children’s school books in the future etc). There is no free lunch here.

Chris
Chris

TD, Martin, Lord jim – thank you for those kind words. In essence I used the *original* FRES spec as a guide to my designs; hence C-130 transportable, 15t or so and producible as many versions (wheeled and tracked) with common support. I knew you’d all come round to my way of thinking eventually. Add to that better than Jackal mobility (wheeled versions), deep V-hulls (wheeled armour) greater punch than Scout/Warrior upgrade. Send money and I’ll make prototypes.

stephen duckworth

In terms of deployment of light infantry ( my definition being solider with pack and light support weapons – man portable ) should easily be air transported ( in an emergency) by UK based civilian airliners . EasyJet has 200+A320’s configured for 180 , that’s over 35,000 troops over a radius of 2500km+ . How many foot soldiers do we have ? That’s all of them near to theater ( local trucks , taxis , buses etc to dispersal point) in one lift , 24 to 48 hrs with a boot up their arse , and if not why not ? Ammunition, field hospitals in a bag etc to come by civilian air transports.

The Other Chris

Dipping into heresy for the purposes of discussion…

Would you consider Challenger 2 (and its replacement) a requirement for a rapidly deployed and then sustained Division?

Is where we will be deploying with Allies where a MBT is required and where we’re likely to deploy on our own areas where a MBT is not?

A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth

S O said: “The UK GDP and UK GDP/capita is still several per cent below the figures of 2007! A lost decade, the UK would have a approx. 15% bigger economy if it had maintained the long-term growth trajectory!”

Some of that growth between 2000 and 2008 was funded by deficit spending despite Gordon Brown saying the economy was in rude health. Had that continued the debt and deficit would be even larger than it already is and the political distortions in the economy would be enormous.

A straight comparison between then and now doesn’t tell the whole story. The process of contraction and renewed growth reshapes and redirects the economy. When the UK economy recovers to 2007 size it will not be doing quite the same things it was in 2007. Who knows, maybe the deficit spending pre-2007 was simply delaying the economy shaking out the effects of the internet, digital cameras and other technological advances.

Consider the UK armed forces. They have shrunk since the fall of the USSR and rightly so because they were focused on protecting against the USSR. Once the government gets a clear idea of what they want the armed forces to be capable of it may even begin growing again but it will have a different focus to 25 years ago.

stephen duckworth

The US have move M1 Abrams by C-17 so a C2 ( or associated ARVE ) is possible so with six C-17 available to us at any time ( fingers crossed) in theory move 12 a day over the same 2500km+ . Spare space , which is a lot , to filled with support engineers kit , spares etc. Every 5 days that’s say 48 C2 and engineer support heavy vehicles with kit or our entire 240 C2 force and support moved in 25 days . Perhaps one day they could give it a go just to see if its possible , call it Operation MTL (Move That Lard )
http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3Dq8_WsTjexSE&sa=U&ei=3zF0VfuAOYaW7Ab9r4HADQ&ved=0CBEQ9QEwAg&usg=AFQjCNGehbVGynZ_6E90B_2WLHwKCu3kNQ
With 8 C-17 we could move them in 18 days .

Martin
Martin

UK GDP has been above 2007 levels since last year
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/10889691/Britains-GDP-surpasses-pre-recession-peak.html

It’s worth noting that while current 10 year rates are around the 1.5% mark the UK tends to borrow more for 30 years. Historic debt issues were done at a higher interest rate which is why there is a discrepancy. I am all for borrowing at 1.5% and building infrastructure that will add to per capita GDP I.e power stations, roads, railway’s etc. But no doubt politicians would start to “invest” in health care. Personally investing in health care is my least favourite oxymoron. You can’t invest in something which does not pay dividends. More healthcare just means more old people to look after that costs more money.

Mark
Mark

I think the rapid reaction requirement was to deploy around 2500nm from the UK which was of the requirements requested for a400m with a 30t payload. I would of though operation desert shield would of been a gd place to start for rapid reaction requirements. Aircraft will be your most rapid heavy hitters as they can be almost anywhere in the world in 48 hrs from the UK.

mr.fred
mr.fred

monkey,
If you move heavy armour by air, how do you move their logistics support?

Nick
Nick

Martin

“You can’t invest in something which does not pay dividends”

If I had been born in the first half of the 20th Century rather than the second, I would certainly have died three times over by now (Kidney failure, Cancer x2, Brain haemorrhage) and I’m not quite 50 yet. I beg to differ on that, although I do agree that there is a point for everyone where the cost (and I don’t just mean economic) of prolonging life for a very short period of time is counter-productive.

Just to be clear, I’m not having a go at you at all; I think you are being too literal in your choice of words.

stephen duckworth

@mr.fred.
The TROJAN AVRE can be moved by C-17 ( I factored moving over the 5 days 48 C2 – 12 AVRE a ratio which could increase favouring resupply vehicles as you go past the 5 days on ) Other heavy items power packs , portable gensets , etc would still fit in the huge hold of the C-17 along with a C2/AVRE) . Other kit can arrive by civilian transports IIRC TD posted tables of most kit arriving in Camp Bastion came by civilian aircraft ( I suspect we used military birds because we had them not because they were essential to purpose !) . Tank transporters etc are not figured on the assumption the rough field the C-17’s land on is within a AAM shield , 100kms or so behind the operational area . What I propose is a very fast initial show of force to tip the balance with air assets bringing up additional military vehicles as required. My figures on the original post was 2 flights a day with 6 C-17 over 2500km and back , in ‘ theory’ with a fast turnaround that could be 3 flights per day .

S O
S O

Wherever I look, I get different statistics than those.
ONS is a cryptic mess that refuses to deliver anything of interest, but plenty others report such stats in an accessible way:

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/gdp-per-capita-ppp
(PPP to get rid of exchange rate influence, since they usually report in USD)

http://www.measuringworth.com/datasets/ukgdp/result.php
They report a lower 2014 real GDP per capita than 2007 as well.

(And NOBODY should pay attention to nominal GDP figures or GDP figures that aren’t “per capita” when it comes to judge economic development!)

“You can’t invest in something which does not pay dividends.”
Nonsense. The government produces public goods, and the return of its investments are public goods, not dividends. Don’t apply business econ on governance: It’s usually nonsense (and still very popular among conservative non-economists).

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix

@ Nick – “There is no economic justification for getting into surplus in a 3 to 4 year period (in fact acting quickly creates unemployment across the economy). This is ideological.”

There is a perfectly good justification if you believe there is a serious threat of round two of global financial chaos, only this time with all the usual monetary and fiscal levers being exhausted as they still haven’t been ‘reset’ from their last use. “Quick, drop interest rates………..oh!”

@ Nick – “The other ideological driven assumption is that UK government spending should only be 35 % of GDP (USA levels). Since this is approximately the current overall level of national taxation, it follows that the UK government spending reduction will not create a net tax reduction for UK citizens as a whole.”

If 35% is ideological then it is an ideology the public seems to share. Current plans are for about 36.5%, which is indeed close to the historic long term trend for the amount of wealth the exchequer has persuaded people to part with in taxation. How ideological!

S O
S O
Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

As soon as you move vehicles and/or aircraft you’re in a scenario where you need to move a whole raft of other things too, depending on threat. Force protection assets to protect your APOD/SPOD and logistics areas, which can range from infantry and barbed wire, to crew-served weapons and SAM. LIfe support stuff like field kitchens / DIFACs, potable water storage etc. Toolkits, support kit, publications, spares and most importantly, fuel and ammunition. All require huge volumes of regular AT – particularly if you can’t rely on having enough F34 in place – for as long as you’re deployed and all require protection / security. Not guaranteed and not cheap. Look what Bastion turned into by the end of Herrick.

These sorts of issue are what tends to limit the viability of heavier air-deployed forces. Light forces are quick to theatre, but largely immobile once there unless you can secure basing for cabs and/or lift for vehicles. Once you add the latter, you get the logs tail that goes with it.

With all these scenarios it’s about whether you can get enough force in place within (say) ten days to make a crucial difference. That tends to limit the scale – particularly at distance. If you can’t do that, you’re into either “deliberate” deployment or forward-basing. Deliberate deployment means slower – typically as it involves sea transport – but means you get to bring as many bells and whistles as your lift allows. You can also stay afloat for a considerable period if required. Usually you end up having some forcible entry capability as part of it. Forward basing is a different kettle of fish – it reduces the response time and if based around rapid sea transport still lets you bring lots of kit. It does mean you need to commit lots of expensive assets though, both in terms of capacity and geographical spread.

The Other Chris

Our GDP above 2007 with manufacturing still climbing?

Lots of ways to read figures…

stephen duckworth

@S O
The decline in output from manufacturing is depressing both me and the economy. I work for a small engineering company and we are busy but as a whole manufactureing needs a boost . In the past governments would use tax incentives , economic enterprises zones, capital projects etc to boost this. To an extent these exist but while a deficit exists there is a reluctance to extend these due to uncertainty that long term overall benefits will be the outcome. HS2 is one ( not fir ne though) , the new rail stock factory built by Hitachi in Co Durham ( much needed) CrossRail One ( much needed to ) are some proposed or on the go but small manufacturing needs incentives to not just relying on the spinoff from the big projects. A lot is proposed and even implemented to an extent but a major push not token 100m here and there for small incentives which is usually sucked up by government themselves in their admin costs , i.e. public servants .
Recently Manchester University has had a research centre completed to develop its discovery of graphene , that was five years in the building and nit a Jo of research conducted under its roof meanwhile hundreds of patents have been filed across the globe on this discovery . :-(

Nick
Nick

@Jedi

You and I have different perspectives on this :) There is no right answer whatever either of us think. Three comments:

1) The problem is, as I see it, too many politicians believe the 2008 crisis is over. In reality, until all QE type measures and effects lie in the past and the global economy has returned to normality, we remain within the crisis itself.

2) In any case, I believe we are in transition from an Industrial/Carbon based economy to something else. Whilst carbon energy sources (coal, oil and gas) will maintain a role for quite a while yet, ultimately they will be replaced in the forseeable future

3) It is somewhat irrelevant whether 36 % of GDP in tax is “right” or “wrong”. If you don’t want to buy education, healthcare, pensions on a collective basis via Government provision, then you must provide it for yourself, out of your post taxed income. This may or may not be more efficiently done by personal provision than collectively by the government. Either way it will still cost you something on top of the tax you will pay. There will still remain the question of what to do with the proportion of the population who “failed” to gain the benefits from an above average income (which will be the majority of the population). Do you wish to live in a neo-feudal society, with pensions, healthcare, education dolled out to the poorest 10 %, 15 % by charity ? I exaggerate to a degree, but I don’t think any of us would really find reverting to an 1830’s economy very likeable.

Observer
Observer

monkey, I won’t put too much hope in carbon nanotubes. I’ve been hearing about them at about the same time as “cure for cancer”, that was about 20-30 years ago. They have not gotten far with them since then and I doubt there will be any quantum leaps in development for the next few decades.

As for air shipping MBTs… don’t. Just don’t. Your calculations fail to consider that aircraft have to be sidelined for maintenance after every flight, my father did a stretch as a fire and safety for an airport and he mentioned that at the touchdown point, you get a lot of plane parts left behind. Nuts and bolts usually, but panels and blown tires happen too. Especially the wheels, those have to be changed after a few flights, the rubber literally burns off from the friction of landing. You’ll need a day or two to get the plane back into shape and to find out what dropped off. Literally.

stephen duckworth

@Observer
The bits dropping off planes is all to true , take the Air France Concorde disaster in Paris. Walking deck in line abreast is still a daily task in early morning/evening when low sun raises shadows of FOD on carriers still goes on.
At a push though air ops can be intensified with the accepted risk increase being known and accepted.
As NaB says though jet fuel supplies at the landing zone are a limiting factor. Military transports can land with a fuel surplus to allow them to takeoff to do a short hop to a suitably supplied field in a friendly nation but relying on over tasked air to air tankerage is just about ruled out as combat ops will have a much higher call on limited refueling support in theatre.

The Other Chris

Nanotube use is widespread, worth having a dig around.

Observer
Observer

I know Chris, anything “graphite” is a variation of carbon nanotubes. However the “lightweight armour” breakthrough that people keep harping about is a long, long way away if at all possible. Hell, if you recall, I keep mentioning that the most common use of “graphene” is pencil lead. Basically single sheet graphene. But you don’t see people running around in bulletproof pencil lead suits do you?

Observer
Observer

Damn Chris, now I got the phrase “2B or not 2B stuck in my head. I blame you. :)

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

Airlifting and sustaining heavy armour is a no go at the start of an operation. The fuel requirements would be staggering especially if a road to the point of need is required from the airfield, and I don’t think you well enamor yourself to the local population if you empty the filling garages on the way while they try and carry on normal life coupled with trying to make a living. Plus you will have track maintenance, parts, recovery assets and ammo etc to worry about as well which all have come with very large weight penalties. I think Trojan was airlifted in to Bastion in an Antanov but I’m not sure if it was due to the added armour pushing the weight above what the C17 could manage.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix

@ Nick – “There is no right answer whatever either of us think. ”

Indeed not. :)

@ Nick – “Do you wish to live in a neo-feudal society, with pensions, healthcare, education dolled out to the poorest 10 %, 15 % by charity?”

No, but remember that for all the grand rhetoric we are essentially talking about the difference between spending 37.5% of GDP via taxation (approximately where the US sits these days) vs. spending 42.5% of GDP (approximately where the sensible euro nations like germany lie).

It’s not the end of the world.

stephen duckworth

@DN
“fuel requirements…”
NaB mentioned the issue with jet fuel also and tank fuel would also be an issue but both can run on the same . If local stocks of jet fuel are present then that can be used, or if not the transports ( in their own fuel tanks , can haul in jet fuel to be piped off to initially supply the armour. 5000 litres could provide more than sufficient for a C2/TROJAN AVRE to motor 100km to a forward jump off point. A 5000 litre trailer behind a C2 / AVRE shouldn’t be a struggle over even rough roads . Its this kind of exercise that should be practiced IMHO. Pipe Lin layers may need to be brought in to bring additional supplies closer to the point of need from suitable sources at some point but getting this show of force and capability in place quickly will give the local commander or politico at his negotiating table a nice big stick or headache for the OPFOR.
The USAF are using a C-17 to practice the forward deployment of a brace of F-22 ( prior to F-35 being available) The C-17 lands wherever, makes the strip good enough with kit embarked to operate and maintain two FJ with the added complication of LO maintenance. Once disembarked the C-17 returns and starts again with new kit and USAF personnel for the FJ support at the same or a new location. The whole lot is onboard , from tents to toilets to towing trucks. The FJ make their own way there once set up I am think something of the same but using civilian transports to move what they can 90% and the C-17 moving the 10% (the C2/AVRE) they can’t. When A400M’s are in numbers and up to speed Warriors/SV’s the same in a couple of years but then you are using not 6 C-17 but 18 A400M’s with similar support. That can military transports can land with the same total load as what they can take off with enables them them to also truck in fuel supplies to an extent.

mr.fred
mr.fred

monkey,
So you’ve got fuel covered to an extent, what about; ammunition, food, water, spares and other consumable supplies?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

Monkey,

I will concede that airlifting a small force of heavy armour out to the borders of NATO is feasible and probably sustainable for a short period until the logistics are in place due to the nations having developed infrastructure. But what about areas of Africa and the ME where we are likely to send the reaction forces?

The Other Chris
Chris
Chris

I can admit to having a simplistic, possibly naive view of rapid reaction – I was under the impression the purpose was to get a force of some substance in the way of an aggressor’s army ASAP to slow it down and prevent its unchecked advance, while the heavier force deploys by sea in slower time? Once the heavy (well supported) force is established, it takes on concerted action according to the strategy, with the vanguard rapid reaction force redeployed to supporting tasks, lower intensity combat zones and even (fingers in your ears RT) recce? Or isn’t that how rapid reaction ought to work?

Observer
Observer

I don’t know about armour contact rate ammo usage estimation, but I do know that a single contact rate of ammo for a single rifleman is 120-180 rounds.

monkey, have you ever heard of the armour term “throwing a track”? It’s very common.

stephen duckworth

@D N
Fuel, energy , power , whatever it goes by is the biggest by large headache of military commanders today and is THE determination factor in any mechanised or out of area conflict ( i.e. not where YOU live) . Be it grass for your horses or camels or petrol for your Tigers and Panthers it makes or breaks generals , think Rommel in Libya or Hitlers drive thro the Ardennes in the Battle of the Bulge ( his plan , his fail ) . Deployment of engines of war demands deployments of fuel of war and plenty of it.
Any thoughts here on rapid drilling to shale oil, local coarse refining and distribution. Shale oil is every f**king where it seems so what about a crew that extracts and prepares a fuel modern diesel’s and turbine’s can drink quickly. Modern commercial operations are looking to supply on a global scale but what about locally? A few hundred tonnes per day ( that’s 100 thousand litres per day ) is more than sufficient for a local area (25km radius) .

stephen duckworth

@Chris
Indeed we need to learn how to throw a spanner in the works , think the Battle of France, Operation Barbarossa, the Malayan Campaign by the Imperial Japanese Army , the North Koreans pushing the US and South Koreans back into an area the size of London on the extreme SE coast of Korea or Six day war or the Yom Kippur war ….
@Chris
I am trying to get over that with only 6 of 8 C-17 what we could do if we really really tried and practiced ( ala USAF with the F-22/C-17 I mentioned) let alone with a properly offensively tooled up force deployed by C130/A400M . A force big enough and equipped enough to stop in its tracks be it foot , wheeled or tracked . As I said enough to give the OPFOR commander a headache or the politicos a big stick to wield.

stephen duckworth

@aTD one of my posts went into some form of review and has relisted as @Chris when it was @Observer
P.S. still cannot edit on a Nokia Windows phone.

Observer
Observer

monkey, just use the 16AAB, they look well equipped for the job already. No point reinventing the wheel.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

As I said earlier I can see it being feasible to NATO’s borders, where a combined effort is underway logistically with personnel, material and equipment moving by rail, road and ship while you place your heavy armour but anything out of area such as Africa with it’s limited infrastructure is going to be a non starter (unless we invest heavily into hybrid airships).

Also would it be worthwhile moving the heavy armour by air considering the % of platforms from our inventory that it will take to move in essence a very small force with a questionable deterrent value in the face of an opponent with a larger moderately equipped force.

I think our rapid reaction forces need to be fully mechanised especially given the small numbers we can deploy, but I don’t think heavy armour has a place in all but extreme cases.

Phil

Well the yanks have their Global Response Force which last I saw was made up of a BCT of the 82nd with additional 155mm howitzers, a Stryker Coy and a Mechanised Infantry Task Force of Coy size with BFVs and Abrams.

Observer
Observer

Yeah but the yanks also have aircraft dripping out of their ears and noses. They can afford the aircraft needed to ship squadrons straight to their area of interest. Not really the best of role models.

TD, think the best compromise is infantry backed by support weapons mounted on light vehicles. It keeps the weight down and the logistics burden isn’t so heavy as to be self defeating. Which, surprise, surprise, is close to the equipment list of the 16AAB.

monkey, I think the concept for shale oil is that you pump fluid into the area to force the oil out. What and where is the fluid you are pumping in coming from? And are you going to use sandy crude in your engines? You’ll need to ship in a refinery too.

Phil

That was kind of the point of me posting it. With all their airlift they’ve assigned quite a small medium weight element to their Army response force which is supposed to be capable of forced entry operations.

Rocket Banana

Let’s assume C17 and A400M can both deliver their payload (60t and 30t respectively) to 2500nm each day and then fly back.

That’s 6 x 60t + 16 x 30t = 840t each day (assuming approximately 75% in the forward fleet).

I make that the lead A2020 battlegroup delivered in three days and subsequently sustained with ease.

It will take a ship 7 days to go 2500nm at 15 knots in which time the aircraft will have delivered 5880 tonnes of equipment. This is about one half of a Point class (or two thirds if you were shipping CR2). The point of this is that three Point class and two Bay would easily triple the sustained assets in theatre… I make that the lead brigade.

I suppose if we reduced the weight of the deployed assets by a factor of around three we could deliver a lighter battlegroup in a single day. This is TD’s 10-20 tonne range which is Cougar (Ridgeback and Mastiff) if you want to stay alive.

Phil
and subsequently sustained with ease

And if a C17 is lost, damaged or grounded? And when you say with ease, what sort of mission is this battlegroup doing and where? I can’t see how you can say that without knowing those things.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

TD,

I’ve always thought that our rapid reaction forces should be based around one of the Foxhound mounted light infantry btn’s and the ATG should be fully mechanised with Vikings.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective

@DN,

Yes, we can move large numbers of infantry in a short space of time, but it would seem to me pointless to do so if that your mobility is severely limited by lack of transport, particularly if the intervention is against the sort of irregular forces that seem to be springing up all over Africa and the Middle East (and who seem to understand how to use mobility, even if all they can get their hands on are Toyota pickups and mopeds).

Nice as it would be to introduce a complete new family of wheeled vehicles to replace the CVR(T) range (an idea that has merit), we seem to have a number of vehicles currently in service in the 10-20 ton class that could be used – Foxhound, Ridgeback, Mastiff, Coyote, Panther, Warthog, Viking etc (pick the vehicle type for the mission profile). The only issue that I have is that none carry particularly heavy weapons. Perhaps the simplest and cheapest way to plug the existing gap while the FRES UV program thrashes around in its death throes would be to buy an existing armoured car design and put a larger direct-fire gun on it. I also have this idea that a Foxhound-based “technical” might just work!

Observer
Observer

Simon, I believe that the rotation is something like one day’s flight out, one day’s required maintenance for planes, so you’re actually talking about 11 days.

DN, I like ATTCs, I really do, so it is with regret that I say that the Viking/Warthog is not value for money (or in this case, lane meters) in an airmobile role. A single ATTC would take up the space for a quad stack of light strike vehicles.

Light strike vehicles are the most efficient land unit I can think of to transport by air, they can serve as your make shift indirect fire support and transport. Failing that, an Exactor modified Land Rover would do as well.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective

@Observer
I take your point about the space they take up, but it depends on the terrain you will be operating in. Warthog/Viking may be the only suitable choice (paired with CVR(T), I would guess).

Observer
Observer

Caribbean, for example? If you’re talking about bogs and marsh, even tracked vehicles get bogged down, the tracks vs wheels debate often ignores the fact that tracks are not hovercraft, they get stuck too.

If you really need heavy firepower, ship in Apaches. Those give a lot of flexibility and firepower, if you can handle the logistics. A single AN-124 can carry a payload of 5 AH-64s or trade out with a Chinook for 2 Apaches.

The 3 most suitable units for air lifting are infantry, LSVs and AH-64s. Build your force around them. And for goodness sakes do not lose air parity at least.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective

@Observer – not arguing with you about the airpower side at all – | would agree completely and even assume that we would use Apaches in the first wave, in support of the spearhead forces. I was looking at it from the point of view of the follow-up ground forces that would support the spearhead.
With respect to the Warthogs and Vikings, I was thinking more of snow and ice and good old european mud or sandy desert than of bogs and marshes – tracks just have lower ground-pressure than wheels, which makes them better when the going is less firm. In the current context, I accept that we are more likely to be deploying light forces in hard desert/ scrub bush terrain than in European theatres, but it’s not the only possibility. I would also assume that we would, in the majority of scenarios, have established air superiority prior to sending in ground forces, so I was thinking more in terms of local superiority while waiting for the air support to arrive

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