£2b Spending Boost in Response to Paris Attacks

They say politicians never let a good crisis go to waste;

An extra £2bn will be spent on the UK’s special forces to fight terrorism, David Cameron has said. The announcement will benefit the SAS and other elite units. The money will not go on recruitment but will fund new weapons and vehicles, including helicopters. It will also help buy protective equipment and communication systems.

None of this is a bad thing, of course, but this Government do seem to be guilty of spinning  and hyperbole more than most on Defence and Security issues, for public consumption it gives the perception that ‘something is being done’

FireShot Capture 71 - British Special Forces To Get Extra £2_ - http___news.sky.com_story_1588777_

A few thoughts…

1.

This is not additional funding, the cash will be found from within the defence budget. So every Pound spent on underwater knife fighters will be a Pound not spent on other capabilities, other capabilities that are stretched tighter than a worms belt,

2.

Defence as a Percentage of GDP will still be lower than last year, and the many years before that,

3.

Some of this spending may well go on helicopters, which is interesting; because some of the SF Lynx helicopters are due out of service in the next few years any case. Same goes for new communication equipment, as AirWave goes out of service to be replaced by the Emergency Service Network (ESN) by 2017,

4.

The £2 Billion is spread over 5 years which is £400m per year, or about 1% of the defence budget.

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Senior Moment
Senior Moment
November 17, 2015 9:17 am

Mmm, did anybody also see how extra money would be made available for the Security Services ? Big announcement from ‘Onest Dave?
What “Onest Dave didn’t say is that the Government has been doing redundancy exercises at GCHQ.
So they will probably end up recruiting people that they had made redundant.
Do I hear an echo from the Royal Navy?
That is not HMS Echo by the way.

This is what happens when George Osbourne is the effective Minister For Defence

Steve
Steve
November 17, 2015 9:33 am

Just policitical spin. We already knew that special forces would get a boost in the SDSR, so nothing new there.

No doubt the money spent on helicopters will be on upgrades/replacements that are already in the pipework.

In summary, an attempt at vote winning using smoke and mirrors.

Chris
Editor
Chris
November 17, 2015 9:54 am

Steve – a politician trying to win votes by re-announcing something already announced but with a slightly different spin? I am shocked.

As I noted yesterday in another thread, I am content the various departments and pressure groups do not assume the Treasury is a bottomless pit of free money. Spending taxpayer cash should be made difficult or it would just get frittered away on marginal value impulse-buys. But there are people in high office who should be able to detect genuine needs and call forward funds to address them. Its not easy trying to evaluate the relative urgency of the needs of health education policing benefits or defence, but 1) they took on the job so get on with it, and 2) they are generously paid to make the decisions.

If the intelligence services need more equipment and staff to keep the nation safe, spend taxes to make it happen. If the police need more officers or better lines of communication to keep the streets secure, spend taxes to make it happen. If the armed services need better ISTAR assets to feed data to the intelligence hubs, spend taxes. Sometimes not spending on things that are desperately necessary can prove horribly expensive.

Julian
Julian
November 17, 2015 9:56 am

I spotted some interesting wording in a BBC article today..

“The prime minister said rising defence budgets – guaranteed by the government’s commitment to spend 2% of GDP on the military – would mean “more money” for priorities such as unmanned drones, fighter aircraft and cyber-defences, he added.”

[ Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34839800 – 4th from last paragraph. ]

Mostly regurgitating previously known/announced stuff I’m sure but It was the specific reference to “fighter aircraft” that attracted my attention. It’s probably just a trailer for announcing some additional concrete orders towards the overall commitment to F-35B but just maybe it’s a clue that T1 Typhoon might stay in service. At the very least going on record regarding more money for fighter jets does seem to make the sometimes mentioned nightmare scenario of letting the numbers drop as low as 6 squadrons unlikely.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
November 17, 2015 10:19 am

My shopping list:

Latest comms and ISTAR assets.

Replacements for 657 Sqn Lynx AH9A’s as already mentioned. This was previously planned with some of the army’s Wildcat order being dedicated LAH replacements, but that plan seems to have vanished into the ether.

The old chestnut of replacement for C130’s in 47 Sqn with dedicated SF support aircraft, not using scarce Atlas or C17 which amount to as little as 30 aircraft.

SBS seem well resourced already within their LRIC and SDV troops with the new “stealth ” intercept craft procured under project Belle, so maybe replacement SDV’s or an expansion in this area. Anyone here know the officlal name of this boat?

CIA / SAD seem to have their own dedicated Reaper and other UAV’s, would be interesting if UKSF procured their own.

I would suggest that every additional penny spent on “underwater knife fighters” as the article rather disparagingly puts it is money well spent on one of the true gold plated assets the UK has in its special forces.
I hope the money goes on enablers mentioned rather than existing personal kit, for which UKSF is probably rather well equipped with already.

The Other Chris
November 17, 2015 10:25 am

Defence as a Percentage of GDP will still be lower than last year, and the many years before that,

How much money more/less in real terms?

On a first pass it’s still significantly more by 2020 following the revised growth, inflation and military inflation values announced last month.

If I know that by the time the 2018-2020 FY’s arrive I will likely have £Xb more to spend by virtue of growth, regardless of equivalent GDP compared to previous years, I can make plans to evaluate and order equipment now.

garethrwallace
November 17, 2015 10:47 am

All valid points. If I was being an optimist counter terrorism could justify keeping Tiffy 1 to do anti airliner hijacking to allow later Typhoons to bomb terrorland? Bring their weapons integration forward? Fund Spear 3? Meanwhile beef up Helo orders, more Wildcats or even AH6 little birds for the SAS/SBS? Or fund more discreet civilian adapted models as per previous stories? Replace C130 with new spec ops A400? Get a P1

garethrwallace
November 17, 2015 10:48 am

Get a P1 or P8 order in on the basis of its Spy abilities? Buy mini sub sheds for all the Astute class? I would say you could justify a good few billion more on Anti Terror Spec ops if you tried…

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 17, 2015 11:23 am

TD mentions ESN, and it is starting to look like needing some serious spending (you know: resilient nation and homeland security… SAS slotting in in extremis).

I was looking for TETRA (widely used elsewhere, to eliminate coverage gaps) and it was nowhere to be found, as a mention or part of the spec, except here:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/07/10/hps_pull_out_of_emergency_services_omnishambles_bid/

Martin
Martin
November 17, 2015 11:49 am

How about a medium helicopter with AAR capability for SF, could also form the basis for a CSAR capability that we are missing.

Only issue is that the A400M capability to refuel helicopters looks increasingly like it will never happen. Could the SF c130 provide helicopter AAR as well?
To be honest though it’s hard to see what SF will spend £2 billion on over 5 years, yes to updated Lynx and C130J retention but £2 billion seems a lot for this. It’s not like these guys were badly resourced before. £2 billion would cover a lot of gaps in other areas, MPA or the armies vehicle fleet.

It’s easy to over react to ISIS but the threat is very small. The real issue remains a belligerent Russia and our conventional forces are in severe need of cash to counter that.

Hohum
Hohum
November 17, 2015 12:15 pm

There has been a Spec-ops helicopter requirement floating around for years, it would be good if it finally got sorted.

Security services budget has been creeping up for years, it has grown way faster than defence, no bluff there.

We only have a week to wait but it looks like the RAF may have won its combat mass argument. ISTAR is worryingly quiet though.

Martin
Martin
November 17, 2015 12:21 pm

@ Hohum

Maybe ISTAR is quiet as they have already announced protector. P8 was suppose to be the other big announcement in the field but God knows what’s happening. That being said it could be the usual tactic of hint at the worst then when they announce a small buy of P8 we will all jump for joy before realising that the fleet is too small to do the job and we will be giving up other capabilities like sentinal.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 17, 2015 12:24 pm

RE ” ISTAR is worryingly quiet though.”

Agreed. Commonality across requirements (both systems and airframes to carry them) has not been sorted. The bill in aggregate is too big for this round and no one is willing to be exposed later for choosing ad hoc/ stop gap solutions (=wasteful spending).

Steve
Steve
November 17, 2015 12:52 pm

I think the SDSR will be interesting, but not because what is announced but how it is.

Anything they confirm will no doubt be linked to anti-terrorist fight, and we will see how they manage to acheive that with some of the more traditional equipment.

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 17, 2015 3:53 pm

Just placing existing units under the command of UKSF would increase the spending on special forces. Units would bring their budgets with them. For example, moving the reserve SAS regiments back to UKSF from the ISR brigade, or squeezing a Commando battalion into the SFSG. So I wonder if some of that two billion quid represents a bit of a organisational reshuffle.

The share of the money applied to helicopters is likely the scheduled Wildcat and Chinook deliveries, not new orders. For protective equipment, new body armour and helmets are already planned.

New vehicles might be the only real new procurement. Is there a WMIK variant of MRVP planned? Maybe we’ll see MRVP there first replacing Extenda.

stephen duckworth
November 17, 2015 4:41 pm

On a slightly different tack as the number of regular Army personel has dropped from 108k in 2010 to the projected 82k (75%) is there going to be a problem recruiting for the SAS due to the ever decreasing pool of potentiel recruits . They obviously won’t drop their standards (events this summer showed that during the qualification cycle and the resultant deaths ) . I am guess that the types who would be able to possibly pass are always attracted to the Army and thus the recruitment pool size actually dosent change.

Repulse
November 17, 2015 5:23 pm

What is the ratio of SAS vs the Army and SBS vs the RMs?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 17, 2015 5:44 pm
Reply to  Repulse

About 0.06% in terms of SAS vs Army. Roughly 2.8% for the SBS vs RM but the RM have a far greater % of the sort of candidates where SF are traditionally recruited from. If you take Infantry numbers only for the Army you get about 2.1% for the SAS vs the Army.

Opinion3
Opinion3
November 17, 2015 5:54 pm

What is a special forces helicopter? AW139M? Plus our fully spec’d Chinooks ;-)

Drones and robots are probably an area we could benefit from some extra investment for SF reasons. We also need to be able to extract and insert forces, this is something we appear to be way under-provided for compared to the US, but doesn’t seem to be mentioned as an issue.

Not sure whether it is but it surprises me if we just just keep depending on the US to hitch a ride.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 17, 2015 5:54 pm

Admiral Z did away with these myths that SAS only takes guys from the PARA bns and SBS only have RM grunts in their intake
– quoted it some where here (with the statistics)
– they have been merged anyway; it is just the SFSG that takes the units lock, stock and barrel from one service (arty obs apart, who pride themselves for being a mix)

stephen duckworth
November 17, 2015 6:04 pm

The overall numbers of SF I imagine has remained constant in the recent decade but overall Army numbers have dropped is the point I was trying to make , badly . There must be a limit to how low we can drop numbers for you sustain recruitment . I am sure we will always maintain these essential branches come hell or high water . In terms of kit for the SF I think TD is on the right path with there being little chance of any deficiency in equipment as that would be really stupid but then again………

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 17, 2015 6:11 pm
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

Not quite true. A lot of selection and training has been merged but the vast majority of SB operators still come from the RM.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 17, 2015 6:17 pm

Think you are right. If the search here worked, I could find the statistic for the fact that a disproportionate number of the intake for the SF (overall, not just for the SBS) comes from the RM.
– what would you expect Adm. Z to say? RM is Navy, afterall

Repulse
November 17, 2015 7:20 pm

Thanks – the argument that by reducing the size of the Army impacts the “pool” of SAS candidates is often made, and seems logical, but I’m wondering if it is true. Perhaps a smaller army means that you can raise the entry requirements and the “pool” remains the same, or even improves?

Repulse
November 17, 2015 7:34 pm

As an aside, there was a Journo in today’s Daily Flail, saying that the UK Police was completely under armed and could not react in the way that the French Police force did on Friday.

Having lived in the US, I quite like the fact that the UK “Bobby on the street” is not carrying a gun, as I think it descalates crime, but it does make me wonder does the Police vs Army split work in “peace time”? Should we be investing in a UK style “Gendarmerie” rather than keeping the Army larger than it needs to be for direct UK national defence from foreign powers or Global commitments? Perhaps scale back the Army Reserves plan to pay for it?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 17, 2015 7:57 pm
Reply to  Repulse

We have a different approach. Lots of armed French Police on the streets of Paris but what did 99% of them do? The Daily Mail is long on rhetoric generally very short on facts

For starters we would have the on call SF CT troop who would have dealt with the entry to the theatre. SCO19 would have fully stood up as per contingency planning and fire arms units would activate.
Further support would come from the MOD Police with their security role at establishments back filled by uniformed personnel.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 17, 2015 8:46 pm

RE “The Daily Mail is long on rhetoric generally very short on facts”

The first thing google returned on the increase of SAS numbers was that same source saying that they would go up from 500 to 2000… so that Saddam’s Scuds could all be hunted down.

SAS CT troop = 16… is that all?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 17, 2015 9:04 pm
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

No, there is an entire squadron on standby to deal with a terrorist incident in the UK but you can only hold so many of them at R0.

Steve
Steve
November 17, 2015 9:52 pm

I don’t think armed police numbers is a problem. I was working pretty close to the area of the London bombings and there seemed to be thousands of armed police on the streets, within a very short period.

ChrisM
ChrisM
November 17, 2015 10:35 pm

Out here in Surrey you see the armed response vehicles go by at least every other day, there are quite a few knocking about the Home Counties.
If anything happens in London the emergency service all ripple in starting a long way out.

Martin
Martin
November 18, 2015 3:10 am

The daily fail also misses the point that the UK’s average jihadi is armed with kitchen knifes and hair bleach rather than C4 and AK47’s.

Our police are perfectly able to deal with such people. No need for a paramilitary force here.

Increasing SAS numbers could be the answer to where the money is going. One area I think we could use more capability is a green beret style unit focused on training and fighting along side local forces. Still keep it inside the SAS though.

Martin
Martin
November 18, 2015 4:50 am

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/budget/2015/11/17/uk-hike-spending-cyber-intel-spec-ops/75928358/

Hints that up to 6 C130 J could be retained for SF. I wonder does this make the SC130 more of a contender if we are already operating the aircraft.

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 18, 2015 9:10 am

Stephen and Repulse, having been in the Army during a period of substantial cuts to the number of soldiers, my view is that the Military still recruits from a broad cross-section of society.

I think it’s wrong to expect that if we cut twenty percent of the Army, we’ll be left with the top eighty percent of potential recruits.

Near-continuous downsizing since the end of the Cold War has caused problems with recruiting. The public and potential recruits see news reports about manpower cuts and conclude that a military career is not a secure or worthwhile one. Smaller forces also mean less social and family associations, so the military is not seen as such a natural career choice. Society’ss best and brightest are affected by these factors too; so the Army could get a whole lot smaller, and yet would not find itself left with only the cream of British youth to choose from.

General cuts must surely affect special forces recruitment. Whether the Army is 50,000 or 100,000 people, I expect that 80% would always be average soldiers.

Greater civilianisation of support branches might also deprive special forces of potential recruits with specialist technical skill sets. Most SAS candidates will come from an infantry background, but lots of corpsmen have been through that too. Soldering gets evermore technical, and the special forces on the ground will find themselves operating and relying on more and more gadgets; but many of the posts for the Army’s more technically competent and academically minded soldiers have over the last few decades moved to civilian contractors.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 18, 2015 9:21 am

Defencenews interview sheds light on what evoking the Lisbon Treaty equivalent to the Nato Cl. 5 means. Wonder which UK assets would become relevant in providing the assistance (and do we have enough as of now)?
“Brussels would not be involved in any military assistance itself as it does not have a military force of its own, Mogherini said.

But it could offer support in coordinating requests for help by France, which in addition to its strikes on Syria is also involved in fighting jihadists in Mali and in keeping the peace in Central African Republic.

France’s Le Drian said the EU’s support was a “political act of great significance”.

He said it would “allow us in the hours to come to have bilateral talks where necessary” with other EU states to establish what aid France needed.

This aid could either be in support of France’s Syria airstrikes but also in other theaters, he said, adding that France “can’t be everywhere at the same time.”[“]

stephen duckworth
November 18, 2015 9:52 am

If clause 5 of the Washington Treaty is applicable after the Paris attacks with regards to the self declared Islamic State then how much will the closest NATO member contribute ,Turkey , or will it continue to use its use of support as a political tool to use as leverage against Europe? The Turkish forces on their own should be capable of wiping IS from the map of Syria and Iraq let alone with Syrian and Iraqi troops help but will they? I think not myself as they struggle with internal antigov dissent not only from the Kurds but more hard-line domestic Muslims.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 18, 2015 9:58 am

Turkey maje a major contribution to the ops in Libya. There is a lot of didain for their apparent NATO contributions but they are wildly off the mark.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
November 18, 2015 10:08 am
Reply to  Martin

Martin

I understand the reserve elements, 21 SAS (R) and 23 SAS (R) carried out that role, a sort of hearts and minds in working with local militia, for example when the 3 reservists where blown up in their vehicle by an IED in Helmand.

I would not like to see numbers increase if it means lowering standards.

Martin
Martin
November 18, 2015 2:12 pm

@ DM

Seems like too important a role to just leave to reservists.

Perhaps a new unit would be best.

Opinion3
Opinion3
November 18, 2015 7:01 pm


“Seems like too important a role to just leave to reservists.”
Maybe this is the way to get/keep the brightest and best. They usually have the most options

a
a
November 19, 2015 1:48 pm

Mentoring and training local forces doesn’t seem like a good fit for the reserves because it’s the sort of thing you will want to do for years at a time – surely reserve capabilities should be the kind of thing that you don’t need most of the time but can surge for a war (the obvious example being field hospitals).

McZ
McZ
November 19, 2015 9:33 pm

“This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier, who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree”

Field Marshal William Joseph Slim, 1st Viscount Slim

Really, this special ops cult is nothing more than a means for our dearest politicians to show resolve with no risk.

@Stephen duckworth
“The Turkish forces on their own should be capable of wiping IS from the map”

Turkey was actually supporting IS during most of 2015. Erdogan is playing his own game of subimperialism.

Peter Elliott
November 19, 2015 11:18 pm

Yes I am deeply suspicious of what the Turks are up to tbh

Slim was right about the Chindits but I think there is a place for SF in modern warfare so long as they are subordinated to the overall mission. As Forward Air Controllers in hostile surrroundings for instance they seem to have a lot to offer when combined with local forces.

I am reminded of George McDonnell Fraser’s description of the officer he niknamed “Captain Grief” in Burma in 1945. Slim’s 14th Army was made much more effective by the existance of such officers and such formations…

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 21, 2015 3:02 pm

Field Marshal Slim was talking about special forces in a different era.

The special forces of his day did not have the technological support to allow small units to become effective force multipliers, or to achieve much while operating at a small scale. Special forces in the second world war were becoming major combat units themselves, and risked sucking the best blood out of the rest of the army (also, in the imperial era, there wasn’t the same consideration given to low-key light footprint operations that exists today).

What Slim was warning about was a trend towards raising battalion after battalion of commandos for singular purposes, excessively sapping the strength of the rest of the army in the process. Creating moderately better ‘special forces’ infantry battalions could upset the balance of skills, experience, and competency across many more ‘standard’ infantry battalions.

Slim’s concerns placed into a modern context would be like the UK deciding to send an infantry brigade to Syria; but rather than collecting four standing battalions, the Army cherry picks officers and men from across the twenty-odd infantry battalions to create a ‘special forces’ brigade for Syria.

What Slim’s ghost says is that any four of the Army’s infantry battalions should, with the appropriate preparation and support, be able to carry out that task – and any four other infantry battalions should be able to replace them in due course.

Every battalion has soldiers across the range of skill and experience levels. Removing soldiers that are by some measure the best, just to create those four battalions for Syria, would hobble the other twenty-odd battalions. You don’t only lose the most experienced soldiers in one step; the inexperienced green troops entering those battalions are now slower to gain necessary skills. You don’t only lose the fittest soldiers in one step; those were soldiers spurring on and raising the standard of the troops left behind. The morale of skilled and competent troops left behind in the standard battalions is also hit, as they feel they’ve been rejected or written off.

Having degraded the wider army in order to create that special Syrian brigade, Slim warned that you would now be over reliant on that one brigade. The special brigade you created would begin as a moderately better infantry brigade, but could not be committed indefinitely, and would degrade the longer it stayed in Syria; however, the mass of the rest of the Army would have become less able to replace it.

This is the manner in which Slim criticises special forces. The ‘special forces’ label was not necessarily applied in the way that the term is used today in relation to UKSF; but could be applied to essentially normal infantry units raised for a specific purpose, as in my Syria example.

stephen duckworth
November 21, 2015 8:29 pm
Reply to  McZ


On the Turkish involuntary/ voluntary support of IS I couldn’t agree more . Such barbarism on their very doorstep and throwing obstacle after obstacle in front of those trying to stop it be it refusal to allow overflights or basing for offensive actions to a complete lack of using any military force. They saw IS as one more tool to destroy the Kurds and the Assad regime . Allowing systematic slavery, mass torture and child abuse on a grand scale on your doorstep to gain political leverage speaks volumes of Erdogans morals and beliefs.