The coverage of SDSR 2015 to this point has largely focussed on equipment, whether there will be an MPA/MMA for example.
But if we are airing our opinions, this is mine.
These are the three things that I think, would make SDSR 2015 a winner.
The things that it should address, but won’t.
(1) PLEASE, CUT THE SPIN
The amount of spin, hyperbole, deceit and political posturing about defence is, frankly, getting ridiculous, it is starting to impact on the UK’s credibility and getting to the point where there is widespread cynicism about the whole thing. Plain English, spoken plainly, says that the person speaking it credits the recipient with enough intelligence to understand it. I did that buzzword bingo card as a joke, but we all know the document is going to be full of childish and unintelligible drivel masquerading as deep thought.
There needs to be a much more maturity on the subject.
If we have to cut defence because the wider deficit reduction strategy requires it, you know what, fair enough.
If we are not spending 2%, then just bloody well say so, don’t cook the books.
Every single piece of equipment is not a transformational game changer.
So my first wish is a simple one; simplicity, clarity and realism in the language used.
(2) PEOPLE NOT EQUIPMENT
The British Armed Forces have a solid reputation, a reputation based on one thing, it’s people.
SDSR 2015 must focus on recruitment, retention and morale, none of which are in a good place at the moment.
There are numerous examples where promises and reality are estranged from each other when it comes to things like terms and conditions of service, veterans welfare and medical provision. If there is a balance between new equipment and personnel, I think it is currently focussed far too heavily on equipment.
We need to get back to valuing our service personnel by deeds, not words.
Instead, I suspect, it will focus on headline-grabbing major equipment projects.
(3) LOGISTICS IS NOT A DIRTY WORD
This might sound like a stuck record but there is no point having the best kit in the world if you don’t have the people to operate it (see Item 2) and a support infrastructure that makes sure it is available at the right place and the right time.
Only today there was a PQ published that showed how may Typhoon’s, those £80 million Typhoon’s, are used as spare parts donors. This kind of thing is a direct result of not having a suitably scaled support infrastructure. In 2011, we were unable to support the expenditure of Brimstone missiles across two theatres because to be blunt, we nearly ran out. The most recent deployment exercise in Poland saw most of the Germany-based heavy armoured vehicles unfit for rapid deployment, the much vaunted Whole Fleet Management system failing at a critical point.
Just three examples among many where support and logistic arrangements are unfit for purpose, leading to a very real danger of much of the British military being a tad ‘all fur coat and no knickers’
If SDSR is to be a success, it must also focus on logistics and support.
So that is my big 3, how about you?