THE GOVERNMENT’S ‘INTEGRATED REVIEW’, COMMAND PAPER AND INDUSTRY STRATEGY
DEFENCE SPENDING SETTLEMENT
We welcome the Defence Secretary's announcement of an additional £4bn per annum for the Defence budget for the next 4 years. Any increase in funding for Defence is clearly a move in the right direction and we congratulate Ben Wallace and his ministerial team on securing this budget boost from HM Treasury at this time. It will be unfortunate, however, if all of this extra investment is soaked up by the new Space Command and by the needs of Cyberwarfare, as there are still serious conventional capability gaps across our Armed Forces, the result of decades of under-resourcing as well as poor procurement decisions. If the United Kingdom is to be a Tier One nation with full-spectrum defence capabilities - the 'Global Britain' that the Prime Minister talks about - then we need to rebuild our currently depleted and underfunded Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. This will require more than the £4bn boost that Mr Wallace has announced today."
Andrew Smith, Director, Defence UK
19th November 2020
CUTS IN SPENDING FOR RESERVE FORCES
It appears that the Ministry of Defence has little regard for morale in the Armed Services, nor of keeping the defence of the realm as the first priority of government.
It is reported that drill nights, training weekends and two-week training activities for the 2,700 naval reservists will be “paused”, although they will remain at “high readiness if needed”. Perhaps somebody could explain how pausing training will guarantee that this level of “high readiness” will be maintained.
The 150 naval reservists currently mobilised, as well as the 300 on the full-time reserve service, will be expected to continue as normal. We hope that they feel appreciated, especially those involved in helping the NHS with the Covid emergency.
The number of Army Reserves training days will also be scaled back from 38 to 32 in an effort that is thought will save £11 million.
Defence UK Patron and former First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord West, called the suspension of naval reservists “shortsighted” and questioned why cuts were needed after having had “such good news about an increase. It’s a bad message for the reservists, it sort of says ‘you’re not that important’,” Lord West said. “The reserves are important to us and one wants to make sure we keep them on side.”
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Defence Select Committee, agreed that the measures were “shortsighted”. He said: “This is very sad news following the welcome announcement of increased defence spending. Securing savings by diminishing the reservist contribution will not just impact on overall operational capability and national resilience but do little to encourage potential recruits to sign up to the reserves.”
An MOD source said that they had difficult and necessary decisions to make to address the financial position, and will not shy away from the responsibility they have to the taxpayer. Perhaps they should remember that their first responsibility to the taxpayer is to keep them safe, and reducing service morale is unlikely to help achieve that.
DEFENCE UK'S SUBMISSION TO THE INTEGRATED REVIEW OF SECURITY, DEFENCE, DEVELOPMENT AND FOREIGN POLICY
READ SUBMISSION HERE
OPEN LETTER FROM DEFENCE UK AND DEFENCE SYNERGIA.
It is essential that the political classes, not just in Britain but across the West generally, realise that the balance of power is shifting worldwide. We do not live in the same world today as we did 20 years ago. At that time the United States Navy was as powerful as the next ten navies combined. Today the Chinese Navy is numerically larger, and China’s ambition is to supplant the US as the world’s predominant political, economic and military power. In 2003 the US and her allies were able to invade Iraq, following a long, uncontested, logistical deployment as if we were untouchable. Now the United Kingdom is within range of a myriad of Russian cruise and hypersonic missiles that could do to the UK what the US did, 20 years ago, to Iraq. The Indian Navy is equipped with an anti-ship missile better than anything the Royal Navy has. The air force of the United Arab Emirates has almost as many fast jets as the Royal Air Force. It is not only China and Russia that have grown stronger relative to the West, but numerous other countries have expanded their armed forces and the UK has, relatively speaking, diminished.
FULL LETTER HERE
WHAT'S ROUND GOES AROUND - PRODUCING TURNOVER
A GOOD TIME TO INVEST IN THE UK DEFENCE INDUSTRY
The publicised cost of defence contracts bears little resemblance to the final expenditure, which ends up being much less. This article 'What's Round Goes Around', soon to be included in the Defence UK Journal 'Pro Patria', explains why. Culling evidence from various sources, the article lays out how returns to the treasury pull back at least one third of the cost in the initial tax take, more from secondary taxation, and yet more from the commercial activity that those contracts stimulate. The article further explains how such contracts produce turnover, the life blood of an economy.
READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
RECENT COMMENT BY THE DEFENCE SECRETARY
Recent comments by the Defence Secretary to the BBC can at best be seen as worrying. Even before the deadline for evidence to the Integrated Review, he is talking about potential cuts to the armed forces.
He admitted the government review would mean "letting go" of some military equipment to invest in cyber, space and other new technologies. This is a new potential area of warfare which it cannot possibly be assumed lessens the risk from existing threats. So it must be funded with extra expenditure. To transfer funds from existing equipment would be short sighted in the extreme.
He also indicated that any cuts would not be as dramatic as some have reported. Cuts in the defence budget have gone too far already. All three of our armed services suffer from equipment shortages. As the world continues to become more dangerous, now is not the time to be contemplating any cuts whatsoever in the defence budget.
THE FACE OF BRITISH FOREIGN AID: A JUSTIFICATION FOR DEDICATED DISASTER RELIEF SHIPS
On 6th February 1975, Hurricane Gervaise swept over the island of Mauritius, causing widespread destruction, killing ten of the inhabitants, injuring many more and making thousands homeless. Two days later, on 8th February, the American fleet support ship USS Camden arrived and immediately sent teams ashore to help recover the situation. Two days after that the French aircraft carrier Clemenceau arrived and offered help followed the day after, on 11th February, by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, which took control of the disaster relief operation from the Camden.
As the 1st mate aboard a British cargo ship, I visited the island a few months later and spoke to several of the locals about the effects of the hurricane and the efforts required to put things right. They regaled me with the way the Americans had come in with their combat helicopters, re-installed the toppled communication masts, distributed food, fresh water and other aid around the island and how teams of American sailors came ashore to help with medical aid and the reconstruction effort to house the displaced. Even the French had offered a hand. Then with a curl of the lip they described how, several weeks after the event, a lone British frigate had turned up and asked if they could be of any assistance! I still remember that my feeling at the time was one of shame.
Defence UK Director, Fred Dupuy, was the young Merchant Navy Officer concerned. Click on the button for the rest of the article which includes proposals for the answer to this issue.
DEDICATED DISASTER RELIEF SHIPS
PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE TACKLES THE DEFENCE EQUIPMENT PLAN
Not as many sparks as the HoC Defence Select Committee on 12th May (chaired by Tobias Elwood), but the 2 hour Public Accounts Committee on 28th May does raise some key Defence Capability questions and accusations, linking the expenditure on the Defence Equipment Plan with Defence capabilities on the back on a couple of critical NAO reports - which concluded the Equipment Plan is unaffordable, with capabilities entering service months or even years late. From the off the Chair goes for the jugular. The proceedings unashamedly tackles the acknowledged fact the Defence budget is out of balance, that a drip fed funding of the military (from the Treasury) is not sustainable and the military warnings that it may have to cut kit and training to stay in budget. What's more it's a stellar cast of witnesses: Sir Stephen Lovegrove, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence; Charlie Pate, Director General Finance, Ministry of Defence; Sir Simon Bollom, Chief Executive, Defence Equipment and Support, Ministry of Defence; Air Marshal Richard Knighton CB, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Financial and Military Capability), Ministry of Defence; Air Commodore David Bradshaw, Assistant Chief of Staff Capability Delivery Combat Air, Ministry of Defence.
The House of Commons Defence Select Committee proceedings on Tuesday 12th May is a 2 hour must watch/listen, echoing the many critical thoughts of Defence UK on the MOD and Government. Chaired by Tobias Ellwood, its subject "Defence industrial policy, procurement and prosperity" masked what turned out to be a rich and strikingly frank exposition of MOD challenges and issues. Importantly with no MOD representatives, attendees during the first session focused on the state of the UK’s defence industrial strategy; major issues related to the MOD’s procurement processes; the absence of a UK land strategy; and the importance of the UK’s defence sovereignty. In particular, both Lieutenant General (Retired) Sir Mark Poffley (Former Deputy Chief of Defence Staff - Military Capability 2016-2018, Ministry of Defence) and Francis Tusa (defence journalist) pull no punches and offer some hard but welcome evidence and advice. This was then followed by a second session with Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, concerning the UK’s defence prosperity.
Link to the proceeding is here:
LET US NOT FORGET THE ROLE OF THE ARMED FORCES IN THE CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY
How many people know that within all levels of local government there exists, an emergency reaction department (a relic of the former civil defence organisation)? Part of their contingency planning is to identify possible refuge centres and, to this end, village halls, schools, sports centres and other public venues have been identified and in some cases slightly modified to act as emergency accommodation. Centres such as the London Excel and Birmingham NEC, with their labyrinth of flexible under floor electrical connections, water supplies, toilets, kitchens and good access for ambulances and other vehicles, will not have avoided attention. Thus, working to NHS requirements, the Army, with the local authorities and the people who normally re-arrange these centres for exhibitions, have been able to quickly set them up so that the screened compartments are for patients, not exhibitors.
THE INTEGRATED REVIEW OF SECURITY, DEFENCE, DEVELOPMENT AND FOREIGN POLICY
After years of underfunding Defence, this Review offers a golden opportunity for Britain to press the re-set button and ensure that the Defence of the Realm returns to its central position in public policy and spending commitments.
This review comes at a time of enormous financial upheaval and calls on the public purse caused by the Corona Virus, but it is at times like this that we have to reiterate the fundamental truth that without defence and security we have nothing. They must remain the first duty of the government come what may, something which the Prime Minister confirmed during the recent election campaign.
READ OUR INITIAL SUBMISSION HERE
THE UTILITY OF THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER
It is unfortunate that the term Strike Carrier is now being used to describe vessels that were previously called Fleet Carriers. As a part of a balanced fleet they are so much more than a strike machine. They are a convenient airfield that, when required, can be used to support Britain's new Strike Brigades when they are deployed to foreign parts while at the same time providing a safe haven to which those forces can be evacuated, should the need arise. They are also an important step in the ladder of deterrence, which climbs from the man with a rifle, through the various military capabilities to the Trident submarine hiding somewhere in the ocean depths. They are an item that says, yes, you might be able to hurt us but we can also reach out, in various ways, and touch you, so beware. On the other hand, if you have a problem, with these two mobile airfields, we may be able to help. They are extremely useful vessels. By deploying these vessels, that most other countries cannot or will not, we may be seen as being pretentious, but if this nation cannot commission and operate just two aircraft carriers and a few dozen jet aircraft, what is her real worth as an ally? Is she worth anything?
Please read the whole of this first rate article in defence of the new aircraft carriers by Defence UK Director, Fred Dupuy.
24th March 2020
FULL ARTICLE HERE
THE GOVERNMENT'S INTEGRATED DEFENCE, SECURITY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS REVIEW 2020
Former First Sea Lord and Defence UK Patron, Lord West of Spithead, has voiced concerns a major defence review that will decide the future shape of the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force is being rushed.
Last month, Prime Minister revealed the full remit of the 'Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy which the Government says will "re-examine the UK’s priorities and objectives and define Britain’s place in the world.”
Lord West has demanded answers from Defence Minister Baroness Goldie in the House of Lords’ and asked if the Chiefs of Staff Committee will be part of the team delivering the review.
In response, the Baroness said the "review will be led by the Prime Minister" and "will involve numerous stakeholders, including the Chief of the Defence Staff and Service Chiefs".
However, she also revealed that much of the work "to produce evidence for the review regarding the defence perspective in the UK has already been done," and defended the role that Special Advisors known as 'spads' - will play in the process.
12th March 2020
Read more here: https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/royal-navy-lords-concern-defence-3930418
TIME TO INVEST IN DEFENCE
After years of underfunding Defence, the Government's integrated Defence, Security & Foreign Affairs Review 2020 offers a golden opportunity for Britain to press the re-set button and ensure that the Defence of the Realm returns to its central position in public policy and spending commitments.
It should be clear to everyone now that we have, as a nation, neglected our Armed Forces and accordingly have lost much of our global influence as well as our capacity to provide effective security for the UK homeland, our trade and energy supply routes and our wouldwide economic interests. The current Review is vital in reshaping our Defence policy and rebuilding our military capabilities; it can enable us to move our Armed Forces back to the top of the list of budget priorities.
However, it is worrying that indications are coming from within the Government that appear to suggest the primary goal of the Review is to overhaul the Ministry of Defence and to restructure the Civil Service at the MOD. If this is indeed the case then the Government are barking up the wrong tree. The weakness of UK Defence is down to years of funding cuts by HM Treasury which have squeezed our Forces and removed essential military capabilities.
We call on the Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary to give a firm assurance that the Review will lead to an increase in funding for Britain's Armed Forces, not further cuts or pointless and counterproductive tinkering with MOD administration.
Chairman, on behalf of the Board of Directors of Defence UK
24th February 2020
MESSAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT
Defence UK welcomes the news that Ben Wallace, has retained his position as Defence Secretary. We also welcome Tobias Ellwood as the Chair of the Select Defence Committee.
We hope that the government will bear the following points in mind while actively working to increase our armed forces to the required level.
“The security of our nation comes first” - Conservative manifesto.
Our defence capability must prepare for the unpredictable. (“The only thing that is predictable in warfare is its unpredictability.” - Leading historian, Dr Andrew Roberts)
The UK is arguably the third most powerful and influential country in the world.
We need the hard power to back up our soft power. This includes nuclear weapons; a globally deployable military capability, world-class intelligence services, and membership of military alliances.
The immense growth in threats from cyber attack in our increasingly digitised world must be confronted, but as an addition to our capability, not instead of it.
We are responsible for 14 overseas territories. We still run global shipping from London and we are the biggest European investor in south Asia, south-east Asia and the Pacific Rim, with consequent benefits to our balance of trade. We therefore need a maritime and global strategy.
There have been poor procurement decisions resulting in financial waste. The reason for this must be investigated but reducing capability to pay for past errors is sheer folly when it affects the nation’s security.
We can no longer continue cutting defence spending while hoping that we, and the world, will stay safe.
13th February 2020
DEFENCE UK PATRON, LORD WEST, COMMENTS ON THE LATEST WORLD CRISIS
The crisis that blew up last weekend shows what a vital role Britain has in global security. No nation is better placed to work to keep the conflict from spiralling out of control.
Our leading politicians recite the rubric that their greatest responsibility is the defence and security of the nation and its people worldwide. Their actions belie this: they seem to imagine that future wars will be fought solely in cyberspace and that there's no need for military equipment.
That is dangerous nonsense. Those, like me, who have warned of chronic underfunding have been told time and again that we were wrong. The reality is that, when our Armed Forces are suddenly needed, they will lack the equipment and the manpower to keep us safe.
We saw this vividly last year when Iran took hostile action in the Straits of Hormuz, attacking an oil tanker flying the British ensign. Because of the nature of international shipping, there were no British sailors among that crew – rather to the surprise of the Iranians, I think. If any of our nationals had been unlucky enough to be captured, I am sure they would still be held as hostages today.
Rather late, two Navy ships are now being deployed to the Persian Gulf: the Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose and the Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender.
That force is insufficient. My assessment is that we need at least six ships constantly on patrol in the Straits to avert another attack."
From article in the Daily Mail 8th January 2020
AS WE ENTER 2020
Five years ago Defence UK Vice President, Professor Andrew Roberts, gave a lecture entitled: “Why Our Wars Are Never the Ones We Think They’re Going to Be”. His words are as relevant today as then. The government has announced that a wide ranging review of defence and global policy will take place during 2020. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past. The defence budget cannot be treated as an area which can be cut to subsidise other government spending. Nor can we afford to reduce capability in one area simply to fund other areas which are considered to counter more likely threats.
Those conducting the review would do well to heed Professor Roberts when he said: “The only thing that is predictable in warfare is its unpredictability. As soon as experts, general staffs and politicians decide what they believe will be the nature of the next war in order to prepare for it properly, an entirely different kind of conflict develops. The witness of history is so uniform in this regard that it needs to become a general law of warfare: The war we expect and plan for is almost never the one we’re called upon to fight.'
For all we know today, drones and satellites and cyber might be the Zeppelins or crossbows of the future, wildly overstated as war-winning weapons.”
Wise words from our pre-eminent historian.
4th January 2020
MESSAGE TO THE PRIME MINISTER
Congratulations on your election victory. The list of things you are mandated to do is long, but Defence UK urges you not to forget what you said in your manifesto: “The security of our nation comes first.”
You also said that: “ We will continue to exceed the NATO target of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence and increase the budget by at least 0.5 per cent above inflation every year of the new Parliament.” Defence UK considers that 2% is much too low to maintain our Armed Forces to the required level, let alone make up for the capability lost after recent cuts. The Defence Select Committee suggested 3% as a minimum. We must spend what is needed to ensure that “The security of our nation comes first”.
In any event, more resources will be needed if these other manifesto pledges are to be satisfied:
“We will modernise the equipment and improve the capability of our world-class Armed Forces and intelligence agencies.
We will invest in training and equipping our Armed Forces, and constantly champion their exemplary contribution to our security and our country.
We will maintain our Trident nuclear deterrent, which guarantees our security.
We will adapt to new threats, investing more in cybersecurity and setting up the UK’s first Space Command.
We will stand against terrorism and extremism around the world.
We will support the UK’s world- class defence industry by investing in ambitious global programmes, including building the new Type 31 frigates in British shipyards such as Rosyth and a new generation of armoured vehicles, made in Britain.”
A worthy list Prime Minister. The security of the nation deserves nothing less than prompt action to achieve the aims expressed.
16th December 2019
ROYAL UNITED SERVICES INSTITUTE REPORT
RUSI has done us done us a favour in exposing the alarming fact that the UK's (and therefore Nato's) military assets and capabilities have been damaged by under-resourcing. They conclude that British ground forces would be "comprehensively outgunned" in a conflict with Russia in Eastern Europe.
27th November 2019
HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH CARRIER STRIKE GROUP
In 2021, HMS Queen Elizabeth will deploy with two Type 45 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, a nuclear submarine, a Tide-class tanker and RFA Fort Victoria. This employs four out of the 17 escorts available, so highlights once more the lack of sufficient ships for the Royal Navy to fulfil its obligations. The projected new ships are, of course, welcome but they are being built too slowly and in insufficient numbers.
PRESS STATEMENT - ALARM OVER DEFENCE CUTS
Defence UK has expressed grave concern about Armed Forces numbers following press reports of planned cuts and speculation in the media that the British Army, already its smallest in 200 years, could be squeezed even further to just 60,000 personnel.
Defence UK Director Andy Smith said: "If these leaks from the MOD are accurate, it is alarming that anyone in government is even remotely contemplating further reductions in the size of the Army. In an increasingly dangerous world situation, in which our security is directly threatened by a variety of rogue states, terrorist networks, and piracy on the high seas, it is vital that we boost all three of our Armed Services.
Cutting back on either the Royal Navy, the British Army or the Royal Air Force at this time would be the height of folly. Numbers are important and at present our Forces are all chronically undermanned and under-resourced. The absolute focus of the MOD at this time should be on recruiting, training and retaining people in our Armed Forces, not on finding areas of the defence budget to trim.
"QUOTES FROM DEFENCE SECRETARY'S SPEECH TO THE NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY:"
Last month our spending review granted my department an extra £2.3bn. This takes us to an overall budget of £41.23bn and the leading spenders in Europe."
"We believe, in the United Kingdom, that our nuclear deterrent is for all your defence. It is why we believe it is important to contribute over 2% of GDP on defence spending and it is why we intend to continue to seek to support and strengthen this alliance and its membership."
He did say "Over 2%", but it is too low and bears little relevance to the amount needed to maintain Britain's Armed Forces at the required level.
RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION ARE AT CRISIS POINT
Defence UK is concerned about the state of armed forces recruitment and encourages the government to investigate, and take action, as a matter of urgency.
Personnel numbers in all three services are below the targets set in the 2010 Defence Review, which were themselves too low to sustain the required level of defence.
Some suggested reasons for this include:
- The competence of the private firm running the recruitment process.
- Some elements of pay and conditions are below par.
- The military’s own outdated rules and regulations for civilians joining the armed forces, which leads to the protracted time it take for someone to join
- Lack of defence related matters in the public arena so that young people do not generally have an affinity to serve Queen and Country.
- Too much emphasis is placed on the dangers of service.
- It is even suggested that some senior officers are leaving early due to the pension restrictions affecting higher earners.
- We know that the military has seen historic cuts in numbers, job satisfaction has fallen and benefits have been slashed.
- We also know that recruitment within the services was 24% less than target in 2016-17. In addition, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has spent £664 million on recruitment in the past five years.
FULL STATEMENT HERE
INTRODUCING "DEFENCE UK
Defence UK was formed in 2007 as the United Kingdom National Defence Association (UKNDA) to make the case for increased investment in defence, at a time when the UK’s armed forces – then engaged in two major conflicts – were chronically underfunded and overstretched. Led by founder-CEO Cdr John Muxworthy RN, a veteran of the 1982 Falklands conflict, and founder-President Winston S. Churchill, grandson of Britain’s great wartime leader, the UKNDA set about building a nationwide association to provide an effective and independent voice for the nation’s military, veterans and the wider defence community. By holding conferences and public events, publishing a series of reports and commentaries, lobbying MPs, writing articles and broadcasting, the UKNDA has kept up a constant pressure on those in power, opposing defence cuts and highlighting threats to national security.
Now, in 2019, the UK’s forces are no longer committed to extended military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, but there are still numerous threats to national and international security, from a range of terrorist networks and rogue states, leaving our borders, shipping, energy supply and trade routes all at risk. Despite this, there are glaring holes in our nation’s military capabilities, and our armed services are seriously depleted by ill-conceived cuts to the defence budget, leaving the UK increasingly vulnerable in a dangerous world. Defence funding has been a victim of political short-termism and the austerity agenda. There is an urgent need to bring renewed pressure to bear on the UK government and parliament, to significantly boost resourcing for the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. In particular, we argue for an increase in the defence budget to at least 3% of UK GDP.
Our association, under its new name Defence UK, will continue to campaign vigorously on behalf of Britain’s armed forces, providing serving and retired military personnel with an effective voice for strong national defence.
IS INTERNATIONAL DEFENCE CO-OPERATION BEING HINDERED BY BUREAUCRACY?
The situation in the Gulf has highlighted the problems in persuading nations to work together for the common good.
An international maritime task force is needed to guarantee freedom of navigation in International Waters (‘The Commons of the High Sea) and Straits. In regard to the Strait of Hormuz which lies between Iran and Oman, and, as things stand, only the USN and RN are able to deploy warships with any speed and in significant force, and the RN is severely hampered by the lack of escort ships in the fleet.
EU member states, most of whom are our NATO allies, appear constrained by the EU Commission’s foreign policy aims of avoiding an upset with Iran with regard to the nuclear treaty. It is not in the Commission’s interest to come to a quick decision.
Furthermore EU navies, other than the French, have insufficient ships to commit to maritime forces in the Gulf, Hormuz Strait and Gulf of Oman, given their involvement in the two NATO standing task groups (SNMGs) and EUNavfor, the standing anti-piracy task force, Operation Atlanta, off Somalia.
As Iran appears willing to risk asserting illegal control of access and egress from the Gulf and break the International Law of the Sea (or The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS ) it becomes an issue that could be raised with the UN Security Council. But until raised by Security Council members there is unlikely to be any intervention in that forum and in that event Russia would be likely to veto any use of force. The rules regarding the transit of Straits used for International Navigation: https://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/part3.htm.
It is worth noting that Chinese (PLAN) and Russian Warships have recently passed through the Straits of Dover under these regulations. The straits are the busiest waterway in the world.
Iran and Russia have agreed very recently to hold naval ‘drills’ in the Gulf, including the Strait of Hormuz, as a show of force. Russia is of course, stirring the pot. However this appears an arrangement between the Iranian Navy and Russia, not the independent Republican Guard who seem to operate without political and military command and control.
It’s no wonder that nations like Iran feel able to do more or less what they like with the expectation that they will get away with it.
8th August 2019
STATEMENT ON THE SITUATION IN THE GULF
The unfolding situation in the Gulf is a cause for grave concern. The British response to the Iranian regime's illegal actions requires a combination of diplomatic skills and military power. Let us hope the Government is up to the task. The very fact that the Iranians have felt able to challenge Britain in this way highlights our country's current lack of military and especially naval strength after years of ill-conceived defence cuts.
I'm afraid this really is a case of the chickens coming home to roost for the British government. UKNDA has consistently warned that something like this could happen and that our ability to deter such acts of aggression was being reduced by cuts to the Royal Navy, the Army and the RAF. What we need now, and urgently, is a concerted effort to rebuild Britain's military capabilities and global reach, so that rogue states like Iran will know in future that they cannot mess with us any more.
Chief Executive Officer, UK National Defence Association (www.uknda.org)
22nd July 2019
NEW CONSERVATIVE LEADER
"Both the contenders for the Leadership of the Conservative Party pledged that as Prime Minister they would boost Defence funding, indicating that the MOD budget could be increased by £15bn within the next 5 years. These commitments were very welcome but UKNDA remains concerned that any additional funds for Defence could be squandered on 'big ticket' items when in fact what we need are commitments to restore specific military capabilities that have been lost due to cuts by Conservative governments since 2010 and a much needed rebuilding of Armed Forces manpower as all three Services have been allowed to shrink in the last decade. The nation therefore urgently needs to recruit and train tens of thousands of new personnel for the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force, and to ensure that they have the equipment, weaponry, vessels, aircraft and vehicles that they require. Expanding Britain's military must be an absolute priority for Boris Johnson"
Andy Smith, Chief Executive Officer, UK National Defence Association (uknda.org)
23rd July 2019
The UK National Defence Association calls on the new Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson, to make UK and global maritime security - and specifically the crisis in the Gulf - his No.1 policy priority, over and above even Brexit. The world is watching us. Lives are at risk, trade routes and energy supplies are threatened, and Britain's reputation is at stake. This should be at the very top of the new Prime Minister's in-tray.
'Action This Day' - as Sir Winston Churchill would have put it.
Furthermore, we congratulate Ben Wallace on his promotion to Cabinet and we hope he will be able to use his position to champion the Armed Forces with the new Prime Minister and Chancellor, and secure a much needed, and long awaited, boost to the Defence budget, as advocated by both Conservative leadership candidates, to rebuild essential military capabilities that have been lost to cuts in recent years.
DEFENCE SECRETARY'S KEYNOTE SPEECH AT THE SEA POWER CONFERENCE 2019
"Our citizens want the nation to be able to affect and improve the world.
They want us to go out and sort out problems.
Global Britain is a protector, it’s a wealth bringer, it’s a problem solver, a life saver and a peace broker. And nothing symbolises our intent and ambition for global Britain and has captured the hearts of our citizens more than our new carriers. They are a mighty symbol of our intent. The most powerful ships Britain has ever built. Nine acres of sovereign territory that will give us the ability to project power from anywhere in the world.
I just want us to briefly recap the headlines from the last three defence reviews. In 1997, the review pledged to deliver 32 destroyers and frigates and 2 Amphibious Assault Ships. In the event, we got the 2 Assault ships…but only six frigates and destroyers.
In 2010 SDSR, we said we would deliver 2 carriers and 19 destroyers and frigates …of which 6 were Type 45s and 13 were Type 26s. Well we got the carriers. But the 13 Type 26s were reduced to 8 and we’ve ordered 3 of them.
And in SDSR 2015 we set out a shopping list of 8 T26s, 5 Type 31e, 2 OPVs and 4 ballistic missile submarines. I am determined that remains on track.
I ask you, what is the point of methodically reviewing threats and tasks, formulating capability and then not delivering it?"
A very good question Secretary of State.
15th May 2019
Quotes from the Defence Secretary's speech. (Bear in mind the nature of the event. It means that all her speech referred to the Royal Navy.)
READ THE FULL SPEECH HERE
NEW GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS
"The UK National Defence Association congratulates Penny Mordaunt and Rory Stewart on their appointments as Defence Secretary and International Development Secretary. Both have valuable military experience - Penny Mordaunt in the Royal Navy Reserve and Rory Stewart in the British Army - and Penny has previously worked at the Ministry of Defence as a junior minister, so her return to the MOD is very welcome. UKNDA is delighted by both of these Cabinet appointments and is confident that Penny Mordaunt and Rory Stewart will provide excellent leadership at these two important national departments of state."
Andy Smith, Chief Executive Officer, UK National Defence Association
1st May 2019
D-DAY 75: VETERANS TO BE SALUTED BY LAND, SEA AND AIR.
More than 4,000 Armed Forces personnel will lead the nation in marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day with major commemorative events in Portsmouth and Normandy in June.
A major national commemorative event on Southsea Common in Portsmouth will be attended by D-Day veterans, VIP guests and service personnel.
Up to 300 veterans, who are now all over 90 years old, will leave Portsmouth on a specially-commissioned ferry to attend events in Normandy on the following day. Up to 11 Royal Navy ships will accompany the veterans as they depart Portsmouth to provide a spectacular salute on the eve of the 75th anniversary.
Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Nick Carter said:
"The Armed Forces are honoured to dedicate so many personnel and assets to this significant commemoration. Our forebears, who planned and executed Operation Overlord, and those who enabled it to happen by fighting in Italy, Africa and beyond, have the enduring respect of our Armed Forces. We will ensure the example of that special generation lives on."
HOUSE OF LORDS DEBATE TO MARK 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF NATO
UKNDA Patron Lord West made an important contribution to the debate including the following comments:
I fear that issues of defence seem to have little traction in this place, in the body politic as a whole or, indeed, in the nation at large. Sadly, it tends to take a war to change the political and national interest in defence. There is no doubt that insufficient investment, both in intellectual understanding of the world in which we live - its relationship to our national grand strategy - and necessary defence funding, make war more likely. A splendid example of this is that 37 years ago today, the Argentinians invaded the Falkland Islands. The fact that there was tension down there was well above the radar horizon, but we were not focused on it. We withdrew HMS Endurance for a saving of £16 million. What did that cost our nation in terms of getting defence wrong? It cost us £3.5 billion, and 300 men killed, so debates such as this are crucial.
11th April 2019
DR JULIAN LEWIS REPORTS ON THE COUP THAT FAILED
The National Security Capability Review (NSCR) conducted by Sir Mark Sedwill had the brief “to look at the UK security needs in the round, taking in the intelligence agencies as well as the MoD” and “also to evaluate the risks posed by terrorists and cyber-attacks as well as from conventional forces”.
“By the autumn of 2017, it was clear the intelligence agencies had come out on top and the MoD was looking at being forced to make cuts, with options ranging from reducing the size of the army from 77,000 to 70,000, cutting 1,000 Royal Marines and decommissioning two specialist amphibious landing ships, HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion.
That was the reason that our world-beating amphibious capability – vital for projecting land-power from the sea – was about to be sacrificed. Fortunately, when the Defence Committee's highly critical report Sunset for the Royal Marines? came out in February 2018, it dominated the television news cycle for fully 24 hours with its description of the proposed axing of the Albion and Bulwark, 15 years early, as “militarily illiterate”.
For once, we avoided a disastrous wrong-turning. Losing our ability to deploy troops from the sea in a far-flung theatre would indeed have betrayed our global strategic interests. Not only were the Albion and Bulwark saved, they are now to be joined by two Littoral Strike Ships, enabling the Future Commando Force – in the words of the Defence Secretary’s 11 February speech at RUSI – “to respond at a moment’s notice bringing the fight from sea to land”.
Taken from an article in the “House Magazine” by the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, Dr Julian Lewis
23rd March 2019
'BLOODY SUNDAY' PROSECUTION - LATEST NEWS
Soldier F' will face prosecution for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell.
Sixteen other veterans and two ex-members of the Official IRA, all of whom were investigated, will not face prosecution.
The Public Prosecution Service has been looking at the case of 18 soldiers - one of whom has since died.
Founder of the "Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans Group" Alan Barry said: "It's one soldier too many as far as we're concerned. It happened 47 years ago, a line in the sand needs to be drawn and people need to move on. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement veterans are being left open to prosecution while terrorists have been cleansed of their past crimes."
The Ministry of Defence is working across Government to drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure our armed forces are not unfairly treated. The Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. "Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution.” Says the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson.
Conservative MP and former British Army officer Johnny Mercer tweeted that the decision to prosecute was ”an abject failure to govern and legislate, on our watch as a Conservative administration". He tweeted: ”When I speak of a chasm between those who serve and their political masters in this country, I mean this.”
UKNDA is inclined to agree.
15th March 2019
The Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson, has said that Britain would always defend its sovereign interests. This was in response to a question about an incident involving a Spanish warship in waters near Gibraltar.
Gibraltar said a Spanish warship tried to order commercial shipping to leave anchorages in British waters near Gibraltar on Sunday but was challenged by the Royal Navy and sailed away.
27 February 2019
'WE MUST INCREASE SPENDING' SAYS DEFENCE MINISTER TOBIAS ELLWOOD
Mr Ellwood said he is "deeply concerned" that the UK does not appreciate its Armed Forces and urged the PM to find the cash to ensure they are properly funded.
His comments come after the report published by the Public Accounts Committee which warned that the Ministry of Defence "simply does not have enough money to buy all the equipment it needs".
This is the latest of several influential calls to increase defence spending in the light of the changing world order. In Mr Ellwood's words: 'The world is getting more dangerous. Britain must be able to step forward - we will only do that if we invest in the full spectrum of capabilities."
POSSIBLE MURDER CHARGES FOLLOWING BLOODY SUNDAY
Press reports that former British soldiers could soon face criminal charges in connection with 'Bloody Sunday' have prompted serious concerns among military veterans and Members of Parliament. UKNDA shares these concerns.
On ‘Bloody Sunday’ in January 1972 13 people were shot dead by British Paratroopers on the streets of Londonderry. A 14th died four months later in hospital.
This development has prompted this comment from Johnny Mercer MP, who served in Afghanistan and on tours of Northern Ireland: ”Justice? I'm not sure. Standards must be upheld, but charging people almost half a century after incidents which have been investigated once already, seems wrong. Critical question for me is: any new evidence? If not, why is this being allowed?”
One of the former sergeants, who can be identified only as Sergeant O, said: "I am in my late 70s. I am in God's waiting room. There is not a lot they can do to me. They could put me in jail and at least I'll get a bed and medical attention."
The recent death of one of those under investigation prompted calls for the investigations, and any legal proceedings, to be brought to a conclusion soon.
There is nothing to be gained by continuing these legal proceedings. This issue could be a useful catalyst for a proper debate on how investigations should proceed when there is doubt about the legality of actions by members of the armed forces. Prospective recruits must be assured that, when they put their training into practice, there will be understanding by investigators that decisions have to be made in split seconds to ensure the safety of themselves and their colleagues.
3rd March 2019
DEFENCE SECRETARY GAVIN WILLIAMSON'S SPEECH AT RUSI OUTLINING THE FUTURE DIRECTION OF THE UK ARMED FORCES.
READ FULL SPEECH
An important and largely encouraging speech even though The Secretary of State is still sticking to the insufficient spending target of 2% of GDP.
It prompted this comment from the Chair of the Defence Select Committee:
"The speech rightly recognises that new threats we face, in cyberspace and from asymmetric warfare, must not blind us to the revival of traditional dangers from aggressive nation-states seeking to establish and consolidate spheres of influence, control and domination.
This time last year, the Defence Committee warned that the plan to scrap our amphibious assault ships, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, fifteen years early, was ‘militarily illiterate’ and ‘totally at odds with strategic reality’. In the autumn, the Defence Secretary insisted that they must be saved, and now we see them – together with the proposed new Littoral Strike Ships – at the heart of a Littoral Strike Group strategic concept.
It is a profoundly welcome development, and shows what can be done when Treasury-led attempts to hollow-out the armed forces are successfully resisted."
MORE ON LITTORAL STRIKE SHIPS
THE INTRACTABLE PROBLEM
The Public Accounts Select Committee has concluded that the Ministry of Defence must urgently “stop, delay and scale back” some parts of its spending plans to help plug an “affordability gap” of up to £15bn in the department’s equipment budget over the next 10 years. The Chair of the Committee, Meg Hillier, said: “The MoD simply cannot afford everything it says it needs.”
Various issues arise from this. The most important of these is the long standing principle that Defence and Security are the first priorities of government. The Government has the responsibility of determining what the threats are and making sure that we have the necessary defence against them. It is obvious that there have to be financial restraints, but the overall decisions on defence cannot be left to the “bean counters”.
Recent defence reviews have concentrated too much on trying to cut the defence budget. The, so called, “Modernising Defence Programme” has been a great disappointment, described as a damp squib by most commentators. Let’s have a proper defence review detailing what is really needed. We can then decide what we can afford and where the priorities lie. If more resources are needed they must be found. In the meantime, a useful exercise would be to investigate whether the MOD’s procurement arrangements are fit for purpose.
What we cannot do is to “stop, delay and scale back” progress to increase defence capability when defence experts agree that our present defences are inadequate.
MORE ON THE F35 LIGHTNING
UKNDA Patron, Admiral Lord West of Spithead asked whether variants other than the
F-35B will be ordered after the initial tranche of aircraft.
Earl Howe replied that "decisions on the precise details of subsequent tranches and variants will be taken at the relevant time to ensure the most appropriate capability and the best value for money."
Lord West then asked: "What is the minimum buy of Sea Lightning (F35B) aircraft to ensure the ability to deploy two carriers with the planned 35 jets on each carrier in a national emergency.
Earl Howe replied that the "Ministry of Defence does not recognise the term 'Sea Lightning', with 'F-35B Lightning' the designation jointly agreed by the First Sea Lord and the Chief of the Air Staff. The Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 stated our intent to buy 138 F-35 Lightning aircraft over the life of the programme. The first tranche of 48 aircraft will be the F-35B; decisions on subsequent tranches of Lightning will be taken at the appropriate time. We are on track to generate two front-line squadrons of F-35B Lightnings by 2023."
Readers can decide for themselves whether those are answers which inspire confidence.AVAILABILITY OF AIRCRAFTIt has been revealed that as many as one in three RAF planes, including dozens of £80 million Typhoon jets, are unavailable to fly.
Liberal Democrat spokesman, and UKNDA Patron, Lord Ming Campbell said: “It is self-evident that aircraft have to be withdrawn from the front line in order for repairs and routine servicing to be carried out. These figures seem to go beyond what is necessary for repair or service.”
Perhaps the MOD could comment on this situation.
The problems surrounding army recruitment have come to a head again. We raised this issue in June and quoted Former Army Chief, General Lord Dannatt: “I’ve heard of a number of people who have been trying to join the Armed Forces and got fed up with the length of time it takes. The system is too complicated, the Army knows the previous system was better and would like to go back to it.”
The problem appears to be the contract given to Capita to conduct recruitment. Recently the Defence Select Committee attacked apparent inefficiency and delays in a meeting with the Defence Secretary and the top Civil Servant in his department. The problems have existed for about six years and the Committee demanded that the whole process be reviewed.
We would support this, as the recruitment process is so slow as to lead to a fall in the size of the Army just at the time the numbers should be increased. The review could usefully be accompanied by a long hard look at other areas which have been privatised to ensure they give value for money, and that the companies concerned have the knowledge and ability to provide services for our Armed Forces.
22nd October 2018
UKNDA welcomes the publication of a Government statement on the Modernising Defence Programme, whilst regretting the postponement of the full document. It was also unfortunate that this statement was made by the Defence Secretary at a time when all the publicity was about Brexit. There are some welcome comments in this report but unfortunately we have not had from the Government any firm new funding commitments and in fact it seems that the Ministry of Defence are being even more vague than usual about costs and how these are going to be met. The fact that the full Defence and Security strategy has been postponed, and that there is, as yet, no proper response from the Government to the Commons Defence Committee's entirely sensible and justified call for an increase in the UK Defence budget from just under 2 per cent of GDP to at least 3 per cent (we in UKNDA say it should be even higher than that) shows that ministers are still not taking the Defence of the Realm seriously enough.
In the words of our Patron, Lord West, “There’s nothing in there that is actually tangible, nothing that has actually increased the capability of our defence force.”
The international situation demands a much greater commitment by the UK Government to our Armed Forces, especially if ministers are serious in their post- Brexit 'Global Britain' ambitions.
Andy Smith, Chief Executive Officer, UK National Defence Association (20th July 2018)
UK DEFENCE BUDGET FACING A “PERFECT STORM”
Changes in the economic climate following the fall in the value of the pound have led to further funding problems: “When you add to that the fact we are ordering from America and therefore the money leaves this country at an exchange rate that is much worse than it was, I think it’s a perfect storm.” said Admiral Lord West (UKNDA Patron).
A government source told the BBC that the department hoped the pound would rally and described the problem as a “a headache rather than a catastrophe”.
Julian Lewis, the Tory MP who chairs the Defence Select Committee, warned that defence had “fallen too far down the scale of national priorities” and called for a spending increase. We need to be thinking about spending something like three per cent of GDP, not the NATO bare minimum of 2 per cent,” he said.
UKNDA agrees with him.
11th August 2016
UKNDA PATRON, ADMIRAL LORD WEST, SAYS LACK OF CASH IS DELAYING TYPE 26 PROJECT
Admiral Lord West, First Sea Lord between 2007 to 2010, told the Defence Committee that the MoD had effectively "run out of money".
"We have run out of money and they [MoD] have pushed this programme to the right and that is bloody dangerous because whenever you do that you end up paying more money and we did that in the early 1990s for the Astute class submarines.
We would be happy to publish the Defence Secretary's response to this.
7th June 2016
"THE EU IS SABOTAGING OUR ARMY" (GENERAL SIR MICHAEL ROSE)
General Sir Michael Rose says that Britain's Army is already too 'thinly spread' to take on yet another role within a European military.
Today, there is a desire in Brussels to establish a Europe-wide military structure, yet when UK defence resources are so scarce, it makes no sense to disperse our greatly reduced military forces as thinly as we are doing in order to support this European ideal.
We already play a central role in the UN and Nato, and this is where we should continue to place our main effort. The EU will just create waste and confusion by duplicating the efforts of those two bodies.
In the final analysis, sovereignty and defence are indivisible. British soldiers swear allegiance not to politicians but to their King or Queen. Their loyalty is to the UK, whose people, interests and values they serve.
The fact that Europe has been at peace for more than 70 years is primarily the result of the overwhelming victory over tyranny in 1945, and the subsequent achievement of Nato in winning the Cold War.
(Daily Mail here)
DAVID CAMERON'S DEFENCE CUTS LEAVE BRITAIN EXPOSED AND 'SEMI-PACIFIST'
General Sir Richard Shirreff, former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of Nato until 2014, said where once the UK walked softly and carried a big stick, it now shouted loudly and largely impotently
Sir Richard said Mr Cameron had opted to establish "benefits Britain" where welfare and benefits were valued more highly than defending the country.
18th May 2016
Full Daily Express article here
WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MORALE IN THE ARMED FORCES?
According to the MoD’s most recent Continuous Attitude Survey, 32 per cent of all Armed Forces Personnel - one in three – are dissatisfied with life in the services. In the Army, 43 per cent of all soldiers admit morale is low.
“These figures must surely be a reflection above all of declining morale in all three Services which is linked to continual rounds of defence cuts and redundancies and the fact that a military career no longer offers the prospects that it did or the job security. As a nation we simply cannot afford to go on squeezing our armed forces till the pips squeak. They [servicemen] want and need solid career prospects and stability. Our security relies upon these men and women. They are vital national assets and it's a disgrace that the nation is treating them so poorly. No wonder they are leaving.” (Andy Smith - CEO UKNDA)
15th May 2016
BRITAIN’S NEW AIRCRAFT CARRIERS COULD GO TO WAR – WITHOUT ANY JETS
UKNDA Patron, Admiral Lord West and UKNDA Vice Chairman, Cdr Graham Edmonds speak exclusively to the Portsmouth News.
"The Prime Minister and the government have decided, quite rightly, that we run both aircraft carriers together and that they are crucial to the strategic security of the nation," said the former First Sea Lord, "but to run them effectively, without embarking air wings with them, makes a mockery of all the investment into the new carriers. It’s a nonsense."
"The Prime Minister would be furious if the carrier went to sea and did not have an air wing."
Cdr Edmonds said the problem stemmed from who would have command and control of the jets during overseas operations.
Read the full article here.
Admiral Lord West's reaction to SDSR 2015
"Even to crew the modest planned force, the Navy needs an additional 3,000 personnel—it has only 450. So SDSR 2015 scores six out of 10 in my book and the nation needs to spend more money on defence if we are to meaningfully support international security and stability."
Read the whole of his speech to the House of Lords on 3rd December 2015 here