Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reviewing the Defence Review

It appears that HMS Ark Royal is to be scrapped; the much-needed upgrade to Trident is to be postponed for a few years; and our shiny new £5billion aircraft carriers are to have no aircrafts...

Well, we're in dire economic straits and cuts are needed across the board.

But in the defence of the realm?

The Ark Royal is getting on a bit: a quarter of a century of loyal service is enough for any piece of hardware. Re-fits (she's had three) just cost too much - the last was £18million. So that's a saving straightaway.

The five-year delay in Trident will save a whopping £750million. It is perhaps a fair gamble that we will not need to launch a nuclear strike before the next general election. And it's also a fair bet that submarines patrolling the murky depths are unlikely to deter Al-Qaeda or the 'Real IRA' from their favourite pastime.

But His Grace is genuinely puzzled by the two new aircraft carriers which will now go to sea for a few years without any aircraft, and then be mothballed. What is the point of that? What would Ark Royal have been without her Sea Harrier fighters and Harrier GR7 strike jets? How can they possibly defend this waste of £5,000,000,000 of taxpayers' money?

Don't they realise how much that is? How many hospitals? Schools? Nurses? Teachers? What pension increase? What tax cuts?

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: "It is not unprecedented not to have jets on our carriers."

Maybe not, but it is a bit barking.

Sir Walter Raleigh would never have put his Ark Royal to sea without the requisite ordnance on her gun decks. The Spanish Armada would hardly have been deterred if he had done so.

Apparently, the new National Security Strategy has identified the most pressing risks to UK security are not linked to invasion, but to cyber-terrorism.

In which case, let's pour the defence budget into malware detection and virus control.

Good grief. Have the Conservative Party learned nothing from Churchill? The enemy takes you by surprise: they plan and strategise; scheme and deceive. They sign treaties and give you their word. And then...

This particular cut to the RAF means that the UK will not have the ability to launch fighter jets at sea until about 2019.

This is a good time for Argentina to launch another offensive against the Falklands.

Whatever the 'budgetary hangover' bequeathed by Labour, whatever cutbacks and cuts are necessary, it is a dangerous game indeed to economise on national defence.

And it is crass to suggest that such cuts do not affect the UK's capabilities or somehow make us weaker.


Anonymous bluedog said...

So many bad decisions over so many years, Your Grace, and now its not even Guns or Butter but neither. Not only will the new carriers not have aircraft but on wikipedia one reads that the new Type 45 carrier escort destroyers can't yet launch their anti-aircraft missiles. The system is designed by a British-French-Italian consortium. Undeterred, as they say, it seems Dave is off to France to cut a deal with Sarkozy to time-share one of the carriers. Hope the cleaners are up to scratch and there's nothing smelly in the fridge after the French have finished for the week.

19 October 2010 at 09:30  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

I seem to vaguely recall that Churchill once described our warships leaving harbour as ‘like giants bowed down in deep thought.’

Now no giants they.

19 October 2010 at 09:47  
Blogger OldSlaughter said...

Surely they will still be able to deploy troops via Helicopter and shall have cruise missiles. Not entirely a white elephant.

The Nimrod replacements are vital also, I wonder what will happen on that front. Sod a 'quarter of a century's service', it's pushing a half.

19 October 2010 at 10:05  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Other cuts yet to be announced:
- New assault rifles for all our armed forces, but ammunition spending reduced to zero.
- New schools building program revived, but text books to be delayed til 2019
- New national piss-up-in-a-brewery scheme, but alcohol production to cease.

The child benefit debacle. Now this. Just shows what happens when you don't have the courage of your convictions (or even any convictions). Messy, illogical compromises.

19 October 2010 at 10:12  
OpenID doctorhuw said...

I think the straightforward answer, your Grace, is that it would have cost more to cancel the carriers than it does to build them. That, I can only assume was either Bob Ainsworth's incompetence or his genuine hatred of the Armed Forces and an attempt to properly shaft them by lumbering them with a huge overspend. Nobody knows which, and I doubt he'll tell.

When we take delivery, we will then have an asset that, if we decide it is no use to us, we call sell to off-set the cost. On the other hand, it may be possible to use helicopters (as above) to plug the gap, or the JSF may be ready earlier than expected (although it isn't likely a defence project will finish ahead of schedule, there's a first time for everything).

The one cut I'm really hoping will be made is the closure of the MoD. It clearly won't be, but do we really need all those thousands of civil servants to administer a decreasing handful of combat personnel? It's worse than that opening clip of the Private's Progress.

19 October 2010 at 10:46  
Blogger chris said...

Unfortunately people have become so addicted to state handouts that, like a junky willing to forgo food to pay for their next fix, they are willing to skimp on those areas which only the state can do to make sure that the welfare budget remains.

19 October 2010 at 10:52  
Blogger ChrisM said...

Quite a lot of rubbish is being talked about the defence review.
Most of the threats we face are from Insurgents and terrorists.
None of these have an Air Force. We are unlikely to attack other states on our own, more likely with Nato ie. the USA, who have large carrier born air fleets. The Falklands now have four Tornado fighters permanently stationed that could be reinforced if necessary. HMS Daring is undergoing live missile firing at the moment, type 45 destroyers are a quantum leap forward in capability able to engage 35 targets at once so one stationed off Port Stanley could shoot down all 26 strike aircraft that Argentina own in one go. we are due to have five of these.

The Aircraft Carriers are going to be modified to take the new F35 conventional carrier variant rather than the vertical take off version, this will allow us to ship French or American carrier aircraft and save large amounts of money on the more expensive vertical aircraft.
The big question is do we need a large tank force in Germany defending against the Russians invading across the North German Plain?

19 October 2010 at 11:00  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Come on Cranmer, you got to think outside the Fox!

An aircraft carrier with no aircraft is not so bad, it can be put to all manner of uses and with the income gained we can buy some shiny new planes.

How about:

Convert to a cruise ship, with an enormous sun deck (3000 loungers) and the opportunity for the world’s largest game of deck quoits it could be a huge success.

With the addition of a little astroturf it could provide a perfect venue for the Olympic 100m final (£700 per ticket) when moored close to the Olympic park.

Lease it to the BBC as the new Top Gear venue, worth it if only to see Clarkson drive off the end of it while showing off to the camera.

Call it an iCarrier and let Apple market it or us.

Or if all else fails convert to a prison hulk and moor far enough away so the offenders cannot swim ashore. Remember “Prison Works” so a bit of deck scrubbing would enable the inmates to learn a useful trade.

19 October 2010 at 11:19  
Blogger Jess The Dog said...

Your Grace,
We have no credible maritime air defence aircraft. The half-decent FA2 was scrapped a decade ago. The GR9 would be massacred if there was a credible air threat. It would also get in the way of the very capable Sea King AEW Mk 7 and Type 45. As usual, it's jam tomorrow....

19 October 2010 at 11:25  
Blogger starcourse said...

Due to the stupidiy of Brown & co it is cheaper to build the carriers than to cancel them.

And to be fair missiles are better at striking and and helicopters much more use against pirates & terrorists.

19 October 2010 at 11:28  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

There is something about all this that lacks great wisdom and I think you may have subtly pointed it out in your reference to Churchill.

It is this: the strategy looks as if it has been devised from the perspective of a grasshopper. Not a giant. I mean it seems to see this country’s security as if it were to do with floods, flu pandemics, fishing boats bobbing up and down in a small peaceful corner off the north-west coast of Europe. It’s as if the criterion of security is not fulfilled if people are not allowed to go about their everyday business like catching the No. 43 bus.

But what if our research vessels discovered oil and (or) gas off the Falklands…?

19 October 2010 at 11:29  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Your Grace, Mr Graham Davis may have found his true calling in life. Could he be persuaded to be cruise director on an aircraft-carrier taking Muslims to Mecca, preferrably on a one way trip? Don't think of sun-lounges, the question is, how many prayer mats will fit on the flight deck?

And Mr D Singh, the Falklands oil fields will be Lady Thatcher's last and greatest gift to the UK. Check out Desire Petroleum, Rockhopper and Falklands Oil and Gas on AIM.

19 October 2010 at 11:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the point of aircraft carriers? Our sailors are addicted to their iPods, and are in any case not allowed to deal with a few scrawney pirates from the tribal lands. Our forces are playthings of the political parties, a means of delivering work to the workshy Scots voters, or profits to entrenched contractors who give early retiring civil servants,ex MPs, and service chiefs lucrative late employment as a reward for services rendered.
We do need armed services, but only to defend the UK, which is never under threat. We do not need NATO or the US, neither of which would prove staunch allies. All our wars of the past century which twice bled us dry were unnecessary, we were never threatened before we went to war.

19 October 2010 at 11:42  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

From my time in the Civil Service many years ago, I would say that no-where in the Civil Service is there anyone with genuine commercial experience capable of negotiating a major contact with any of their suppliers without the other party getting the upper hand.
We have seen this with the large computer contacts, where the system as delivered isn't up to the job, and far from penalising the contractor for its shortcomings, they actually pay out more money to have it put right!
No commercial organisation would place a large long term contract without some form of break clause as no one knows what might happen in a few year's time, but then governments never think beyond the date of the next election and don't worry about such matters.

19 October 2010 at 12:06  
Anonymous Hans Wildebeeste said...

"go to see"?


19 October 2010 at 12:13  
Blogger steve said...

Your Grace,

May I direct to you to the thinkdefence.co.uk for am ongoing critique of HMG's defence policy?

19 October 2010 at 12:14  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Hans Wildebeeste,

His Grace was rather hurried this morning. 'See' has been corrected (he was obviously thinking of the holy sort): 'aircrafts' was a little purposeful play, and will remain.

Do you have nothing better to do?

19 October 2010 at 12:33  
Blogger The Heresiarch said...

You write, "the two new aircraft carriers which will now go to see for a few years without aircrafts...".

I'm intrigued. Will they be kept at Winchester or Durham?

19 October 2010 at 12:33  
Anonymous Those that can do, those that can't teach said...

Just have to say that some people are really being pedantic about some of the spelling mistakes, especially as they do not have blogs of their own. This makes me think half of you are teachers, because of the slight patronising air of one or two of you. If so, will you go and teach or contribute something interesting to the discussion.

19 October 2010 at 12:43  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Perhaps iDave is hoping to rely on our ever dependable, heroic Frog comrades to supply the airy-planes and fearless pilots...

WV: squet - which nicely sums up the stupidity of the situation

19 October 2010 at 12:46  
Anonymous Tony B said...

we need a trident replacement like a hole in the head.

Surprise surprise, the Tories get in and start robbing the poor to feed the rich

19 October 2010 at 13:15  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

‘Don't they realise how much that is? How many hospitals? Schools? Nurses? Teachers? What pension increase? What tax cuts?’

Cameron could just stop paying the EU £106,000 per minute and have a sound defence strategy, and hospitals, and schools, and nurses and teachers. There is a real chance that Sarkozy and Merkel want a new treaty. So I do hope Cameron will be able to repatriate powers back to Britain in return for backing Merkel.

19 October 2010 at 13:39  
Blogger James said...

I think your critique fails to place the blame where it really lies. Gordon Brown has built in such large penalty clauses for the cancellation of the aircraft carrier contract that you save no money by cancelling them. Where are they being built ? Dunfermline ?

£18m sounds far too cheap for a refit, more like a docking period

You forget that one of the four trident submarines is always out there and will be until their replacements are ready.

I agree timesharing aircraft with anyone (especially the french) is not ideal, but what do you do when your debt repayments exceed your Defence budget ?

@TonyB and @anonymous - what are you talking about?

19 October 2010 at 13:57  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

But in defence of the realm?

Defence of the realm? Come, come, Your Grace. Realms are so passé these days. The smart people (Cameron, Clegg, Miliband) despise the nation state. The current craze among the sophisticates is for the continental state. Harken to the words of David Miliband when he was Foreign Secretary:

❛As we move into a multipolar world, power is coalescing around a few regional centres. Not just the USA, but China, India, Brazil. With a nod to Woodrow Wilson’s 1919 Age of Nations, people are starting to talk about an Age of Continents.❜

So, don’t panic. Everything is proceeding just as it should. The politicians reduce our Armed Forces to the point where we can no longer defend ourselves, and then they present us with the obvious answer: a European Defence Force under the command of Brussels.

19 October 2010 at 14:12  
Blogger srizals said...

HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were invincible too. But war is a test of invincibility. Anyway, who would be stupid enough to attack a nuclear power? Haven't we all learnt anything from Japan?

19 October 2010 at 15:12  
Anonymous Romney said...

We have been reduced by the behaviour of previous Governments over too many years.

This Government is at least acting with honour in paying for previous commitments made, rather than taking on new commitments we can even less afford.

The courage will come when, as money becomes available, it is used to put right the defence deficit rather than restore the Quangos, hand out free houses to all, etc.

19 October 2010 at 15:14  
Blogger Caedmon's Cat said...

Does it not follow that now we're no longer an independent sovereign state (because our powers have been ceded to that kleptocracy called the EU), we no longer have our own sovereign interests to maintain? We have a host of foreign powers to rush to our aid in time of need. But of course, they'll also have had their defence budgets cut, won't they..? Sorry - I'll go back to my box.

19 October 2010 at 16:47  
Anonymous Oswin said...

I'd start MY 'defence cuts' closer to home, by weeding-out all those enemies of ours living within Britain! It should save a bit on benefits too...to say nothing of improving our way of life ...

19 October 2010 at 18:26  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

The country has gone to the dogs YG. There is very little left to preserve or defend. Our education system is a mess, which brings me on to Katherine Birbalsingh on Radio 4 Today - Good luck with the """BOOK""" by the way, it has received a good start and should sell like hot cakes. A true blue conversion there.

19 October 2010 at 18:54  
Anonymous non mouse said...

The first time I saw the Ark Royal was overseas; I was so proud and honored to visit her. The last time, she was up near Faslane: when the first Iraq war escalated.

Then it was possible to feel worried, but hopeful. Now, I'm sick and ashamed about what we let these traitors do to us. Fortunately there's little chance I'll meet any of them, in this life. Beyond that, I'm eternally grateful for having no children to sacrifice to the enemy.

Nothing can make me euro; all this only makes me loathe and despise everything to do with it. As for paying the b***s - while, as Mr. S suggests, we sustain bigger and bigger 'cuts' at home ... The only truth vile Cameron ever told was that he is heir to Bliar.

Just exactly what is in our comestibles that we let them undo all Henry's work? Clearly the neu historicists re-inscribed our history to that end, but why do we underwrite their prevarications .... Ah yes; the commie education system. And the associated coercion, intimidation, etc. They blast all opposition out of the water.

Antichrist proceeds, unchecked.

19 October 2010 at 19:10  
Anonymous non mouse said...

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
[William Butler Yeats.]

wv: forst

19 October 2010 at 19:12  
Anonymous len said...

Aircraft carriers with no aircraft seems to sum up the state of our Nation today.

Perhaps Mr Davis`s option is the best one.(Cruise ship)which in reality is what it will be.

19 October 2010 at 19:25  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Oh, Cranny; oh Cranny! Er, I seem to remember that you were very keen for us to vote for this pretendy conservative and his gang of PR men. And despite some of the protestations made by a few of us, you pooh-poohed us (in your typically polite and refined way).

It is becoming ever-more apparent that Cameron feels more at home with his coalition partners than with the 'Turnip Taliban' and the 'nutters' who form his dwindling core support.

Despite your glutinous praise for his vacuous conference speech, maybe now you are feeling just a slight twinge of regret for your earlier support for Blair's Heir; and maybe it is possible that your Defence Review review is an acknowledgement in that direction?

Let's hope so, there being (as you will know) 'joy amongst the angels of heaven...' (you know the rest).

By the way, it's still great to have you back.

19 October 2010 at 20:59  
Blogger Owl said...

non mouse
"They blast all opposition out of the water"
No they don't, but they would like you to believe it.
They are still terrified of the individual. You are by no means alone and many have seen through DC a long time ago.
"Heir to Blair"! What an arrogant statement of self condemnation.

19 October 2010 at 22:10  
Blogger Man in a Shed said...

The Sea Harriers were cut by Labour ( even though they had the most modern airframes and were the only harrier really capable in air to air service ).

Its perhaps madness to reduce what's left of them, but the money seems to be needed for the Tornado's and whatever they are shortly to be asked to do.

19 October 2010 at 23:20  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Defence policy should be about anticipating future threats rather than “preparing” for past conflicts. Therefore a defence review should first identify those threats (as this review claims to have done). Terrorism and cybercrime can’t be confronted by conventional arsenals and they pose the greatest threat in the near future and the government are right to prioritise them.

This defence review has all the hallmarks of a rush job, understandably in the current economic circumstances but I think that it should have been delayed for a year, setting only a provisional total budget now. Modern defence requires the integration of air, sea and land power and so the “elephant in the room” could then be addressed, namely the merging of the three services into a single unit.

Imagine the England Rugby team having three managers, one each for the forwards, backs and goal kicking. Each would favour their own discipline and a winning strategy would be impossible to implement. With an integrated service the chain of command would be much simpler and the number of officers much reduced. It should then be possible to plan for our future needs more effectively.

This country is constantly subjected to the drag of the past. Our leaders feel the deadening hand of history and past “glories” on their shoulders. They use terms like “punching above our weight” to disguise the fact that we are a declining economic and therefore military power. Although we need to retain as much influence as we can we should be realistic about the future and our place in it.

20 October 2010 at 00:17  
Blogger Preacher said...

Dr Cranmer.
Perhaps we have been demoted to the catering corps of the new Euro army. It's said that vengeance is a dish best eaten cold.
I don't know about aircraft carriers without planes, sounds more like a toothless Lion to me!.

20 October 2010 at 01:21  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Sometimes the christian socialiat gains popular opinion , however with this statement today I could not help but think how truly pressed on all sides we are , not only broke but facing new and well funded evils . I am very angry with labour for this , the £30 odd billion black hole is beyond incompeteance in matters such as defence .

I thanks non mouse for reminding me about , how we , as christians we comprehend defense as an illness .

jesus did not need , the might of arms and yet he understood wars and there origins .

It is easy to take the view that by disarming , our enemies would somehow change there mind , and that is the popular socialist opinon .

I have gone through many colours and flavours myself , ranging from the more civil society greater good arguments , to the more just policing the english speaking peoples .

It is strange to think that the socialists allways end up running either fearsome secret police or parades of mass armies , and yet they preach unto others to lay down there arms as though socialism will complete itself when the eutopian dream is manifest and they rule the world .

In our model of civilised society we hand over ultimate power to an elected government , thereby we are free to live our lives as we no longer have to turn up on the battlefield ,We hopefully have international diplomacy to stop this happening too frequently .

as free people we are right to be concerned when our delgated defence has not been looked after and is over spent (although other countries spend more as a % than we do) .

It is a sore let us hope it has remedy in the future years

20 October 2010 at 03:20  
Blogger OurSally said...

>the UK, which is never under threat

Would be under threat if we weren't able to defend ourselves. Do you lock your door when you go out? Why, if no-one's ever broken in? Would you leave your door unlocked, indeed remove all locks and bolts, after telling everyone you were going to do it? Of course not. The world is over-populated by greedy humans, some of them would dearly like to destroy us, we need an army, full stop.

Trust it to the EU? To the French? That's a joke, right?

20 October 2010 at 07:24  
Anonymous The Observer said...

France and Germany had in the past attack Britain or was it the other way around? Could they be tempted to attack Britain again for old time's sake?

20 October 2010 at 17:57  

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