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Defence cuts on the horizon?

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posted on Feb, 1 2008 @ 12:43 PM

Ministers and officials are drawing up plans for sweeping cuts and delays in most of Britain's big weapons projects as they face the biggest crisis in the defence budget since the end of the cold war, according to government and independent sources.

Huge orders for aircraft carriers, ships, fighter jets, and hi-tech vehicles are accumulating at a time when running costs are rocketing because of gruelling military operations and large increases in the cost of fuel, they say. Defence officials say ministers will be confronted with "painful options" next month.

Source: The Guardian

There's also a similar article in yesterday's Daily Telegraph and a report on the new aircraft carriers in The Times.

I get the feeling that the Treasury is dictating defence policy, which is never a good idea - cutting corners costs lives when we're talking about our armed forces.

What I fear the government doesn't realise is that lapses in our capabilities take decades to fix. You can't summon a ship or a squadron of the latest fighters from nowhere, and it's particularly bad if they're needed. If the Treasury can find £50billion to bail out Northern Rock then surely they can find £3billion to keep these projects on track? There have been serious cuts to the number of destroyers, submarines and Typhoon fighter jets already. We can't afford any more if we want to retain the ability to project power overseas (which is necessary, since our overseas territories rely on us for their defence).

posted on Feb, 1 2008 @ 04:49 PM
ste2652, you raise a great point about affordability. Strange how we can find billions of Pounds to bale out Northern Rock but not find money to ensure we can be afford to project power.

It makes you wonder what Brown's big picture for UK power projection is as all the projects you mention and are referenced in the news articles are the big ticket projects. The ones, that as you say give us the ability to project power and appear to be a big player on the world stage.

I think as a nation we need to decide where we want to be on the world stage. If we continue to reduce our military, can we continue to justify a place as one of the permanent members of the UN security council. The only reason we have this seat is because we were one of the first nuclear powers.

Interestingly, the projects mentions do not include our nuclear weapons program.

posted on Feb, 1 2008 @ 05:43 PM
reply to post by Freedom ERP

I think the Trident replacement is one of the 'untouchable' projects (like the aircraft carriers) since the new submarines will be built in the UK - it'll keep the British ship building industry going on the Clyde and so on, and hence the likelihood of either the carriers or the new Trident submarines being scrapped is minimal (if you want to be extremely cynical, the ship building areas tend to vote Labour... so the Labour government isn't going to scrap these projects for fear of losing seats). In addition, there's also a political calculation to be made with the Americans... it is in their interest to keep us tied to their nuclear missile system. It's certainly cheaper this way, but - as I said before - cheaper isn't always best. I think we can learn a lot from the French missile system (which is independent and affordable, and France has a slightly lower defence budget than we have by about £1billion).

Nevertheless, we're going to be 'making do' for a number of years if these cuts go ahead. The delays in the Joint Strike Fighter with the Americans mean that the new aircraft carriers will be operating Harriers (which, although they're being upgraded with more modern equipment, still don't have the capabilities that the Joint Strike Fighter will have. I know it's a short term solution, but it doesn't mean we have to simply accept it).

It all seems a bit disorganised to be honest. What we need is for the government to properly outline what it expects out armed forces to be able to do and then commit itself to fund the necessary changes (ideally with cross-party support, so that if a new government is elected the process of upgrading will continue unabated... it will take a decade or two at least). There doesn't seem to be an overall plan or a vision - we seem to be thinking about today when we don't know what'll happen in a decade or two. Who's to say we won't be involved in a major naval engagement? What are we going to do if that happens and we don't have the ships? That's why these big projects, expensive though they are, are as important as extra armoured vehicles and helicopters for the Army.

Personally, I'd insist that the Treasury keeps its nose out too.

posted on Feb, 2 2008 @ 08:45 PM

Originally posted by Freedom ERP
Strange how we can find billions of Pounds to bale out Northern Rock but not find money to ensure we can be afford to project power.

Excuse me?!

What on earth is in the least bit "strange" about HMG finding £24 billion to avoid a hugely damaging and serious economic collapse at a time of already heightened economic sensitivity
(which is itself set against an on-going period of serious global economic instability)?

Come on, some perspective here please.

Northern Rock has been lent taxpayer's money
(with approx £20 billion of it secured against solid assets).

Of course it's an unexpected drain on the public purse right now but it is (mostly) secured against solid & significant assets and the moves undertaken did restore stability at a time when it has been sorely lacking.

The fact that this instability has been mainly coming from the US 'sub-prime' mortgage markets is hardly anything our Gov (of whatever colour) could do very much about - and sadly the effects are far from over yet too.

Casting these events up as if they were some kind of frivilous waste is simply to turn reality on it's head.
Ask the Egg credit-card holders where their priorities lie right now and whether a worse financial environment would be acceptable or welcome.

We'll see what happens with the 'Defence' spending
(and a rash of newspaper stories is usually an indication someone is out lobbying and attempting to apply pressure in a particular direction).

It's one thing to say that our 'Defence' spending may need reviewing but to throw Northern Rock around as if that episode and all it entailed were some sort of poorly chosen option is IMO just nuts.

posted on Feb, 3 2008 @ 12:46 AM
IF these stories are true, it's sickening.

Defence cuts now? When morale is alreay pretty low and we have huge commitments going on?

Maybe if we didn't get ourselves stuck into protracted wars with the Yanks, then the MoD would have this £1 Billion and then some.

Although defence spending has increases year on year for some time, it hasn't matched the cost of deployments, so in real terms, these increases have actually just been band aids to keep things ticking over.

We've already flogged the Tranche 1 Typhoons to Saudi, canned half the Type 45 order, slashed the armoured forces in half, cut the Astute order and have half the fleet at 20 years old and no signs of any replacements for the frigates.

What more can they cut?

posted on Feb, 8 2008 @ 03:47 PM
Defence cuts on the horizon?

Shouldn't that read "Continued reduction in armed forces set to continue until the Germans invade again".

The context of this piece should be entirely historical, it's not exactly news any more.

posted on Feb, 8 2008 @ 05:52 PM
Im not even British and I am more then well aware of these damaging defense cuts, it seems like they never end! Exactly how many more of these "reforms" can they come up with? It seems like everytime I look up whats new with Her Majesty's military its "more Type 45's canceled", "new carriers to be delayed ... again for the 10th time", "x infantry battalions to be cut", "RAF to lose ....", etc etc but yet they somehow expect the British military to continue to play the role of a world power.

Why do you UKers tolerate this madness?

posted on Feb, 8 2008 @ 06:05 PM
reply to post by ChrisF231

There's a growing mood in the electorate that our armed forces are not treated as well as they should be - it's still not exactly widespread, but over the last few months it's increasingly obvious in public debates and TV/radio programmes.

From a military and political point of view it's simply madness to make any further cuts. It's economics that's the key (and the Treasury in the UK is the most powerful government department, so it has a lot of influence over public spending) - obviously it seems like an easy area to find savings. The armed forces don't make a profit and they have quite large and expensive procurement programmes. Delays and cuts save money.

This view is short termism at its worst. I think part of the UK's economic success flows from the rest of the world knowing that Britain can adequately defend its interests. Cutting defence funding will lessen that view. I also think that cuts now will mean we don't have what we need when the next emergency comes along (I deliberately use the term 'when', because it's pretty much certain that something will happen sooner or later), and to rebuild capabilities that have been lost is very expensive and time consuming.

In short, the accountants shouldn't be in control of defence. This is an area in which cutting corners can quite literally cost lives.

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