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Fox: 'We need to ensure we are using our people to the best of their ability'

The Press Association reports that in his RUSI speech later today (13 Aug 2010), the Defence Secretary Liam Fox is to pledge to give military chiefs greater control over the armed forces.

The move is part of efforts to "decentralise" the Ministry of Defence to make it more efficient and effective. He will say that "We need to review all our current practices to ensure that we are using our greatest asset - our people - to the best of their ability."

From the UKPA report:

Dr Fox, who just returned from his second visit to Afghanistan as a minister, will outline his vision for the MoD's future in a speech in London. The Royal Navy, Army and RAF are set to see personnel numbers reduced and equipment projects axed as a result of the ongoing strategic defence and security review (SDSR).

Reports suggested the Army could lose one of its brigades in Germany, the Navy could see one of two new aircraft carriers cancelled, the Royal Marines could be brought under the Army's control and the RAF could shrink to its smallest size since the First World War.

Dr Fox is not expected to give any specific commitments on cuts in his speech at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, but he will stress the need for "healthy finances".

Reform of the department itself is essential to "produce more efficient provision of defence capability and generation and sustainment of operations". The MoD faces having its £36.9 billion annual budget slashed by between 10% and 20% as part of massive Whitehall funding cuts ordered by the coalition Government.

Dr Fox will suggest reorganising the MoD into three pillars, of Policy and Strategy, the Armed Forces, and Procurement and Estates.

There will also need to be a "cultural shift which will see a leaner and less centralised organisation combined with devolved processes which carry greater accountability and transparency".

Dr Fox will announce that a Defence Reform Unit is being set up under Lord Levene to guide the "hard thinking" and complement the SDSR.

"I will ask the Defence Reform Unit to work with the Permanent Secretary, Chief of the Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs to find ways of devolving greater responsibility for the running of the Services themselves," Dr Fox is to say. "We need to review all our current practices to ensure that we are using our greatest asset - our people - to the best of their ability.

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