Thursday, June 13, 2024

This is an ARCHIVED article at Information and links may well be out of date.

According to this report by the Daily Telegraph, an adviser to the Ministry of Defence has warned that the Armed Forces remain "critically ill" and recent proposals amount to "little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic":

Philip Hammond, the newly appointed Defence Secretary, was urged to reopen last year's Strategic Defence Review.

The recommendations were made in an open letter from Prof Andrew Dorman, who lectures at the Joint Services Command. Professor Dorman, who also holds a senior post at Nato, advised Mr Hammond to use the "political capital" he has in his new post to push for reforms.

He wrote: "The financial position of the department has not been resolved. For example, for all the promises of culling senior officer numbers your predecessor merely announced the appointment of a further four-star post, the new Joint Force Commander, but has failed to implement any of the suggested reductions.

"If you chose to leave things as they stand then you merely get to oversee a series of bloody annual spending rounds in which you will have to make unpopular choices and be blamed for them."

He said the minister's second choice was "to accept that the defence patient remains critically ill and the treatment so far administered has been remedial but not sufficient".

Last year, the Government conducted a major review of defence spending, which will save billions of pounds. HMS Ark Royal and Harrier jets will be scrapped and Britain will be left without a working aircraft carrier until 2020.

The Army is currently in the process of shedding 12,000 of its 102,000 posts and experts believe that as many as eight battalions could cease to exist.

However, even these widespread cuts are not thought to go far enough and further annual reductions are expected to tackle a multi-billion pound black-hole in the defence budget.

Several senior Tory MPs and the Labour Party have said the Strategic Defence and Security Review should be revisited in the light of events in the Middle East.

Prof Dorman said that the Libyan campaign, which Nato yesterday announced was finished, should be used as "camouflage" by Mr Hammond to reopen the defence review.

Prof Dorman added: "The key with all this is to make the decisions early because time is not on your side."

Prof Dorman, writing in a personal capacity, made 10 recommendations including using the international aid budget to pay for more defence projects and "declaring" military support for the Olympics in London next year as a way of receiving additional funding.

He also outlined detailed proposals to cut the number of senior officers and called for a reduction in the number of defence ministers.

Mr Hammond, the former transport secretary, was appointed last month to replace Liam Fox who resigned amid a scandal over his unofficial adviser.

Mr Hammond, a former shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, may be sympathetic to calls for further cuts and is likely to increase pressure on the MoD to reduce waste and bureaucracy.

Publicly, both the MoD and Downing Street have insisted the review will not be reopened. But some insiders have insisted that changes will almost certainly have to be made because the MoD's 2011-12 budget allocation is about £1 billion short of the department's commitments.

The Ministry of Defence has scrapped nearly £1 billion of spare equipment. The Royal Navy alone disposed of £570 million worth of material, Peter Luff, the defence minister, has disclosed in response to a written parliamentary question.