Thursday, 16 September 2010

UK Defense Review - Are They For Real?

I've been around for a few years now, and I've seen more defense reviews than I could shake a stick at.

Worryingly, all have been portrayed by a gullible media as "getting our armed forces ready to face an uncertain future", with an occasional "value for money" thrown in.

In reality, all have been cutting exercises; aiming to cut whatever they can get away with. Which means few cuts that might affect marginal constituencies (either army units or manufacturing bases), greater cuts where there's no clear local interest. Few cuts have ever made military sense, and the most expensive items - missiles, carriers, submarines - usually get excluded from the review. How stupid is that?

Meanwhile, the 'defense procurement' industry has grown to cost more than the Royal Navy, while never actually achieving value for money.

So where did it all go wrong?

First, the Ministry of Defense, and the procurement industry are very closely linked, the latter staffed by large numbers of retired civil servants and ex-officers.

Second, procurement doesn't actually seek value for money; it seeks to spread defense money around British industry in whatever way the politicians want - again, a focus on marginal constituencies as ever.

Don't get me wrong; I have no problem with supporting industry, but I have great objection to this being done with meagre defense funds, ending with crap helicopters, crap tanks, crap rifles etc., etc., all bought at inflated prices, all undermining the very defense forces the huge procurement industry is there to serve.

Time to scrap procurement, and start seeking value for money; time to stop back door subsidies to a dying industry. Time to separate two problems and stop the lies and hypocrisy.


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