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A Second-Rate Power

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A Second-Rate Power

Old 2nd Mar 2009, 12:21
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A Second-Rate Power

Torygraph: British military facing becoming 'second division without major spending increase'

Britain must increase its defence spending by 15 billion a year or accept that it has become a "second division" military power, a major independent report has warned.

The shortfall in the armed forces' budget has reached such a critical point that the Government may soon have little choice but to scrap key orders for equipment such as aircraft carriers, armoured vehicles or even the replacement for the Trident nuclear missile programme, it claims.

In a foreword to the report, Winston Churchill, the grandson of the wartime prime minister, bluntly states that if defence spending stays at its current level, Britain's armed forces will "no longer play a significant role on the world stage".

He said the country will lose its seat at the "top table" of international affairs, becoming "unable to defend her wider interests". He adds that a shortfall in defence funding over the past 10 years has left the armed forces "stretched to breaking point by a combination of over-commitment and under-resourcing".

The report, published by the UK National Defence Association, comes after Britain's most decorated serving soldier, Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry VC, berated the Government for its "disgraceful" failure to provide proper mental health treatment for servicemen returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Government has faced persistent accusations of failing to honour its "covenant" with the armed forces since the Afghanistan conflict began in 2001. Senior officers have questioned ministers' commitment to the forces after such controversies as the failure to replace lightly-armoured Snatch Land Rovers to patrol heavily mined areas, which has led to dozens of avoidable deaths and injuries. Scandals over the state of forces housing, medical care and payments to severely injured veterans have also highlighted the lack of funding.

The UKNDA, an independent body which campaigns on behalf of the armed forces, states that the cost of "repairing" the armed forces, if Britain is to continue with its current foreign policies as well as funding major orders for equipment, will be 15 billion per year. The represents a 40 per cent increase on the current 35 billion budget, but little more than the amount of money written off at a stroke to fund the recent 2.5 per cent VAT cut.

The report's author, Tony Edwards, a former head of defence export services at the Ministry of Defence, says that either Gordon Brown or his successor at the next general election faces a clear choice: either to "repair the damage" of over-stretch in Iraq and Afghanistan or to "lower our profile in the world at large".

He said: "The Prime Minister could decide to continue with the current defence budget and instead lower the foreign policy and defence expectations. Because current defence spending is out of balance with current foreign and defence policy expectations, this will involve massive reductions and cancellations of already announced programmes. In the next five years, at current spending levels, the UK will become a middling second division military power, behind countries like India and Japan. It is worth pointing out that repairing the armed forces, and restoring balance and morale, is probably more important than acquiring some of the new capital equipment."

Among the projects which could be cut if the Government does not increase defence spending are the aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, which will cost 2 billion each; the Harrier jump jet's replacement, the F-35, which will cost 15bn, or even the replacement for the submarine-borne Trident nuclear missile, which will cost 40-70bn over 30 years.

Mr Edwards said: "The United Kingdom's armed forces have been engaged in almost continuous operations for the past 20 years. It used to be said that Britain punched above its weight in world affairs, but more recently this has meant that our overstretched armed forces have had to punch above their budget, a far more difficult feat."

Mr Edwards said the government had delayed making a decision on defence spending until after the next general election by keeping everything "in the air", such as orders for two aircraft carriers, which have been put back by two years. But, he said: "The next Prime Minister, whether it be Gordon Brown or David Cameron, will no longer be able to avoid making a decision."

Gerald Howarth, the shadow defence minister, said: "We are hugely conscious that the Labour government has totally failed to provide the necessary resources to fund two wars. We can't continue to ask the brave men and women of our armed forces to do what they are doing on the resources that have been given to them, and the Conservatives will conduct an immediate review of defence spending on entering office."

The report has been endorsed by patrons including Lord Owen and the former chiefs of the defence staff General The Lord Guthrie and Marshal of the RAF Sir Peter Harding.
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 13:36
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Well If the Torygraph did a bit of research it would find the UK Armed forces in the league already with relegation to division 3 imminent
 
Old 2nd Mar 2009, 14:46
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heh, in this world, The British Forces are a bit like Hull City are in the Premiership... doing far better than they should be considering the money spent on them.
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 14:52
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And like Hull, we're only 4 years away from the Conference.
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 16:54
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So lets cancel the Trident replacement. In reality the UK cannot afford it; is not in the business of city destruction anymore; and the money could be better spent on providing the conventional forces with the kit, support, pay and accommodation they need and deserve. As an example, look at the reports over the weekend of sub-standard medical services out-of-theatre.

If the Navy Board want big boys' toys, and career paths, they need to choose between SSBNs and the flat-tops. Personally I see the flat-tops and attendant aircraft and surface protection fleet as being far more flexible to use against the reported threat.
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 17:52
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See that position as one of the P5? on the UN security council, as a permament member... yes? Well, go ahead and wave goodbye to it, because if release trident we'll never see it again.

I say give us the 15billion we need to get back up to speed. The State spends enough on welfare as it is, that systems needs a damn good overhaul (by someone with far more intelligence than me, of course) and stick the money into it. Lets face it, no PM is going to be willing to oversee our dropping in standing - the man/woman who let this country finally slip by the wayside - so their gonna have to stump up the cash one of these days.

Ah the joys of forums, and being able to think that putting something into practise is as easy as saying it....
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 18:11
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Bin the Navy except for the Trident subs, give the RAF the sole role of AD of the UK and turn the Army into the Home Guard. That's all we need for our national defence and everyone else can look after themselves. Job done and a packet saved.
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 18:36
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On that logic the Security Council Permanent Membership should also comprise Israel; India; Pakistan; and arguably North Korea.
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 20:08
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Zoom: Once you have pulled our perimeter back to coastal waters, any country wishing to defeat Britain can do so without ever coming anywhere near us, by thousands of miles. Or perhaps you think this nation is self sufficient in food, fuel and materials. It is not. Our Achilles heel is our complete reliance on overseas trade, just as it was in WW2. An enemy does not need to be a nation with submarines, just terrorists with the means to plant bombs on cargo ships. I know how lax British port security is today, and we are supposed to be a lot tougher than most of the nations we trade with. What use is a Typhoon without fuel for it's engines or food for it's crew?
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 21:07
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Strange that, being on a discussion thread but not being amenable to discussing. Maybe its my old age, but I really can't be f d with little boys regurgitating what their "professors" have told them in PolSci 101 masquerading as informed opinion contributing to a discussion on ""A forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World.""

Hows that for a pissing contest?
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 21:25
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Originally Posted by Obi Wan Russell View Post
Zoom: Once you have pulled our perimeter back to coastal waters, any country wishing to defeat Britain can do so without ever coming anywhere near us, by thousands of miles. Or perhaps you think this nation is self sufficient in food, fuel and materials. It is not. Our Achilles heel is our complete reliance on overseas trade, just as it was in WW2. An enemy does not need to be a nation with submarines, just terrorists with the means to plant bombs on cargo ships. I know how lax British port security is today, and we are supposed to be a lot tougher than most of the nations we trade with. What use is a Typhoon without fuel for it's engines or food for it's crew?
OWR, indeed you may be right but do you consider seriously that we have the ability to protect our SLOC?

To what extent does Scandinavia patrol the global sea lanes? German is a bit brown water too.
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 21:39
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YD - with the greatest respect, you may have heard 'numerous' academics suggesting this, but there are members of this board who have heard other, equally - or perhaps even more - distinguished academics offer a less clear-cut opinion on the relationship of the P5 seat to the retention of Trident (or a much more limited nuclear capability) when attending the Staff College on ACSC; or, when on ICSC will have heard other academics with a specialism in IR put forward a view contrary to the one you've expressed.

There are a fair proportion of Ppruners who've studied this at Masters level, so telling them what your professors have said isn't necessarily going to carry the day on this...
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 21:42
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It has to be understood that once our little country recognises its' own insignificance in global power and relinquishes its' military roles outside our borders there will be no threat from abroad because there will be no interest in defeating us.

Punching above our weight is much more likely to cause us trouble.

Zoom is right - spend defence money on defence of UK.
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 22:01
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"become a "second division" military power"

surely that'd be a "championship" military power


though lets face it were rapidly on our way to becoming a league one economy anyway!
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 22:13
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Deleted the post, I sincerely apolgise - I read the reply while angry at somebody in real life and that carried over.

Bad drills very bad drills and I seem to be a bit of a moron.

Won't let it happen again, neck firmly wound in.



SO, to try again, yes I understand that, but it seems to be a concurring theme through a lot of the current writing that there is an exceptionally strong correlation between having nuclear weapons and a P5 seat - Trident is actually a big part of what i'm researching for my Diss right now so i'm heavily immersed in the literature right now, which is probably why I sounded off in such a snotty manner. If you'd like i'll dig through my book pile and find the journal entry, if I can. I'm up the the ears in the pros and cons of MRAPS at the moment
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Old 3rd Mar 2009, 12:11
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It is human to err but it takes a man to apologise.
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Old 3rd Mar 2009, 12:27
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Our Achilles heel is our complete reliance on overseas trade, just as it was in WW2.
Even more so now, as we no longer have any significant manufacturing base.

Apart from Jamie Oliver's pork, I'm hard pressed to think of many things which can claim to be 'Made in England' nowadays.....
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Old 3rd Mar 2009, 12:57
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Rolls Royce Aero Engines in Derby ?
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Old 3rd Mar 2009, 13:42
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aw ditor Rolls Royce Aero Engines in Derby ?
Would that not be "Assembled in England", I would imagine most parts are brought in from suppliers these days and assembled, as in the car industry.
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Old 3rd Mar 2009, 16:13
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anyway.....back on track

You cannot get away from the facts guys:

1. We are a maritime nation - we need to protect our sea lanes, by air and sea. We need maritime patrol aircraft and plenty of them. We also need escort ships and antisubmarine groups - ideally 'escort groups' to support our merchant navy (well ok merchant shipping) - we are woefully ill equipped in these areas

2. We need carriers as force projection and offshore logistical support - for helicopters and fixed wing operations - we are woefully lacking in this area

3. We need an increase in battlefield capability - men and equipment (armour, helos, logistics vehicles, tankers etc) - we are woefully understrength in this area

See the common thread here - it's not about being strong in some areas and weak in others - it's that we are weak in all areas, and worse still we are neglecting the basics. And don't think that Tories will be better than Labour - the Tories presided over the separation and privatisation of the very capabilities we need most now................... amazingly short memories some politicians have (probably in the job description)

Rant over....................... Ops normal.....................2 rashers for me Beags

Arc
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