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CSR

By Nick Watts

The government's proposed Defence Industrial Technology Policy (DITP) will be published in December. Or rather, it will be the basis for a discussion between industry and government. Both sides have much at stake, so the outcome is important. Getting the right answers means asking the right questions. The government and the MOD each need to ask three questions when formulating the DITP:

How can the UK secure the necessary operational sovereignty to guarantee the provision of key strategic capability into the future?How best can the government partner with industry to ensure the continuation of a viable defence sector in the UK?How can the government help the UK's defence sector to explore and exploit opportunities in the export market?

 For its part Industry also needs to collectively consider three questions, as it engages with the government and MOD:

How will industry adjust to the stated aim of MOD to reduce the number of operating platforms: how will this enable the UK to retain a viable defence industry? To what extent can exports help pull through programmes for the UK market?How can industry help MOD reform its acquisition process, to ensure that programmes get developed quickly and that equipment is delivered on time and on budget?

The DITP will be a Green Paper, a discussion document. This is intended to guide the subsequent discussions so that a White Paper can result. The White Paper will represent the government's settled view on the future of the MOD's industrial and technology policy for the life of this parliament, and at least until the next SDR in 2015. In the context of the SDSR and the CSR, there is much gloomy talk in the air. Yet both sides of this discussion have a mutual interest in ensuring that the other survives to fight another day.

The context, while not promising could be a lot worse. After the fall of communism the subsequent peace dividend took its toll on both the armed forces of the west and the defence industry. The notorious "Last supper" of 1993 encapsulated this. US Defence Secretary Aspin told the leaders of the 15 largest US defence contractors that the DOD was not going to solve industry's over capacity problem. The result was a wave of consolidation which has produced stronger contractors now. In Europe and the UK a similar series of consolidations took place.

The world in 2010 is far different from 1990, when policy makers were trying to get their heads around what the changes of 1989 meant. The SDSR set the context within which the industrial and technology questions need to be considered. The arithmetic of the CSR is another factor affecting the DITP. The contemporary setting does not allow the laissez faire approach adopted by Les Aspin in 1993, however much the government may wish.

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Speech by General Sir David Richards KCB CBE DSO ADC Gen ,Chief of Defence Staff, The Policy Exchange, Monday 22nd November 2010

Over the past month I have been getting to grips with my new appointment as Chief of the Defence Staff. Whilst I do not have time to ponder it too much, I am genuinely still somewhat baffled how I have ended up in this position. The 18 year old boy who joined 29 Commando Regiment to follow his brother would not recognise the rather care-worn man who stands before you – and would have quailed at the thought of high rank dismissing it without doubt as ridiculous anyway.

The job will not be simple, but it will be made easier by the fact that I know I will be supported by some of the most capable, dedicated and selfless soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that this country has ever produced. And by the civilians in the MOD who have again and again demonstrated their skills and commitment.

I am not going to dwell on people in this talk other than to say that if we fail to attract and retain the very high quality people that historically join the British Armed Forces, our prospects for the future will diminish markedly. They lie at the heart of military capability. I am not certain the consequences of failing in this are always fully appreciated. People tend to focus more on the kit and metal than the people.

Over the next decade we will need every ounce of their dedication because the issues that we, in Defence as a whole, have to address are diverse and challenging. And, as was the case with every one of my predecessors, I recognise that the outcome of our efforts must meet the very real challenges confronting us. It is vital for the future security of our nation.

I speak at a time when all three services are heavily committed to operations. In Afghanistan, off the Horn of Africa, in the Gulf and in the Falkland Islands, to name a few prominent examples, the Navy, Army and Air Force are together ensuring the UK's interests are defended. They and the civilians who work alongside them across the Ministry of Defence, and indeed on operations themselves, have rarely been pushed so hard. Current commitments demand our endurance and test our resolve. But I have no doubt that with the support of the people of this country – support not only for who we are but for what we do – the Armed Forces will meet every challenge thrown at us. I am confident that they will not let you down.

I wanted to talk to you this evening about three things:

First, the National Security Strategy which is the guiding document for our analysis. It set the strategic context for and then shaped the Strategic Defence and Security Review, as it will the follow-on work. It is, in military speak, our Commander's Intent.
Secondly, the Review itself; the options we had, the choices we made and the military judgments that lay behind them. As with any outcome that is properly strategic in its approach, our military judgments are matched to the resource it is deemed the country can afford. This has required the difficult decisions we have taken to be a reasoned balance of acceptable risks.

And third is Afghanistan; the last in this list but the absolute priority of the National Security Council and the Armed Forces. The Defence Secretary reiterated in parliament this month that it is our main effort. And as I have said in the past, our actions in Afghanistan are vital for the short and long term national security of our country. The consequences of the choices made there will reverberate for many years to come, on international security and stability but also on the ability of Britain to exert influence worldwide.

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Summary of key recommendations

1. Armed Forces Community Covenant

The Community Covenant has its roots in a successful US scheme in which states and towns (incorporating local government and local service providers, the voluntary sector and private companies) voluntarily pledge support for the „Armed Forces family? (including Service personnel, veterans and their respective families, including the bereaved) in their area.

Who could pledge support to the Community Covenant? Local Authorities (including county councils) would provide an ideal focus, depending on local needs (for example, in some areas the regional military structure might work more effectively with county councils; in other areas Local Authorities might be a more appropriate focus). There is nothing to stop a county and a town within that county both pledging support, as in the US. Private companies could also pledge to work with Local Authorities or sign up individually to offer benefits or services to the military community. Community Covenants also provide a framework for charities to cooperate with each other, and with the public and private sector, at the local level. Individuals would be encouraged to show their support as part of the Community Covenant – for example by volunteering to work with a charity, organising events, or making donations.

How could communities be encouraged to get involved? It could in principle be possible to impose a duty on Local Authorities to make provisions under the Community Covenant. However, the example of the US, and of existing civil-military partnerships in the UK, shows that a voluntary scheme can be equally, if not more, effective. Public commitment (via a pledging ceremony or similar) creates pressure to meet obligations and raises public awareness, encouraging community groups and individuals to take part. Potential benefits to civilian authorities, companies and charities include: better targeting of resources; sharing facilities and land; good publicity and ongoing good news coverage. Meeting obligations to the military community should not impose significant costs on local government.

Existing examples of civil-military partnerships in the UK and of public support for the military demonstrate the potential of the Community Covenant to gain local support and improve life for the local Armed Forces community.
Central government role Support could come in a number of forms, depending on the level of central government participation deemed necessary. Given the scope for local variations in the adoption and delivery, central government?s role in promoting the "key ingredients" of a Community Covenant could be particularly valuable.

Examples could include: provision of a Community Covenant template document for organisations to pledge to; guidance on key areas of priority (such as disregarding compensation payments for means testing); a central Community Covenant website (to link to news stories and information about local schemes); issuing of formal scroll/certification or logo for businesses; organisation/funding for formal pledging ceremonies; funding to cover any initial start-up costs (though these should be minimal). Funding might not be available from central government but sponsorship could be sought from private companies or charities.

The Task Force sees Community Covenants as a framework for providing much of the support needed by Service personnel and their families, although we have also identified a number of other low-cost measures which could improve support for serving regulars, reservists, and families (including the bereaved).

2. Recognition for the Armed Forces Family

Policy options: Veterans? Privilege Card – funded by charitable funding, charging users, or updating Service ID cards. Service Families? Card – similar to above, although uses (such as access to military bases) could vary. Army Reservists? ID cards – these would be similar to Service ID cards used by Regulars. Charging is not a practical option, as the cards would need to be the property of the MOD.

Rationale

Veterans? Privilege Cards and Service Families Cards would allow veterans and Service families to identify themselves to service providers and to claim any discounts offered by private companies under the Community Covenant. A more secure chip-and-pin card could also allow veterans internet access to online pension details, and could enable access to bases at the discretion of commanding officers. This also applies to Service families. Some Army Reservists have no formal means of identifying their status between deployments, and a Reservist ID card would allow this.

3. Explore options for increasing home ownership among Service families

Policy options: Encouraging home ownership is a long-term aspiration, and in particular is difficult to achieve while mobility forms a central part of Service life. Most options involve upfront costs, while reduced reliance on Service accommodation would generate cashable savings only when pockets of estate were vacated and could be handed back. Options recommended for further exploration include: enhancing accommodation allowances; expanding a pilot shared equity scheme (launched in January 2010 and funds for the first year have been fully taken up); exploring options for boosting take-up of the Government?s low cost home ownership programme "HomeBuy", including raising awareness; encouraging a bank or banks to offer favourable mortgage rates to Service personnel. The Task Force suggests holding a PM/Chancellor-chaired summit of major banks at No. 10 to explore this last option further.

Rationale

Service Families Accommodation (SFA) costs around £285m per annum; some of this accommodation is in poor condition, and the cost of upgrading these 50,000 homes is substantial. Encouraging families to move into home ownership would benefit the families by giving them a foot on the housing ladder, and family stability for education, healthcare, partner?s career, etc. This would generate savings to the MOD in the long term.

4. Veterans? policy and coordination of veterans? charities

Policy options : A Veterans? Commissioner or Champion, to act as the champion of veterans and guide veterans? policy (possibly operating through a department external to the MOD such as the Cabinet Office). The Commissioner or Champion could be supported by a cross-departmental advisory committee including representatives of charities.

Separately from this, options for better coordination of veterans? charities include:

o Services and Veterans? Charities Advisory Board (SVCAB) responsible for determining priorities for veterans (possibly based on the existing Central Advisory Committee on pensions and compensation within the MOD. This could report to a Commissioner (or Champion), if such an option were pursued, or could stand alone.

o A framework for coordinating the activities of veterans? charities (as is provided by Veterans Scotland). This could be coordinated by the suggested SVCAB.

o A "shopping list" of areas of greatest need could be compiled to help guide charities on how their funding could best be directed. (Possibly compiled by the suggested SVCAB or Commissioner/Champion, although other options should be explored.)

o Local coordination of charities through the Community Covenant.

Rationale

There is some contradiction between the MOD?s principal aim of delivering military capability and the task of administering veterans? welfare services, and the Task Force has found widespread stakeholder support for a Veterans? Commissioner or similar. Collectively the numerous Service charities have considerable resources and many offer excellent support, particularly to veterans. However, the sheer diversity of the sector can cause confusion and there is concern that their full resources are not currently being tapped. Charities? activities can be determined by their own priorities rather than the needs of veterans.

5. Education throughout Service career

Policy options: Support for Service personnel in career planning, through a clear, and jargon-free personnel strategy. Build more personal responsibility into service life to improve the self-reliance of personnel at little or no additional cost. Ongoing formal education during military training, including making Service personnel aware of existing schemes and providing more options at an earlier stage of a service career. „Life skills? training throughout service (as opposed to concentrating training at the end of a career). Some Service personnel have little knowledge of everyday tasks such as opening and managing a bank account, securing housing, understanding benefits, or drawing up a will.

Rationale

Those who are well educated in service both stay longer, giving better returns on their training, and are better prepared for their transition to civilian life.

6. Strengthening links between civilians and the military

Policy options: Covenant or Chief of Defence Staff Commendation – for those institutions and individuals outside the service who do outstanding work for the military community. Greater community engagement by the military – encouraging civic participation; greater sharing of facilities; encouraging the military to talk about experiences. Increase the visibility of the Armed Forces – building on Armed Forces Day and encouraging homecoming parades and open days. Encouraging wider cultural engagement – such as „War Story?, and Imperial War Museum Project; theatre productions such as The Great Game; and stronger links with universities.

Rationale

Public awareness of the work of the services has increased enormously, and there is widespread sympathy for the losses of life and limb sustained by those who serve. However, sympathy does not generate understanding. Many people in Britain have little or no contact with the Armed Forces and have little understanding of military life. There is a need to build on public support to create a greater and more enduring understanding.

 
 

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