Tuesday, 28 September 2021
Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
issues from and for policy makers and opinion leaders.

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By a special correspondent

The military covenant was a very new phenomenon, the Defence Select Committee were told today.

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Order of Bath (KCB)

Alexander Jeffrey permanent secretary, Ministry of Defence

Order of Bath (CB)

Nicholas John Bennett director-general of strategic technologies, Ministry of Defence

Order of the British Empire (CBE)

Julian Graham Birt senior landing site officer, the Queen's Helicopter Flight
Murray Simpson Easton managing director, submarine solutions, BAE Systems, services to the maritime industry
Alan Douglas Garwood lately head of Defence Export Services, Ministry of Defence

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Michael Mates MP for East Hampshire has introduced into Parliament a Bill to provide for equality in pension provision for the widows of servicemen. His purpose is to end the current discrimination against pre-1973 forces widows', who receive a substantially lower pension than widows whose husbands served after the date of the change.

Improvements to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme in 1973 led to an increase in the provision for service widows. As with all improvements to public sector pension schemes, the change was not retrospective. In this particular case an anomaly was created in that widows whose husbands served before 31 March 1973 receive only one-third of their late husband's pension whereas the widows of servicemen who served on or after 31 March 1973 receive one half of their husband's pension.

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Written statement by The Secretary of State for Defence, 31/03/09

The 2009 Report of the Armed Forces' Pay Review Body (AFPRB) has now been published and I would like to confirm that the AFPRB's recommendations are to be accepted in full, with implementation effective from 1 April 2009.

In line with the AFPRB recommendations, the basic military salary for officers and all other ranks will increase by 2.8 per cent. The rates of Specialist Pay (including Flying Pay, Submarine Pay and Diving Pay) will also increase by 2.8 per cent. The Government has also accepted the AFPRB recommendations on a number of targeted financial measures, including a minimum pay increase on promotion to the rank of Sergeant and Petty Officer of 5 per cent and a reduction in the qualifying period between each level of Longer Separation Allowance. The AFPRB, meanwhile, has endorsed the improved Commitment Bonus arrangements.


By Ian Godden, SBAC Chief Executive

The Society of British Aerospace Companies has warned the UK Government that the decline in research and technology (R&T) funding for defence will harm both the armed forces' ability to carry out their roles in future and will be a signal to the industry of the Government's declining commitment to maintaining high-skilled research in this country. The MoD's R&T budget has gone down by 7 per cent this year. It stood at £540m in 2007/8 and £502m in 2008/9.

Government and industry both invest heavily in R&T for equipment to ensure the armed forces have the right equipment for the future. This funding also provides the platform on which Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs) and urgent

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The following is a written ministerial statement from the Minister for the Armed Forces Bob Ainsworth on Programme Belvedere; to be published tomorrow (8th May 2009)

"I wish to inform the House today of the decision to close Programme Belvedere - the study into possible rationalisation of the Joint Helicopter Command's Battlefield Helicopter Estate.

During this complex study, the main bases under consideration were Royal Air Force (RAF) Odiham, RAF Benson, Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton, Wattisham Station and Dishforth Airfield. Some other airfields were also considered including RAF Lyneham, in light of the previously announced decisions to relocate C130 aircraft from there to RAF Brize Norton.

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During a recent Parliamentary trip to Afghanistan, the British Army was keen to demonstrate the process by which wounded soldiers are flown in to Kandahar on a Hercules (based at RAF Lyneham) and swiftly transferred across the runway to a C-17 fully equipped with the latest medical equipment.

Members of Parliament were all shown on to the C-17 and posed for photographs with the medical staff on board, were then ushered back to the terminal to watch the incoming Hercules.

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The full text of the speech on the nature of future conflict, given by the UK Chief of the General Staff
General Sir Richard Dannatt at RUSi last week can be found at



The hard pressed UK MoD has made gifts to the US Armed Forces. They include four permanent protected structures currently used as UK dining facilities located within the Contingency Operating Base (COB), Basra. The COB has been occupied by the UK Armed Forces since May 2003 as part of Operation TELIC. The UK's planned transition within Iraq will see our Armed Forces, during the early part of 2009, hand over responsibility for the military operation within Multi-National Division (South East) to the US. In order to enable the transition the UK Armed Forces will be required to vacate the COB to allow a US Brigade Unit under the command of HQ 10th Mountain Division to infill.

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The rumour mill has been churning at maximum revolutions since the Cabinet and Ministerial reshuffle. Speculation wasn't abated by the unwillingness/ inability of both No. 10 and the MoD Press office to confirm the titles and responsibilities. The (anonymous to protect the guilty) No. 10 non-spokesman, who on being asked about Lord Drayson said "oh equipment and support" without further enlightenment, threw a good dollop of fuel on the fires of speculation.

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It should have been a good news story, for which the MoD is usually desperate.

Tucked away in the Defence Contracts Bulletin daily alert was an announcement that SGS UK Ltd at Camberley in Surrey had won an £83,000 contact from Central TLB in Glasgow for the verification of MoD sites under the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme.
Green, small contract being placed direct, good news all round.

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As the world rushed to the aid of earthquake stricken Haiti and large numbers of American ships gatehred offshore, there was a notable absentee.

Where was the Royal Navy?

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The BBC has reported that the Gray report on defence procurement report is being acted upon by Govenment despite them saying in the last few days that it is not ready yet. It seems that the Ministry of Defence is setting up a new unit to buy military equipment and implement Gray recommendations, despite Quentin Davies saying as late as yesterday that report was in draft form only yesterday. Lord Drayson will oversee the new unit.

Commissioned by then Secretary of State for Defence John Hutton last year, he had said it should be published in July. Downing Street wants it as part of wider defence review. The MoD was very keen to get it out in July because they knew it would be fairly critical, but it had good news story of this new unit under Drayson.

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Underneath is the executive summary taken from the recently published Gray Report on MoD acquisition, and part of the response of the Secretary of State for Defence.

Procurement and support of military equipment consumes around 40% of annual defence cash expenditure and is of immense importance to the nation. The dedication of a wide group of individuals in attempting to deliver a complex programme of future capabilities while supporting our Armed Forces in current combat was apparent to the Review team throughout this work. The Department's commitment to improvement in acquisition is genuine and progress in some areas has been significant.

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The Government has responded to the following urgent qestion asked by Dr. Liam Fox MP, Shadow Defence Secretary concerning the Territorial Army.

"The Government has previously said that they 'always finance our military commitments overseas out of the reserve.' The Secretary of State stated that: 'we are adjusting the core defence budget to reprioritise Afghanistan.' Some of us are surprised that it's not already the No.1 priority, but if it is fully funded from the Reserve, why are they cutting the core budget of the TA by £43m?"

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A fairly innocuous question you might say, however when coupled with an email we've just received stating that Bill Rammell MP, Minister for the Armed Forces, could no longer attend an event he was due to speak at owing to "an unforeseen matter arising at the MoD", it does raise an interesting question. What are the MoD planning for Tuesday? Check back then to find out!


On the 23rd February Parliament set the maximum numbers of personnel to be maintained for service with the Armed Forces during the year ending 31st March 2011. The figures break down accordingly:

Service Regular Reserves Total
Royal Navy/Marines 42,550 19,205 61,755
Army 124,030 97,355 221,385
Royal Air Force 47,400 13,680 61,080

The total combined number of Armed Forces personnel expected to be in service during the financial year ending 2011 stands at 344,020.

A number of observations can be made from these figures. In terms of the regular Armed Forces, the combined total represents an extremely modest increase in personnel compared to the previous year. By 2011, it is anticipated that 213,980 regular personnel will be serving in the Armed Forces, compared with 212,430 in 2010.

By comparison, the number of reserves anticipated to be serving with the Armed Forces is much more alarming. The combined total of reserves anticipated to be in service for the year ending 2011 is 130,240. This figure represents a continuation of the decline of reserves since the beginning of the 21st Century. According to The Military Balance, the number of reserves within the Armed Forces throughout the decade was:

Year Total
2000 302,850
2001 247,100
2002 256,750
2003 272,550
2004 272,550
2005 272,550
2006 241,520
2007 199,280
2008 199,280
2009 199, 280

One of the key messages of Andrew Murrison MP's Sixty Second Soundbite is that the reserves have played a significant part in operations in the not-so-distant and will continue to do so in the future. Whilst the Ministry of Defence may dispute The Military Balance's figures, the declining number of reserves is likely to impact on the scope of all future operations, including the regular Armed Forces.

Andrew Murrison MP on the changing role for reservists and the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme.


cenotaphA national service of commemoration to mark the 65th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) was held at the Cenotaph on the 8th May. TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, senior government representatives and Defence Chiefs, were joined by representatives of World War II associations, veterans of the conflict, current Service personnel whose grandparents fought in WWII and members of the public.

The service was attended by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

VE Day marks the official end of hostilities in Europe for the Second World War on 8 May 1945, following the formal unconditional surrender of German Forces. It was an occasion of national celebration, yet also one of sombre reflection for those who would not return.

Wreaths were laid by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, PM Gordon Brown, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, The Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, The First Sea Lord, General Sir David Richards, Chief of the General Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, Chief of the Air Staff, and Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely, National President of The Royal British Legion.

Following the service, a reception was hosted by the Royal British Legion for the veterans at Horse Guards Parade, attended by HRH The Prince of Wales.


The Government believes that we need to take action to safeguard our national security at home and abroad. We also recognise that we need to do much more to ensure that our Armed Forces have the support they need, and that veterans and their families are treated with the dignity that they deserve.

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Latest from the Ministry of Defence

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