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UK politics

By Lauren Williamson, Great North News correspondent

A British newspaper incorrectly reported that wikileaked diplomatic cables revealed the US was set to exploit the UK in its renewed arms reduction treaty with Russia. The February 5 article in The Telegraph called into question the UK-US "special relationship," reporting that the US would share secret UK Trident missile data with Russia as part of the New START treaty which went into effect earlier this month. The allegations were quickly echoed by news entities around the world from the Daily Mail to Iran's PressTV.

US Assistant Secretary of State PJ Crowley immediately dismissed the report. "There was no secret agreement and no compromise of the UK's independent nuclear deterrent," Crowley told the press.

UK officials substantiate this.

Though the Foreign Office would not comment on the specifics of the treaty, in an official statement to Great North News, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed support for the New START deal and its work "towards our long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons."

But regarding The Telegraph report, Dr. Julian Lewis, New Forest East MP and expert on defence and disarmament, said he found the article's content surprising.

"The idea that this was a clandestine deal is utter nonsense," said Dr. Lewis, calling the story "sensationalised" and emphasising that the US "never has, never will" provide external entities information on missile performance.

By and large, the New START deal is a straightforward extension of the original START, or Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which was an historic bilateral agreement between the US and USSR to drawdown strategic arms, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The old START, which expired in 2009, effectively limited the number of warheads allowed on US and Russian missiles, while allowing for an information exchange and inspection-verification process between them. Part of the deal required each nation to share information about weapons transfers to third parties.

The Arms Control Association explains that Britain uses only one ballistic missile system for issuing nuclear warheads, the Trident II SLBM, which is provided by the US. An example of a third party missile transaction governed by START would be the return of UK missiles to the US for service checks and reconditions, followed by missile replacements.

The New START deal continues most of the old treaty's provisions, further limiting deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, deployed and non-deployed strategic launchers and heavy bombers to 800, and deployed strategic launchers and heavy bombers to 700. The main differences in the new agreement, according to Dr. Lewis, is that the US and Russia are now allowed five days to provide third party transaction information, as opposed to 48 hours, and that part of the data provided includes the unique identifier of the missiles exchanged.

Some analysts are concerned that this gives Russia too much detail on the size of the UK's arsenal. While Dr. Lewis agrees that this information will, over time, provide Russia a clearer picture of the number of missiles the UK possesses, the UK's overall security strategy is not compromised, since providing Russia the unique identifier numbers to UK missiles falls far short of full disclosure.

"The truth is that it is rather irrelevant information," Dr. Lewis said.

The number of warheads mounted on each missile supplied by the US still remains unknown to outside nations, and Britain's minimum strategic nuclear deterrent remains intact, as does its relationship with the US.

"The important thing is that we are always at liberty to vary the number of warheads on a missile," said Dr. Lewis.


Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Treatment of around 20,000 people who suffer major trauma each year is set to improve as the Government announces significant new investment into trauma and microbiology research.
The Department of Health, the Ministry of Defence, University Hospitals Birmingham and University of Birmingham are investing £20 million in a new initiative to share medical lessons learned. The initiative will bring both military and civilian trauma surgeons and scientists together to share innovation in medical research and advanced clinical practice in the battlefield to benefit all trauma patients in the NHS at an early stage of injury.
The new National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) for surgical reconstruction and microbiology will be set up at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, where all injured service personnel are currently treated after evacuation from the frontline in Afghanistan.
Research will focus initially on today's most urgent challenges in trauma including:
• identifying effective resuscitation techniques;
• surgical care after multiple injuries or amputation; and
• fighting wound infections.
For every trauma fatality in England, there are two people who are left with severe and often permanent injuries. Currently, variable research into trauma care means advances are not always shared across the NHS. The new NIHR centre will form a central point in England for trauma research where knowledge can be translated into real improvements in care for all NHS patients and beyond. It will be the first and only research centre of its kind in the UK to focus both on military and civilian care and treatment.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:
"The new NIHR Centre will fund world-leading research to help people recover better and faster from severe injuries. There have already been significant developments in advanced emergency treatment and transportation but more medical research is needed.
"This investment will help to strengthen the response of health and emergency services to major disasters such as road traffic accidents and terrorist attacks in the future. It will also help to make the NHS leaders in the world of trauma care - helping to improve treatment and care in the NHS and around the world. This investment also reflects our commitment to health research in the strongest possible way."
Defence Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans Andrew Robathan said:
"The medics who work for our Armed Forces are recognised the world over for pioneering new advances in trauma care and quite rightly so. Those who have been injured defending their country deserve the very best standards of care. I am proud that the MoD is investing £10 million in the new NIHR Centre, which will allow us to develop new techniques to treat our soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and allow military surgeons to share our skills and knowledge with the NHS."
Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, Director General of Research and Development at the Department of Health and (interim) Chief Medical Officer said:
"I am delighted to be establishing the new NIHR Centre for Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology, in collaboration with our partners in the Ministry of Defence and in Birmingham, which will be unique in this country.
"Translational research efforts are needed to target the early phase of injury in order to develop novel therapies and interventions for pre-hospital and early in-hospital trauma care. The cross-learning fostered between the military and civilian health care settings will improve treatment options and care for all patients".
The Surgeon General, Surgeon Vice Admiral Philip Raffaelli said:
"This is a hugely important initiative building on the strong partnership between the MoD and DH. The new centre will play a key role in building scientific evidence from injuries sustained in both military and civilian environments. All our patients will benefit now and in the future as new treatments are developed and shared across the NHS and the military."
Julie Moore, Chief Executive, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust:
"We are delighted to become the UK's only NIHR Centre for Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology. It is recognition of the work undertaken by the Trust and our partners over a number of years. It will provide us with the opportunity to build academic knowledge around pioneering clinical innovations, often performed for the first time to save lives and limbs. It will also allow us to use and develop basic science techniques to then critically examine and translate into clinical practice for the benefits of patients."
Giving the centre the best possible clinical direction from the start will be its interim chair Professor Sir Keith Porter, who is the UK's only Professor of Clinical Traumatology and has developing world-class treatment for injured military servicemen and women for the past 10 years.
Many more people survive injuries, when not so long ago they would have died due to the rapid loss of blood and severe trauma. Overcoming severe limb, head, face, burn injuries and infections can take years to treat requiring lifelong rehabilitation.
The nature of military injuries are often very complex and can in some cases require years of after care and rehabilitation.
The funding will offer researchers and medical students at the University unprecedented opportunities to work and learn with the very best in their field.


Tom Parfitt in Moscow writes in the Guardian's weather blog:

Russia is - unsurprisingly - well-equipped for battling snow. From its fleets of
gritting lorries to its nationwide army of dvorniki - the street cleaners who wake
Russians every winter morning with the "scrape-scrape" of their shovels - this a
country that knows how to fight the frost.

But a new piece of snow-clearing hardware being used in the Urals city of Nizhny
Tagil has shocked even the locals: The T-72 tank.

"The thing is that tractors and other special machinery can't always cope with
drifts more than a metre high," explained Ivan Sakharov of UralVagonZavod , the
town's famous factory that converted from building train carriages to tanks during
the Second World War. "But our tanks can."


The Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luf MP, today laid in Parliament, a Green Paper entitled Equipment, Support andTechnology for UK Defence and Security: A Consultation Paper.

He said "The first duty of Government is the security of our nation. It is therefore
essential that the UK equips itself with the right tools to tackle current and
future threats. The convergence of defence and security that underpinned the
Strategic Defence and Security Review means that we should seek to bring together
our approach to equipment, support, and technology in both the defence and security
sectors. I have therefore worked with the Minister for Security in preparing this
Green Paper to reflect our new approach. We have also included cyber security as a
separate section because it is a new and fundamental challenge.

"Our default position is to use open competition in the global market; to buy
off-the-shelf where we can; and to promote open markets in defence and security
capabilities. We will take action to protect our operational advantages and freedom
of action, but only where essential for national security.

"The UK currently enjoys a strong industrial presence in the defence and security
markets and export success abroad in those markets; last year, defence and security
exports achieved around £8.5 billion revenue. We are committed to doing more to
promote exports of both defence and security products from the UK to responsible
nations, as well as to boost the role of small and medium sized enterprises, both in
their direct and indirect supplies to the Government and its agencies."

The Green Paper is available online at The
formal public consultation period will run from January to March 2011 The Government plans
to publish a White Paper on these issues in 2011.

Defence Viewpoints will publish further comment and analysis shortly


The Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans (Andrew Robathan MP ) today announced that the
Government is committed to providing effective, through-life, health services for UK Service and ex-Service personnel.

As part of this commitment, the Department of Health and Devolved Administrations, with support from the Ministry of Defence has piloted a new mental health care service for former members of the Armed Forces in six National Health Service trusts across the UK. The final pilot, in Scotland, is due to be completed in April 2011.

Independent evaluation of the pilots by the University of Sheffield Centre for Psychological Services Research, which my Department commissioned, has been completed. Their independent evaluation report has been published today.

The Report identifies key components of successful services and makes a number of recommendations. The Department of Health will consider the Report and examine how its recommendations fit with existing and planned enhancements to NHS veterans mental health services, including those recommended by Dr Andrew Murrison MP.


There is a general proposition promulgated recently that all UK defence procurement is bad.

One example is the Landing Ship Dock (the Bay Class, one of which is to be laid up under current Government defence cuts proposals)

But on at least two occasions, in public (though under the Chatham House rule) a senior responsible person at the National Audit Office has been heard to say that even so, they represented value for money. 

The solution was innovative - to buy a Dutch design and build to MoD requirements. The low cost tender-winning solution - Swan Hunter - was low cost because it gad reduced its technical and management capabilities to compete on price in global markets. SO when the MoD started changing the specification, the strategy started to unravel and all the other bad things started to happen.

So there are lessons here. Bespoke costs more than off-the-peg (ask any suit buyer. And the alterations cost.) The best is the enemy of the good. if we want manufacturing and operational sovereignty, we have to pay for it.

If we buy foreign, they can still exercise control, usually through the software. (c.f. Chinook Mk 3, another oft-sited failure) Or in the case of Belgium during the Gulf War, by declining to supply what we need to make systems work in combat 9in that case, ammunition)

As my father used to say, it it were easy, any fool would be able to do it.

So good luck in your new post as Chief of Defence Materiel, Mr Gray. On tip for free however. take another look at the basic suggestions behind the Smart Procurement initiative of the late nineties. And if you can't get the military out of the mechanics of procurement (as opposed to the specification of capability requirements) make sure they can get promotion in place while working for you. then make them stick at their posts until that capability is delivered. Clear lines of control and senior management with whom the buck stops would be a logical, effective and cheap fix.




Bernard Gray has been appointed as the MOD's Chief of Defence Materiel, leading on the delivery of all aspects of the Defence Equipment and Support Plan. This includes responsibility for MOD assets worth £104Billion and an annual operating budget of £13Billion.

Bernard Gray replaces General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue who has been in the post since its creation in April 2007 and is retiring. Bernard Gray will take up his 4 year appointment on 4 January 2011.

Read more...  

By Nick Watts, Defence Correspondent, Great North News Services

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has again highlighted the lack of control in the way the MOD manages its finances. Under a new Chairman, Margaret Hodge MP, the committee has returned to the cause pursued by its predecessor in the last parliament. In sum the PAC states that the MOD does not have a handle on its finances, and this is exemplified by the way it manages the defence estate.

With an annual expenditure of some £42 bn the MOD is responsible for a defence estate which is valued at some £20 bn. In an unnerving parallel with the equipment programme, the PAC reports that the department is not sure whether its estate holding is too big, too small, or just right. The PAC also notes the department has a £36 bn shortfall in funding over the next decade. This mostly consists of the forward Equipment Programme. For the time being the MOD can ascribe these problems to the shortcomings of its predecessor. It remains to be seen how this picture will change next year. Lord Levene's Defence Reform Unit will have almost finished its work by then, and the results should be filtering through to such areas as this. Gripping the financial management of the MOD is one of Liam Fox's top priorities. We shall see.

This is a synopsis of the Public Accounts Committee critical report.

The Ministry of Defence (the Department) is responsible for over £42 billion of annual expenditure. While it has managed to stay within budget each year, it has failed to exercise the robust financial management necessary to control its resources effectively in the long term. It has also failed to match its future plans to a realistic assessment of the resources available. There is a shortfall in planned expenditure against likely funding of up to £36 billion over the next ten years. The Strategic Defence and Security Review did not explicitly set out how this long-standing gap between defence spending and funding would be resolved.

The Department's consistent pattern of planned overspend demonstrates serious organisational failings and a dangerous culture of optimism. The underlying reasons for the systemic failings in budgetary controls are the tendency towards financial over-commitment, weaknesses in the financial planning processes and a division in responsibilities and accountability for financial stewardship. The failure to integrate financial planning and control into decision making means that cuts in programmes and delays in expenditure on defence equipment are made very late in the day, leading to inefficiency, poor value for money and longer term additional costs.

The Accounting Officer has not discharged his responsibility to ensure that planned and committed expenditure across the defence budget represents value for money. For example, in 2008 the Department signed a contract to buy new aircraft carriers which was unaffordable, without having identified compensating savings. Because these savings were not subsequently found, it was necessary within a year to delay the project, resulting in an enormous cost increase and poor value for money.

We were astonished to learn that the Department has not had an explicit financial strategy linking its funding to its priorities. Without a clear strategy, it is difficult to resolve funding conflicts or to reallocate resources when priorities change. The Department does not have the tools to help it to revisit assumptions underlying its plans, ensure plans are realistic and make provision for unexpected events and managing risk.

Furthermore, the Department does not prioritise individual elements of the defence programme against its strategic priorities. When financial savings have to be found there is then no clear basis for determining where cuts should be made. So in-year decisions on budget cuts are made on an ad hoc basis, without proper consideration of relevant priorities and needs.

The Department has made some inroads into improving its financial management; however, it has yet to give financial management the serious consideration that it deserves. The Department has now appointed a professionally qualified Finance Director, and has undertaken to provide him with the full authority he needs to do the job.

On managing the defence estate
The defence estate covers 1.5% of the UK land mass, is valued at over £20 billion, and costs an estimated £2.9 billion per year to run. The Department has reduced the amount of built estate in the UK by 4.3% between 1998 and 2008, and achieved £3.4billion in sale receipts. However, staffing over the same period was cut by 13%, so more of the estate could and should have been released.

The Department does not assess its estate against clear objective criteria, such as the cost of running a site or the intensity of usage. The bias appears to always lie with keeping a site rather than disposing of it.

The Department does not collect centrally the information and data that would allow it to manage its estate in an effective way. It appears to lack urgency in its plans to improve its information base.

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, commented:

"The MOD's poor financial management has led to a potential shortfall of spending against funding over the next decade of £36 billion.

"It is astonishing that the Department has hitherto failed to develop a proper long-term financial strategy linking its funding to its core priorities and providing a clear basis for making cuts. Instead, it has managed to stay within budget each year by making short-term and ad hoc in-year decisions to cut programmes and defer the acquisition of kit. These have led to inefficiency and even greater costs in the longer term.

"This situation must change without delay. We welcome the MOD's appointment of a professionally qualified finance director and expect the Department to give him the powers he needs to do the job.

"We also want to see improvements in the MOD's decision-making about the defence estate which covers 1.5% of the country. The Department simply cannot say whether the estate is too large, too small or the right size. Managing a £20 billion asset with virtually no understanding of its cost or efficiency is entirely unacceptable."


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


David Cameron has unveiled the Strategic Defence Review.

The key points are:

Defence spending to be cut by 8% in real terms over the next four years

There will be no cut in support for military operations in Afghanistan


  • Personnel to be reduced to 95,500 by 2015


  • The Army is to return from Germany by 2020


  • Tanks and heavy artillery to be reduced by 40%


  • More Chinook helicopters to be made available

Royal Navy

  • Personnel will fall to 30,000 by 2015


  • 7 Astute Class Submarines and 6 Type-45 Destroyers will be built. There will also be a new development programme aimed at building frigates.


  • HMS Ark Royal will be decommissioned ahead of schedule in 2014


  • Construction of two new aircraft carriers to go ahead. One carrier will be held in extended readiness. The carrier version of the Joint Strike Fighter will be purchased.


  • The decision on a replacement for the Trident subamarines delayed until 2016

Royal Air Force

  • Personel to be reduced to 33,000 by 2015


  • Harrier jump jets to be retired, Nimrod MRA4 reconnaisance plans to be cancelled.


  • The RAF will sustain the use of the Tornado, Typhoon and JSF.


  • There will be increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles

The full document can be read here .

A|D|S, the UK's AeroSpace, Defence and Security trade organisation today (Tuesday) commented on the Prime Minister's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) announcement in the House of Commons.

Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, said:

"Today is a difficult day for everyone involved, from our armed forces to the industry that is proud to supply them and the politicians who are making these tough decisions to deal with issues from the past in order to look to the future.

"The key test of the success of the Review will be the extent to which it ensures that the UK has the industrial capabilities to address long-term future security needs and that our armed forces are equipped for the tasks that the nation asks of them. Today's announcement marks the beginning of a process, not the end of one. We will now work with the MoD as it produces its Defence Industrial Technology Policy to deliver the Review's aims in practical terms.

"Industry welcomes the clarity provided by the Review, which will ensure that plans can be adapted to meet new situations and future investment decisions can be made.

"The UK is a world-leader in the defence sector and to retain this position the industry and the Government must work together. This will deliver benefits for our armed forces, the UK economy, our export strength and the 300,000 people that work in UK defence – who are proud of the job that they do for our armed forces and for the delivery of over £32 billion per year for the country.

"Alongside the multinational firms based in Britain we also have more small and medium sized enterprises in defence than France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Norway combined. They are the bedrock on which our defence success is based and their needs must not be forgotten if the UK is to retain its ability to supply and support our troops to the highest possible standard."

The UK defence industry provides a key component of the nation's military capability in support of our troops and is an economic success story. Therefore, the need is for the Review to sustain UK-based industrial capabilities, exports and research and technology – all of which are crucial to the long-term future of our armed forces and our industrial base. Furthermore, a renewed focus on exports to boost demand will enable the industry to retain crucial capabilities that will allow it to continue to provide the best possible equipment and support to our own armed forces. Such joined-up working would deliver more adaptable, affordable and exportable equipment that will benefit the UK's armed forces and its economy.


In a written ministerial statement to Parliament announcing the publication of the National Security Strategy, the IK Prime Minister said today:

"The United Kingdom faces a complex array of threats from a myriad of sources. The National Security Strategy describes the strategic context within which these threats arise, and how they may develop in the future.

"It describes Britain's place in the world as an open, outward-facing nation whose political, economic and cultural authority far exceeds our size. Our national interest requires our continued full and active engagement in world affairs, promoting our security, our prosperity and our values.

"Our objectives are a secure and resilient United Kingdom, and shaping a stable world. In pursuit of these goals, our highest priorities are tackling terrorism, cyber security, international military crises and national disasters such as floods and pandemics.

"We will draw together and use all the instruments of national power to tackle these risks, including the Armed Forces, diplomats, intelligence and development professionals, the police, the private sector and the British people themselves.

"The National Security Strategy, together with the measures in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, will enable us to protect our security and advance our interest in the world."


Editor's note : You don't say.....



Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, (the Aerospace, defence and security trade organisation) said:

"The Government has identified within its new National Security Strategy the broad range of security risks that face the country and against which the nation and its citizens must be protected. We welcome the strategy and the incorporation of wider security aspects alongside the defence elements of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. These include the country's approach to cyber-security, international terrorism, serious organised crime and energy security. These wider elements are important parts of the National Security Strategy and we believe that the security industry has many roles to play in meeting these challenges.

"Security and resilience is a sector that can also benefit the country's economy. The UK has strong industrial capabilities and there is great potential for these to produce increased exports and an expanded industrial base in the UK. A closer partnership between Government and industry will help to deliver national security objectives but it will also help to fulfil the economic potential of a potentially world-leading sector. The global security market is growing and is estimated to be worth around $140-180bn annually. Industry and Government share the goal of a major uplift in the performance of UK security exports with the Government playing a similar role in security to that played in relation to defence exports.

"Industry looks forward to further developing its dialogue with the Home Office, Cabinet Office and other departments on strengthening co-operation in tackling key threats to national security such as terrorism and cyber attacks. We also welcome the Government's renewed focus arising from the SDSR on the resilience of Critical National Infrastructure (CNI). The security supply community has many roles to play in CNI protection and resilience; especially by supporting the emergency services and the operators of the CNI. The operators are themselves overwhelmingly made up of private sector entities - with capabilities relevant to this crucial element of national security policy."


There was a hint today from UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox that there could be a radical change to the new aircraft carriers already under construction.

When the design was first unveiled, some play was made of the fact that they were "adaptable" - i.e. while the principal plan was to operate STOVL aircraft (F-35B replacing Harriers) the design could allow for catapults and arrester wires to be installed instead.

Writing in The Times, Dr Fox criticised "the decision  to order aircraft carriers that are not fully interoperable with our two closest allies - the United States and France. Neither the French Rafale nor the US Navy's planned version of the Joint Strike Fighter could land or take off from our carriers.

"The design of the carriers also meant that the variant of JSF as planned is the most expensive."

Although he goes on to say that "getting the carriers right would take longer and is likely to cost more", there are clear seeds there. After all, the F-35C - US Navy variant - is cheaper, has a longer range and greater "throw weight". This could justify a reduction in numbers on the basis of greater capability, and although time is money - as today's National Audit Office Major Projects Report clearly shows - there wouldn't be too much gnashing of teeth if delay in bringing the new carriers into service could be sold as being on the basis of capability and flexibility  not just expedience.

Then there's the politics. On November 2nd French President Sarkozy meets Prime Minister David Cameron at Portsmouth. Sarkozy is about to order more Rafales, a decision that is causing great scandal in Paris as he's accused of giving a "sweetener" to Serge Dassault to buy Le Parisien newspaper which would then back Sarkozy in the run-ip to the 2012 Presidentail elections. France also has its defence budget problems. It needs a second carrier to augment the small, under powered Charles de Gaulle. Bear in mind that France pitched in a nine figure sum at the design stage of the new UK carriers, so they have good visibility of its technical spec.  

How convenient would be the ability for maritime Rafales to hitch a ride on a UK carrier instead? And what a driver for the much-mooted improved Anglo-French defence co-operation.

And again today, US Secretary of State Clinton is reported to be concerned about defence cuts and says "Each country has to be able to make its appropriate contribution." How valuable would it be for Cameron to call Clinton and say "well, we've taken it to heart and we're going to make our carriers more interoperable with yours - and remember that our new strategic tanker aircraft use probe and drogue like the US Navy do, so we can keep backing you up with logistics as we have over Afghanistan so far". Added to which France is in the market for strategic tankers, so some kind of joint force would be another warm fuzzy for Britfrogs to push the way of the cousins.

Last straw in the wind? Recently a dozen UK Forces personnel have been undergoing training on cat and trap operations over in the USA.... 


To clarify : In the 6 years 2005 - 2010 31 Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel underwent training as pilots, landing safety officers or weapons ssytems officers on US carriers. The tempo is picking up : in the 3 years 2011-2013, which of course is right in the middle of  the UK carrier build programme, a further 51 will be trained.

In answer to a Parliamentary question, Defence Minister Lord Astor of Hever said : "The current design of the proposed "Queen Elizabeth" class aircraft carriers is also configured for the Short-Takeoff and Vertical Landing aircraft variant of the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) but this carrier design could be adapted for the operation of catapult-assisted take-off aircraft. If this option is chosen, the training plan would be altered."

In other words, are we already training the trainers?


Central departmental decisions by the UK Ministry of Defence to try to balance the defence budget have reduced its cash-flow requirements in the short-term but at a long-term cost that represents poor value for money for the taxpayer.

According to this year's Majjor Projects Report from the National Audit Office report, not making realistic budgetary provision for all likely project outcomes and slowing down projects have resulted in a £3.3 billion increase in a single year, 2009-10, in the total cost of the 15 largest defence equipment projects.

Read the full report here.


David Cameron has appointed Colonel Jim Morris of the Royal Marines as his personal military adviser. More information about the appointment can be read here.


The UK Government has been taking an axe to the Non-Departmental Public Bodies - aka Quangos. Hundreds are to be abolished or merged.

The only ones to be abolished within the MoD is the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. The future of the National Employer Advisory Board is under consideration - can the functions be provided by a committee of experts?

15 other MoD quangos will be retained


Jim Murphy MP - Shadow Secretary of State

Kevan Jones MP

Russell Brown MP

Michael Dugher MP

Gemma Doyle MP


Backgrounder on Rt Hon Jim Murphy - Shadow Defence Secretary (Labour)
"Eager beaver clumsy super-loyalist"

43 years old, born in Glasgow. Roman Catholic, married with two songs and a daughter. Moved to South Africa during teenage years and returned to England for higher education at University of Strathclyde.

Early Career
President of NUS Scotland 1992-1994, then President of NUS 1994-1996 (during university sabbatical, did not return to finish degree). Was member of National Organisation of Labour Students during this time

Commons Career
East Renfrewshire (was Eastwood), Tory safe seat - 3,236 maj. 1997 - 2010
Public Accounts Committee 2000 - 2001
Served as government whip, with responsibilities for Scotland 2002
Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office 2005 - 2006

Ministerial Career
Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform 2006 - 2007
Responsible for employment, welfare reform and child poverty
Minister for Europe 2007 - 2008
Also responsible for Central Asia, NATO and Russia and the UK's Public Diplomacy.
Took the European Union Amendment Bill through Parliament
Labour Minister of the Year 2008 (House Magazine)!
Secretary of State for Scotland 2008 - 2010
Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland 2010
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence 2010

Commons Voting Key Areas
Very Strongly Stricter asylum, Iraq war, foundation hospitals, ID cards, anti-terrorism laws, more EU integration

Strongly Hunting ban, top-up fees
Moderately Replacing trident, smoking ban, transparent Parliament, gay rights, removing hereditary peers
Moderately Against Stopping climate change, autonomy for schools, wholly elected lords
Very Strongly Against Investigation into Iraq war

Parliamentary Questions Key Areas
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Scotland, Treasury, Defence, Northern Ireland
Afghanistan, Middle East, Aircraft Carriers, Scotland

Registered Interests
Honorary Golf club membership for 2009

Ranked 124/647 for expenses. Had no London costs since 05/06, fairly standard costs. Very high office running costs (8th) last year but nothing else.


The US-UK Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty has passed its final hurdle towards ratification on both sides of the Atlantic with approval coming from the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

The Treaty was signed in June 2007 by then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and then United States President George W Bush. It aims to streamline and improve defence export processes and allows for the export of defence articles, without a license or other written authorization, from the US to an "approved community" of recipients in the UK and US and the subsequent transfer of these articles within that community without further US authorisation. This has the potential to boost trade between both countries and benefit the economies of both nations by retaining control of such transfers but speeding up the process for sales of equipment with US-made components to the UK Ministry of Defence and UK-sourced equipment to the USA.

Ian Godden, Chairman of the defence indutry body A|D|S, said: "The approval of the Treaty by the Senate is most welcome news. It has been a long journey but we sincerely hope that it will be worth the wait given the potential benefits that could now result.

"The Treaty reflects the close working relationship of our armed forces and the industrial collaboration of our two countries and it should deliver clear benefits for our troops. The UK is the largest international supplier of defence equipment to the US and is second only to the United States in the global defence export market. Therefore, the long-term significance of this new defence export control regime should not be underestimated."

Aerospace Industries of America President & CEO Marion C. Blakey said AIA that welcomes passage of the U.S.-UK and U.S.-Australia Defense Trade Cooperation Treaties by the full Senate.

"Ratifying these treaties will provide important benefits to both our national security and our economy.

"The treaties will streamline the licensing system for defense exports to our staunch allies, the UK and Australia. AIA has long advocated that we should do everything possible to ensure that their troops and our troops are able to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with the best equipment available.

"Passage of these treaties is in concert with the Obama administration's plan to modernize export controls. Our industry, with about 820,000 employees and 30,000 suppliers from all 50 states, strongly supports efforts to adjust outdated restrictions on American companies as we work to equip our closest friends and allies with the technology that allows our militaries to defend our mutual interests.

"We congratulate the Senate for passing the U.S.-UK and U.S.-Australia Defense Trade Cooperation Treaties, and thank both the House and Senate for passing the accompanying implementation legislation."


As the Prime Minister prepard to chair a National Security Council meeting to discuss the options around the Strategic Defence and Security Review Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, the UK's aerospace, defence and security trade
organisation, highlighted the significance of decisions on defence spending

The Government needs to bear in mind that as well as the decision-maker on defence
it is also the customer.  Its decisions have a profound impact on our armed forces
and the 300,000 people who work across the UK in the defence industry to support our
troops.  The defence budget has been relatively flat with little in the way of
increases over the last 20 years while other Government departments have seen their
budgets double or even triple over the same time period.  With our troops constantly
being asked to do more with less, the Government keen to increase exports and
defence able to deliver enhanced returns on investment - a £100m spend yields £227m
in returns - it makes no sense on any level to be cutting investment in defence
because of this knock-on effect on our armed forces and economic recovery.  Defence
is 10 per cent of UK manufacturing and Britain is currently number one in Europe and
second only to the US in terms of the global defence exports market but this
position would be under threat if investment is cut, leading to a dearth of new
programmes to export.

Furthermore, the proposals for a greater reliance on high-technology equipment in
the future do not align with the cuts of over 20 per cent in the MoD research and
technology budget over the last three years - that have already cost hundreds of
high-skilled jobs in the industry.  This budget, of less than 1.4 per cent of the
total defence budget, must be reprioritised within the MoD to deliver the future
capabilities for our armed forces.

There is of course room for reform within the armed forces, the industry and the
MoD to deliver even greater improvements and we are committed to playing a full part
in these changes that will also deliver savings.  But the implications for any
further cuts in defence spending in terms of their impact on our troops, our
national security, our global trading position, our economy and on the long-term
capability of our industry to continue to supply the best possible equipment to our
armed forces cannot be ignored.


General Sir Richard Dannett, Chief of the General Staff - GCB (Knight Grand Cross of the Military Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath)

Vice Admiral Trevor Soar, incoming Commander-in-Chief Fleet - KCB (Knight Commander of the Military Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath)

Air Marshal Christopher Moran, incoming Commander-in-Chief Air Command - KCB

Air Marshal Stuart William Peach - CB

Read more...  

The Ministry Of Defence

"The purpose of the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces is to defend the United Kingdom, its Overseas Territories, its people and interests, and to act as a force for good by strengthening international peace and security".

Secretary of State for Defence
The Rt Hon John Hutton MP
Has overall responsibility for the business of the Department but specifically leads on:
• Defence Policy and Planning and Budget Issues
• Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
• Nuclear issues including Ballistic Missile Defence
• Bilateral Defence Relations with North America, Western Europe and the Middle East
• NATO and EU issues
• Media and Communications

Read more...  

Latest from the Ministry of Defence

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