Cutting costs 'put troops in danger'

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by Always_a_Civvy, Aug 6, 2006.

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  1. The Sunday Times August 06, 2006

    Cutting costs 'put troops in danger'
    Michael Smith

    A COMMITTEE of MPs will this week accuse the government of putting soldiers’ lives at risk by cost-cutting and by lack of planning for the aftermath of the Iraq war.

    In its first examination of Britain’s post-war performance, the Commons defence select committee will be highly critical of the way the operation has been run. The report on UK operations in Iraq says the British deployment has been “cost-led rather than needs-led†and failed to take account of how equipment shortages and failings affected troops on the ground.

    The equipment failings include inadequate armour on the “snatch†Land Rover which has led to the deaths of 18 soldiers from roadside bombs.

    One member of the committee said last week that the evidence they had heard also suggested that senior officers had failed to stand up for the forces’ needs in the face of pressure from politicians.

    Although the report will not criticise senior officers directly, the MP added that “some people in the command structure were clearly prepared to say anything just to keep things right for Blairâ€.

    The damning inquiry follows last week’s report into the death in Iraq of Sergeant Steven Roberts in March 2003, which found he was killed because of shortages of body armour.

    The board of inquiry blamed “tight political restraints†for preventing proper planning of the war and said that Geoff Hoon, then the defence secretary, had delayed the purchase of body armour.

    The criticism from MPs of the lack of preparation for the aftermath of the war comes amid increasing concern about the failure to send sufficient troops to Afghanistan.

    The small numbers of troops to cover a vast area and the lack of helicopters has led to troops being stranded in remote outposts short of rations and water. Recent calls from commanders on the ground for more troops and helicopters led to just 200 extra infantry and two more Chinook transport helicopters.

    But the RAF is so short of Chinooks that one of them will not be sent until next month, while the other will not be available until October.

  2. Maybe sueing the Govt for breaches of the Health & safety act and failure to provide a Duty of care is in order???
  3. I heard that in Afganistan, they only have 5 helicopters for resupplying the troops.

    5 choppers!!!

    And what happens if they get shot down? Yes that's right, they're fcuked.

    A Brit soldier died in Iraq last week (or the week before, can't remember) due to not having body armour: this lack was due to "shortages" and spending cutbacks. The defence budget, I think, is dangerously low. HMS Southampton (T42 destroyer) went to the Gulf in 2003 with just 4 shells for the 4.5" gun. I know that because a weapons tiff onboard at the time told me. :roll:
  4. This one surprised me when I read it. The rules are now very specidfic - none of us can deploy without a min of CBA, weapon and helmet. You can't actually get on the plane without them.

    I came out with the lightweight stuff and have been issued the full Ned Kelly version on arrival. It weighs a ton and is difficult to move in until you get used to it but would rather have it than not.

    I 'd be interested to read the story on this one if anyone has a link.

  5. "Fitter, leaner, more efficient military."

    Makes me cry every time I hear some politician (or senior officer who kisses their arses) spouting this rubbish. The problem is that their definition of "efficient" is an accountant's definition. For "efficient", just replace with the word "cheap" and you get a more accurate picture.

    You can have it cheap or you can have it effective, you can rarely have both.
  6. I think to be fair our forces are fitter. leaner and more efficient, we are just way down on capability. If we restored that capability it would cost us more than we pay now, but at the same time it would cost less than if we had continued on without change.

    Working as I do on the supplier side these days, the kit is still not cheap, our procurement is still not that smart, although it is improving. The big problem is they don't buy enough kit and rely on industry being able to turn up the wick. The trouble is our business has been cut back so much that blowing on the embers to try and get a flame going is just as likely to put the fire out completely.

    I would agree the forces don't want, nor should they have 'cheap gear', but ther is still plenty of room for the good stuff to cost less, and that is the way we should be going.

  7. What we don't see are the salami slices the Navy and Air Force have inflicted on them to just keep current Land Ops close to adequate. The DLO are still seeking significant "savings" and, as it looks at the moment, the Navy will be the major casualty.

    Funny how Purple problems receive Green solutions with adverse Blue (usually the dark shade) impact.
  8. The fact of the matter is that far too much money is spent on the pen pushers rather than where it is needed at the frontline....the MOD is no different than any other government agency e.g. NHS etc etc.

    Due to location I know quite a few bods that work within the Proc Exec and quite frankly some of the stories about the way they spend money would drive you mad.....running a tote on who could run up the highest hotel/expenses tab on courses be honest words fail me.....!!!
  9. personally I agree with WM....just this once shippers....some of the dits about the procurement process are crazy...I would like to see some of these "logistics specialists" out in the field to see the sharp end of the process for a period of time......just to get a taste and then we'd see how quick things would improve :lol:
  10. I know our troops don't have all the latest kit, but I did see an episode of the A team once where they fashioned a cannon out of an old pipe, some compressed air and a hosepipe with cabbages as ammo. Maybe this could be an option (provided cabbages can be found in Iraq, real cabbages that is, not pongos).
    After watching BA in action, we all know the kind of armoured vehicle that can be achieved with a blow torch and some corrugated iron, and I have personaly witnessed this armour take thousands of rounds with no injury to the soldiers of fortune.
    So come on, get SSVC to send some tapes of the A team, scrapheap challenge and MacGuyver to the lads so we can get some good Heath Robinson mods going on and not waste precious time waiting for the government to supply equipment that we should already have.

    I love it when a plan comes together!
  11. Aah, but would it infringe HASAW ? - you know how keen this lot are to 'protect' their citizens ..!!

  12. Hey jesse650, have you looked around recently? There's quite a few of us Logistics Specialists out in the field at the sharp end & it's been going on for quite some time. :wink: :)

    Ref kit, a lot of the problem comes down to cost versus available funding x military requirement. Too expensive, not enough cash available and too quick to agree to send additional troops to solve the world's problems. It is, however, getting better all the time and I deployed with a good set of kit all round. I have few complaints, nor do any of the guys serving with me - Navy, Army or the other lot.

  13. An old example of the crazy pricing (going back to the 80s")caused by MOD Procurement was a seaking tail wheel gag, a piece of metal, piece of string & a thick bit of copper wire.
    A bright spark chucked the entire sqdns away, so workshops knocked them up for around £5, the sdqn was told they could only use the proper one which cost £250 at the time.

    The overpricing of bits for a seaking was/is a disgrace & i bet it goes on still with lynx & merlin.
  14. Come on boys and girls - defence is expensive! It only becomes important when there is some kudos in it for the politicos, so most "procurement" is achieved at the last minute, or in other words, when we realise we need something we haven't got. That's why Sgt Roberts died needlessly, as no doubt have many more. For the supply bods at the sharp end - don't take it personally, we know that it's the fault of those elected into office, who have spent their formative years at school, university (school), training for the bar (school) and other generally non-productive forms of employment.

    Thevery simple, basic truth that they should all hoist in is that you don't sh1t on the people you expect to defend you and get away with it unscathed. The electors might just have a long enough memory to not make the mistakes they have made since 1997.
  15. Sorry but have to disagree on that point because it is not a case of defence being expensive but procurement being inefficient. I have first hand experience of purchasing goods for a very senior government department. If I had followed the rules and used the approved supplier I would have been shelling out ten times the real cost for blank CDs (and we went thorugh thousands). In the end because my team had some control of it's own budget we were able to source them at a realistic business rate and "sell" them on to other teams within the department. There is no incentive to be efficient in the civil service, only to be seen to be acting in a manner that seems proper and right. But what do you expect from a democracy that allows political parties to receive "loans" that make no business sense. Time to put those b*st*rds up against the wall. :evil:
  16. Helicopters, or lack of them was a point specifically raised by the committee and its a very valid one, unfortunately the answer given by Mr Browne was that they are going to increase availability of current aircraft by means of a long term programme, what long term programme? LEAN. Now LEAN is a very useful tool but it is certainly not the answer to a lack of support helicopters, to solve that problem we need more CHF sqns and if necessary more RAF SH sqns, more trained aircrew, more money, etc etc.

    I just don't think there's the money there so it looks like helicopters are going to continue to be a problem for at least the next 10 to 15 years. I just find the whole situation quite depressing. Anyone got any answers?
  17. Ooopps! sorry prehaps wrong terminology.....poss procurement logistics Specialists? (Brace, Brace, Brace) :lol:
  18. I hold them in the same contempt as I did thirty years ago.
    You only have to look at their defence every time it all goes wrong it’s not our fault it’s theirs and then blame the armed forces.

    And I could go on with this rant.

    Anyone with me?
  19. chieftiff

    chieftiff War Hero Moderator

    I think for once the committee did a good job on this one, their report is honest and probing, although this story got little coverage in the news because of the events of yesterday it is worth having a read of the whole report, not just the little snapshot in the news. If you are interested it is here:

    I think the most important thing to come out of the whole report is their promise to probe chief of defence procurement about the issues. Maybe he will have the balls to explain to the MP's that the reason defence equipment is so expensive is their insistance that kit is procured from the UK to bolster UK private business (often consisting of multi-national conglomerates who have happy shareholders) and ultimately please the treasury via employment, taxes etc. It may all sound good for the UK economy but ultimately the kit we need is already out there, in production, it's just not British! You can't have it both ways!

    Think about it! would you ask your next door neighbour to design and build you a nice big plasma TV which did all the things a nice big plasma TV should do, then pay him to develop it, build it, and modify it when it doesn't work. When you could have gone to Dixons and bought one that day which you know works because your mate has one and has a 2 year exchange warranty.

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