"Ministry Of Defence Must End Cycle Of Failure"

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by soleil, Feb 22, 2011.

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  1. PA

    "The Ministry of Defence has yet to prove it has got the necessary grip on procurement to end the "cycle of failure" which has seen long delays and massive overspending on equipment programmes, a parliamentary spending watchdog has warned.

    The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) told the MoD to provide precise details by the end of April on its forecast for the cost of implementing last year's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and the status of any programmes being cancelled or renegotiated as part of its money-saving drive.

    The SDSR decisions to cancel the Nimrod MRA4 and withdraw the Sentinel surveillance aircraft involved the MoD accepting "greater operational risks" and writing off nearly £5 billion of taxpayers' money, said the committee in a new report.

    "Such decisions are never desirable," said the PAC's Major Projects Report. "The fact that the Department has been pressured to make them offers a compelling argument why it must address the problems which have affected defence procurement for decades and on which our predecessors have commented extensively.

    "If it does not, the cycle of failure will continue, with badly needed capabilities being delivered later than planned and cost increases crowding other capabilities out of the equipment programme."

    The committee was responding to an National Audit Office report which found in October that the "black hole" in MoD procurement increased by £3.3 billion in Labour's final year in office alone to reach around £36 billion. It considered decisions in four projects which between them cost the taxpayer more than £8 billion.

    The SDSR was published days after the NAO report and provided the MoD with an opportunity to re-examine its commitments and make them affordable within the existing budget, said today's PAC report.

    The Defence Review slashed billions from spending plans by cutting back on warships, fast jet fighters and thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen. The department has already started to renegotiate a large number of contracts.

    But committee chair Margaret Hodge warned: "In the wake of the Defence Review the MoD still has to spell out whether and how it has got its defence procurement budget under control. The MoD must demonstrate the same discipline in its defence procurement that our forces demonstrate in the field."

    The MoD has not yet provided cost data to back up its opinion that fitting catapults and arrester wires to the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers to allow them to carry a different type of plane will save money, said the report. The two ships are being built at a cost of £5.2 billion, but as a result of decisions made in the SDSR there will be no planes available for 10 years and one carrier will be mothballed almost immediately."
  2. Back on my (one of many) hobby horse :

    Has anyone suggested getting rid of the Guards ? Or cutting back on the cost of their hand-made bespoke designer uniforms ? Do our 'Cavalry Regiments' still need horses and even MORE expensive and silly outfits ? I bet one of those posh saddles costs far more than an SA-80.
    In all my years in the Corps I never wore a pith helmet, and those that did got it on loan from a central store, yet every Guards and Cavalry Sunday best uniform is personal issue. How many work uniforms can you you get for the cost of a pair of super-soft leather designer thigh-high Life Guards boots (yes, I know I keep going on about those boots) ?
    Do officers STILL need servants ?
  3. Ohhhhhh soft leather thigh boots, I feel a stiffy coming on but seriously I fully agree with you, what a waste of taxpayers’ money but isn't that one of the few things that governments/MOD do well.
  4. I disagree. The hats, horses, and "pomp and circumstance" is one thing that we do very well, and generates a huge amount of revenue through tourism (Buck Palace, Changing Of The Guard etc). I suspect the cost of these items is very small in comparison.
  5. Levers_Aligned

    Levers_Aligned War Hero Moderator


    So, who exactly profits for the Pomp and Ceremony? The Armed Forces? Non-taxpaying street vendors? Who?

    If that were the case, then why did the government scrap the Royal Tournament?

    The reason we keep all the bullshit is purely tribal, nothing else. Waste of time and money.

  6. Estimated UK income through tourism is around £85bn per annum. Even if the Royal Family only account for 1% of this (widely reported), thats still £850 million a year. Even if the Pomp and Ceremony only accounted for 1% of that (my guess), that would be £8.5 million a year straight into the UK coffers. Where it goes after that isn't for me to say, thats the Chancellors job :)
  7. Ok so if Percy parades around horse guards etc generates income, put in some of that into the MOD bucket...........yeh right. Next you'll be saying that the car tax all goes towards roads/upkeep etc
  8. It is, but invariably, when cuts have to be made, they'll cut the important things and keep the tourist show.

    I watched a documentary a few years ago about the Guards and other 'ceremonial' regiments (it's what started me off). At that time there was an outcry about front-line troops in Afghanistan having rubbish equipment (to save money).
    Watching young Guards recruits being measured up by Saville Row-type tailors (nearly typed 'sailors' there !), and a SNCO telling the world that each tunic cost £500, that the dead mammal worn as a hat cost £x (can't remember - I'm old y'know)), and so on, sickened me.
    Then there was another programme about Army horses - how they were super-expensive because they were 'aristocratic' bloodstock, How the saddles and all the bits that hang of said saddle were the equine equivalent of Versace ........ while Gunner/Sapper/Marine Blogs died because the MOD was cutting corners and buying crap equipment. Well, Del was apoplectic.

    Even the SA-80 was a cheapie, and didn't function in some conditions - like the cold - the wet - the desert etc. etc. The MOD could have bought the much better (and cheaper) latest in the US 'AR' series. Same ammo, better weapon, half the price. Tried and tested.

    Okay, so tourists like all the pomp and shiny bits, but they don't go to London (or Edinburgh) just to watch a parade. They might be impressed by a guy on a big black horse, wearing shiny, ultra expensive (but useless), designer outfits, but I doubt if the Taleban are impressed.

    Wouldn't it make more sense to have these guys training for war, rather than a show ? The main excuse given for the poor showing of the Guards during the Falklands was 'we've been on ceremonial duties, and anyway, we always have transport to take us to the fight'.
    Everyone else - Navy, Marines, Paras, Gurkhas, Gunners etc had been training for something far more important, and didn't need to find an excuse because they DID the job they're paid to do.
  9. witsend

    witsend War Hero Book Reviewer

    In the year 2010 I wore my number 1's once. Mess function.

    I can't remember the last time I done Div's. Probably Sultan, when I didn't have a sea draft.

    If the countries really fucked, I'll hand in my number 1's and stand still in my boxers whilst whistling thunderbirds are go.
  10. o_l_a

    Each Challenger2 tank costs around £4.3 million, so using your estimate, tourists buy two of them

    Now take the cost of the items I described (but it's a much longer list), including the horseflesh and it's maintenance.

    Now add the cost of, say, 300 troops for a year (at 25K P/A average), during which time they are not available for operational duties - £7.5 million

    Looks more like we're paying the tourists to watch.

    But that's not the point. We DON'T NEED the ceremonial stuff (It's just nice to have).

    But we DO NEED the best equipment for the guys and girls on the 'front line'.

    No-one will die or be maimed because the Changing of the Guard is cancelled, but .....

    And it's almost exclusively a few Army regiments who do the ceremonial stuff, and because of 'tradition' and the Old School Tie, those regiments are protected from the kind of cuts everyone else is suffering.
  11. witsend

    witsend War Hero Book Reviewer

    Bugger off "Changing the Guard", you need to change the channel to arrse.
  12. Changing the Guard?

    Ah - A fine spectacle, evoking the Nation's courage, glory, and strict disciplinary controls of times long behind us.

    True Dit.

    Whilst witnessing a renactment of that time-honoured ceremony a couple of years ago at the Horse Guards square I noted that a most unusual, but quite slickly performed, new movement had been added, bringing many ooohs, aaahs, clickings and flashings.

    Chum and I were most intrigued to see how that brave Trooper re-mounted his patient charger (and managed to face the right way round, too) with absolutely no help from either his fellows, the crowd, or the emergency services.

    The crowd melted and we mused, wondering ............Was it staged "Just because he was bleck?"

    (As far as we could ascertain no ball bearings/marbles were involved.)
  13. Witsend,

    We're talking defence cuts, so it affects all branches, and I've never met a Perse who has any time for the Public Duties regiments.
    Couldn't we get a couple of hundred unemployed actors/dancers to do all the tourist stuff (they're cheap 'cos they just want to perform to an audience) and get the uniforms from China ?
    I think that's where the current body armour is made anyway.

    And Trident is a single-purpose boat, and if it's ever used we're all knackered anyway.

    A few dozen surface ships are far more versatile and cost effective because of it. How many Brit refugees can you get on a Trident ?
  14. I can see your very valid points. BUT...

    Like it or not, one of the most recognizable aspects of "Britishness" is our ceremonials (along with black cabs, red buses, high tea, flat caps, green and pleasant land and all the other sh1t that tourists lap up). Imagine the world headlines when "Great Britain" can no longer afford to do these things. Yes, it's a front, yes I agree it's tribal, but wouldn't you also agree that keeping up the facade might be part of the larger geo-political game?

    By all means, get rid of all the unnecessary pomp to save a few quid. But if we do then surely it must be time to stop pretending to be a big world player. It will be an indication to the world that we are "selling off the family gold" so that we can continue to punch above our weight.
  15. of_les,

    That's not Britain you're describing, it's London and the Home Counties, and that's an area where recruitment has always been lowest (per capita).
    Tourists flock to Embra Castle too ('S'cuse me officer, but what time does the One-O'Clock Gun go off ? '12.30 sir, you've missed it' says I), and although it's still a barracks and full of Percy's, they go for the history ('cos they usually haven't got much).

    I really don't think we'd see a huge drop in tourist numbers if the ceremonial stuff was cut back. They said that charging for entrance to the Castle would destroy tourism in Embra - it didn't.

    Bit of digging and I discovered that the ballistic vests issued for Iraq and early AfG cost £159 per unit, or half a Life Guard's (soft, sexy , leather .....) boot.
    The new stuff costs around £1,000, and the MOD fought that all the way - 'Too expensive !' they cried, while still issuing 5 grand uniforms to Ceremonial Regiments.
    Before that we had Jack being issued with highly inflammable work gear 'to save money'. But is was NEVER even suggested that the CR's should get cheaper uniforms.
    We can see where the priorities are, and it ain't the guys and girls on the ships or in the desert.

    I think we can make considerable savings and still punch our weight (above it if you like). We can do it without compromising on real, operational military standards too. At the moment our capability in operations is based on what we have left AFTER the Ceremonial stuff is removed from the equation.
    Do we need all the Pomp at Dartmouth ? Do we need ALL the RM Bands ? Do we NEED a new Trident ? Does an Officers Mess (Coldstream Guards I think) NEED rosewood furniture ?

    Ask any Jack or Bootie what is needed to do the job effectively and efficiently, without increasing the risks, and I doubt if a hat made out of a dead mammal (notice how I didn't mention those boots !) will be on the list.

    When it comes down to the geo-politics, I don't think our military allies take much notice of the ceremonial requirements. They're more interested in how many operational units we can contribute in any situation. The Aussies punch above their weight too, but they aren't lumbered with a 'Ceremonial Requirement' that means 10% of their infantry are non-operational because of their tourist industry and 'tradition'.
  16. All very valid and well argued points Delrick.

    Do we need Trident? I hope so, otherwise I'm out of a job!
  17. I empathise 0_l_a, but I'm thinking more about the cash already being spent on the upgrade, and how useful Trident would be if the Middle East went completely mad (as opposed to just mostly mad).

    There's no way NATO, the Russians, or the Chinese would nuke Riyhad or anywhere else. What would be the point ? 'We' have the capability to precision bomb anything we want with conventional gear - without putting ourselves at risk. But that would come from carriers and conventional nuclear subs - and any follow-up would be boots on the ground - all things we're in the process of ditching !

    I know the Admirals love their Bombers, but it would be interesting to see how many jobs would be saved (and created !) by using the Trident cash for multi-purpose surface ships and a few more hunter-killers. I'd also enhance the roll of the Booties (I would say that). At the moment we have an army battalion (The Rifles) on permanent attachment to 3 Cdo Brigade. I spoke at length with a semi-retired 'Green Lidded' Gunner Colonel last year, and he said that most of those attached Percys want a green lid now, and they're working their butts off to get them. He reckons that in a couple of years the pecking order will be Royal > their attached 'Rifles' Battalion > the Paras, and he wasn't joking (he was 10 years with 29).
    So I'd expand Lympstone rather that cut it back. But that's too far-sighted for our politicians. They can't see past the next election.

    All our neighbours in Helensburgh were Bomber families, and some of the best people you could know. Kindred spirits - nobody liked them either. Too many wild parties - too much weird behaviour - too much loud singing - too much .......
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011

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