Sunday Times: "British Forces Lag Behind Argentina"

Discussion in 'The Fleet' started by soleil, Sep 22, 2013.

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  1. "A FORMER head of the RAF has warned that a “rudderless slide” down the military league tables is putting Britain’s standing in the world at risk.

    Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, who led the RAF’s bombing campaign in the first Gulf War, says Britain now ranks 31st in the world in terms of military personnel numbers, behind both Argentina and Greece.

    He also provides a withering critique of the procurement record of the Ministry of Defence, arguing that other European countries are able to boast more warships and combat planes despite having smaller defence budgets.

    Graydon’s damning assessment, The Defence Budget League Tables: False Comfort from Statistics, was co-written with Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham, a former deputy chief of the defence staff. It accuses the government of using a smokescreen to hide the true picture of UK military spending.

    In the paper, which will be released this week, they criticise the tactics employed by David Cameron and other ministers to defend cuts.

    “Politicians like soundbites . . . in response to criticism of cuts to defence, the government has consistently asserted that the UK has the fourth- largest defence budget in the world . . . [but] a moment’s thought would soon reveal how shallow this soundbite really is,” they write.

    Some analysts said recently that Britain would slip to sixth in the world in terms of spending by 2017. Graydon and Blackham argue that defence cuts “have little to do with strategy and everything to do with short-term fiscal priorities”.

    They observe that despite spending £6bn more on defence than France last year, the Royal Navy has 19 warships compared with a French fleet of 24. The French air force has 15 squadrons of combat aircraft, compared with the RAF’s nine. Italy spent less than half of the UK’s £38bn budget last year, they add, but still manages to operate 18 warships and 10 combat air squadrons.

    Warning of a dilution of Britain’s influence globally, they conclude: “However rich, however well intentioned we may be, a nation whose armed forces are perceived as weak and unable in a crisis to support their national aspiration, does not, and cannot, carry real conviction in the world.

    The MoD said the UK was the second biggest contributor to Nato and “is widely regarded as having one of the best armed forces in the world”.

    The warning by the former defence chiefs comes as MoD documents reveal that the number of major-generals in the army increased from 43 in 2011 to 44 this year and lieutenant-generals rose from nine to 10. But during the same period the total number of troops fell from 106,230 to 99,730.

    Between 2011 and 2013 the number of air marshals in the RAF increased from eight to nine and the number of vice- admirals in the Royal Navy rose from seven to nine.

    Frank Ledwidge, a defence analyst and a former justice adviser in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, said: “Whilst thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen have been handed redundancies, the generals, air marshals and admirals sail on regardless.

    ”The MoD said two generals were due to retire later this year and added that it was “firmly on track to reduce the number of senior officers by 2015”.'
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2013
  2. Damn righ as well.
  3. Then bang on cue to reinforce the point;

    Recent Governments and maybe this one in particular, seem to confuse capability and effect with budget expended. It reminds me of managers who similarly confuse activity with productivity.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. The Press Release issued before the publication of the report:



    Defence campaigners challenge David Cameron over his claim that the UK is the world’s fourth largest military power.

    The Prime Minister’s claim that Britain is a major global power with the world’s fourth largest defence budget is no more than “a shallow sound-bite”, according to the UK National Defence Association (UKNDA).

    In a UKNDA Commentary entitled “The Defence Budget League Tables: False Comfort from Statistics”, co-authors Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon and Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham argue that “What matters is not what you spend but what you get for the money.”

    They point out that, far from being the world’s fourth largest military power as Mr Cameron suggests, the United Kingdom is actually 31st in terms of armed forces manpower (including Reserves) and 64th in terms of “serious militarisation” when other factors such as proportion of GDP are taken into account.

    Countries ranging from Israel to Singapore emerge as more serious military powers than the UK, while France, Spain and Argentina, and even Sweden, are all ahead of Britain in the defence league table.

    “Experienced, skilful and battle-hardened we may be, but we are just too few”, write ACM Graydon and Vice-Admiral Blackham, “too few in personnel, ships, aircraft and weapons.” Meanwhile, Russia and China are increasing their defence budgets and expanding their military forces, as are India, Japan, Brazil, and the Gulf States. “Why are they re-arming while we are disarming?” ask the authors of the UKNDA Commentary.

    Britain’s “rudderless slide down the tables” puts our standing in the world at risk. “A nation whose armed forces are perceived as weak ... cannot carry real conviction in the world.” Strategic thought has been abandoned for “short-term political expediency”. The Commentary poses the question: “How does all this affect our much-vaunted permanent place on the UN Security Council?”

    The UKNDA Commentary warns that we should never again be “taken in by the politicians’ chant that all is well with the defence of the United Kingdom”.

    Formed in 2007, the UKNDA is an independent group that seeks to stimulate public debate about the role of Britain’s armed forces and to provide accurate up-to-date information on the state of British military capabilities.

  5. Numbers aren't the end game, ability and kit is. Unsurprisingly this is a concept the RAF have yet to grasp and it shows here.

    Exercises with most European Naval and Land nations over the years have taught me that the only people capable of even bloodying the nose of the British are the French and Germans. But wasn't it ever thus?

    Ranked behing Argentina? Sounds like someone using that old tired threat as a reason to have a rant.
    • Like Like x 2
  6. Levers_Aligned

    Levers_Aligned War Hero Moderator

    Is the truth.

    I had the honour of seeing the very impotent Argentine Navy up close and personal a few years ago. I'm happy to report they are pot-broke and unable to much but provide mincemeat for our SSNs.

    For a recent watermark indicating the magnificence of Argentina's forces, I give you:

    ARA Santissima Trinidad.jpg

    Monty is bang on. It'll be a cold day in hell before they are ready to do much else but appear capable. And before anyone says, "That's what they said in 1982" it's exactly what they didn't say, because all they said was, "Yes, Mrs Thatcher."

    • Like Like x 3
  7. I really think the country needs to reassess it's position. We are not a dominating force to be reckoned with any more, with a defence budget that is shrinking yearly. We need to withdraw from the world stage and concentrate on keeping our shores safe.

    The rate the Navy is shrinking the Border Force will soon over take it in vessel numbers!!
  8. What seems to have happened is that politicians have reassessed the resources they're willing to put into being a world power without realising the effect it has on actually being a world power. It'll happen eventually when so many people have gotten out and they realise people aren't interested in staying in long term to be constantly at sea and doing back to back deployments. It's already happening and is only going to get worse. It'll take being unable to man ships for sea before they clue in though.

    Posted from the Navy Net mobile app (Android / iOS)
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Guns

    Guns War Hero Moderator

    Obviously we are sliding down the tables what we with us only being able to do the following:

    Continuous At Sea Deterrent
    - 1 On Task SSBN
    - 1 Working up SSBN
    - 1 Sea Training package to work up
    - FF (ASW capable) on 24hrs Notice for Operations in support
    - Merlin ASW helicopters at notice in support
    - 1 Submarine Emergency organization at immediate notice
    - 1 Deep sea submersible
    - 1 C130 and Submarine Parachute Assistance Group (C130 available for other notice, second C130 at short notice to cover)

    A number of SSN on patrol
    - Above submarine emergency teams to support

    - Up to 2 FF/DD on tasking East of Suez
    - Maritime Component Commander and battlestaff (1 Star level)
    - MCC double hatted as Deputy Coalition Maritime Forces Commander
    - 1 Sqn of MCM (4 boats) plus support ship
    - Logistic and engineering support from UK to Middle East
    - Additional assets for occasional periods (see RFTG)
    - Embedded Staff Officers with Coalition Maritime Forces
    - Rotation as CTF 150/151/152 as required and accompanying Staff.
    - Of the 2 FF/DD (or sometime additional to) on occasions act as Flagship to one of the CTFs.
    - 1 Merlin ASW/ASuW detachment

    RFTG (Response Force Task Group), also doubling up as the Amphibious Ready Group
    - 1 LPD, 1 LPH, Support shipping, FF/DD escort
    - UKTG Command and staff/ 3Cdo Bde and staff
    - 1 Cdo Group embarked or at immediate notice to move
    - C2 staff
    - Cdo unit
    - Support elements from CLR/RA/RE etc

    - 3 UK based diving units at immediate notice for UK EOD tasking
    - 1 Worldwide diving unit in support of deployed units
    - 1 MCT diving unit (again immediate notice)
    - Support to SPAG and other UK military efforts

    - Lead nation and 3* Commander of NATO Maritime Command
    - Large percentage of staff to NATO MCC
    - RN afloat assets to support standing naval task groups as required

    Atlantic Patrol Ship
    - 1 Unit on task for Direct Military tasking in support of Overseas etc
    - Occasional support to FI

    - 1 Patrol vessel and support unit

    Ice Patrol Ship
    - I Ice Patrol Ship to support UK interests in Antarctic

    - Medium scale enduring operation to lead and provide troops to NATO efforts
    - Logistical support to deployed troops over long distance.

    - Battalion for Peacekeeping duties
    - Logistical support hub for UK military worldwide
    - Intelligence support to UK interest

    - Similar to Cyprus, support to UK military worldwide through logistical and intelligence efforts
    - RN small scale Force Protection force
    - Medical support unit

    Worldwide Engagement
    - Various training teams supporting UK interest worldwide from large groups in the Middle East to small groups in various countries
    - RN Ships port visits and worldwide exercise participation

    And the list goes one, yep we really are third rate.

    Every time some tells me we are out of it and irrelevant I ask them to name the Navies of the world that can support up to 6 designated Military Task worldwide and maintain them with logistical support, do you know what it is a very small club.
    • Like Like x 12
  10. Yeah but Guns, how many of those units you mentioned on task are anywhere near fully manned. With so few units to carry out all the wonderful tasks we are pissing off the vast majority of personnel and that's why we are struggling to man ships fully. It is now practically the norm for ships to sail without key personnel, in ships that were designed lean manned. Not to mention the effect of having so few ships, doing so much, on maintenance and sustainability. It's all very well being proud of all the things we can achieve compared to other countries but if we're doing it on the cheap we do everyone a disservice.

    Posted from the Navy Net mobile app (Android / iOS)
  11. Guns, you make a very good point but so does cjg375. There's no identifiable slack in the Programme and the politicos are still thinking "cut" and not "restore". Remind me who no longer contributes a DD/FF to STANAVFORLANT.

    The days of North Atlantic Guard Ship and South Atlantic Guard Ship are long gone but, so far, the Atlantic Patrol Ship has been lucky. That's a bloody big sea area and I remember how Sierra Leone kicking off in 2000 buggered up IDK's programme for months. Had anything nasty happened in the Caribbean or South Atlantic at the time, life could have become rather interesting; and we had 32 DD/FFs then.
  12. Guns

    Guns War Hero Moderator

    Yet despite this issue we remain one of two maybe three Global navies.
  13. Yeah, we're a global navy In spite of the resources we have, not because of. With the resources we have we should not really be able to do what we do. How long can we stretch it this far. Engineering GS is already falling apart with desperate changes coming soon to try and repair it. It remains to be seen how much the hierarchy understand the problems and whether the solutions will work. Based on recent events I'm not holding my breath. Never thought I'd see 2SL advertising how important EC is. Not many people taking it I think.

    Posted from the Navy Net mobile app (Android / iOS)
  14. Guns

    Guns War Hero Moderator

    Its interesting that I listened to the same arguments back in the 90's (Cold war over what is the point of ASW, we might as well stop), then came Adriatic. Then it was the reduction in numbers, Leanders left and I waved good bye to Alactrity. Again it was the end, all doom and gloom - yet we carried on. Late 90's and we were down to less ships than Admirals (seems we always are) and doom and gloom. Everyone leaving as civvi life was sooo much better and you could earn a fortune. New century and all computers would fail. Life in the mob was still shit and all doom and gloom, wind down in NI meant the Army would get slashed as they had no purpose. Navy was only doing Gulf, Falklands, WI and stuff. Numbers down and ships being decommissioned. And so the cycle goes. It is always better back then, worse than ever now and only going to get worse in the future.

    Yet we remain committed to and achieving our missions as given to us by our political masters.
  15. Guns

    Guns War Hero Moderator

    No doubt issue abound and they did for many decades. As each one comes to the top of the pile we fix it, it may mean stupid amounts of money on retention schemes or some other fantastic manning lever but.... we will be there doing the missions as we are told. We complain, we bitch and we do our best for the lads but in the end we are military personnel given a mission and we complete it. If we don't like it we can leave.

    Do I think the future is rosey, a little in certain areas. Future sailors will have shinny new ships to play with and can sit in the mess listening to piss stain old ****ers like me complain that it was all grass and better when we had DF's and real steaming bats. They will crack on and do what they do.

    I do think that the SDSR in 2015 will be brutal and our position in the world will be defined somewhat better. I think the Army will be ****ed, I mean really taken to the cleaners, and their in fighting and lack of strategic thinking will help batter them some more (reduction of Supporting arms vs keeping Inf - because it is so much easier to train up a Technician than a Inf)

    Besides I don't care, I have started my tunnel and given the right moon and some good fake papers I could be free very soon.
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  16. Guns, I unreservedly admire your faith and commitment to today's Andrew. The observation is, though, that the entire edifice has been hollowed out to the point where the shop's full but there's bugger all in it. We are now getting by on the good will and faith of Jack. Jack is not thick and never has been; in due course he will see the ladder and know where and why to pull it. Percy and Algy are also cognisant of the way thing are going.

    This isn't a here today, gone tomorrow Enterprise; it's our bloody Country.

    There are bright buggers in Commerce and the Treasury who begrudge every penny “wasted” on the Forces. They think that we are a military power because we are economically strong enough to achieve it. It never crosses their minds that we might not be such an economic power if there wasn't a military power to project it..

    Hey, what the hell do I know.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Purple_twiglet

    Purple_twiglet War Hero Moderator

    Sitting in zanzibar airport while pn honeymoon so ability to comment very limited. I wanted to weigh in and say i agree utterly with guns views, who sums up our capabities well. The much vaunted argentine forces have such a small budget that their entire aea day allication this year is smaller than the average rn escort.
    The argument on stats goes to show much can be distorted by stats, and italy for instance faces massive cuts and hugeequipment challenges but we dont consider this.
    Meanwhile there is doubtless risk, but having worked with many militaries from around the world i am clear that we can do far more with what we have than most nations and we are able to sweat our assets far more effectively.
    We should be bloody proud of just how effective we are but instead we mope about regarding ourselves as failures compared to a past which never really existed while most of the worlds militaries look on with awe at how we do what we do so consistently well
  18. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    Its good to see your commitment Guns, but the fact remains that even with all the good will in the world, you can only do so much with a limited number of platforms. When factoring in refits etc. I would suggest that we are reaching the point, if it has not already been passed, where more of the lads will walk, especially in the Submarine world.

    PT congratulations, I hope you and Hubby have a good honeymoon!! :argue:
  19. Many Congratulations on your recent marriage, Purple T.

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