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What did I say?
A brief news post to recommend the coverage given to the CDS’s Xmas speech by The Thin Pin Striped Line & UK Armed Forces Commentary defence blogs. The full text of the speech can be found on Thinkdefence here.
Some highlights follow.
Being a public-spirited sort your blogger chose, in the months leading up to the publishing of the SDSR, to take part in the public consultation process that preceded its public release. I have no idea now what I said but it no doubt involved a lot of wittering about sovereign and strategic power-projection, and how this aim was best achieved in the coming years of austerity by a greater emphasis on naval and expeditionary forces. The reply arrived last month.
What are the Armed Forces for, and how is the SDSR supposed to help them achieve this end?
This post is the latest exploration of how one might structure an army for a future guided by the RUSI doctrines; Strategic Raiding, Global Guardian and Contributory, as compared to both the RUSI balanced force from FDR7 and the Future Force 2020 from the SDSR. The analysis is based around what RUSI perceived to be a balanced force structure in the event of a 12-15% cut in Defence spending, which they didn’t advocate per-se, merely putting it out there as a useful indicator of trend reductions. The purpose of the exercise is to show the trend of reductions, using the RUSI balanced force as a baseline that allows us to juggle the numbers further in creating a more asymmetric force structure as they recommend.
So what do we end up with?
This blog has noted before that the indications are that come 2015, with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, a new SDSR will look to reduce the army from its current planned weight of 95,000 to a lower figure closer to 80,000, and while it is impossible to confirm the rumour it just keeps on popping up. This time it is an article in the telegraph discussing manpower problems within the SAS, and how this would be exacerbated by a still further reduced army.
Maybe there is an element of truth within all this rampant speculation?
The telegraph made headlines this week with an article claiming that the Army would be facing a cut of up to 20,000 troops after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, leaving manpower cut to circa 80,000 in the period following 2015. This has come as a surprise to some quarters given the vagueness of the SDSR itself, not least because of the constant reference to the heavily quoted number of 94/95 thousand troops alongside repeated references to the ‘aspiration’ of the 2020 force structure. It should not have been a surprise.
Notwithstanding ambiguous quotes in the SDSR document there were plenty of caveats.
It should not be news to anyone that the Defence budget was a shattered ruin by the beginning of 2010, when the Gray report revealed an unfunded 10% budget deficit over the coming decade, in addition to Treasury insistence on Defence funding of the acquisition costs of the Trident replacement which represents a further 2.5% cut, and, a Treasury demand for a 7.5% reduction as part of the Defence contribution to balancing the country’s shattered public finances. And yet people are surprised at the huge number of capabilities and platforms that got axed at the SDSR……….
Why? Did we not all spend the preceding twelve months consuming a non-stop diet of horror stories?