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.
When we look at the yawning disparity between budget and capability of the UK and US Armed Forces it is often easy to forget that the latter faces near identical pressures to the former, with only scale acting as a significant difference. The doctrine of the Blair years SDR98 was to act as a mini-US, with the intention of matching 15% of US commitment in order to earn Framework Nation Status with the command input that entails. Continuing with the goal of Framework Nation Status was an option for the 2010 SDSR, it would however have demanded a disproportionate share of UK defence spending in order to sustain long-endurance counter-insurgency wars.
This was not the direction chosen in October 2010, and similar constraints are forcing the US down this path too.
The SDSR was never going to be satisfactory, the perpetual wars during declining budgetary prominence was always going to result in a car-crash, and sure enough that crash arrived with the financial crisis in 2008. This has resulted was a lot of unsatisfactory decisions, mostly due to the (correct) commitment to the Afghan mission conflicting for the desire for a force structure for 2020 and beyond, but did we avoid making the difficult choices demanded by RUSI in the FDR paper; capability cost trends?
What that is recognisable can we pull out of the rubble?
This article has been steadily brewing for some time, but its arrival has been hastened by the thoughts of a Think Defence article; Political Statement of Interest and Intent? It stems from the apparent internecine war between the Service Chiefs in the run up to the looming Defence cuts, and the alleged failure to consider first-principles and desired outcomes when formulating the SDSR.
This debate appears to revolve around the fading relevance of Single service tasks, and where the focus should settle in this new world of ‘jointery’.
In the previous paper this blog set out some tentative ideas, in the hope of attracting comment more than anything else, and fortunately plenty of comment was received, all of it useful. DominicJ, Jed, Jackstaff and Steve Coltman all have the gratitude of this blogger, much was learned, many ideas rethought, and now its time to have another stab at the matter.
So what is the aim of the exercise, what capability is desired, and how should it be sustained?