Ex-defence secretary Michael Fallon said the UK was on the verge of becoming a ‘bit-part world player’ due to defence funding concerns.

Fallon said in a speech to the Defence and Security Forum:

“If we’re happy to retreat from our vision of a confident, outward-looking Global Britain standing up for our people, our values, our allies, then we will drift downwards to being a bit-part world player, a part-time champion of democracy and freedom.

That would mean walking away from our international obligations, letting down our allies, and in the end leaving us less safe.

On the contrary, we should be doing more in the world: our troops, planes and ships should be seen on every continent, in every sky, on all seven seas. And that ambition needs a fully funded budget to match.

The deficit is coming down. We are increasing spending in other priority areas, like the NHS and schools. So let’s release an extra £1 billion to fire up the defence budget this year, and set 2.5% of GDP as our new target for the end of the parliament.

Radical ideas like pre-positioning warships in the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf, and doing more training with allies closer to home, need following through. But in the end, defence needs a bigger budget because the threats are real and growing: they are at our borders, across our waters, on our streets and in our homes.”

Fallon also added that the threats to Britain have “intensified”, and that a security review “must recognise that”.

 

 

22 COMMENTS

  1. Given the lead time on new equipment I accept that extra money ASAP is a necessary part of the solution but it is not sufficient. Extra money is only one part of the solution and without the other part we might as well not bother agonising over bigger budgets.

    The other absolutely critical part of the solution is recruitment, retention and morale of personnel in our armed forces. Cuts in official headcounts hardly matter if some of those headcount slots are currently unfilled anyway because we can’t recruit and retain enough people. Cuts in frigate numbers hardly matter if some of those frigates are tied up anyway because of lack of crew. I’m sure there are other examples.

    By all means increase budgets but the government and MoD need to have an equally sharp focus on personnel issues. I really don’t think this part of the equation is talked about enough in the mainstream media although it did get a brief moment in the spotlight a few weeks ago with the controversy about the potential reworking of the army recruiting adverts and slogan. It’s a shame that didn’t prompt more media analysis of how serious the human side of the equation is as well.

    • Actually I suppose another angle on my rant above is that that whole extra £1bn that Fallon calls for could quite easily not buy a single extra bullet or gun. I’m sure the whole lot could be soaked up by improving salary and allowances, improving housing conditions, and enabling shorter times away from home. If defence did get a near-term £1bn cash injection I think the lion’s share of the money needs to go to addressing the staffing crisis.

      • Yeap and that would be money very well spent, personnel retention and attracting the needed talent has to be top priority.

  2. I see that the value of the pound has gone up to $1.40. This will help to quieten those who said we can’t afford to buy US kit because of the exchange rate.

  3. I’ve made this point before, if a post-Brexit Britain is to make a success of an untethered ability to negotiate new trade deals, it must back up that initiative with viable military capability. Some new customers will be keen to tie trade with some military support or reassurances. That can only be achieved by maintaining a truly international military force. To allow a degree of drawdown for cost reasons could compromise the UK’s new found freedom?

    • Untethered ability post Brexit? There were never any tethers, only a lack of will. Fallon’s comments resemble little more than those of nostalgia for the days of the British Empire. Trade, particularly from the Commonwealth which was largely neglected (from an economic trade perspective) when Britain joined the EU and any efforts to reinvigorate this commercial collective could only be considered based on economic merit. The UK has realised that the future looks a little lonely post Brexit. This is the inevitable result of a decision to relinquish instruments of national power for the sake of popularist politics.

  4. Is it it any wonder that morale is rock bottom when the civil servants that run the MOD are obsessed with making the HM Armed Forces the best employer of devients and oddballs rather than simply supplying our fighting men and women with the best training, equipment and living conditions possible ? SMH.

    • Steven the good news from the MOD is that whilst as a result of further cuts we can only afford one “Joint Warrior” exercise this year due to our rising defence budget we have been able to purchase some gender neutral uniforms complete with the now mandatory LGBT coloured flash insignia and all military personnel are going to have some “diversity” training.
      In other news it has been reported that the trial of the proposed first gender neutral Army Battalion may have to be abandoned because the focus group couldn’t agree if male and female terminology was acceptable when communicating with a Senior officer. A MOD spoke person denied there were any such problems but an insider was quoted as saying “that as with the formation of any new cutting edge military unit there were bound to be some setbacks”.

  5. Be lucky to see anymore money
    Look at what happened to Boris today
    He was ridiculed by his own everyone for speaking out of turn re the NHS and by the media but at least it out in the open
    Should be said in private at the cabinate table they said so he got a bollicking
    If he did that then no one would have heard anything
    I dont want Corbyn the commie in power but thats whats going to happen if T May wont give in on this austerity and open her purse
    Surly she can see the state of the NHS and of course that goes for the MOD as well
    If the commies get in we will be in a worst state by the time they are booted out

  6. I think 2.5% is very sensible and pitched perfectly.

    It equates to circa £10bn p.a. and this should be enough to provide an extra £5bn to increase manpower, pay, conditions and welfare as well as a further £5bn for equipment. We should not require more than this in reality as that would give us a £50bn pa defence budget which is pretty large.

    I do think the military need to really consolidate their organisations and hierarchy and further reductions in bases with each base having to house 10k personnel as a minimum and in the case of super bases 50k personnel.

    I do like the MAGTAF concept of the USMC and ultimately think the UK should have 4 MAGTAF divisions (36k each), 2 Carrier Battle Groups (22.5k each) and large HQ Corps (45k) – All assets required for a division to operate would be within the division or CBG with training corps and core services held in the HQ Corps.

    Give each Division/Brigade its own budget and asset allocation and let the Divisional commands manage their budgets and people.

    By integrating all assets into a division you will stop the infighting and where a division has poor management the general/admiral in charge can be fired (as we did in WW2 – with several generals).

    Other countries have this and seem to spend their money far more sensibly than the UK – time for a change, before we get caught out in actual combat.

  7. Learning to live within one’s means is a difficult concept to grasp when given strategic direction which is as vague as ‘project British global influence’ and ‘Global Britain’, the latter of which no one seems able to define.

    • Ben

      Not fantasy at all – this is all about organisation and changing the dynamic.

      I am staggered that the Army has 82k FTE (90k inc RM which go in rota) and can’t seem to deploy a quarter at any point in time. This needs to change – just like commercial organisations change so must the army.

      A deployable battalion is circa 900 people and should be self sustainable for 1 month – we should have 64 of these fully formed battalions – reinforced with everything else they need from a central HQ and leveraging UK plc leading logistics companies where necessary to support the HQ. Thats 60k for the 64 Combat divisions and their divisional command. you then simply rotate each division through a cycle.

      We really do need to do more with what we have and make sure that every person in the force is deployable at a given point in time. Its a shift in thinking – take a look at a MAGTAF and tell me this isn’t better than what we have now and then take a look at the audited USMC accounts and see how they manage to have a larger, better equipped force for far less money.

      Maybe it is fantasy – but we can’t go on as we are now and at least it is a precise solution that can be done within a budget that is 2.5% of GDP, that provides a career and quality of life for those serving as its sustainable. It also means we can field 3 divisions quickly if required (in an absolute emergency.

      These things aren’t as complicated as people make out sometimes – the work is – the organisation doesn’t have to be.

  8. Why is Fallon only now speaking up for the Armed Forces?

    These people do not have the courage to highlight the truth when in office. The question that should be asked during PM question time, is whether the current Chancellor is a Russian sympathiser, since he managed to achieve over a 10 year period what the Russians had been trying to achieve for over 40 years – namely the demise of our military capability.

  9. Good to see Fallon ‘bouncing back’ as it were. Better late than never I suppose. Also good to see Johnson speaking out on the NHS budget. Opening up debate and proposing compromise is a good thing provided it doesn’t turn into a whingeing or slanging match. Also taking note of the COTS thinking of the Type 31 project structure, the pragmatic approach to Brexit and the recent rise in Sterling I am beginning to think some realism is returning to government. Must clean those rose tinted specs again…

  10. It feels like Johnson and now maybe Fallon are positioning themselves to take on May post Brexit. Strange timing, yesterday Johnson says NHS needs more money and today its Fallon not wanting to be upstaged by Johnson.

    I highly doubt that even if either got into power, any more money would flow into the NHS or defence.

  11. The mistake we make is to conflate defence spending with defence capability. We need to define capability needs and then fund them.

  12. An extra and immediate £1 billion a year is a start, then remove arm d forces pensions and the nuclear deterrent from core defence budget and we will be getting somewhere.
    The NHS for example has the NHS pension scheme, this is not held and funded by the core NHS budget so why should armed forces pensions.
    It was all Osbourne and Cameron’s fault, hide our true defence expenditure of less than 1.5% GDP to defence ration through creative accounting. Scum…the damage they have done to this country and our beloved armed forces.

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