This article is part of an 8 part UK Defence Journal series on the MoD Annual Report and Accounts. The full document can be found here.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) recently published their Annual Report and Accounts 2017/18. The document aims to give a performance report, structured through 4 key objectives:
- Protect Our People
- Project Our Global Influence
- Promote Our Prosperity
- Manage the Department of State and the Defence Enterprise
The MoD’s success in fulfilling these objectives is assessed in the document. Following this, there is the accountability report, and finally the annual accounts record.
In this first article, I summarise the key successes of the Ministry of Defence in 2017/18. These will also be covered to a greater depth later in the series.
The report begins with an introduction from the Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson. In it, he reminds the reader of the government’s duty to defend its people.
‘The first duty of Government is to defend our country and to keep our people safe’
The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Defence
He then argues that threat levels have increased since the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015. He concludes by headlining MoD achievements, as well as stating that the UK defence industrial sector supports 260,000 jobs.
This section may be an unnecessary read for some, but I felt it important to include. The MoD covers all matters that are the direct responsibility of the Secretary of State for Defence. At its most basic, Defence is made up of two parts:
- Department of State: the government department responsible for delivering defence. It is funded by Parliment, and answers both to them and the Prime Minister
- Armed Forces: the professional organisations led by the Chief of the Defence Staff. This delivers military capability to the Department of State
The MoD continued to support the international coalition that has led to Da’esh losing over 98% of the territory they once controlled in Iraq and Syria.
In 2017/18, the MoD also doubled the number of UK troops deployed on UN Peacekeeping Missions. The UK has trained over 7,000 Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel.
The MoD also deployed 2,100 personnel to provide hurricane relief in the Caribbean, and provided military aid to civil authorities on over 130 occasions, including the Salisbury chemical attack in March 2018.
‘We maintain an extensive global network with 146 Defence Attaché posts, 17 Loan Service Teams and exchange officers deployed across the world’
MoD Annual Report and Accounts 2017/18
£1.2bn has been invested in the Dreadnought Submarine Programme, the future replacement for the Vanguard class. In September 2017, the MoD published their National Ship Building strategy (found here), and also launched a new ‘Supplier Portal’ for small and non-traditional defence suppliers.
Between April 2015 and January 2018, the MoD enrolled 37,466 Civil Service and Armed Forces apprentices, a further support to UK jobs.
The MoD operated with a new Director General Finance in 2017/18: Cat Little. She is the principal financial advisor for defence, and a qualified accountant who started her career at PwC.
In 2017/18, the MoD’s Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) – the amount of expenditure the MoD can control – for ‘the Core programme, Operations, and Peacekeeping’ was £36.9Bn. The outturn was slightly less, at £35.8Bn.
The MoD quoted their total spending at £36.61Bn. This includes:
- £8.97Bn on Service Personnel
- £0.80Bn on Operations and Peacekeeping
- £6.55Bn on Equipment Support
- £9.43Bn Capital Expenditure
The new Ajax armoured vehicle began to progress through its final acceptance process. The MoD signed a deal to provide 50 Apache helicopters through a Foreign Military Sales agreement with the US.
HMS Queen Elizabeth was commissioned and commenced helicopter trials. RFA Tidespring also entered service, while Tidesurge and Tiderace arrived in the UK. Steel was cut for HMS Glasgow, the first of the new T26 Frigates, and the contract for the seventh Astute class submarine, HMS Agincourt, was finalised.
‘A vital part of our ISTAR Force, it provides critical information and understanding to decision-makers in an increasingly complex, congested and contested battlespace’
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier on ‘Airseeker’
Under Project Centurion, the RAF have continued to upgrade their Typhoon aircraft. The RAF took delivery of 12 F-35 Lighting, as well as launching its first ever satellite, Carbonite-II.
The ‘Airseeker’ capability, which comprises of 3 RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft was declared fully operational ahead of schedule.
Every public sector department ultimately has to deliver ‘value for money’. For £36.61Bn, the MoD is incredibly successful in doing so.
2017/18 was a remarkably busy year for Defence. The achievements highlighted above are just a few headliners from a 220 page long document full of achievements and successes; these will all be covered later in this series.
From defeating Da’esh in Iraq and Syria, to delivering vital humanitarian support in the wake of Hurricane Irma, to supporting civil authorities in the wake of high profile incidents, the men and women in Defence have had an extraordinarily successful year.
Please monitor my Twitter @hthjones or this site for the articles in the coming days that will look more in depth at the MoD’s Annual Report.
- Financial definitions – House of Commons: Finance glossary