Labour is in and the Tories are out, and so it begins.

The Labour party election manifesto contained much and will now be subject to scrutiny over the next few years to see whether they can deliver or whether it will prove once again to be a litany of broken promises, discarded after they served their purpose.

As an ex-military man, it was the party’s defence policies and pledges that caught my eye, and I wrote previously about it here. Now that reality has bitten, however, I have a few suggestions of my own as to how Sir Keir and his party should approach the defence conundrum.


This article is the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the UK Defence Journal. If you would like to submit your own article on this topic or any other, please see our submission guidelines.


The consensus both here and abroad seems to be that the UK’s defence forces have atrophied over the past two decades through chronic underfunding and poor leadership. How can our new government begin to reverse the decline?

First and foremost, Labour needs to sort out the defence budget. Yes, I know that they have pledged to raise spending to 2.5% of GDP when circumstances allow, but that really isn’t good enough. In the light of Ukraine, the Middle East, and other tensions around the globe, we may not have much time to put things right.

Starmer needs to get hold of his Chancellor and the Treasury and tell them to wind their necks in and listen. The budget should be raised to 3% of GDP immediately and to 4% by 2030. No point in pussyfooting around anymore. The threats are real, and we need to confront them. If Poland can achieve 4%, then so should we.

Next, and equally urgent, is the need to fix the personnel problem. Our boys and girls in uniform are brilliant, but there just aren’t enough of them to crew the ships, fly and maintain the aircraft, and fill the battalions. All the shiny new equipment in the world is not worth a jot if we haven’t the people to operate them.

Recruiting targets have been missed for years, and the outflow from the services is such that there are more people leaving than there are coming in. The reason is that the services are increasingly not regarded as an attractive career option.

It’s not a pay issue; it’s mainly a condition of service issue. Much service housing is in poor condition and badly administered by outsourced contractors. Similar outsourcing of army recruitment has been disastrous. And the after-service care of veterans is appallingly handled, palmed off in the main to charities whose remits often overlap and conflict.

A lot of this is relatively easily fixed with the right focus, commitment, and political will. The armed forces need to have their people properly managed and nurtured before, during, and after their time in uniform. The promise to establish an independent Armed Forces Commissioner will help as long as he/she is truly independent. Don’t let the military chain of command anywhere near it!

Third, and I was delighted to note that it featured heavily in the Labour Party’s election manifesto, is the requirement to reform the MoD’s defence equipment procurement processes and practices.

The record of Britain procuring defence equipment on time and within budget is dire. To be honest, the UK seems to be still mired in the 1950s when it comes to weapons development when it was acceptable to take ten years to bring weapons from inception to being introduced into service.

Take ten years nowadays, and the “new” equipment presented is obsolete before the troops get their hands on it, such is the speed of technological advance. I could name many examples, but none is more relevant to this hypothesis than the slow-motion car crash that is Ajax, the British army’s next armoured cavalry vehicle.

Already fifteen years behind schedule, the thick end of the £5.6 billion budget for 589 vehicles has already been spent with nary one in service. It is an example of how not to go about it, and the predictable result of a sclerotic MoD system long past its sell-by date plus short-term appointments of military officers desperate not to be the ones holding the parcel when the music stops.

There are many, many other issues crying out for reform in the UK defence sphere, but if Labour can get its teeth into these three, then it will have made a promising start.

If we accept that the first priority of government is the protection of the state and its citizenry, then the way forward is clear. And to fund it, either taxation has to go up, or something else has to give.

Over to you, Sir Keir.

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Stuart Crawford was a regular officer in the Royal Tank Regiment for twenty years, retiring in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1999. Crawford attended both the British and US staff colleges and undertook a Defence Fellowship at Glasgow University. He now works as a political, defence and security consultant and is a regular commentator on military and defence topics in print, broadcast and online media.
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Ian
Ian (@guest_833364)
10 days ago

Interestingly, I was going to comment to the effect that the Poles don’t have the financial strain of an ageing population to worry about, but then I checked the stats and found that the age distribution was much the same as it is here. So what indeed, is the reason Poland can manage 4% but for us this is somehow deemed unthinkable? I do take issue with the assertion that in the ’50s’ it was acceptable to take a decade to develop a platform- the Vickers Valiant for example first flew in 1951, having been developed in response to a… Read more »

Last edited 10 days ago by Ian
Mark
Mark (@guest_833377)
10 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Well for example they are getting loans from the US for defence spending for American purchases, 2 billion was just announced.

Ian
Ian (@guest_833407)
10 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Well that accounts for 0.3% of Polish GDP, what about the rest?

Mr Bell
Mr Bell (@guest_833384)
10 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Well. Poland does share a land border with Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, so you could easily understand why the heightened sense of tension and need to rearm and requip.
It’s just a pity the UK hasn’t already begun a rearmament programme.
Still new government. Let’s hope Labour can progressively sort out the utter shit show that was Tory defence policy. Might take a while.

George
George (@guest_833474)
10 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Little chance of that. The party is full of extreme left wing Corbynistas, terrorist sympathisers and CND campaigners.

Meirion X
Meirion X (@guest_833521)
10 days ago
Reply to  George

The activists have now little say in the running of the party. Most of the CND’ers are now Greens! So rest assured George, they can’t stand Starmer!

George
George (@guest_833545)
10 days ago
Reply to  Meirion X

If you think Stammer runs the party you are mistaken, possibly delusional. No insult intended. The extreme left are the party on the ground, in the TUC and constituencies. Stammer is nothing more than an acceptable toothless figurehead for the masses. The veneer covering a rotten centre. (Lipstick on a pig.) Give it a few months and the extremists will seize control. Initially it’s going to be a fight between Blair and Trots Corbyn to be the chief puppeteer pulling Stammers strings. Blair will fail because he has no physical muscle with which to intimidate his opponents. Corbyn has ANTIFA,… Read more »

Barry Larking
Barry Larking (@guest_833662)
9 days ago
Reply to  George

No insult intended.’ Stammer?

I dislike Labour’s present policies and did not vote for them, but I always admired how people as different as Tony Benn and Enoch Powell never stooped to personal attacks based on immutable characteristics.

George
George (@guest_833884)
8 days ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

Barry my friend, the Starmer/Stammer typo and subsequent spellchecker error (now corrected – it didn’t recognise his name.) was unintentional. If the guy has a speech impediment or not is irrelevant. On the subject of Tony Benn, after writing to him regarding the unnecessary invasion of Iraq in 2003. I had the pleasure of meeting the man in person and had a tea/coffee with him in the H of C. Actually shocked myself because despite having diametrically opposed beliefs I liked him as a person. Sadly, never had the pleasure of meeting Brigadier Enoch Powel. Not sure if I’d have… Read more »

Barry Larking
Barry Larking (@guest_834083)
8 days ago
Reply to  George

Many thanks for your courteous and fascinating response, George. As one of millions who have suffered from an Attack of the Spellchecker, I sympathise. Benn I saw speak once and he struck me as an Edwardian gentlemen. He was more complex than portrayed, but his later views and associations were eyebrow rising. He described himself as a life long friend of Sir Keith Joseph and co-operated with Powell in the 1975 E.E.C. Referendum. Both predicted the course of events that led to Brexit. Benn backed Concorde and I think, TSR 2, his Bristol constituency being close to Filton*. When Powell… Read more »

Simon
Simon (@guest_833668)
9 days ago
Reply to  George

you do of course know that Corbyn isn’t even a Labour MP ?

George
George (@guest_833877)
8 days ago
Reply to  Simon

He was expelled but can be invited back at any time. He has a very large following within the party. That is a fact!

Barry Larking
Barry Larking (@guest_834085)
8 days ago
Reply to  George

Corbyn twice won more votes at the two General Elections he fought that Sir Keir Starmer did on 4th July. Corbyn will command a large following in the House.

George
George (@guest_834204)
7 days ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

Trot’s Corbyn certainly has a large following on the Labour benches but he has an even bigger following among the fanatical far left factions around the country. Note how he is stirring the antisemitic pot by arranging mass turnouts at pro-terrorist rallies in London. Coach loads travel each weekend from Yorkshire etc, with well organised logistical support. There seems to be no shortage of funds.

His recent podcasts and interviews on YouTube contain truly disgusting rhetoric. Anti-hate speech laws apparently do not apply and google ignore all complaints.

klonkie
klonkie (@guest_835243)
4 days ago
Reply to  George

Excellent commentary George.

I have long held the view that the left are nothing more than hypocrites. I couldn’t care less about their politics. Stammer and Khan have the gall to call out anti Islam “phopia” whilst actively fuelling the fires of racism against those of Jewish decent.

When last did the pro -Palestine lobby demonstrate against Putin to support the people of Ukraine? Who empowered them to exercise the judgement of Palestinian lives is some how worth more than that of Ukrainians – hypocrites.

WillD
WillD (@guest_834190)
7 days ago
Reply to  George

Corbyn is clearly living in your head

George
George (@guest_834213)
7 days ago
Reply to  WillD

My interest is purely academic at this point. Call it a retirement hobby. old habits die hard.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_834999)
5 days ago
Reply to  WillD

Corbyn is a symptom of academia and journalism taken by Marxists.

klonkie
klonkie (@guest_835244)
4 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Spot on Alex. I lived the last six years under Jacinda Ardern here in NZ . Your description fits the mould perfectly.

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_833672)
9 days ago
Reply to  George

Assuming Starmer is a sensible centrist poitician, as PM, he can simply call a general election if he is threatened by the far left and tell the country what is going on. The threat to this country by the far left gaining power by pretending to be a moderate centre left party is serious. However there are mechanisms within our constitution to make that difficult.

George
George (@guest_833898)
8 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

Hi Mark. I know very little about Starmer other than the obvious bland info on line. Corbyn on the other hand is a known quantity. (Still very much seen as the leader of the extreme left in the country. Crossing party boundaries both nationally and internationally. – Being thrown out of the official labour party did not decrease his popularity or power.) But would Starmer throw the party “under a bus” to stop the extreme left from taking over. Hmm not very likely, especially given the threats and intimidation they can generate against family and friends. (Numerous well documented examples… Read more »

Last edited 8 days ago by George
Mark B
Mark B (@guest_834302)
7 days ago
Reply to  George

The Monarch can under the advice of ministers dissolve parliament in which case an election would take place. In theory he could dissolve parliament himself in an emergency although it is possible that might be challenged in the courts. The monarch having the ability to dissolve parliament and/or replace a prime minister is one of the strengths of the British constitution. Obviously the monarch would be well advised to be sure that he/she had the solid support of the British people beforehand.

George
George (@guest_834462)
7 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

Thanks Mark. Clearly one of us is wrong. Our monarch was indeed the safety net for GB with the power to “press the reset button.” Excuse the term. I’m no legal expert but was told by such a person that Blair had craftily reformed the powers of the Monarch to dissolve parliament, if in dispute with His government. Something to do with details within EU law but I can’t remember the details. If HM ever needed to dissolve it, most likely the ministers and sitting government would be the reason why. Is there anyone on here with the knowledge to… Read more »

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_834989)
5 days ago
Reply to  George

Hi George – there were a few Bills which might be relevant however one of them related to Human Rights & another related to the House of Lords (this effectively prevented the House of Lords blocking legislation on core issues such as manifesto commitments). In theory that could have been taken further to reshape the constitution however Labour decided not to go down that specific path and decided simply to clip the wings of the Lords. The fact that we have an unwritten constitution plays in the favour of the Monarch. The King and everyone else will know that he… Read more »

George
George (@guest_835064)
5 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

Thanks Mark, can you remember if Blair mentioned abolishing the death penalty for high treason in his manifesto, or the other changes he made. These things are difficult to address mostly because we have an uncodified constitution. Little information is available that is written clearly and not shrouded in legalese. Further more, any situation for which there is no historical precedent is a constitutional unknown. I find it interesting for example, that Queen Elizabeth II did not intervene when HM Gov resisted implementing the will of the people regarding BREXIT. It being a matter of great importance and tension within… Read more »

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_835092)
4 days ago
Reply to  George

From memory the death penalty issue was to bring us into line with the rest of the EU. It was simply that high treason was the only crime which by then attracted the death penalty. Indeed I understand that they maintained the gallows just in case. The Supreme Court can indeed make rulings which in effect override the actions of various parts of Government including the Monarch. Boris came foul of this when he tried to prorogue parliament. Dispite the fact that this had been done many times before and for far longer periods the Supreme Court decided that it… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_835000)
5 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

Starmer supported Corbyn.
The whole neo-Marxist running trough institutions will continue, language will change and you will not notice that the word “woman, women” will disappear from government papers. That is just one example.
You will not recognize UK in 10 years.

George
George (@guest_835052)
5 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Hi Alex. I think you should amend that estimate to 5 years as the rate of change is increasing. The woke civil service being a primary driving force.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking (@guest_833658)
10 days ago
Reply to  Meirion X

Correct. Starmer is loathed by many old Corbynistas. Early days yet. Let’s wait and see how reality catches up – it always does. Europes great crisis is coming not from without but within.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_833882)
8 days ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

Exactly.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin (@guest_833386)
10 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Poland’s 4% also goes much further without CASD on the ledger, oft forgotten.

Mark
Mark (@guest_833393)
10 days ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

And the SSN as well.

klonkie
klonkie (@guest_835245)
4 days ago
Reply to  Mark

and SSBN too?

Ian
Ian (@guest_833412)
10 days ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Yes, but an additional £84 billion per year (which is what a 4% UK spend equates to) would give us the full spectrum capability and combat mass we need as well as properly funding CASD.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking (@guest_833664)
9 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Fine. But a large scale conflict that drew in N.A.T.O. now and in any foreseeable future would be conducted and controlled by the U.S.A. Facts are never wrong. Spend as we may, the U.K. is not in that league and never was. Since the end of the 17th century to date apart from very minor (but serious) conflicts the U.K. has fought as part of an Alliance.

’20 millions od debt and nothing to show … The Allies have been the rui of us.’ – Swift 1712.

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Works_of_the_Rev._Jonathan_Swift/Volume_3/The_Conduct_of_the_Allies,_and_of_the_late_Ministry,_in_beginning_and_carrying_on_the_present_War

BigH1979
BigH1979 (@guest_833862)
9 days ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Yes but 4% is 4%. What its spent on isnt relevant.

John
John (@guest_833400)
10 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Poland is recruiting “militia” as is Lithuania. Also they are relaxed about civilian held firearms. Applications for civilian held rifles/pistols are through the roof since Ukraine kicked off. Poland is also cleverly buying off the shelf kit without the fannying about we see in the UK. As a front line state l understand all of their actins and intentions. The UK sadly is full of weak politicians, an even weaker willed populace and has poured billions into idiotic programmes and civil institutions not fit for purpose.

Dragonwight
Dragonwight (@guest_833604)
10 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Poland is running a deficit of 5% plus. It has to reduce that deficit or face action from the EU. They also have had a very high rate of growth, which is expected to curtail in the coming years. They were not hit as hard by Covid or energy prices. Poland has a population of circa 40 million spread over a much wider area than the densely packed UK. It also produces most of its energy from coal. They have a plan to decarbonise but they haven’t yet. The UK government by comparison spent £400 billion on Covid and another… Read more »

Fedex
Fedex (@guest_833630)
10 days ago
Reply to  Dragonwight

Add on the additional costs and the impact to the economy that the self-inflicted disaster that Brexit has caused.

Nick Cole
Nick Cole (@guest_834129)
8 days ago
Reply to  Dragonwight

The UK didn’t have £400 billion to spend on Covid. That was derived solely from ‘borrowing’ and quantitaive easing. In other words printing money or creative accounting. All of which has to be paid back by guess who? And much of that money ended up in the off-shore bank accounts of Johnson and Co’s friends, and out of the economy.

pete
pete (@guest_833749)
9 days ago
Reply to  Ian

This is not always the case GKN came up with Warrior 2000 in 9 months for the Swiss competition. Unlike the LM project it was a working fire on the move turret with 30 mm bushmaster prototype.

Dern
Dern (@guest_833771)
9 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Poland simply spends less on other things. Grandma and Grandpa don’t get a state pension, they’ll have to be looked after by Piotr in their old age, etc.

Geneticengineer
Geneticengineer (@guest_833953)
8 days ago
Reply to  Ian

they don’t have a population of lazy people who want to sit around on benefits watching Jeremy Kyle all day,

Dave Benson Philips
Dave Benson Philips (@guest_834048)
8 days ago

When was Jeremy Kyle last on telly? Jeez….

Nick Cole
Nick Cole (@guest_834130)
8 days ago

If instead of believing the myths and received opinion that is not actually the case. There are some but very very few in proportion. Your understanding is a myth put about by those who want to fool you!

WillD
WillD (@guest_834191)
7 days ago
Reply to  Nick Cole

Spot on.

George
George (@guest_834463)
7 days ago

It’s obviously a long time since you watched day time TV. Good man!

WillD
WillD (@guest_834189)
7 days ago
Reply to  Ian

There isn’t the money available for an increase to 3%, never mind 4%. Interest repayments on the national debt totaled £111 billion last year and there are conflicting priorities for whatever cash there is available to spend. Even if the money was available for such an increase, the MOD would have to demonstrate that it would be spent wisely.

George
George (@guest_834467)
7 days ago
Reply to  WillD

What conflicting priorities?
No priority or interest is more important to a soverign state than defending it’s very existance. It’s the most basic principle of statehood. The rational behind BREXIT.

Willd
Willd (@guest_834721)
6 days ago
Reply to  George

The electorate won’t see it that way. Was there a rationale behind brexit?

George
George (@guest_834769)
6 days ago
Reply to  Willd

I appreciate the subject is above your quotient.

Willd
Willd (@guest_834808)
6 days ago
Reply to  George

🤣

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_835001)
5 days ago
Reply to  Willd

Was there a rationale behind brexit?

Of course there was, but political competition don’t interests you, maybe because you are part of political complex or the economic complex dependent on government money.

DB
DB (@guest_834782)
6 days ago
Reply to  George

The rational behind Brexit? Give your head a wobble.

And just to make you splutter cornflakes, 2nd Labour Govt will take us back in; enjoy your breakfast.

George
George (@guest_834854)
6 days ago
Reply to  DB

I see you too have a problem understanding how important sovereignty is to those who dedicated their lives to serve in the armed forces. More importantly, why it’s so important to GB as a whole to be in charge of our own destiny.

The only thing that wobbled was my gut, laughing at the suggestion of a second socialist/marxist government. It being highly unlikely that the current shower will run the full five years. Destroyed from within as Corbyn is welcomed back.

D.Roberts
D.Roberts (@guest_834894)
5 days ago
Reply to  George

The demographic that elected Labour in is the same demographic that elected the tories in, and the same demographic that voted against corban. Don’t be daft.

George
George (@guest_834900)
5 days ago
Reply to  D.Roberts

Not exactly. Many of the traditional tory voters either voted Reform this time or just stayed at home. Remember, it was the Brexit vote that elected BoJo, both labour and tory Brexiteers. Do you recall his acceptance speech. “Blah blah, thank you for lending me your votes blah blah.” He didn’t immediately leave the ECHR and sever other tentacles of the EU quango. Then along came Sunak. (Had to go look up his name, as I’d already forgotten it.) The incompetent out of touch Conservatives lost the election rather than labour winning it. It will be interesting to see how… Read more »

TR
TR (@guest_834960)
5 days ago
Reply to  George

A tiny fraction of the population voted for reform far more voted for the libdems or greens, Labour moved to the centre if the conservatives continue to head off to the right and remain incompetent they’ll continue to loose.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_835002)
5 days ago
Reply to  D.Roberts

The demographic that elected Labour in is the same demographic that elected the tories in, and the same demographic that voted against corban. Don’t be daft.

How do you know? 9M voted for Starmer of 48M registered. That is about 20%.

Different people can stay at home in different elections.

DB
DB (@guest_834897)
5 days ago
Reply to  George

The last line of defence for a scoundrel is a claim to be a patriot.

However, for Scot Nats you might make an excellent point.

Moving on, please don’t think you have some moral superiority over me or anyone else; I’ve served my country in green and still serve my country. The only difference being is that I’m not a brain dead retard who voted to take back control, remind me, how’s that worked out so far?

TR
TR (@guest_834959)
5 days ago
Reply to  George

Without Brexit we’d have a better economy and more money to spend on defence plus still have the diplomatic alliance underlying our military one.

George
George (@guest_834973)
5 days ago
Reply to  TR

Our defensive diplomatic and military alliance is NATO. End of argument. The EU is undermining it at every turn. All because they have lost the will to spend to defend their borderless former soverign countries.

TR
TR (@guest_834982)
5 days ago
Reply to  George

NATO is a military alliance, that’s only worth something if you have a political alliance underlying it (Von Clauswitz wrote that down over 100 years ago) the EU grew from the EEC, the coal and steel initiative, creating a group of countries that cared about each other to their mutual benefit, ending the risk of another Europeam war and ensuring that they would fight for each other. Wonder why Putin wanted brexit? Why SEATO or the Warsaw Pact don’t exist? Britain had sovereignty, we isolated ourselves from our markets, our friends and allies for nothing.

George
George (@guest_834983)
5 days ago
Reply to  TR

 A country without control of it’s borders or laws is not soverign. We isolated ourselves from our markets, our friends and allies for nothing by joining the EU. The anglosphere is where our past and future reside.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_833401)
10 days ago

I think it’s also important to look at historic spending..we all get obsessed with what is happening that year..but for strategic national capabilities it’s the long term spending that matters…Poland may be moving up to 4% but in 2000-2010 it was around 1.75% vs the Uks 2.5%..between 2010 to 2020 it www around 1.9% vs our 2.1% ( yes the tories spent less than Labour..but around .4% GDP per year for 12 of the most iffy years since the end of the Cold War..)..and there spending only really went beyond the UKs in 2023-24…so we have a better base..which is… Read more »

Ian
Ian (@guest_833414)
10 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Indeed. I’d say every public body in every nation has crappy procurement, and it irritates me that MOD is constantly being slated despite not being nearly as shambolic in that regard as say, the NHS.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_833444)
10 days ago
Reply to  Ian

Actually NHS procurement tends to be very very tight…as someone involved. I can tell you we are constantly screwing over our providers…with contracts that are so financially tight it’s almost impossible to provide the service..the problem the NHS has is not so much wasting money on procurement..it’s that we keep driving private companies out of business or out of the market….because we are so very very cheap…as an example I’ve had contracts I know could not be provided for less than 13 million a year…but as a standard we will only pay about 2 thirds of that amount…take standard tariff…the… Read more »

Expat
Expat (@guest_833483)
10 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Sounds like Wes is in fir a shock.

Ian
Ian (@guest_833585)
10 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Yes, but that is still ‘crappy procurement’. An unwillingness to accept what things cost is also a major cause of problems with MOD procurement. People complain about ‘cost overruns’, but barring certain high-profile exceptions it’s often simply a consequence of not budgeting realistically in the first place.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_833593)
10 days ago
Reply to  Ian

That’s not crap procurement, that’s government policy on how much central government and the taxpayer is willing to pay…the people who are procuring know the cost ( AKA me) but we are simply ignoring by central government because central government know that if they told the electorate the actual cost of a good health system they would not be voted for….we procured using the money we are allowed to spend….

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_833635)
10 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

That’s what supermarkets do to their suppliers, to be fair.

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_833700)
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Is that why they say the NHS is on its knees?

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_833702)
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

The nhs is on its knees because: 1) this country for 80 years has refused to pay what every other peer country does for its health system…France pays 25% more per person, Germany around 40% more and the US 500% more. 2) it refuses to pay to train the number of healthcare professional it needs….and has around 20-30% less than comparable systems. 3) our social care system is broken and our hospitals are full of old people who need nothing more than someone to take care of them ( help them dress, feed them and wash them) 4) because healthcare… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Jonathan
Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_833703)
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

What do the international per person spend comparisons look like if you add what is spent on the NHS to what is spent by the private sector?

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_833706)
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

That is it the comparisons take all healthcare spending it does not separate out…there is no way to wiggle out…it’s a self evident truth that every individual who has actually studied health systems understands..every singe paper ever written concludes the same thing…basically the issue drills down to the following: for all healthcare: 1 Uk pays around £3000 per person per year 2) France pays around £4000 per person per year 3) Germany pays around £5100 per person per year 4) US pays around £15000 per person per year ( 50% of that is government spending…so the US government pays around… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_833712)
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Do the numbers include charities?

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_833716)
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Yes indeed, as almost all charity provision is actually contracted as part of national health systems and licensed, so part of the assessments of international cost comparisons. So the US figures include things like the VA, the Uk figures include all hospice care etc. you can get some micro providers who don’t provide licensed healthcare that may not be included..but your talking insignificant amounts of money..all the big stuff gets shuffled in…

Last edited 9 days ago by Jonathan
Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_833719)
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

So hospices are not really charities then?

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_833733)
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Yes they are, but almost all the major charities that provide healthcare have NHS contracts..so the hospice beds will generally be paid for via an NHS contract…but a lot of the extra stuff that makes that bed really good will be funded by donations..so essentially the NHS pays for the nuts and bolts care..the charity then raised money to make it so much better than nuts and bolts…but without the NHS funding you would not have the beds….even organisations like the Red Cross provided contracted care..so one service I procured from the Red Cross provided enhanced care to elderly frail… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Jonathan
Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_833831)
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Sounds like the Aldi approach to procurement: wonky raspberries and special buys when the supplier offloads a surplus. So at the moment we have 2 systems – a Waitrose system and an Aldi system. Shop for basics at Aldi and if what you want is not available you wait until it is or you go to Waitrose….which interestingly a partnership business…benefits shared by employees …at the expense of customers? Sounds like BUPA.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_833844)
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Essentially we buy every bit of capacity spare we can from anyone we can who will take the money we pay…but we cannot really get the private sector to develop capacity because we cannot afford to pay what they would want…we can only afford their wonky veg as you say…to get a private provider to build a hospital or develop capacity for the NHS we would need to pay closer to their private prices…( realistically double standard nhs tariff) essentially far more than we pay NHS hospitals trusts….we would be far better off paying NHS hospitals slightly more than tariff… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_833891)
8 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

No overnight silver bullet solutions then. I can understand why the govt are proposing a strategic review….preparing us for the bad news. Italy is the only other european nation to have a NHS. Do you know how they are getting on?

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_833905)
8 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Italy has gone a very different way, although in theory both the UK and Italy have National health services..neither does in reality, so they are both totally different The British system..this is one of those important things to remember, which the British public don’t really understand…and is of fundamental importance if your wrapping your head around our healthcare system…there is not such thing as a monolithic national health service ( in reality the NHS is a brand/logo that an organisation uses if it holds a contract with an integrated healthcare board ( ICB) to provide healthcare services….an ICB is a… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_833908)
8 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Interesting. Thx. I always sensed that the NHS was a brand, with lots of piglets trying to get their snouts in the trough.

Last edited 8 days ago by Paul.P
Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_834075)
8 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

So, I think we need to transition to an Italian like system. The UK system is too fragmented. 40 ICBs is too many. It needs to be reduced to about a dozen. What with the trend to metro mayors there is an obvious opportunity to replace the large number of ICBs with a smaller number of democratically accountable regional health authorities which map geographically onto small groups of metro authorities. Eventually funding for a region could be part central, part regional. This would create a more straightforward link between the economic health of a region with its demographic profile and… Read more »

Last edited 8 days ago by Paul.P
AlexS
AlexS (@guest_835003)
5 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

It is the italian system that is fragmented by regionalism. And that is a tiny bit better for competition.

Without competition NHS goes nowhere.

Give health vouchers for those in need. Let them choose.
Start a free market.

If you don’t people will realise soon that veterinary services are better…

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_835042)
5 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

So, the elevation of competition into free market ideology which began with Thatcher is the reason our economy and society has got into trouble. From 1945 through to the 70s we prospered because nation shared a common sense of national identity and people understood the concept of ‘the common good’; that is that sometimes you have to make sacrifices. This principle of sacrifice for the common good is at the very foundation of service in the armed forces. Thatcher famously said ‘there is no such thing as society’ and since her time government policies have essentially incentivised selfish behaviours. This… Read more »

Nick Cole
Nick Cole (@guest_834133)
8 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

And a lot of our approach falls back on to the ‘class’ system. Working people cannot possibly be paid as much as us so we will cut back wherever possible and worker salaries are the easiest and immediate option. Britain does not actually like paying what something is worth or even what it costs. So ‘cut services to the bone and more if possible’ in order that the few can keep more of what they see as ‘their’ money. They think that all the money rightly belongs to them and nobody else should have any, so what is paid is… Read more »

BigH1979
BigH1979 (@guest_833864)
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Agreed, the great British public needs to stump up. State Pensions is currently 110Bn annually. Needs to be means tested to assets. People can’t expect to retire in their 4 bed family 800K houses and still get a handout. Quite simply the NHS needs to stop being free at the point of use For All. If you don’t meet certain criteria then you pay on a fixed scale as they have for dentistry. ALL non UK born users must pay in to the system for 2 years until they qualify for free treatment (if they meet the criteria). If conditions… Read more »

D.Roberts
D.Roberts (@guest_834895)
5 days ago
Reply to  BigH1979

Means testing pensions is absolutely the way forward

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_835005)
5 days ago
Reply to  D.Roberts

So in your opinion a person that contributed millions should not get nothing back…

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_835004)
5 days ago
Reply to  BigH1979

Many posts like that here, to me it just means that Britain, the starter of industrial revolution is now today a mere socialist-social-democrat that is obsessed by wealth distribution and with very low care for wealth creation.

Ged
Ged (@guest_833408)
10 days ago

Why not 6%, 12%, 45%? A pointless number when the accountants have already worked their magic.

First thing in SDSR should be a reversion to 1997 accounting practices. Then hitting 2% immediately after, an actual increase. Then plan to hit 2.5% as quickly as possible. We can all scream for 5% but its utterly pointless if that 5% is only 1.8% in “old money”.

It is not only a condition issue, it IS absolutely a pay issue too. Anyone who focuses on one over the other will not fix recruitment and retention.

Finney
Finney (@guest_833411)
10 days ago

Absolute pie in the sky. Never going to be 3%, never mind 4%, unless the UK is directly involved in a conflict. If we spent 2.5% properly we’d be fine. Half of the problem now is that we’re trying to regrow capacities that we lost due to ill-informed cuts and changing our minds too much. Ajax is a mess because we hadn’t ordered a new tracked AFV for 15-20 years. The sub building/maintenence programme was/is a mess for the same reasons. We can’t build artillery any more because we weren’t interested in even a modest investment in the 2010’s when… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_833421)
10 days ago
Reply to  Finney

Agreed. The roots of all this go way back to the early, mid 2000s.

Jim
Jim (@guest_833646)
10 days ago

We were fighting a series of pretty vicious wars and insurgencies in defence of our greates ally that suffered its biggest ever attack including pearl harbour, it’s quite understandable that upgrading armoured forces was not a top priority in the mid 2000’s especially given those forces were actually in a fairly decent state until after 2010 .

nigley1234
nigley1234 (@guest_833543)
10 days ago
Reply to  Finney

Don’t talk too soon

Peter S
Peter S (@guest_833563)
10 days ago
Reply to  Finney

I think that finally the army has got a coherent plan for its reorganisation and equipment. Ch3, Ajax, Boxer,RCH155, MRLS upgrade all in hand. But these programmes just emphasize how much defence manufacturing capacity has been lost. BAE should never have been allowed to acquire so many manufacturing sites, including state owned ones, then close them down and sell off land for development. If the design capability is gone, the very least we should do is insist on UK production. If we wanted a new army rifle, who could design and make it? Manufacturing under license isn’t ideal but it… Read more »

Jim
Jim (@guest_833648)
10 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

If the army had selected Boxer at the start all the UOR money could have gone in to procuring boxer and the army woukd have not have many issues like it does today.

It was never lack of money just lack of leadership that was the issue.

Our senior army generals are shit and always have been.

pete
pete (@guest_833757)
9 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

How would you keep GKN and Alvis going with no orders . fair one on Royal Ordnance , 16 sites reduced to about 6 . Land was worth more than price paid for business, Most privatized businesses were sold off by the Government less than value worst value for money was Quintiq sold for 374 million and floated on the stock exchange at 1.3 billion !

Peter S
Peter S (@guest_833763)
9 days ago
Reply to  pete

Fair point. We kept shipyards open with TOBA but were content to let land equipment manufacture all but disappear. The question now is what happens to GDs Ajax assembly plant once the current order is complete? The best option might be for the government to acquire it and keep enough of the workforce to handle future orders of AFVs. Not sure about the maintenance arrangements for Ajax, but it would make sense to have it carried by the people who built them.

Simon
Simon (@guest_833950)
8 days ago
Reply to  pete

When Qinetiq was floated on the stock exchange for £1.3 billion the MOD still owned 56% . the issue was that the Carlyle Group brought 31% in 2003 for £41 million and then that was worth £341 million by the flotation. Qinetiq senior management did very well out of as well,

TR
TR (@guest_834963)
5 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

To be fair the carriers actually aren’t that expensive by the standards of programmes in general and have been relatively reliable so far (compared with other carrier programmes around the world)

pete
pete (@guest_833750)
9 days ago
Reply to  Finney

Ajax was a mess because they bought a cannon which was not developed. Warrior upgrade failed because one it needed a new turret and two the cannon was not suitable as Warrior 2000 prototype showed !

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_833428)
10 days ago

To be honest 2.5% on defence isn’t good .I personally think it should be 3% or 4% like in the mid 80s, let’s face this the world now is more unstable than the cold war days of the day.It’s cold war 2 with out a doubt 😟 💰💰💰💰🇬🇧

Chrislondon
Chrislondon (@guest_833486)
10 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I think in the 1980s it was around 5.2-5.3%.

Jim
Jim (@guest_833649)
10 days ago
Reply to  Chrislondon

I think the Warsaw pact had 3 million soldiers ready to storm Europe and the soviet navy had like 400 submarines ready to cut us off.

Things are very different today.

ChrisLondon
ChrisLondon (@guest_833677)
9 days ago
Reply to  Jim

If you look at Andrew’s post I was correcting his figures.

Simon
Simon (@guest_833732)
9 days ago
Reply to  Chrislondon

less than 5% from 1983 onwards

klonkie
klonkie (@guest_833765)
9 days ago
Reply to  Chrislondon

circa ’83 post Falklands- came off the boil to the 4% mark from mid 80s.

Dern
Dern (@guest_834005)
8 days ago
Reply to  Chrislondon

And we where cutting the Army then, we went from 4 Armoured Divisions forward based in Germany, to 3 with an Infantry Division to reinforce it based in the UK.

Cognitio68
Cognitio68 (@guest_833442)
10 days ago

Perhaps instead of obsessing about various percentages of GDP spent we instead look at our vulnerabilities, determine the optimum solution to plug them and then add up the cost. Meeting GDP targets is not evidence of a successful defence policy. We instead need to have a defence policy built around a required defence capability and a defence budget configured to deliver that.

Expat
Expat (@guest_833484)
10 days ago
Reply to  Cognitio68

Agree you could spend a lot of money painting curb stones on barracks but does literally nothing for war fighting capability

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_833489)
10 days ago
Reply to  Cognitio68

The implicit, unstated assumption is that a validated requirements analysis has already been performed and cost estimates to fulfill the requirements reasonably estimated. GDP threshold estimates are SWAGs of those costs by generally knowledgeable observers/commentators. Certainly, reasonable adjustments to the defence budget should be accommodated by process, as real world conditions dictate.

Ian
Ian (@guest_833587)
10 days ago
Reply to  Cognitio68

The reason people are obsessed with percentages of GDP is because it is quite evident that what we currently spend is wholly inadequate and it can’t all be pinned on mismanagement of the finances. You don’t need a detailed understanding of newtonian mechanics to know which way a dropped hammer will fall.

Jim
Jim (@guest_833650)
10 days ago
Reply to  Cognitio68

The issue is that we have almost no vulnerability.

Our defence budget is almost entirely devoted to defending Allie’s.

Baker
Baker (@guest_833655)
10 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Hello Jim, that’s a fair point actually, we have no real enemies at the door and the budget does seem to echo that however, we should be looking at other potential threats and still equip adequately.

Nick Cole
Nick Cole (@guest_834146)
8 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Which in our post zenophobic world does not go down well! I think we have too high an expectation that we are in fact a forward post of American effort and don’t need to do any more than try to slow an enemy down till the ‘Yanks get here’. A more extreme view of the cold war tactic of delaying things long enough for our reserves to be mobilised is what we have now. Perhaps that is actually what they actually mean by ‘special relationship’. And while US v Japan was one thing and they could fight a major war… Read more »

Last edited 8 days ago by Nick Cole
Nick Cole
Nick Cole (@guest_834143)
8 days ago
Reply to  Cognitio68

Exactly! Something many do not understand. Instead of fitting defence (among other things too) into what they are prepared to spend, find out what we need and budget accordingly. If what we need costs more then so be it.

NomDeGuerre
NomDeGuerre (@guest_833452)
10 days ago

I worry there is sometimes a danger with sweeping percentages: we should have X% of GDP for example. It overly simplifies the complexity of the international and national economic circumstances, the conflict that exists at every level of the treasury and the internal conflict that plays out between the individual Services, the joint environment and Main Building (and of course politicians playing politics). I would argue that there could be more benefit from a root and stem capability review; what do we want to achieve and with what assets. The answer of ‘USA levels of capability, shiny kit and everyone… Read more »

Roy
Roy (@guest_833482)
10 days ago

To argue that Labour should aim for 4% of GDP on defence by 2030, when it was just elected on a platform that doesn’t come anywhere near to that sort of spending, is totally unrealistic. It just won’t happen. There are simply too many other spending priorities.

I am not sure that the UK establishment actually believes there is a serious Russian military threat since they have not really changed anything since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The rhetoric says one thing, but actions have been quite different. That seems likely to continue under Labour.

Frank62
Frank62 (@guest_833561)
10 days ago

I can only agree the forces are abysmally short of staff & equipment in very dangerous times. The clock is running down fast so we need prompt action to demonstrate a real will to oppose autocracy worldwide, before it’s too late.

DC
DC (@guest_833631)
10 days ago

I’ve just noticed ukdj publish a lot of comments from know it all armchair warriors, but any ex-service personnel or people who have links to ex or current service personnel have a lot of their comments sent to moderation. I take it the people who matter have less rights than those who sit at home reading and playing cod in their bedroom than actual people who are serving and who have served….
It should have it’s title changed to kiadj for know it all defence journal. I’m not expecting this to be published.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_834414)
7 days ago
Reply to  DC

Cobblers.
There are no ranks here, or seniority for military types over civilians, the site is for posters interested in the armed forces.
There are plenty of current or ex military who post here without issue.
Why not take the chip off your shoulder about “armchair warriors” ( no doubt directed primarily at me after I told you where to go the other day on the other thread for your rudeness ) and JUST BE NICE?
Try it.

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_833636)
10 days ago

Here’s an idea for a review of defence spending; forget about 2.5/3/4% etc GDP spending and instead actually review what the armed forces need, and then spend what’s needed?

Rather than giving arbitrary numbers for a budget and force the military to fit within it?

Nick Cole
Nick Cole (@guest_833638)
10 days ago

Well said. And it is also and perhaps more important even that resupply of ammunition and equipment should be enhanced even more with a significant boost to the miltary industrial base. If we don’t have time to re-equip now what would we do in the event of a war? We may well be barely equipped for minor police actions now because of ‘peace-dividend, tax cuts for the wealthy and prioritising the money launderers, but anything on the scale of what is looming in Europe is way more than we can cope with. If the expensive hi-tech equipment takes years to… Read more »

Julian
Julian (@guest_833654)
10 days ago

In the world of UK defence spending where it is difficult to find much to be optimistic about I am at least the teeny tiniest bit encouraged to see many of the papers and news outlets today reporting that Kier Starmer is going to be calling on NATO to boost defence spending. It’s not because I think that what Starmer says to NATO will have any significant impact but rather because, like him or loathe him, it does seem pretty clear to me that Starmer is an intelligent man so the hypocrisy of that call to NATO when Labour has… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_833701)
9 days ago
Reply to  Julian

I suspect you are right. Labours priorities will be settling the NHS strikes, funding the blood transfusion and post office scandals. If there is any money after that then the child benefit cap will be high up the priority list but so will defence. It wouldn’t cost a fortune to improve or even rebuild services housing stock and the gesture would be very much appreciated. The major equipment decisions have already been taken: Frigates, submarines, F-35, CR3, Ajax, Boxer ( including rch) , MLRS and can’t realistically be accelerated. So my bet is that they will start with recruitment and… Read more »

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_833687)
9 days ago

Anyway did anyone else appreciate the irony of Starmer flying off to the US in the very aircraft that he lambasted Johnson about as a waste of money!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_834412)
7 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

Oh YES!!

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_833695)
9 days ago

A good article, which identifies the main issues. Talk of 3% of GDP is alas for the birds at the present time. Just about every aspect of Government spending is in a parlous mess and crying out for more money and major reform – NHS, junior doctors, care services, housing, courts, prisons, transport, the list goes on and on. The new Government has many mouths to feed and has inherited a lousy economic position, with taxes at their highest level ever and sky-high national borrowing at nearly 100% of GDP, which means we are paying twice as much in interest… Read more »

klonkie
klonkie (@guest_833767)
9 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

Vey good analysis Cripes. However the 2,5% need to start asap (2025 defence review/budget) and not “when economic circumstances permit”. It’s the oldest trick in the book with all governments- defer capex as much as possible.

We are far behind in capital budget for replacements. This needs to happen now. The cost of building a warship today is cheaper than it will be tomorrow. As such, I’d probably live with a modest tax increase to that end- but that’s just me.

RB
RB (@guest_833743)
9 days ago

2.5% would be a good immediate start. But only if that excludes the £3bn pa of UK miliary aid to Ukraine. That is currently being used to boost claimed UK defence spending from 2.1% of GDP to 2.3% £3bn is enough to buy 7 T31 frigates, or 30 Tranche 4 Typhoons, or [unrealistically] 600 upgraded Challenger 3 tanks.

klonkie
klonkie (@guest_833766)
9 days ago
Reply to  RB

Tend to agree RB , but the 2.5% needs to be now (2025 defence review/budget< and not “when economic circumstances permit”

We are far behind in capital budget for replacements. This needs to happen now.

Angus
Angus (@guest_833847)
9 days ago

Don’t see that happening in the near future. Even with it the youth have no wish to get into doing the hard work these days we in the past did. All pink and WOKE and sorry to say the services are a sad shadow of those that stood tall at the walls of freedom. Kit is only part of it its people that make a FORCE to reckon with in the end and we have neither these days. All the privatisation of the services to the Armed Forces has killed much, can’t even get a good meal these days only… Read more »

Val
Val (@guest_833954)
8 days ago

Main spending priorities will on diversity and inclusion policies and managers. Simple one to answer.

ChrisLondon
ChrisLondon (@guest_834135)
8 days ago
Reply to  Val

50% of the population are women, 12% are ethic minorities, approx 5% are Gay. That means het white males are about 41-42% of the population. They currently make up about 92% of military personel and we have some people on this site saying they are persecuted? 1, I do not think we really want such entitled fantasists in the military at all. 2, If the Government are going to ask people to spend more on defence then the military needs to at least look as if the jobs are open to all. It currently has an image problem as a… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_834406)
7 days ago
Reply to  Val

My take – The signs are that labour want to put an end to ‘culture wars’. I wouldn’t hold your breath for any more news on defence. The immediate spend priorities will be to pay compensation promised to the victims of the Post Office scandal and the infected blood scandal and settling the junior Drs strike. Next will be manifesto commitments to recruit more dentists, more teachers and more police. July 17th is the day to watch; the King’s Speech to Parliament will lay out legislative program. By then Rachel Reeves will have figured out whether there is any spare… Read more »

Simon
Simon (@guest_834969)
5 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

there is also the WASPI issue to sort it out as well

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_835006)
5 days ago
Reply to  Val

Indeed Val, the political economy in UK is giant.

RB
RB (@guest_834373)
7 days ago

Currently the UK spends £51.7 billion (1.9% of GDP) on its core defence budget (i.e. the money that the MOD gets), or £64.2 billion (2.3% of GDP) if you add on pensions, aid to Ukraine, etc. To get to 2.5% by 2030/31 would probably require just 3% real-term increases annually, depending how the economy does. The MOD’s budget would then be about £58 billion – a 19% increase compared to 2024/25. That’s probably enough to fill the funding black hole in the equipment budget, assuming nothing major was added to the plan between now and 2030.  So 2.5% is NOT a game… Read more »

Luke Rogers
Luke Rogers (@guest_834400)
7 days ago

Is there any truth in the rumour that the US NGAD programme is in trouble? Could there be a small window of opportunity for Tempest to be our first serious export success since… Harrier?

Colin Brooks
Colin Brooks (@guest_834618)
6 days ago

Labour must decide whether the delusional idea of saving the planet is more important than saving the UK.

RB
RB (@guest_834624)
6 days ago

The Telegraph is reporting that the new Defence Review is likely to be conducted by the same team (lead by Professor John Bew) that undertake the 2021 Integrated Review and its minor refresh in 2023 – which basically said that they got it right first time and Ukraine hadn’t changed the main recommendations! As such, and given the lack of significant additional money, it’s unlikely there will be any major announcements such as a U-turn on Army numbers or lots more tanks. At a guess the headline making soundbites offered to the press will be some relatively minor announcements on… Read more »

TR
TR (@guest_834952)
5 days ago

Military development in the 1950s took considerably less than 10 years to produce results, arguably the pace of development was faster then than it is now.

BFGBob
BFGBob (@guest_835323)
4 days ago

Do not fall into the procurenent trap with a closer relationship with the EU. It too has its own problems with France and Germany nominated to decide the equipment to be bought. Le Clerc or Rheinmetal?. Fin stabilised ammunition or not? France insists everything is French, Germany wants Rheinmetal which coincidentally is part of BAES as are the Swedish armoured vehicles (tanks, artillery). It also manufactures equipment for and in the USA. Ditch the French and go for BAES subsidiaries. Common vehicle base is a much smoother way to proceed. France wants Command of the EuroCorps. We should never commit… Read more »