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Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has set out his aims for a modern NATO.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“NATO is the cornerstone of our defence but we live in an uncertain world, with the confrontation and conflict we face shifting and evolving. NATO must modernise at the same pace, so we can respond better and faster to deter those that threaten our safety and way of life.”

NATO will today discuss a range of issues including burden sharing, cooperation with the European Union, and efforts to modernise the Alliance. A key element of modernising NATO will be the adaptation of the Alliance’s Command Structure say the MoD. Defence Ministers will decide whether to implement a design which includes proposals for a new Command for the Atlantic and a Command to improve the movement of military forces across Europe.

According to a press release, the proposed Command Structure, which has been influenced by senior British staff, represents a key aspect of the UK’s priority to modernise and strengthen NATO so it remains able to command and control its missions and operations wherever they are required.

“Over the two-day Ministerial, Defence leaders will discuss efforts to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence posture. Britain’s Armed Forces have taken a leading role in NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence, providing the Framework battlegroup in Estonia and a providing a company to the US-led enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup in Poland.

The Defence Secretary welcomed the arrival of Danish forces in Estonia and the announcement that France will return in 2019 to support the UK-led force. NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism was also discussed with the Defence Secretary welcoming the progress that has been made.”

16 COMMENTS

  1. Defence Ministers will decide whether to implement a design which includes proposals for a new Command for the Atlantic and a Command to improve the movement of military forces across Europe.
    Sounds just like SACLANT and SACEUR which has been doing this in the Atlantic and across Europe for the last 60 years.

  2. Someone needs to tell the new defence secretary that the cupboards are almost empty and the British Lion has had its teeth pulled after successive defence cuts and we are now a hollowed out armed forces.
    If he announced a 3% GDP to defence ratio set in law (like foreign aid budget is) and firm commitment not to cut our beloved armed forces any further and that the rot stops here then he would have my respect and gratitude.
    Otherwise this sounds like rather a lot of utter hot air. Back in the real world RN is shrinking, Army is seriously being considered to be cut to circa 60,000 soldiers and the RAF is unlikely to get the numbers of F35Bs it needs to truely operate the QE carriers. In fact I would be amazed if we end up with even 6 squadrons in active service.

    • Morning Mr Bell

      I agree with your 3%, but actually think we can shrink the army further, in order to increase manpower to the Navy and Airforce.

      My logic behind this is that the army is probably the one force that can be trained relatively quickly in a war and as I have said a number of times 4 divisions each containing 16 deployable battalions (of 900 personnel) is probably more capability than we need. One of these divisions would be RM.

      Command, Logistics and combat support would be centralised across all forces (to become a single force) and that would mean we could probably have a navy, airforce and combat support group of circa 40k personnel each.

      Ultimately the armed forces need re-shaping and for me a smaller army with 200+ apaches and a modern full armoured division is better than a larger army without the kit.

      We must avoid the situation of having to negotiate with the enemy to get our troops out just because we sent them in under armed and under resourced (as happened in Afghan). The Danish may have a smaller force but it is well equipped and I prefer this model.

      Having said the above 3% would be good for Britain and its industries

  3. Has anyone with the correct knowledge number crunched the money we could save by going to a single force structure and removing the vast number of unnecessary admirals etc as well as rebalancing the civilian workforce? Are we talking millions or billions?
    Base the sums on a navy and airforce grown by 25% but reduced army by the same.

    • It’s a good question, you can just map the U.K. military to the USMC and add a the missing bits. However what you end up with will not scale.

      The Germans could wage WWII effectively because they hid the 100,000 strong General Staff in the wider civil service for 15 years

  4. So he intends to significantly contribute to the defence of the EU from Russia, South Korea from the North, the Gulf states from Iran and last but by no means least Australia et al from China. Perhaps we should introduce random drug testing at the MoD !

  5. Tim, you are unlikely to make much in the way of savings as the bulk of the money will continue to be spent on regiments, squadrons etc. Even if you cut the individual headquarters of each military arm you will still need to maintain a component of those commands as subject matter experts. For example, what knowledge would an army command have of anti submarine operations in the North Atlantic? Canada tried a joint armed forces some years ago, it was unpopular and I believe has be reversed. There is little or no savings to be gained in one uniform fits all because everyone still needs a uniform. There may be some scope to reduce some senior ranks but again savings would be small.

    • I was just thinking that for our small fleet we would only need admirals in the 10’s but have heard people on here state they are in the 100’s. I’m sure an Admiral would be paid a hefty sum £100k a year??? If this top heavy approach exists in the other two arms of the forces their could be significant but not transformative savings to be made surely. I am not saying we have army captains in charge of subs but just a reduction in the specialised leaders. Could save 10’s of millions a year before even looking at shared logistics and support networks, and I’m sure we could trim the civilian work force too looking at the large number we have. I would hope savings could end up being in the 100’s millions. Then if we could sort our procurement of kit out through longer term cycles of supply with a base design improved and evolved gradually over larger volumes, and not the delays changing the designs constantly prior to initial construction which leads to financial penalty. A good industrial strategy basically in all areas. What can we do well and get exports as well – we build it, what don’t we do so well or only need small numbers – buy from abroad.

      • Senior ranks are paid about £106k so a few million could be saved by a trim of the top ranks. Personally, and as someone who works for the MoD, I think the travel and subsistence (T&S) budget needs a cut. Last year the MoD spent something like £140m on T&S…..

  6. I see this as further emergence of an ‘independent’ UK position post Brexit. Despite years of erosion in our armed forces and profligate waste we are still militarily a strong nation. In Europe only France is comparable. In today’s times Ms Merkel says she is confident we can strike a ‘new model’ relationship with the EU. Ms May is holding firm on her insistence that European courts should have no oversight of our ‘security’ deals with the EU. The UK MOD is leading an attractive Eurofighter bid to the Belgians. Germany is militarily unserviceable and its internal politicsl problems make her weaker. The US under Trump is more isolationist and his rhetoric is indicates weaker commitment to NATO. There is definitely an opportunity here for the UK to take a leadership position in regard to European security. We must at a minimum protect defence spending and troops numbers. Oxfam has shot itself in the foot and I see Penny Mordant has said they will get no more taxpayers money for a while. A small saving in the aid budget: the Force is with us! Let’s hope it is an indicator of increased defence spending. Protect troop numbers, the LPDs, Type 31 and sort out army vehicles and organisation and its job done. Do a deal with the Germans, we buy Boxers if they buy more Typhoons instead of F-35.

  7. Believe it or not the UK ranks NATO commitments as No2 behind our own UK Deterrent commitments. NATO is ahead of the requirements for even the Gulf deployments.

    Regarding Admirals…They dont retire…they stay on a reserve list ready to be recalled if required. The NAVY Directory at https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/useful-resources-and-information lists all the 2016/17 Admirals and those still on the Active list…Look under the seniority list for the names of those who are retired but still getting their full pay…

  8. I have costed a USMC “style” force based upon 4 Land Divisions, 2 Carrier Battle Groups and a single massive HQ/Core logistics & Support force.

    This organisation will be better equipped and have appropriate command and control (although I have not specified actual numbers for upper command, my expectation is a large scale reduction).

    What I would say is that there is a great article on one of the other forums about the need for the UK to have a Corps of senior staff to represent us in NATO and diplomatic missions, and this seems to be credible to me. Do we need as many as we have – I suggest not, but we do probably need more than many on this forum would be happy with.

    I have sent my proposed force structure to the MOD previously and will do so again now it has a new secretary and am very happy to share with this forum.

    I personally think that defence has lost its way and needs to be far more direct in what it is there for. We seem to be organised around our ability to scale up massively in time of war, when actually we should have a highly lethal force that packs a punch. To do this we need to integrate further and also go back to have really good career paths for all.

    Note: The USMC has a fully audited budget, more personnel and significantly more combat aircraft than the whole UK and does it on circa 50% of the UK budget. Surely we can use this as a model to modernise.

  9. USMC does not have to pay for global communications and logistics, Nuclear deterrent, SSN’s aircraft carriers, R&D and about 100 other expensive items that the MOD has to provide. If you want cost effectiveness don’t look at the USA, given what they spend it’s amazing how little they get including the USMC. $600 billion a year buys you a small army with most of the same problems and obsolete equipment as us with just two combat ready brigades, the worlds oldest vintage air force and a navy unable to master even the basics of bringing a ship into port. Look at what Italy does on 25% of our Budget. Bigger army at 90,000 buying more F35 than us as well as typhoon. Not that Italy armed forces are any good but it’s amazing what they can do on a small percentage of what we spend. They also use their foreign aid Budget to build vessels that have humanitarian capability. Our DFID refuses to even pay the MOD for its assets expecting them from free when required. Our treasury won’t even pay the MOD for use of its transport aircraft.

    • Small Army? You clearly have not calculated the Active, Reserves, and the National Guard. The National Guard of Texas alone so one state can deploy more tanks and almost as many aircraft than most European countries can by themselves. As far as obsolete equipment, in comparison to who? Ourselves? Vintage Air Force? Again in comparison to who? Because the USAF doesn’t get rid of things without replacement.
      Also on the Navy having accidents. If you had ever worked at sea or for any large organization you would know this. Sh** happens, now we just have 24hr news. Unless of course you are going to try to make the claim the RN has never had an accident or an embarrassment. Like say a brand new attack sub smacking a merchantman or a SSBN having a bit of a drug problem along with a CO and XO who couldn’t keep their pants zipped.

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