Posts Tagged ‘strategic defence and security review’

The govt must swallow its pride and adapt to the Arab spring

04/07/2011, 09:32:38 AM

by Michael Dugher

The foreign secretary, William Hague, has said that the impact of the Arab spring is potentially greater in significance than even the attacks of 9/11. After 9/11, Labour in government produced a “new chapter” to the 1998 defence review, precisely to face up to the shifting strategic landscape and emerging threats to the UK. A new chapter to the 2010 SDSR is desperately needed today.  This would bring the review up to date and make a full assessment of the impact of the Arab spring on UK security.  As Jim Murphy has said: “It’s not about looking backwards, but about turning hindsight into foresight.”

Lord Levene’s more managerial review into MoD reform was published last week. As far as it goes, it is good. Labour welcomed many of its recommendations. Indeed, Bob Ainsworth, Kevan Jones and others deserve much of the credit, as several ideas in the report stem from the defence green paper, adaptability and partnership, which the previous Labour government produced in February 2010. As the official opposition, it is as much our responsibility to support the government when its proposals are right as to oppose when they get things wrong.

Changes such as a smaller defence board inside the MoD, and greater clarification of responsibilities and the accountability for the individuals within the department, are much needed, not least to overcome the sometimes fractious command structure that has too often been based on inter-service rivalry. As Labour suggested in the 2010 green paper, the creation of a joint forces command in particular should help to change the face of our armed forces for the better and play a crucial role in helping them combat future threats to the UK. It will encourage more joint operations and enhance our ability to integrate out activities across land, sea and air, enabling joined up logistics and better communication.


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Leaked document reveals that defence review “damaged morale”

06/12/2010, 03:46:18 PM

by James Macintyre

The full text of a controversial and secret internal memo criticising David Cameron’s defence review is published by Uncut today, after the government has refused to make the document public.

The memo, limited extracts of which have been reported, has fuelled speculation that there were major flaws in the review process. The internal document, a full copy of which has been passed to Uncut, outlines a series of severe criticisms of a consultation process which alienated military chiefs and “badly damaged the confidence and morale” of defence officials. Details of the failures have also served to underline disagreements between Liam Fox, the defence secretary, and David Cameron, the prime minister.

The shadow defence secretary, Jim Murphy, has been pushing for the document to be published in full. He has also tabled questions in Parliament asking “to whom his Department’s document entitled SDSR: Lessons Identified, 3 November 2010, was submitted”, and by whom it was commissioned?

On 25 November, Dr Fox made it clear that the government refused to publish the document, saying:

“The document was proposed and a draft prepared by the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) core co-ordination team in charge of day-to-day management of the review, to draw together working-level views from  individuals involved in the SDSR process in the ministry of defence. The draft was a working document distributed to members of the SDSR programme board for comment: The government have no intention to publish it”.

Today Uncut publishes the full document for the first time. The document laments the lack of a “hard-nosed” approach to the “financial challenges faced by the department”, leading to what Labour has claimed is a £4.3bn black hole in the defence budget.

It says: “There was some evidence that the wider department did not fully understand – or accept – the affordability challenge until late in the process…An earlier understanding may have generated more radical alternative ideas”.

Mr Murphy told Uncut:

“The government’s defence review left a £4.3bn black hole in the defence budget, a £15bn overspend, gaps in our military capability and a serious dent in our troops’ morale. The reasons why are clear. A rushed review did not consult with experts or our forces and failed to match security needs to defence strategy.

The government’s defence credibility gap gets bigger and bigger”.

The memo, entitled “SDSR [security and defence strategic review]: Lessons Identified”, was prepared by a board of military officers and senior officials around Dr Fox. It says that “on engaging international partners [a] rapid consultation exercise was carried out during the review. But the responses were received only as decisions were being taken (and collated only as they were being confirmed). It would have been preferable to undertake this exercise in advance of the review, especially with close allies”.

It acknowledged that “the secretary of state…engaged some key academics during the review and offered speeches at RUSI and Chatham House”.  But it adds that “in general, departmental engagement with external experts was much reduced for the period of the review. This reduced the extent to which our ideas were challenged. It also limited our ability to shape expert and media reactions to the outcomes and lost an opportunity to enhance our reputation as an open organisation”.

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The Tories are handing defence to Jim Murphy, says John McTernan

18/10/2010, 04:00:08 PM

The first rule of spin club is that there’s no such thing as spin club. The
second rule of spin club is that there’s no such thing as spin. Why? Because
the members of spin club, if such a thing existed (which it doesn’t), know that spin never stays spun. It always unravels.

David Cameron and Liam Fox are going to find this out the hard way this
week. Presentationally, the run-up to the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) has been almost perfect. Liam Fox’s leaked letter set out the
prospect of cuts that would be so deep they would devastate our forces.
It also set up a villain – the treasury. With the scene set, the prime minister was able to ride to the rescue. And briefings over the weekend suggested that the defence budget had got a great deal – only an eight per cent cut. (more…)

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