Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

An unusual way to plan a defence strategy.

Today's reports in the media of closing RAF Cottesmore to pay for a few helicopters seem to have met with a little irritation, if comments in The Mail or on ARRSE are anything to go by.

The BBC hadn't any comments for its article, but has opened an HYS asking

What cuts can be made to balance a stretched defence budget? In which areas should defence spending be concentrated?
So that's a fait accompli then! No real need to discuss whether there should be defence cuts, merely where they should be!

What the newspaper articles are saying is that 22 new Chinooks have been ordered - because they're needed in Afghanistan. The first ten might be ready for 2013, so will be a little late because we've already been told we'll be out of Afghanistan before then. There's no hint of when the next 12 might be ready, perhaps it will be sooner than those helicopters we've already got, but that might never fly because they've got the wrong software.

Anyhow, apparently there isn't any money in the Defence Budget to pay for these lovely helicopters so Mr Ainsworth has decided it will be a good idea to get rid of a whole RAF base, the one at Cottesmore in Rutland.

Rutland and Melton is, incidentally, Tory Alan Duncan's constituency.

The MoD obviously thinks that will save the country a lot of money because it means they, the MoD, won't have to pay lots of wages and it won't have to pay for lots of equipment. They haven't thought outside their little financial box, and haven't realised that making people redundant will take money out of the national coffers - even though it's a different section of the rattlingly empty national coffers, because when, and if, the base closes the local supportive infrastructure will crumble and a lot of people will lose their jobs - and will claim unemployment benefit.

Also tucked away in the Mail's article is this gem

Two Royal Navy vessels will also be withdrawn from service in an effort to balance the books
So not only has the Navy got a lovely new boat that can't use its' weapons, it's going to have to lose some of those it's already got.

Phew, this is almost too much to take in all at once - maybe that's why it's all being said at once, because it's hard to focus on more than one tiny part of this news.

Moving swiftly backwards in time, to Sunday 13th December 2009.

What hasn't been referred to in today's reports is the news that was slipped out in an article in The Times last Sunday, maybe it was published when everybody was asleep because it has only four comments.

The article outlines other areas of cuts, and lays the blame fairly on the head of General Sir David Richards, who studied Politics and Economics at Cardiff University, because it says that,
The new head of the army [Gen. Sir David Richards] has ordered a cull of more than 300 senior officers, including two major-generals and up to 32 brigadiers.
Two major-general posts will go, one at 4th Division in Aldershot and the other at 5th Division at Shrewsbury. However, this is just two out of a total of 43 major-generals.
The closure of these divisional headquarters will also see the loss of a number of other staff officers, plus redundancies for civilian staff.
So more people out of work, because the MoD can't balance its' books.

Further into the article is a comment by Major-General Jonathan Shaw, the Colonel-Commandant of the Parachute Regiment, who "warns in the latest edition of the regimental journal Pegasus that
other infantry units are attempting to see its role axed."

The Times goes on to justify this because
No British paratroopers have dropped into battle since Suez in 1956. There are suggestions that the regiment should be broken up and used as forward reconnaissance units for the army’s frontline brigades.
So they've decided that, because an important regiment hasn't been used very often we don't need to keep it? The Paras? Surely not.

It's an unusual way to plan a defence strategy.

Is it any wonder that soldiers prefer to salute their officers than shake somebody's hand - visit Dizzy's place to see the video.

And maybe the military should be allowed to officially declare war on CO2, that way it might be able to claim some of the money that's obviously lying around because Mr Brown has just given away £1.5 million - to help other countries beat "Climate Change".

No comments: