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House of Commons Defence Select Committee

Published: 04 Aug 2011

Letter to the Daily Telegraph 4 August 2011.

MPs’ thorough defence report is vital reading for the PM and Liam Fox. The impact of defence cuts on Britain's Armed Forces.

Sir – The report by the House of Commons defence select committee on the cuts to Britain’s Armed Forces is long and thorough. It contains 56 paragraphs of accurate conclusions arrived at after several months of diligent homework.

It provides a clear and comprehensive critique of the recent processes of the National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review. It outlines a framework for sensible reform of the management of the defence of the realm in straitened financial circumstances.

And what do we see but instant rebuttals by David Cameron and Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary. The phrase “not invented here” springs to mind — if these two can’t take a few fairly minor criticisms to get their ducks in a row, or spare the time to understand defence business properly, there is little hope for the top management of this country.

Admiral Sir John Woodward
Bosham, West Sussex

From the Defence Website - 3 August 2011.

In response Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said:

"A Defence Review had not been conducted for 12 years, resulting in an equipment programme that was woefully unaffordable. A multi-billion pound deficit was plaguing Defence, and tough, but necessary, decisions had to be taken. As the Committee rightly acknowledges, dealing with the deficit was a national security imperative.

"The Committee is also right to say that Future Force 2020 is only achievable with extra funding. That is why I announced two weeks ago that the military equipment budget will rise in real terms by over £3bn between 2015 and 2020, with new helicopters being ordered, new money for our armoured vehicles, the carrier programme, and guaranteed spending on the Joint Strike Fighter. Our future equipment programme is no longer an unfunded aspiration, but one that provides real money for real equipment.

"Our future equipment programme is no longer an unfunded aspiration, but one that provides real money for real equipment."

"We continue to have the fourth largest military budget in the world and the SDSR has put Defence back on a stable footing with highly capable Armed Forces and certainty for our personnel and their families.

"I am pushing through radical reforms to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.

"As we have seen in the US, no country is immune to the global financial problems, and even the world's biggest military power is now grappling with how to make defence cuts and reform for the future."

General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, said:

"The SDSR was based on an assessment of the threats we face now and in the future. We have had to take some tough decisions, but as we move towards Future Force 2020 we will remain a formidable fighting force on the world stage.

"We will remain capable of sustaining our operations in Afghanistan and Libya before rebalancing will give us the flexibility to maintain our ability to project power across our spheres of interest.

"We are continually working with our international allies to share operational requirements, including utilising basing and overflight rights for Libya - measures we rightly assessed in the SDSR could be relied upon to mitigate capability gaps."

The MOD will respond formally to the Defence Committee regarding today's report in the autumn.


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