Monday, October 18, 2010

UK SDSR Defence Review outcomes - arithmetic - 8% or 18% ?

UK SDSR Defence Review outcomes - a matter of arithmetic ?
Monday 18th October, 2010

There is much being trailed as to the release today by Prime Minister David Cameron as to the outcome of the review of resources devoted to the Ministry of Defence. Traditionally the Conservative Party are keen to be seen as strong and safe on defence and foreign policy. In an environment where substantial cuts are being made across government showing a grip on the issues, especially for a new administration is key.

Which probably explains why the Departmental minister has been sidelined by No.10 which has taken strong control (through the Cabinet Office) of the defence review process. press sources are already trailing the following adjustments to UK force structure;

* Retirement of the VSTOL Harrier (known as the AV-8B by the US) jump jet (CityAM)
* Retirement of HMS Ark Royal (Aircraft carrier and flagship of the Royal Navy) (BBC)
* Reductions to the strength of the British Army of the order of two brigades (7,000 troops) (CityAM)

The consensus which appears to have been trailed to the UK media and which seems uncontested by the Opposition is that cuts to the budget will amount to some 7-8% versus some 20% in other Government Departments (excluding health).

Given that insiders acknowledge off-the-record that the MOD budget has been running some 10% beyond its resource level this would imply a 10.0 + 8.0% = 18.0% reduction.

Hence the need for the PM to lead this announcement. What this means for UK 'Grand Strategy' remains to be seen as the National Security Strategy (NSS) seems to be headlining on the threat to UK global interests from cyber attack.

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