Skip to comments.British Army cuts announced by defence secretary
Posted on 07/06/2012 12:05:12 AM PDT by moonshot925
The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, says five battalions will disappear and 17 units will be axed in the biggest overhaul of the British army for decades.
(Excerpt) Read more at guardian.co.uk ...
- 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers to be dissolved
- 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) reduced to Company level ceremonial role.
- 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (Royal Regiment of Wales) to be dissolved
- 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards) to be dissolved
- 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Stafforrds) to be dissolved
- 1st and 2nd Royal Rank Regiment to merge
- The Queens Royal Lancers and 9th/12th Lancers (Prince of Wales') to be merged
- 7th Signal Regiment to disband
- 24 Commando Engineer Regiment to disband
- 25 Engineer Regiment to disband
- 28 Engineer Regiment to disband
- 38 Engineer Regiment to disband
- 67 Works Group to disband
- 39 Regiment, Royal Artillery to disband
- 40 Regiment, Royal Artillery to disband
- 1 Logistics Support Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps to disband
- 2 Logistics Support Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps to disband
- 23 Pioneer Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps to disband
- 8 Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps to disband
- 19 Combat Service Support Battalion to disband
- 24 Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps to disband
- 101 Force Support Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, to transfer to the Territorial Army
- 5 Regiment, Royal Military Police to disband
This could five the Argie’s some ideas.
They reduced the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to company level, thus retaining their existence, but English battalions get liquidated outright.
More sucking up to the Scots then, whilst English loyalty to the Union is taken for granted...
International political correctness, lets not make the freedom loving humaintarian islamists or the communist democrates in China feel as though they are being treated unfare. These crazies are delivering us to our enemies with our pants around our ankles.
Sad to see some of those regiments go but even after these cuts, the UK still has the fourth largest military exepnditure in the world after the US, China and Russia and there’s 60m of us, 312m Americans, 142m Russians and 1.35bn Chinese.
The Highland Regiments got whacked in the last round of cut-backs. An entire division IIRC.
“The Highland Regiments got whacked in the last round of cut-backs. An entire division IIRC.”
They’ll disappear entirely if the Scots vote for independence in 2014. The ensuing socialist government won’t want anything as right wing or racist as the ability to defend themselves. . . . .
We might have the 4th largest defence budget in the world, but that isn’t neccessarily relevant when you consider that British defence procurement is an utter shambles and money is pissed away on equipment projects that are more about creating jobs than providing the best equipment at the best price for the troops. Remember the Nimrod that got scrapped recently? Despite the fact that over £3.6 billion had already been spent on producing something vastly inferior the technologically superior P-8 Posideon, which we are now buying instead for a total cost of £1 billion. How about the Eurofighter, which was even more expensive than the US Raptor in both development costs and unit price, despite having far less capability.
If HM Government actually spent that money effectively instead of just throwing it at the BAe Systems money gobbler and accepting whatever overpriced rubbish they defecated out, we would have a military that rivaled the US in both technological terms and in availability of equipment...
The various old regiments of Scotland were allowed to retain their old regimental identities as battalions within the Royal Regiment of Scotland, this did not happen with English regiments.
In any case, Caulkhead is right about the Scottish battalions being abolished if the Scotch ever become independent. It would be difficult to justify having more than two battalions in a Scottish “Defence Force” (so called because it would be laughable to try and justify calling it an army)...
“We might have the 4th largest defence budget in the world, but that isnt neccessarily relevant when you consider that British defence procurement is an utter shambles and money is pissed away on equipment projects that are more about creating jobs than providing the best equipment at the best price for the troops.”
Of course it was, we’ve had 13 years of labour. Now we don’t.
“How about the Eurofighter, which was even more expensive than the US Raptor in both development costs and unit price, despite having far less capability.”
I don’t know what sources you get your information from, but the only time a Typhoon and an F22 have directly competed in combat trials were at NAS China Lake where the Typhoon broke all expectations of it’s performance and was highly lauded by the US test pilots who were ‘shot down’ by it. There’s plenty on google if you use a few of the keywords above. As for a cost and ability comparison, try this:
The upside is that the Typhoon doesn’t try to suffocate its’ crew.
“If HM Government actually spent that money effectively instead of just throwing it at the BAe Systems money gobbler and accepting whatever overpriced rubbish they defecated out, we would have a military that rivaled the US in both technological terms and in availability of equipment...”
You do know how much the US forces also rely on BAe don’t you?
In addition, the increasing cost of platforms (and the relative economic decline of the UK) has led to an increasing use of multifunctionality. We cannot afford one ship to hunt subs and one to engage surface targets, so instead we have one that does both. But that ship, super ship though it is, is but one vessel. It can only be in one place at a time. And its much more expensive than either of the dedicated ships, because it has both the anti-sub and anti-surface systems on it. Which also of course makes it larger than either. And therefore slower, less fuel efficient, less maneouverable, and less capable of operating in shallow water or constricted straits.
I agree UK defence procurement needs a thorough overhaul, but first I think we need to agree on just what sort of military we want and need for the future. Too much stuff is being bought and operated that we really do not need anymore.
I had erred using the term “regiment” when battalion is really the operational unit. It’s pretty much the same here in the US where the “regiment” is for the most part tradition, flags & insignia.
I guess that Britain still recruits & trains at the regimental depot level? Or are they streamlining that also?
I think that you still use “regiment” when referring to Cavalry, no?
All that stuff about the Eurofighter may be true (I wouldn’t know, I’m not an aircraft engineer), but I would have thought it was all a moot point, because superior stealth is the most over-riding factor. The F22 will be able to sneak up on just about anything, whereas the Euro fighter will not.
Although, having said that, perhaps if the Eurofighter is going up against mickey mouse 3rd world nation fighters, it might well be the superior option, I will concede that. I wouldn’t be so sure against the latest Russian and Chinese fighters, which will no doubt eventually filter down into the arsenals of lesser, but more likely potential adversaries in the years to come....
Yes, I know the US also buys stuff from BAe Systems, but as far as Britain is concerned, BAe Systems is a leviathan that has virtually no competition in defence procurement projects were the priority is to buy British. In the US, there is more competition, and thus defence contractors are forced to be more competent than BAe Systems, which I believe is complacent in its belief that they will almost certainly get the major defence contracts regardless of quality, because there are no other British defence contractors with the capability to produce rival products anymore, seeing as BAe Systems systematically gobbled them up over the years.
Then perhaps it might be wiser to concede that we do not have the capability to produce top of the range equipment for an affordable price any more and simply buy elsewhere (probably from the US, mainly), or else pursue an aggressive strategy of persuading allied nations to buy our products as well.
Before you suggest that this will make us totally dependent on other countries for our defence, consider that our equipment already contains so much foreign hardware and software to operate that this is already a moot point. We may as well just take the reality of the situation to its logical conclusion and buy most of our major gear from the US so that we can have more of it and supply our troops with the best available and still have enough money to have an army in sextuple figures again.
From what I understand, the difference between being part of a battalion rather than the regiment it used to be is that an infantryman is not considered to be permanently attached to the battalion, and will be transferred to another battalion within the regiment according to operational needs, hence the traditional link and loyalty to the old regiment can no longer exist.
As for cavalry, the regiment is the operational unit itself, and these are subdivided into squadrons, which are the cavalry equivalents of infantry companies. They are not divided into battalions.
Having said that, I don't think it is wise to completely buy all our stuff from overseas. Not from a military viewpoint, or even a strategic one, but from an economic one. The defence industry is a major employer and a major earner of foreign revenue in the UK, still. What I think would be a better idea is to rationalise what is being made and in the future specialise in what we do make. At the moment we try to make all of our own stuff and only go abroad if what we tried to make crashes or there is a sudden urgent need. If we buy american for some things, buy european for other, and make a few things we are really good at, that will increase standardisation, reduce inefficiencies, reduce cost and yet retain technical knowledge for the future.
What I was more thinking of is restructuring the armed forces. For the wars we are fighting now, and for the wars we will probably be fighting in the future, the armed forces are not ideally equipped. We need more infantry, we need more engineers, we need more artillery (particularly light artillery) and we certainly need more helicopters. We don't need as many tanks, we dont need as many air superority fighters and we dont need strategic missile submarines at all. We have to adjust technology emphasis so that we no longer build better, but cheaper. We need to stop the mentality of getting the best and replacing it with the most cost-effective.
Agree with a lot of what you say there, but I disagree with you on a couple of points:
It is nonsense to suggest that Britain benefits economically from having public money pumped into the defence industry. Any money taken from the public purse hurts the country economically, because it removes money from the common wealth. It is a trade off that gives us other advantages, but certainly not economic ones. I think the metaphor somebody once used is that using public money to benefit the economy is like trying to give a patient a blood transfusion by taking blood from the patient, walking around to the other side (spilling some of the blood on the way around) and then pumping it into the other arm.
If we want to fund Science and engineering in the UK, Lewis Paige, (ex-RN and defence critic) has said that we would be better off funding our own space program like we had up until the early 1970s and start launching our own rockets again, maybe setting up a space base at St Helena or Ascension Island.
Also, we absolutely do need ‘strategic missile submarines’. If we are to have a nuclear detterent, they need to be on such submarines because they are the only way of guaranteeing that an enemy cannot launch a first strike that takes out our nuclear deterrence and ensures that even if Britain was to be wiped out with nukes, we would still have the means of striking back, which is the whole point in having a nuclear deterrent...
I understand your analogy of the blood transfusion, but all military expenditure is effectively taking from the public purse to the detriment of other items. Given the choice it is obviously economically sounder to buy domestically than to send the money overseas. To use your analogy, less of the blood slops out that way.
I think a space program would be a good idea.
Your argument on strategic missile submarines is absolutely texbook, and indeed in the days of the cold war made very good sense. But the berlin wall has fallen. It's time to reappraise, and if you are going to do that properly, you have to do it thoroughly and dispassionately.
First of all, having a strategic defence force is obviously better than not having one, but that is not the choice we would be making. The options are a strategic defence force OR five billion pounds plus worth of other military hardware. In the past the defence chiefs came down on the side of ballistic submarines, but in the world we live in now, that is rapidly becoming less justifiable. The simple fact is that - sorry - Britain is no longer a superpower. The Empire HAS fallen. We don't need an independent strategic weapon capability because we no longer really have any independent worldwide strategic interests. It's a bitter pill to swallow, and I don't like having to admit it, but I have no doubt that the main reason why we continue to build ballistic submarines noq is false pride.
Then you have to ask yourself, who are we deterring? The world is a more dangerous place now. There are more nuclear powers, but we don't need to deter those who do not have the capability of delivering those weapons against us. That is exactly four nations. Two are close allies, and the other two are no longer enemies.
And what are we deterring with? There's only four submarines, a deliberate policy to ensure that at least one is always at sea. But these things are complex and not as reliable as has been hoped. There have been extensive periods over the past decade when there has been no "coverage". Frankly, it's not that efficient.
Thirdly, how effective is this deterrent? Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982 despite our "independent nuclear deterrent". The fact that we could turn Buenos Aires into a glass desert any time we chose was not even considered by the Argentine government or people. They knew we would never use it, and therefore they did not fear it. So, practically speaking, how much use is it?
And you have to ask yourself, just how "independent" is the independent nuclear deterrent anyway? Can you think of any possible circumstance where we would unilaterally and independently fire our nuclear missiles at someone? I can't envisage us doing anything like that without at least the tacit approval of the Whitehouse. I can't imagine any circumstance where they would ever give that approval either, certainly not ones that would be in our best interests, in which case we wouldn't want to fire them anyway. I know that in the time of the cold war it was argued that an independent nuclear deterrent made some sense because it added another level of complication to Soviet calculations, but I've never really bought that argument. If things take a bad turn with Russia or Red China now, its going to affect the whole of the west, not just us. In other words, we would be operating in concert with the US and with France. So just how "independent" is our "independent nuclear deterrent"? If we are operating in a partnership, not very.
If you wanted to retain a nuclear strike capability, and yet do it cheaper and with greater flexibility, the answer is to build a cruise missile submarine fleet. Cruise missile subs are less effective than ballistic subs, but they are a great deal more cost-effective, which is the point I am arguing.
Firstly, a high proportion of the cost of these systems is the rockets, which are all imported from the US. The cruise missiles would probably have to be too, but they would make up a much lower proportion of the overall cost. That means that a higher proportion of the budget would go to UK firms. To use your analogy, less blood would slop out.
Cruise missile subs can be built much smaller. They use less materials, which lowers cost. They are easier and therefore quicker to build, which further reduces cost. Because they cost less, we can build more for the money, which lowers the unit cost even further and gives us more strategic flexibiilty. After all, if we have more of them, there's a better chance one will be where we need it when we do need it.
And there are tactical considerations. The main military advantage of submarines is the difficulty in detecting them. All other things being equal, it is easier to hide a small submarine than a big one. In addition, smaller submarines are handier and more maneouverable than big submarines, and they can operate in shallower water.
Cruise missile submarines can fire nuclear weapons too. Admittedly the warheads aren't as big, but then how big do they need to be to deter someone? Cruise missiles dont have as long a range, but its not bad. There aren't too many places they can't reach. Cruise missiles are more "stoppable" than ballistic missiles, but then we would have far more of them. But the real edge is that cruise missile submarines can also fire missiles with conventional warheads, which frankly they are far more likely to have to do. Ballistic submarines are very specialised. All they can do is fire ballistic missiles. In other words, cruise subs are more useful because they are more versatile. We are back to "cost-effective" again.
And politics rears its head too. Building ballistic submarines is very controversial and bound to generate a lot of opposition. One of the reasons these things cost so much is that well-meaning but deluded pacifists and do-gooders are constantly imposing delays through political maneouvering - public inquiries, questions in the house, reviews on public spending and so on. A cruise missile submarine program will not win any friends with the die-hard anti-war activists of course, but it's not going to make as many enemies amongst joe public. In other words, we are more likely to see them actually made.
Don't get me wrong on this. I'd rather we had a strategic missile fleet than not. I just think the cost of having one (like the army being cut by 20%) is simply too high.
The big question here is, does the British defence industry earn more in tax revenue than it receives from the taxpayers with juicy contracts? WRT to the strategic sub issue. The whole point with a strategic deterrent is that it provides a means of retaliation if a country decides to destroy us or invade us. No ally, not even the US, is going to be willing to commit suicide just to avenge us, so the independent nuclear deterrent is essential to deter a hostile power from taking the decision to try and destroy us on our home ground. It was never intended to deter countries from merely attacking our interests and outlying territories, but about deterring other countries aiming to destroy us. Ideally, I would prefer it if we made the rockets ourselves. We are certainly capable of doing so, but we outsourced it to the Americans. It is these absolutely fundamental projects that ought to be in sovereign British hands, but the rest can and should be outsourced to wherever they can be built in a cost-effective manner.
I understand what the whole point of a strategic deterrent is, my question is: who are you trying to deter? What hostile power is going to resort to nuclear strikes to eliminate us? There are loads of mid size European countries that survive very nicely without a nuclear deterrent. Anyway, the only nation states that could launch a first strike attack on us are the French (unlikely), the US (even more unlikely), the Chinese (might not be able to) and the Russians (why?). Thats a lot of cash and effort to guard against a very unlikely possible future threat. OTOH, there are immediate and more dangerous threats NOW.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.