I have thought this for a long time. Spending seems to be driven pride and some delusions of grandeur which should have been clear after the Falklands Wars or the mere support we actually give in major operations. Below, admittedly an Army general gives his views on the realities of British defence capability.
Full speech is on the pdf link at the bottom of this link . The BBC report is below.
Ministers will have to cut back all but the most essential defence projects to meet a funding shortfall, a former head of the armed forces has warned.
General Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank told the Centre for Policy Studies that a stronger Army was the priority. He said plans for two new aircraft carriers should be scrapped, the RAF order for Typhoon jets cut, and the nuclear deterrent scaled back. His comments came ahead of a strategic defence review after the election.
In a speech, Lord Guthrie also called for the Ministry of Defence’s “bloated” bureaucracy to be radically reduced and suggested it was “not fit for purpose”.
He said there would inevitably be “winners and losers” in the strategic defence review, whichever party formed the next government. “The problem is too big to massage, to trim, to rely on efficiency savings and a prayer,” he said.
Lord Guthrie said the priority was to strengthen the UK’s land forces. “The threats of the present, and the future, point to the need for more troops, not less. This will mean that cuts have to be found elsewhere in the budget,” he said. “Land operations are likely to be by far the most important operations we will undertake. “Peacekeeping, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism are all manpower-intensive. Manpower is expensive but is what we need now.”
Lord Guthrie said the Royal Navy would be better off with a larger fleet of smaller ships instead of investing in new aircraft carriers. He said the RAF had ordered 232 Typhoons – but rarely needed more than a dozen fighters on recent operations. More helicopters, transport aircraft and unmanned drones could have been bought, he added. Lord Guthrie also suggested that cheaper systems such as cruise missiles could replace the UK’s current submarine-based Trident nuclear deterrent.
He criticised the Ministry of Defence over its procurement programme, saying: “Dr John Reid, when he moved from defence to the Home Office, questioned whether it was fit for purpose. Could he have asked the same question of the MoD?”
Lord Guthrie was chief of the defence staff when the previous strategic defence review was held in 1998.