Thursday, 23 November 2017
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UK opinion

By Nick Watts

The government's proposed Defence Industrial Technology Policy (DITP) will be published in December. Or rather, it will be the basis for a discussion between industry and government. Both sides have much at stake, so the outcome is important. Getting the right answers means asking the right questions. The government and the MOD each need to ask three questions when formulating the DITP:

How can the UK secure the necessary operational sovereignty to guarantee the provision of key strategic capability into the future?How best can the government partner with industry to ensure the continuation of a viable defence sector in the UK?How can the government help the UK's defence sector to explore and exploit opportunities in the export market?

 For its part Industry also needs to collectively consider three questions, as it engages with the government and MOD:

How will industry adjust to the stated aim of MOD to reduce the number of operating platforms: how will this enable the UK to retain a viable defence industry? To what extent can exports help pull through programmes for the UK market?How can industry help MOD reform its acquisition process, to ensure that programmes get developed quickly and that equipment is delivered on time and on budget?

The DITP will be a Green Paper, a discussion document. This is intended to guide the subsequent discussions so that a White Paper can result. The White Paper will represent the government's settled view on the future of the MOD's industrial and technology policy for the life of this parliament, and at least until the next SDR in 2015. In the context of the SDSR and the CSR, there is much gloomy talk in the air. Yet both sides of this discussion have a mutual interest in ensuring that the other survives to fight another day.

The context, while not promising could be a lot worse. After the fall of communism the subsequent peace dividend took its toll on both the armed forces of the west and the defence industry. The notorious "Last supper" of 1993 encapsulated this. US Defence Secretary Aspin told the leaders of the 15 largest US defence contractors that the DOD was not going to solve industry's over capacity problem. The result was a wave of consolidation which has produced stronger contractors now. In Europe and the UK a similar series of consolidations took place.

The world in 2010 is far different from 1990, when policy makers were trying to get their heads around what the changes of 1989 meant. The SDSR set the context within which the industrial and technology questions need to be considered. The arithmetic of the CSR is another factor affecting the DITP. The contemporary setting does not allow the laissez faire approach adopted by Les Aspin in 1993, however much the government may wish.

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A|D|S, the UK's AeroSpace, Defence and Security trade organisation yesterday commented on the signing of a defence treaty between UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, said:

As the natural partner to both Governments, with an existing strong element of cross-Channel co-operation, the UK-based defence industry welcomes today's treaty. This agreement may well prove crucial to both retaining and developing future capabilities within Europe by ensuring sustained investment in research and technology (R&T) - to deliver the next generation of programmes for our armed forces. The alternative, buying off the shelf from the US, is often not the appropriate solution for our troops and this development ensures that future governments will retain a choice of suppliers both UK-based and from overseas that meet the needs of our armed forces.

The UK is number one in Europe and second only to the US worldwide in terms of global defence exports market share. The UK defence sector employs over 300,000 people, generates more than £35 billion per year to the UK economy and last year our defence exports were worth £7.2 billion. Retaining a manufacturing base of this scale in Britain will sustain this economic strength for the long-term and ensure a continued competitiveness in the global market to meet the aims of the Government to grow our economy through exports.

Joint R&T programmes that lead to collaborative procurement programmes can be an efficient way of delivering capabilities to our armed forces that might not be affordable on a purely national basis. The conditions for co-operating with French industry have never been better. Both countries are seeking to sustain capabilities which they could otherwise not afford. Our R&T budgets are of similar size and we are engaged in similar operations which require similar capabilities. We look forward to joint programmes that will benefit from the efficiencies that flow from larger scale purchases and sustain skills and technology.

 

Adam Dempsey, Research Associate UK Defence Forum

In the aftermath of last week's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) many industry analysts were quick to paint a bleak future for the UK's defence sector. Further job losses are expected as hardware is retired, personnel numbers reduced and service contracts terminated. The global marketplace is unlikely to offer much in the way of respite. The United Kingdom joins France, the United States and others in seeking to offset shrinking domestic markets via exports. A crowded marketplace is further exacerbated by challenges from states with more 'joined-up' defence-industrial bases and emerging market entrants. The £650 million allocated to cyber security by the SDSR may provide new opportunities. Yet the specific nature of the UK's cyber security requirements remains unclear. Indeed, total clarity does not appear to be on the horizon.

What the SDSR makes very clear is that threats to national security emanating from cyber space are likely to increase over the next five to ten years. Whilst cyber attacks from hostile states cannot be ruled out, the actions of cyber terrorists and criminals are perhaps of greater concern. In 2009 alone 51% of all known malicious software threats were identified. The language of the SDSR also suggests that Government departments are not yet capable of fully addressing the threat. As a result, the £650 million allocated will support a National Cyber Security Programme that seeks to transform the Government's response in partnership with the private sector.

Greater clarity may be provided with the publication of the Defence Industrial Green Paper by the end of the year, followed by a White Paper in 2011. In advance of such publications, the increased emphasis upon cyber security has influenced a raft of recent mergers and acquisitions (M & A). During the third quarter of 2010 more than a third of all defence M & A concentrated on cyber security capabilities. The most high-profile acquisition was the EADS subsidiary Cassidian's purchase of the UK's Regency IT Consulting. According to Jane's, the purchase reflects Cassidian's overall cyber security strategy for the UK market. The purchase also suggests that defence companies are positioning themselves to ensure that they will benefit from the clarity that future Government documents may offer.

Cassidian's purchase of Regency IT Consulting also reflects the growing cyber security opportunities emerging throughout the international marketplace. As other markets – and indeed governments – seek to mitigate the threats posed by a cyber attack M & A focussed upon cyber security solutions are likely to increase. A cursory glance of Regency's website may also provide an insight into the public-private cooperation to be forged by the National Cyber Security Programme. Underpinning Regency's services is the practice of managing information-related risks with Information Assurance (IA). From the development of IT infrastructures through to the storage of information, IA seeks to ensure that authorised users only have access to privileged and confidential data.

As is to be expected Regency's website also outlines the type of services it offers. Yet if the U.S. cyber security market is anything to go by certain services offered to the Government may not make company websites. U.S. cyber security programmes have been estimated to be worth $11 billion. As these focus upon the protection of IT infrastructures, hardware and networks they also provide another indicator of possible contents for UK programmes. However estimates that approximately 75% of cyber opportunities are 'black' also suggests that aspects of the Government's programme may remain a largely grey area. Of course, the upcoming Green Paper may make the UK's cyber security strategy more clear. But if the machinery of government decides to replicate its American counterparts future documents may also make bold proclamations whilst keeping exact details to a bare minimum.

Indeed, such high levels of confidentiality make perfect sense when national security is at risk. One only need look at havoc wreaked by the Stuxnet virus on Iran's nuclear facilities at Bushehr or India's main television satellite to appreciate that a cyber attack is often against networks that societies take for granted. Giving challenges to cyber security more information on infrastructures ensures that the perpetrator maintains the upper hand. Accordingly, the specifics of national cyber security strategies – and purchases – may remain a grey area for some time to come.

 

Guy Anderson, editor and lead analyst, Jane's Defence Industry

The United Arab Emirates is one of the world's true "frontier" defence markets. It is courted by Western firms seeking to offset slumping spending at home; emerging exporters like South Korea seeking to establish a foothold beyond their own borders; and Russia and China under their arms-for-energy-access strategies.

A precarious geographical position, buoyant oil revenues and strong defence expenditure growth (military funding leapt 276 per cent between 2001 and 2010)[1] make the UAE an attractive prospect. There is both the means and the rationale to continue spending on national defence.

The UAE, meanwhile, knows its value to the world market and is looking for a healthy return on its investments. It is looking to defence expenditure to help overcome two pressing problems: firstly, the twin demographic challenges of a young population in need of meaningful employment and a strong reliance on foreign labour (20.9 per cent of UAE nationals were under the age of 15 in 2008 and 73.9 per cent of those of working age were non-nationals)[2] and, secondly, continued high reliance on oil revenues (oil exports accounted for 40 per cent of GDP in 2008).[3]

It is unsurprising that the UAE overhauled its offset regime this year [2010] in order to maximise the social and economic returns on its investment in military materiel.

The reforms have created numerous challenges for foreign industry, however, and may yet backfire by alienating the very firms which the UAE is seeking to work with. Indeed, there have been reports that international defence trade associations are considering sending a jointly-signed letter to the UAE's offset bureau to vent their frustrations (there is a precedent - a similar letter on a similar subject was recently despatched to India)[4].

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Legion of the Rearguard: Dissident Irish Republicanism (2010), by Martyn Frampton

Reviewed by Dr Robert Crowcroft, Research Associate, UK Defence Forum

As recent events have made clear, the political instability that wracked Northern Ireland throughout the Troubles has not been consigned to history. The development of a seemingly tolerable political settlement in 2007, and exemplified by the Ian Paisley-Martin McGuiness 'double act', has not addressed the essential segregation between the Protestant and Catholic communities. Nor does it mean that there are not people on both sides who still prefer resistance to accommodation.

The most obvious of these factions is the dissident Republican movement. And this movement is the subject of Martyn Frampton's new book. In it, he traces the growth within the Republicans of opposition to the strategy developed by Gerry Adams. Beginning in the 1980s, tensions grew as Adams came to increasingly control Sinn Fein and the Provisional IRA (PIRA). Gradually, he set the Provos on a new course. His was a masterclass in political leadership and manoeuvring, but Adams was not without internal enemies.

Eventually, this led to schism and the emergence of new Republican groups outside the PIRA/Sinn Fein, such as Republican Sinn Fein, the Real IRA, and the Continuity IRA. Academic work on these groups and what they are up to is sorely lacking, and Frampton does an admirable job of filling in the blanks. What follows is a well-researched analysis of the groups and their activities. The most striking thing is the fact that boundaries between these groups are highly porous; members of one faction will operate in conjunction with those from others. The whole thing is largely ad hoc. The professed purpose is simply to advertise the fact that Northern Ireland is not a 'normal' state and therefore perpetuate the instability; to this end, there is a willingness to co-operate with virtually anyone who will help.

Frampton's book will quickly become the standard work on the dissidents. Given the lack of research into the subject, assembling the book at all is a considerable achievement. Those readers with backgrounds in research will know just how punishing (and exciting) the work can be if one has to play detective and research a topic where no-one has gone before. Importantly, Frampton had access to numerous key dissidents and interviewed them. Their personal perspectives are cited frequently, bringing the mental universe of dissident Irish Republicanism to life.

But a number of problems emerge. Most are definitely not of the author's own making. The reality is that these dissident Republicans are, in a structural sense, largely irrelevant. Reading this account, I felt like I was reading one of those books on a very minor, peripheral left-wing faction. And the truth is that the dissident Republicans are operating very much in the margins. The current level of violence is perfectly sustainable, and there is no appetite whatsoever for a return to the Troubles. Their base of support is tiny. Of course, one cannot guess what will happen in twenty years time, but it is difficult to believe that any contemporary dissidents have futures worth commenting on.

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Reviewed by Ian Shields

This weighty tomb, at nearly 650 pages, came highly recommended with dust-sheet endorsements from Professors Richard Holmes (The Little Field Marshal: A Life of Sir John French) and Andrew Roberts (Napoleon and Wellington : The Battle Of Waterloo—And The Great Commanders Who Fought It), which augured well. Physically, the book is well produced, which helps, and it proved to be both a fascinating and educative read. For once the publicity surrounding the launch and endorsements are accurate. Indeed, I found it hard to put the book down and it took me some time to read only because it demanded, and deserved, careful attention.

It feels almost churlish to criticise this book, although there are a few detractions to this important new work. First, I learnt comparatively little about Manstein the man, other than that he was very much a product of his time and upbringing, and was representative of a class, that has today if not disappeared, then become very difficult to recognise. The detail of which corps, division or battalion formation was moving where and under whose command was almost overwhelming on occasions, leaving the reader to decide whether to keep a very accurate tally of all the units listed, or just take an over-arching view (although I am sure many of my army colleagues would cope easily with these order-of-battle lists!); whichever, it is testament to the depth of research that the author clearly undertook to produce such detail. Perhaps my only serious reservation is that to understand fully the importance of this biography, one must be familiar with the concept and practice of "operational art" and the author does rather presume a high degree of pre-knowledge in this area. This is hardly surprising given that Melvin is one of the British Army's foremost experts on operational art and was involved in the 1990s with Richard Holmes in developing the concepts of "mission command" (I can still remember his lectures on the subject when I was a staff college student) although his own expertise in this field does rather assume a similar level of understanding among his readers, not all of whom may be as expert as he.

However let these comments be placed firmly into context: this book is a stunning achievement. It has been immaculately researched (as evidence by the extensive end notes), is excellently written, and is completely fair and balanced in its judgements. The author devotes by far the greatest part of the book to Manstein's period on the Eastern Front in the Second World War though charts clearly Manstein's early career, involvement in the First World War and through the inter-war period, and his successes in France during 1940. That said, the period that will be of most interest - and controversy to readers - is undoubtedly that time when Manstein was commanding on the southern sector of the Eastern Front.

His successes and failures are treated with both equal attention and judgement in this balanced account, and Melvin does not shy away from criticising his subject when he deems it deserved. He questions carefully Manstein's involvement in, and handling of, Stalingrad, and recognises the ultimate futility of the German effort against the juggernaut that the Soviet armed forces had produced by 1943. Nor does the author duck difficult questions: could Manstein, if he had been afforded the freedom of action he desired, altered the outcome of the War in the East? What was Manstein's relationship to Hitler, and to what extent was he involved in the plot to kill the Fuhrer in 1944? Above all other considerations, the question of the discharge of the war in the East, with its brutality, treatment of non-combatants and, not least, genocide of the Jews, receives full, frank, balanced and non-judgemental coverage. Likewise, Mungo does not avoid the difficult issue of Manstein's trial and conviction for war crimes, discussing the issue fully and dispassionately. Despite what is clearly a very high regard for his subject, the author acknowledges the Field Marshal's shortcomings, not least his refusal to accept blame or criticism for the events on the Eastern Front.

The latter stages of the book, from Manstein's conviction in December 1949 for war crimes to his death in 1973 are considered in only passing detail; Melvin himself acknowledges that this period would probably be worthy of a book in its own right. Given the strength of this book, it is to be hoped that the author himself chooses to undertake such a task at a later date.

In summary, an excellent book full of detail and accurate analysis. This volume does not avoid the contentious issues, nor does it fall into the trap of following popular trends when considering Manstein's guilt and/or contrition. However, this book requires dedicated reading time and deserves no less. Alongside volumes such as Slim's Defeat into Victory, this book should be on the bookshelf on anyone with a serious interest in military command and leadership at the highest operational level.

 

Reviewed by Dr Robert Crowcroft, Research Associate, UK Defence Forum

If one is being honest, political memoirs rarely make for exciting reading. Either they are structured badly, taking the reader on a tedious chronological narrative – Bill Clinton's being the best example of this type – or the prose style is somewhat lacking – take Tony Blair's The Journey as a case in point. Whereas I found the first two hundred pages of the Blair book enjoyable and most of the rest fairly turgid, the memoirs of George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, remain enjoyable throughout.

The prose is engaging, and the structure clearly the subject of much consideration. Bush chose to focus on key 'decisions' in his life and use this as a thematic device to provide the book's content. If this means that a great deal is left out, it makes for a better book. The 'decisions' that Bush opts to concentrate on extend from his decision to quit drinking, running for office, stem cell research, his huge increase in HIV/AIDS support, Katrina, and the War on Terror. Bush is, of course, the subject of much derision but has been widely compared to Harry S. Truman: another man who left office under a cloud but eventually came to be seen as having been right all along. As Bush admits in the book, he is aware of the analogy and hopeful that people may one day view him in the same light as Truman.

When discussing George W. Bush, I always wonder why people hate him so much. The Democrat party stalwarts on the East and West coasts despise him for being a conservative and, even more so, for being from Texas. His background is a reason why the Western European Left hate Bush also. He may as well be from Mars, what with his earthy manner, frontier-speak, cowboy boots, and lack of the moral ambiguity that the cosmopolitan classes think it so necessary to bask in. He is widely lampooned for 'Bushisms', slips of the tongue that often involved making up brand new words. Yet that always seemed to me a consequence of his dislike of speaking to an assembled audience; tellingly, Bush never makes such mistakes when conversing with a single interviewer in a one-to-one situation. Seeing Bush as a moron became the norm, even a sign of one's own sophistication; but one wonders if this was based on evidence or, rather, a reflexive tendency to swallow anything produced by the liberal media and recite it as 'truth'. As is so often the case, then, the lazy thinking of those who read the Guardian and New York Times should be chortled at rather than taken seriously.

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An Analysis of the Chief of Staff of the United States' Air Force Speech to the 2010 RAF Air Power Conference, 18 June 2010

I E Shields, Cambridge University

The United Kingdom Government's Strategic Defence and Security review ("SDSR") is nearly upon us, and although rightly the Review will be mostly inward-looking, we no longer operate in isolation but in coalitions, primarily with the United States. What might this most important ally be looking for from us? In terms of the RAF we might have some clues. At this year's RAF Air Power Conference, held in London on 17 – 18 June 2010 under the overall heading "Meeting the Challenge", General "Norty" Schwartz, the present Chief of Staff of the United States' Air Force (CSAF), gave the keynote address under the title "Adaptable Air and Space Power for the 21st Century" . A review of his speech, looking for pointers as to what the USAF might be looking for from the RAF in the future is instructive.

The General's speech contained, in my analysis, three core themes: the character of the present conflict; the need for coalitions; and the roles of Air and Space Power. Before considering each in turn and what it might mean for the RAF, it is worth examining his opening comments. He started by drawing a distinction between what is effectively the nature of Air Power, that which is unchanging ("speed, range, flexibility and versatility") and its present employment, which is subject to the vagaries of the nature of the conflict and the technology of the day ("tailorable, timely and precise effects"). This, Schwartz suggests, requires military strategists to always be attuned to current realities and trends. Herein lies, I suggest, a hint that the view presented of the conflict in Afghanistan will set the template for some time; if that is indeed his intent then this has marked implications for the USAF and (potentially) hence for the RAF. The CSAF then highlighted the present fiscal constraint and suggests that all air forces face a particular challenge at present due to the confluence of complexity, uncertainty and austerity – an analysis with which few would disagree.

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An RCDS paper by James Gray MP dated July 2003

As reviewed by Roger Green

In his paper James Gray gives a parliamentarian's view of the history, role and legitimacy of the Royal Prerogative in respect of committing the country to war. It is possible that a constitutional expert may be at variance with some of the analyses that Gray suggests concerning parliamentary proceedings and Prime Ministerial positions in the lead up to recent wars.

The Royal Prerogative has its origins in the 17th Century and is the outcome of an attempt by the Parliament of the day to control the power of Charles I. It is neither detailed nor enshrined in any legal document and has evolved to reserve certain functions to the Crown's ministers. Of these functions the most important is undoubtedly the decision to go to war. Whilst this power might be regarded as undemocratic and thwarting the will of Parliament, Gray provides substantial justifications in providing the Prime Minister with the authority to act in the national interest by making strategic decisions without full parliamentary disclosure and without political risk.

As Gray points out there is significant historical precedent for exercise of the Royal Prerogative by Prime Ministers. In these instances the Prime Minister chose to inform Parliament rather than seek its approval through a vote and the use of the Royal Prerogative was widely accepted other than by a small minority. In this context there is advantage in the fact that the UK has an unwritten constitution whilst in the US with its War Powers Act the President has little room for manoeuvre in such matters and needs to seek Congressional consent to go to war.

As the UK was being committed to war more frequently since 1997, there was increasing interest and inquiry into the repeated use of the Royal Prerogative and in the run up to the Iraq War in 2003 the Prime Minister was faced with a serious challenge. In late 2002 the government came under increasing pressure whilst it tried to hold the line over the use of the Royal Prerogative and there were attempts to obfuscate the situation by debating whether Parliament should vote on 'supporting policy' or 'implementing policy'. However, the Government eventually had to give way and there followed a series of votes that the Government only won with the support of the Opposition. The underlying reason for this situation was that for the first time there no consensus on the question of war and as a result a parliamentary precedent was established. Gray addresses the constitutional consequences of that decision in some detail and concludes with his Gray's Paradox that 'the inverse proportionality of the controversiality of war against Parliamentary debate about it dictates that only universally popular wars should be allowed a Parliamentary vote'. A slightly cynical but possibly true summation.

Gray alludes to the question of national sovereignty over the commitment to war but he only poses the question without pursuing it. If a Parliamentary vote is at odds either way with the will of the UN Security Council how should the dilemma be resolved? At least the use of the Royal Prerogative is a valuable procedure that can avoid the UK being left to stand alone or left behind on issues of a wider importance.

There are other factors beyond the purely parliamentary perspective that Gray does not address. The modern day difficulty over the legitimate use of the Royal Prerogative is bedevilled by public access to vast amounts of information, media positions taken by both informed and uninformed commentators, and by the increasing number of contemporary politicians who are prepared to challenge the perceived wisdom and established convention. The fact that the circumstances that lead up to a war are always unique as is invariably the political environment at the time, together further complicate the situation and weaken the argument of precedent. National unity is always of paramount importance and in such situations there is no place for attempts at party political advantage. The Prime Minister is charged with acting in the nation's best interest and should not have to take account of the consequences of losing a vote in the House when considering the gravity of his decisions.

In his paper Gray has revealed an insight into a little known area of government that is of great importance in the run up to war that will doubtless cause readers to consider further its role in 21st century politics. In the future, the success or otherwise of the exercise of the Royal Prerogative in a war context may ultimately be a measure of the Prime Minister's strength of character, the level of trust he engenders, his leadership qualities and his oratory skills to persuade both Parliament and the nation to support him.

 

By The UK MOD's Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre

Download for free via www.mod.uk/dcdc or purchase from DSDA Forms and Publication (01869 256139).

Reviewed by Ian Shields

The UK MOD's think-tank, the Development Concepts and Doctrine centre (DCDC) have already published some good work, including their paper on the Future Character of Conflict and their 2009 Future Air and Space Operational Concept (both available from the web-site listed above). Having identified a need for a textbook on space, given the ever-increasing reliance on space for contemporary military undertakings (one thinks of surveillance, satellite communications, weather forecasting, GPS for navigation and weapon guidance, and much more), the DCDC set about writing, from first principles, their UK Military Space Primer some two years ago, and have now completed the task. There is much to praise, not just about the product, but about the vision and initiative that led to this publication, but let me start with a few criticisms. First, for understandable reasons it is titled the Military Space Primer and, indeed, has a military bias. But the vast majority of the text is as applicable to the civilian sector as to the military. Second, what a shame that, again for understandable reasons, this could not have been published commercially as it is the best and most complete explanation of Space and its uses that virtually anyone would require, and deserves a wider audience. Certainly, any A-Level student with an interest in Space would benefit greatly from reading this, and it would not be out of place in any school – or, indeed, University – library.

Some 250 pages long, it takes the reader at a sensible pace, is well-written and copiously illustrated with photographs and excellent diagrams. Divided into four chapters, it starts with an explanation of what space is, an easily-digestible section on geometry and orbitology (no advanced mathematics – in fact, barely a formula in sight!), before translating the theory into the practical: which orbit for which capability and how to get there. The short second chapter covers Space and the Law at sufficient depth for the non-specialist (see the book review on Space Law: A Treatise in the June 2010 edition of Aerospace Professional for a truly in-depth book on Space Law), before the heart of the Primer, Chapter Three on the Military Uses of Space. Each use, be t surveillance or communications, is addressed in clear and concise language, that unravels the mysteries of the advantages and disadvantages of Space. Indeed, it is not even necessary to have read the explanatory Chapter One before dipping into Chapter Three. Again, although aimed at the military reader, for anyone with an interest in how pace can be used, if only where does your Sky Satellite Signal come from, will gain from this Chapter. The final Chapter looks more widely at Space and Society highlighting, for example, how dependent civil society is on Space – and if there is a justification for the non-military to read some of this Primer, it is in Chapter Four. A series of more in-depth annexes follow, and the publication ends with a good bibliography.

Extensively cross-referenced throughout, this Primer is not meant to be read at a single sitting, but dipped into for knowledge and education. Those in the wider Space industry will, I am sure, welcome this Primer and use it to educate those new to their business. Those with no knowledge but an interest, those with some knowledge and a wish for more detail, and even those with a deep understanding will all find value in this timely and well-produced piece. Not a book in the conventional sense as normally reviewed on these pages, but nevertheless a significant and welcome addition to our understanding of Space.

 

By James Holland

Reviewed by Ian Shields

In this seventieth anniversary year of the Battle of Britain, James Holland's new book that looks afresh at those critical five months in the Summer of 1940 is a timely arrival. This is a long book (over 600 pages of text, together with a further 70 of notes, sources and index) and is very detailed. The book has been well received (Saul David in The Sunday Telegraph on 16 July 2010 describing it as "excellent") and I was very much looking forward to reading it. Good though the book is – and it has many strengths – for me its faults were rather too obvious.

However, let me start by emphasising the book's strengths. The work seeks to put the Battle in a wider context, and although the title suggests just the five month period of May to October 1940, the first third of the book deals with the earlier months of the War, and in particular the fall of France and Dunkirk. Furthermore, he seeks to put the aerial battle in the context of a much wider struggle, including aircraft production and repair, maintaining moral on the home front, the battles on (and under) the sea, and the political conflicts both within the House of Commons and between Britain and America (in this latter instance, the US Ambassador, Joseph Kennedy, is the subject of much criticism by the author). Holland also seeks to bring the narrative alive by telling the story at least in part through the eyes of participants on both sides, and not just aircrew. And he is most certainly to be congratulated for the depth of his research, which has clearly been a gargantuan undertaking.

It is this research with which I have my the first of my difficulties. Holland has made extensive use of the archives, plus some interviews with survivors, although there is always a danger that they have told their stories so many times by now that they may no longer be able to distinguish true memories from imagined. However, the bulk of his sources are clearly secondary, using books and the memoires of others, which he appropriately acknowledges. Next, although the author is good at distilling the story, he is somewhat lacking in critical appraisal or analysis, as witness his lionising of the Spitfire in the closing paragraphs of his book, while his claim that these five months changed world history when arguably there have been many more critical junctures both before and since are largely unsubstantiated. For some his use of the experiences of individuals to bring to the narrative to life will be pleasing, but I found it confusing in parts (he arguably has too large a dramatis personae) and again lacking in objectivity: he too often describes the participants whose stories he is including in glowing personal terms (good looking, muscular, attractive and so forth). Meanwhile, the maps were almost in a 1940's pastiche, and lacked clarity, and his English I found overly casual for his subject matter, being littered with split infinitives and haphazard sentence construction. However, my biggest difficulty is that the author does not stick to his own title, with too much of the book given over to events that were not within the five-month window the title suggests.

While these remarks may appear overly critical, it is important to appreciate what this book is, and what it is not. As an overview of the first fifteen months of the war it is good, and if it had been titled The Battle For Britain, 1939 – 1940 it might have been slightly more honest. There is, however, a place for this book on your bookshelves if you seek a fairly accessible read and a broad introduction to the period that includes what we now call the Battle of Britain. Alongside pleasurable reads such as Rowland White's Vulcan 607, this book holds its own, but although he may seek to emulate Anthony Beevor, James Holland is not in the same league. An enjoyable read and one that does well in linking the aerial battle to wider issues, while this book falls short of serious history it is worthy of consideration for those seeking to explore the events of the Summer of 1940 for the first time, perhaps before moving on to, for example, Richard Overy's book – confusingly also titled The Battle of Britain.

 

By Peter Luff MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology

This is an abridged version of a speech given at the DVD 2010 show on 23rd June 2010

Our first priority must be ensuring that those we deploy on operations, and therefore those exposed to greatest risk, are provided with the best possible tools available.

Our second priority is the responsibility we have to ensure that we are as ready as can be for whatever future operations come our way.

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By Major (retired) Chris Hunter

Published by Bantam Press (ISBN: 978 0 5930 6016 2)

Reviewed by Roger Green, Principal reviewer, U K Defence Forum

Major Chris Hunter, holder of the Queens Gallantry Medal, retired after 17 years service in the British Army. (Chris Hunter is a nom de plume)  For most of that time he worked as a counter-IED (improvised explosive device) operator in a number of high threat areas including Northern Ireland, Iraq and Columbia and since retiring in Afghanistan.  He specialised in assault IED disposal operations in support of counter terrorism (CT) units, the police and close protection teams.  He was involved in the London bombings in July 2005 when he was seconded to COBRA as the suicide terrorism expert.  Hunter is already well known as an author for his first book 'Eight Lives Down' that was about his time as a bomb disposal officer in Iraq.

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According to the latest Populus opinion poll of 1509 British adults interviewed by telephone between 9 and 11 October (and published in The Times):

* 36 % think British troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan now (up 7% since last month - 40% of women agree with this)

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Together, the United Kingdom, the United States and our allies around the world, face a difficult security environment, where the outlook is sobering and the threats diverse, growing and unpredictable.

We live in a period in which direct military threats to our countries' territories are low.

But in this globalised world, the scourge of terrorism, the danger of nuclear proliferation, the ungoverned space created by fragile or failed states, and the competition for energy and resources, will test our ability to deter, contain and deal with risks to national security.

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The International Security Assistance Force's strategy for defeating the improvised explosive device threat in Afghanistan can be characterised by three main elements - attacking the system, defeating the device and preparing the force.

Major General Gordon Messenger, the Chief of the Defence Staff's Strategic Communications Officer, and Colonel Peter Smith, Assistant Director of Counter-IED at Land Forces Headquarters, reiterated that the IED menace is being countered through intelligence, training and equipment at a briefing to the media in MOD's Main Building on Thursday 1 July 2010.

Reminding the audience that while improvised explosive devices are far from a new phenomenon and that around 300 are found every month outside Iraq and Afghanistan, Major General Messenger said that it was in Afghanistan that their use had become 'unprecedented'.

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By Dr Robert Crowcroft, Senior Research Associate, UK Defence Forum

The United Nations-sanctioned military intervention in Libya is only a few days old, but already its execution is looking cack-handed. Listening to the news, every politician or military officer has their own perspective. Usually this contradicts what someone else has said just an hour before. 'Message' indiscipline is rife; no single narrative unifies the mission. Nor is there much in the way of strategic vision either. At the moment there seems to be a worrying lack of clarity as to what we are doing in Libya in the first place, how we are going to do it, and how we are going to get out. The Daily Telegraph rightly called it 'an unedifying muddle'. Such interventions require conceptual clarity, and in the campaign to bludgeon Colonel Gadaffi this is sorely lacking. Considering that the operation has only just begun, this raises serious issues about the effectiveness of our political leadership.

Some preliminary questions:

[1] Why are we there?

For the last month, David Cameron has been spoiling to launch military strikes against Gadaffi. To be sure, when he was slapped down by the United States the prime minister had to row back for a little while. But Cameron has pushed for the intervention more than any other leader, with the possible exception of Sarkozy. This is odd, because there is no obvious British national interest in Libya and military action in the Islamic world generates all kind of political headaches.

If we were being cynical, we might recall that prior to the outbreak of civil war in Libya, the British press were, for the first time, starting to land really heavy blows on the government about 'cuts'. Then, when the Libyan crisis began, Cameron leapt into it with a rather baffling eagerness. The prime minister would, without question, have recognised the domestic advantages of deflecting media attention abroad; and what better way to do that than engaging in a 'moral' military campaign against a tin-pot tyrant? Mr Cameron has spent the last month playing the role of 'international statesman', 'good liberal', and 'defender of human rights'. Politically speaking, this is far more appealing than being 'the man who freed the criminals' or 'the man who cut the police'. I know which I'd prefer.

There is a long tradition of British politicians using foreign affairs as a pawn in domestic calculation (most obviously Lord Palmerston, for whom being the scourge of Johnny Foreigner was a recurrent ticket to political success at home). It would be naïve to think that such manoeuvring is not at work here. The problem, however, is that while a month ago it seemed plausible that the Gadaffi regime would fall (and hence a few airstrikes in assistance would represent an easy political win for Cameron) now it looks likely that Gadaffi will survive in some shape or form. Launching an intervention when the rebellion has been pushed back to a small enclave is arguably a grave error; we should either have gone in much earlier, or not at all. Yet Mr Cameron remained eager to drive the policy forward, despite the fundamental changes on the ground. If the mission is now disconnected from easily achievable strategic goals, then serious questions must be asked about his leadership.

[2] Joined-up government

Sir Peter Ricketts, the National Security Adviser, should be awarded an Academy Award. Time and again he informs us that the National Security Council is the best thing since sliced bread, that the NSC is now bridging gaps across Whitehall, and that policy is more co-ordinated as a result. Unfortunately, in the two big tests the NSC has faced since its inception, it has failed to produce anything resembling joined-up government, let alone coherent policy. The SDSR process last autumn was a rushed exercise driven by the Treasury, and in which crucial strategic decisions were blatantly avoided. And now, in Libya, the lack of leadership and grip at the heart of government has been exposed. Cameron and Liam Fox (unlikely allies it must be said) are at loggerheads with General Sir David Richards over whether or not Gadaffi himself is a legitimate target for airstrikes. Fox said that targeting Gadaffi was 'potentially a possibility'. When the question was put to Richards, however, he declared 'absolutely not' and added that 'It is not allowed under the UN mandate'. Downing Street responded by asserting that Richards was 'wrong'. In the House of Commons, Cameron then said that the UN resolution 'does not provide legal authority' to get rid of Gadaffi, but then qualified this by stating that 'there is no decent future' for Libya under the current ruler. I shall translate his statement: 'We want rid of Gadaffi but couldn't get that idea past the UN'. Political leadership in war is supposed to inspire confidence. Can anyone say they have confidence in the British government at the moment?

More worryingly, there is a lack of clarity over whether we should simply be enforcing a no-fly zone, or interpreting the UN resolution in such a way as to pursue regime change on the cheap. Are we there to ensure Gadaffi's planes don't fly, that he doesn't attack civilians (and how is this to be done from the air in urban areas), or to get him out of power? The discord is already building.

This lack of leadership is just as clear in the case of President Obama. He has suggested that the US is going to 'tone down' its role in the coming days, which could simply mean a ceremonial transfer of control to NATO. But it might also mean that the coalition collapses into ineffectiveness without US leadership to drive it forward. Any attempt to toss the problem to the Europeans is unlikely to produce a positive result. Such an outcome would be far, far worse politically than not having become involved in Libya at all. In both foreign and domestic policy, Obama has repeatedly displayed a worrying inability to take any decisions. Don't bet against the same thing happening here.

[3] What is the exit strategy?

If Gadaffi holds on to power, the most likely outcome is a stalemate and the effective fracturing of Libya into two entities. In such circumstances, how long do we have to remain in Libya for? It is probably impractical to do a no-fly zone over the long term, given the logistical constraints. But how do we get out without losing face? Is the West putting itself in a position where it assumes a duty to protect the rebel enclave indefinitely?

Moreover, how do we know that the rebel leaders are any better than Gadaffi? If this is essentially a civil war between the regions of Libya, then it seems unlikely that the rebel leaders are good Guardian-reading liberals in disguise. The incident at the weekend, when the rebels shot down one of their own jets and tried to depict it as a Gadaffi violation of the ceasefire, should make us deeply cautious about them.

There is no clear exit strategy from Libya and so, given the likelihood of a stalemate on the ground, there is much potential for embarrassment. After the British failure in Basra, which saw the US forced to ride to the rescue, the UK cannot afford another blow to its military credibility.

[4] The indulgence of left-wing dogmas

Cameron has shot himself in the foot here. He has stressed repeatedly how the international community 'has given its permission' for the military action. The problem is this: what happens in six months if British, or Western interests, mandate action elsewhere that is not rubber-stamped by the UN? Without this 'permission', can we not defend our national interests? Everyone with common sense knows that the UN is not a collection of virtuous do-gooders but individual states (usually led by gangsters and criminals) looking out for themselves. In the long-term, employing such left-wing language in justifying military conflict is simply self-defeating. The fact that the UN is driven by power-politics was demonstrated vividly in 2003. So why should sovereign democracies permit it such importance? On BBC Radio 4, William Hague stressed that the UN is the world's 'highest moral authority'. Don't make me laugh. The UN refused to sanction the Kosovo war. Should we have stood aside?

Pretending that international politics functions in this way is a feckless thing for politicians to do. If they are so stupid, they deserve their fate.

[5] The duplicity of the Arab states

Long-time observers of the Middle East will know that Arab states are about as trustworthy as a convicted conman. The support of the Arab League for military action was a positive sign. But the League's lapse into ambiguity once the airstrikes actually began was entirely predictable. The narrative which will be spun in mosques across the Middle East is of 'Crusaders' killing Muslims for oil. Arab leaders, hard pressed with their own internal problems, will no doubt make enthusiastic appeals for national unity on the grounds that civil strife opens the door to the Jews and Christians.

So, in conclusion, there is cause for serious concern about the quality of political leadership currently on display, particularly in London. It is, of course, plausible that secret intelligence reports indicate the Gadaffi regime is on the verge of collapse. It would be sensible for the government to keep quiet about this. But as far as we can detect in public, at any rate, the big story is the lack of clarity about the campaign. Imposing discipline on Whitehall would be a start. Mr Cameron needs to come up with some answers – and quickly.

 

By Justin Hamilton

NATO leaders and heads of state met in Lisbon this weekend for what can only be described as the most amicable summit in recent memory. For the spectator, amiability rarely makes for an interesting spectacle. However, amongst the expected statements concerning forces in Afghanistan and future relations with NATO's prior raison d'être, Russia, were a series of far less publicised announcements surrounding the future development of NATO's Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme.

Often ridiculed as a 'Star Wars' concept during the Regan administration, BMD could become a central pillar within NATO's new strategic concept, promising to provide a protective missile shield across all member states within the next decade. This is a development of particular reassurance to European countries feeling intimidated by the Shahab 3; Iran's most advanced Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, capable of delivering a payload over distances of up to 3,000km.

In the current climate there can be little doubt that most of the dangers faced by NATO are of a less conventional kind, arguably none more so than the threat of rogue states wielding weapons of mass destruction. For a stated cost of $800 million over 14 years, the proposed Active Layered Theatre Missile Defence (ALTBMD) programme would provide ballistic missile protection for active forces within NATO's area of operations. It is estimated an additional $200 million, spread over 10 years, could expand the programme to include European populations and territory as well.

With an annual budget currently exceeding $3.3billion, $200million (or even a combined $1 billion) spread over more than a decade and between 28 member states would seem like good business. NATO's bullish Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, claims that BMD represents 'a lot of defence at an affordable price'. With Britain delaying the renewal of its Trident nuclear arsenal and the German Luftwaffe set to retire their nuclear delivery system, the Tornado strike aircraft, in 2015, BMD seems an increasingly attractive option. The programme offers not just a potential shield against ballistic missile attack, but a powerful weapon against the threat of hostage posed by a nuclear Iran. Although repeatedly denied by President Obama, some NATO insiders have even begun to see BMD as a viable alternative to nuclear deterrence.

In an age of fiscal austerity does it make financial sense to spend more than $1 billion on a questionable technology such as BMD, much less to consider it as a replacement to nuclear deterrence? The additional cost of $200 million has also been disputed by a number of news agencies, who place the current figure somewhere closer to $270 million. This is a relatively minor correction perhaps, but who knows how much it could increase between now and the projected completion date of 2020?

Far beyond the concern of increased costs however is the hidden reliance on US technology and ultimately, funding. In 2011 alone the US Department of Defence has budgeted more than $9.9 billion for BMD research and technology, much of which will be directly transferred to the NATO programme. In addition, BMD requires a symphony of support vehicles including unmanned aerial vehicles and low orbit satellites, each with affiliated support costs.

It is by no means unusual for a NATO programme to be dominated by US capabilities, even less so during a period of extreme fiscal austerity and power depreciation among the European powers. Nonetheless, the wisdom behind implementing a programme of such fundamental importance to Europe's potential future security framework that is almost wholly dependent on US technology must be questioned. Should the European nuclear powers seriously consider BMD as an alternative security measure to nuclear deterrence, it would represent an erosion of national sovereignty and more deeply entrench the global status quo.

Of course NATO leaders were quick to reinforce their unswerving commitment to mutual defence, enshrined under NATO's most sacrosanct clause, Article 5. Yet given the obvious move towards a more Eastern orientated foreign policy under the Obama administration one must question the future value of NATO as far as US defence policy is concerned. Outsourcing vital defence capabilities is always a dangerous option :One the European powers may wish to re-think before making any lasting decisions.

 

The UK Government has been taking an axe to the Non-Departmental Public Bodies - aka Quangos. Hundreds are to be abolished or merged.

The only ones to be abolished within the MoD is the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. The future of the National Employer Advisory Board is under consideration - can the functions be provided by a committee of experts?

15 other MoD quangos will be retained

 

The US-UK Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty has passed its final hurdle towards ratification on both sides of the Atlantic with approval coming from the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

The Treaty was signed in June 2007 by then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and then United States President George W Bush. It aims to streamline and improve defence export processes and allows for the export of defence articles, without a license or other written authorization, from the US to an "approved community" of recipients in the UK and US and the subsequent transfer of these articles within that community without further US authorisation. This has the potential to boost trade between both countries and benefit the economies of both nations by retaining control of such transfers but speeding up the process for sales of equipment with US-made components to the UK Ministry of Defence and UK-sourced equipment to the USA.

Ian Godden, Chairman of the defence indutry body A|D|S, said: "The approval of the Treaty by the Senate is most welcome news. It has been a long journey but we sincerely hope that it will be worth the wait given the potential benefits that could now result.

"The Treaty reflects the close working relationship of our armed forces and the industrial collaboration of our two countries and it should deliver clear benefits for our troops. The UK is the largest international supplier of defence equipment to the US and is second only to the United States in the global defence export market. Therefore, the long-term significance of this new defence export control regime should not be underestimated."

Aerospace Industries of America President & CEO Marion C. Blakey said AIA that welcomes passage of the U.S.-UK and U.S.-Australia Defense Trade Cooperation Treaties by the full Senate.

"Ratifying these treaties will provide important benefits to both our national security and our economy.

"The treaties will streamline the licensing system for defense exports to our staunch allies, the UK and Australia. AIA has long advocated that we should do everything possible to ensure that their troops and our troops are able to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with the best equipment available.

"Passage of these treaties is in concert with the Obama administration's plan to modernize export controls. Our industry, with about 820,000 employees and 30,000 suppliers from all 50 states, strongly supports efforts to adjust outdated restrictions on American companies as we work to equip our closest friends and allies with the technology that allows our militaries to defend our mutual interests.

"We congratulate the Senate for passing the U.S.-UK and U.S.-Australia Defense Trade Cooperation Treaties, and thank both the House and Senate for passing the accompanying implementation legislation."

 
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