4 thoughts on “DEBATE: Should the EU have an army?”

  1. Posted 20/11/2018 at 11:28 | Permalink

    As Brexit Day approaches, there will be a further squeeze on public finances and the government will find it increasingly difficult to make good its promise to spend 2% of GDP on defence – never mind partaking in some form of a European defence force.

    It is not about how much a country spends on defence that matters, but how it goes about spending this money and whether it is getting value for money for its investment or not.

    In no area of defence is this true as in the procurement of military equipment for the Armed Forces, which has been plagued by persistent delays and cost over-runs for as long anyone can remember. In the UK, this is especially applicable to the Trident nuclear submarines programme, which was given the go-ahead by Parliament in July 2016 to proceed to the manufacture and build phase.

    The problems associated with letting uncontested, single-source development contracts like Trident are not only limited to the usual delays and cost over-runs – they extend to the contractual support arrangements put in place to acquire and re-provision additional Support Assets to sustain the platform in-service, for the full period of its service life.

    If past record is anything to go by, this aspect of defence procurement will only deliver further spiralling costs – and a headache for HM Treasury.

    What the Treasury should be budgeting for is the whole-life sustainment cost for this weapons platform – given the fact that the cost of acquiring and re-provisioning Support Assets associated with military equipment over the whole life cycle can be in the order of four to five times the prime equipment costs – which, for Trident has now been estimated at £180bn, and rising. It is hard not to see why there exists an extremely high risk that spending on conventional, non-nuclear equipment programmes (including cyber security) will be crowded out by the excessive cost of the nuclear deterrent in the years ahead.

    Even the then Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence admitted to the Public Accounts Committee in October 2015 that, it is the likelihood of financial risks on Trident materialising sometime soon after contract award, which keeps him awake at night.

    Anyone who has worked in the defence engineering industry will know that financial risks start-out as innocuous looking technical risks on the Defence Contractor’s premises, where selected ones are deliberately concealed by the Contractor during the design and development phase, then skilfully transferred to MoD Abbey Wood, Bristol where they suddenly morph into ‘show stopping’ risks and come to the fore immediately after the main investment decision has been taken (as they have done so spectacularly on the Type 45 destroyers with total power blackouts, costing a further £280 million to fix), ultimately ending up as an additional cost burden on the Front Line Commands, who have recently been given day-to-day responsibility for managing the defence equipment budget – resulting in sleepless nights for many other people too!

    This happens because a key behavioural characteristic of Defence Contractors is that they will always choose to conceal technical risks identified early in the programme, by engaging with procurement officials and getting them to focus on declared risks which ordinarily fall in the trivia category, whilst skilfully diverting their attention away from those really huge ‘show stopping’ risks which they will only reveal later on, when things go wrong, to realise their objective of ‘growing’ the Contract by getting Abbey Wood Team Leader to raise Contract Amendments and/or let Post Design Services Contracts.

    They achieve this by contriving situations which entice procurement officials into partaking in detailed design decisions relating to the evolving Technical Solution, and then using this involvement to coerce procurement officials into raising Contract Amendments later on. Indeed, it the very existence of Contract Amendments and PDS Contracts that causes Contractors to conceal ‘show stopping’ risks in the first place!

    These concealed risks then come to the fore immediately after (never before) the main investment decision has been taken, surprising everyone (except the Contractor) and imposing a budget-busting burden on MoD.

    And because there exists no “Code on Ethical Behaviour in Business” which would offer protection to good people on the Contractor’s payroll (generally in the direct labour category) who are driven by strong professional, ethical and moral values and who would otherwise blow the whistle on this conspiracy of concealment, they are forced to remain silent.

    The only people who are not in the know about this blatant scam are those in the pay of the State!

    So, the chances of financial risks coming to the fore on Trident after the main investment decision has been taken are about as certain as night follows day.

    The Trident nuclear submarines were meant to serve as a deterrent to those who would wish to do harm to the UK, but they have ended up posing a threat to the financial security of this country.

  2. Posted 20/11/2018 at 16:12 | Permalink

    I don’t believe the EU is planning an army. I take comfort in the words of Nick Clegg, from a broadcast interview in 2014. They went something like this. “The idea that the EU wants an army is a dangerous fantasy”.

  3. Posted 26/11/2018 at 02:37 | Permalink

    I am disappointed that neither Adam Bartha nor Warren Grimes are prepared to question the widely-held assumptions that lie behind the calamitous military policies that the governments of the UK, the EU, and NATO pursue. For this I recommend that readers consult James Woudhuysen’s “EU militarism is nothing new.”

  4. Posted 29/11/2018 at 23:22 | Permalink

    Calling the Syrian conflict an “American militarist adventure” is seriously ignorant of history. Obama didn’t even want to enforce his own “red lines” until France started bombing the place. And calling the US the EU’s key NATO ally “after the UK” is a real whopper. Who is this clown?

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