Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Trident Replacement Should Wait for Defence Review

Yesterday's change of heart by Nick Clegg on the renewal of Trident is a further example of LibDem flakiness on the subject of defence. Clegg believes that Trident should not be replaced because it cannot be afforded. I too have my doubts about whether it should replaced but my reasons are nothing to do with cost, but all to do with military need. Surely these judgements should always be arrived at after weighing up the country's strategic defence requirements, rather than just based on cost?

What we urgently need is a strategic defence review which looks ahead twenty years. Only after that debate has been had can we make an informed decision on a replacement for Trident.


Anonymous said...


Surely you do not expect the Lib-Dems to arrive at a policy from a point of principle? What a strange notion!

This is another attempt by Clegg to position himself in the "protest vote" camp and gain some publicity now the Lib-Dem poll ratings are plummetting again after the recent elections, where they did very badly, their vote share falling by over 8%. (14.9% down to 13.7%)

You are correct that renewing Trident should be a decision made for strategic defense reasons. Trident - and Polaris before it - were necessary because we needed submarine based nuclear launch capability to strike back at a nuclear attack on the UK which could take out land-based missiles. This threat no longer exists and there is no reason to replace the submarine based launch platform.

We could remain a significant nuclear power with land based ICBMs, sea-launched nuclear cruise missiles and air-launched tactical nuclear weapons. All, probably, at a cost half that of replacing Trident. These would remain a sufficient deterrent against those countries we wish to deter, mainly Iran and North Korea, who could not take out land-based ICBMs or sea-launch nuclear cruise missiles.

Robert said...

We looked ahead for 20 years and got the Eurofighter. Great for downing Soviet Migs, but useless in Afghanistan. In the meantime we still don't have a mineproof vehicule apart from our main battle tank.

We have now got to think about the EU defence force and it's requirements. We are all on the same side now!

TrueBlueBlood said...

Totally agree with you on this Iain.

First decent comment I have seen on this subject. We need a strategic review then take a decision.

JohnofEnfield said...

I am gobsmacked.

Pakistan, North Korea and now Iran are rapidly developing nuclear weapons and their delivery capability. Russia becomes more belligerent by the day.

Are we SURE this is exactly the right time to give up our submarine based nuclear deterrent?

simon said...

All this debate is pure and utter 'pish'. 'Yes, Prime Minister' said it all in that episode when Hacker's big idea was to bring back National Service. Hacker and Sir Humph said all that needed to be said on the issue of us having nuclear missiles. I have not heard a more cogent argument for NOT having nuclear weapons.

starfish said...

The one thing that is sure about the future is that it is unknown

If you can be certain that nuclear weapons have absolutely no utility against any possible opponent at any point in the future then this is a sound judgement

I seem to recall similar certainty regarding carrier-based air power and amphibious forces in 1981

In the great scheme of things, this capability is not expensive spread over its in service period - Trident cost less than the Tornado programme

He is correct that it is unaffordable with the current allocation of national resources to defence. But then, so is the whole defence programme as it stands! It is all down to national priorities

As a proportion of GDP we have not spent so little on Defence since the 1930s....

strapworld said...

Many congratulations on your first anniversary, yesterday.

Clegg is proving to be quite an operator.

Of course we must wait for a complete Defence Review.

Cameron has got himself into a tangle on three issues.

1. CUTS. How can he promise to ring-fence the NHS and, worse, Overseas Aid, and cut defence spending, when we have men and women fighting in Afghanistan.

The only way this could be accepted is if Cameron were to announce he would bring our troops home immediately!! (That would be a massive vote winner too!)

But to keep overseas aid to allow some african despot to purchase more mercedes vehicles is just plain stupid. Charity begins at home!

2.Those members of his shadow cabinet who have had their hands in the expenses till, and should be sacked, are still there!

3. EU! He really has to tell the truth. Just what is he going to do IF the Lisbon treaty is ratified prior to the general election.

Trend Shed said...


You are 100% correct.

Simon said...

I heard David Davis pretty well agreeing with Clegg yesterday, no doubt that will become the Tory position. Once again we will be left with all three main parties agreeing and the electorate not having any choice in the matter. The one party state moves ever closer and this time they're playing with our ability to defend ourselves. Let's hope UKIP or the BNP gets powerful enough to put a stop to this rot before it is too late.

strapworld said...

Iain, having given my views on the three problem area's for Cameron. I visited Conservativehome to read about a letter circulating (allegedly) amongst Tory MP's. attacking Cameron.

Reading the letter it does sound like Brown's attitude has rubbed off on Cameron.

Troble at'mill

Wyrdtimes said...

Doesn't the USA make this kind of decision for the "UK" anyway?

We certainly need to look ahead. There may well be no "UK" in 20 years time. And an independent England will have no need of a replaced Trident.

Plus of course - we are skint.

Anonymous said...

If it should be decided after a review, why are you calling it 'flakiness' on Defense: are you presuming that keeping Trident is the right answer?

Clegg referencing cost doesn't mean there isn't principle involved (are you seriously arguing that we should ever use them? Personally, I'm opposed to mass murder).

It's expensive, immoral, unsuitable to curent threats and our track record of predicting future threats is poor. Of course there should be a strategic defense review, but these are pretty strong arguments that this might be a bad use of £100Bn...

Iain Dale said...

Clearly you didn't read my post. He has decided to scrap it in advance of any review. I see from Guido that he has asked Ming Campbell to head up a review, but his decision has preempted that. If you had bothered to read my post you would have seen that I too am sceptical about the need to renew Trident, but I would rather wait for the conclusions of an SDR before deciding.

Philipa said...

Mr Dale - have I got this right: they're scrapping Trident (ie. our submarine nuclear capability) in a bid to save money and reduce further borrowing but they are maintaining overseas aid and going ahead with ID cards?

Is that correct?

JMB said...

I doubt whether any of the money saved by scrapping Trident would stay with the armed forces, it would disappear with no visible benefits.

Anonymous said...

Strategic Defence Reviews usually come up with the answer the government wants anyway, so I'm not sure about this.

That said politicians need to take a long hard look at aligning military capabilities with foreign policy aspirations so we don't end with the crippling over stretch of today's armed forces. It may be that money saved on a strategic nuclear arsenal could be better spent on equipment for ground forces, or on carriers with a full complement of strike aircraft.

Let's have some common sense on defence spending please!

Dan Tubb said...

John of Enfield:
"Pakistan, North Korea and now Iran are rapidly developing nuclear weapons and their delivery capability. Russia becomes more belligerent by the day."

True, but Russia did not launch a single missile during a period of extreme tension (the cold war) and Pakistan and India both have them but have never used them, and they have worse relations with each other than we have with anyone.

By all means lets have a review. But I find myself thinking now I would rather take that £100Bn, buy a cheaper alternative (say £30Bn) and spend the rest of upgrading our front line troops with APC's helicopters, body armour and the like.

I see an extremely high need for a better equipped British Armed Forces, but a vanishing rare need for ICBM's in todays world.

DespairingLiberal said...

Nick Clegg did not say it was just a matter of cost. I quote from one newspaper this morning

"Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, told the Guardian he was making the move because of the rapidly deteriorating public finances and because the case for such a powerful nuclear deterrent in the post-cold war world was "a complete fiction".

I'm glad you are concerned that Trident not be repurchased Iain, as the whole thing is utter cold war bunk and a con pulled by a slice of the US arms industry and nothing at all to do with either defence or international realities. It is also profoundly against environmental concerns and against any reasoned analysis of what hard-pressed taxpayers should be funding.

Alcuin said...

Defence review - absolutely, but it should be a rolling one, lest we persist with programmes that may prove to be redundant. At the moment, it is the Army that needs more resources. That can change - there are about 100 flashpoints around the world, anyone of which could flare up to threaten us.

A little clarification. It is, I believe, the boats that need updating, not the missiles. A nuclear capability is essential to prevent nuclear blackmail, and boats are the most effective in delivering reliably a bang on target. We do also have some very compact bombs, though the delivery system is much more vulnerable and limited.

The refurbishment/renewal programme for Trident is long term, and can be stretched out. No country other than South Africa has ever disarmed its nuclear capability - for a mainstream player with some deranged enemies to do so is the height of folly.

Lyttelton said...

£100 Billion is way to much for a system that is not 100% UK controlled. Please Mr President may we have permission to fire our weapons! We need a flexible system, much as I hate to say it, similar to the French with soverign UK control. We could retain and improve our current system and supplement it with a nuclear equipped cruise missile capable of being launched from the ground, sea and air. and maybe with the money saved we could have a Patriot style anti-missile defence system. Having said that all the above is useless against the vast majority of likely attacks which will be terrorist.

Marian said...


I couldn't agree more - what the UK desperately needs is a strategic defence review.

If it is honest for once it will question :

(1) why the UK should have a nuclear deterrent at all, especially when it isn't truly "independent" and there is no longer an identifiable nuclear threat that it may be used against?

(2) why does the UK have to behave as if it still has an empire and is the world's policeman in places like Iraq and Afghanistan?

(3) why doesn't the UK buy less costly and generally better quality defence equipment and aircraft from the USA than it gets from UK and European suppliers?

(4) why the unsinkable aircraft carrier that is the UK needs to have two new "mini aircraft carriers",


starfish said...

Let's get one thing straight

A Trident replacement will not cost £100bn

It is not defined yet - no-one knows how much it might cost

Before it becomes received wisdom (like 100000 civilan deaths in Iraq based on a dodgy Lancet survey)

Anonymous said...

You're missing the change that is occurring in the world. Wealth and power are moving East.
In a few months time Britain will be bankrupt and forgotten. It is unlikely that the government will be able to pay pensions, let alone for national defence.
Get used to it, we are about to become a third world country, our defence policy will be to hope nobody attacks us.

Black Flag said...

One man's 'flakiness' is another man's further reflection. Are you changing your mind about the need for Trident?

And what is wrong with seeing if this country can afford a nuclear deterrent? What's the point of buying the most expensive safe on the market if you have nothing left to put in it.

Maybe without the big boys' toys, this country could have understood where it stands today and might have avoided some military adventures.

Sean said...

There is a significant issue here in that huge programmes like Trident, Eurofighter and aircraft carriers get the headlines, while basic needs are often given second priority.

Our troops need more blast-resistant vehicles, more helicopters, better equipment and better housing for themselves and their families. But budgets for these items are being raided to pay for the big programmes.

moorlandhunter said...

Robert speaks about the Tornado fight, usless for Afghanistan. He correct and you know the main reason why?
Because of costs Labour have taken away the 20 mm cannon used for close air dog fighting and for strafing ground targets, but because the aerodynamics were upset, Labour replaced the cannon with a concrete weight that rebalanced the aircraft. If anyone doubts this just ask the Air Force, or better still Labour who should be ashamed of their penny pinching that will lead to British deaths, again, much like the long wait for a suitable armoured vehicle.
Still, as Labour thinks, dead soldiers are cheaper than issuing the correct kit needed to fight Labour’s wars.

DespairingLiberal said...

That's right Starfish - it will not cost £100bn - most experts confirm it will cost at least double and maybe even 3-4 times that by the time they are "finished".

Presumably once the taxpayer has been conned, er, persuaded, that this is all needed to face off the North Koreans, there will be another demand in 10 years time to spend a couple of trillion on a system capable of blowing up Mars and not just the Planet Earth.

We are not dealing with any kind of factual reality here, just the drug-induced trips of Los Alamos maniac nerdboys serving big armaments suppliers.

The sole reason for the existence of the UK Trident programme is to lengthen the production cycle for US manufacturers to cheapen the unit cost for US taxpayers. This deal was imposed on the UK as part of it's compliant role towards the US empire.

Probably there was some hidden blackmail to "sweeten" the deal at the time.

The major contractor involved is Lockheed Martin and roughly 75% of the money involved will be spent in the US of A.

Colin said...

Once it's gone, we'll never, ever get it back.

So, unless somebody has a crystal ball...

Man in a Shed said...

@John Moss: "This threat no longer exists and there is no reason to replace the submarine based launch platform."

Firstly - oh yes it does. The Russian Federation can kill the majority of the population in the UK in under an hour. The capability is certainly there today.

China, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan are all states it doesn't take too much imagination to see using nuclear weapons against the west.

But the key point about this sort of planning is countering capability, not intent. Intent can change one morning over coffee. Capability takes decades ( as the Iranian's are showing everyone ).

There is a need for a strategic nuclear retaliation capability for the UK.

The question should be will Trident really do the job, is it really independent, and does it provide the tactical nuclear weapon us that we might need against minor nuclear powers or even conventional ones ( Argentina is the obvious example ).

Labour removed the UK's ability to deploy tactical nuclear weapons early in it reign. Now only ICBM launched weopons can be used ( its rumoured that some Trident warheads have been reduced in power for just such a task - but they require an ICBM launch the effect of which will only be known on missile arrival, before which retaliation is likely to be launched).

They are a massive gap in our capability and ability to deter aggression.

Bardirect said...

We cannot afford it now that even more people are out of work than when Labour took office in 1997

and these figures ignore the additional millions moved over to incapacity benefit (often in in labour seats)

Bill Quango MP said...

So many good posts here.
Why didn't the policy makers in all parties put in a minute of the thought that your commentators have give the idea of Trident. Why do they ALWAYS behave as if there is money for everything, for ever, without a problem, right up to the point where there isn't and 'cuts' have to be made.

David Hughes said...


If you look at Nick's interview you will see that he highlighted military considerations as well as cost. You shouldn't let your anti-LD inclinations blind you to the fact that Nick was putting forward a view held by many senior military figures and thoughtful copnservatives, including, on the ten o'clock news, your very own svengali, David Davis!

David said...

The history of strategic defence reviews is not a happy one, nearly always focussing on the last war and the need to cut costs. The idea that there is some "correct" answer is a fantasy.
I think Clegg may well be right. I simply don't see the benefits of a Trident replacement. I share the concern of some comments that any money saved would not find itself in the defence budget but it may be that the reason we spend a lower % of GDP on defence than for any time since the 30s is that we actually face very low strategic (as opposed to tactical terrorist) threat at the moment and for the foreseeable future.At a time when we are virtually bankrupt as a Nation I don't think cost is an irrelevant issue albeit I agree it should not be the sole determining factor.

starfish said...

Despairing Liberal 10:42

most experts confirm it will cost at least double and maybe even 3-4 times that by the time they are "finished".

I see you belong to the 'think of a number and double it' school too

The rest of your post is just a rant about the military-industrial complex

In a more rational moment can you propose a method of facing down a nuclear-armed regime like N Korea or Russia when it 'drops a nuke' on Birmingham and threatens more?

Or shall we just surrender quietly?

Or do you propose relying on the (shock horror) Americans to defend us? Or the French?

Alcuin said...

moorlandhunter gets just about everything wrong. The Tornado is not a fight(er) [sic]; it is not the Tornado that is miscast for today's conflicts, it is the Typhoon; it was the fighter variant of the Tornado, intended solely for UK air defence that briefly had a concrete mass in its radar bay while its radar (not its gun) was developed; the mass was to maintain aerodynamic balance, not screw it up; and it never was a dogfighter. Let us hope that people like you never get into positions of responsibility - the current crew are bad enough.

Lola said...

I have thought for some time that the Nuclear Dtreernt and the military are separate things. Yes, the military operate the deterrent but they don't 'own' it in the same way that they do the rest of the hardware. In other words we should treat the Nuclear Deterrent budget as a separate item to the general Defense Budget.

The requirements for conventional forces are a simpler conundrum as making sure that you have the flexibility to deal with anticipatable threats and surprise ones is provided for by ensuring sufficient flexibility, training, equipment and research. By its very nature you can never tell where the latest piece of mayhem is coming from and keeping an 'insurance policy' minimum of forces is always required. For example piracy. It would seem that cutting back the number of frigates and assocaied vessels was in hindsight a bad idea. Money in the defence budget earmarked for Trident may have been better spent on buiulding new friages and keeping older ones in service.

The Nuclear Deterrent is a one shot deal. It has no other use.

Furthermore, cruise missile technology might let us deploy a range of warheads more cheaply and flexibly than Trident. Go forbid, but if Iran (or Israel) did start something horrible the combined arsenals of the UK and the US could easily annihilate Iran, even if it was only cruise missile borne rather than ballistic missiles.

Cynic said...

Agreed. Knee jerk politics just risks defence and also wastes money in the longer term but the problem with a strategic defence review is that you have to have view on what you are defending too. That demands a review of our position in the world and what we want to be in 30 to 40 years time. This Government is totally and utterly incapable of reviewing anything that doesn't produce a headline more than 7 days ahead so it will have to wait for the Tories.

Cleggs position is purely political. He wants to appeal to small 'c' conservative voters by appearing to want a rational debate, while keeping on board the mad ex-CND faction in his own party.

Cynic said...

On yes, and by the way, we could probably afford an effective deterrent if we combined all 3 services into one command. We would also get a more rational approach to defence planning and avoid the service turf wars that are already raging most recently between the RAF and Navy.

But who in the Shadow Cabinet would be strong enough to drive this through in Defence?

neil craig said...

Doug Carswell has an interesting post saying that other military contractors are lobbying heavily for the cancellation of Trident so that there will be more lolly to go round. This has the ring of truth & whatever arguments there may be for or against Trident that is one which should have absloutely no place in deciding defence strategy.

Will Yoxall said...

Trident is a political weapon not strictly speaking a military one. We should keep Trident because it is the only survivable and therefore viable deterrent. If you think the UK should have nuclear weapons then the only choice is a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) system - and there are only two games in town on that score, Trident the US system which we currently operate or potentially the French system.

All defence reviews should try to balance three things, firstly a balanced, flexible all-round capability, a focus on contemporary defence needs (without removing capabilities which may prove important in the future) and of course reasonable costs - there will only ever be so much money - though currently there is not enough, and as you rightly say Iain if strategic need dictates we should have something then the money should be found for it.

One last thing I would say is that in defence policy, and defence procurement is that you do have to try and look ahead, but you cannot judge the future by present events or circumstances, for instance a chap looking twenty years ahead in 1930 would have not predicted Nuclear weapons or the Cold War which would be reality in 1950. Similarly who in 1985 could have accurately said what the world would look like in 2005? The best way of future proofing our Armed Forces is the plump for balanced forces and never drop capabilities it would be hard to recapture at a later stage; weapons platforms must be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. Although both Trident and Eurofighter Typhoon are often criticized as being Cold War weapons this is not the case - we still need an air to air combat capability which Eurofighter fill nicely and Eurofighter can also perform in the strike and combat air support roles - so they will be able to do Afghanistan as well as North West Europe, secondly Trident is still a relevant capability in a world in which we have nations such as Iran and North Korea making efforts to become nuclear weapon states - as I said above Trident as an SLBM is THE ONLY TRULY SURVIVABLE nuclear weapon system.

Nick Clegg is a fool for saying what he has said, his biggest contradiction is saying he want the UK to have nuclear weapons he just wants something cheaper than Trident - anything other than an SLBM system would be wasteful because everything else is so vulnerable to countermeasures and is therefore not survivable and is therefore not a viable deterrent - spending X billions on a deterrent which has not the capability to deter is perhaps a good definition of waste. How can Clegg be apparently concerned about cost if he wants to waste money on a nuclear weapon system which cannot deter, if he wants a deterrent he has a get an SLBM system.

Anonymous said...

What will the parameters of any review be? Will it be a treasury whitewash aimed at cost reduction period a la the 10 year rule of post WWI policy or of the Thatcher government’s pre –Falkland invasion suggestion to scrap most of the surface Fleet in the name of savings?

The trouble is that whilst the resources and money are cut, Britain’s responsibilities are not – be it to NATO, The US Alliance, defending the remaints of the empire.

Indeed there is an argument to be made that over the past 12 years Britain has increase her military responsibilities without increasing the resources to match them (e.g. Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan)than ever there was under the Conservatives of the

Therefore any review must make reference to the overall strategic direction of Britain’s foreign policy ( which ultimately dictates defence policy) because until they do we will a ever increasing mismatch between political rhetoric and strategic capability- the resources have simply not been given to allow the defence forces to do what is being required of them by the current government.

Although, perhaps a debate or review is not required- we will afterall be shortly intergrated for good into the European State, so we will not need a UK defence or foreign policy ......

Paul said...

But Clegg ignores some already public facts.

1. There is a Trident sub replacement programme (estimated cost £20bn)
2. It must start now,or we will be down to 2 subs in 2024,when the remaining 2 will be decommissioned.
3. The new Trident missile has not been designed yet.
4. When it is,the missile may not fit the missile compartment in the new subs,as the compartments will be built without knowing the missile dimensions.

Could be a waste of another £120 bn
and another example of useless planning.

Lee H said...

So he is Mr Short term then. Public purse under pressure look for a big project with big numbers. Look at Trident, £20 Billion! Bingo! Found it! Headline found, speech to be made, briefings to the press and we are underway.
1. As probably many have said already, £20 Billion "over a period of years" not all at once so any financial gain would be minimal.
2. 5000/10,000 jobs guaranteed for the next 15/20 years. Barrow will continue to have a work force.
3. It is a deterrent that helps protect a £1.5 trillion pound economy.
4. Unilateral disarmament when countries like North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, India and China all have the weapons and would be very unwilling to give them up. So do we really think that getting rid of our last form of defence would make them suddenly say, "Well the British have got rid of there weapons so we will do the same"? Doubtful.
5. Although people don't like it we are one of the big 5 at the security council. By getting rid of our deterrent would put that place in jeapordy. I can see why Clegg and his europhile party would like that because the EU would pressure the UK to give up its seat to the EU.

Unfortunately we do not live in a dream world where there is no fighting, no hunger, no poverty and no famine etc. The world is what it is. You can have your lobby groups, like CND, Greenpeace etc professing that if we got rid of Trident etc but they operate in an environment and society that the deterrent has helped protect for the last 50 years. It has provided the freedom that they operate in.

Times are changing, is it a great idea to take away an option when we do not know what the future holds all for the sake of a headline and a £1 Billion saving?
What would happen to the work force?
What would happen to the skill base?
How would it affect our standing in the world? And by that I mean countries that actually make a "difference". It is that "difference" as mentioned above, those with the big clout who actually have a say. Is it any coincedince that they also have nuclear weapons (USA, Russia, China, France)?

Gordon Brown said...

Can we use Trident on the Lib Dems to finish them off once and for all? Tories - happy, Labour - Happy, Gin and Tonics all round!

Will Yoxall said...


With respect we already have a unified defence staff and if you robbed the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the British Army and the Royal Air Force of their identities you'd destroy personnel morale in one go. I can tell you that people take pride in their service and its traditions - identity is very important to morale.

The interservice bickering at the highest levels comes down to (a) not enough resources and (b) some poor use of the resources which are available.

The Chief of the Defence Staff, the Permantent Secreatry at the MoD and the SofS for Defence need to be much better at making sure every service is signed up to what the other services need to procure to do their job properly - this means the Army and RAF signing up to CVF, the RN and RAF signing up for vehicle procurement for the Army and it means the RN and Army signing on for Eurofighter. Each service has to set out what it needs to do its job and lay this out for the other services to see and understand - the MoD's job should be to examine that the platforms and systems of all three services are providing the best capability possible without wasting resources. This also means that the SofS for Defence needs to make it clear to HMT that the MoD needs to have enough cash to keep up with defence policy.

Lee H said...

There is a problem with having a strategic defence review at the moment. It is a simple one. Labour like to grandstand all over the world. GB at G20 etc etc. To continue to have that kind of power on the world stage involves a foreign policy that dictates where ever there is a problem, Afganistan, Iraq, Sierra Leone etc we will be there. An SDR will state that to do that is going to cost an awful amount of money. Labour do not like defence and hate spending money on it. But for the grandstanding to continue spending in affect has to go up, not be stagnant and not go down. The thing is money can be saved and investment in the front line increased. How? Simple. How much do you think it costs to spend a pound in the MoD?

Unknown said...

Could we get real on this. It was just about credible that we would retaliate against the Soviets with a murderous strike. This was as much a gun to the Americans' head; The Ruskis weren't going to ask whether it was the US or the UK that was shooting at them. It is simply not credible that we would respond in that way to a strike by a "rogue" state. Are we really saying that we would incinerate all the people who suffer under the Iranian or North Korean regimes - as if their governments would care. There are some very capable precision strike systems in development that can target the leaders of these regimes; look up RATTLRS. That is a far more credible type of deterrent for the future.

Keith Willey said...

Love these comments! The Lib Dems must be doing something 'right' if they are so widely hated by politicos from left and right.

Good on you Cleggy!

Cynic said...

"The interservice bickering at the highest levels comes down to (a) not enough resources and (b) some poor use of the resources which are available."

I agree with some of that but inter-service rivalry is a significant factor too. They are like 3 siblings quarrelling over the family inheritance and those quarrels are often on far from rational grounds. Operational practice is also very different in the RAF, Army and Navy - often for no good reason.

Yes, short term morale could take a hit but the key issue in that is morale at the level of the operational unit - the regiment or ship or squadron.

Those structures / units would not change. What would change was the superstructure above them and if this was tied to making available the resouces, kit and family accomodation they really need, watch morale soar at the level in the servcies where it really counts.

Ginger said...

This is the kind of lazy, predictable, tribal, let's-rubbish-Cleggy crap that belongs in our illustrious House of Commons, not on the columns of an ambitious independent blog ... And anyone willing to even consider spending £200 billion on a nuclear penile extension for a country that can barely afford a decent Olympics after-party deserves a Trident up the wazoo.

starfish said...

£200bn now!

The Trident replacment seems to be increasing in cost faster than government debt!

Martin Curtis said...

Iain, Military need?

Can you predict where we will be militarily in ten years. I can't. In 1979 could you have predicted the end of the Cold War in 1989?

Trident replacement is needed as a safeguard to what the military situation could be in ten years time. It should not be cancelled because of what we see now.

moorlandhunter said...

To Alcuin

I know I got the name wrong about the Typoon, calling it the Tornado, but it STILL has no cannon, but a lump of concrete as a counter weight as LAbour refused the put an expensive cannon on the Euro fighter AKA Typoon.
Concrete cannons to the fore, just ask the RAF who know, that's if the RAF see any more than 30 or so to maintain our defences?

moorlandhunter said...

Sorry to post again but it appears that Labour wil be replacing the 27mm cannon but not provide the ammo.

To Alcuim, don't take my word for it, here have a look.

neil craig said...

The moral effect of getting rid of Trident, which would be substantial since Britain is a major surprisingly respected nation, would be utterly lost if we got rid of it purely for money reasons.

DespairingLiberal said...

The starting point in understanding all military "needs" and declared "foreign enemies" is to understand the needs of the arms industry. Each year, our government and the governments of our "allies" give vast amounts of taxpayers money to defence companies. In most cases, new enemies or new defence requirements are simply a response to the threat of decline in this endless stream of corporate welfare.

Put simply, the main purpose of the British taxpayer is to subsidise US armaments corporations and their shareholders.

Lee H said...

moorlandhunter: Not just a cannon with no ammunition but a £6 million study to find out what was best to replace the cannon (Weight and ballast). Do you know what they found after the extensive study. That that cannon was the best thing to replace the cannon with. Couldn't make it up! They are getting rounds now due to the fact that they were going to Afganistan to replace the Harriers. Hang on....nope Tornado's now going to Afganistan, what would happen to export sales if a nice Typhoon was shot down by those Taliban insurgents with their RPG's and machine guns. Wouldn't look good. And the fact that the troops out in theatre when asking for air support normally ask for an A-10. Why you ask, simple, a massive 30mm gattling gun on the front that fires 1200 rounds a minute. If you want to keep heads down that is the toy of choice. On the Trident issue Martin Curtis said it best. You never know what the future has in store.
The defence budget can be streamlined. It comes down to scoping out the real requirement, not a pipe dream of a senior officer. Ask the troops what they want and go and buy it. Simple.

Twig said...

@Dan Tub said: "...but Russia did not launch a single missile during a period of extreme tension (the cold war)..."
June 17, 2009

Do you think that could have had something to do with the fact that both sides had nuclear weapons?

ditto India and Pakistan.

Just a hunch.

Nich Starling said...

Oh dear. John Moss, comment number 1, cannot add up.

1) He does not understand that 0.8% is differnt from 8%.

2) He ignroes the Lib Dem vote was up in County elections.

3) He criticises Clegg's decision then goes on to justify it !

Will Yoxall said...

Cynic, again I will have to disagree the traditions and practices of individual services are important - the are key to the corporate identity. The Canadian Forces still haven't gotten over the devastation which was wrought on them in 1968 when three services were rolled into one - the two net effects were morale plummeting and certain capability areas being ignored to Canada's detriment.

We need to sort out equipment and housing that is true but I put it to you that without individual services a central organisation will concertrate on certain areas and allow others to decline, for instance if the head of a single defence force had a land force background he or she might focus resources on that area and there would be no single service chiefs to make the case for other areas of capabiliy - for example the if a land force led central organisation ordered extra tanks at the expense of CVF, only to finf five years later Briatain involved in operations where naval air power is vital we'd be up the creek all because there was no one there to make the case for decent naval aviation.