Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Ainsworth Hurts the RAF and Navy

Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, yesterday confirmed the purchase of 22 Chinook helicopters and another C17 Globemaster transport aircraft for the RAF.

On 10th November the Telegraph reported the government would be making a purchase of up to 30 Chinooks but today he gives the figure as 22, a reduction of 27%.

As part of his cuts to fund the war in Afghanistan:

RAF Cottesmore in Leicestershire, with 3500 staff, will close
A proportion of 1600 personnel at RAF Kinloss, home of the Nimrod, will be reassigned
A fleet of 11 Nimrod Mars 2s will be scrapped by the end of next March
The Nimrod MRA4s will be delayed
One of five Harrier squadrons is to be axed
One of seven Tornado GR4 squadrons may also be scrapped
The Royal Navy is to lose one minehunter
One survey ship is also to go
There will be a reduction in some army training
7,500 civil servants will lose their jobs

The majority of the losses are to the RAF and Navy although why a minehunter is being scrapped seems a bad decision.

The Chinooks will not be ready for operation service for three or four years, by which time we have been led to believe the British combat mission in Afghanistan could be winding down. Last night on the news Bob Ainsworth rejected claims that any mention of troop withdrawal had ever been made.

Professor Michael Clarke, the director of the Royal United Services Institute, said that for the first time in the modern era the country was "paying for a war out of current expenditure". He told the Daily Telegraph: "The assumption has been for the last 30 years that wars are paid for out of central funds."

Why don't the government scrap Trident, which will never be used, and put the billions saved towards making our defence forces better equipped.

Oldrightie has paid his respects to the two soldiers killed in Sangin, Helmand yesterday. I would like to add mine.

More than 1,000 members of the armed forces have been wounded in action in Afghanistan since 2001, the vast majority of them since 2006 when the war started in Helmand province.

The casualty toll up to the end of last month was released by the MoD yesterday. It disclosed that a third of the wounded suffered serious or very serious injuries.


Clarinda said...

I find it tricky to accept that Mr Ainsworth has the capacity to have meticulously calculated this strategy as he appears likely to be foxed when puzzling the solution to placing two peas in a straight row - therefore who really made these decisions?

I have been deluded in thinking Mr Ainsworth is a DEFENCE Secretary, as when did our national security become strengthened by the reduction of armed forces personnel and a dilution of the education and training of those left?

Could Mr Ainsworth let me know which of our streets are now safer and which remain at risk. Perhaps our national security is safe - left in the hands of one ex-Marxist who ought to have remained in Coventry and is maybe only lulling us into a false state of insecurity whilst craftily on the verge of proving virtually every known historian to be wrong about the repeated tragedy that is invasion and war in Afghanistan?

subrosa said...

This has been in the planning some time I would think Clarinda, considering part of it was floated in the press over a month ago.

What I don't understand is why £1.4bn was taken from the helicopter budget in 2004 and never replaced.

Also why do 22 helicopters take 2 to 3 years to arrive in theatre. The army has a proficient Air Corps who are possibly ready now, although if the correct avionics have not been ordered there may be problems.

Oh how cynical we are. Surely Ainsworth and his worthies wouldn't lull us into a false sense of security...

Oldrightie said...

A poster at mine pointed out that there are scores of these machines mothballed and readily available NOW!

CrazyDaisy said...


Looks like "The Andrew" is now the exact same size as the pedaloes in Southsea Boating Pond.

I could go into a lot more detail but OSA keeps me schtum!


Yes but some bright spark thought they'd save money on the software suite for certain woka wokas, doh!

Oh well roll on the SDF, I cannot wait!

Crazy Daisy

Anonymous said...

You occasionally hear sad stories about alcoholics and gamblers who had everything and then slowly lost the lot to their vice, that's 'Ainsworth & Brown Ltd.' all over, total incompetent idiots.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Brown has bankrupted a country and is still using his Monopoly money which, Monopoly or not is deep in overdraft, to fund stupid imperialist status positions the country neither wants or can afford.

We want out troops out of Afghanistan. We don't want the semantics of 'heroes' covering the scum of vain politics.

We desperately don't want Brown waving his largesse about like a psychotic octopus just to maintain a delusional world status.

In the next 10 - 15 years the UK is going to be out of the major league. We don't want to be paying Premier costs when we have only 2nd league income.

We're being led by a Scum of Fools. We don't want helicopters, its sense that's desperately needed.

subrosa said...

I'm coming to have a look OR, in a few minutes.

subrosa said...

Auch CD I hope that's not depressing your pals.

That's the same lot that's been sitting for months now and to upgrade the avionics they have to more less be taken apart CD. Is that right?

subrosa said...

Dangerous as well as incompetent Lorenzo. How can a war be funded with money we don't have. Are we to be in hock to the US for another 50 years to pay for Afghanistan?

subrosa said...

Do you think the tories will be any better Crinkly?

I would like to see the SNP more vocal about Afghanistan and take a stand against troops being there.

Thought the libdems would 'break ranks' and had seen sense not so long ago but Nick Clegg's now firmly back in the fold saying we're needed there. What I'd like to know is who says?

Quiet_Man said...

Yet strangely enough Brown can find half a billion a year to give to foreign regimes/dictators to stock up their Swiss bank accounts as a remedy for global warming.

Makes me weep at times.

Dramfineday said...

"It disclosed that a third of the wounded suffered serious or very serious injuries" - and what tender mercies are these, our children, experiencing to get them well again. And perhaps as importantly - where?

Demetrius said...

Man In A Shed pointed out on Tuesday 15 that these Chinooks are simply replacements if you take account of current rate of loss of 2 a year and late ones at that. Were the rate of loss to increase by one or two a year for ordinary reasons then there would be a fall in the numbers available. There are things going on here that are not being mentioned at present.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Labour, Tories or LibDem they've all adopted the position because Obama eventually decides to send another 30k into the fray.

Meanwhile Karsai and his nepotic posse rub their hands in glee at the dollars flooding into their bank accounts.

Couldn't give a toss about the dollars, but damn them to hell for the lives they're putting on the line.

CrazyDaisy said...


I'm unable to comment exactly but yes they need upgrading and that involves lengthy engineering work.

I'm not bothered about the strngth of the RN, they say war and defence is cyclical, when I joined we had HMS HERMES by the time I leave, we may have HMS QEII. 30+ years and we go full circle!

Not an exact circle that would make me out to be mad, and clearly I'm only Crazy!

Snowing here, less than 2 cm and Londistan comes to a halt, southern Jessies. I was out in my seemit and grundies!


Holyrood Patter said...

what really rankles me is the lack of honesty. the government has made a mess of procurement this entire decade, and as a country we are skint. there are issues over a country over spending (ie a small island being a superpower) but thats another debate.

so its annoying to hear ainsworth saying that there are "4 people doing the same job" and dobling and trebling of work.

its just talking down the hardworking staff and frankly its an insult

subrosa said...

Oh QM, I do wish our respective people would waken up.

I understand why my generation don't speak out loudly because they feel the whole of the British Isles has disintegrated. Few feel they have the energy and also think they're not respected.

If you watched the Gerry Robinson programme last night perhaps you understand why so many are just wanting to slip into oblivion. A tragedy and no other country treats (or charges) their elderly in that way.

subrosa said...

Dram, serious injuries involve loss of limbs. Mental health problems are not included so those who are affected are ignored.

Hammer said...

The minesweeper seems like a strange loss. I have to wonder, however, the degree to which mines figure in modern naval strategy. Aside from fighting pirates, the Navy seem to spend their time today functioning in a support role, often from long distance.
It's almost certainly a better decision to mothball a minesweeper then cancel a new destroyer or withdraw RFA ships.

Loosing the survey ship is daft. I'm sure the navy could probably coax some money from universities and scientific bodies to keep it at work. No doubt it provides valuable data all round.

The Nimrod fleet is long overdue replacement. This, obviously, brings that no closer.

Chinooks seems a strange purchase given how many problems they've had in service with British forces. Surely having had problems we should be looking at alternatives?

10,000 jobs (civil service and bases) is going to make a dent in the employment figures.

I'm 100% behind scrapping Trident, and indeed, most of the submarine fleet. It's just a drain on resources in this day and age, and as the Sunday Herald reported a few weeks ago, we rely on America to provide key components which need to be regularly replaced - no doubt at considerable cost.

I suspect what the army really needs is a full scale re-evaluation of all forces and resources, carried out by military professionals alongside civil servants and ministers with a good knowledge of the military. Ideally conducted in peace time, when the forces aren't facing changing threats.

Of course, the chance of that happen is nil. With the Tories planning cuts to public sector, I doubt increased armed forces funding will be a priority. Cameron is going to get himself into a very tricky situation.

subrosa said...

It is an insult to staff right enough HP. Only a bad manager talks down his staff.

Hammer said...

Incidentally, has anyone noticed the similarity between Bob Ainsworth and actor Michael Sheer (aka Mr Bronson in Grange Hill, Hitler in the Indiana Jones movies).

subrosa said...

Hammer, Crazy Daisy is better placed to speak about the Naval side of things.

The Nimrods have been spoken about for years and nothing has transpired.

There are Chinooks available but they don't have the avionics needed in today's climate and I understand to fit the proper equipment require them to be taken apart. You can understand that with today's modern electronics Hammer.

The loss of jobs is vast. I wonder how many will be voluntary redundancies/retirements.

I too want rid of Trident, we'll never use it anyway. You're right, America holds the keys for it so we're just being used as a storage centre.

So much as been said about the review after the GE but as you say, I doubt if much reorganisation will happen. Some regiments have kept up with the times though but the civil service is so primitive isn't it.

Cameron won't make a difference. He's just a clone of Tony Blair sadly. Even most tories know that.

subrosa said...

I haven't noticed Hammer, but I expect others have. You would notice though, being into things like that. :)

Hammer said...

As far as the Chinooks and electronics go, it seems (to my mind anyway) that having to take them apart to upgrade them is a design flaw. Surely they can be designed so equipment can be slotted in and out? Of course, I'm not an engineer and there are probably all sorts of problems with that kind of system.

Regarding the review, I think the only politician who I'd actually trust to do it is Alan Clark, who had a reputation as both a playboy and a military historian. I believe that it was during his time as Armed Forces Minister that Britain had it's last effective armed forces review, which was cut short by the Gulf War. Sadly, he passed away in the late 90s.

I thought you might like a picture of Mr Sheard (I misspelt his name in my previous post). I'm sure you'll see a resemblance between this PR shot and the shot of Mr Ainsworth above:

subrosa said...

It's not a design flaw Hammer, it's a cock-up. The correct electronics weren't ordered so they weren't installed.

Avionics can't be slotted in and out just like that. Connections need to be made to every part of the helicopter and that's why they need to be taken apart - to do that.

If Cameron does get in Dannatt will have a lot to do with the review I hope.

Thanks for the link, you're absolutely right!!

Hammer said...

Ah. That all makes sense. Like I said, I'm no engineer. Even in my hobby interests I prefer trains rather then planes ;)

I'm not 100% comfortable with just former military leaders influencing the military but as long as it didn't lead to "planning for tomorrow by planning for today" style thinking, I'd be happy. Defence really should be a cross party interest in this day and age, not a tool of politicians.

subrosa said...

The problem with today's politicians though is they're just not interested in defence issues. I think the last one who was determined to learn was John Hutton but he stepped down.

Hammer said...

It's not hard to understand why they aren't interested. Defence isn't an issue anymore thanks to the instant destruction caused by nuclear arms and the perpetual peace brought about by the EU. Realistically, no-one can attack us without the use of advanced rockets and bombers.

Now the business is attack and as we've seen attacking is dirty, violent and unpopular, as 8 years of war have proven. A lot of people just want to get out of the war full stop and a lot of people just don't care. I'd estimate that less then 30% of the UK population actually want to see us finish what we started.

subrosa said...

I think it's possibly less than that Hammer. The majority of people don't like to even think about war or deaths. In fact many assume the military is composed of ex-convicts and those who can't get a job in civvie street.

Of course, in today's military it's quite the opposite but the general public don't know that or aren't interested enough to find out.

Strathturret said...

There was a good piece in Guardian the other day in favour of staying in Afghanistan.

The author was saying that we needed to stay as it was strategically important, oil, pipelines, etc.

I rather suspect there is good reason USA wants to stay in Afghanistan but we're being told lies about making our streets safer. Remember they have form - see Iraq.

Perhaps the hot pursuit of Bin Laden in 2001 was a convenient smokescreen.

Agreed we should get out now. I'd like to see SNP much more vocal. Buying these helicopters which will not be delivered for several years gives the game away.

And finally the UK is bust and cannot afford this nonsense.

subrosa said...

That's it Strathturret, oil, the minerals and the need to keep the poppy market moving. These are the reasons we're there and nothing to do with safety here.

We're less safe here because of Iraq and Afghanistan don't you think?

All the chat about a withdrawal timetable just the other week has now blown up in their faces. They intend to keep them there for years.

CrazyDaisy said...


You'll find the Royal Navy on the front line, whether it's the Royal Marines as part of the Naval Service, T.23 Frigate in the Gulf, members of the RN in Logistic roles or part of a Tactical PSYOPS Team on the ground F2F. Our pilots and observers flying Merlin/Seaking helicopters or even Harriers, we're there. Not to mention our Communications people, our Doctors, Nurses and other medical staff running the Field Hospital.

So pause for one marching pace and realise we're not "just" in a support role, everything is Joint these days and that includes the RAF, bless them.

Hope you're now slightly better informed!


ps.Snowing here!

subrosa said...

Auch CD, I knew the Navy provided front line staff and aviation. I think my point was, in terms of numbers the majority of military in Afghanistan are army and that's because of the terrain.

I am slightly better informed and I feel slightly better for it. :)

Snowing here too, quite heavily at times.

Strathturret said...

One little thought about our wonderful military. Why do we need three services when the mighty USofA manages with two?

Think of the mutitude of Generals, air vice-marshalls and admirals we seem to have commanding shinny Whitehall desks.

Perhaps some reorganisation might be in order?

subrosa said...

Two plus a much bigger Special Support Services I think Strathturret.

Personally I wouldn't look to the US as a perfect example of a country's military. I have my doubts about their levels of training.

subrosa said...

Oh and another thing Strathturret, don't forget we're an island and a small one. We need sea, air and ground forces.

Reorganisation may be required but I wouldn't like to see any of the three services done away with. It's bad enough Scotland has lost her separate regiments.

CrazyDaisy said...

SR, US has Navy, Army, AirForce and Marines as well as PSC like Blackwater and a whole force of civilian contractors to assist the rebuilding. We have similar capacity but on a smaller scale!

The numbers of UK forces split down are constantly changing but the Army has the greater number due to it being a Land Campaign. However, they could not function without the other 2 Services doing their share. So although I see the point made above it's naive. We also have DFID, MoD Civil Servants, FCO, Nurses, Surgeons, Firemen, Linguists and we also employ LECs.

It is multifaceted, seriously challenging and unlike anything we have undertaken in living memory. The fact is if we don't follow it through Pakistan may fall and we have over 1,000,000 living in this dis-United Kingdom. I don't like it anymore than u SR, a terrible waste of life.


subrosa said...

Morning CD, I'm not too clued up on the US military these days as you can see.

Our military have been pared down hard in the past 30 years though CD, a prime example being medical services.

From where I sit the Navy and RAF have also been reduced, but I think that's because they're more expensive to maintain because of hardware costs. I could well be wrong.

I see what you mean about Pakistan but how or why did we get into this.

CrazyDaisy said...

SR, We bit off more than we could chew, well the PM did and then through sheer vanity volunteered for Iraq. I just hope Bliar is impeached for war crimes.

Anyway Ive said enough for now, perhaps!

subrosa said...

Thanks CD. Have a good weekend. :)

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