Should Britain remain a 'Tier One' Military Power?

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
Depending upon which news source(s) you read/listen to, in recent weeks the Defence Secretary has been locked in a battle for increased funding for the Armed Forces in an attempt to avoid some really difficult decisions - reductions in Army numbers, limiting F35 purchases to those required for Carrier Strike only and decommissioning the Amphibious Assault Landing ships. Talk is now that the defence budget should increase to 3% of GDP (vice the current 2%).

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UK defence spending must rise to keep strong U.S., NATO links - MPs
UK defence spending is national narcissism. Cut it, don't increase it | David Shariatmadari

The issues hinge around whether Britain should remain a 'Tier One' military power, namely a balanced force capable of worldwide deployment, and also to maintain credibility with the US. The issue of the UK nuclear deterrent is, of course, often listed as paired with our role on the UN Security Council. Meanwhile threats such as cyber are on the increase whilst we have degraded other capabilities - for example the numbers of frigates or maritime patrol aircraft - in recent years to pay for our land campaigns.

So, should Britain spend on more, less or maintain current expenditure on defence? If the former it is broad acceptance we must tax more (or make vast cuts elsewhere). If the latter options appeal, what capabilities should be cut? No easy (or right answers) but it will be interesting to gauge opinions...

In my view, increased taxation/spending is not the answer and the military should live within its means.
 

rustybin

Distinguished Member
Trump has shown that even the most rock solid alliances have the potential to degenerate very quickly.

The obvious solution would be closer ties with Europe, but the people have voted on that one.

I watched the first episode of World War 2 in Colour on Netflix last night. Covered the 1930s. An aggressive great power with a chip on its shoulder, an isolationist USA and a France and Britain unwilling / unable to act on their own. Sounds like today.

Going all Red Storm Rising - If Russia, China and N Korea set their minds to it, they could make a massive land/power grab.

We have to be able to take care of ourselves. Thank god for Trident.
 

domtheone

Distinguished Member
I watched Darkest Hour last night.

I'm a noob when it comes to history but if accurate, thank god for Churchill standing up to the Germans when half of his party wanted to grovel and strike a plea with z Germans.:D

Anyways, if spending at least 2% of GDP qualifies as Tier 1 then i'm generally in favor.

We may have to be smarter with the cash that's all (given that we don't have much of it).

Given the size of some of the other budgets that we throw money at, it's not unreasonable, imo.

There are quite a few jobs associated with it too.
 

EarthRod

Distinguished Member
In times of peace a standing army/navy/airforce should be only sufficient for peace time.

If or when war is imminent or declared then conscription of people between the ages of 18 - 28 could be instigated.

Having a large military presence in times of peace is very costly and a waste of resource and money.
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
Anyways, if spending at least 2% of GDP qualifies as Tier 1 then i'm generally in favor.
The trouble is, it's not enough - not if we want full spectrum forces, deployable worldwide, in the same scale as we have now. The defence budget is over-stretched and the proposed equipment plan is unaffordable. Something has to give - more money, and it needs to be ALOT more money, or less capability.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
If or when war is imminent or declared then conscription of people between the ages of 18 - 28 could be instigated.

The problem with that Alan is the days when you could throw waves of cannon fodder with six weeks or less of training at the enemy have long gone. Coupled with the fact our young men are probably less likely to stand up and be counted than our forebears and you aren't going to get very far.

Concentrating on reservists is probably a better option.
 

springtide

Distinguished Member
I wouldn't agree that there is any threat of any invasions in this century; it's an outdated concept now we live in such a global society.

Now we have the internet other countries know the UK has a lot of rain, the people moans a lot about stuff like Brexit, weather etc, its food cuisine is pretty bland unless "fused" with another country, they probably own most of the expensive properties, isn't wine production isn't anywhere near the top, most industries have been sold off including some of our bridges, etc, etc.

All in all an invasion by a country like China would probably be perceived as a bail out :)
 

IronGiant

Moderator
trollcon level 4 alert...
 

EarthRod

Distinguished Member
The problem with that Alan is the days when you could throw waves of cannon fodder with six weeks or less of training at the enemy have long gone. Coupled with the fact our young men are probably less likely to stand up and be counted than our forebears and you aren't going to get very far.

Concentrating on reservists is probably a better option.

Throw waves of cannon fodder?

Stand up and be counted?

I think you misunderstand. The days of WWI are allegedly over.

Conscription means the calling up of people, compulsory.

Also, why only 6 weeks of training? Why not 12 weeks of training followed by specialist training. Say 4 months to become a professional soldier.
 

tapzilla2k

Distinguished Member
In my view, increased taxation/spending is not the answer and the military should live within its means.

It's not about living within it's means, it's about getting costs under control (procurement is an utter joke sometimes) and having a military that is able to cope with a multitude of threats. You can't do defence on the cheap. So either we renew Trident and cut conventional forces to a level that won't help us in a conventional war or we delay Trident renewal (which might upset the Americans). Trident only works as a bluff, if you fail to use it then it won't put off an enemy from attacking or if they disable all the Trident submarines, then you need conventional armed forces.

I think the landscape is changing, as such I agree they should “live” within their means and change from within.

There is only so far you can cut the Armed forces before you start harming it's ability to carry out it's intended function - to defend the nation. Change from within ? Sure the Armed Forces can get better at procurement and other spending, but for big change ? That requires Parliament to set out the changes in law with oversight in place.

Trump has shown that even the most rock solid alliances have the potential to degenerate very quickly.

It's never taken much to place what appears to be a rock solid alliance into danger, they are always a fine balancing act. But if you have somebody like Trump around ? Bull in a china shop.

The obvious solution would be closer ties with Europe, but the people have voted on that one.

For the time being it seems we are drifting away from Europe, which I think you can separate out from the EU aka France is an ally that predates the EU.

I watched the first episode of World War 2 in Colour on Netflix last night. Covered the 1930s. An aggressive great power with a chip on its shoulder, an isolationist USA and a France and Britain unwilling / unable to act on their own. Sounds like today.

History tends to repeat itself and we often tend to forget the lessons learned. Things do seem to be similar to the 1930's.

Going all Red Storm Rising - If Russia, China and N Korea set their minds to it, they could make a massive land/power grab.

They could but I guess they'd only do that if the believed the US wouldn't flex it's considerable military muscle and other Western Nations resolve appears weak (hence why Putin is always looking to find ways to weaken NATO). I could see North Korea being used as a test for a much bigger scheme.

We have to be able to take care of ourselves. Thank god for Trident.

The problem with Trident is, once you've used it that's it. We either end up totally destroyed and not worth invading due to the radiation levels or we end up splurging Trident on an enemy that is able to survive that assualt and then direct an invasion. So the strength of conventional forces is vital and why some within the Military don't want to see Trident renewed for a while longer i.e. spend the money on conventional forces and weapons.

I watched Darkest Hour last night.

I'm a noob when it comes to history but if accurate, thank god for Churchill standing up to the Germans when half of his party wanted to grovel and strike a plea with z Germans.:D

You should watch WWII in Colour, you also need to know a bit about WWI. Churchill was a bit of a lone voice against the rising danger of Hitler/fascism in the 1930's.

Anyways, if spending at least 2% of GDP qualifies as Tier 1 then i'm generally in favor.

It's around 3% of GDP now.

We may have to be smarter with the cash that's all (given that we don't have much of it).

The area the MOD needs to get a grip on is procurement and project management, but that's a malaise that effects the entire civil service.

In times of peace a standing army/navy/airforce should be only sufficient for peace time.

It's pure guesswork getting that balance correct i.e. the MOD has to correctly identify the threats and recommend what needs to be done then Government decides.

If or when war is imminent or declared then conscription of people between the ages of 18 - 28 could be instigated.

Former members of the Armed Forces can be recalled if war is declared, that's the first port of call. Usually in the event of war Government relies upon the old "For Queen and Country" rather than conscription which has it's own problems.

Having a large military presence in times of peace is very costly and a waste of resource and money.

You have to have a military force that is capable of defending the nation in peacetime upto a certain point and be ready to rapidly expand in case war breaks out. I don't think we've got either of those two things right.
 

Sonic67

Banned
the numbers of frigates or maritime patrol aircraft - in recent years to pay for our land campaigns.
The land campaigns were a one off thing. The reason why we have fewer escort ships is because of the money sunk into the carriers.
In my view, increased taxation/spending is not the answer and the military should live within its means.
Knock a few billion off foreign aid. This kit will be used to benefit someone somewhere.

See Sierre Leone, or the after earthquake disaster relief at Haiti or dealing with the Ebola outbreak.

Or safeguarding Eastern Europe.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
Throw waves of cannon fodder?

Stand up and be counted?

I think you misunderstand. The days of WWI are allegedly over.

Conscription means the calling up of people, compulsory.

Also, why only 6 weeks of training? Why not 12 weeks of training followed by specialist training. Say 4 months to become a professional soldier.

Because it might all be over in 12 weeks or should that be minutes?
My point is, the tools of war are rather more sophisticated than last time we had conscription, how long would it take, realistically, to train up the people we would need these days?

That's before you start on equipment. Do we have the infrastructure to start building tanks or even firearms at a moment's notice?
 

domtheone

Distinguished Member
Yup. Scale back foreign aid by a few billion. That should bump up military spending by a few 0.1% :thumbsup:
 

Sonic67

Banned
It's around 3% of GDP now.
No. This is about raising it to up to 3%.

Reality Check: What's happening to defence spending? - Reality Check: What's happening to defence spending?

On this measure, the UK is one of the few Nato countries that meets the commitment to spend at least 2% of national income on defence. According to Nato, the UK's defence spending in 2017 was the equivalent of 2.14% of GDP.
 

Sonic67

Banned
Also, why only 6 weeks of training? Why not 12 weeks of training followed by specialist training. Say 4 months to become a professional soldier.
CIC - Combat Infantryman's Course is I believe around 28-30 weeks. After that is specialist training.
 

EarthRod

Distinguished Member
CIC - Combat Infantryman's Course is I believe around 28-30 weeks. After that is specialist training.

I checked before posting and noted that the Army Training Regiment course is 14 weeks.

What I didn't note is that the 14 week course is for all other corps (signals, engineers, artillery, armoured, medical etc). The infantry training is 26 weeks as you say.

Thanks for the heads up.
 

Sonic67

Banned
I checked before posting and noted that the Army Training Regiment course is 14 weeks.

What I didn't note is that the 14 week course is for all other corps (signals, engineers, artillery, armoured, medical etc). The infantry training is 26 weeks as you say.

Thanks for the heads up.
Bear in mind that puts you at the level of a young crow fresh from the factory. You have no experience. There's other arguments that would say you need to have been doing it for a few years.

What jobs do people do, how much training have you had, at what point would you say you were experienced enough to handle anything? I'm guessing for most, it's years.
 

Sonic67

Banned
I think this is what kicked it off:

Deborah Haynes on Twitter

Which might lead you to this:

Subscribe to read | Financial Times

Anyway, we live in a democracy, the voters choose a government, and they influence how much tax they pay, and how it is spent.

Many of them won't understand what a "Tier 1 military power is," or why it matters. They will probably be more concerned about the NHS, taxes, schools, potholes, pensions and whatever else.

Thin Pinstriped Line: What Is a Tier One Military Power And Does It Matter If The UK Isn't One?

Politicians, and the armed forces, need to explain why the public need to accept less of the things they want because it's important to have the ships, planes, submarines and tanks. If they can't they will go.

What's needed is some kind of debate along the lines of "if you want to keep the parachute regiment or marines or red arrows or whatever then how are we going to be paying for it?

That said, most householders can't maintain their own budget. Probably dodgy to expect them to understand why we spend billions on things.

Also this back to another of my bug bears. Ring fencing money. It takes no account of need. What needs to really be done is come up with a plan as to what we need, then how we pay for it. Instead we do it the other way round. Meet a 2% Nato commitment, spend money on stuff. If it turns out we are weak in a crucial area then the money should be spent on it.
 

woody10381

Active Member
People also forget the economic benefit to defence spending, a good proportion of that spending balanced through re-investment into local economies, supply chains and technology development. A 2016 Oxford Economics report values one particular defence company's contribution as being equivalent to 0.6% of UK GDP.

The contribution of BAE Systems to the UK economy

Unfortunately, some people see big £ billion numbers for 'stuff' and cry 'waste' without realising where that money goes and how it's used.

EDIT: I'm not pretending that there isn't still some level of 'waste' associated with defence spending though.......
 
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justincase

Well-known Member
The trouble is, it's not enough - not if we want full spectrum forces, deployable worldwide, in the same scale as we have now. The defence budget is over-stretched and the proposed equipment plan is unaffordable. Something has to give - more money, and it needs to be ALOT more money, or less capability.
Have no concern about the spending on the military be it 2% or 10% of gdp,
The big debate needs to be about why the "Defence" budget needs to include "full spectrum forces,deployable worldwide"...I would expect the defence budget is more than adequate for the defence of the UK
How many times has the UK been under proper risk of invasion since the Spanish Armada...

If the UK government want to be a part of the world police along with the US is another issue altogether but i doubt most people would be prepared to pay more taxes for that
 

Sonic67

Banned
If the UK government want to be a part of the world police along with the US is another issue altogether but i doubt most people would be prepared to pay more taxes for that
I've been deployed to Bosnia and Cyprus as part of the UN. We are one of the few permanent members of the UN security council.

Bosnia was because there was a civil war and genocide being done. Mainly to Muslims. If UNPROFOR hadn't been used it was thought the war might escalate and Muslim countries might intervene in the war to protect "their" people.

As it happened the UN safe havens wasn't that successful and Nato took over. As a Nato member we were involved in that as well.

Cyprus has been ongoing since the 70s with no resolution. The countries are both Nato members (as are we) and the UN hopes they might eventually agree to a settlement. I don't think it will become a shooting war but at one point in the past there was a serious riot. So a lot of the training was riot training. A lot of it, for me, involved putting out fires in the disputed zone, and working with multiple other nations. So a lot of diplomacy. The second largest commitment is Argentinian. Not think it's a good idea we work together, side by side diplomatically?

Iraq - down to Blair. He did win three terms. If you didn't want troops in Iraq, stop voting for him. Or maybe most didn't care enough.

Afghanistan - country was falling apart and a breeding ground for terrorism. After bombing camps, Nato decided to be pro-active and try and sort the country out by training up ISAF troops (Afghanis). The idea being we could stop terrorists there before they came here. It involved training locals, building schools etc.

First Gulf War. We were involved as Saddam invaded Kuwait and may have done similar to Saudi Arabia. That would have meant owning a huge chunk of the worlds oil. As we had created Kuwait it was felt we should be involved in the coalition to liberate it.

Sierre Leone - rapid intervention there prevented it going downhill and a huge success.

Haiti - humanitarian. We were still involved, troops, helicopters, carriers. Should we have done nothing?

Ebola outbreak - I have a mate who's a medic. He was deployed there, again for humanitarian reasons.

Uganda - involves training local troops.

Kenya - means closer ties between our countries, gives us a huge training area. Note if you are firing big shells you need massive ranges. Hence, Kenya, Canada etc. We need areas to practice in. Also involves working with allies. Stuff like this also "tests the system." It makes sure we can gather lots of kit and people and deploy it. Even low level stuff like map reading is tested. Keep using Brecon and after a while you don't need a map as you know every inch of it. That then means "skill-fade." You train in the same place with the same conditions constantly and you aren't tested.

I could go on, but a lot of the deployments are because we are a member of the UN and Nato, we can't ask other countries to help with other countries if we aren't ourselves.

Some of it is for humanitarian reasons. If you see an earthquake happen somewhere, usually it's on the news and people ask why we aren't doing something about it. Would you rather we did nothing? Serious question as it's your taxes.

Other deployments are to train up locals. I went to Kazakhstan to train the local forces so they could then be deployed by the UN in future. Which then means they can do it instead of us.

Not every other army in the world is as professional as us. Some might send troops who loot, rape, or torture. Or they might meet the bad guys and get killed rapidly as they aren't "professional." Again some training by us can fix that.
 

Sonic67

Banned
As another aside, what if the US decided to stop being the world's policeman and be purely a defensive force?

Where would we be in the last two world wars? If that had happened?

"The Man In The High Castle," follows this scenario. A former US president was killed, and a non interventionist president elected.

Later the UK never got the lend-leese kit, so Germany eventually ruled Europe, then developed a "Heisenberg device" and dropped it on Washington. The US surrendered, and was then occupied by Japan and Germany.

Africa then had mass genocide.

Edit: and following on, if we decided to not get involved with the UN, left Nato etc then there would probably be numerous civil wars, and invasions going on we might have stopped (with other allies).

Fine it won't affect us. Until all the people living in those areas decide to live somewhere where it's peaceful and come here. Are we going to accept them all or turn them all away?

So yes we could be isolationist but it will involve the humanitarian side as well as the military side.
 
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justincase

Well-known Member
Napoleonic wars, WW1 and WW2 off the top of my head.
Each of them were declarations of war by Britain.;)
.i think the Germans could have made a more comprehensive plan for operation sea lion during WW2 if they were serious,even the Overlord planners thought so...

I've been deployed to Bosnia and Cyprus as part of the UN. We are one of the few permanent members of the UN security council.

Bosnia was because there was a civil war and genocide being done. Mainly to Muslims. If UNPROFOR hadn't been used it was thought the war might escalate and Muslim countries might intervene in the war to protect "their" people.

As it happened the UN safe havens wasn't that successful and Nato took over. As a Nato member we were involved in that as well.

Cyprus has been ongoing since the 70s with no resolution. The countries are both Nato members (as are we) and the UN hopes they might eventually agree to a settlement. I don't think it will become a shooting war but at one point in the past there was a serious riot. So a lot of the training was riot training. A lot of it, for me, involved putting out fires in the disputed zone, and working with multiple other nations. So a lot of diplomacy. The second largest commitment is Argentinian. Not think it's a good idea we work together, side by side diplomatically?

Iraq - down to Blair. He did win three terms. If you didn't want troops in Iraq, stop voting for him. Or maybe most didn't care enough.

Afghanistan - country was falling apart and a breeding ground for terrorism. After bombing camps, Nato decided to be pro-active and try and sort the country out by training up ISAF troops (Afghanis). The idea being we could stop terrorists there before they came here. It involved training locals, building schools etc.

First Gulf War. We were involved as Saddam invaded Kuwait and may have done similar to Saudi Arabia. That would have meant owning a huge chunk of the worlds oil. As we had created Kuwait it was felt we should be involved in the coalition to liberate it.

Sierre Leone - rapid intervention there prevented it going downhill and a huge success.

Haiti - humanitarian. We were still involved, troops, helicopters, carriers. Should we have done nothing?

Ebola outbreak - I have a mate who's a medic. He was deployed there, again for humanitarian reasons.

Uganda - involves training local troops.

Kenya - means closer ties between our countries, gives us a huge training area. Note if you are firing big shells you need massive ranges. Hence, Kenya, Canada etc. We need areas to practice in. Also involves working with allies. Stuff like this also "tests the system." It makes sure we can gather lots of kit and people and deploy it. Even low level stuff like map reading is tested. Keep using Brecon and after a while you don't need a map as you know every inch of it. That then means "skill-fade." You train in the same place with the same conditions constantly and you aren't tested.

I could go on, but a lot of the deployments are because we are a member of the UN and Nato, we can't ask other countries to help with other countries if we aren't ourselves.

Some of it is for humanitarian reasons. If you see an earthquake happen somewhere, usually it's on the news and people ask why we aren't doing something about it. Would you rather we did nothing? Serious question as it's your taxes.

Other deployments are to train up locals. I went to Kazakhstan to train the local forces so they could then be deployed by the UN in future. Which then means they can do it instead of us.

Not every other army in the world is as professional as us. Some might send troops who loot, rape, or torture. Or they might meet the bad guys and get killed rapidly as they aren't "professional." Again some training by us can fix that.

Well like i said that is an issue for the taxpayers to decide but i'm not one of them and humanitarian relief is a good reason but none of the instances you mentioned are anything to do with defence...

Not going to go through all your list but the biggest breeding ground and funding for terrorism is Saudi Arabia,i don't see the government doing too much about that place or any humanitarian efforts for the people of the Yemen who are being killed on mass(oh wait doesn't the UK sell a lot of those products to Saudi Arabia)

The result of Afghanistan is the easy availability of a certain product from that region in the UK and the terrorists are still among us

As another aside, what if the US decided to stop being the world's policeman and be purely a defensive force?

Where would we be in the last two world wars? If that had happened?

Just a thought but where would we be if we never declared war on germany and dragged the populations of 1/3 of the planet in to a conflict

"The Man In The High Castle," follows this scenario. A former US president was killed, and a non interventionist president elected.

Later the UK never got the lend-leese kit, so Germany eventually ruled Europe, then developed a "Heisenberg device" and dropped it on Washington. The US surrendered, and was then occupied by Japan and Germany.

Don't think the US were too keen to get involved anyway that's why when certain people in the US were informed of the pending Pearl Harbor attack (by British intelligence who had cracked Japans codes )they moved most of their important ships away and let it happen knowing the outcry from the US population would let them come in to the war
 

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