Simon Carr: Defence reform is more fog of war than clarity of purpose

Sketch: The MoD would be fourth in the FTSE if it were a private company

Share
Related Topics

If they want to add clarity so much they could start by renaming the Ministry of Defence the Ministry of War. But it's never going to happen, is it? In the event, the Defence Reform thing was the most opaque statement about transparency we'd heard for many years.

The first I understood was the phrase about a new omnipotent control board that was going to be "based around the Defence Secretary". That's him, I knew that much. Liam Fox was going to take control of whatever it was.

And what exactly was that? My notes record the importance he placed on the underpinning themes that were going to deliver defence outputs in a new planning model where stovepiping would be replaced by the single service building blocks to become joint enablers, with joint credentials, jointly thinking about the levers that budget- holders were going to be provided with.

It's where the fog of war starts.

The big thing, Liam Fox said was to "maximise delivery at the front end". In the context of the last decade of British military history that translates as "more dead Arabs". But that might be a little too transparent for comfort.

However, when asked if he was going to chair the new Defence Board, he replied in a particular way, "Oh, yes". That made people laugh, so they all seemed to be in on it.

James Arbuthnot called it "a truly radical shake-up and something they've needed for decades". He was particularly pleased with the service chiefs getting more control over their budgets: "Does the Treasury share my delight?"

There are tensions between the Minister and the political quarterdeck so the cognescenti chuckled when Fox replied: "They've agreed, so the spirit in which they've entered into this is really not my concern."

There are astonishing sums splashed around in buying agents of death (not least army food), and the MoD would be fourth in the FTSE if it were a private company. It was absurd that the people drafting contracts, Julian Brazier said, should be in post for only two years. "I shall be encouraging the PM to read Hansard on that point." More grim chuckling.

It would be a great pity if his enemies did manage to dispose of Dr Fox. He adds texture. And there's always the thrilling possibility of Oliver Letwin getting punched on the nose.





React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Russian President Vladimir Putin 'hits his foes where it hurts'  

Dominic Raab: If Western politicians’ vested interests protect Putin, take punishment out of their hands

Dominic Raab
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism