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

Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled Maintenance Engineer - Electrical Bias

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Grantham, Lincolnshire...

Recruitment Genius: Data Centre & Systems Support Engineers

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This accelerated growth ISP company is current...

Ashdown Group: Senior Systems Administrator - London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Systems Administra...

Recruitment Genius: .NET Web Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I would hasten the process of devolution to the major city regions

Charles Handy
 

FIFA awarded the World Cup to a state where slavery is actively facilitated

Aidan McQuade
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003