It’s funny how closely our cousins across the pond follow our own military fads. In early April, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined sweeping changes to weapons plans, promising to “re-balance this department’s programs in order to institutionalize and enhance our capabilities to fight the wars we are in today and the scenarios we are most likely to face in the years ahead.”
Three weeks later, British Defense Secretary John Hutton echoed Gates’ sentiment. “If a country like the U.S., with all its vast resources and military strength, has decided to prioritize, I would contend that the U.K. must do the same … So, the next decade must see a major re-balancing of our armed forces, a stronger and more structured role in supporting every aspect of the comprehensive approach needed to bring stability and order to parts of the world that threaten U.K. national security.”
As in the U.S., that probably means fewer fighter jets, but more ground troops for fighting long, dirty, low-tech wars.
For Gates, the “hardest” weapons cut was to the Army’s $160-billion “Future Combat Systems” network of robots, hybrid vehicles and sensors. Ultimately, Gates killed the program because it substituted newfangled technology for tried-and-true armored protection. Similarly, Hutton could kill off the U.K.’s version of FCS, the “Future Protected Vehicles” family, pictured, which is meant to “achieve the effectiveness and survivability of a main battle tank” while remaining “lightweight,” according to the Ministry of Defense.