Brits Ape Yanks: Will “Re-Think” Defense


Categorie: Alliances, Finances, Reality Check |


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.

(Art: MoD)


5 Responses to “Brits Ape Yanks: Will “Re-Think” Defense”

  1. Prestwick says:

    Lets be blunt here, we may be aping the Yanks but for vastly different reasons.

    Robert Gates is killing off gold plated hair brained schemes to turn money and emphasis over to giving US soldiers the kit to fight today’s wars in Afghanistan.

    The UK Treasury- I mean Hutton and the MoD on the other hand is using this as yet another chance to cut the UK forces to the bone and save money. Simple as that.

  2. fooman says:

    Do the English even have the money, brain power, or political will to try and political will to develop a new system? Let alone a family of new systems? My god-son spent a year patrolling areas abandoned by the British because they were ‘controlled’ by the Iraqi government, a pair of hits to his vest proved otherwise (thank god for Kevlar and alert turret gunners)

  3. Prestwick says:

    Its got nothing to do with producing new systems but it has everything to do with the money and the political will.

    The decision to abandon areas in both Iraq and Afghanistan were deliberately taken by the British (not English by the by, there are four nations in the UK ;) ) because political aspirations meant that UK Forces bit off more than they could chew and as a result were seriously overstretched.

    This is completely unfair on the UK Forces as when they are around they perform a frankly phenominal job despite the incompetence of British politicians and bitching from the US Generals. May I remind you that 300 – 500 Paras managed to take and hold an area of Helmand province which later took 1000 – 2000 US Marines to perform the same job.

    But why did the yanks have to do the same job all over again? Because there simply aren’t enough Brits over there to maintain the commitment they signed up to because of chronic under-funding and a severe lack of political will. Simple really.

    You see the same pattern with most of the UK & Commonwealth forces. The task force could be British, Canadian or ANZAC (Australian & New Zealand) but the story is the same: a small number of brilliant soldiers suffering from idiotic funding and equipment decisions made by civilians above them doing a job for which they don’t have the numbers for.

  4. [...] Top-to-bottom reviews of major military programs are all the rage these days. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates outlined a major military re-design in early April; now the U.K. Ministry of Defense is promising something similar. Both countries want to spend less on major hardware for conventional war, and more on fighting insurgencies. [...]

  5. Jowann says:

    The British forces need to be cut back and cut again to prevent their involvement in post colonial wars. Those cutbacks are inevitable thankfully and the money can be better spent of health and education. The UK should be spending the same on defence as Eire if not a bit less. Cut and cut again. Rid us of the burden of ‘boys and their toys’.

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