The Government today committed to increasing the planned MOD equipment budget by over £3bn during the Spending Review period after 2015 to fund vital future military equipment.
The longer-term vision for the make-up of our military – Future Force 2020 – will be secured by this one-per-cent-a-year real terms increase in the planned equipment and equipment support programme.
The culmination of this work has meant the Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox was able to announce today, 18 July, that this funding will allow the MOD to order significant pieces of equipment over the next decade, including:
- 14 extra Chinook helicopters from 2014 onwards;
- The Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier conversion to catapult and arrestor gear (‘cats & traps’);
- Initial spending on the new Joint Strike Fighter fast jets (known as Lightning II) delivering Carrier Strike capability from 2020;
- Development of the Global Combat Ship;
- Three new Airseeker signals intelligence and surveillance aircraft in 2014;
- Upgraded Warrior armoured vehicles.
Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said:
“This commitment to increase Defence equipment funding after 2015 will ensure our Armed Forces remain a formidable fighting force on the world stage. I am determined to maintain Britain’s position in the international premier league and to ensure that our Royal Navy, Army and RAF are given the tools they need to do their vital work.
“The Government has committed to deliver a package of new money, further efficiencies, and adjustment to the future Defence equipment programme, turning the unfunded aspirations of the last Government into real contracts and real equipment. For the first time in a generation, the MOD will have brought its plans and budget broadly into balance, allowing it to plan with confidence for the delivery of the future equipment programme.”
Today’s funding announcement is part of a broader body of work to implement the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), including the publication of the Basing and Reserves Reviews. The Future Reserves Study 2020 (FR20) identified that the Army can meet the vision for Future Force 2020 in a more cost effective way, by changing the balance between Regulars and Reserves.
The Government will proceed with a £1.5bn investment package over the next 10 years, £400m in this Parliament, to enhance the capability of the Reserves and consequently increase their trained strength.
As a result, the department will plan for an Army of around 120,000 comprising of Regulars and Reserves with a ratio of about 70 per cent regulars to 30 per cent Territorial Army.
Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, said:
“Today’s decisions by the Secretary of State represent a key step forward in the radical transformation programme Defence is undertaking. If we get it right, this will result in a modern, hard-hitting joint force still capable of operating at the divisional level across the full spectrum of conflict. It will deliver Armed Forces of which we can all be proud.
“Using the Reserves as an integral part of the overall forces available to Defence builds on the ‘One Army’ concept that has been successfully employed over the past decade of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Balancing the Reserves and Regular forces in all three Services along with the budget increase will also bring the Defence programme broadly into balance and represents a major achievement. The Department can plan for the longer term with much greater certainty than before.”
Through the combination of today’s funding announcement and substantial savings delivered through tough decisions taken in the SDSR, the Government will have addressed the inherited multi-billion pound deficit in the forward Defence programme.
For the first time in a generation, the MOD will have brought its future plans and future budget into close alignment, allowing it to plan with greater confidence for the delivery of the equipment programme.
The MOD will publish a fully funded and balanced 10-year Equipment Plan by September 2011, and the National Audit Office will conduct an affordability audit of this; the first of its kind.
The Prime Minister commissioned an independent review of the Reserve Forces known as the Future Reserves 2020 Study (FR20). This was led by Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, working alongside Julian Brazier MP and Lieutenant General (Ret’d) Graeme Lamb.
The key recommendations of the review are:
- Reservists bring with them a huge range of skills, experience and capabilities and more investment must be made in recruiting, training and better integrating them into the Regular force.
- Consideration should be given to the attribution of Reservists to a wider range of military tasks, especially UK resilience and Homeland Security.
- Defence should adopt a Whole Force Concept, where the Reserve component should be increased. The Reservist element of the Armed Forces must grow to become a far greater proportion of the overall Force Structure.
- The Review has found that other NATO countries use Reserves to make up a much greater proportion of their Armed Forces. In the UK, the current commitment of Reserve forces is below 20 per cent, whereas in the United States the figure is 35 per cent, in Canada 35 per cent, and in Australia 25 per cent.
Based on the conclusions of the Reserves Review, the Government will now proceed with a £1.5bn investment package over the next 10 years to enhance the capability of the Reserves and allow a significant expansion. As the capability of the Territorial Army improves, it is envisaged that this will allow a progressive adjustment of the regular/reserve balance while maintaining the land forces capability set out in the SDSR.
By 2020, if the Reserves develop in the way that we hope, we envisage a total force of around 120,000 broadly in the ratio 70:30 regular to reserve. Details of how this will be achieved will be considered during the next Implementation phase.
Commenting on the findings of the Future Reserves Review, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, said:
“We firmly believe that this report represents good news for the Reserves, Defence and the UK more widely. This is a once in a generation opportunity to change our Reserve Forces model for the better, to ensure the systemic decline of our Reserves is reversed and to enable our Armed Forces – Regulars and Reserves – to better meet the security challenges of the future.”
Moving towards Future Force 2020, and returning the 20,000 personnel stationed in Germany, means the Armed Forces’ estate requirements will change. As a result, the MOD has reviewed its future basing needs.
The driving force behind the review of basing is the military requirement. By 2020, the Army will be made up of five Multi-Role Brigades (MRB) of around 6,000 people. These brigades need to be geographically close to suitable training areas so they can prepare for deployment.
The changes to military basing announced by the Defence Secretary include:
- Former RAF bases and existing Army bases in the east of England will accommodate one Army MRB, concentrated in Cottesmore, North Luffenham, Bassingbourn and Woodbridge
- Lyneham will be the preferred location for future Defence Technical Training
- The other Army MRB will be in Scotland, centred on Edinburgh. The base at Kirknewton, south east of Edinburgh, will be developed into a major Army base
- The Typhoon Force will be built up at RAF Lossiemouth which will become the base for the Northern QRA missions. Leuchars will cease to be an RAF base but will be used to house two major Army units and a headquarters. Flying will continue at both Leuchars and Lossiemouth until at least 2013
- It is also planned that Army units will move into Kinloss around 2014/15.
The military footprint in Scotland overall will increase over the coming decade.
The Army’s Project Avanti has also been working on proposals for restructuring its personnel and support function. At Regional Brigade level, the Army will maintain all 10 Brigade headquarters. The project recommends disbanding HQ 2nd Division at Edinburgh, HQ 4th Division at Aldershot and HQ 5th Division at Shrewsbury and replacing them all with a single 2-star support command, which will be based in Aldershot. The Army has concluded that 19 Light Brigade in Northern Ireland should be disbanded.
Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said:
“This has been an incredibly complex decision and has inevitably been a balancing act. There were many different options and permutations across the UK but we have looked at this very carefully and are sure that the conclusions we have come to are the right ones.
“We will make efficient use of bases that become available for alternative uses; we will sell estate that is valuable and makes no sense to keep, and we will protect vulnerable communities and increase the Defence footprint. Most importantly of all this plan will deliver a basing laydown for the future for our Armed Forces that offers them stability and enables the delivery of military capability.”