Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Gray Report - be wary of its contents


People should support our troops. Hammer away at the government they are incompetent nitwits as far as most of us are concerned. Do not pour scorn on our troops for following the orders they have been given and honouring their pledge of allegiance to the Queen and the country.

However, military procurement has become a rather massive farce at this stage. We are engaging in possibly every single EU-integrationist project we can get our hands on; Eurofighter; A400, FRES (dead and dead but hey Jesus raised Lazarus and the EU thinks it is god so do go celebrating before the fat lady sings) and many other minors ones - these are just the ones that cost us billions. What is more we are letting the arms companies, the British ones included, run the government not the other way around. If the T45 is delayed by BAE Systems then they pay a fine. That is what is done in the rest of marked based world so why not in defence? No it will not harm national security that seemingly endless reply to everything which the government cannot defend nor explain.

Lets analyse shall we?

The Eurofighter - it is a shit aircraft designed for Coldwar dogfits, the British have handled it so incompetently that where the Mauser B-27 wing cannons should be, well they are filled with concrete. Why? We could not afford the damn guns because we were buying so bloody many planes which we had no use of. Well, that of course depends on how you define 'use'. Great for EU integration, to the detriment of the RAF.

A400M - It is 5 billion Euros over budget and 4 years behind schedule. Splendid, in the mean time we could have bought the American Boeing C-17 of which we have four and they work splendidly. OR we could have done what we used to do, before everyone started to outsource our entire industry, build them ourselves. Do you think the V bombers were a casual design mistake so often perpetrated by British engineers, little do they know they have been revolutionary yet again. Aeronautically they were awesome and most importantly we built them ourselves.

FRES - The Future Rapid Effects System... Ha, what a joke truly even for the MoD.

But more importantly to the Gray report. Bernard Gray is criticising the way the MoD is procuring equipment, it is about bloody time someone did. You can read all about it in the Times. Seems pointless to reiterate the entire article. However the solution which Mr. Gray presents for this malaise currently devouring this once proud institution, this is what is of greater importance.

Mr Gray proposes that we privatise military procurement. As anyone would know I am staunchly against any kind of privatisation of the military, the government has on plan to privatise military training as well so where do we draw the line. After what Thatcher did and New Labour after her, I ask who would not be? But even more so what have the results been?

To put one of the privitisations further under the microscope consider the DERA, which employed over 9,000 people mainly scientists, engineers and technicians. This agency consisted of the amalgamated (in 1995):
  1. Royal Aircraft Establishment
  2. Admirality Research Establishment
  3. Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment
  4. Royal Signals and Radar Establishment
  5. Defence and Test Evaluation Organisation
  6. Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment
  7. Centre for Defence Analysis
New Labour sold of 3/5 of DERA in 2001. There was a lot of dodgy business surrounding that sale notably including John Chrisholm who worked as a civil servant for the MoD. Before going into him this is what happened briefly and this I have copied from The Register.

The MoD has received £576m for 81 per cent of a business with annual revenues of £1.1bn (on which it makes approximately £120m profits). Much of that business relates to operating UK test facilities and firing ranges which are effectively a monopoly which the MoD must use. Indeed, the MoD, as part of selling off Qinetiq, is tied into using these facilities until 2028 under a sweetheart deal called the Long Term Partnering Agreement, worth up to £5.6bn to Qinetiq just for keeping the facilities open. The MoD has to pay more on top when it wants to actually use them. And it's actually even worse than it sounds, because Qinetiq can crank up the price.

Where does John Chrisholm fit into all of this then? Well he was in charge of amalgamating those departments listed above into DERA. He is now the Executive Chairman of Qinetiq. Wow, that really worked out well for him. Pat on the back.

How did that happen?

Sir John was originally brought into the MoD back in 1991, following a successful business career in the 1980s. He became head of the Defence Research Agency, which later expanded to become DERA - the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency.

MoD research spending fell all through the 1990s, and as ever the government lacked the resolution to handle the inevitable job losses and downsizing itself. Instead, much of DERA was prepared for a move into the private sector. Chisholm and his inner circle of executives were allowed to handle the process more or less unsupervised, according to subsequent investigations by the National Audit Office. Unsupervised in this context means that they prepared for it to be solved of to the American Carlyle Group. All in all though John Chrisholm is a person without a country who in the end will get what he deserves for raiding HM Government.

This leads us back to Gray who proposes that we privatise possibly the most lucrative part of the MoD, the Defence and Equipment Support Group. They handle a heep load of cash, how much is undisclosed but their entire work force amounts to 25,000 people. They are doing a shoddy job to say the least but to privatise their entire function in procuring equipment for the armed forces - that is beyond contempt for it would put the function in the hands of people like John Chrisholm. People with no honour who would sell their soul and their country to the highest bidder. Just because everything has become globalised does not mean we are to retire our entire state for the purpose and prospect of profits.

What this means is that the most expensive equipment will be bought but here comes the crack; just because it is expensive does not mean that it is good. The past decades military projects have shown us that if anything.

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