Saturday, 23 December 2017

A cup of Christmas cheer. Or not.

Tis the season to be jolly and all that, so in the spirit of the Christmas season I'd like to say a mass remembering the birth of our Lord and Saviour...

Ha, no. Just kidding. Christmas is of course about generating massive amounts of revenue for retailers, squeezing a budget to its absolute limits, and teaching kids about how to manage disappointment. What better subject then to encapsulate the true meaning of Christmas than UK defence. With a national strategy seemingly birthed in a stable - long before the three wise men ever showed up - the defence nativity should make some interesting reading.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

A smaller, sleeker army?

So I've been fairly busy of late which has put back a post that I wanted to rustle up last week (or was it the week before? How time flies) when it seemed the wolves were beginning to circle around the British army. With all this talk of a possible "SDSR 2017" etc it seems the knives are out and everyone is after a slice of the budget pie currently tied up in the land domain. Some articles I've seen have been quite interesting, thought provoking and reasonably balanced. Others... less so, shall we say. All though seem to share a similar theme; now that Afghanistan is over and done with we can raid the army for cash for the other two services, justified on the premise that the army is a) a bit knackered equipment wise and b) apparently lacking in strategic relevance all of a sudden.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

SDSR 2017?

As parliament broke for its summer holidays this year, so began the normal cycle of government trying to slip out all the bad news and controversial decisions that it has up its sleeve, while opposition parties got into a frenzy about how terrible it all is while conveniently forgetting it's the exact same thing they used to do when in power and pretending that they would never do something so underhanded themselves if given the chance. Except this year's round of "Have I Got Bad News For You" got tongues really wagging as it was announced that the Cabinet Office is implementing a review of national security policy, including in its scope the progress of the commitments set out in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

France, Germany, five generations and a Typhoon replacment

This last week saw the announcement by France and Germany that they plan to collaborate on a new European 5th generation fighter aircraft, much to the amusement of everyone except France and Germany. The level of amusement was enhanced by a comment from a German official - with absolutely no sense of irony - saying that such a partnership would benefit from not having UK involvement delaying the project.

This apparently overlooks the fact that the two prime culprits for causing delays in the Eurofighter project which ultimately produced the Typhoon were... France and Germany. A side culprit in the Eurofighter debacle was Spain, who jumped in and out at various points. Spain and Germany also happen to have made a joint announcement not that long ago about exploring options for a new fighter, so if France and Germany could get them on board for this project then that would finally complete the holy trinity of European defence collaboration misfits.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Preferred vs Imposed position

In my last post I talked about the Type 26 vs the proposed Type 31(s). Some might have found it odd reading that article and seeing me arguing in favour of more Type 26 at the expense of Type 31, only to seemingly reverse directions in the comment section and agree with a poster who bemoaned the Type 26. This apparent contradiction - coupled with a rather interesting chat I've been having on Twitter with some folks about aircraft carriers - offers me the opportunity to talk about something I've been meaning to get around to for a long while; the difference between the 'preferred position' and the 'imposed position'.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

The Type 26 vs the Type 31

This week the Royal Navy proudly heralded the first sailing of its latest warship, the impressive Queen Elizabeth class carrier. And yet as this promising new era in the Royal Navy's history begins, the questions are already starting to turn to the future of the ships that will escort her onto the high seas, as well as carrying out the sundry other security and assurance tasks demanded of the Royal Navy by the government. 

The next ship in line for construction is the Type 26 frigate, designed primarily for anti-submarine warfare but also slated to be able to carry weapons like the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM). I don't think anyone would argue against the need for Type 26. Rather the question is how many, and if the answer to that question is only 8 then what is going to fill the gap to keep frigate numbers at 13, which would represent a like for like replacement of the outgoing Type 23s?

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Why so negative?

One of these days I'll actually get back to writing about defence. Ah, those happy times! But for now I want to talk about that tired, worn, endlessly repeated subject that appears to dominate the daily headlines, the conversations by the water cooler, the conversations down the pub, the conversations with the family, and just about every conversation two or more people seem to have in the UK today. 

I may be exaggerating the impact of the subject on modern conversation slightly, but it does seem like a day cannot pass without someone talking about it, so I intend to basically stuff out some of my current thoughts on the subject for you to read/ignore at your leisure and be done with it for the next few months at least, while I instead go back to talking about ships and planes and things that get blown up or blow other things up.

The subject in question is of course brexit, which dominated the Queens speech.

Friday, 16 June 2017

The life of a centrist

With all this talk of the election and manifestos, Brexit and dementia taxes, young vs old, poor vs rich, it's easy to lose a sense of where people stand on the political spectrum. I noticed this in a discussion I had the other day with friends about the result. By the end of it I realised I must have sounded like somewhat of a Theresa May supporter, which is about a million miles (some political hyperbole might have been injected there for effect) from my actual opinion of that "bloody difficult woman" (bloody incompetent perhaps?). It is merely a testament to just how much I disagree with Corbyn and his bonkers plans that I ended up virtually defending May, though not quite.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

My thoughts on the election

I've just been out running through the wheat fields to boost my street cred, so this whole election thing then. Who won?

The DUP I guess. It certainly wasn't Theresa May, who lost her commons majority. It wasn't Labour, who gained some seats but still failed to earn a majority, or even enough to form a coalition. Not that you'd get that impression listening to Labour supporters today. They're celebrating coming up 46 seats short of the Conservatives like England has just won the world cup, such is the dire state of Labour right now and the level of pessimism that surrounded Jeremy Corbyn. 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Javelin anti-... infantry?

Been a lot of politics and economics talk lately so let's go with something a little different today. Namely blowing shit up.

Because a thought occurred to me recently. No, not that I shouldn't start sentences with "because", though I've never understood quite why that's considered such a grammatical faux pas. Nor that I overuse quotation marks or use them inappropriately. It came when watching a series of videos showing anti-tank missiles like the US TOW series being used in places like Syria and Iraq as an anti-personnel weapon. I've seen lots of people complaining about this as a waste of resources, though I doubt the groups doing it are overly worried about the financial cost to their sponsors of such a use. But it did get me thinking about the possibilities of using such weapons in the anti-personnel role.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Putin the Mastermind?

If there's one thing that has struck me over the last year or so with all the focus on Russia it's this idea that Vladimir Putin is is some kind of genius strategist; part chess master, part Napoleon reborn, part the second coming of Alexander the Great. He's often portrayed as a slick operator who manipulates the strings of global politics to make others dance to his tune, always ending up with the dominoes falling exactly as he had planned. And of course in this Internet age it's spawned meme after meme with Putin characterised as the cool poker player who bluffs and raises his way to jackpot after jackpot, leaving everyone else at the table fumbling and arguing over a handful of chips while he quietly accumulates a stack that towers over all before him.

And it needs to stop.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Trump, Korea and the Royal Marines

It's been a fair old time since I've had the chance to sit down and properly type some stuff. Today I just want to touch on some recent events that I feel are worth addressing.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Economics with a 'C': The Treasury, Hard Brexit and the spring 2017 budget

I don't know about you but I had a most entertaining read this morning* while drinking my coffee. The source of my delight was a fantastically hysterical article by the Independent (and its associated comment section) regarding a supposedly leaked document from the Treasury warning about the dangers of a "hard Brexit", that is to say the UK leaving the EU without an agreement and reverting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Britain: World Power?

Sparked by a debate the other day on Twitter and given added emphasis to write again by the pressure of Think Defence recommending me, I'd just like to muse today about the idea of Britain as a world power. It's a subject that comes up fairly frequently in UK defence circles and at times seems to take on a life and importance all of its own. Can't perform mission A? Never mind, at least we're a world power don't you know. Need new equipment or a force structure? Well, what would a world power look for, etc.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Air combat over Vietnam

As Exercise RED FLAG kicks off once again in the US, I thought this would be a good time to finally getting around to finishing an article I started over a year ago and have sporadically returned to at times since then. A primary reason for it taking so long was the research required, the extent of which will become evident shortly.