MoD reforms ‘not fit for purpose’ says think-tank

An MoD strategy to use more reserves, contractors and civil servants for defence work has not been well managed and could have undermined national security

The Ministry of Defence’s strategy to use more reserves, contractors and civilians is not fit for purpose, has left the country vulnerable and may have damaged national security, a new study argues.

The plan has been driven by the need to cut costs and is poorly understood, according to the paper published by a respected military think tank.

Problems with the plan go well beyond the much publicised problems recruiting part time soldiers for the Army reserve, it says.

The paper published on Wednesday for the Royal United Services Institute concludes the lack of management by the MoD has been “unacceptable”.

Prof John Louth, one of the authors, said: “It makes us very vulnerable. Potentially it makes us vulnerable for the threats and issues that we have already identified, but perhaps more importantly, it makes us pretty vulnerable to the things that haven’t crossed our minds yet.

“If we are not managing the enterprise effectively, then in logic our national security is potentially compromised. If that’s right then it’s an important question to ask, ‘Well what are we going to do about it?’

The MoD’s plan, called the whole force concept, was brought in after 2010’s defence cuts to try to better use a mix of regulars, civilians and reserves for defence work as the Armed Forces were slashed.

The paper suggests the new policy “has been driven by the search for financial efficiencies and the recognition that many essential defence skills now reside in the private sector rather than the armed forces.”

British military operations are now using more and more contractors for work including running bases and servicing equipment.

In the 1991 Gulf War, Britain’s deployment had virtually no civilian contractors. By 2010, the MoD was employing 7,000 contractors across Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans and Indian Ocean.

But the report argues the “whole force concept has not been effectively managed and is often neglected and misunderstood”.

An MoD spokeswoman said: “As we have said before, tough decisions had to be made to tackle the black hole in the defence budget.

“The changes will deliver a fully-integrated force, using a better mix of regulars, reserves, civil servants and contractors to get the maximum effect from the budget and best meet the challenges of the future.

“In future, the Armed Forces will be smaller, but better equipped and able to deploy rapidly to protect our interests anywhere in the world.”

Telegraph Media Group Ltd.

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