Wednesday, 26 February 2014

What do US budget cuts mean for the UK?

The US Government has set out its vision of how budget cuts are likely to impact on the force structures and capabilities of the US military. At an announcement on Monday, Chuck Hagel, the US Defence Secretary set out his plans for the next few years, and warned of even further cuts ahead if budgetary wrangles continued. The full text of his speech can be found on the US Department of Defense website HERE.

The speech got a lot of headlines for both the planned reduction of the US Army to its smallest size since 1941, barely 450,000 troops all in. At the same time, it also generated headlines for its plans to reduce ship acquisition and deleting the legendary A10 aircraft. But in amidst all this, there were also some fascinating insights into the way US strategic thinking is evolving, which in turn is likely to have an impact on how the UK may seek to evolve its own forces.

One of the most telling signs of the impact on the military of the Iraq and Afghanistan years is the clear admission that in future the US Army (and wider military) is no longer going to be structured to conduct long term and large stabilisation operations. It is very likely that on resources grounds alone, the last decade represents the last cry of the ‘Peace and stability through the barrel of a gun’ approach to nation building which has characterised some views of international politics since the end of the Cold War. The chances of seeing sustained deployments into nations beyond the initial and aggressive ‘kick the door in’ at present seems slim.

But one should be wary of saying ‘never’ too loudly. There is an equally long history of trying to escape imperial entanglements, and somehow ending up ever more firmly stuck in the mire. If one looks at the history of the US armed forces in the 20th century, large amounts of time, money and blood have been shed conducting just this sort of operation in one form or another. Arguably, one could view the sustained presence of the US Army in Europe since 1945 as a very long stabilisation operation. The worry must be that cuts are made, a small detachment of advisors is sent in to conduct training and things quickly escalate out of control. Avoiding mission creep, and setting clear parameters on the limits of American power is going to be the real challenge for the US military in future – having grown up in a world of unquestioned military dominance, it is going to be difficult to explain why the US cannot do things that it used to take for granted.

The next reality is the acceptance that technological dominance can no longer be taken for granted in all domains: “ development and proliferation of more advanced military technologies by other nations that means that we are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies, and in space can no longer be taken for granted.”

 Since WW2 the unquestioned truism has been that when the US, UK and to a lesser extent the French engage in military action, they do so as the dominant masters of the battlespace. But times are changing, and the ability to sustain the full spectrum dominance of the past is slowly going. A new generation of capability is emerging – often highly niche, but as budgets decrease, a nation able to develop and deploy niche capabilities may well find itself as a world leader in a way not previously seen. Similarly, the growth of arms procurement and exporting of hugely capable equipment means that US and allied forces could theoretically find themselves fighting some very well equipped foes. While the training may not be as good, the sheer existence of hugely capable weaponry in hostile hands, and not the old cliché of cast off soviet equipment and ancient French missiles and Chinese knock offs means planners have to be far more cautious when considering what their courses of action are.

To match this, the US is proposing to continue to invest in technological R&D, fielding world leading systems ahead of the opposition. In many ways this is the identical approach to the UK – deploy smaller but more capable forces. The challenge is in squaring the circle and finding sufficient funds to deploy at the right level of numbers with the right capability. At some point there may need to be a tough discussion about accepting risk on less capable acquisition, if only to ensure something can be purchased. This is essentially the problem facing the British Army today – to field a force in HERRICK that meets the appropriate standards is ruinously expensive, and essentially limits the size of the deployable Army – so why have a larger Army if you cannot afford to equip it, and dare not risk deploy it if it doesn’t have the technological edge?

The slow reduction of this qualitative and quantitative edge is where there is an opportunity for allies to bring more to the party. Previously the US had no real need of allies except in the political sense – the sheer size of the force it could deploy, and the associated capability meant that to operate with them on ‘Day One’ (e.g. the toughest possible conditions at the start of a campaign), a nation had to invest heavily in high end equipment, and probably sacrifice a balanced military in the process. One could argue much of what has driven UK defence structure and acquisition over the last 25 years has been this need to keep a ‘Day One’ capability in order to retain influence with the US.

But, as US budgets decline, the opportunity now exists for some allies to take a more influential role. Investing in certain highly niche areas like Cyber, or provision of MPAs, MCMV, aerial tankers may help give them assets which increasingly hard pressed US commanders may welcome. There is opportunity here for allies to acquire and bring real capability to the table, in turn giving them a much more valuable contribution than perhaps previously has been the case.

Of particular interest is the reviews emphasis on the continued decline of the US Navy. The news emerged that the Littoral Combat Ship has been capped at 32 units (with a frigate to theoretically follow), while at least 11 cruisers will be put into long term reserve while they are overhauled. It is hard to see them all emerging, particularly when most are getting on for 25-30 years old now (it perhaps brings back memories of the RN and its cruiser modernisation plans of the 1950s and 60s). Where this leaves the escort fleet is unclear – the future US fleet is likely to operate 60 Arleigh Burkes, 10 Ticonderoga class cruisers, 17 gun frigates (the very old and almost obsolete Oliver Hazard Perries) plus a small number of LCS and DDG-X vessels slowly entering service.

This may sound a lot, but a Navy built around 70 missile carrying escorts capable of blue water operations, of which many are ageing in number and others are tied to carrier battle groups, means that there is going to be a huge reduction in US naval presence around the world. Consider that many of these ships are older designs (Burkes date back to the early 1980s in design), and there is a sense of an emerging ‘escort gap’ which could cause problems for the USN in future.

It is particularly interesting to note that the USN has focused on retaining all of its 11 carriers in full operation. One is increasingly drawn to the parallels of the RN and the USN, with the USN continuing to follow where the RN had to go in the 1950s and beyond. A desire to remain a carrier operating navy meant protection of carrier hulls over escort numbers was the priority – one sees the same pattern emerging here. At the same time though, this is a clear indication of US priorities for the future – its going to be about mobile presence, not long term ground holding that matters.

This is also something which impacts on the UK, and may influence longer term planning. If the US is stepping away from the sustained presence on the ground, then one has to ask what this means for the British Army? It has done a superb job of effectively becoming an adjunct of the US Army, capable of working as a close ally on high intensity operations – but if the US is clearly stepping away from a desire to involve itself in this sort of work, then can the British Army continue to justify its need for 82000 regulars? Arguably much of the compelling argument for its force structure to date has been the need to be able to generate an Armoured Division or Brigades to deploy and sustain themselves on both high intensity fighting and long term sustained peacekeeping / stability operations. With the US clearly steering away from this, it is hard to see a willingness of the UK to take a lead in this sort of operation in future. One has to wonder whether the cuts in the US will in turn impact on the future structure and size of the British Army over the next 5-10 years.

The final thought is that in a sense by shifting away from the culture of ‘you break it, you pay for it’, the US is implicitly perhaps trying to walk away from conventional ground based warfighting full stop, except as a deterrent of last resort. It is hard to envisage a situation emerging in the near future like Iraq, where a US led coalition functionally defeats a regime, only to then see the US withdraw shortly afterwards as it has no appetite for long term stabilisation. Would allies be willing to stay the course if the US were themselves not willing to do so? Either this will lead to far fewer high intensity land based operations (somehow the desire to pay for damage and reconstruction caused by an air campaign like Libya seems less compelling), or it means that in future the US will simply walk away, leaving a shattered power vacuum at the outset with wider implications for regional stability.

What this means is perhaps twofold – firstly there needs to be a much higher emphasis on low level operations like capacity building, governance and other types of aid to try to avoid the situation arising where the US feels it has to resort to kinetic measures. Secondly, one has to wonder whether the threshold for US ground intervention will become so high that it becomes almost unthinkable. By making the Army the size where it can defend the nation, but not project power for the long term, it once again becomes a deterrent to be used when need really demands it, rather than when it feels right to do so.

This is just the start of what will prove to be a very painful process. Defence cuts are difficult to implement in the US due to the way in which scrapping forces and capability is often easier than shutting down a redundant storage depot. That said, it will be interesting to watch and see how the US military adapts to what could be a hugely challenging situation over the next couple of years, and in turn see how this impacts on both the UK and other nations too. There is scope for efficiency measures – anyone who has worked with the US system can testify to how inefficient it is in places, and how little jointery really exists, particularly when compared to the UK system. One way in which the UK is well placed is to advise the US on what it means to be a superpower in decline, and how to cut cloth to match aspirations. There is much that the UK can teach the US on its own experiences, and this in turn may prove helpful in trying to preserve the front line where possible.

One once again senses that we are living in very interesting times indeed… 


  1. As a US service member, a couple of points:

    Not really sure that the U.S. is in "decline." It's ability to project power dwarfs those of any comparable military. Even China's military is decades away from being able to field anything that could take on what the U.S. could project in the Pacific. And that assumes the U.S. will stand idly by while the Chinese grow. Which, as anyone who has paid any attention to the Pacific knows, simply won’t happen. Also, don't forget, that the U.S. has developed extremely strong alliances with South Korea and Japan. No country (especially the UK) has those kind of alliances.

    I'm always wary of when a Brit says he has alot to teach his American counterparts. Yes, I have learned alot from you guys. But you guys could definitely do a lot more listening yourselves. As someone who was there in 2007 and 2008, your experiences in Basra, were quite frankly, embarrassing. And a lot of your operations in Helmand would not have been possible without the strong support you received from the Marines and other services in Helmand and surrounding provinces.

    And while our forces can be inefficient at times, our "jointness" has actually rapidly improved over the past few years. Nothing like 12 years of constant deployments to strengthen the bonds between our services.
    I have to chuckle when you make a big deal about deploying a single RN ship to the Pacific or Middle East as if it's some life-shattering strategic event. The USN does that a hell of alot more frequently, whether you choose to recognize it or not. And will continue to do so well into the future.

    So I think the U.S. military will remain a strong and capable force without equal. It's ability to project power puts other countries to shame. Remember, the aviation assets in the Marine Corps are much larger and more capable than ALL the aviation assets in the entire British military. Not to mention, the size of the Marines is larger than all the British military combined. And if anyone doubts the capabilities or the capability to project power of the USMC, well, then you really don’t know much about the USMC, or the American military.

    1. Hi Christian
      Thanks very much for your comments. I think you are reading far too much into the 'teaching' comment. My view is that the UK has gone down the road of strategic decline in the past, and we've had to learn to make some extremely tough decisions about where to put resources, and where to focus on jointery.
      My experience based on a lot of time working in the UK, Iraq and Afghanistan (plus lots of time in the US) is that there is massive inefficiencies in the US system which could easily be changed if the institutional will was there to do so - that is where the UK can add real value (and don't just take my word for it, Defense News made an identical point in an op-ed a few months ago too). There is major duplication of effort and rival power structures in place across many commands which is often less helpful. Having had the personal experience as a Brit LO telling different parts of DOD what each other is saying was eye opening to myself as to how much progress still needs to be made. Partially this is a reality of an organisation where funding has long been generous and manpower plentiful, but as budgets continue to plummet, this culture has to move to a truly joint approach or the only other cuts start to come out of the front line itself.

      Also don't make the mistake of thinking this is about COIN lessons, because I've never made such a foolish suggestion - I've seen first hand what our experience is, and I'd be foolish to suggest we could go forward and 'teach'. Having seen what the US did in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I'd happily say I view them as world leaders in getting COIN right (particularly the ability to question doctrine, reissue it and then redo it from scratch, in marked contrast to certain other countries!).

      But I'd be wary of placing too much emphasis on pure military strength alone. My considered view is that the US is in relative terms a power in decline - the days of pax Americana are long gone, and there are a range of powers out there who are not all keen to support Washington or else. The challenge for the US is to manage this decline in order to avoid an ascendancy of another power, but instead maintain itself as primus inter pares among a range of other equally potent powers like China and to a lesser extent Russia.

      I'd also look at the context as to why I think the Pacific deployment is important - its a useful reminder to those in the UK who moan about us not having a Navy that actually we have a very competent and very capable navy, and one that is busier than we sometimes give it credit it for.

    2. Sir Humphrey,

      Could you please give me the link to that Defense News article or give some of your personal thoughts on where the US could gain organizational efficiency? Thanks.

    3. @ChristianB
      A RN ship deploying to the Pacific is quite a rare event these days, but the RN has quite a significant presence in the Gulf eg the 9th MCM Squadron forward based in Bahrain: 4 mine-hunters, a Bay class LSD and a survey ship, also a frigate and destroyer are usually on patrol in the region supported by RFA auxiliaries, and an SSN is always deployed east of Suez.

  2. Of course the United States is in relative decline. It industrialized long before most of the world had even thought of the idea. Even with generally impressive growth in the USA, late starters are going to grow faster, for a while anyway. That broadly matches Britain's experience. An obvious difference the USA is a vast country, with a large population, huge natural resources within its borders and close to hand, and an enviable strategic position, if minding your own business is your goal.

    Whereas Britain had to live with enemies and mortal threats near to hand, the United States has to cross oceans to find enemies and usually has had to rely mainly on hubris and paranoia from which to create imagined mortal threats. I'm quite sure I'll be dead long before that changes.

  3. Rather puzzled by a lot of what is written here. Take for instance the "escort gap" comment. It is complete nonsense. The LCS capping has been anticipated for a while and is a product of the type having an excessively narrow role. It has always been controversial and this decision was almost inevitable.

    The cruiser situation is nothing like the RN cruiser modernisation plans of the 50s. One can hardly put a cigarette paper between the capabilities of an Arleigh Burke and Tico. The only difference being the latter has more VLS cells and an additional SM-2 director (which becomes much less relevant with the introduction of SM-6).

    So what is an Arleigh Burke hull design is from the 80s? The ships CMS, sensors and weapons have been continuously updated and the currently planned (and budget unaffected) Flight III boats now being designed and due to enter production soon (and which follows on directly from a production run of flight I/II that has been sustained since the late 80s) will take the entire concept even further into the future with the application of the AMDR radar.

    As for niches, the US is ahead and will remain ahead of all of it's allies in each of those that you mentioned. MPA, Cyber and tankers are all key areas of US advantage where it's so-called allies have very little to offer.

    I am afraid this just reads like another propaganda piece from a British establishment that made near 30% across the board cuts to its defence capability since 2010 and wants to mask the resulting weakness by pointing to comparatively minor cuts in the US.

  4. The British Army at 82,000 is laughably small. Suggesting making further cuts to it is nuts.

    1. The British Army should not be cut any further, however 82,000 is just about adequate. That figure does not include 7,000 troops in training, and of course the TA is supposed to be increased from around 19,000 to 30,000. There are also 8,400 Royal Marines.
      Even after the cuts the UK will be able to deploy a maximum effort of 30,000 personnel (Army, RAF & Navy) for a limited period, and sustain a brigade sized force for longer operations.
      The French and German armies have been cut as well, the French "operational force" is being reduced from 88,000 to 66,000, so France's maximum effort is now 15,000, and the Germany Army (the Heer) is just 62,000 strong, although that does not include the Streitkraftebasis, the logistics and support arm of the German military. The Dutch have also made quite drastic defence cuts, and Italy will have to as well, although they are dragging process out.

  5. Interesting piece sir h,
    Given the still vast amount of money (even after cuts) the DOD has at its disposal I think you are right in saying they should be able to get more bang for their buck. That being said I am not sure how much on the current issues are the DOD's fault. They seem to come up with perfectly reasonable solutions to trimming the budget that are rebuffed by Congress. The Tea Party seems hell bent on a witch's brew of protecting local special interest while calling for ever larger budget cuts.

    While the forces and capabilities of the US military are still awesome much of this capability is built or relatively dated equipment from the Burkes and Tico's to the F15 and F16.

    While the US has done a great job in continuously upgrading these weapons systems they will only be in service for so long. Almost every major DOD acquisition program of the past decade has gotten into difficulty from the LCS to the F22 and F35 and it does not bode well for the USA's ability to replace legacy platform's in numbers. Just look at the number cuts we suffered in trying to repalce legacy platforms such as F3 Tornado or T42 destroyer.

    I do agree that cuts to the DOD could potentially open up opportunities for the UK as that fact is that the USA has never needed UK material support since 1945 and as you say in this world even small niche capabilities can become world class if no one else has them.

    Indeed I suppose it could be an argument in favour of increased British military expenditure because for the first time in 60 years it might buy us something the US does not already have.

    1. There is nothing dated about an F-15, a Burke or even most of the F-16 fleet. Just because a platform has been around for a while it does not make it dated. Unless you can explain how USS Michael Murphy, commissioned in October 2012, is dated?

      And then there is the massive flaw in logic from both yourself and SirH- what niche capability is it that the US does not have?

    2. Yes, there is no problem at all with older aircraft... none at all...

    3. A paper that confirms that the application of new technologies will help sustain the F-15 fleet? Hardly a doomsday scenario is it.

    4. No one has said anything about a doomsday scenario. Just that older equipment is more expensive to maintain. Which is what the paper confirms.

    5. So the argument is that older US equipment is experiencing entirely manageable maintenance issues? Thats powerful...

    6. Just making the point that there is some issues with older equipment. It's you who seems to want to argue with everyone...

    7. Niche capabilities:

      Mine countermeasures
      Surface ASW (passive and active)

  6. Some interesting comments here. What I find particularly fascinating is that when this blog is positive about the UK, I get pushback by Brits for pushing a too positive approach. When this blog expresses views suggesting that the US may not be as positive as things suggest, I get a lot of pushback from Americans who disagree. A very interesting insight into national psyches there!

    In terms of my general comments. The cruiser analogy reflects the situation the RN had in the 1950s where it aspired to upgrade its cruiser fleet, but at the same time bring newer DDGs into service. Eventually three Lions came into service late, and none of the upgraded cruisers ever got there, in part due to manpower and fiscal pressures. I sense a similar situation here, where given the choice between new hulls and upgrading 25-30 year old hulls which may have been in reserve for some time. I think money is more likely to go to new acquisition.

    On the wider issue of obsolesence, my worry with a lot of the US kit is that much of it is as suprisingly old original design - e.g. the Burkes were designed in 1980, and the last one is unlikely to go out of service much before 2050-2060. While parts of the ship are upgraded, its more the long term obsolescence management that is the issue. The supply chains needed to get the widgets which fit onto the sprockets which power the wheel that turns the captains cupholder - not the high profile stuff, but the little things which over time, particularly once series production ends, will become ever more difficult to source. One only has to look at the challenges the RN faced in keeping the 42s going towards the end of their lives to realise its not easy - running on a class of warship for nearly 80 years has never really been done before (unless you count singletons like the Peruvian gun cruiser), and that means that we don't know how things will shape up.

    Looking forward 20-30 years and I'd worry about the scale of the maintenance budget required to keep what by then will be a basic 60 year old design going strong for potentially another 20-30 years. Of course it is doable, but at huge costs, on what will be an ever tighter budget.

    The issue with Niche capabilities is that they are just that - niche. Fine when you've got a good budget to play with, but start trying to maintain superiority in all of them all of the time and reduce your budget to boot, and it gets more difficult to do. This is what the Sec Def was saying in his speech - that the days when the USA can assume total superiority is over, and that instead we are moving to an era of technological proliferation.

    I must confess to really finding it quite incredible how any hint that the US is possibly reducing in power brings out such a strong reaction from the US contingent, and such a defensive 'we don't need allies because we are amazing as it is' - an attitude which is laudable, but perhaps doesnt really take into account the scale of the budget challenge facing the US, and the reality that much US equipment is getting older, without replacement and has been heavily stretched by many years of constant operations. Look at the ever slipping replacement programmes, look at the deferred maintenance issues and look at the issue of regeneration post Iraq and Afghanistan, and its hard not to conclude that there are some very real challenges ahead.

    1. Not an issue of national psyches, just of your rather obvious agenda.

      The cruiser remark is revealing of a lack of knowledge. Cruisers in the 1950s were a distinct type of warship and had clearly defined separate roles within the UK naval force structure, Their demise being brought about by their relative lack of utility compared to their cost in manpower (the RN tried to recreate the cruiser concept in the early 60s with an escort-cruiser concept that ultimately morphed into the Invincibles after CVA-01 died). By contrast, the Ticos are just slightly larger destroyers (even built on a destroyer hull) which offer little more than the Arleigh Burkes in terms of capability.

      The US is exceptionally good at managing obsolescence, mostly because it modernises platforms much more frequently than the likes of the UK and also because they have a much more robust industrial base. This was a country that was operating WW2 ships in the 1980s and still flies the B-52. The basic design being 60 years old is irrelevant as long as the supply chain is sustained, the platforms are kept at reasonable age (new Burkes are being built now). By the way, the basic design of the Warrior IFV will be 40 years old when the first upgraded ones enter service. Is that a looming catastrophe as well or are these things only an issue when you are trying to paint the US in a negative light?

      The issue of niches is that you have yet to identify one where the US does not have sufficient capability or where the allies have anything to offer.

      What is quite incredible is how desperate you are to mask the near collapse of UK military capability that has occurred in the last 20 years (30% just since 2010) by pointing to comparatively minor changes in the US. When the USAF loses 40% of its fast-jet squadrons, near 30% of its fixed wing lift capability and the USN loses 33% of its amphibious capability a single review I might start taking your evidently bias narrative rather more seriously. In the mean time this seems like MoD propaganda.

    2. I'm glad to be told I've got an obvious agenda. Several people have told me thatm usually on very different posts for very different reasons. Perhaps as its so obvious, you could tell me what my agenda is, because I personally don't have a clue what it is.

      The fact you have resorted to the tired old cliche of 'MOD propaganda' suggests that I've obviously hit a raw nerve. I'm personally extremely amused that you think that I'm clearly biased by suggesting that wondering what the impact of some fairly hefty budget cuts will be is painting the US in a negative light. Usually this blog gets hefty criticism for painting the UK in too positive a light. Glad to know that I'm probably about right in the middle then.

      While I note your attempted history lesson on the cruiser, and you ignore my rather more subtle point about investment on old new (this not being an article on the UK naval policy of the 1950s) I return to my original point which you continue to not focus on. Why put resource into 11 elderly ships from reserve, when the same resource could go elsewhere? My worry is that those ships when they enter reserve will not come out of it again.

      As for obsolesence management, its an issue which impacts every military in the world and is a really major challenge. Just because you can run something on, doesnt mean it is economical or sensible to do so. My point is that yes the Burkes can run on for many years to come - but it comes at one hell of a maintenance cost - particularly once build ceases. This isn't a dig on the US- its a simple basic rule of running military kit - the older it gets, the more expensive it becomes to keep going.

      To be honest, I am wondering why you are wasting your time posting here - you clearly don't like what you see, you clearly have some incredibly innacurate misconceptions about the article, and you seem to know me better than I do in suggesting all manner of biases and agendas which don't actually exist.
      You are very welcome to hang out here, but I struggle to see what benefit yopu gain from doing so?

    3. I was quite clear what your agenda is, it is to mask the reality of UK military decline through the use of whataboutery.

      Given that the Burke build-run is nowhere near finished yet obsolescence in the design is is simply not an issue at this point. The fact that you keep trying to suggest that the AB class is somehow especially vulnerable to costly obsolescence demonstrates you clutching at straws. Same with your cruiser remark, the incredible thing about Aegis and its associated systems is that has been kept current, a modernisation of even the earliest ships will produce units as capable as the latest Burkes commissioned in 2012. It is in no way comparable to 1950s RN cruiser modernisations.

      Finally, this is far from a waste of my time. I take great pleasure from pointing out to deluded Brits just how irrelevant their military is becoming. It is all the more enjoyable as UK MoD does everything it can to hide the reality, a job made easier by the band of ill-informed cyber-generals who cling to whatever mirage of hope they can imagine.

    4. Anonymous. Thanks for confirming my suspicions that you are an internet keyboard warrior. Obsolesence is a major issue, speak to anyone involved in procurement or support and they'll tell you how much of a challenge it can be. Clinging to the 'but its still in build so it must be fine' is rather missing the point that you need to keep sustaining and supporting these designs for several more decades.

      I'm sure you'll be delighted to learn that I promote a very 'light touch' moderation on these forums. But I'm afraid that I have no interest in corresponding with an obvious internet troll.
      By all means post away, but there is a fine line between debate and abuse, and I will have no hesitation in deleting posts on sight if I feel that you (or any other poster) is unable to correspond with basic civility.

    5. Oh come of it. It was perfectly clear that I was pressing you to explain why this is a special issue for the USN when their DDG/CG fleet is the most standardised fleet in the world in terms of propulsion, weapons, sensors and combat systems- all of which are still in production. You have raised this to be a major issue that is a particular threat to the USN but have utterly failed to explain how or why. Now your position is that its no different to any other platform anywhere else in the world- which of course means its not a major issue so why raise it?

    6. Surprising how the USN has uniquely achieved a situation where it does not matter how old their equipment is as long as there are stupendous resources devoted to updating it

      I am reminded of Trigger's Broom

      hope the link works

  7. Anon,

    Lol. No one is trying to mask the collapse of RN and UK capability, the subject is the US cuts. Why is it that so many americans revert to criticising the UK if someone talks about their cuts? Why don't you just defend your own policies? Seems to me you're incapable of doing that and are just lashing out!
    The whole point is that no one here wants to see the US go down the same path as we did. No one here will be apologising for the MOD's lack of strength and cuts and in an ideal world we'd all love to see a stronger British armed forces. You also can't compare the UK and US, we're in a totally different league to you. Again bashing the UK in comparison to the US makes me think again you're insecure and worried. We bloody shouldn't be anywhere the US!
    Why not try sticking to the topic in hand rather than shying away from it and picking on UK cuts to hide your own. The fact we've seen our forces gutted means we're all the more keen for the same not to happen to our biggest ally!

  8. Ah, the classic, "but they are bigger than us and that explains everything" line. Sorry, that one does not wash either. The UK Armed Forces have shrunk at a far faster pace since 1990 (and especially since 2008) than the US. Whilst the US has retained its world leading position the UK has continued to slip down the International pecking order.

    1. The RN has the following vessels in build/on order/planned: two 70,000t strike carriers/LHAs, 5 more Astute class SSNs, 4 Tide class tanker/replenishment ships, 3 corvette sized OPVs, 3 Solid Support Ships, 13 Type 26 frigates (first steel to be cut next year), the "Successor class" SSBNs, plus 48 F-35Bs, and new and refurbished helos entering service: Wildcats, Merlin MK2 & HC4.
      Those are just the RN programs underway, yes there have been cuts, but some capabilities have also been boosted over the past decade forexample: strategic airlift, ISTAR platforms, heavylift helos, SFs, light armoured vehicles, UAVs, T23 ASW upgrades, new AAW destroyers etc.
      If you have an anti British agenda for whatever reason, then fair enough, but at least try to make your arguments in a balanced, civil and fair minded way, otherwise your just another spite filled troll ranting on the internet.

    2. Thats all lovely but misses the key point. The upgrades that have taken place get nowhere near making up for the force structure cuts that have appeared occurred over the same period.

      Telling you a truth that you do not want to hear is not "troll ranting", no matter how much you want it to be.

  9. I'm intrigued as to why pointing out the UK fall in military capacity, and that fall is acknowledged is important?

  10. Anon,
    You're not worth bothering with and are either trolling or butt hurt and insecure cos you feel the US is losing capability. Not sure why, i'd love it if the UK had half what the US does. But i guess thats the way insecurity works! The Chinese are gonna get ya!! Lol.

  11. How much of these cuts will be filled by other NATO countries?

    1. I think it depends which theater you are operating in. Not many NATO partners are prepared to go very far afield.

      In short though, not likely to be very many. There is little cause for concern in the Atlantic or Med, bar local uprisings and insurgencies where NATO is generally neither a welcome, nor particuarly enthusiastic participant in the trouble. As the focus of operations is shifting to the Pacific, most of the European partners who make up the bulk of non-US NATO military muscle won't be able to help much.

      Sir H ran an article some time back positing that Canada would potentially have a role, however the will there does not seem to exist. NATO participation in future US endevours east of Suez will probably consist of diplomacy, French and British submarines, bases and perhaps a handful of escorts or MCMVs.

    2. Known that the US Army Europe is mostly a support force with only one major large airborne assault type BCT, i'm questioning how much more NATO (more new NATO countries) have to take up the role to fill the gap, however smaller the gap is.

      Let's not true one blogger's view.

  12. NATO will not fill the gap as they do not see a threat or a need.

    Japan Korea etc might as they see China expanding,

    If Putin invades Ukraine that would change and rest of NATO would start seeing a reason to invest in the military again.

  13. I was pondering my comment when, all of a sudden, 'events, dear boy,events', crossed our paths.
    All this talk of US v UK capabilities and future development avoided the elephant in the room. Having the biggest, the best, the most efficient or the most cost effective is proving to be a fruitless exersise. If you had it, would you use it, is the key question.
    In my humble opinion, use of any of the present deadly weapons at the disposal of the UK would be preceded by a marathon of debate until it was too late, or the consequences rendered unacceptable.
    As nation, we avoid confrontation as a by-product of political correctness.
    ( unless football is involved).
    The US is slowly following suite and western nations would much prefer sanctions which operate at a distance. After all ,"Idealism increases in direct proportion to one's distance from the
    problem.". (Galsworthy)

    1. Derek, by "political correctness", do you mean thinking things through and working out what the long-term consequences of our actions are beyond the immediate "Will three Brimstone sink that patrol vessel?" phase?
      Because if that is what you mean then I think we could have done with a little more of that kind of PC when we were deciding to go into Iraq and Afghanistan, two campaigns which has proved costly in all aspects, whilst having a negligible, possibly even slightly negative, impact upon UK security.
      Your quote on idealism also doesn't really have any bearing, as it would suggest that actually, the further away somewhere is, the greater the likelihood of a military response rather a "soft" one of sanctions. Invading and using phrases like "liberating from oppression", is surely the "idealist" path compared to the more "pragmatic" option of sanctions, no?