back to article Ashdown's missile dump security panel puts women to flight

A heavyweight panel of academics, spooks, generals and politicians led by Paddy Ashdown has published the results of a two-year investigation into the way Britain should handle its national security in future. However the broad appeal of the report will be somewhat undermined by the resignation of most of the female panel …


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  1. S Larti

    But what about the actual report...

    Come on Lewis, you can tell us, are these reasonable ways to cut the budget or just high cost items that aren't already tied in? I assume that's why Eurofighter gets left alone (again) and the other services have to be royally screwed (again) to pay for it. God only knows why anyone wants the bloody Nimrod.

    But if the Navy goes the only people we can fight are those with a land border with a friendly power, which may well cause us to stop "punching above our weight" - or indeed punching at all.

  2. Ian Ferguson
    Black Helicopters


    that they recommend cutting the navy of a seabound nation.

    Personally I don't see the point of us having British armed forces at all - if we're not joining a European or UN peacekeeping effort, we shouldn't be going to war at all. But I know how far that thinking will get me!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Nice thinking but there are some real nutters in the world...

    Interesting the RN is considered irrevelent even though the vast majority of imports and exports come by sea (who needs to protect that???). Guess the Falkland Islands can be hived off to Argentina against their will.

    Can't understand why the RAF keeps Eurofighter but gets rid of the bomber force when the RAF spends most of its time these days dropping bombs (guess the assumption is that the Eurofighters will get upgraded to fulfill the RAF wishlist and can take on the work).

    Why does the UK insist that other countries will come to its defence making it acceptable to get rid of our ability to defend ourselves? It would be nice if everyone in the world got on but unfortunately the world has a few nutters (North Korea, Iran, etc).

    The biggest government budgets are - Pensions, Social Security, NHS, Education, Debt Interest Payments. Altogether they spend two thirds of the budget. Defence (the next largest after interest repayments) represents 5-6% of government spending but is the first in line for cuts. This is surely just moving deck chairs on the Titanic...

  4. Alex Trenchard
    Paris Hilton

    I see what you did there

    the "broad" appeal of the report will be somewhat undermined...

    Paris, because who has done more to further the cause of misogyny around these parts?

  5. donc


    I'm surprised to see that a panel chaired by Paddy Ashdown (ex-SAS) comes to the conclusion that the special forces need more funding!!

  6. John Murgatroyd

    Ours ?

    Are you sure this report is from a UK source ?

    Maybe crossed wires resulted in the views of the N. Korean intel services being published ?

    Maybe Al Quoeda had an input too ?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ashdown was SBS, not SAS, so I'm a little surprised his panel is effectively recommending abolishing the service which delivers his former outfit to its missions, unless he's proposing they hire ferries from P&O or someone as needed.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is it just me or does the idea of an island nation without a navy seem completely idiotic?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Women, eh?

    Well girls, if you can't stand the heat...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re : Donc

    Paddy Ashdown was a Booty and then in the SBS.

    The SBS does everything that the SAS does _and_ they walk on water.

  11. Roger Stenning

    It's this kind of woolley thinking that led to the Falklands Crisis

    Although it wasn't the Institute for Public Policy Research that caused the last fubar, the thinking was the same: Cut the navy downsize a bit (five no-points for the name of the ship they wanted to axe at the time).

    So, cut the navy off at the knees eh? Muppits. As mentioned by Anonymous above, that led to some major bloodshed back in the 1980s.

    Remove a shedload of the RAF as well? There goes any semblance of Power Projection (I know, Primarily a Naval thing, but the RAF has a place in that scheme) and National Interest Protection, then.

    Increase the Army a fair bit? Gets my vote, we've needed that from roughly the time we got dragged into Bosnia by, oh yeah, the EU, not the yanks. Interesting, that.

    Reduce the Trident programme? Hmm. Tricky. It assisted in keeping the Cold War cold instead of hot, but is a massive drain on resources, true.Yep, OK, downsize it a bit by extending the life of current kit. Sorry, that actually makes sense.

    As to the rest of it, well bleepety bleep bleep bleep that! Talk about cloud cuckoo land!

    Mr Ashdown's obviously forgotten pretty much all of what he learned as an officer in the RM, then. Prime amongst those being one from another politician who started out with the Liberal party many, many years ago, and became one of this country's greatest leaders:

    "Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it." - Winston Churchill

    Sums it all up nicely.

    File in box 13, please.

  12. John Savard Silver badge


    I could see it being suggested that both the United Kingdom and France should dispose of their nuclear weapons, if it meant relying more on their alliance with the United States.

    On the other hand, if they're not going to rely on that alliance, then clearly they would have to build up their nuclear deterrents until they became comparable to those of the United States or Russia.

    But then, this is a "progressive" report, so I suppose that Europe is being encouraged to rely on wishful thinking for its defence.

  13. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    There is a reason for having an army, navy and airforce

    If someone in command of one of the armed services decides to take over, he has to fight the other two. Looks like we will end up with and airforce that can only shoot at planes, a navy that can protect ships from mines and nuke a country and an army that can capture all the airbases and ports that survive the budget.

    On the plus side, if this is our defence strategy the army will be able to demand decent pay and equipment.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the ippr

    no need to read any further, then

  15. Mike Richards

    @Anonymous Coward

    'Is it just me or does the idea of an island nation without a navy seem completely idiotic?'

    Works for Iceland.

    But then they don't go round the World insisting they're a serious military and economic power.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well now you have an Armed Forces day, do we have any need for actual armed forces any more?

    May as well make the case to spend all our cash on ourselves (and those we allow in from the EU); our gullible friends will look after us.

  17. s 2

    The True Way Forward for UK Defence

    This report published is biased towards a very narrow conflict-scenario, and based soley for the next three years against opponents that we already have, or have fought against.

    It is critical the The United Kingdom retain the ability for Force Projection globally, which is aligned to our interests, not only as an island nation, but from our capital and historic responsibilities.

    Our sole problem is that skulduggery, fraud and stupidity allow for one single US-based arms developer to have sole governance over our UK procurment, managment, and policy-implementation. We all know who and what, that is.

    In reality, we must do such: Fire all MoD staffers. Create a new independant resource who is not promised to sign-off on a project - at any stage, on the promise or commision of a pension or directorship from the current sole UK Arms company. Anyone caught doing so will face the charge of treason, and a writ issed. We must then comission independant think-thanks which are forced to sign NDA's. These will be kept secret from one another, and they will be commisioned to consider current UK forces, and potential conflicts arising in the the near (10 year) future. They will all submit reports by a stipulated timetable to ministers and selected military and intellegence specialists. These reports will then be picked through to determine the objectives, and how we are to fulfill them, with depth and precision. What equipment and resources we would require would then be determined. Formal tender processes would be put by the Bank of England to international allied arms manufactures for the exact equipment we would need. They would exert precise governance as to the contract, it's performance targets, and end-goals which the manufacturer would have to fulfil in full; before anything more than 15% of the budget would be made payable. Normal third-party audit governance would be effected as financial regulation is normally governed.

    As a start: UK Carriers of the QE type would be scrapped. All project sponsors and suppliers would be fired. A new nuclear-powered carrier would be commissioned to be built by the US. A second would be a later option.

    Cheaper, more effective and much more common F35's will be bought - the same as the US Navy type, and at the same spec. The VTOL version may be bought in smaller numbers at a later date, if proved nessecary.

    RN and RAF are to merge. They will be known as the UK DF. All pilots will be able to fly from carrier decks as is appropriate to that type of aircraft.

    All UK helicopters will be merged in the Army - with the exception of RN helicopters, which will be merged as a sub-unit.

    All current BAE programs will be terminated forthwith: Astute will stop at the current number of hulls, Nimrod cancelled, Typhoon stopped, and conversion to a more capable version will be put to tender - possibly to a european partner.

    New hunter-killer subs will be put to tender for design, with overall governance and expert design handed by the RN directly with no third-party MoD middleware.

    In the mean-time, a fleet of four German 212-AIPs would be put to purchase. These will be fitted for TLAM, SF mission-fits, and their current design. Delivery for the next batch of hunter-killers would be delayed until 2017.

    All Tornado F'-types to be sold as soon as possible - without AMRAAM, but retrofitting to Skyflash or a third-party BVR radar missile.

    A new design for loiter-ships would put to tender for a fleet of 12 over next 10 years. Type-42's to retire as Type 45's currenly purchased would be rolled out.

    Harrier to get an upgrade to Type10 - improved NEC beging core.

    More spares for AH1's to be proccured immediately and a doubling in number deployed to Afghanistan.

    Reduction in forces based in Germany.

    Army to deploy more Merlin to Afghanistan now that they are in control of UK helicopter fleet. Further Chinook purchase direct from US to begin.

    Fighting range of Typhoons to be increased, with tender put to european partners to achieve.

    More cross training with our Norwegian partners to protect North Sea reserves and territory.

    All 292 NHS PCT's in england to be amalgamated into a single national unit. Regional offices of far fewer number deployed, and downsizing of overstaffing to save billions per annum. All failing NHS IT project to stop, and legal proceedings brought against failed suppliers for recompense. Several billions reclaimed in total.

    A Univesity for Spooks to be created at Cranfield trained and researching into InfoWar capabilities, and the vulnerabilities of UK infrastructure to attack of all types. Mandatory audit to be placed on all large UK institutions - only to be carried out by those trained in Cranfield. Fiscal penalties put in place for failure of systems.

    All consumer networked equipment to be tested for security liability: fiscal penalties for those being lax or failing to be in place.

    External audit of civil service to take place by non-UK auditors. Report, reccomendations, and policy to be delivered soley to the House's of Parliment Select Committy at the same time as being released to the public. Empire-building to become an evil-policy, and penalties in bonuses and pensions to be implmented.

    And with that, Mr. Speaker, I commend this bill to the House.

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Ask the city fathers of Hiroshima what they think of it.

    I'm sure you know what's in my side pocket.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just what we need to ensure our defence.

    A. A woman from the EHRC, perhaps handing out white feathers to men who don't sign up.

    B. A woman with a unilateral nuclear death wish,


    C A woman who weighs less than seven stone, who would be simply excellent storming Omaha beach because woman B had removed our rights to send the funnies in.

    All in all, bearing in mind none of them will ever, ever, ever be called on to defend their freedom, one wonders why they were ever invited to comment on how best it is provided for them.

    They couldn't handle the blokey atmosphere so one wonders if they could even cope with the concept of strategic defence.

    I'm frankly glad they left.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Some serious long term questions here.

    I'm not an expert. But I am a subject and a taxpayer with kids & a house.

    I've no desire to be subsumed by default into a greater Europe when "Johnny Foreigner" is dictating the terms. I want a strong defence force able to protect and project appropriate to the needs of the nation. IF the powers that be in Westminster/Whitehall decide that cutting Navy, Air Force and Army by 50% is in the best interests of the nation, let them propose it directly. If there is a balance to be struck then explain the issues.

    Aircraft carriers - that can fly affordable and appropriate planes - are an essential component of projecting UK interests (& possibly Europe's if they want to pay for it...) in the future. The £5 billion useless monstrosities being planned do not, IMHO, fit the bill. Affordable, effective multi-role planes and helicopters are needed - Not F35s and Chinooks that aren't allowed to fly. If we can't make them then buy in and customise properly - like we've always done. Get safe, properly armoured vehicles for our troops and the light, 21-century weapons and comms to use.

    But, more than anything stop the training privatisation gravy train because it wont matter a fig what tools the services are provided with if they're not properly trained by real effective service staff to use them.

    If scrapping Trident's replacement allows us to keep warheads & technology to create the fact of MAD but saves money then great. Do it. Raise spending on defence to 7.5% of GDP and cut the ID card nonsense and much of the wasteful Government IT spend if that is necessary to balance the books but the Government better not come to me and say "we can't afford to defend the UK, we'll have to rely on Europe and we've got to raise your taxes and VAT as well" They won't get my vote! But I expect they know that, it doesn't matter and they don't care 'cos they're on bonus.

  21. Maliciously Crafted Packet

    Hands off our Tonka's you bastards and other rants.

    The Tornado GR4 is the most capable medium range bomber in the NATO arsenal. Any nation thinking of threatening British interests will think again when the GR4's come to town.

    This has got me bloody started now...

    We need more spending on defence (as well as education and health) not less. The defeatist attitude of our politicians is embarrassing.

    This is what needs to be done to get the defence spend we need.

    • Raise the retirement age to 70. We're all living longer so that means we need to work longer too. Its our patriotic duty right?

    • Organise the asbo generation currently rotting in borstal or terrorising old lady's. Give them 3 choices.

    -Go to uni or get an apprenticeship.

    -3 years national service or

    -3 years civic service looking after the old/infirm or the nations infrastructure. (Digging trenches to lay high speed fibre is good place to start).

    •Stop using shit Microsoft Windows in government and business and use one of the better and more cost effective alternatives available. (That'll save f&*kin billions in gained productivity)

    • Err... what else... Oh yeah. Seize the assets of every one of those greedy corrupt bankers that f*&ked our economy and conscript them to work in the civil service for clerks wage until the economy gets back on its feet and we can afford three super carriers.

    There you go, that will make the billions you need for a decent defence spend with some change left over for and increase in health and education spending too.

    Should be Supreme Leader me eh?

    This is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland we're taking about. Not some tin pot emerging economy who can't even develop their own jet engines, microprocessors or computer operating systems without total reliance on industrial espionage.

    Its not inevitable that the UK or the west should be in decline (shame on you Paddy Ashdown). We just need to be a little more organised, we need to look out more for one an other and stop being a bunch of whining pussys when a bit of hardship comes along now and again. Init?

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Rent out these carriers to anyone who needs a bit of work doing

    They'll cost an arm and several legs with the £1bn price hike.

    Assets are most efficient when they are used. So why not let anyone (whose policies are broadly in line with HMG) rent the gear out so they can take care of any akward bits of business they have do deal with.

    Just a thought.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    If you have by some chance not read

    On The Psychology of Military Incompetence, by Norman Dixon, published 1976, I recommend you do. Particularly on the fall of Singapore, where the threat, as analysed, had been fully prepared for. I hope Mr Pantsdown is good at anticipating the tactics and weaponry of future wars.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    @Maliciously Crafted Packet

    You'd get my vote. Hang on, there would be a vote, wouldn't there?

    Either way, between paying for WW1 and WW2 and pretending we still have an empire we have been trying to punch above our weight for years. Every time we have a conflict, we send a bunch of soldiers and sailors, usually with no regard for proper planning or equipment. They outperform all expectations in spite of the attempts by the MOD to sell off all the bits they needed (read 'Vulcan 607' for a classic example of scrapping the bomb-bays before the Falklands War), so it becomes expected of them the next time.

    It takes so long to design and build a new aircraft or ship these days that nobody has any idea what is really going to be needed during it's life, which could be 30+ years. The best military ideas have never from Government. The Harrier was privately developed, the submarine was ignored for years, Radar was supposed to be a death ray. The DH Mosquito didn't meet the requirements for a new bomber, as it was built out of wood. Need I go on?

    We need a completely different approach to developing, funding and approving military technology. Something that would stimulate research and development for a change.

    Just as we expect our troops to adapt to any situation, we need to stop this idea of "tendering"

  25. Ian 11


    "Works for Iceland.

    But then they don't go round the World insisting they're a serious military and economic power."

    Yes, that would be the same Iceland whose country has just collapsed and is now desperate to join Europe to try and save themselves? We've seen how strong they are.

    "I've no desire to be subsumed by default into a greater Europe when "Johnny Foreigner" is dictating the terms."

    Why? Do you have some evidence that "Johnny Foreigner" is worse at making decisions than our leaders? Certainly as far as civil liberties go the EU has done a better job of protecting our civil liberties in Britain than our own leadership has.

    The fact is, people need to get over their Euro fears, Europe as a combined state would be the only state in the world capable of standing up to the US but also standing up to Russia and China. Instead right now we have these disparate nations with disparate militaries getting held to ransom by Russia over gas every single fucking year.

    Europe has a strong combined history and we should be proud of that, we've been allies and enemies for years and now we have a possibility to tie closer together allowing us to have the potential for the biggest, healthiest economy in the world, the strongest military and the best standard of living for the citizens of all of Europe.

    ...or we could just carry on being a nation of xenophobes as Europe steams ahead without us and we look even more puny and laughable on the international stage and America controls what we do anyway, oh wait, isn't that exactly what you wanted to avoid? Oh well, too late I guess.

  26. Sumack

    Take a Hurricane to the Tornado

    @ maliciously crafted packet

    Those GR4's will never show up unless a nearby friendly country with the required infrastructure gives us basing rights to fly them from. We're an island surrounded by allies, no enemies.

    Scrap the GR4's. Deep strike can be done by the Tomohawks on SSN's, the later batches of Typhoon and to make up for the loss of Tornado we should outfit the otherwise mission irrelevant Nimrod to carry Tactical Tomohawk and Storm Shadow and fit Tactical Tomohawk to the Type 45.

    The combination of Tomohawk on ships, submarines and a long range aircraft plus the Typhoon is more than anough deep strike capability. The Typhoon, Harrier and Apache is sufficient for ground support.

    Once Tornado is withdrawn (concurrent with the introduction of the later batches of Typhoon), the direct cost savings in maintnenance etc will be added to by base closures, cuts in the number of training aircraft and (sadly but necessarily) reductions in RAF and civilian personnel.

    Hand over the Merlins to the Navy to replace the antiquated Sea Kings supporting the Royal Marines. Hand over Chinooks and Pumas to the Army Air Corps.

    The savings from Tornado withdrawal and getting rid of the all the brass and staff employed by the Joint Helicopter Command should fund the equipping of Nimrod and Type 45 with Tactical Tomohawk and safeguard the other investment programmes with minimal impact on the defence capabilities that we actually need. there might even be some left over for the additional infantry, C117's, Chinooks and UAV's that we actually need.

  27. JohnG

    Other way around

    Probably better to forget the nukes and keep more varied and flexible armed forces, ideally, equipped to do the jobs asked of them (that would be a first). Let's face it - we are not going to use the nukes but if we did, we couldn't do it without permission from the Yanks anyway. So why not just let the Yanks have the nukes while we concentrate spending on that which we are actually likely to use.

    Someone said about EU and UN... The UN has sometimes got it's act together enough to intervene but usually waits until it is too late e.g. Darfur. The EU includes some countries which are neutral, NATO includes some countries who are not in the EU (notably Turkey) and nobody can agree on whose forces can be used, under whose flag(s), under whose command, under what circumstances, etc.

    I liked this bit : "...the very sort of people who advocate dealing with problems primarily through negotiation felt unable to keep negotiating in this case."

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