Politics

Defence Chiefs Call For Investment And End To 'Salami Slicing' Of Military

Ben Wallace said we "have to invest in our global defence force if we want to make a global difference".

The latest military equipment was on display at the Defence and Security Equipment International 2019 show (Picture: MOD).

Britain's defence chiefs have signalled a need to stop the hollowing out and "salami slicing" of the country's military, with a call for greater cooperation between the Armed Forces and the industry.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and chief of the defence staff, General Sir Nick Carter, both spoke at the defence and security arms fair DSEI in London on Wednesday, days after the Government announced an extra £2.2 billion for defence.

Mr Wallace said: "As the UK's new Defence Secretary we do, however, need to break the traditional cycle where our appetite didn't match our stomachs which led to the annual hollowing out of capability and plans - which ultimately let down the men and women of our Armed Forces.

"We have to invest in our global defence force if we want to make a global difference and last week's spending round announcements signalled our intent."

He added: "Defence will always continue to require sustained investment for the long-term."

Mr Wallace also highlighted how the defence and security sector is one that brings in sales worth more than £19 billion to the British economy, calling it the "spine of our nation".

Earlier this year the Commons public spending watchdog warned of a funding black hole of at least £7 billion in plans for kit for the Armed Forces due to Government dithering over which projects to fully finance.

In a scathing report, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee said the Ministry of Defence "lacks the capability to accurately cost programmes within its equipment plan" and the actual shortfall in funding could amount to £14.8 billion or more by 2028.

Ben Wallace: "Defence will always continue to require sustained investment for the long-term" (Picture: PA).

Speaking during his keynote speech, Gen Carter echoed the sentiments of Mr Wallace, and said: "The salami slicing and efficiency initiatives of the last 25 years have taken risk against readiness and hollowed out our resilience.

"We have looked to optimise our logistic infrastructure, reduce our inventory, rationalise our stock, and outsource whatever we can to industry."

The head of the Armed Forces also highlighted how we have "returned to an era of great power competition reminiscent of the first half of the last century".

He added that the threats to our country, allies and multilateral system which has assured freedom, prosperity and open way of life are materialising faster than anyone anticipated.

"This is compounded by a rapidly evolving character conflict brought on by the pervasiveness of information, and the extraordinary advances we see in technology," Gen Carter said.

"No longer are the traditional distinctions between peace and war, home and away, state and non-state, virtual and reality as clear as they once were - and our opponents have become masters at exploiting these scenes.

"They've invested thoughtfully in new methods and capabilities that is designed to undermine our strengths and target our weaknesses."

Noting how we are "now being challenged on multiple fronts", he said we must "modernise to the future threats, and we must transform ourselves to become more agile and adaptable".

"But we can't do this, I think, on our own. In the context I've described we will only succeed if we do this as an enterprise in partnership with industry," he added.