The Editor of RUSI Defence Systems introduces the latest issue.
Why does defence equipment procurement take so long? This question continues to perplex those outside the procurement system, as well as many insiders. The immediate answer is because it is a very complex business and that it is paid for by public funds that need to be not only spent wisely, but also seen to be spent wisely. But is that full justification for taking up to two decades to develop a weapon system, with the consequences of high cost, obsolescence on fielding and late capability enhancement for the end-user? Costs gets plenty of scrutiny, but overall timescales do not; yet the overall timescale has a very significant bearing on overall cost. In this issue, the RUSI Acquisition Focus and the email@example.com section explore the time factor and look at what needs to be done. That it can be improved is clear from examples from World War Two and, more recently, from Urgent Operational Requirements (UOR). Time is a crucially important subject – are we fighting a global war on terror with a peacetime procurement mentality?
Two articles in our last edition – the RUSI Acquisition Focus on ‘The Underfunded Equipment Programme: Where Now?’ and Philip Pugh’s ‘Delusions of Management’ - sparked lively debate which we are delighted to publish. The Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS) changes the overall direction of the UK MoD’s relationship with industry – from the primacy of competition to strategic partnering. The speed of its implementation varies from sector to sector. Guy Griffiths, Chief Operating Officer of MBDA, discusses the progress in the Complex Weapons sector, while Gavin Ireland looks at the submarine component of the Maritime Industrial Strategy. But will DIS achieve what the Minister wants? In this issue, we start a new series called Viewpoint and the first subject is the manufacturing industry (both civil and defence). Professor Andrew Graves explains why manufacturing is so important to the health of a nation’s economy and the dangers if it is allowed to wither. DIS may be a partial answer, but where is the nation’s overall industrial strategy?
Other acquisition subjects concern European collaboration, with views from the Director of OCCAR and Laurent Giovachini of the French MoD; the UK/US International Technology Alliance, described by the US Army Chief Scientist and the UK’s Director General Research and Technology; and lessons for defence from the civil sector, by the UK’s Auditor General and John Oughton, former Head of the Office of Government Commerce. In our last issue, we explored the balance between quality and quantity.
Nowhere is this balance more important than in Maritime Security Operations (MSO). The US’s call for a 1000-ship navy (now known as the Global Maritime Partnership) is explored by George Galdorisi from the US and Darren Sutton of Australia, while Paul Mitchell from Singapore provides a small nation’s view. Narrowing the angle, the Chief of the French Naval Staff and Dr Greg Gilbert of the Sea Power Centre in Australia provide insights into their national MSO challenges, while Marc Houben explores lessons identified from the Dutch leadership of international operations in the Arabian Sea. In addition to the Arabian Sea, Dutch forces are active elsewhere, not least in Afghanistan. The Chief of Defence of the Netherlands discusses the main challenges he faces today, including interoperability, retention, fast procurement, the speed of the transformation process and retaining focus in Afghanistan.
Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq rely heavily on the capability of dismounted infantry, and the big challenge for those equipping them is to identify the right balance between capability improvement and weight and bulk. Have they got it right? Both Colonel Alec Bain of the UK’s Directorate of Infantry and William Owen, Editor of the Asian Military Review, suggest that we haven’t. Like the balance between quantity and quality, the right solution for the capability/weight balance will not be easy to find, but unlike the former, the latter is not primarily about money – it is bounded by what the infantryman can carry and still be fit to fight.
On the subject of C4ISTAR, the US Air Force’s Chief Information Officer and ST Electronics in Singapore describe improvements that will aid military operations in the very near future, and the Commander of the Italian ISTAR-EW Brigade describes its role and equipment today. Looking further ahead, Commodore Jack Green of the UK’s Fleet Headquarters looks at future maritime ISTAR, and two IBM writers discuss a service-oriented approach to supporting future operations. Dr Alfred Kaufman discusses the ultimate value of the data collected by military sensors. Introducing better C4ISTAR brings with it the need to provide suitable training to maximise its effect on operations. The Editor of Military Training and Simulation News asks whether it is time to refocus our C4ISTAR training, while Captain Nick Gasson, of the UK’s Defence College of Management and Technology, describes the training needed, and now being provided, to achieve the greatest effect from C4ISTAR assets.
Finally, Dr Steven Haines from the University of London reviews the issues arising from three reports on the decision about the future of the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent.