Ministry of Defence Needs Revolutionary Reform to Manage Cuts

DRU Report June 2011 2The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will need clear ministerial, and Defence Board, guidance to introduce revolutionary new ways of working to ensure the department still operates coherently following the proposed major cuts to civil service numbers, according to a joint study by Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Cranfield University staff.

The RUSI-Cranfield Paper, The Defence Reform Agenda, explores many of the options for defence reform and calls for: military re-organisation away from single service orientation to increased jointery; financial organisational change to support the MoD's need to understand better the costs of its outputs and activities, and; cultural change toward greater personal accountability and responsibility, leading to focussed and faster decisions being taken within a streamlined MoD that is set to lose a third of its civilian posts.

Released ahead of the findings from the Defence Reform Unit (DRU), who are expected to report to Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox shortly, the RUSI-Cranfield paper acknowledges that the crucial issue will be whether the Government presses clearly towards a more joint approach to defence, seeking to bring the three services together, or whether it will bow to pressure from the army, navy and air force for more control over their own futures.

Addressing the topic of increased jointery, one of the report authors, Professor Trevor Taylor, said:

'The single service orientation of many senior military personnel has become all too obvious through their public statements as resource pressures have increased. The RUSI-Cranfield study sees the DRU exercise as a chance for the Royal Navy and RAF to reduce their concern with personnel numbers as such, to get rid of single service workshare arrangements in joint and MoD appointments, and to improve the budgetary structures to generate a better sense of the costs of capabilities.

'The RUSI-Cranfield report is not seeking to predict or influence what the DRU will find, but we did want to put into the public domain a few key defence management issues and some of the important options available. Given that the internal management arrangements of the MoD are complicated and not easy to follow, we hope that this work will at least facilitate structured discussion of the DRU's findings when they appear.'

The DRU was established on 13 August 2010 by Secretary of State Dr Liam Fox to conduct a fundamental examination of how the Ministry of Defence is structured and managed. Heading by Lord Levene, the DRU will present the Government with the only opportunity before the next election to introduce a coherent improvement to the management of defence resources.

To read the paper in full, please click on the following link: The Defence Reform Agenda.



1.       The Briefing Paper 'The Defence Reform Agenda' can be viewed at

2.       For more on RUSI's SDSR and Defence Reform coverage, please visit

4.       Professor Trevor Taylor is the head of the Defence, Industries and Society Programme and the Professorial Research Fellow in Defence Management, augmenting the Institute's work on UK Defence Policy as well as giving particular high level expertise in defence management issues. Professor Taylor comes to RUSI from Cranfield University where he was head of the Department of Defence Management and Security Analysis and subsequently head of the Centre for Defence Management and Leadership. 

4.        RUSI is an independent think-tank for defence and security. RUSI is a unique institution; founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, it embodies nearly two centuries of forward thinking, free discussion and careful reflection on defence and security matters.

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