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December 07, 2003

Declining capability

I see that All agitprop, all the time is sounding off, in the post "You know, I did warn you... ", on a pet theme of mine - the general rundown of western defence capability.

Our armed forces are stretched to meet the commitment of the Iraq situation, they are also in Sierra Leone (though why particularly eludes me - why not Zimbabwe, or would that be to expose our fine political leaders party as the major payroller and apologists for that pustulant dictator?), in Afghanistan and several other places. Now they are facing further cuts in funding as our genius of a Chancellor and his morons at the Treasury try to save money so they can throw it away on more social tinkering.

Several more of our Regiments are to be axed to meet the constant demand for more "savings" from Whitehall. Am I the only person who wonders why a cut of say 1,000 men from the armed services always results in the employment of a further 3,000 civil servants?

An interesting set of statistics points to a very interesting answer to that question.

In 1914 the UK's armed forces had 9 men in uniform for every 1 civil servant nationally. That balance was maintained when the armed services were expanded massively to meet the demand of the first World War, but changed when the forces demobilised and shed manpower in 1919 - 1922. It dropped to a ratio of 5 servicemen to 1 civil servant. It dropped again in 1929 - 1930 to 4 to 1.

In 1939 the ratio remained 4 to 1 as the services (and the civil service!) expanded to meet the needs of the second World War. In 1946 the ratio fell to 2 to 1 as demobilisation reduced the armed services, but the civil service made no reductions, in fact, many "hostilities only" positions suddenly became permanent. Through the 50's and 60's the ratios gradually changed until, by 1964, the ratio had reversed and become 1 to 2. It is currently 1 to 9 in favour of the civil service.

In 1945, the RN had 3,000 plus ships in commission, it now has just over 100 ships, of which only a third can be permanently manned.

The Secretary of State for Defence, who has never served in any armed service anywhere, claims that the navy's modern high tech ships are capable of fulfilling all the tasks formerly requiring more ships. The civil servants who fed him that garbage either believe that themselves - or maybe they have some top secret device allowing the same ship to be in three places at once?

Somehow I doubt it. And now, they want to hand the whole lot over to Europe so the French can defend us - just as they won WW2.

Pass me my longbow.

Posted by The Gray Monk at December 7, 2003 12:17 AM

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Tracked on December 8, 2003 12:44 AM