Friday, 31 August 2018

The University Royal Navy Units – student yacht club or valuable asset?

The 14 University Royal Navy Units (URNU) provide an opportunity for students to go sea and to broaden their naval […]

from Save the Royal Navy

Friday, 24 August 2018

Supporting the Royal Navy at sea – the Tide class tankers

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is currently taking delivery of four large and well equipped new replenishment tankers. Here we take […]

from Save the Royal Navy

Saturday, 18 August 2018

HMS Queen Elizabeth – the view from the bridge

Speaking to us on the bridge of HMS Queen Elizabeth shortly before departure for the US, the Captain, Jerry Kyd […]

from Save the Royal Navy

Friday, 17 August 2018

HMS Queen Elizabeth sails for the United States – here’s the plan

Just over a year since HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in Portsmouth for the first time, she will sail for her […]

from Save the Royal Navy

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Type 31e frigate competition restarted

As we predicted would be the case – yesterday the MoD made its first steps to restart the Type 31e […]

from Save the Royal Navy

Friday, 10 August 2018

HMS Queen Elizabeth – built to survive

In a previous article, we looked at the active layers of protection that will surround HMS Queen Elizabeth when she […]

from Save the Royal Navy

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

HMS Defender returns to the fleet fitted for intelligence gathering

Last week HMS Defender was accepted back into the fleet by Commodore Wood, Commander of the Portsmouth Flotilla after successful completion […]

from Save the Royal Navy

Sunday, 5 August 2018

In focus: the versatile new workboats being built for the Royal Navy

In September 2017 it was announced that Atlas Elektronik UK (AEUK) had won a £48M contract to supply up to […]

from Save the Royal Navy

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

A bluffers guide to succeeding in the British defence establishment

Welcome to the Ministry of Defence. Below you will find some helpful introductory advice that will help you succeed as a loyal servant of the Crown.

Policy and etiquette

Here at the MoD, we do not just make decisions, we make strategic decisions. Regular use of the word “strategic” helps us all feel we are part of a broad vision devised someone who knows what they are doing. It is also important to insert the phrase “world-class” when describing our assets, people and operations. Any public conversation about defence must always begin by “paying tribute to the men and women of our world-class armed forces”. Many junior servicemen maybe underpaid, rarely see their families and have inadequate accommodation but these regular tributes sustain morale.

There are no insurmountable problems or total cock-ups in UK defence, instead, there are challenges and things that may need some more work. If anyone asks you to explain your job, tell them its to “look across the piece” with a view to “developing a broad suite of capabilities”. Be sure to use the word “capability” a lot to describe just about everything.

Mention of our “globally deployed assets”, however thinly spread, is to be encouraged and will go down very well with politicians. If there are two Royal Navy sailors in a rowing boat in the middle of the Pacific it demonstrates our global reach and our enduring commitment to upholding the rules-based order. Similarly, a handful of soldiers camping out in the forests of Estonia demonstrates our solidarity with NATO partners.

Occasionally situations may become more challenging than we would prefer and outputs sub-optimal. Excitable journalists and MPs may demand to know “what the hell is going on?”. While retaining a friendly and upbeat tone, try to avoid giving away any actual facts. Operational security and commercial sensitivity are your friends when faced with awkward questions. “We are continually reviewing our requirements” is the best way to respond to specific queries.

The operational lexicon

Ships, submarines, planes, helicopters and tanks are for amateurs, instead, we have platforms. We do not drop bombs anymore, we deliver a strike package (although unfortunately not the sort that can be left with a neighbour if you’re out). Please note, the UK military does not have any helicopters, only rotary wing assets. War does not break out, instead, things go kinetic, although the soldiers, sailors and airmen involved are now warfighters. They do not work or fight in foreign lands, but conduct operations in theatre. No longer are they sent to destroy the Queen’s enemies but to deliver effects in the battlespace and degrade our adversaries capabilities. Britain posses a Tier-1 military and our forces are always equipped with innovative, state-of-the-art kit which provide a step-change in capability.

Change management

“Cuts” is a crude word used by tabloids and non-civil servants that we do not recognise, instead we continually seek efficiencies and the best value for the taxpayer. We will, of course, be reducing the headcount and removing equipment but this is to help us modernise and become more streamlined. Extensive hypothetical discussion about cyber, unmanned, asymmetric threats and non-state actors is the appropriate focus when we are losing large swathes of conventional capability. Our defence reviews will take many months but we will not be rushed into any hasty decisions, especially in the face of rapidly evolving threats.

Should the decisions of our last review quickly prove to be flawed, it is obviously because the character of warfare has changed way beyond what we could possibly have predicted. During the review process, you should apply the rules of collective responsibility and all internal strategic planning must remain confidential. However, should your particular interest area be threatened with streamlining, then it may be necessary to reach out to Deborah Haynes.

All planning is based on the assumption that war will not happen in the next 10 years and any conflict we are involved in will be of our choosing and rely on coalition partners. This assumption is renewed each year, thus eliminating any urgency which would cause discomfort and disruption to the system that has served us so well.

There are no financial black holes in our equipment plan, just affordability risks. Almost every past defence procurement project has been delayed and moved outside its budget envelope, fortunately, this won’t happen in future because we are now learning the lessons and acting to inject pace and grip into programmes. Should the worst happen and Russian tanks are rolling down Whitehall, we will still be able to take comfort from the fact we spend 2%(ish) of GDP on defence and in this regard are a great example to other Europeans.

Career trajectory

Since you will change jobs every two years, rest assured the consequences of your strategic decision making will not impact on you. To progress in your career you have two choices. Either maintain a reputation as a safe pair of hands, try to keep your head down, putting ticks in the appropriate boxes and focus on tidying up the mess left by your predecessor. Alternatively, make your mark as a bold visionary by implementing a wide range of unnecessary changes to the programme. If you are really a forward-thinker and are willing to submit to our gruelling social media training, you may eventually get permission for your own official Twitter account. This is on condition that all of your Tweets begin with “Really great to see…”

It is advisable to hone your PowerPoint skills and to commit to memory the approximately 20,000 acronyms in everyday use at the MoD.  During your time in defence it is vital you invent a few new acronyms of your own. MoD Approved Military Acronyms (MAMA) are the lifeblood of the organisation. MAMAs with additional brackets MAMA(B) are especially appreciated.

By adopting the advice above you will be quickly embraced into the ways of Main Building and be well on your way to becoming a senior civil servant or a one star.


PS. Please remember not to leave your laptop on the train.


from Save the Royal Navy