Defence’s ‘conspiracy of optimism’ targeted

By staff

Britain’s defence establishment has been accused of a “conspiracy of optimism” to blame for the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) terrible procurement practices.

A report by the Centre for Policy Studies out today says over-ordering and under-costing occur too often because, once the equipment has been purchased, cancellations are rare.

It calls for the opening up of a supply chain of innovators and an increased emphasis on ‘off-the-shelf’ purchases to break the problem.

The report also attacks the limits of European defence integration. It says restricted spending over coming years, together with the fragmented nature of the defence industry, means the solution does not lie on the continent.

Instead it backs prioritising ensuring service personnel are properly equipped over “local industrial considerations” by learning the lessons of previous failures.

Report author Antonia Cox said: “By implementing these changes, the government can make the political case for prioritising, or at the very least protecting, defence spending.

“It can show not only that the UK should shoulder its share of responsibilities for its own security, but also, through intelligent reform, that it can afford to do so.”

The CPS report has attracted the backing of Charles Guthrie, the former chief of defence staff who oversaw the last strategic defence review.

In its foreword he wrote: “The shameful waste and delay which characterise the sorry history of equipment procurement should never have been tolerated. In the past, such indulgence was wrong. Now it is both wrong and unaffordable.”